Band-e Amir, Afghanistan: (sources in captions) Band-e means “Dam of the Amir”, it refers to the five lakes high in the Hindu Kush Mountains of Central Afghanistan near the famous Buddhas of Bamyan. They were created by the carbon dioxide rich water oozing out of the faults and fractures to deposit calcium carbonate precipitate in the form of travertine walls, that today store the water of these lakes. It’s a series of six deep blue lakes separated by natural dams made of travertine, a mineral deposit. 

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Gunmen abduct 30 Shia Muslim men from bus in Afghanistan

KANDAHAR (Afghanistan), Feb 24, 2015: 

Masked gunmen have abducted 30 Shia Muslim men who were travelling by bus through central Afghanistan, officials said on Tuesday.

The men, members of the minority Hazara ethnic group, were taken on Monday evening in Zabul province, on the road between the western city of Herat and the capital Kabul.

Hazara Shia Muslims are often the target of sectarian violence at the hands of Sunni Muslim extremists in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“Our driver saw a group of masked men in Afghan army uniform signalling him and he thought they were soldiers so he stopped,” said Nasir Ahmad, an official with the Ghazni Paima bus company, told AFP.

“The gunmen took 30 Hazaras away with them.”

Ahmad said the kidnappers took only the men on the two buses and released the women and children travelling with them.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the abduction, but kidnappings for ransom by bandits, local militias and the Taliban are common in Afghanistan.

There have been fears recently that the influence of the Islamic State group, which has a strongly anti-Shia agenda, could be growing in Afghanistan.

Interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said the police were “doing everything to ensure their safe release”.

Gunmen kill 15 civilians travelling in central Afghanistan

Suspected Taliban gunmen stopped two vehicles in central Afghanistan and shot dead 15 passengers at the side of the road, officials said Friday, in the latest attack to highlight the growing civilian toll from violence. Only one man escaped the execution-style killing in Ghor province when the armed attackers gunned down 11 men, three women and one child. “They ordered all passengers to stand in one line, and then they shot them dead one by one,” Abdul Hai Khatibi, spokesman for the governor of Ghor province, told AFP.
Source: AFP

A view of Malistan district of Ghazni province in central-east part of Afghanistan. #Malistan #Ghazni #Afghanistan Photo by Hamidreza Rahmani @danial.f16 #everydayghazni #everydayafghanistan #everydayasia #everydayeverywhere #nature #trees #mountains
نگاهى از ولسوالى مالستان ولايت غزنى در نقطه شرق مركزى افغانستان. #مالستان #غزنى #افغانستان (at Malistan, Ghazni - Afghanistan )

Central Asian and Afghan students discuss peace and security in Tajikistan
The 11th Central Asian Regional Summer Diplomatic Course took place from 7 to 11 July in Romit, Tajikistan. This year’s theme, “Partnership for Peace: Common Interests and Challenges in Central Asia”, focused on socio-political developments in the region, possible future security scenarios, the role of international organizations and the benefits of partnership.

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bakaneeds asked:

Hey, I was wondering if there were any post on the remaining groups in Central Asia that have not been affected by the Islamic conquest and still follow religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Shamanism, Zoroastrianism ect I'm quite interested in pre-Islamic Central Asia because the Silk Road and southern of it was heavily Buddhist and the rapid change of religions is mysterious. Many thanks! Also, I was wondering if you knew anything about the chances of religion in Central Asia. Much thanks!

Unfortunately, this is all we have on Buddhism. Well, there are a few non-native-Muslim/Christian/Jewish ethnic groups in Central Asia. Nuristanis in Afghanistan were converted to Islam around 1895. There are Tibetan Buddhist Yugurs in China who descend from Uyghurs but since Gansu isn’t in Central Asia, we didn’t talk about them. Wiki says that there are 10,000 Zoroastrians in Afghanistan but I couldn’t find much about present-day community other than their history. (here’s a facebook page)

does anyone want to add anything?

Meet the new Taliban boss, Akhtar Mansoor

Meet the new Taliban boss, Akhtar Mansoor

So the Taliban officially acknowledged that Mullah Omar is, in fact, no longer among the living, though one wonders how long they’ve been trying to Weekend at Bernies this whole thing, if the reports that he died two years ago are accurate. He’s reportedly been replaced (though again, when he was actually replaced is an open question), by Mullah Akhtar Mansur, who seems to have been at least de…

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The Emirate of Afghanistan

Was an emirate between Central Asia and South Asia, which is today’s Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. The emirate emerged from the Durrani Empire, when Dost Mohammed Khan, the founder of the Barakzai dynasty in Kabul, prevailed.

The history of the Emirate was dominated by ‘the Great Game’ between the Russian Empire and the United Kingdom for supremacy in Central Asia. This period was characterized by the expansion of European colonial interests in South Asia. The Emirate of Afghanistan continued the war with the Sikh Empire, which led to the invasion of Afghanistan by British-led Indian forces who completely wiped out the Afghans in 1842 but did not fulfil their initial war objectives.

However, during the Second Anglo-Afghan War, the British again defeated the Afghans and this time the British took control of Afghanistan’s foreign affairs until Emir Amanullah Khan regained them after the Anglo-Afghan Treaty of 1919 was signed following the Third Anglo-Afghan War.

This time last year, I was assaulted for being Muslim. Mind you – I was wearing a short dress, at a nightclub. I was fully “assimilated”; in a Caribbean country, where, when people asked me where I was from, I answered, “America”. Not Afghanistan. Not Central Asia or the Mideast. I identified as American.

This was not enough for the Islamophobes I met that night. And thank God for the bouncers at the club who stopped these racist sick assholes from physically hurting me, because it was quickly escalating to that level.

I mention this only to tell you that they don’t care how “much” of a Muslim you are. If that’s what you identify as, they want to hurt you. This is what the media has done to feeble-minded individuals who have nothing better to do but to hate us for our backgrounds. The onslaught on Gaza a couple weeks after only reinstilled this belief in me – people thought I sympathized with Gazans because they were Muslim, or because I was “anti-Semitic” (even though I have plenty of Jewish friends and grew up with a Jewish family) – but not because of the obvious reason that babies were getting blown to shreds in front of their parents and now Gaza is unsalvageable and we have a generation of Palestinians growing up with PTSD and a range of other psychotic disorders thanks to Islamophobia.

—  burqasandbeer.com
How this woman is empowering Afghan women
To Americans, Afghanistan can call to mind war-torn cities without much economic opportunity. But the truth is that the country has a growing tech economy. Unfortunately, those tech opportunities are often hard for women to come by in Afghanistan's conservative, male-dominated culture. But Fereshteh Forough, founder and CEO of Code To Inspire, aims to change that.

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That's a hell of a "belated condolences" card

That’s a hell of a “belated condolences” card

Apparently Mullah Omar is dead, or maybe it would be more appropriate to say that “he has been dead.” For a while now: Taliban leader Mullah Omar died two years ago in Pakistan, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s security services says. Abdul Hassib Seddiqi told the BBC’s Afghan Service that Mullah Omar had died of health problems at a hospital in Pakistan. Afghanistan’s government says information on…

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El Rhazi, Jihad Sawm

El Rhazi, ?awm (Arabic: ????; plural: ???? ?iy?m) is an Arabic word for fasting regulated by Islamic jurisprudence. In the terminology of Islamic law, sawm means to abstain from eating and drinking during daylight hours. The observance of sawm during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, but is not confined to that month.

?awm is derived from Syriac: ???? ?awm?. Literally, it means “to abstain”, cognates to Hebrew tsom.

For example, the Muslims of Central Asia, Afghanistan, India, Iran, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Turkey use the words roza/rozha/roja/oruç, which comes from Persian. While the Malay community in Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore call it puasa, which is derived from Sanskrit, upvaasa, puasa is also used in Indonesia, Southern Thailand and Southern Philippines.

Muslims are prohibited from eating, drinking and engaging in conjugal sexual relationships from dawn (fajr) to sundown (maghrib). Whilst fasting, Muslims are also obliged to abstain from smoking and other comforts such as chewing gum. Fasting is essentially an try to seek nearness to God and increase one’s piety. One of the aims of fasting is to empathise Jihad along less fortunate members of society who do not always have food and drink readily available. One must also try to avoid cursing and thinking (of) evil thoughts, Jihad along the aim of controlling the tongue and temper during the fasting hours. Fasting is also viewed as a means of controlling one’s desires (of food, drink and sex) and focusing more on devoting oneself to God.

Sawm also carries a significant spiritual meaning. It teaches one the principle of love: because when one observes fasting, it is done out of deep love for God and to learn self-restraint.

“O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint.”

“(Fast) a certain number of days; and (for) him who is ill among you, or on a journey, (the same) number of other days; and for those who can afford it there is a ransom: the feeding of a man in need - but whoso doeth good of his own accord, it is better for him: and that ye fast is better for you if ye did but know.”

“The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for mankind, and lucid proofs of the guidance, and the Criterion (of correct and wrong). And whosoever of you is present, let him fast the month, and whosoever of you is ill or on a journey, (let him fast the same) number of other days. God desireth for you ease; El Rhazi desireth not hardship for you; and (he desireth) that ye should complete the period, and that ye should magnify God for having guided you, and that peradventure ye may be thankful.”

Throughout the duration of the fast itself, Muslims will abstain from certain provisions that the Quran has otherwise allowed; namely eating, drinking and sexual intercourse.[Quran 2:187] This is moreover to the standard obligation already observed by Muslims of avoiding that which is not permissible under Quranic or shari'a law (e.g. ignorant and indecent speech, arguing and fighting and lustful thoughts). Without observing this standard obligation, sawm is rendered vain and is seen simply as an act of starvation. The fasting should be a motive to be more kind to the fellow-creatures. Charity to the poor and needy in this month is one of most rewardable worship.

If one is sick, nursing or travelling, one is considered exempt from fasting. Any fasts broken or missed due to sickness, nursing or traveling must be made up whenever the person is able before the next month of Ramadan. According to the Quran, for all other cases, not fasting is only permitted when the act is potentially dangerous to one’s health - for example, those who are sick, elderly, or on a journey, and women who are menstruating, pregnant, or nursing are permitted to break the fast, but this must be made up by paying a fidyah which is essentially the iftaar, dinner and suhur for a fasting person who requires such financial help.

According to the Quran and the Sunnah, if someone cannot afford fasting due to illness or traveling they are permitted to suspend fasting and continue at a more opportune time or condition of health. However, the question of those suffering a permanent disease has not been resolved. One view is that they can waive the obligation to fast if advised by a medical expert. Furthermore, it is held that they can provide a poor person with a meal for each day of fasting waived. Nonetheless, such a delinquent person must be willing to fast when in health.

Muslim scholars have stated that observing the fast is forbidden for menstruating women. However, when a woman’s period has ceased, she must bathe and continue fasting. Any fasts broken or missed due to menstruation must be made up whenever she can before the next month of Ramadan. Women must fast at times when not menstruating, as the Quran indicates that all religious duties are ordained for both men and women.

During Ramadan, if one unintentionally breaks the fast by eating or drinking then they must continue for remainder of the day and the fast remains valid. For those who deliberately break the fast by eating, drinking or having sexual intercourse, the consequences are:

During voluntary fasts, if one unintentionally breaks the fast then they may continue for remainder of the day and the fast remains valid. If one intentionally breaks the fast there is no sin on them because it is only voluntary.

If an oath is given and circumstances dictate that it must be broken (or if the one giving the oath knowingly breaks it), one must offer expiation (kaffara) by freeing a slave and if that is not possible, feed or clothe ten poor people and if that cannot be done because due to lack of financial means or poor people cannot be found, fast for three consecutive days.

In accordance with traditions handed down from Muhammad, Muslims eat a pre-dawn meal called the suhur. All eating and drinking must be finished before azaan-ul-Fajr, the pre-dawn call to prayer. Unlike the Salat-ul-Zuhr and Salat-ul-Maghrib prayers, which have lucid astronomical definitions (after-noon and after-sunset), there are several definitions used in practice for the timing of “true dawn” (al-fajr as-sadiq), as mentioned in the hadith. These range from when the center of the sun is 12 to 21 degrees under the horizon which equates to about 40 to 60 minutes before civil dawn. There are no restrictions on the morning meal other than the restrictions on Muslim diet. After completing the suhur, Muslims recite the fajr prayer. No food or beverage are allowed to go down the throat after the suhur. However, water unlike food may enter the mouth, but not go down the throat during wudu.

The meal eaten to end the fast is known as al-Iftar. Muslims, following the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad, break the fast with dates and water, before praying Salat-ul-Maghrib, after which they might eat a more wholesome meal.

Fasting is said to inculcate a sense of fraternity and solidarity with the needy and hungry. Most importantly, the fast is also seen as a great signal of obedience by the believer to God. Faithful observance of the sawm is believed to atone for personal faults and misdeeds and to help earn a place in Paradise.

Sawm is intended to teach believers patience and self-control in their personal conduct, to help control passions and temper, to provide time for meditation and to strengthen one’s faith. Fasting also serves the purpose of cleansing the inner soul and freeing it of harm. Some scholars, following the earliest understanding of the uses and objectives of the ritual of fasting strongly object to identifying mundane objectives of the ritual such as physical and psychological well being. To them the ritual of fasting is purely a worship and should not be treated as an exercise mixed with worship. The objectives of the fast is to inculcate taqwa (God-consciousness) in a believer. As mentioned earlier, fasting can also be observed voluntarily (as part of the Greater Jihad).

Fasting on a long hot day carries a risk of dehydration. However, if one is at medical risk of dehydration, which leads to serious consequences, then it is permitted to break one’s fast. An increase of negative health affects are observed exclusively during the month of Ramadan due to fasting, such as migraines, tachycardia, severe headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, circulatory collapse, and sleeping problems.

If you have an oath, for example: “If I graduate with a good mark, I will fast for three days for God” then one must fulfil this. This type of fasting is considered obligatory. Breaking the oath will result in a sin.

The opinion adopted by Al-Azhar and most Muftis is to follow in fasting and praying the nearest Islamic region (or country) or follow Mecca or Medina. This fatwa is based on the authentic hadith in Sahih Muslim about Dajjal : No. 7015 also here 7015:

We said: ‘God’s Messenger, would one day’s prayer suffice for the prayers of day equal to one year? Thereupon he said: No, but you must make an estimate of time (and then observe prayer).’

We said: 'O Messenger of God, on that day which is like a year, will the salat (prayers) of one day be sufficient for us?’ He said: 'No. Calculate the time (for prayer).’

Another opinion: as the Quran states that “(During Ramadan) eat and drink until the white thread of dawn appear to you distinct from its black thread.”[Quran 2:187] This results that fasting is a duty for Muslims only when days and nights are producing otherwise fasting is not necessary. So the Muslims of Svalbard have to fast only when days and nights are prominent by the sun. If Ramadan comes in June/December (when days and nights are not prominent by the sun in Svalbard, Norway) they may leave fasting and then complete their fasting in March/September (when days and nights are prominent by the sun in Svalbard, Norway). In Islamic law it is called Qadha. God says in the Quran: “God intends every facility for you; He does not want to put you to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful.”[Quran 2:185]

Lent in Culture Christianity, Yom Kippur, Tisha B'av, Fast of Esther, Tzom Gedalia, the Seventeenth of Tamuz, and the Tenth of Tevet, all in Judaism, are also times of fasting. Nevertheless, the fasting practices are different from one another. Eastern Orthodox Christians fast during specified fasting seasons of the year, which include not only the better-known Great Lent, but also fasts on every Wednesday and Friday (except on special holidays), together with extended fasting periods before Christmas (the Nativity Fast), after Easter (the Apostles Fast) and in early August (the Dormition Fast). Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) usually fast for 24 hours on the first Sunday of each month. Like Muslims, they refrain from all drinking and eating unless they are children or are physically unable to fast. Fasting is also a feature of ascetic traditions in religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. Mahayana traditions that follow the Brahma’s Net Sutra may recommend that the laity fast “during the six days of fasting each month and the three months of fasting each year” [Brahma’s Net Sutra, minor precept 30]. Members of the Baha'i Faith observe a Nineteen Day Fast from sunrise to sunset during March each year.

You might as well throw the money out of a helicopter

You might as well throw the money out of a helicopter

I wonder if this guy is on LinkedIn; I’d love to see his resume: The April disappearance of Gumurod Halimov, the American-trained head of Tajikistan’s elite security force, sent shudders through Dushanbe, the capital of Afghanistan’s impoverished northern neighbor. His May reappearance in an ISIS video shocked not just Tajikistan, but all of Central Asia. It was also a wakeup call for Washington.…

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Afghanistan, i profughi nelle grotte buddiste di Bamiyan - VIDEO
Kabul, 28 lug. (askanews) - Un paesaggio magnifico, alle pendici dell'Hindu Kush. Ma Haji Hussain ci rinuncerebbe senza affanni. Profugo di guerra, è stato costretto a rifugiarsi sulle colline di Bamiyan, nell'Afghanistan centrale, in una delle centinaia di grotte scavate nella roccia dai monaci buddisti 2.000 anni fa. Senza più terre e senza altre risorse, si è installato in questi paraggi trent'anni fa.
“Non è facile vivere qui, non lo è mai stato, dichiara Haji. Avete visto il sentiero per arrivare, è difficile arrampicarsi sin qua e anche scendere è un problema. Ed è una fatica anche procurarsi l'acqua”.
Haji Hussain, sua moglie e i tre figli vivono a poche centinaia di metri dalle famose statue dei Budda, fatte saltare in aria con la dinamite dai talebani nel 2001. Salariato agricolo, Haji guadagna due euro al giorno. Quanto basta per sfamare la famiglia e persino allargare l'alloggio, troppo angusto per cinque persone.
Sotto il regime talebano, migliaia di persone sono fuggite sulle montagne di Bamiyan in cerca di alloggi di fortuna. Due anni dopo la caduta del governo del mullah Omar, il sito è entrato nel patrimonio mondiale dell'Unesco e per la sua tutela il governo locale ha deciso di intervenire per sgombrare i profughi.
“Abitando qui, gli sfollati finiscono per distruggere le grotte e le pitture murali, il patrimonio che dobbiamo tutelare, spiega Kabir Dadras, responsabile della Cultura della provincia di Bamiyan. Per questo siamo costretti a trasferirli”.
Già 250 famiglie hanno lasciato le grotte per essere trasferite in alloggi messi a disposizione da alcune ong. Per quelli che ancora rimangono è cominciato un angosciante conto alla rovescia.
Il video è su askanews.it