Pashtunwali ( _ps. پښتونوالی) or Pakhtunwali is a concept of living or philosophy for the Pashtun people and is regarded as an honour code and a non-written law for the people. [ [ Pashto Language & Identity Formation:] Contemporary South Asia, July 1995, Vol 4, Issue 2, p151,20] [ [ The Dawn: Ahwalay Riyasatay (Tarikhi wa Maashrati Pusmanzar)] ] While there are some indications that it dates back to the pre-Islamic era, Pashtunwali's foundations are in Islam, and therefore those who practice Pashtunwali do not contravene Islamic principles. [The Sharīʻa in the Constitutions of Afghanistan, Iran, and Egypt, By Nadjma Yassari, pg. 49] It is practiced by Pashtuns in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and by members of the Pashtun diaspora around the world. [Shabbir Hasan Khan Josh, Yadon ki Barat [Urdu: The Wedding Procession of Memories] (Lahore: Maktaba Sher-o-Adab, 1964), p 341, passim.]


Pashtunwali is an ancient "code of honor" that belongs to Pashtuns of Afghanistan and Pakistan, including the Pashtun communities around the world. It is a set of rules guiding both individual and communal conduct. Pashtunwali is socially practiced by the majority.

Pashtuns embrace an ancient traditional, spiritual, and communal identity tied to a set of moral codes and rules of behavior, as well as to a linear record of history spanning over five thousand years Fact|date=May 2007.

Flexible and dynamic, containing modern and ancient principles, Pashtunwali promotes self-respect, independence, justice, hospitality, love, forgiveness, revenge and tolerance toward all (especially to strangers or guests). All these codes of conduct are helpful in maintaining social and moral checks and balances within Pashtun Society. Aside from its tenets that are rooted in Islam, [The Sharīʻa in the Constitutions of Afghanistan, Iran, and Egypt By Nadjma Yassari, pg. 49] it is considered a personal responsibility of every Pashtun to discover and rediscover Pashtunwali's essence and meaning.

The code of Pashtunwali

Pashtunwali is an unwritten law and ideology of the Pashtun society inherited from their forefathers. It is a dominant force of Pashtun culture and identity. Pashtunwali is conservative, oligarchic, centuries old but still a young phenomenon in the Pashtun culture and socio-economic structure.Fact|date=September 2007

It has been able to maintain a powerful dialectical balance of the Pashtun society. Pashtunwali, a complement of the Pashtun society, has undergone various legal, political, economic and cultural changes for its perfection and reform. It has developed into an accepted constitution.

Pashtunwali consists of qualifications such as "Khpelwaki" (self authority), "Sialy" (Equality), "Jirga" (Assembly), "Roogha" (reconciliation or compromise), "Badal" (revenge), "Barabari" (equivalence), "Teega/Nerkh" (Law), "Aziz/Azizwale" (clan, clanship), "Terbor/Terborwali" (cousin and tribal rivalries), "Nang" (Honour), "Ghairat" (Pride), "Oogha Warkawel" (giving a lift to persons in need), "Pannah Warkawel" (offering asylum), "Ashar" (shared co-operative work), "Zhamena" (commitment), "Melayter" (patrons), "Chegha" (call for action), "Soolah" (truce), "Panah" (protection) and others.Fact|date=September 2007

Pashtunwali is a oligarchic structure emphasizing of Jirga, Sialy and Barabary. It is a defensive system in terms of Jirga, Chegha and Arbakai. It is a legal system in terms of Jirga, Teega/Nerkh, Pannah and Roogha. This system has managed all social and internal affairs of the Pashtun/Pakhtun society before and after Islam. It has created small and large local governments in Central and South Asia.Fact|date=September 2007

Pashtunwali is the sum of the collective expectations of the group from its members to conform to the norms and customs that ensure the group's survival as a distinct socio-cultural entity. There are no state institutions to ensure the implementation of this unwritten code of life but Pashtun members of the society internalize these social norms to such an extent that they directly become a matter of one’s conscience rather than an executive order of a authority.Fact|date=September 2007

Pashtunwali is based on the collective wisdom of its people. It does not spring from one authority, temporal or divine, and is, therefore, open to debate and re-interpretation according to the needs of the society and the changing times. Although it is rigid in constitution because of historical reasons, in its social philosophy, Pashtunwali is cosmopolitan, egalitarian and oligarchic. Hence, it has been able to absorb waves of outsiders in Pashtun society.Fact|date=September 2007

Pashtunwali embodies all the principles of a self-sufficient social group. Its two principles of "Siali" (Competition) and "Mailmastia" (Hospitality) embody two social principles that ensure a society’s progress through competition; and survival through co-operation. The elements of conflict and co-operation are evenly balanced in the make-up of Pashtunwali. Concepts like "Nang" (honour), "Siali" (competition) and "Badal" (retribution) are open to interpretation as the social needs and the collective perception of the group change with regard to objective realities in the space-time continuum.Fact|date=September 2007

The codes

*Faith - trust in God (known as "Allah" in Arabic and "Khudai" or "Sekhtan" in Pashto). The notion of trusting in the one creator generally comports to Islamic monotheism and tawheed.
*Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds - A Pashtun always strive towards thinking good thoughts, speaking good words and doing good deeds. Fact|date=September 2008
*Behaviour - Pashtuns must behave respectfully towards all creations including people, animals and plants.
*Unity - above the languages they speak, above the blood they keep, above the amount of money they make, Pashtunwali keeps them in due bounds with all fellow Pashtuns and humankind as well as God. Pashtunwali unites the Pashtuns as one people across the world. Where there is true unity, every effort to disunite them will only serve to strengthen the unity they have. What happens to one - happens to all.
*Equality - every man is equal within the tribe. It is this concept which has necessitated the development of a Jirga system, whereby decision making takes place with the participation of all members of the society or tribes. Every man wants a say in his future and he will fight for his right to have his opinions heard. All people must therefore deal with each other, with the proper civility or respect and no one can try to impose their will on to another.
*Freedom and independence - the belief that freedom in physical, mental, religious, spiritual, political and economic realms is for all to pursue, man and woman, so long as it is done without bringing harm to others. The free have nothing to gain of freedom without discipline.
*Proselytizing - No individual has the right to place demand upon others who are not their children regarding what to believe.
*Hospitality and sanctuary - Being hospitable to all mankind, especially to guests, even the most hostile of enemies may (if asked for) be provided sanctuary, asylum or protection as well as food and other aid.
*Justice and forgiveness - If one intentionally wrongs another, the victim has the right, even an obligation, to avenge this injustice in equal proportion. If one has intentionally wronged you, and you did not seek justice nor did the wrongdoer ask you for his/her forgiveness, then a debt, is owed to you by him/her, which can only be fulfilled once justice (through an act of revenge or the decision of the tribal Jirga) has been provided to recompense the wrong done.
*Brotherhood and trust - the belief that fellow Pashtun brothers or sisters should be trusted and assisted to the greatest extent possible.
*Honour - Pashtuns must maintain their independence and human dignity. Honour has great importance in Pushtun society and most other edicts and codes of life are aimed towards the preservation of one's honour or pride.
*Self respect - Individuals must respect themselves and others in order to be able to do so, especially those they do not know. Respect begins at home, among family members and includes all relatives.
*Compassion and cooperation - The poor, the weak, and the challenged must be supported. Inclusion must be preferred to exclusion. To defend against tyranny, fascism and overzealous groups and to work smart first and then hard.
*Family - The family must be glorified under a sacred conviction of responsibility and duty with respect for wives, daughters, elders, parents, sons, and husbands.
*We are one family - Fellow Pashtun must be cared for. There may be hundreds of tribes, but they have one destiny in union with each other.
*Knowledge - Pashtuns seek objective knowledge in life, art, science, and culture, which are considered fruits granted by God.
*Pashtun history - Great value is placed in Pashtun history, with all its depth and pluralism, tragedies and victories. It teaches Pashtuns "to keep the mind open, to continue the search for the truth, much of which has vanished under history itself".
*Fight evil - Evil is at constant war with good. Evil must be fought and good must prevail over evil. It is a Pashtun's duty to fight evil when he/she comes face to face with it.

Primary concepts

Some useful words that signify individual or collective Pashtun tribal functions are given below in Pushto language. The first four form the major components of Pashtunwali.

* Melmastia (hospitality) - to show hospitality to all visitors, regardless of whom they are, their ethnic, religious, or national background, without hope of remuneration or favour. Pushtuns are widely considered to be the most hospitable people in the world, a pushtun will go to great extents to show his hospitality, so much so, that in very many recorded cases it has been observed that a pushtun has even provided his deadly enemy with sanctuary when he was asked for sanctuary by his rival. But in return, those guests who are accorded this are expected to do the same for their host.
* Badal (justice/revenge) - to seek justice over time or over space to avenge a wrong. This applies to injustices committed yesterday or 1000 years ago if the wrongdoer still exists. Justice in Pashtun lore needs elaborating: even a mere taunt (or "Paighor") is regarded as an insult - which can only usually be redressed by shedding of the taunter's blood (and if he isn't available, then his next closest male relation). This in turn leads to a blood feud that can last generations and involve whole tribes with the loss of hundreds of lives. Normally blood feuds in this all male dominated setup are then settled in a number of ways.
* Nanawateh (asylum) - derived from the verb meaning "to go in", this is used for protection given to a person who requests protection against his/her enemies. The person is protected at all costs. It can also be used when the vanquished party is prepared to go in to the house of the victors and ask for their forgiveness. (Is a peculiar form of "chivalrous" surrender, in which an enemy seeks "sanctuary" at his enemies house).
* Zmeka (land) - A Pashtun must defend his land/property from incursions wherever he or she might reside.
* Nang (honour) - the various points below that a tribesman must observe to ensure his honour, and that of his family, is upheld. The preservation of honour entails the defence of one's family and one's independence, while upholding cultural and religious requirements.
* Namus (Honor of women) - A Pushtun must defend the honor of Pashtun women at all costs and must protect them from vocal and physical harm.
* Hewad (nation) - Love for one's nation in Pashtun culture isn't just important, it's essential. A Pashtun is always indebted to their nation and must strive to perfect and improve it. A Pushtun considers it his obligation to defend his country Pakhtara ("Pakhtun-khwa" in modern colloquial Pashto) against any type of foreign incursion. Defence of nation means defence of honor, values, culture, tradition, countrymen and self.
* Dod-pasbani (Protecting Pashtun culture) - It is obligatory for a Pashtun to protect Pashtun culture from dilution and disintegration. Pashtunwali advises that in order to successfully accomplish this, a Pashtun must retain the Pashto language since Pashto is the prime source of Pashtun culture and its understanding is therefore essential. Not being able to speak Pashto to a Pashtun often translates to the inability to understand the Pashtun culture.
* Tokhm-pasbani (Protecting the Pashtun race) - Pashtuns with their distinct Iranic features are often immediately recognizable. Pashtuns must take another Pashtun as a marriage partner. This stems from the general belief that 'half-Pashtuns' do not retain Pashtun language, culture, and physical features.
* De Pashtunwali Perawano (Adhering to Pashtunwali) - In order to keep one's descendants from becoming "durvand" (Non-Pashtuns), a Pashtun must adhere to the Pashtunwali principles of culture, kin and pedigree. Those who do not will ultimately face revulsion and expulsion from Pashtun society.

Secondary concepts

* Lashkar - the tribal army. It implements the decisions of the "jirga".
* Jirga or Loya Jurga - an assembly of tribal elders called for various purposes whether waging war or composing peace, tribal or inter-tribal.
* Chalweshti - derived from the word for "forty", this refers to the tribal force that would implement the decision of a "jirga". Every fortieth man of the tribe would be a member. A "shalgoon" is a force derived from the number twenty.
* Badragga - a tribal escort composed of members of that tribe through which the travelers are passing. If a "badragga" is violated a tribal feud will follow.
* Hamsaya - a non-Pashtun dependent group who attaches themselves to a Pashtun group, usually for protection. The Pashtun protector group is called a "naik". Any attack on a "hamsaya" is considered an attack on the protector.
* Mlatar (ملاتړ) - literally, "tying the back" or "support". This refers to those members of the tribe who will actually fight on behalf of their leaders.
* Nagha - a tribal fine decided by the council of elders and imposed upon the wrongdoer.
* Rogha - settlement of a dispute between warring factions.
* Hujra - a common sitting or sleeping place for males in the village. Visitors and unmarried young men sleep in the "hujra".
*Lokhay Warkawal - Literally means 'giving of pot'. The idea that the tribe will do everything to protect an individual from an enemy.


See also

*Pashtun culture
*Pashtun tribes
*Pashtun people
*Pashtun diaspora

External links

* [ Islamic Republic Of Afghanistan] Official name of Afghanistan / Afghan issues, articles on Pashtuns and other Afghan ethnic groups
* [ Pushtunwali Honour among them December 19, 2006: GARDEZ AND PESHAWAR From The Economist print edition]
* [ Attan, the traditional and national dance of Pashtuns]

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