Afghan Biographies

Qizilbash Tribe Minority

Name Qizilbash Tribe Minority
Ethnic backgr. Qizilbash
Date of birth
Function/Grade All over Afghanistan
History and Biodata

The Qizilbash of Mediterranean sub-stock speak Dari, are Imami Shi'a, and scattered throughout Afghanistan, primarily in urban centers. There are perhaps 50,000 Qizilbash living in Afghanistan although it is difficult to say for some claim to be Sunni Tajik since Shia Islam permits the practice of taqiya or dissimulation to avoid religious discrimination. The Qizilbash form one of the more literate groups in Afghanistan, they hold important administrative and professional positions. The Qizilbash are traditionally considered to be the descendants of Persian Shia mercenaries and administrators left behind by the Safavid Emperor Nadir Shah Afshar (1736-47) to govern the Afghan provinces. Under Ahmad Shah Durrani, who served in Nadir Shah's bodyguard, and his successors, the Qizilbash acquired power and influence at court out of proportion to their numbers. This created resentment among the dominant Pushtun which hardened over the years, especially after the Qizilbash openly allied themselves with the British during the First Anglo-Afghan War (1838-1842). Amir Abdur Rahman accused the Qizilbash of being partisan to the enemy during his campaigns against the Shi'a Hazara in 1891-1893, declared them enemies of the state, confiscated their property and persecuted them. Qizilbash, Qazilbash or Kizilbash is Ottoman Turkish for "Crimson Heads" and is a name given to a wide variety of Shī‘ī militant groups (ghulāt) that flourished in Anatolia and Kurdistan from the late 13th century onwards, and later helped to found the Safavid dynasty of Iran. The expression "Red Heads" is derived from their distinctive crimson headwear with twelve gores (tāj or tark in Persian), known in Persian as "Haydar's Crown" indicating their adherence to the twelve Ithnā‘asharī Imāms and to Ḥaydar Ṣafawī, the spiritual leader (sheikh) of the Ṣafawiyyah movement.

Last Modified 2011-05-01
Established 2009-10-14