“descendants of Aḥmad” (sing. Aḥmadzay), a Paṧtō clan and tribal name.


AḤMADZĪ “descendants of Aḥmad” (sing. Aḥmadzay), a Paṧtō clan and tribal name. Its diverse use is one indicator of the complexity of Paṧtūn tribal structure. There are Aḥmadzī springing from different tribal branches and constituting ethnic groups at various levels (clans, sub-clans, tribal fractions, large families etc.) and tracing their descent to different eponymous Aḥmads, known and unknown. The confusion is sometimes compounded by the interested parties themselves, when they incorrectly claim an ethnic origin, clan affiliation, or ancestral connection that seems to have more prestige or to be more advantageous.

On the Paṧtō-speaking frontier of Pakistan (or “Paṧtūnestān”), the best-known Aḥmadzī ethnic groups are the following: (1) The Wazīr Aḥmadzī, established in southern Waziristan, who are descended from Aḥmad, son of Mūsā Darwēš, son of Wazīr, son of Solaymān, son of Kakay (or Kakī), son of Karlāṇ, and thus belong to the Karlāṇī lineage (see O. Caroe, The Pathans, 550 B.C.-A.D. 1957, London, 1958 [repr. 1962, 1964, etc.], p. 21). Together with the Oṯmānzī, these Aḥmadzī constitute the Mūsā Darwēš Ḵēl, a clan that, with the Masʿūd and the Gərbəz, is linked to the great Wazīr tribe. They are divided into two lineages (J. W. Murray, A Dictionary of the Pathan Tribes of the North-West Frontier of India, Calcutta, 1899 [repr. 1910], p. 103: “left bank of Kurram river”): the Kālū Ḵēl, numbering 3,906 men of fighting age at the end of the 19th century (ibid., p. 138), and the less important Sēn or Sayn Ḵēl, numbering 280 fighting men (ibid., p. 175). Bellew (An Inquiry into the Ethnography of Afghanistan, Woking, 1891 [repr. Graz, 1973], pp. 118-19) confirms these figures, estimating that the Aḥmadzī number 10,000 families. He also gives, for each of the two lineages, numerous names of tribal factions included in it; seventy-one for the Kālū Ḵēl and fifty-two for the Sēn Ḵēl. (2) The Solaymān Ḵēl Aḥmadzī, an important nomadic clan affiliated with the tribe of the Solaymān Ḵēl of the Ḡilzī tribal federation. In the 19th century they had their winter quarters at Paharpur in the district of Dera Ismaʿil Khan (Murray, Dictionary, p. 103). (3) The Dawtānī Aḥmadzī, a nomadic clan attached to the Lōdī confederation. Murray (ibid., p. 123, s.v. Dautani) locates their winter quarters on the banks of the Indus between Kat Malana and Parca in the district of Dera Ismaʿil Khan and gives the figure of 700 fighting men for all these Dawtānī, which furnishes some idea of just how small this Aḥmadzī fraction is. (4) To the south of the Gomal river Murray (ibid., p. 203) localizes eight different Aḥmadzī ethnic fractions attached to different tribes: (a) In the Zhob valley: Aḥmadzī < Māmēzī < Ḥaydar Ḵēl < Mandō Ḵēl; Aḥmadzī < Solaymān Ḵēl < Ḡilzī; Aḥmadzī < Kabalzī < Ḥasanzī < Kībzī < Sanzar Ḵēl < Kākaṛ. (b) In the Loralay valley: Aḥmadzī < Mālezī < Raḵawwāl < Lūnī; Aḥmadzī < Nūḥzī < Isōt < Ḡorḡušt. (c) In the Bori valley in the Loralay region: Aḥmadzī < Mīrzī < ʿAlīzī < Sanzar Ḵēl < Kākaṛ. (d) In the Sibi region: Aḥmadzī < Lawāṇ < Pānī. (e) West of Dera Ismaʿil Khan: Aḥmadzī < Mangīsī < Laharzī < Mūsā Ḵēl.

In Afghanistan two clans of Aḥmadzī are generally distinguished: As a branch of the Abdālī, the Aḥmadzī include the descendants of Aḥmad Shah Dorrānī, a line of descent with high prestige in Afghanistan. This line has sometimes played an important political role and attracted other Aḥmadzī in quest of more illustrious ethnic identification. The other Aḥmadzī are settled mainly in Paktīā and Lōgar. Among the lineages that have sprung from them, the most important are the ʿĪsā Ḵēl, the Mūsā Ḵēl, and the Akūṛzī (or Akūṛ Ḵēl). These are certainly for the most part Wazīr Aḥmadzī (see above), but it is possible that there are among them several Solaymān Ḵēl or even some Dawtānī who have been assimilated, as often happens with emigrants. It is frequently remarked that this clan, with its great prestige, conforms in an exemplary manner to the tenets of the Paṧtūnwalī, the famous code of honor of the Paṧtūn (see Kieffer, Afghanica, I, Langues et ethnies de l’Afghanistan, in press).

Bibliography: Given in the text.

(C. M. Kieffer)

Originally Published: December 15, 1984

Last Updated: July 28, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 6, pp. 666-667

C. M. Kieffer, “Ahmadzi,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/6, pp. 666-667; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/ahmadzi-descendants-of-ahmad-sing (accessed on 23 March 2014).