December 01, 2023

What is Hazara Encyclopaedia?

The Hazara Encyclopaedia is a reference which provides a vast breadth of information and knowledge about Hazara as the third large ethnic group in Afghanistan. The majority of Hazaras are Shia Muslims including Ismailis as well as Sunni Muslims; they mainly live in Afghanistan, but there are many living in Iran and Pakistan as well.
The Hazara Encyclopaedia project is one part of a greater and more extensive proposal of the Encyclopaedia of Afghanistan’s Ethnicities, which aims to build a base of knowledge and information of Afghan society and culture as a whole; considering that Afghanistan is comprised of nearly 50 ethnic groups including Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks, very few extensive and reliable studies have been conducted on them thus far. However, the project will start with the Hazara ethnic group as there are many existing sources of knowledge available, and a number of researchers have studied this group before.
The idea was initially proposed by a number of academics and cultural activists in Kabul in the spring of 2011, with the aim of promoting and strengthening academic research on Afghanistan history and society, especially on its various ethnicities. In early 2012, this idea was discussed among a number of Afghan and non-Afghan researchers outside of the country, which resulted in designing a primary plan on the areas of research, the main components of the encyclopaedia and methods of funding the project.

First Volume

The first volume of Hazara Encyclopaedia publishedin in January 2019 in Kabul. It comprises of 605 entries, with 450,000 words under the first three Farsi letters Aa, A and part of B. More than 40 writers, researchers and members of the editorial board have been involved in the work which has taken more that 4 years to complete. It is in Farsi but translating articles into English has already begun and our aim is to publish the first volume of the English version in summer 2019. It should be mentioned that the majority of the articles/ entries are unique and have been written for the first time, while the others have been completed and changed extensively.

An overview

Based on our initial plan and estimation, the Hazara Encyclopaedia will be comprised of 12 volumes of approximately 900 pages or about 450,000 words each- every volume will cover nearly 800 entries alphabetically. Each entry is an academic article comprised of a minimum of one hundred words, but not exceeding 5000 words. The time frame for writing and finalizing each volume is estimated to be one year. Our initial study showed that almost half of our entries, including but not limited to the category of villages, require field work due to lack of relevant sources.

Areas of Work and Research

The Hazara Encyclopaedia studies all areas related to the Hazara ethnic group, including language, religion, tradition, customs, media, books, geography, environment and sport. To organize the work in a better way, as mentioned earlier, all areas fall into the four main categories of History, Politics, Culture and Geography. The classification is to facilitate the work on the subject and allocate different subjects to the relevant category of authors and editorial board members. There is no doubt that to accomplish this, there is a vital need for extensive in-depth study about Hazara history, custom, language, religion and other elements of their social and political life, as well as their interaction with other ethnic groups in Afghanistan and the region. Such a task cannot be done without a communal effort by researchers and without the necessary funding and support.
Extracting entries has been one of the essential initial tasks. So far, nearly 28,000 entries have been extracted from hundreds of books on Hazaras, in 34 topics including places and historical sites (around 3500 entries), names and figures (around 3000 entries), sub-ethnic groups such as Taifa and Tira (around 1500 entries) cultural traditions and customs (around 500 entries), old and new publications and periodicals (around 500 entries) traditional clothes and political and social groups (around 150 entries) and so on. An initial estimation shows that over %90 of all relevant entries in most topic areas have been extracted and finalized by the editorial board, and the relevant sources have been distinguished for each.