LOCATION: Afghanistan

POPULATION: 1.5–4.3 million (estimate)

LANGUAGE: Dari (Khorasani Persian); Pashtu; Baluchi; Turkic

RELIGION: Islam (Shi'ite Muslim)


The Hazaras live in Afghanistan. Local legends and some native historians trace their ancestry to the biblical figure Yafith (or Japheth), the son of Noah. The Hazaras believe themselves to be descendants of the Turko-Mongol tribes of Asia. However, there is little precise knowledge about their ethnic origins and their history in Afghanistan.


Most of the Hazaras are concentrated in the mountainous central region of Afghanistan. The area that serves as their homeland is known as Hazarajat. Hazaras are also found scattered in other areas of the country in smaller numbers. There is also a Hazara population in Baluchistan, Pakistan.

The exact number of Hazaras is not known because there has never been a complete national census taken in Afghanistan. Estimates of the Hazara population range from about 1.5 million to 4.3 million people (or 7 to 20 percent of the total Afghani population).


Most Hazaras today speak Dari, a form of Persian, also called Khorasani Persian. In addition to Persian, some Hazaras also speak Pashtu, Baluchi, and Turkic.


Hazaras believe in common rural superstitions, such as the evil eye, ghosts, and superstitions involving animals and nighttime. Hazaras enjoy storytelling, sharing tales of their history, ancestors, and heroes.

Hazaras also have many proverbs, including the following examples:

If your father owns the mill, you still must wait your turn to grind your flour. (In business, the customer comes first.)

The sons of wolves will be wolves. (Children will be like their parents.)

Two people are afraid of an empty rifle: the one with the rifle, and the one without it. (A person being threatened feels afraid. But the person doing the threatening is also afraid if he knows he can't follow through on the threat.)


The Hazaras are Shi'ite Muslims, one of the world's two major Islamic sects. Muslims celebrate their religious holidays by going to the mosque for group prayers. Then they return home to large meals with family and visiting relatives.


As Shi'ite Muslims, Hazaras celebrate the two major Islamic holidays, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. Eid al-Fitr is a three-day celebration that comes after a month of fasting called Ramadan. Eid al-Adha commemorates the willingness of Abraham to obey God's command and sacrifice his son, Isaac. People making a pilgrimage (religious journey) are expected to sacrifice a goat or sheep and offer the meat to the poor. One other holiday celebrated among Hazaras is Nawruz , the Persian New Year.


Special celebrations involving passages to a new stage of life include circumcision for young boys, weddings, and funerals. Once girls reach puberty, they are required to cover their hair with scarves and to spend more of their time indoors. Marriages are arranged by the families of the bride and groom. When a daughter is married, she moves in with her husband's family.


The Hazara people are very hospitable and friendly to guests. They prepare special food for their guests, who are honored with the best seats at mealtime. Most Hazaras eat with their hands, rarely using utensils such as forks and knives.


Generally speaking, Hazaras are poor people with few economic opportunities. However, their living conditions vary depending on their location. Conditions are more harsh for those living in cold climates, where shelter is a greater concern, travel is difficult, and agriculture is poor.


It is customary for extended families to live together in one house, including grandparents and women married to the sons of the household. Newborn babies are usually named by the older people of the household. Grandparents are actively involved in raising their grandchildren. After the death of the grandparents, especially the grandfather, the sons usually begin living in separate households of their own.


The most common clothing among the Hazaras is perahan-u-tunban, a type of clothing that resembles pajamas. Men wear turbans, vests, overcoats, and sweaters over their perahan-u-tunbans. Their clothing is usually made from wool or cotton. Unlike the men, who wear plain-colored clothes, the women usually wear clothes with bright colors and designs. Women usually wear lighter-weight clothes because they remain indoors more of the time. Hazaras do not own large amounts of clothing.

12 • FOOD

The Hazaras' diet includes a large proportion of high-protein food such as meat and dairy products. They use plenty of oil when cooking. Usually a meal consists of one type of food, rather than a wide selection. However, a variety of foods may be served at meals when guests are present, or may be served in wealthier Hazara households.


Hazaras have two systems of education. The traditional system provides religious instruction and informal home education in practical tasks, according to whether the student is a girl or a boy. The formal education system is that found in schools administered by the government. Most students attend these schools only through the sixth grade. A few of the best students are then sent to Kabul to continue their education.


Hazara social gatherings include music and dancing. Women and men dance separately, each having different styles. Poetry is read and the dambura is played. The dambura is a bowl lute with a long neck and two strings that are plucked. The dambura is also used to accompany the recitation of poetry, epics, and love stories.

Hazaras have many different dubaitis (folk songs). The following is an example:

The stars shone and I lay awake
I was behind the broken wall
As the cock began to crow
I was still waiting for my love.


In rural areas, Hazara men generally work in the fields growing crops. In Kabul, they usually have low-paying, menial jobs such as janitorial work. Most women spend their time inside their homes, tending to household tasks and the needs of their children.


Due to a lack of leisure time, Hazaras do not spend a great deal of time playing sports. Hazaras in some areas take part in the national Afghani game, buzkashi. This is a sport in which as many as 1,000 men on horseback compete for possession of a dead goat or calf. Other sports played by Hazaras include hunting, wrestling, archery, and horse racing.


Hazaras in rural areas have more time for recreation in the winter, when there is less work to do. They tell stories, visit with each other, and drink tea in the evenings.


Hazaras produce handmade coats, overcoats, sweaters, jackets, shoes, hats, gloves, and scarves. These are mostly made by the women and are sold in shops in Kabul and other cities.


The Hazaras are generally poorer and less educated than other Afghanis. As Shi'ite Muslims, they are in the minority in the largely Sunni population of Afghanistan. These differences create tensions between the Hazaras and other Afghanis.


Ali, Sharifah Enayat. Cultures of the World: Afghanistan. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1995.

Clifford, Mary Louise. The Land and People of Afghanistan. New York: Lippincott, 1989.

Nyrop, Richard F., and Donald M. Seekins, eds. Afghanistan: A Country Study. Washington, D.C.: U.S. GPO, 1986.


Echo of Islam. [Online] Available http://chuma.cas.usf.edu/~rfayiz/afghani.htm , 1998.

Investor's Business Journal. Afghanistan. [Online] Available http://www.afghan-web.com/ , 1998.

World Travel Guide. Afghanistan. [Online] Available http://www.wtgonline.com/country/af/gen.html , 1998.

User Contributions:

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May 24, 2009 @ 11:23 pm
firstly iam very thankful to one who has done these great job.
and secondly i would like mention about some small mistakes in these reasurch. AS a Hazara i know that hazaras do not speak pashtu or baluchi. and they are not very poor in afghanistan.

hazaras have been under the crulity of different ethnicity in afghanistan just due to their religion and of being hazara
from last 40 years or more then 40 years
Shujaat Hazara (pk)
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Aug 26, 2009 @ 11:11 am
I am true hazara soliders.
i will fight for my nation's rights. Not having a Gun. but a pen and education and a telan. for only my hazara's sis and bro for thier future
Sabir Hazara
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Oct 1, 2009 @ 2:02 am
I have read the complete passage that you have written on my Nation & our people i think the information is right apart from that you must make it correction in it. Such as Our mother language is Hazaragi. And another information that you told that we speak Pashto and Baluchi. We leave with them but we don't talk their language.
Somehow Thankyou!
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Sep 4, 2010 @ 4:04 am
I think this text belong to 20 years ago. because nowaday hazaras are most educated people of Afghanistan. their population is about 9 millions too. some of most important engineering company of Afghanistan are their own. At summary, I think in Afghanistan, Pashtoons have the Power and Hazaras have The calture and science and sport. As my observation hazaras are more calm and civilized poeple than other people of Afghanistan.
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Aug 20, 2011 @ 3:15 pm
i want to tell you that about 100 years ago hazaras were the majority in afghanistan.
right now hazara is one of the developed and motivated minorities in afghanistan.
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Dec 12, 2011 @ 3:03 am
i believe this text was written in the 1950s because nowaday hazara have really good lifing conditons. the problem is that other ethic group dont pay their respect for the hazaras. just because they are shia islam, their ancestries are from mongol, and etc. if afghanistan was under hazara hand, it would turn to be a best country.
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Jan 3, 2013 @ 11:23 pm
Bamiyan budah is the most valueable history of Hazara people in Afghanistan.
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Feb 10, 2013 @ 1:01 am
I just met a Hazara person today for the first time. They were very kind and told me about their ethnicity. It was good to learn about Hazara people and culture.
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Jul 25, 2014 @ 7:07 am
I need to know more about Hazaras. What are their religious beliefs? are they exactly same as Shia? or what are the differences? why they are subject to mass execution in Pakistan and Afghanistan while it does not happen to other Shia communities'?
I do support them and I strongly belief that Hazaras has their right to live in peace, no matter what beliefs they have.
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Aug 1, 2014 @ 8:20 pm
I was kidding, friends. I am so sorry. The article above about hazara people is wonderful and can guide the people very well if they don't know about hazara. Nice, thanks.
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Sep 12, 2017 @ 12:00 am
Hello! Do you know hazara people live in Turkmenistan too?! I think nobody knows about it. They are called Barbari, but their language Dari and they're Shia Muslim. I can't understand why they are called Barbari?
Ali Alizafdah
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Sep 24, 2017 @ 9:21 pm
Hi, This is Ali from Australia , first thanks for awesome website , it's really useful for me . by the way i just needed some more info about hazarah people including History something like that because it i s my topic research project in colleg.
thank you
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Oct 13, 2018 @ 11:11 am
Hello. I have been trying to track down a story told to me by a Hazarah elder I met in the region between Kabul and Kandahar (near Malek Din and/or Rowghani. He told us a story of a evil spirit or jinn that was met by two brothers will wondering the mountains, the creature was known for being ambivalent with people, but when wronged or struck as he put it, the being grew angry. But the real problem was when it was struck again or more than once, it became a great evil to people even going so far as to chase them down to seek vengeance. This story is told as a warning and lesson on how to treat strangers or visitors. I have been told this is a retelling of a pre-Islamic Iranian tale, but I would love to find a version in the form that he told us. His storytelling and style were amazing, also I have to admit the lesson was an excellent one. I still remember it today almost ten years later. I would appreciate any help, anyone can give. Thanks!
A person
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Oct 28, 2018 @ 11:23 pm
Pickles are very good for your mental and physical health
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Oct 29, 2018 @ 12:00 am
China has a good chance of getting a better life. Pickles.
Ruth Nicholas
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Oct 30, 2018 @ 1:01 am
This is very useful information for my students to use to research their Geography assignment. Thank you.
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Nov 14, 2018 @ 8:20 pm
I didn't know that it is the Hazaras who speak the official language Dari as L1 speakers. Others like Pushtoons, Turkmens, Uzbeks and Thanks are not L1 speakers. Anyway the Pushtoons are the pure Aryans and native to Ariana aka Afghanistan.

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