Hindu conversions to Islam in Pakistan

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Since many of you are innumerate, I first want to make it clear that Sindh province is 10% Hindu. These Hindus are concentrated mostly in rural areas. As you likely know most elite Sindhi Hindus no longer live in Pakistan. These are poor and relatively powerless people.

This story makes a lot of sense in that context, Poor and Desperate, Pakistani Hindus Accept Islam to Get By:

The mass ceremony was the latest in what is a growing number of such conversions to Pakistan’s majority Muslim faith in recent years — although precise data is scarce. Some of these conversions are voluntary, some not.

News outlets in India, Pakistan’s majority-Hindu neighbor and archrival, were quick to denounce the conversions as forced. But what is happening is more subtle. Desperation, religious and political leaders on both sides of the debate say, has often been the driving force behind their change of religion.

Treated as second-class citizens, the Hindus of Pakistan are often systemically discriminated against in every walk of life — housing, jobs, access to government welfare. While minorities have long been drawn to convert in order to join the majority and escape discrimination and sectarian violence, Hindu community leaders say that the recent uptick in conversions has also been motivated by newfound economic pressures.

As someone who has read a great deal about religious dynamics, this is not subtle, but a very typical. Contrary to some claims, very few conversions to Islam were “forced” in a physical sense. Rather, historically, individuals converted out of self-interest or desperation. Often there were whole communities who make this choice.

A second issue is that there are attempts to present a symmetry between what is happening in India and Pakistan. This story illustrates how no such symmetry exists. Muslims in India are obviously at a disadvantage, but their situation is not analogous to Pakistani religious minorities.

Part of the story here is obviously about the treatment of religious minorities under Islam, which was not out of the ordinary in 1000 A.D., but 1,000 years later is anomalous, insofar as low-grade persecution is common. But it is also a story about the lack of Hindu solidarity with these people who were literally “left behind” as the Lohannas decamped for Mumbai.

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79 Replies to “Hindu conversions to Islam in Pakistan”

  1. The religious conversions from marriages in Pak are entirely one-way (H–>M). Here are some hypotheticals, since these mullahs are justifying these weddings on the basis of free will:

    1. what would happen if a Hindu boy married a Muslim girl in Pak without converting?
    2. would personal decisions to convert to Hinduism be respected? (esp. by women in a marriage)
    3. how would the public react if they were aware of this?
    4. would the reaction from the elite be different from the general public, or along similar lines?
    5. how would the Pak leadership see this, would they publicly support such an occurrence on the basis of individual choice?
    6. if such a marriage results in lawyers filing a case, what kind of decision would the Supreme Court of Pak make?
    7. to sum things up, would a mixed religious marriage with Hindu children pull through on the basis of personal freedoms?

    ———

    This reminds me of the case of the Spanish Marranos, the Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity during the Inquisition, with many emigrating. A few years ago the revised Spanish civil code allowed for their descendants to gain Spanish citizenship without any residency requirement. Some have even formally converted back to Judaism. Can a reckoning along similar lines happen in Pak in the future?

    Many cases of forced conversion these days in Pak are widely reported, when the descendants of these unions (say 50 years down the line) decide to investigate their past and find solid evidence of coercion of their female ancestors in becoming Muslim, how would they end up viewing the religion? My guess is that a good number would choose to leave Islam then, irrespective of whether they take up Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Christianity, or decide to forego religion entirely.

    1. “what would happen if a Hindu boy married a Muslim girl in Pak without converting?”

      For the millionth time, under Islamic Law, a Muslim woman cannot legally marry a non-Muslim. The nikaah is not considered valid. The couple is considered to be committing zina (fornication).

      I’m not sure whether a Hindu man could marry a Muslim woman in some kind of court marriage, but please don’t forget that you are talking about the ISLAMIC Republic of Pakistan.

  2. Yeah I’ve done some reading on this…Pakistani Hindus basically live as serfs in remote areas characterized by state failure, under the thumb of petty tyrants, crime, and conversions.

    Honestly there’s not much hope for them, but the BJP has succeeded in getting their issues on the Indian radar at least. (Indian) Lefties obviously didn’t and don’t like talking about it because it’s inconvenient for their narrative.

  3. I am firmly of the opinion that if Pakistani Hindus cannot move out of the country it is best for them (and their children) that they convert to Islam.

    1. India is ultimately responsible for them if India is now a Hindu rashtra (which is the direction of travel).

  4. In some Western countries, simply being a religious minority in Pakistan (including Shia) will give you access to an expedited process for securing refugee protection. In most cases, though, you have to find a way to get there first and then declare that you are seeking refugee protection.

    It would be great if there was a way to pool some funds together to get people what they need (documents etc) to make it to another country.

    Another option is pooling funds together to sponsor refugees.

    1. Agree about getting these people out of there asap. Not sure about the West, but to India definitely. I think the current gov’t is slowly and surely succeding in getting people to see the merits of the CAA with the recent bringing of the Afghan Sikhs to India. Getting Sindhi hindus in without making a fuss about it should be the way to go, and the influential sindhi diaspora could be tapped into. Oh, and the 2014 entry deadline should be scrapped.

      I’ll go a step further and say that some districts from Rajasthan should be carved off and converted to a homeland for Sindhi hindus, where they can speak their language, practice their religion and preserve their culture unmolested.

      1. How difficult is it for these people to get to India legally ?

        Not stay just physically get to the country, as an illegal immigrant.

        I am guessing its very challenging. Then staying is a whole another hassle.

        I would probably just convert to whatever sect of Islam is least likely to get me percecuted.

      2. Lol..which state and people are going to give away their land to be carved off? 🙂 Like someone said BP warriors are now flying at another level 🤣

        1. “Lol..which state and people are going to give away their land to be carved off?”

          It’s happened various times in the past, I don’t why it can’t be done

          1. Examples?
            I think some people imagine Rajasthan (or at least Western Rajasthan) to be this vast desert land, that is open and bereft of any people. Or any people with agency or clout (desert dwelling villagers) who can be easily persuaded or coerced into whatever the elite wants..Some of this is true (ref: Rajasthani languages) but this is stretching it.

            I am not suggesting that people would be against resettling Pakistani Hindus in these western districts – there is definitely kinship with Tharparkar at least, but cleaving off their land so that Sindhi/Pakistani Hindu refugees can “practice their language and culture” is a bridge too far

          2. “I think some people imagine Rajasthan (or at least Western Rajasthan) to be this vast desert land, that is open and bereft of any people.”

            Rajasthan has a population density of over 200/sqkm, more than that of Italy and just below Nigeria, which is really high for a desert state.

            Jaisalmer is the least populated district of Rajasthan (at ~670k people in an area of ~38.4k sqkm) and still has a pop. density of over 17/sqkm, which is more than Norway and a bit behind New Zealand, and this is possibly the most desert-y place in the country.

            India truly is a densely populated country.

          3. Even now the Hindu refugees to Rajasthan is drop in the ocean, that’s why there has not been a major issue. Forget cleaving off land, if something like a immigration/refuge influx happens, you would see hardening of local population views as well. A good example is Assam and post 71 influx from Bangladesh, where views regarding even Bengali Hindus hardened.

          4. New states have been created in the recent past. Tibetan refugees in India were given ID docs and privileges as well as land and housing (at least the initial ones). They got to form a Gov’t in exile and there are Tibetan language schools run with government funding.

            Where there’s a political will, there’s a way.

          5. Ronen- Good points. I have traveled extensively in the western parts of Rajasthan and the place does look very sparsely populated, so even I was surprised by the population density stats you shared.

            Siddharth:

            [New states have been created in the recent past. Tibetan refugees in India were given ID docs and privileges as well as land and housing (at least the initial ones). They got to form a Gov’t in exile and there are Tibetan language schools run with government funding.]

            New states have been carved out based on the demand of the existing peoples of those areas, not to settle refugees/migrants from another state (let alone another country). What was done for the Tibetans can be done for Pakistani Hindus too, but creating a state is not the same as that.

            Imagine carving out parts of Bengal or Assam for Rohingya refugees..Or to take the Islam factor out, carving Bengal or Andhra for Burmese Hindu refugees (thankfully there is no large scale movement of HIndus/Indians from Burma yet; this is to illustrate the point) many of whom are of Bengali/Telugu/Tamil origin.

  5. “ This story illustrates how no such symmetry exists. Muslims in India are obviously at a disadvantage, but their situation is not analogous to Pakistani religious minorities. “

    Perhaps Razib or son goku can comment how are Hindus treated in Bangladesh. Not like an objective numbers and all, just perceptionally

    My own perception is that it’s somewhere b/w Pakistan and India’s treatment of minorities. The reason is though Bangladesh Hindus might not be facing riots and lunching and stuff, still they they much less say in the political power system than Indian Muslims, notwithstanding the current situation. Or perhaps my impression is wrong

  6. Probably the way Christianity spread as well, in the late Roman Empire. You couldn’t forcibly baptise the old Senatorial aristocracy, or large swathes of the population, but economic and political pressure would have forced hold-outs to steadily convert to the state Church from the time of Constantine, with the process firmly accelerated once Theodosius was in power.

  7. ” But it is also a story about the lack of Hindu solidarity with these people who were literally “left behind” as the Lohannas decamped for Mumbai.”

    It gets back to my point abt CAA, where Hindu ethnicities whose own people would benefit from the act are at the forefront of opposing the law. Most times it seems that we N-Indian Hindus have to carry water for all Hindus. And when we are winning other ethncities sort of jump in to bask in our hard work, AKA Ram temple movement. Sindhi Hindus OTOH, actually suffer even bigger Stockholm syndrome than West Bengali Hindus vis-v Pakistan.

    Some years back when i was active on reddit, there was this regular Indo-Pak reddit exchanges where Pakistan redditors arranged a AMA with a Pak sindhi hindu gal from an affluent business family. She said she either sees herself moving out of Pakistan or marrying into her dad’s friends family who are muslims, just like her cousins have done. I think conversion is perhaps not as controversially looked upon in Sindh, as it looks from outside.

    Any which way Sindh will be ‘PAK’ of these Hindu infidels in a generation of two, and it will all for the better.

      1. Oh man, u remember that too. LOL, that was eons back, i dont think i have that link now, i left reddit around 2014

  8. Dear Razib,

    I had a follow-up question regarding the genetic components of different populations.

    You stated earlier that the latest research has confirmed that AASI has nothing to do with Onge, as the Onge are actually descended from Burmese Hunter Gatherers, and that Onge diverged from AASI at about the same time that East Asians and Europeans diverged from each other. You also stated that both Onge and AASI have been shown to have nothing to do with Australoids, both Australian Aborigines and New Guinea Aboriginals, and that mainland caste populations have been shown to have NO gene flow from the Onge. Finally, you said that AASI is a form of deep-rooted East Eurasian ancestry, like NE Asian.

    1) I had a question regarding this: is the ANE found in Europeans and other groups also a form of East Eurasian ancestry? It reaches its highest levels among racially fully Mongoloid individuals, like the Kets, Seklup and Native Americans, so I was curious about this. If it is not East Eurasian, it is certainly not Western Eurasian, correct?

    2) Do South Asians have high ANE levels? Is ANE distantly related to AASI and a part of the larger East Eurasian group?

    3) What about the Persians and the Peninsular Arabs in Saudi Arabia/the Qahtani/Adnani Arabs? Do they have ANE?

    4) What components are common across all Eurasians with West Asian admixture? As in, what do most Arabs, Persians, Indians and Europeans have in common, in terms of genetic components?

    5) What components are Northern Africans like Egyptians made up of, apart from SSA ancestry? Do they overlap with West and South Asians as well?

    6) Finally, do East Asians like the Chinese and Japanese have any components in common with the rest of us Eurasians? Is ANE related to them in a distant manner?

    I look forward to your response. Thanks a million for this privilege as always.

  9. @APthk

    You’ve asked Razib, and I’m quite certain that he’ll provide considerable insight (he always does). With that being noted, if you wouldn’t mind me sharing some of the things I know from the literature, and from my own work on the subject….

    “Onge diverged from AASI at about the same time that East Asians and Europeans diverged from each other.”

    I doubt that Razib would have said anything along those lines, because that isn’t a very accurate conceptualization (in light of the current work on this issue).

    ^ I mean obviously reality will always present a level of complexity that continually escapes any attempt by us (“us” being knowing subjects engaged with objects of knowledge) to represent it. The curse of the noumenal (lol). With that being said, I suppose that for the purposes of simplification (and restricting ourselves to the aDNA at our disposal), it seems that there is a bit of a trifurcation at play; East Asians, Onge, and AASI are together in a “clade” (I mean not exactly a great word in the context of human populations, since we’re all so mixed, but whatever), and they all seem to split at around the same time. “Around” is key, because there is a bit of an affinity between Onge and AASI to the exclusion of East Asians. In other words, Onge and AASI seem to be a tad bit closer to each other than they are to East Asians (but again, not by much).

    ^ And again though, it really isn’t so simple…. because the Onge are (to some extent) intermediate between East Asians and Australasians (and the same probably goes for AASI). Furthermore, in some qpGraph modeling there’s a strange link between AASI and Ust-Ishim. Interestingly enough, this affinity is also found in indigenous Australians/Papuans. But the link in both cases is very tentative.

    And Ust-Ishim itself is a very difficult case; depending on the model, it’s either a “basal Eurasian” (in the sense of being basal to East Eurasians and Paleolithic+Mesolithic Europeans. Not in the sense of Near Eastern “basal”, which is much more “deep” in the Out-of-Africa context), or a very, very “basal” sort of “West Eurasian”.

    Again, all living people are either such a mesh of various streams of ancestry in confluence, or related to other distant populations in very complex ways; there’s just so much mixture, and we’re still missing so much relevant aDNA. Due to both factors, I’d say that we’re still quite a bit far from confidently conceptualizing the whole landscape. Now, to the questions themselves:

    1) ANE is not a form of East Eurasian ancestry. Although it does seem to subsume some moderate East Eurasian-related admixture (somewhere between 15-25%). But so does WHG, and so does CHG (10-20%). So unless WHG and CHG aren’t “West Eurasian” (which would mean no one is West Eurasian), ANE is certainly West Eurasian. Really, when we call ancient populations “West Eurasian”, what we really mean is that they or related populations were another ingredient in the recipe of contemporary populations dwelling in West Eurasia, Ireland to India (forgive the culinary language, lol). The phylogeny isn’t as important (like how could it be for defining West Eurasian, since ENA in ANE, WHG, CHG, Iran_N, Indus_P; Para-African in Natufian, Levant_N; Basal Eurasian in Anatolia_N, Natufian, Levant_N, Iran_N, CHG, Indus_P).

    2) Yes. Especially the West Eurasians of South Asia, who are concentrated in the greater Punjab (which I suppose includes Haryana, although you could correct me if I’m wrong).

    Sarazm_EN, Indus_P, Iran_N, and CHG are all ANE-rich variants of ancient Near Eastern ancestry (Sarazm_EN very ANE-like, CHG the least, Indus_P and Iran_N intermediate in ANE affinity), and that’s the predominant element of the genetic ancestry of West Eurasian South Asians.

    In addition, Steppe_MLBA was much richer in ANE affinity than any contemporary European population, and that’s the other predominant element of the genetic ancestry of West Eurasian South Asians.

    3) The Persians do, but some Arabs (certain culturally distinctive groups among the Bedouins) don’t have any serious amounts of ANE admixture (like 1-3%).

    4) The question hasn’t been framed in a manner conducive to a proper response.

    5) Egyptians (to a certain extent) share ancestry with Levantines (and via them, they have faint connections to both Anatolia and the Iranian plateau). There’s also an element of ancient ancestry that’s “indigenous” to North Africa. It’s an element that isn’t easily parsed into the distinction between “Sub-Saharan” and “West Eurasian”. We see this with the Ibero-Marusians.

    6) There’s a small (like very small) slice of West Eurasian admixture in the northern Han.

    I hope that I was of some help.

    1. Thanks Sein. I will wait for the Boss to give us his insights as well. BTW, do you have an email address I can reach you at? I had a couple questions I know you can answer. Talk to you soon.

  10. “Since many of you are innumerate…”

    Razib, I suggest that you try not to be rude to your readers. Further, it is not innumeracy but simple lack of detailed knowledge that leads most people not to know the proportion of Hindus in Sindh.

    1. It neither innumeracy nor lack of detailed knowledge. For us Indians 1 , 2 percent pops (Hindu pops overall in Pak) is not really numbers to be taken account for. It means they are so small that its pointless to consider.

      A bit like Buddhists in India, yeah we know they are here. But do they matter in the larger conversations. Not really.

      1. For us Indians… …. its pointless to consider ?? speak for yourself , you are no representative of ‘Indians’ . Amit Shah had a better sense to make CAA to help Hindus persecuted elsewhere

          1. No he doesn’t. I really enjoy his commentary but he comes across as a bit salty about non-North Indians, and a bit of a caricature of North Indian chauvinist. He exaggerates for effect and for reactions.
            Let’s not make this is a North South thing based on one interactor 🙂

          2. Lol. There are times I exaggerate. But most times I speak stuff which N Indians say at home, but rather not in mixed gathering like here.

            Anyways. To each his own

  11. Since the topic is conversion

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/aug/06/last-of-the-zoroastrians-parsis-mumbai-india-ancient-religion?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Other

    The last of the Zoroastrians

    “The Parsis promised their Hindu hosts they would not proselytise, and over the centuries this morphed into a dogmatic aversion to conversion. The rigorous tribalism kept the small community alive and distinct for more than a millennium, but in today’s world, the same intransigence is killing it off.

    …As the sun set, we were told to stand to attention as the national anthem played, and then the staff handed out fatigues to change into for the exercises, which I decided to skip, feeling a little queasy at the militarism. A billboard informed guests that the complex had been set up to help Indians take revenge for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, in which Pakistani gunmen killed more than 150 people.

    This kind of patriotism has helped the Parsis to remain unscathed as India’s turn towards Hindu extremism intensifies under prime minister Narendra Modi. “Their love is without condition, without any expectation, and therefore the purest possible,” Modi said back in 2011, when he was still chief minister of Gujarat, suggesting that the Parsis were a model minority that others would do well to follow. The Parsis have long prided themselves on being able to get along with the rulers of the day, whoever they may be, and even the Parsi origin story reflects this knack for astute political messaging. When the refugees from Persia landed, so the tale goes, the Hindu king of Gujarat produced a full glass of milk, to signal that there was no space for new arrivals. The Persians stirred a spoonful of sugar into the milk without spilling any, to show they would sweeten the kingdom without disturbing it.”

    Parsis, the Indian-Americans of India

    1. The main reason Parsis don’t convert is because they don’t want to dilute their Iranian genes any further. I think most people understand this.

          1. I personally think that good looks are in features as opposed to skin tone, and I think that is a phenomenologically testable statement, i.e. one can write a classification algorithm to predict good looks on a colour-tweaked test dataset (i.e. same set of people but with skin tones randomly assigned).

            That said with super tiny communities like Parsis, who also are economically better off and more tightly knit as a culture, the out-group marriages are usually with people of their social circle / class / educational background etc. And their anxiety is of cultural loss as opposed to some silly racial ideas (though the latter are present too, as they are in practically every human society). I see this in KPs too.

            In any case, Parsis survived because they came to the right place. Much of Avestan reconstruction (and indeed rediscovery) was possible because of Sanskrit.

          2. I find match-making sites terribly cringeworthy but I braved it and they all look Indian to me. I won’t confuse any one of them for a white Brit off my street (for example).

          3. Not looking British is not the same as looking generically Indian. Parsis range from the generic Gujarati looking ones to clearly Iranian looking ones..And this is not including the Iranis, who being 20th century migrants are more Iranian looking than anything..
            They are admixed but not so much that they would become generically Indian looking on average. Now phenotypes overlap and northwestern Indians/Pakistans/Kashmiris etc can have a similar look so they don’t/won’t stand out as foreigners but their average phenotype still shows the Iranian heritage.
            Here is a childhood friend of mine: https://www.google.com/search?q=kurush+khodaiji&rlz=1C1GCEA_enUS758US758&sxsrf=ALeKk00Tyzn8r6e8uR77KfRxhDfMC4QmjQ:1596823480803&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiigN6C14nrAhVTIjQIHVQfDvUQ_AUoAXoECAsQAw&biw=1163&bih=554#imgrc=gOIw615NLvvBvM
            He was puzzled why he and his sister were constantly tapped for modeling when they were kids (and he even did some as an adult). The Caucasianish look, height and fair skin were the answers but I didn’t have the heart to tell him (I am sure he knows :))

          4. Parsis range between 75-90% West Eurasian, with most in the 80-88% range. They are not a homogeneous community, and have historically taken brides from both the generic Gujarati community, as well as from other communities in Maharashtra. This is why they have Indian mtDNA haplogroups and Gujarati admixture, in addition to other genetic signatures from the Indian subcontinent.

            They were a very small community from the outset, and as a result had to take local brides over the more than 1000 years they have lived in India, both to prevent inbreeding/recessive diseases, and because of gender ratio imbalances. Parsis are as Indian as it gets when it comes to language, culture, cuisine and homeland. Add the Indian mtDNA and admixture that all Parsis have, they are no different from NW Indian groups like the Jats and Khatris in their affinity to India. They speak Gujarati by the way.

            As a result, every single Parsi looks like they belong in India. The diversity of looks among NW Indians like the Jats and the Khatris easily subsumes and accounts for all the looks found among the Parsis, and then some. Besides, even if Parsis were “Pure” (which they aren’t in any sense) they would cluster with ancient Iranian ethnic groups that NO LONGER exist — they wouldn’t cluster with modern-day Persians and Iranians at all, who have more admixture from the Caucasus and Anatolia, in addition to Mongol/Turkic and Arab admixture, and in some cases SSA admixture as well. This genetic simulation has already been done and Parsis were shown to be their own unique ethnic group that doesn’t exist in modern-day Iran anymore. For example, Farrokh Bulsara, AKA Freddy Mercury and family, all look like Upper-Caste Gujaratis, and his parents even more so. They are like Castizos in Latin America. Rors/Jats and Khatris have much more Caucasoid people than the entire Mercury family.

            Indira Gandhi’s husband, Feroze Gandhi, was a Parsi, and he looked MORE Indian than the entire Nehru clan, including Indira: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e1/Feroze_Gandhi_before_1950s.jpg

            Who can forget the infamous Nanavati murder case, where the Parsi commander Kawas Nanavati killed his English Wife’s Sindhi Hindu lover, Prem Ahuja?

            Here is Nanavati and his English wife; Nanavati looks like a generic middle-caste Indian: https://images.outlookindia.com/public/uploads/articles/2017/5/1/book1_570_850.jpg

            And here is the Sindhi Hindu man, Prem Ahuja (pictured on the right) that Nanavati’s English wife was cheating on him with: https://images.outlookindia.com/public/uploads/editor/2017-05-01/1493639269.jpg

            Prem Ahuja looks completely Caucasian, and much more so than Nanavati, who looks like a regular middle-caste Indian. Like I said, Parsis are all mixed to different degrees, some are far from Caucasian.

            Here is Ratan Tata, the most famous Parsi of them all, no one would give him a second glance in the NW and in many communities in the North of India. He is far from a foreigner: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f8/Ratan_Tata_photo.jpg

            Even Parsis that are half-White, such as Noel Tata, whose father was fully Parsi, and whose mother was Swiss-German, look fully NW Indian. Here is Noel Tata in all his glory: https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/companies/2odn26/article31900657.ece/alternates/PORTRAIT_435/BL2401NOEL

            The entirety of the Tata family looks like NW Indians, in addition to the Shapoorji Pallonji Mistry family, and the Godrej Family, all of whom are the most famous Parsi families of India. To say otherwise is simply disingenuous. Many of them have also married Indians in the current generation.

            Even the Iranis, who are the most recent arrivals to the subcontinent, have plenty of people that blend in with the overall diversity of the Indian Hindu/Sikh population. Some have also married Indians from other castes. But even those that are relatively “pure” Iranis look fully Indian, to the point that they don’t stand out.

            Case in point, everyone has seen 3 idiots, the guy who played the headmaster in the school, Virus, AKA Boman Irani, who has fully Irani Parents, looks more Indian than most NW Indian Jats and Khatris.

            Here is an interview with him and a generic Indian actor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQog8w9vh3A

            He looks right at home in the subcontinent.

          5. I have to admit to being slightly embarrassed by making a post that talks about Parsi phenotype given that APthk that decided to pile in with a full analysis of Parsi looks and how they are generic Indians compared to northwest Indians (no Jaats were not mentioned directly,thankfully 🙂

            PS: Can I please take the post back? (embarrassment by association – what’s the German word for that?)

        1. They receive all kinds of government support and even aid unless I am mistaken if they procreate. 😆.
          Vaguely remember seeing some government add saying they will bear expense or provide some support of IVF for Parsis.

  12. it is also said that some of these hindus are becomming sikhs, as this guarantees better protection.

  13. I think Parsis look South Asian because of a lack of steppe. Without steppe ancestry, I think many Iranian plateau-related people will look vaguely South Asian.

    ^ Like I’m pretty sure that if Iran_N or even Iran_Chal were living populations, people would be surprised at how Indian they look.

    I keep telling people that being genetically South Asian and genetically West Eurasian aren’t mutually exclusive, just as being phenotypically Caucasoid and phenotypically Indian aren’t exclusive categories.

    And I’ve seen so many Iranians (in America, out in California, so I assume that these are most likely to be people with roots in northwestern Iran) who look kinda Indian/Pakistani (like Punjabi/Sindhi Pakistani, not Pashtun Pakistani). Naturally, I’ve also seen a few that look kinda European, and many seem to look “classically” Near Eastern, but the South Asian-like minority is definitely very noticeable.

    Funny story along those lines (one which didn’t occur in California): back when I was around 16, I saw this dude who looked extremely Desi (like he could’ve been from anywhere between Pakistani Punjab to Uttar Pradesh) chillin’ with his friend (white American) in line just in front of me (grocery store). Once I noticed him, he couldn’t help but glance at me every few seconds. I’m a friendly, sociable/extroverted man IRL, and people can usually sense that sort of energy, so he eventually comes closer and says “hey bro, how are ya (me: oh, I’m good, thanks for asking)… say, I hope this isn’t weird, but I was wondering, what’s your ethnic background? I’m Persian, you know, from Iran. I feel like you’re a Middle Easterner too, and I don’t see many of us around here”. And so then we strike up a very pleasant conversation (the kind that people used to have IRL, lol). Eventually though, I make a tactless mistake; I tell him I thought he looked really Indian when I first saw him. This clearly offends him, and with an expression of clear annoyance and distaste he shoots back rather defensively, “well you look like you’re half white or something!”. He really spat out “white” with considerable disdain. A nice life lesson to keep such observations to myself lol

    1. Interesting anecdote, Commentator. I have sensed the Iranian discomfort with having Indian-ish features too which is why Iranians cringe when our Paki brothers (the Punjabi/Mohajir Indic kinds) go about how they are the brothers of Iranians / have Persian ancestry / are the same as Persian 🙂
      Time to share my own anecdote about Iranians. Many years ago, I used to work in a small company that had for some reason three Iranian dudes (unusually high % of workers) Reza, Masood and Masood (had changed his name to something vaguely Anglo/European). I had a stereotypical view of how Iranians looked and so was surprised when I came across this group – all three were short, really short, and shall I say quite below average looking. One of them looked Near eastern-ish and a stereotypically Persian looking wife, another looked vaguely Pakistaniish, and the third the darkest of them (like medium brown) looked like a weird mix of Iranian, Pakistani and Arab.
      I felt like how people must feel when they first meet normal Indians in real life after a lifetime of watching Bollywood 🙂

    2. This is a group of Iranians at a University in Tehran: http://marlik.org/en/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Deputies.jpg

      All of them Pass with ease in NW India.

      Here is the President of the Iranian Students Association at a University in the DMV area: https://scontent-iad3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/54255433_10157312492742160_1487992708189388800_n.jpg?_nc_cat=104&_nc_sid=0be424&_nc_ohc=SoKw-6q-cmkAX9ThdOz&_nc_ht=scontent-iad3-1.xx&oh=a966c242442cb754961ddb032c4a596c&oe=5F518DDE

      Here is the same Iranian President, who BTW is from Tehran, pictured with the VP of the club: https://scontent-iad3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/59689179_10157442671517160_100552593217945600_n.jpg?_nc_cat=110&_nc_sid=0be424&_nc_ohc=HoAoa075_uwAX_UX8MV&_nc_ht=scontent-iad3-1.xx&oh=15ff3ce12790933da3bdb8964b6f178d&oe=5F5449C5

      For those who want additional information here he is eating in the Grand Bazaar of Tehran with his cousin: https://scontent-iad3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t31.0-8/17545517_10208468308973508_4737167896322071419_o.jpg?_nc_cat=107&_nc_sid=7aed08&_nc_ohc=3dcnWLX2zoAAX86xpLF&_nc_ht=scontent-iad3-1.xx&oh=4188113fd4b6d5a0c3e970bdb54fca03&oe=5F519124

      BTW, here is the link to the Foundation, one can easily see the men above are Iranians and hold executive positions within the group: https://www.facebook.com/Umdisf/

      Contrast that to a Khatri Hindu man pictured here: https://res-5.cloudinary.com/crunchbase-production/image/upload/c_thumb,h_256,w_256,f_auto,g_faces,z_0.7,q_auto:eco/v1471406592/x1vf4ulkzmxdz3rqyn7j.png

      Its clear who looks Whit-er.

      Before people start jumping in and making all sorts of claims to the contrary, let me remind you that members of my family that I posted here earlier, who are Hindu Jats, are way less ethnic than every Iranian in that photo above. My family and the Khatri pictured are far from exceptions. But we are still a part of the diversity of India.

      In my experience, Persians are no different from the people one sees among Rors/Jats/Khatris, based on the thousands I’ve seen here in the US. Even most Armenians are the same way. Only the minorities in Iran, that are not Persian and/or mixed with non-Persian groups really stand out in South Asia.

      Like I said earlier, even Pashtuns dont stand out among Rors/Jats. Nor do Parsis. Why would Persians be any different?

      @Sein, do you have an email address I can reach you at?

    3. This is a group of Iranians at a University in Tehran: http://marlik.org/en/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Deputies.jpg

      All of them Pass with ease in NW India.

      Here is the President of the Iranian Students Association at a University in the DMV area: https://scontent-iad3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/54255433_10157312492742160_1487992708189388800_n.jpg?_nc_cat=104&_nc_sid=0be424&_nc_ohc=SoKw-6q-cmkAX9ThdOz&_nc_ht=scontent-iad3-1.xx&oh=a966c242442cb754961ddb032c4a596c&oe=5F518DDE

      Here is the same Iranian President, who BTW is from Tehran, pictured with the VP of the club: https://scontent-iad3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/59689179_10157442671517160_100552593217945600_n.jpg?_nc_cat=110&_nc_sid=0be424&_nc_ohc=HoAoa075_uwAX_UX8MV&_nc_ht=scontent-iad3-1.xx&oh=15ff3ce12790933da3bdb8964b6f178d&oe=5F5449C5

      For those who want additional information here he is eating in the Grand Bazaar of Tehran with his cousin: https://scontent-iad3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t31.0-8/17545517_10208468308973508_4737167896322071419_o.jpg?_nc_cat=107&_nc_sid=7aed08&_nc_ohc=3dcnWLX2zoAAX86xpLF&_nc_ht=scontent-iad3-1.xx&oh=4188113fd4b6d5a0c3e970bdb54fca03&oe=5F519124

      BTW, here is the link to the Foundation, one can easily see the men above are Iranians and hold executive positions within the group: https://www.facebook.com/Umdisf/

      Contrast that to a Khatri Hindu man pictured here: https://res-5.cloudinary.com/crunchbase-production/image/upload/c_thumb,h_256,w_256,f_auto,g_faces,z_0.7,q_auto:eco/v1471406592/x1vf4ulkzmxdz3rqyn7j.png

      Its clear who looks Whit-er.

      Before people start jumping in and making all sorts of claims to the contrary, let me remind you that members of my family that I posted here earlier, who are Hindu Jats, are way less ethnic than every Iranian in that photo above. My family and the Khatri pictured are far from exceptions. But we are still a part of the diversity of India. This doesnt make Persians Indian, but they certainly overlap racially and in appearance with NW Indians and Afghans.

      In my experience, Persians are no different from the people one sees among Rors/Jats/Khatris, based on the thousands I’ve seen here in the US. Even most Armenians are the same way. Only the minorities in Iran, that are not Persian and/or mixed with non-Persian groups really stand out in South Asia.

      Like I said earlier, even Pashtuns dont stand out among Rors/Jats. Nor do Parsis. Why would Persians be any different?

      @Sein, do you have an email address I can reach you at?

    4. “Eventually though, I make a tactless mistake; I tell him I thought he looked really Indian when I first saw him. This clearly offends him”

      How do Pashtuns generally feel if they’re called Indian?

      1. @Ronen

        To be honest, in my experiences IRL Pashtuns overall are probably among the least racist group within the broader context of West Asia, Central Asia, and South Asia. “Racist” here meant in the sense of prejudicial attitudes or behavior on the basis of consistent population-level phenotypic distinction/differentiation.

        Which makes sense, considering the general history of the ethnicity as a whole; Pashtuns are a traditionally expansionist cultural group.

        Throughout history, people who live alongside Pashtuns eventually adopt Pashtun idiosyncrasies like “jirga”, “badal”, “melmastia”, etc, and Pashtuns tend to welcome this. These processes tend to flow alongside intermarriage with the people in question (traditional Pashtuns freely marry women of other ethnicities), and are usually concurrent with the spread of the Pashto language in a given region.

        In addition to such peaceful processes of Pashtunization (which are the norm), there is a still vivid historical memory of violent assimilation of non-Pashtuns into the orbit of tribal culture (the invasion of Swat, the invasion of Tirah, the invasion of Kunar, etc).

        These histories of folk movement/invasion and conquest of non-Pashtun territory is completely distinct from the broader processes of Pashtun empire building, like the Durrani Empire or the Hotak Empire (or the earlier kingdoms in Delhi). In the latter cases, Pashtun rulers have obviously aimed at merely extracting rent from non-Pashtun populations (a task which is impossible to perform among the Pashtun tribes, who have always been heavily armed, and who have always cultivated intense hostility to all forms of both taxation and conscription), while in the former cases whole Pashtun tribes have moved into non-Pashtun territory and essentially either replaced the natives or converted them into helots.

        These histories of expansionism (violent), and assimilation (mostly peaceful, with some exceptions involving considerable violence) oddly enough lend Pashtuns a certain air of cosmopolitanism… a cosmopolitanism that is highly distinct from the sort that’s more typically cultivated by more docile agricultural or urban populations in West, Central, and South Asia.

        For example, in my whole life I have never heard Pashtuns ever express any sort of prejudice towards other ethnicities on the basis of physical appearance, even when wholly surrounded by only other Pashtuns.

        Like Punjabis will quite casually say some really fucked up things about “Kala Madrasis”, or “Kala Bangalis”, but that sort of talk doesn’t occur among Pashtuns (again, at least in my experience).

        When Pashtuns do display prejudice, it’s usually couched in terms of character. Like they won’t say that Indians are “black”; they’ll say that Indians are servile and cowardly. Or, they won’t say that Persians are inferior to themselves for any “racial” reasons; instead, they’ll say that Persians are soft and effeminate. Or, the problem with Central Asian Turks isn’t that they look different, with their flat noses and beardless faces; instead, the problem lies in their deceitfulness, and their tendency towards despotism. Or, instead of saying that Punjabis are darker than us, they’ll say that their women are whores.

        ^ If that makes sense. What I’m saying is that Pashtun discourse on inferiority-superiority (in the context of ethnic differences) is based on an essentialisation of cultural differences related to things like masculinity or independence or honor, not on an essentialisation of physical differences. Pashtun racism is a very different animal from Punjabi/northwest South Asian racism.

        So again, I honestly don’t think a Pashtun would be shockingly offended if someone thought they looked like a person from South Asia. Although, telling a Pashtun that they act like a Punjabi, or that have the temperament of a Hindu… now that, that might cause considerable offense to a person from the tribal heartland.

        PS: I’m a Pashtun, but above I’m describing the prejudices of Pashtuns straight from the hills and eyries of the tribal heartland.

        I have no prejudices against anyone; I approach people as individuals, not as members of a group. And I find biologically-based racism extremely nauseating.

        1. I think its ironic if you consider the fact that Turks/Mongols are part of the same broader “race” as the AASI, which is the East Eurasian group.

          In other words, the very people derided by certain backward villagers in Pashtunistan as “weak” have large amounts of ancestry from a source like AASI, whose Turkic and Mongolian cousins, (and the Huns) are a part of the same East Eurasian race as the AASI. This branch of the East Eurasian race conquered Central Asia, Afghanistan, and essentially all of West Asia up till Turkey, not to mention Russia and Eastern Europe, and subjugated and intermarried with Caucasian women. They also had most of South Asia under their grip.

          So in a way, the AASI-admixed majority was being ruled by a Turko-Mongol minority, and both were originally a part of the same East Eurasian race until Aryans and West Asians invaded and mixed with AASI, leaving a legacy.

          One could say that the colossal triumph of the Turks and the Mongols was Karma for the intrusions of West Asians into the subcontinent, both the Indo Aryan kind and the later Semitic and other Muslim West Asians, that negatively impacted the native Asian population. AASI’s other East Eurasian cousins showed up to avenge their early losses to the West Asians. And boy did they win, all across Eurasia. And did they leave behind a substantial genetic legacy as well.

          @Sein do you have an email contact?

    1. We LOLed too when you wrote this gem “I won’t confuse any one of them for a white Brit off my street (for example).” to counter the point about the different on average phenotype of Parsis. To spell it out, no one, repeat no one said that Parsis could pass as white Brits, but this was your counter 🙂

      We may not have Parsi BILs but might have seen enough of them to form an opinion..Some of us grew up with multiple Parsis around us(which is unusual in India outside of certain locations given their low numbers).

      Continue to LOL and feel above the plebs (although we know enough to know better)

      1. Apologies if I offended you. I am just genuinely amused at the commentary on looks. Please don’t mind me and carry on 🙂

        1. ” I am just genuinely amused at the commentary on looks”

          Then u shud have checked out the blog couple of weeks back 😛

  14. Iranians in general don’t look indic though unlike majority of iranic pashtuns I’ve seen in streets. Its just that pashtuns will also have lighter types that are rare among indics. I would say outside potohar/north punjab lighter types that look like lighter pashtun are almost non-existent among indics. This give pashtuns edge in fairness.

    Getting back to topic, Pakistani hindus are like bhils of Rajasthan, doubt any Indian lohana hindu would welcome them in their home.

  15. Commentator, pashtuns are racists to the core. No expansion happened in peace. You sound so ridiculous its not even funny. Indigenous people of Gandhara didn’t abandon indic language in peace.

    Also read Malala book, she explain well colour based racism among pashtuns themselves. As they all don’t come in 1 hue as many would like to believe.

    1. @Raz

      You wrote:

      “No expansion happened in peace. You sound so ridiculous its not even funny. Indigenous people of Gandhara didn’t abandon indic language in peace.”

      I wrote earlier:

      “In addition to such peaceful processes of Pashtunization (which are the norm), there is a still vivid historical memory of violent assimilation of non-Pashtuns into the orbit of tribal culture (the invasion of Swat, the invasion of Tirah, the invasion of Kunar, etc).”

      Does the invasion of Swat, Tirah, and Kunar sound peaceful? I’m explicitly recognizing violence in those historical contexts.

      But those events don’t constitute the norm; Pashtunization has tended towards involving rather peaceful domestic processes like intermarriage, and shared communal coexistence in certain regions. Admittedly, these were often relations involving a level of inequality (Pashtuns could marry non-Pashtuna women, but non-Pashtuns could not marry Pashtuna; Pashtuns would not perform menial labor, non-Pashtuns would not participate in tribal militias, etc), and were often a means of expressing power/dominance over the people in question.

      ^ But over the course of a few centuries, intermarriage and mutual coexistence leave a mark; eventually, the distinction between the sons of conquerors and the sons of the conquered becomes quite ephemeral, especially once everyone speaks Pashto at home. A few more generations, and the distinction itself disappears; everyone becomes a Pashtun.

      This isn’t a novel/unique insightful analysis that I owe to my own anthropological research in the field (lol); it’s just how things have actually occurred. The people in question are fully aware of the history.

      “Also read Malala book, she explain well colour based racism among pashtuns themselves. As they all don’t come in 1 hue as many would like to believe.”

      It’s interesting that you mention this. Malala is from Swat; the Swat Yusufzai (along with some of the Peshawari Pashtuns) are by far the most culturally South Asian influenced of all Pashtuns. It even shows up in the genetic analyses; some Swat Pashtuns (but definitely not most of them) resemble Pakistani Punjabis with respect to their genetic affinities, rather than other Pashtuns from the tribal areas.

      They have a jajmani-like social system, which is totally alien to all other Pashtuns; so, if you’re looking for the South Asian variant of colorist racism among Pashtuns, they’re perfect candidates, because they are culturally transitional between tribal Pashtuns and the people of the Greater Punjab.

      And if you could remember, which Pashtuns was I describing in the comment you referenced? I’ll quote myself, in order to remind you:

      “PS: I’m a Pashtun, but above I’m describing the prejudices of Pashtuns straight from the hills and eyries of the tribal heartland.”

      I hope that the above clarifies.

      1. @Commentator jân

        “jajmani-like” what does that mean? Maybe local Prakrit for yajamāna (the man who bears cost of / commissions the yajna)?

        1. @Slapstik wrora

          Your understanding of the general linguistics and of Sanskrit itself always has precedence; so if that’s the connection you see, then that’s probably it.

          1. Sure, but I wanted to know what you meant by the term in Pashtun / non-Pashtun context. Just interested.

            (I have little/no priors on matters of Pashtun culture. Indians generally know very little first-hand about actual Pashtuns)

          2. Slapstik wrora,

            I’d be quite pleased if I could shed some light on the matter.

            Essentially, many of the northeastern Sarbani Pashtun tribes (and this includes the Yusufzai; in fact, they represent the most extreme exemplification of the pattern that I’ll be trying to describe in what follows) deviate in many respects from the “democratic” societal pattern found among Pashtun highlanders living in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

            Those tribal Pashtuns have a long history of political freedom; throughout the centuries, they’ve avoided taxation and conscription from neighboring state-systems. In fact, most local powers have ended up paying these people, to avoid trouble on their periphery. These people have always been heavily armed, have always been very truculent and rebellious (the traditional name for the Pashtun highland country is “Yaghistan”, “Land of Rebellion”), and have traditionally been engaged in activities such as highway robbery, toll-collecting, and (rather ironically, considering the aforementioned highway robbery) “protection” of travelling merchants seeking safety on their routes to urban centers in either Greater Khurasan or the Greater Punjab .

            In the olden days, these people took considerable pride in their freedom from external authority, and in their reputation as “fighting men/warriors”.

            Amongst themselves, these people have no sense of political unity. Family members (primarily agnatic cousins) engage in blood feuds based on affronts to “nang”, and endless scuffles occur over pasturage. Non-relative neighbors do the same. The tribe itself as a unit maintains a holistic system of broader alliances and rivalries on the basis of kinship. Oddly enough, kindred tribes are often rivals, and tribes from separate lineal confederacies align on matters of war. The reason for this lies in the essential organizational principle of tribal Pashtun culture: “the son of my father’s brother is my enemy”. Strangers are preferred.

            In terms of temperament, these people are very bold, proud, confident, and exceedingly open/free-spirited. But at the same time, they are not arrogant… not in the least; there’s a certain rustic egalitarianism to their manners, and they lack all affectation of haughtiness or self-aggrandizement.

            Furthermore, their abhorrence of centralized authority, their lack of political unity, and the geographic nature of the country itself… all of these factors together have continually prevented any state-building among these people. But throughout history, whenever far away from home, they’ve left their mark (the Delhi Sultanate, the kingdoms in Bengal, etc).

            ^ Now, everything written above, nearly none of it applies to the Yusufzai. The northeastern Sarbani Pashtuns still have that whole “warrior ethos”, but they don’t really make much war (lol). To a large extent, they see themselves as descendants of people who lived just like Pashtuns from the highlands; they themselves don’t live like that. I mean they occupy fertile, prosperous valleys, and they haven’t been free from external taxation or conscription for a few centuries.

            And that’s where “jajmani” comes in. To a large extent, these Sarbani Pashtuns have really “gone Indian”. They see themselves in the same light that Rajputs or other Kshatriya might see themselves in. The Yusufzai are landowning “warrior” rulers.

            In fact, in Swat being “Pukhtun” (the northern dialectical variant of “Pashtun”) is synonymous with being a member of the landowning gentry.

            Their priests are supposedly from the Punjab (the Yusufzai themselves never engage in religious instruction), and only these foreign-descended Mullahs are their equals (as signified by the fact that they do give their daughters in marriage to members of the Mullah “caste”, but not to any other group).

            Other work is also performed by castes that are identical to what one sees in the Punjab. There are weavers, barbers, peasants, business-centered communities, etc.

            And unlike people from the highlands, the temperament of these Pashtuns tends more often towards rhetorical bellicosity, despite the fact that they actually don’t engage in any real violence among either themselves or against non-Pashtuns. Furthermore, perhaps due to the aforementioned South Asian imprint, these people do talk about “purity” of blood. Like some Yusufzai will explicitly note that they are “pure” Yusufzai.

            By contrast, that kind of duscourse doesn’t occur among tribal Pashtuns. No Afridi or Zadran would say that they’re a “pure” Afridi or Zadran. It’s just not how they talk.

            In addition to the “culturally unadulterated” Pashtuns of the highland massif (whom all Pashtuns agree preserve the “ancestral” way of “authentic” Pashtun life), and the somewhat culturally Indianized groups of the northeastern fringe, there’s a third cultural branch of Pashtuns: the Ghilzai and Durrani confederacies. These people are very distinct from both the anarchic mountaineers, and the caste-participating eastern periphery Pashtuns. These people deserve their own description, but I think my response is already horrendously long. If there’s any interest in their history and/or cultural anthropology, I’ll type a separate response dedicated to them.

      2. @Sein, isn’t Malala a “pure” Pashtun though? I find it hard to believe that such looks are completely absent among Pashtuns, when even Iranians have their share of “Indic” leaning folks. Here in the DMV area, I’ve seen a couple dozen Pashtuns, and one or two of them (who I know on Facebook) had parents and family members that looked just like Malala and her family, and they are all from Kabul/Kandahar and speak Dari/Pashto. I know some personally from my Undergraduate days, as they approached me based on a case of mistaken identity.

        Even Malala’s biography and other sources online state that she is an actual Pashtun. She and her family don’t look like generic Punjabis, they just look like ethnic Iranics, (who to the untrained eye, are “Indic” leaning) some of whom I’ve seen in the Southern Part of Iran as well (Arg-e-Bam region, Bandar Abbas, Baluchestan). Do Pashtuns write-off the darker and ethnic-looking Pashtuns as “Punjabis” even if they don’t look Punjabi? How can they tell who is a true Pashtun and who isn’t in this respect?

        BTW @Sein, do you have an email/other form of contact I can used to communicate with you? I’d appreciate it if we can converse over email. Thanks a bunch.

        1. APthk,

          Malala is absolutely a Pashtuna (and in my view, a true example of strength and perseverance; she’s a heroine).

          But if you’re talking about something like genetic affinity, there’s a chance she might be skewed towards Pakistani Punjabis. If I’m not mistaken, her father is from a family of teachers/men of religion (Mullah’s).

          In the Swat valley, the Yusufzai don’t teach or engage in religious instruction. Their preachers and teachers are supposedly descended from “holy” families that came a few centuries back from the Punjabi lowlands, and even today there’s (on average) a consistent physical difference between “Mulluhiyan” and “Pukhtanah”.

          I’ve seen an interview of Malala’s mother, and her mother looks like a Chechen with green eyes. It’s a common phenotype among Yusufzai and Tarklani; they’re known for having a large minority of people who are fair-haired and light-eyed.

          By contrast, her father could easily pass beyond the Punjab; like he could be a Hindi speaker, or maybe from even deeper in the sub-continent.

          Malala herself seems nicely mixed between her parents. Her pigmentation is skewed towards her mother (although she’s still a bit darker), and her facial features seem more skewed towards her father.

          Honestly though, it feels really weird talking about her like this. Like talking about genetics and phenotype seems out of place. She’s an extraordinary girl.

          And sure, we could talk outside of BP. I’ll figure out the best email for us to talk.

          1. No, post about ghilzai & the Kabul stuff here.

            Pathan complained about Hindustani Jihadi being sent to weaken them even in Maharaj Ranjit Singh time.

            Today Taliban opposes Isis.
            Right?

          2. Sher Singh,

            Since there’s an interest, I’ll make sure to write up something on the topic.

            And you’re right on both counts.

            An interesting historical detail that’s somewhat related to the former point…

            Some Muslims from north India (people who sought refuge among the Yusufzai, because they were fighting a campaign against the British, and wanted a safe base from which to keep the operation going) ended up losing their lives at the hands of their benefactors.

            Apparently things soured between them and the Yusufzai after the “Mujihadin” from northern India asked for the hands of Yusufzai daughters… and after repeated refusals, the request became a demand. Once it became a demand, the Yusufzai forgot all about the jihad against the British, and killed these people (in the olden days, the Yusufzai were famously very touchy about their womenfolk having anything to do with non-Yusufzai men, including non-Yusufzai Pashtuns. Even beyond the matter of marriage: there’s that old yarn of an observation, the observation that you can be best friends with a Yusufzai man for 50 years, truly be his most trusted confidant all throughout his life… yet not even once will you have even the slightest chance of meeting his mother, his sisters, his wife, or his daughters).

            Concerning the latter point, the Taliban are very much enemies of Isis.

            APthk,

            Sounds like a plan.

      3. @Seinundzeit

        What is the relationship of Pashtuns with religion?

        You’ve mentioned that they do not acquiesce to states and statehood. So how do they square their independent tribal way of life with Islam/sharia? Or is it a natural fit?

        Also, on Twitter I have noticed some Afghans have negative view of Hinduism. This is a bit surprising also because they generally have a positive view of India.
        Something like “Indians are our friends but we wish they weren’t Hindu”

        Is this a widely held view or just a quirk of my Twitter bubble?

        A few years ago I was in hospital for a surgery. The room next to me was occupied by an Afghan kid from Kabul. His dad came to chat with me after both our successful surgeries.
        I was impressed by his command over Urdu/Hindi.
        During our conversation, the topic of violence in Afghanistan came up. He was insistent that those who kill are not real Muslims.

        Is this a widely held view or was it more of an urban middle class coping mechanism?
        (Akin to urban Hindus claiming caste doesn’t matter anymore)

        I know you’ve already written a lot here but it’s not everyday that we find a Pashtun visiting these neck of the woods. So I am, as they say in Hindi, washing my hands in the already flowing Ganges.

        1. Prats,

          I’m very glad that you’ve asked about this, because even in the anthropological literature one often encounters a few persistent misconceptions.

          There’s an implicit understanding that Sharia conflicts with “Pashto/Pukhto” (they refer to both the language and the traditional code of conduct/tribal law by this term) in a multitude of very important respects.

          And until the 1970’s, whenever such conflict found expression in any given specific situation of consequence, Pashto would win against sharia. A common sentiment was often phrased like so: “we wish we could apply the Sharia… but the ways of our fathers and grandfathers simply cannot be abandoned; they live on through our manners and law”.

          It’s not like this anymore; a heady (and somewhat forced) mix of Saudi Wahabism, South Asian Deobanism, and the aforementioned ancient tribal Pashtun norms/customs has produced a whole new beast, one that constitutes the primary drive behind forces like the Taliban (both the Pakistani and Afghan variants).

          Again, it really wasn’t always like this.

          There was a time when Wazir and Maseed Pashtun tribesmen refused to circumcise their sons. Ghilzai nomads couldn’t recite the Islamic Shahada. Mohmand and Afridi Pashtuns wouldn’t know how to perform “munz” (what Persianate and South Asian Muslims call “namaz”, and Arabs call “salah”). We’re talking about some really basic stuff here… like the essentials of Islam. And these people didn’t partake of any of it.

          And perhaps most importantly, their whole weltanschauung was tied to an ancient pre-Islamic system that often feels like it came straight from Bronze Age post-BMAC Central Asia.

          Then there’s the Roshani heresy of the 16th century. Whole Pashtun tribes abandoned Islam for a militant movement that synthesized aspects of Sufism, Zorastrianism, Hinduism, and tribal Pashtun legal code. The man who founded this “heresy” was the father of the Pashto script, and the writer of the very first work ever in the Pashto language!

          Pakistani state apparatuses have had a substantial hand in this transformation, but so has working in the gulf region. Some of these people have spent 30+ years among gulf Arabs, and I imagine that this rubs off on the soul (lol).

          With respect to the former dynamic though, the Pakistani state has always been deeply troubled by the prospect of secular Pashtun nationalism, and by a strong, stable Afghanistan. There’s always a fear that Pashtuns could do considerable damage to Pakistan if they ever wanted out. To not put too fine a point on it, “Pakistan” wouldn’t exist anymore.

          ^ Which is why people like Bacha Khan (and his descendants) were silenced in the context of the national conversation of that country; why Pakistan usually tries to promote both instability and Islamist actors in Afghanistan; and why it simultaneously practices appeasement of Pakistani Pashtuns, in the context of high positions in it’s military bureaucracy.

          Now, on the question of Hinduism, and with an eye kept on the tribal highlands:

          It’s worth noting that even the Taliban refrains from any molestation of Hindus and Sikhs in places like Tirah or Khost (with an exception in the mid-2000’s that ended very badly for the Pakistani Taliban).

          Fellow Muslims are afraid of going to Tirah and Khost; these are rough places. Yet Hindus and Sikhs have traditionally lived rather undisturbed existences in the context of very rough country, because the tribes there provide them “protection”; it’s a very medieval model of client-benefactor relations. By contrast, in Kabul (outside the confines of the tribal heartland), Sikhs did suffer a level of oppression from the Taliban.

          ^ Somewhat related to this, it should be noted that there’s a taboo in Pashtun culture against killing Hindus. Apparently, the rules of honor and revenge are not supposed to apply them. It’s a peculiar (but I think interesting) detail in the context of tribal “Pashto”.

          Anyway, I think the attitude you’ve encountered on Twitter might be more common among educated Afghans (who are more likely to identify first and foremost as members of Islamicate civilization, rather than as Pashtuns first).

          And the “those who kill aren’t real Muslims” is a very common sentiment. Which is no surprise; the irony isn’t lost on people when Talibs commit suicide attacks inside Mosques.

          PS: I hope I was able to provide adequate responses to your questions, and I do enjoy the opportunity. But I did write quite a lot, which I hope isn’t too jarring. I apologize in advance if it is.

          1. Commentator/Seinundzeit, I have read your detailed posts on pakhtun society with great interest. really refreshing read, after the done-to-death genotype phenotype stuff. please write more.

          2. Agree with scorpion. Perhaps u should become a contributor if Razib agrees. It’s refreshing to have a Afghan voice in the midst. It’s part of the world we would all benefit with insights on.

          3. Seinundzeit,
            Your comment was very enlightening. And I second Scorpion and Saurav in requesting that you post more often. We would all benefit greatly from some Pashtun wisdom!

          4. Prats, Saurav, and Scorpion Eater,

            Thank you. You’re all much too kind, and I truly am very appreciative of your generosity.

            It really is a pleasure to know that I’ve had an opportunity to make a contribution to the conversation here… a contribution that you’ve deemed constructive.

            And if Razib is open to the idea, I wouldn’t mind chewing over the possibility of being a contributor.

            We’ll see.

      4. APthk,

        Unlike Afghanistan, KP is mish mash of iranic and indic. Indics are either like dalit by caste or generic punjabi transitional castes like awan/gujjar like genetically.

        Awans for exemple could pass for pashtuns without much trouble, but they don’t tend to have northen dard like lighter types. See here

        https://tns.world/according-to-latest-census-conducted-in-2017-awan-is-a-fourth-largest-tribe-living-in-pakistan/

        KP gujjars on the other hand can have lighter types similar to northen dards.

        Malala father shows KP also have pashto speaking dalit like population that some time mixes with tribal pashtuns. They are probably menial workers like in punjab villages. Its like caste system.

  16. Interesting thread on Iranian looks. It seems there isn’t one Iranian look just like in India. I noticed this myself at the Uni I went to in the Netherlands, which has a large popualation of Iranian students and I had a few Iranian friends myself (they prefer being called Persian though!). Also noticed quite a high frequency of curly haired folk among them, which is interesting as even the Dutch themselves have a higher fraction of curly haired folk when compared to other Europeans.

    It’s quite clear if you see a show like Mark Wiens’s food and travel show on Iran that’s on Amazon Prime. That show made me come close to giving up vegetarianism, lol. What’s especially interesting is the episode where he goes to Chabahar, it’s crazy how ‘desi’ the Baluchi people look compared to the other parts of the country

    Re Pashtuns, there’s a population of pathans in the old city of Hyderabad that have a reputation for violence, and they do actually look quite distinct from the other local folks. This distinctiveness is more in terms of build, height and features rather than colour though.

  17. “We’re talking about some really basic stuff here… like the essentials of Islam. And these people didn’t partake of any of it.”

    Commentator, pakhtun tribes’ indifference to outwardly islamic practices have been noted by british colonial writers too. however, it must be noted that pakhtun resistance to british domination – as a rule – was always waged as a jihad, and involved considerable fanaticism on the tribes’ part. i am sure you have known about the rebellions led by faqir of Ipi and various other mullahs.

    my guess is while the pakhtuns may not have been very strict in observance of islamic practices in the past, they have always been self-consciously muslims in a deep way.

    1. “my guess is while the pakhtuns may not have been very strict in observance of islamic practices in the past, they have always been self-consciously muslims in a deep way.”

      Scorpion Eater, I think you’ve nailed it right on the head. You’re absolutely right.

      As far back as current collective cultural memory goes, Pashtuns do seem to have always seen themselves as a deeply Islamicate people. And resistance against the British was certainly always couched in terms of jihad.

      But until quite recently, expression of Islamic orthopraxy was thin with respect to concrete practices. And much of traditional Pashtun tribal law was/is in direct contradiction with both the spirit and letter of the sharia.

      (e.g. murder is haram; but if a Pashtun offends another Pashtun by making a lewd remark concerning that Pashtun’s mother/sister/wife/daughter, the offended has an obligation to kill the offender, and then an adult male member of the offender’s immediate family has an obligation to kill either the offended or an adult male member of his immediate family. And this isn’t something that occurred in the deep past; as late as the 1970’s it happened with considerable frequency. And to this day it still happens, although to a much lesser extent, and almost always only in more isolated areas. This is a very extreme example, but there are many more of a subtler nature, like customs concerning inheritance, notions concerning burial, traditions regarding marriage, etc).

      PS: It’s truly a pleasure to know that you’ve found my posts to be of interest. I really appreciate that.

      And I’m also quite glad that I could provide a reprieve from the genetics and physical anthropology-focused conversations. Though I do know that (unfortunately) people here like those discussions (lol).

      1. I think perhaps a comparison could be perhaps hindu jats, who even though have an identification of being hindu, but practises within more clan and khap like structures than what could be identified as hindu practises. Even politically they voted more wrt to caste and only recently they have started moving toward “hindu” side.

        1. It’s an interesting comparison.

          And on a related note, I do see some broader structural similarities between Hindu Jat and Pashtun culture.

          But I can’t speak much to this, since I’ve only garnered faint impressions concerning Jat social organization and anthropology (not much general knowledge, and almost no knowledge of the details). It’s probably an angle worth exploring.

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