Pashtunwali

Pashtunwali: the code of the Pashtun. Most have probably never heard of it before now, I myself had not heard about it before yesterday afternoon. I attended a lecture by Don Goodrich and he opened my eyes to these traditional Afghan people. Mr. Goodrich is the father of Peter Goodrich, who was killed when the towers fell on nine eleven. Peter was aboard the second plane that crashed into the twin towers, and although the Goodrich family was devastated, they eventually began an organization to create better schools in Afghanistan. This has given Don the unique opportunity to visit Afghanistan and meet some interesting people.

The Pashtun are traditional Afghan tribes who live throughout Pakistan and Afghanistan; they live by their own code called Pashtunwali. This code includes 9 major components which are asylum, justice, bravery, loyalty, righteousness, trust in God, dignity, honor of women, and hospitality. All are equally important, but after hearing Mr. Goodrich’s stories of the Pashtun and the hospitality they provided him I was intrigued to research further. I found out the uniqueness of the Pashtun’s hospitality and also how far they will go just to be welcoming. For example when you enter a Pashtun’s home they will protect you and repel all of your enemies under all circumstances. A popular example of this is the story of Marcus Luttrell and his story of survival. When all of his comrades had died a Pashtun village took him in, protected, and hid him from the Taliban until American soldiers could get him to safety.

In Palwasha Kakar’s essay on Pashtunwali she explains that not only are the Pashtun hospitable to friends and strangers they are hospitable their enemies. An example of this is that a Pashtun woman is able to go to her family’s enemy and ask for the revenge cycle to stop, and by the Pashtunwali, or the tribal code, the family is bound to stop the cycle. While this was interesting the most shocking and encouraging example I found was if a women is betrothed to a man unwillingly, she may go to the man whom she wants to marry and explain her situation. This man is obliged to take her hand and fix the situation by going to her father and settling it. Although this option can cause a revenge cycle and also brings the girl great embarrassment, it is still a freedom that most Afghan women do not have.

I felt that the hospitality the Pashtun offer to all was very humbling. I wish that more Americans would feel the need to offer a warm home or even nice words to people passing on the street, then maybe we would live in a better world, one free of hatred and judgment. I believe that if Americans strived to be more welcoming like the Pashtun’s even in a small gesture that it would lead to a more humble and accepting county.

Works Cited: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/09/books/09seal.html and http://www.law.harvard.edu/programs/ilsp/research/kakar.pdf

 

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