Who Are the Hazara?
The Hazara are a people who mostly live in the central, mountainous region of Afghanistan in an area known as Hazarajat, with smaller communities living in neighboring Pakistan and Iran. There are about 2.7 million Hazara in Afghanistan, and up to 150,000 in Pakistan. The Hazara speak a dialect known as Hazaragi, a form of Dari, one of two official languages in Afghanistan that is also understandable in Iran, which speaks Farsi.
Ethnically, the Hazara have Asian features and might be the descendants of the Mongols under Genghis Khan, who lived from 1162 to 1227. Some Hazara believe they are the descendants of one of the sons of Noah. Most likely, they are related to Turkic, Uzbek, or Iranian ancestors. Either way, the Hazara's Asian features set them apart from most Afghans.
The Hazara are mostly Shia, one of the branches of Islam. This has caused difficulties, as most of Afghanistan is Sunni, the other main branch of Islam. The Hazara have had a long history of rebellion against and persecution under larger Pashtun and Tajik groups, the main ethnic groups in Afghanistan.
Under the dominant Sunni population of Afghanistan, the Hazara for generations have suffered discrimination in education, access to public services, and fewer economic opportunities. This occurred as well under the Taliban, the previous and short-lived government in Afghanistan. Recently, the Hazara have been victims of deadly attacks by either what remains of the Taliban or new elements of ISIS (or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), the same group that is fighting in Iraq and Syria.
This religious and ethnic persecution and the general unstable situation in Afghanistan has encouraged the Hazara to flee the country. While there are large Hazara communities in Canada, the United States, Sweden, Denmark, New Zealand, and Australia, many Hazara have died trying to reach places like Australia through dangerous human smuggling routes.
Hazara People & Culture
Despite generally being poor and having few economic opportunities, Hazara are also generally proud, hardworking people who are warm and friendly to guests. Hazara culture includes folklore about past events, belief in ghosts, and many proverbs ('the son of a wolf is a wolf,' or children act like their parents). The Hazara are well-known for dubaitis, or traditional folk songs. Hazara social gatherings include singing and dancing, and the telling of epic stories of history and love. The Hazara use a musical instrument called a dambora, a lute-like instrument with a bowl-shaped bottom and a long neck. Hazara, like other Afghans, celebrate Muslim holidays such as Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, and also the Persian New Year.
Many generations may live under one roof, and once a marriage is arranged, the bride will most likely live with the groom's family. Interestingly, after the death of grandparents, sons usually begin their own households.
Hazara women wear vivid, colorful clothing. Men usually wear perahan-u-tunban, which translates into 'shirt and pants,' and may resemble pajamas to outsiders but functions well in the rapid weather changes of the mountains of Afghanistan. The Hazara participate in buzkashi, the national sport of Afghanistan. This wild sport involves as many as 1,000 men on horseback.
In recent years, Hazara culture has gotten a big plug from some unlikely sources: literature, Hollywood, and television. The novel and film named The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini tells the story of Afghanistan through the eyes of the son of one of the country's elite, and prominently features his Hazara servant. The much-loved book became a movie that translated into a visual feast of Afghan and Hazara culture. The Setara-e-Afghan, the Afghan Star, an Afghan version of American Idol, has allowed Hazara music and the dambora, along with Hazara singers including women, to reach a much larger audience, even outside of Afghanistan.
Let's take a moment or two to review what we've learned about the Hazara people. The Hazara are a people living mostly in central Afghanistan. Due to their ethnic features and religious beliefs, the Shia Muslim Hazaras, living in a predominantly Sunni Muslim Aghanistan, have faced cultural and economic discrimination, as well as religious persecution. Many Hazara have immigrated to other countries. Hazara culture includes traditional folklore, music, and strong family ties. Hazara culture has gained attention as a result of recently being featured in popular literature and television.
To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account
Register to view this lesson
Unlock Your Education
See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com
Become a Study.com member and start learning now.Become a Member
Already a member? Log InBack