The Hazara Nation:
The word “Hazara”
The real origins and meaning of the word “Hazara” is unknown. Some researchers believe the term “Hazara” came from the word “Hazar” which meaning “one thousand.”
Hazaras are among few races on the face of the earth about whose origin so little is known. There are different theories about the origins of Hazaras. Many researchers believe Hazaras to be of Turko Mongol ancestary. Another theory is that Hazaras were Buddhists that lived in Hazarajat (the region that spanned most of today’s Afghanistan) since the time of the Kushan Dynasty some 2000 years ago prior to the arrival of Islam. During the time of Kushan Dynasty, Bamyan was the home of one of the main hub of Buddhist civilization. This is obvious from the two of the World Tallest Buddhas statues that is carved in the mountain in Bamyan, Afghanistan – the heart of Hazarajat region inhabited by Hazaras for at least 2000 years.
This similarity is also pointed out by the author of the famous book The Hazaras by Late Hassan Poladi.
- Hazaras in Iran – A short history of Hazaras in Afghanistan and Iran
The Hazara land, Hazarajat
The land of the Hazaras is historically known as the Hazarajat (also referred to as Hazaristan). It is the ancestral home of the Hazaras and it spans most of today’s Afghanistan. The historic boundaries of Hazarajat was much larger than now. According to H.W.Bellew the area was “from the border of Kabul and Ghazni to those of Herat in one direction and from vicinity of Kandahar to that of Bulkh in the other.”
It may be noted that after the genocide of Hazaras in 1893 (see more 1, and 2), Afghan ruler adopted a policy to plant Pushtun nomads in fertile Hazara lands. According to Askar Mousavi’s book Hazaras of Afghanistan (page 66) , now the Hazarajat area is reduced to 100,000 – 150,000 sq km.
Hazaras live in the following provinces in Hazarajat:
Ghazni, Uruzgan, Ghore, Wardag, Bamyan , Parwan , Baghlan (Majority Ismali Hazaras inhabit).
Hazaras also live in the following provinces:
Samangan, Balkh , Jozjan , Faryab , Kabul , Badges (with Sunni Hazaras) , Kunduz (with mixed Shia and Sunni Hazaras), Herat (few number of Shia Hazaras).
The Hazargi Language
The language of the Hazaras is known as “Hazaragi” (or Aazragi). It has some similarities to Dari and Farsi (Persian) but quite distinct from both. A person speaking Hazaragi may not understand Dari or Persian and vice versa. There are different theories about the origins of Hazaras. Many researchers believe Hazaras to be of Turko Mongol ancestary
The Hazara language is in danger of being lost completely unless steps are taken to preserve it. In the past, the language has remained intact because central mountaneous region of Hazarajat, for the most part, has remained inaccessible due to lack of roads and extreme weather conditions. It remains completely inaccessible due to heavy snow through long winter season. In addition, the Hazaras have faced centuries of persecution in Afghanistan and Iran. Hazaras living in Iran (permanently or as refugees for the past 30 years) now mostly speak Persian. Those living in Afghanistan mostly speak Dari. The only notable exceptions speaking Hazaragi are the poor uneducated Hazaras living in the Hazarajat region.
The Hazara religion
Hazaras are predominantly Muslim and belong to Shia, Sunni, and Ismaili sects of Islam.
The Hazara Population
The real population of Hazaras is not known. There are wide belief that Hazara make up at least 25% of today’s Afghanistan despite the fact that a millions of Hazaras live outside Afghanistan and all over the world. Several million Hazaras live in Iran and an estimated 600,000 Hazaras live in Pakistan. In the West, Australia is home to approximately 50,000 Hazaras. Tens of thousands of Hazaras also live in countries around the world.