Difference between a Pashtun, a Pathan, a Pakhtun and an Afghan?


Now a days even some well educated peoples fail to apply these grand terms in proper prospectives, so I try resolution of the controversy, if could be accomplished!

In fact Pathan is the collective or common noun of the whole nation of Pathans!

The noun, Pathan has been derived from Batan or Bathan granted as title of honour to the visiting chieftain, Qais, who when met with Grand Messenger, Mohammad PBUH in Medina Munawarah!

“Qais was born in Zhob region of modern day Baluchistan, Pakistan.

Qais is thirty-seventh in descent from King Saul or Malik Talut (Talut).

Upon hearing about the advent of the promised Last Messenger of God (Allah) as promised in the Torah, he was sent by his tribe to Medina in Saudi Arabia. He met the Prophet of Islam Muhammad P.B.U.H. and embraced Islam there, and was given the name ?Abdur Rashid? by Muhammad P.B.U.H.

In introducing Qais Abdur Rashid, the Messenger of Allah P.B.U.H. mentioned to his companions, here is a prince of the line of the kings of Israel to which both Qais and the companions


The Prophet Mohammad PBUH also gave him the luminous and truly prophetic title of Batan (or Bathan) from which the word Pathan (modern day usage) has descended. It is also important to note here that Pathan is also the name of one of the progenitors of Qais (Kish) and a a grandson of Abraham (Hazrat Ibrahim A.S.) mentioned in the bible.”

Qais (Kish) Abdur Rashid (Rasheed)

This means Pathans have never been followers of other religion ever!

Because when it was established that Pathans were originally Israel, means thereby that Pathans were as originally Muslims as Bani Israel were originally Muslims, being the followers of great Prophet Musa PBUH!

After lapse of long time as some among the Bani Israel converted to idol worshiping due to the tragic incident of ‘golden calf’ crafted & perpetrated by a jeweller, Samiri and since then the converters & thereafter their descendants were called Jews, derived from the crafting profession of jewellery of Samiri & his cult.

Whereas the then Muslims, the true followers of great Prophet Musa PBUH, when after lapse of long time though they had forgotten the original Islam as it was, however they along with many peoples in Bani Ismael didn’t severed their connection with Islam and so were trying to follow the faith of magnificent prophet Ibrahim; Islam as per their oral memory of the time!

So same had been the case with tribe of Qais, even before they brought faith in Grand Prophet Mohammad PBUH, at the monumental visit of Qais, their tribe was also following Religion of Prophet Ibrahim PBUH; Islam as per their oral traditions, this is why there is amazing resemblance between Islam & Pakhunwali.

Pakhtun or Pashtun:

Pakhtun or Pashtun is however a proper noun or say the specific name of those Pathans community who unlikely others are originally connected to cultivation mostly of their own ancestral property and being so are normally not indulging in business or trade.

Taking this etymology of Pakhtun such born-cultivator class also exist almost in communities of other races in cultivatable regions, nations or countries.

Thus the noun Pakhtun distinguishes them from business and professional classes of among the fellow Pathans in the Pathan society.

Therefore the proper noun Pakhtun is used to distinguish their inter se identity from the identities of the fellow communities connected to business, professional, craftsmen and ecclesiastical classes!

This is however also worth to be noted that the terms Pathans and Pakhtuns both are used interchangeably in so for literature is concerned.


Afghan on the other hand is not name of a race, it’s demonym from Afghanistan and is name of a nation who lives in Afghanistan or is citizen of Afghanistan. And the common noun Afghan is comprised of numerous races and communities; Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Aimak, Turkmen, Baloch, Pashai, Nuristani, Gujjar, Arab, Brahui, Pamiri and some others in Afghanistan. So these components compose the term Afghan.

Similarly as Pakistani is not name of a race but name of a nation and is comprised of numerous races or communities; Punjabi, Sindhi, Pathan, Baloch, Kashmiris, Baltis, Gilgiti, Chitrali, Torwali and others in Pakistan. And their Lingua Franca is Urdu.

So far Pakistani Pathans are concerned they speak Pakhto whereas Afghani Pathans speak Afghani & their Lingua Franca is Persian mostly.

The common name of a nation distinguishes one from other nations whereas the proper noun distinguishes one from the fellow races or communities.? .. by Aftab Alam advocate High Court

.. Source

2 thoughts on “Difference between a Pashtun, a Pathan, a Pakhtun and an Afghan?

  1. Funny and Mostly funny . Pathan don’t related to pashtun lol. We are afghan . Afghani is also called to Pashto . Afghan is race or Ethnicity like English or German .
    German is ethnicity and Nationality at a time . Same way afghan is Nationality and race too.
    Islam has nothing to do with us pashtun .

    1. The writer also mentioned that Pakhtuns have never been the followers of any other religion while it is fact proven by archeology that Pakhtuns of southern belt were worshipers of Zartusht who is generally considered as Pakhtun while the Pakhtuns of northern belt were worshipers of Buddhism.

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