Afghanistan is a landlocked country located in Southern Asia, with a total covering area of 252,000 square miles and population of 33 million. It is a Muslim country and comprises of 80% Sunni Muslim, 19% Shia Muslims and 1% of others. The weather of this region is dry so they have hot summers and cold winters. There are two main tribes in this region Pashtun and Tajik that constitutes 42% & 27% respectively of the whole population. There are also some small tribes like Hazara, Uzbek, Baloch e.t.c.
This article is a basic level introduction to Afghanistan’s culture, customs and social etiquettes. It also speaks about the people and their language.
Language in Afghanistan
There are two languages Pashtu & Dari that are considered as official languages of Afghanistan. Approximately 35% of Afghanis speak Pashtu and it was also declared as the National Language of Afghanistan in Zahir Shah’s era. On the other hand 50% of Afghan Population speaks Dari, It is used for business and government transactions
Islam is practice by majority of Afghanis and 99.7% of the total population is Muslims. For Muslims Friday is a holy day which is why majority of shops and offices are closed on this day of week. During the holy month of Ramadan no one is allowed to eat or drink in public places.
Social Etiquette, Customs & Protocols
Afghanis are friendly and meet the others warmheartedly. In their social lives you can see modesty and generosity. Hospitality is an essential aspect of their culture so if you visit their home you will be given the best the family have.
Meeting and Greeting
While meeting other person, it is common to shake hands as greeting. Some people also place their right hands over their hearts and nod slightly. It’s a norm that one should ask about a person’s health, family business and e.t.c after greeting. As it is an Islamic country, women and men are not allowed to shake hands, make an eye contact or talk alone.
Mixing between Genders
Men and Women have to be cautions in maintaining each other’s honour. Free mixing between genders is only allowed within families. In public settings men and women are not allowed to talk to the strangers of opposite gender and they should not make eye contact so they keep their eyes lowered. Men and women are not allowed to shake hand as greeting; instead men should put his right hand on his heart and offer a small bow. Foreigners need to learn these rules or else it can damage the reputation of both of the genders forever and can have some serious consequences.
Gift Giving Etiquettes
As an Islamic state, alcohol is prohibited which is why it can’t be offered as a gift but if you know that the receiver drinks, even then you should offer it secretly to avoid shame. If you have been invited for a tea then it’s appropriate to take a small gift but if you have been invited for lunch or dinner then you should take a bucket of fruits, sweets or pastries. The gift should be properly wrapped, there are no special protocols for it so it only has to be appropriate.
Dinning in Afghanistan is a different experience. While eating at someones home, you should remove the shoes at the door, you will be seated on floor with cushions so sit comfortably but don’t stretch your legs in such a manner that it will be facing people. Food is served jointly and everyone share from the same dish. Food will be eaten with hands and always use the right hand instead of left. Even if you are passing something use your right hand. Leave a little amount of food in your plate or else it will be keep getting filled.