Israelites fund scholarship to study DNA link to Taliban

Are the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan descendants of an ancient Israelite tribe that migrated across Asia after it was exiled over 2,700 years ago? This intriguing question has been asked by a variety of scholars, theologians, anthropologists and pundits over the years, but has remained somewhere between the realms of amateur speculation and serious academic research. But now, for the first time, the Israeli government itself has shown formal interest, with the Foreign Ministry providing a scholarship to an Indian scientist to come to the Technion and determine whether or not the tribe that makes up the hard core of today’s Taliban have a blood link to any of the ten lost tribes of Israel, and specifically, the tribe of Efraim.

Mrs. Shahnaz Ali, Senior Research Fellow at the National Institute of Immuno-Haematology, Mumbai, has joined the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion), Haifa, to genetically study the blood samples of the Afridi Pathans of Malihabad in District Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India, that she collected to confirm their putative Israelite origin.

Shahnaz, an expert in DNA profiling and population genetics, will be supervised by Professor Karl Skorecki, director of Nephrology and Molecular Medicine at the Technion Faculty of Medicine. Skorecki is famous for his breakthrough work on Jewish genetic research. Shahnaz’s research, which is expected to last anywhere between 3 months to a year, will be supported by a scholarship from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the academic year 2009-2010. Shahnaz, who is staying in Haifa for the duration of her research, earlier worked at the prestigious Central Forensic Science Laboratory, Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). While the scholarship only provides Shahnaz with US$ 600 per month [excluding travel to and from India], her work will be followed closely by many here and abroad with an interest in the findings of her research.

While the vast majority of Afghan Taliban are Pashtun, the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan, the theory that they are descendants of the Afridi Pathans is widespread in the area. The theory is based on a variety of ancient historical texts and oral traditions of the Pashtun people themselves, but no scientific studies by any accredited organizations have upheld the claim. It continues to be believed by many Pashtuns, and has found advocates among some contemporary Muslim and (to a lesser extent) Jewish scholars. Official confirmation of the link by Israel’s esteemed Technion would lend immense weight to the argument.

Afridi Pathans have an age-old tradition of Israelite origin, which finds mention in texts dating from the tenth century to the present day, written by Jewish, Christian and Muslim scholars. According to some researchers, members of the tribe still observe many Israelite customs in their native places in eastern Afghanistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan, though they have lost all these traditions of theirs in India. In Afghanistan and Pakistan they are all Muslim today and form the core of the Taliban. In his 1957 classic The Exiled and the Redeemed, Itzhak Ben-Zvi, Israel’s second President, wrote that Hebrew migrations into Afghanistan began, “with a sprinkling of exiles from Samaria who had been transplanted there by Shalmaneser, King of Assyria (719 BC). Zahir Shah, the last king of Afghanistan, when asked about his ancestors, claimed that the royal family descended from the Tribe of Benjamin.

On the academic level, British researcher, Dr. Theodore Parfitt, has been conducting research on genetic effects and the presence of chromosome Y among numerous tribes around the world. This chromosome is prevalent among Jews in general and Cohanim in particular. In India he is assisted by a young researcher from the University of Lucknow – Dr. Navras Afreedi – who claims that his ancestors were Afreedi, descendants of the tribe of Efraim, and that many of the Pathans and other tribes are descendant from the Ten Tribes. Dr. Afreedi did his post-doctoral work at Tel Aviv University, entitled “Indian Jewry and the Self-professed Lost Tribes of Israel in India.”

Shahnaz’s genetic research would examine Navras’s theory that Afridi Pathans are descendants of the lost Israelite tribe of Ephraim, which was exiled in 721 BC. The research uses DNA analysis to trace shared ancestries and origins of certain populations of interest in the eastern provinces of India; and to map the cause of a certain disorder which is very frequent in the large populations of those provinces, and to see if the DNA mutations originate in a certain “founder event”.

Shahnaz traveled to Malihabad and collected blood samples from the tribal population there. It is thought that the Afridi Pathans migrated to border are of Afghanistan and Pakistan, areas now considered ‘ground zero’ in the war on terror. Shahnaz herself, while aware of the possible connection, is cautious to jump to conclusions. “The research itself will take some three months, and after that we’ll see what happens. It could take a huge amount of time to analyze all the data, as it was taken from tribal people in India, and we will need to examine how much the men from this tribe mixed in with the local population,” she said.

Navras welcomed Shahnaz’s research grant. “It’s a great news that now my research would be analyzed scientifically,” he said on his blog, adding “I don’t know what would be the outcome of the DNA analysis, but it would provide us a direction to resolve the complex issue. I also hope that such effort will have positive ramifications and will bring the Muslims and Jews close and enable them to forget historical animosity.”

0 thoughts on “Israelites fund scholarship to study DNA link to Taliban

  1. As an Iraqi Jew who was born and lived in India, allow me to share share my thoughts.
    First of all the Taliban is not an ethnic group. It is a religious-political movement that has its base in those area that are predominantly in the North West Frontier Agency and Waziristan area of Pakistan and the mountainous Khyber area of Afghanistan. Unfortunately the Taliban by and large rule those areas although the general population do not all welcome their presence. Those tribal areas have their own customs that supersede Islam where there is a contradictory ruling.
    We Iraqi Jews have a folklore that for many years the Jews in that area had their own kingdom ruled by a Jewish king. But they were isolated from the Jewish world and lost all their knowledge of Judaism. When Islam came to the doors of their kingdom they gave the usual ultimatums before waging war – either convert to Islam and share in the battles and plunder or total war and annihilation. The reigning king whose name was Shaul asked them what their religion was about and upon being told that they believe in one deity and don’t eat pork came to the conclusion that this sounded like the religion they once belonged to and readily converted along with the popualtion.
    There is also documentaion that a general from that area once visited Spain to convince the king to join him in a battle to overthrow the muslims who were ruling the holy land at that time. He told the Spanish king that he had an army of 30,000 powerful warriors who would join forces with the Spanish in the battle. His proposal was met with much suspicion and was turned down. But this indicates that at least as late as the 14th or 15th century there was a Jewish region in that area.

  2. two flaws in this study. one, while the afridis do speak pushto they are not considered to be pathans by most tribes. their origins are disputed. and two, the afridis of india may not even be as gentically homogenous or “pureblooded” as their counterparts who live in afghanistan or pakistan, amongst other pathans or pashtoons.

  3. Hey, i just want to know, why focus only afridi tribe only. There are alot of tribes in pathans. I personally believe in religious freedom and donot care if one is jew, christians what ever. But what is the main purpose of this study at a time when “pathans are under the spotlight” in the so called war on terror, is there any relevance to this?? However it will be interesting to know the results. thanks

  4. hi, it is interesting to know that some research is going on to study the origin of Afridi tribe but i am really surprised to know that this DNA analysis research work is in Malihabad in District Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India, I think that first of all Shahnaz Ali should prove that there is any Afridi Tribe in India then it would be nice to know the outcome of the DNA analysis, second if She prove that there is Any afridi tribe in Inida still it will be interesting to know that there will be some fundamental genetic changes in this so called Afridi tribe living in Inida. It would be more sensible to analyse the DNA of original Afridi tribes in pakistan rather then of a so called migrated Afridi tribe in Inida.

  5. yes it is the point.the DNA sample should be taken from a confirmed source.and i don’t think that afridi exists in malihabad.to make it 100% sure the DNA sample of afridi in pakistan should be taken.

  6. i tell you that in our afridi society there is no taliban,,yes amir lashkar e islam mungle bagh afridi have an organization,,but they are also against taliban,,you can see the fight between tehrik taliban pakistan with mungle bagh afridi. also i tell you that we r totaly different then other pathan,,i give you argument,,that in pathan sub division kerlani have many children,,and in the pathan category afridi is entitled with the name of USMAN. so you tell me where is our forefather,,from whom we have come. our custom is totaly different then the other pathan of pakistan and afghanistan.if a pathan tell me that r u pathan? i says no.. i m afridi only.
    so i tell you that all pathan r not same. yousafzai live in plane area of mardan swabi.jadoon live in abbottabad and hazara.we live in khyber agency. and our village is tirah ,i mean that word is derived from torah of hebrew word.if a person may disobay of order of tirah jirga.then the person are deported from tirah.but you will never such costum in other pathan of pakistan and afghanistan.. if you should help about the origional afridi pathan,,i will help you on this topic..

  7. we r not taliban,,we r only escaping our boundry,, because the govt want to interfare in our area,,and we donot want that the govt interfare in our area,,, today you can see the vally of tirah,,there is no road no electracity,,we want to save our tradition. the other pathan is by only by namly pathan. in every century most of conqueror of the world attacked us,,but we didnot surrendered. we want our safety.now a day we r in defence position.but we r not taliban.what is taliban? you tell me. i hate taliban. in our area there is no place for taliban. therefore you donot linked us with taliban.. i will tell to all over world that afridi r not taliban. but some people and govt using my brother,most of female have become widowed. you should see the fact.but donot blame us as taliban. we have made organization,our leader is mungle bagh. but he is not talib.and he donot want to interfare any talib in our areas. because the situation of these areas is bad,, and super countries are wanted to start war in our areas,,but we donot want any tussle with any country. we r now defence only,,and only defence of our region our culture.

  8. In the Old Testament, there is talk of Judah being the Bow and Ephraim being the arrow. IF the Afridi and other such local tribes are Ephraim and his brothers from the Northern Kingdom, then 2 things happen eventually: 1) they return to the God of their Fathers and 2) they want to go Home. This may present a “problem” for other people groups who are between them and Home. DNA may provide the physical link, but the Crreator is the only one to fire the desire!

  9. The DNA test is a good idea for resolving once for all the issue of any connection or otherwise between Pashtuns/Afghans with the lost tribe of the Israel. In this regard my suggestion would be that with a view to get good result, the blood samples may be obtained from those Afghan tribes who did not mix with any other tribes or ethnic group. The Afghan tribes living on either sides of the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan are extremely conscious of racial and blood purity. They seldom marry outside their tribe. You can still find many Afghan tribes whose blood never mixed with any other non Afghan ethnic group for thousands of years. The Afghan names are mostly Ishaq, yaqoob, Mosa, yousaf, Haroon etc but it is not clear whether these names are due to Islamic impact or due to their Jewish origin. I would further suggest that focus should be made on two sub tribes of the Afghan origin i.e Durranis and Afridis because rest of the Afghan tribes appear to be of Greek, Aryans, Turkish and Arab origin or mix of these origins. If the lost tribe is discovered amongst the Afghans, let me share that due to rough and mountainous terrain it will carry original traits and characteristics. The Afridis and Durranis are more enterprising and business minded.

  10. hi! it is good reserch for human being step. afridi people knowing there 2700years before(old) past clan and who’s godfather.this is amezing.this is pride for them if it positive result. every people right there past ethnic.this is not religion point of view. few month ago i saw discovery channel progmme about europen people.american dr team reserch african,kazakistani and siberian blood match european. means 25000years ago kazkis one family going urope so all uropean is this kazaki family.

  11. The Afridi of malihabad are quite likely to be a less pure blood relation than the tribes of Khurasan(afghanistan/pakistan) if they arived in the area as ghazi’s they most likely took local hindu women into their fold and this is likely to be true of all pashtun ghazi’s who raided al hind(india) along with tha arab and turkish armies under islamic rule from previous centuries.However the pathans/pashtuns are of various tribes some have a more salient israelite lineage than others-it is likely the purest lines are found between kabul and peshawar and adjacent areas though migrations into kashmir and sindh are also prominent.
    Any one of a fair mind can make a cursory analysis of the pathans and find their customs,places,and names are awash with hebrew lore-though today thay are muslims much of what they renewed themselves with of islam and the invitation of khalid bin al waleed to their king Qais(kish/kush) they already had from the torah,having stayed with pashtuns i know them to be a people of honour and generousity but they are also swift in revenge and retribution a right taken from the torah they have never surrendered.Known in the hadeeth as bani israeel/bani ishaq/bani yaquob they today are in my opinion under such attack is perhaps the prophetic revelation about them as a mighty nation of warriors siding with the muslim leader al mahdi against the dajjal forces of nato and the u.n,this is a matter of belief of course but why these great people continue to suffer from such action makes one wonder.

  12. I read this article very late. yes, The samples taken form Lukhnow will prove to be mixed one.
    if you want that research, take it in purity, from tribesmen as still exists in and around Peshawar, and some in KASHMIR.

    1. WHICH DNA HAPLOGROUP OR MAJORITY TRIBE NUMBER DO YOU EXPECT TO FIND AMOUNST THE LOST ISRAELY TRIBES OF AFGHANISTAN PESHAWAR OR KASHMIR

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