Afghans display pride in their religion, country, ancestry, and above all, their independence. Like other highlanders, Afghans are regarded with mingled apprehension and condescension, for their high regard for personal honor, for their clan loyalty and for their readiness to carry and use arms to settle disputes. As clan warfare and internecine feuding has been one of their chief occupations since time immemorial, this individualistic trait has made it difficult for foreign invaders to hold the region.
Afghanistan has a complex history that has survived either in its current cultures or in the form of various languages and monuments. However, many of the country's historic monuments have been damaged in recent wars. The two famous statues of Buddha in Bamyan Province were destroyed by the Taliban, who regarded them as idolatrous . Other famous sites include the cities of Kandahar , Herat , Ghazni and Balkh. The Minaret of Jam, in the Hari River valley, is a UNESCO World Heritage site . A cloak reputedly worn by Muhammad is stored inside the famous Mosque of the Cloak of the Prophet Mohammed in Kandahar City.
Buzkashi is a national sport in Afghanistan. It is similar to polo and played by horsemen in two teams, each trying to grab and hold a goat carcass. Afghan hounds (a type of running dog) also originated in Afghanistan.
Although literacy levels are very low, classic Persian poetry plays a very important role in the Afghan culture. Poetry has always been one of the major educational pillars in Iran and Afghanistan, to the level that it has integrated itself into culture. Persian culture has, and continues to, exert a great influence over Afghan culture. Private poetry competition events known as "musha'era" are quite common even among ordinary people. Almost every homeowner owns one or more poetry collections of some sort, even if they are not read often.
Many of the famous Persian poets of the 10th to 15th centuries stem from what is now known as Afghanistan (then known as Khorasan ), such as Jalal al-Din Muhammad Balkhi (also known as Rumi or Mawlana ), Rabi'a Balkhi (the first poetess in the history of Persian literature), Khwaja Abdullah Ansari (from Herat), Nasir Khusraw (born near Balkh, died in Badakhshan ), Jami of Herat , Ali Sher Nava'i (the famous vizier of the Timurids ), Sana'i Ghaznawi , Daqiqi Balkhi , Farrukhi Sistani , Unsuri Balkhi , Anvari , and many others. Moreover, some of the contemporary Persian language poets and writers, who are relatively well-known in Persian-speaking world, include Khalilullah Khalili , [ 235 ] Sufi Ashqari, [236 ] Sarwar Joya, Qahar Asey, Parwin Pazwak and others.
In addition to poets and authors, numerous Persian scientists and philosophers were born or worked in the region of present-day Afghanistan. Most notable was Avicenna (Abu Ali Hussein ibn Sina) whose paternal family hailed from Balkh. Ibn Sina, who travelled to Isfahan later in life to establish a medical school there, is known by some scholars as "the father of modern medicine". George Sarton called ibn Sina "the most famous scientist of Islam and one of the most famous of all races, places, and times." His most famous works are The Book of Healing and The Canon of Medicine , also known as the Qanun. Ibn Sina's story even found way to the contemporary English literature through Noah Gordon 's The Physician , now published in many languages.
Al-Farabi was another well-known philosopher and scientist of the 9th and 10th centuries, who, according to Ibn al-Nadim , was from the Faryab Province in Afghanistan. Other notable scientists and philosophers are Abu Rayhan Biruni (a notable astronomer , anthropologist , geographer , and mathematician of the Ghaznavid period who lived and died in Ghazni ), Abu Zayd Balkhi (a polymath and a student of al-Kindi ), Abu Ma'shar Balkhi (known as Albumasar or Albuxar in the west), and Abu Sa'id Sijzi (from Sistan ).
Before the Taliban gained power, the city of Kabul was home to many musicians who were masters of both traditional and modern Afghan music, especially during the Nauroz -celebration. Kabul in the middle part of the 20th century has been likened to Vienna during the 18th and 19th centuries.
There are an estimated 60 major Pashtun tribes . The tribal system, which orders the life of most people outside metropolitan areas, is potent in political terms. Men feel a fierce loyalty to their own tribe, such that, if called upon, they would assemble in arms under the tribal chiefs and local clan leaders. In theory, under Islamic law, every believer has an obligation to bear arms at the ruler's call.
Heathcote considers the tribal system to be the best way of organizing large groups of people in a country that is geographically difficult, and in a society that, from a materialistic point of view, has an uncomplicated lifestyle.
The population of nomads in Afghanistan is estimated at about 2-3 million. [ 238 ] Nomads contribute importantly to the national economy in terms of meat, skins and wool.