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Dynamics of social complexes – 4

Prof. Rahmat Karim Baig

In articles published in the e-papers of Chitral, only a few out of the scores of complexes have been discussed and received comments. The old men of Chitral belonging to any tribe used to have ‘Asabia’ i.e. the feeling that I have to support my tribe at any rate and oppose the rival in order to remain intact inside his tribe.

This complex was the outcome of tribal rivalry. This complex was fostered at noticeable level. The men who failed to support the cause of one’s own tribe had to face outstanding opposition from the members of his tribe. So the threat of outclassing was a great insecurity.

The old men of the old Chitral did not like to sell plots of lands but preferred to buy as cultivated plots were most valued assets and source to feed their families. They were stern in their views and looked after the borders of their cultivated and cultivable but barren plots with great care. No intervention or attempts to seize plots was tolerated and rows and disputes rose leading to murders. In Khowar there are three words that have been taken from Persian but used in Khowar very commonly that in Chitrali society quarrels start over three things that is:

Zun, Zar, Zemin – the first is woman for whom they could fight as a point of honour and has been the main cause of disputes between communities or tribes or individuals and the main cause of murders.

The second is Zar – wealth – that is also a main cause of quarrels between tribes or individuals and the third is Zamin or land that has always been the main cause of disputes between tribes, clans, communities.

The old men gave value to Zamin and when a man’s sons failed to obey him according to his expectations he could declare him ‘Nabehel’ or an outcast of the father and such a son was believed to have misfortunes on his family for seven generations. If a man did not go to that extent of outclassing his son then he had the feeling that this inefficient son of mine may sell my lands after my death so in order to teach the son a lesson he began to sell pieces of his lands  during his own life time and if the son got the message in short time he made peace with his father, brought a delegation of elders to appease his father and promised never to disobey him in future but if he did not do so he lost most of the lands sold by his father , became landless and was at the mercy of the ruler or had to take shelter with a powerful family.

As far as the woman is concerned she became an axe of dispute and assassination could take place over infidelity so she was the cause of a dispute in the old Kho society and left a stigma of bad name on her parents. The immoral role of women did start quarrels and has been one of the main reasons of murders among the Kho. The Kalash did not have this aspect of quarrels. The dispute over wealth has always been common all over the world and Chitrali society has been involved in it since the Kho time of Chitral.

These short write ups are meant to get feedback from readers as many have far better knowledge of this discipline. I don’t write to show my word ‘from my dreams’ as one has commented. It is to tell the new generation to start research and try to know the past of Chitral.

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  1. Noor Shahidin says

    Another interesting piece, I like your use of the concept of ‘Asabiya’. Originally Ibne Khaldun, a Muslim Sociologist and historian used this concept in his master piece, Muqaddimah, that means tribal loyalty or tribal consciousness. Similarly, Durkheim, a classical Sociologist, used the concept of social solidarity which is similar to Asabiya.

    Zamin or land was the only source of power in the patriarchal society before the arrival of cash economy. Patriarchs used to say, ” awa tat zamin no doum”. Buying a piece of land was appreciated, selling was socially not liked. Cash economy also commercialized the core Kho values such as helping each other in farming etc.
    Zun or woman is considered ezzat or an honor of a family, in clans and tribes in almost all Eastern societies including Chitral. So the patriarch quickly moves and kills both of them if there is any informal news about romantic relationships before marriage. A couple incidents happened last year in some valleys, as reported in different online Chitrali papers.

    Even here in the US, women are sometimes a biproduct of fatalities. Some years ago a Chitrali young boy was killed by a black man- the reason was told that the Chitrali was trying to take away his girl friend.
    The last term in your page is Zar or money – the most powerful tools of social relationships nowadays.
    – one can finds all attributes of a mazhab in it.

  2. Amjad M says

    Keep fanning the old rivalries! People today have forgotten past rivalries but you are trying hard to revive them.

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