Friday, May 2, 2008

Malihabad's Israeli Connection

Dr. Navras Jaat Aafreedi, Lucknow Times, The Times of India, November 14, 2002

Here’s a juicy bit of information for all those who thought Malihabad is only famous for its delicious mangoes. Dr Tudor Parfitt, a professor of Jewish Studies at the London University has taken up research on the resident Afridis in Malihabad in order to confirm their claims of Jewish descent through DNA tests.

Barely 25 kms from Lucknow, Malihabad enjoys a distinguished place on the national map for its delicious mangoes, but it is the presence of Afridi Pathans that grants an aura of mystery to it. It is said that the Afridis trace their descent to a lost Israelite tribe of Ephraim, forced into exile and oblivion in 722 BC by the Assyrians. Amishav (a Jerusalem based organisation, solely dedicated to the task of finding the lost tribes of Israel) wants the Afridis to migrate to Israel. Another Israeli organisation-‘Beit Zur’ too has welcomed them. Parfitt aims to fully confirm any doubts on the matter.

A lost tribes enthusiast as he was, Yitzhak Ben Zvi (Israel’s 2nd president and a prominent historian) interviewed Afghan-Jewish immigrants in Israel and drew information about a number of Jewish customs practised by the Pathans, and found many similarities between the Pathan code of honour-Pathanwali/ Pakhtunwali/Pashtunwali and the Jewish law-Mishna.

Afridi is a tribe that emigrated to the hill country from the eastern spurs of the Safad Koh (Afghanistan) to the borders of the Peshawar district inPakistan. A sprinkling of them settled in India in Malihabad and Qaimganj in 1761 when they came with Ahmad Shah Abdali to fight the Marathas at Panipat.
The origin of the Afridi is uncertain, but they themselves believe to be one of the lost tribes of Israel and call themselves “Ben-i-Israel”.

The Afridi claim of Jewish origin is supported by Jochanan Shareth of Amishav, headed by Rabbi Eliyahu Avichail. Shareth believes that Ephrain migrated to “Charah” or “Harah” (present day Herat in Afghanistan) in 336 AD, and were eventually converted to Islam by the invading Arabs in the eleventh of twelfth century.
The ethnic and etymological origin of the name “Afridi” is obscure. But there are some who connect it with the Persian “Afridan”, which means “newly arrived”, indicating that they were immigrants in the land where they got this name.

Indeed, the names of Pathan/Afghan tribes seem to echo those of the Israelite tribes:Afridi-Ephraim, Rabbani- Reuben, Levani-Levi, Shinwari- Shimeon, Yunim-Judah, Yusufzai-sons of Yusuf (Joseph). Old graves with Hebrew inscriptions have been discovered in Ehcharan, near Herat in Afghanistan. The graves date back to the 11th and the 13th century. There are a number of rock engravings in the ancient Hebrew script near the town of Netchaset in Afghanistan-Dar-al- Aman museum of Kabul, possesses a black stone with Hebrew inscriptions found in Kandahar.

It is all these links and more that have prompted Parfitt’s arrival in Malihabad. Using tools of modern science he attempts to rely on DNA sampling to finally ofrge as fact or bust the belief of the Afridis descent, once and for all.

2 comments:

Jochanan said...

Dr Navras Jaat Aafreedi is corect and his claims are true. The Pashtus are origin by Israelites and a lot of them are aware of it.
Jochanan Shareth, Israel

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