Pashayi, Northeast in Afghanistan

Pashayi, Northeast
Photo Source:  Todd Huffman  Creative Commons  Used with permission
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People Name: Pashayi, Northeast
Country: Afghanistan
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 92,000
World Population: 92,000
Primary Language: Pashai, Northeast
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Unspecified
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South Asia Muslim - other
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Northeast Pashayi, also called the Pashi, are in the South Asia Muslim - other people cluster.

Where Are they Located?

They live in Afghanistan, mostly in the valleys of the Hindu Kush in northeastern Afghanistan. They tend to live in valleys located near major river systems. The Northeastern Pashayi mostly live in the Kunar Province, in the side valleys between the Kunar and Pech Rivers.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Very few people actually refer to themselves as Pashayi, rather they call themselves Safi, Kohistanis, or Nuristanis.

Pashayi, a Dardic language, is their primary language and has many dialects. The northeastern Pashayi speak the northeastern dialect of Pashayi, which is unintelligible to other Pashayi speakers.

It is believed that the Pashayi once inhabited the northeastern plains of Afghanistan, however they were forced to move to the mountains as the Pashtun invaded their areas. The Pashayi are mostly rice farmers for those living at lower elevations, and wheat and maize farmers, and herders, for those living at the higher elevations.

Pashayi are tribal people. They are often lead by a village council which is the authority on issues affecting the entire village. The council is composed of extended family members from each family unit. Personal disputes are left to be resolved by the individual who was hurt in some way, which often leads to feuds.

The Pashayi value masculinity and honor more than anything else. The idea of an ideal man among the Pashayi is a man who is a proud warrior, one who is loyal to his family, one who is dangerous to his enemies, and a man who is always prepared for a feud when necessary.

The Pashayi culture has a rich tradition of songs and folklore which is passed down by oral tradition. Songs are often sung about their culture and traditionally, around harvest time, the young people in the village travel to other villages to sing the songs they'd composed throughout the year. Many Pashayi men carries a knife or a gun.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Pashayi converted to Islam in the late sixteenth century. They are Sunni Muslims of the Hanafite sect. Many Pashayi have some Folk Islamic practices, and it is not uncommon for Pashayi men to leave their communities to study under Pakistani or Afghani holy men. Shrines dedicated to saints are found throughout their areas. There are few, if any, believers or churches among them. There are Christian audio recordings in this language.