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Ahmadzai

C.M. Kieffer

Encyclopaedia Iranica

AHMADZI "descendants of Ahmad" (sing. Ahmadzay), a Pashtun clan and tribal name. Its diverse use is one indicator of the complexity of Pashtun tribal structure. There are Ahmadzi springing from different tribal branches and constituting ethnic groups at various levels (clans, subclans, tribal fractions, large families etc.) and tracing their descent to different eponymous Ahmads, known and unknown. The confusion is sometimes compounded by the interested parties themselves, when they incorrectly claim an ethnic origin, clan affiliation, or ancestral connection that seems to have more prestige or to be more advantageous.

On the Pashto speaking frontier of Pakistan (or "Pashtunistan"), the best-known Ahmadzi ethnic groups are the following:

  1. The Wazir Ahmadzi, established in southern Waziristan, who are descended from Ahmad, son of Musa Darwesh, son of Wazir, son of Solayman, son of Kakay (or Kaki), son of Karlan, and thus belong to the Karlani lineage. [1] Together with the Otmanzi, these Ahmadzi constitute the Musa Darwesh Khel, a clan that, with the Mahsud and the Gorbaz, is linked to the great Wazir tribe. They are divided into two lineages: [2] the Kalu Khel, numbering 3,906 men of fighting age at the end of the 19th century, [3] and the less important Sen or Sayn Khel, numbering 280 fighting men. [4] Bellew confirms these figures, [5] estimating that the Ahmadzi number 10,000 families. He also gives, for each of the two lineages, numerous names of tribal factions included in it; seventy-one for the Kalu Khel and fifty-two for the Sen Khel.
  2. The Solayman Khel Ahmadzi, an important nomadic clan affiliated with the tribe of the Solayman Khel of the Ghilzi tribal federation. In the 19th century they had their winter quarters at Paharpur in the district of Dera Ismail Khan. [6]
  3. The Dawtani Ahmadzi, a nomadic clan attached to the Lodhi confederation. Murray [7] locates their winter quarters on the banks of the Indus between Kat Malana and Parca in the district of Dera Ismail Khan and gives the figure of 700 fighting men for all these Dawtani, which furnishes some idea of just how small this Ahmadzi fraction is.
  4. To the south of the Gomal river Murray [8] localizes eight different Ahmadzi ethnic fractions attached to different tribes:
    1. In the Zhob valley:
      1. Ahmadzi < Mamezi < Haydar Khel < Mando Khel
      2. Ahmadzi < Solayman Khel < Ghilzi
      3. Ahmadzi < Kabalzi < Hasanzi < Kibzi < Sanzar Khel < Kakar
    2. In the Loralay valley:
      1. Ahmadzi < Malezi < Rakawwal < Luni
      2. Ahmadzi < Nuhzi < Isot < Ghorghasht
    3. In the Bori valley in the Loralay region:
      1. Ahmadzi < Mirzi < Alizi < Sanzar Khel < Kakar
    4. In the Sibi region:
      1. Ahmadzi < Lawan < Pani
    5. West of Dera Ismail Khan:
      1. Ahmadzi < Mangisi < Laharzi < Musa Khel

In Afghanistan two clans of Ahmadzi are generally distinguished:

  1. As a branch of the Abair, the Ahmadzi include the descendants of Ahmad Shah Dorrani, a line of descent with high prestige in Afghanistan. This line has sometimes played an important political role and attracted other Ahmadzi in quest of more illustrious ethnic identification.
  2. The other Ahmadzi are settled mainly in Paktia and Logar. Among the lineages that have sprung from them, the most important are the Isa Khel, the Musa Khel, and the Akurzi (or Akur Khel). These are certainly for the most part Wazir Ahmadzi (see above), but it is possible that there are among them several Solayman Khel or even some Dawtani who have been assimilated, as often happens with emigrants. It is frequently remarked that this clan, with its great prestige, conforms in an exemplary manner to the tenets of the Pashtunwali, the famous code of honor of the Pashtun. [9]

Bibliography

  1. O. CAROE., The Pathans, 550 B.C.-A.D. 1957, London, 1958 [repr. 1962, 1964, etc.], p. 21
  2. J.W. MURRAY, A Dictionary of the Pathan Tribes of the North-West Frontier of India, Calcutta, 1899 [repr. 1910], p. 103: "left bank of Kurram river"
  3. ibid., p. 138
  4. ibid., p. 175
  5. M.W. BELLEW., An Inquiry into the Ethnography of Afghanistan, Woking, 1891 [repr. Graz, 1973], pp. 118-19
  6. J. W. MURRAY, A Dictionary of the Pathan Tribes on the North-West Frontier of India, Calcutta, 1899 (repr. 1910) p. 103.
  7. ibid., p. 123
  8. ibid., p. 203
  9. C.M.KIEFFER., Afghanica, I, Langues et ethnies de l'Afghanistan, in press