Abdul Hai Habibi

Abdul Hai Habibi
Born 1910
Kandahar, Afghanistan
Died 9 May 1984(1984-05-09)
Kabul, Afghanistan
Occupation Historian, politician, scholar, professor
Nationality Afghan
Ethnicity Pashtun
Subject History and academia

Abdul Hai Habibi (Pashto: عبدالحى حبيبيʿAbd' ul-Ḥay Ḥabībi) (1910 – 9 May 1984) was a prominent Afghan historian for much of his lifetime as well as a member of the National Assembly of Afghanistan (Afghan Parliament) during the reign of King Zahir Shah.[1] A Pashtun nationalist from Kandahar, Afghanistan, he began as a young teacher who made his way up to become a writer, scholar, politician and Dean of Faculty of Literature at Kabul University.[2][3] He is the author of over 100 books but is best known for editing Pata Khazana, an "old" Pashto language manuscript that he claimed to have "discovered" in 1944; the academic community, however, does not acknowledge the manuscript as genuine.[4]


Habibi was born in the city of Kandahar in 1910, in a Pashtun family of scholars. He was the great grandson of Allamah Habibullah, the eminent scholar known as "Kandahari intellectual" who authored many books. Habibi's father died at an early age and he grew up studying in the mosques of Kandahar, and in 1920 he was admitted to the primary school of Shalimar. Being good at his studies, he received his diploma at the age of 15 and began working as a teacher in the primary schools of Kandahar.[5] In 1927 he was appointed as the deputy editor of Tulo Afghan weekly newspaper in Kandahar and 3 years later became the editor of the newspaper.[6]

In 1950s, he was forced to exile by living in Peshawar, Pakistan, because of his opposition to Afghan Prime Minister Shah Mahmud Khan. While in exile, he published a journal called Azad Afghanistan (Free Afghanistan). He was permitted to return to Afghanistan in 1961 to become professor in the faculty of literature of Kabul University. In 1966, he was appointed president of Afghan Historical Society and he published a number of books on Afghan history.[7]

As an academic, Habibi worked diligently throughout his life. He is the author of 115 books and over 500 papers and articles on the literature, history, philosophy, linguistics, poetics and the culture of the people of Afghanistan.[5][6] Several of his books have been translated to English, Arabic, German and other foreign languages.

Abdul Hai Habibi died on 9 May 1984, in Kabul, during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. He was 74 years old at the time of his death. He was fluent in Pashto and Dari.

Summary of official positions


Pata Khazana, one of Habibi's major works, has been questioned by several prominent scholars for lacking strong evidence. British Iranologist, David Neil MacKenzie, concludes from the anachronisms that the document was fabricated only shortly before its claimed discovery in 1944. MacKenzie's central argument refers to the use of the modern Pashto letters Dze[dz]) and Nur[ɳ]) throughout the script. These letters were only introduced into the Pashto alphabet in 1936 when the Afghan government reformed the Pashto orthography. The two letters have never been found simultaneously in any genuine manuscript before 1935.[8]

Habibi responded to his critics in 1977 by stating:

"I obtained the hand-written manuscript with the help of the late Abdul Ali Khanozay, a Kakkar at Psheen in 1943. First I translated it into Persian, provided explanatory notes and annotations and published it in 1944 through the Pashto Academy. In 1961 five thousand copies of the original edition were published by the Publications and Translation Department. Due to the great demand for the book, the third edition was published in 1976 by the Pashto Development Board of the Ministry of Information and Culture. This edition contained a complete facisimile of the original hand-written manuscript. Since its publication 33 years ago different opinions have been expressed about this book and certain people have cast their doubts upon it. Some have said that I have composed the book while others have claimed that it was forged by Shah Hussain, son of Haji Mirwais Khan. Such claims have been heard over the years, but unfortunately, the critics have not compiled any detailed or scholastic analyses of the work so that they may be studied, and if found refutable, commented upon scholastically. Scholars in the field have not discussed this book in detail so far. What has been written has been brief and expressions of doubts. No scholastic or positive criticism from the viewpoint of linguistics or etymology has been provided so that the authenticity or forgery of words may be evaluated and the facts clarified."[9]
Abdul Hai Habibi, 1977

See also


  1. Reddy, L. R. (2002). Inside Afghanistan: end of the Taliban era?. APH Publishing. p. 73. ISBN 978-81-7648-319-3. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
  2. Saikal, Amin (2006). Modern Afghanistan: a history of struggle and survival. I.B.Tauris. p. 110. ISBN 978-1-84511-316-2. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
  3. "Lesmiserables, les Afghans". Dr Fazal-ur-Rahim Marwat. TheFrontier Post and RAWA. 4 September 1998. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  4. Lucia Serena Loi: Il tesoro nascosto degli Afghani. Il Cavaliere azzurro, Bologna 1987, p. 33
  5. 1 2 "Biography of Abdul Hai Habibi (1910–1984)". alamahabibi.com (Official website). Retrieved 7 October 2010.
  6. 1 2 "دشلمې پېړۍ سترنابغه-لوى استاد،پوهاند علامه عبدالحى حبيبي". tolafghan.com. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
  7. Ahmadi, Wali (2008). Modern Persian literature in Afghanistan: anomalous visions of history and form. London: Routledge. p. 78. ISBN 978-0-415-43778-3. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
  8. David Neil MacKenzie: David N. Mackenzie: The Development of the Pashto Script. In: Shirin Akiner (Editor): Languages and Scripts of Central Asia. School of Oriental and African Studies, Univ. of London, London 1997, ISBN 978-0-7286-0272-4. p. 142
  9. Hōtak, Muḥammad; ʻAbd al-Ḥayy Ḥabībī, Khushal Habibi (1997). Pat̲a k̲h̲azana. United States: University Press of America. pp. 19–20. ISBN 978-0-7618-0265-5. Retrieved 2010-09-27.
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