The Entanglement of Religion, Politics and ‘Asabiyah in Modern Afghanistan

  • Mohammad Omar Wardak
Keywords: politics, religion, ‘asabiyah, Afghanistan, history, war


Religion and politics have always been entangled in Afghanistan. However, the relationship between ‘asabiyah (group feeling) and these two factors has not been analysed. The research described in this paper investigated the different levels of entanglement between religion, politics and ‘asabiyah throughout the modern history of Afghanistan. This article argues that successful leaders throughout Afghanistan’s history have established a delicate balance between religion, politics and ‘asabiyah. For political success, Afghan leaders have often needed to rely on strong ‘asabiyah, or support, from their tribe or ethnic group. Those who were born and bred in the country have had far more support than those imported from abroad or supported by foreign powers. Successful leaders have also often needed to display religious legitimacy. This is, however, a difficult task because public religious acts of devotion could outwardly be seen as pretentious and not genuine.