Abdul Hai Habibi (Pashto: عبدالحى حبيبي‎, Persian: عبدالحی حبیبی‎) – ʿAbd' 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 Kakar tribe of 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]

Abdul Hai Habibi
عبدالحی حبیبی
Kandahar, Afghanistan
DiedMay 9, 1984(1984-05-09) (aged 73–74)
Kabul, Afghanistan
OccupationHistorian, politician, scholar, professor
Nationality Afghanistan
CitizenshipKabul, Afghanistan
SubjectHistory and academia


Habibi was born in Kandahar city of Afghanistan in 1910, in a Pashtun family of scholars of Kakar tribe. 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.[citation needed]

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

Summary of official positionsEdit

  • Teacher in the primary schools of Kandahar, 1925 to 1927.
  • Deputy editor of Tuloo-e Afghan newspaper, 1927 to 1931.
  • Editor of Tuloo-e Afghan, 1931 to 1940.
  • President of Pashto Academy (Pashto Tolana) in Kabul, 1940 to 1941 (at the same time he served as the Deputy President of the Department of Publications).
  • Advisor to the Education Ministry in Kabul, 1941 to 1944.
  • Chairman of the first College of Letters of Kabul University, and president of the Pashto Academy and professor of history of Pashto literature, 1944 *to 1946.
  • President of the Education Department of Kandahar, 1946 to 1947.
  • Commercial attaché in Quetta, Balochistan, 1947.
  • Elected representative of Kandahar province during the 7th session of the National Assembly of Afghanistan (Afghan Parliament), 1948 to 1951.
  • Received the rank of professor from Kabul University in 1965.
  • President of Afghan Historical Society, 1966 to 1971.
  • Advisor on cultural affairs to Prime Minister Mohammad Musa Shafiq, 1972 to 1973.
  • Professor of literature and history, Kabul University, 1970 to 1977.
  • Advisor to the Ministry of Information and Culture, 1978 to 1982.


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[citation needed] 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.[dubious ][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 facsimile 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 alsoEdit


  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. ^ a b "Biography of Abdul Hai Habibi (1910–1984)". alamahabibi.com (Official website). Retrieved 7 October 2010.
  6. ^ a b "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 27 September 2010.