Mosaic from the Blue mosque in Mazar-e Sharif | Photo: Håkan Färje

Religion in Afghanistan

According to the Constitution of Afghanistan, the country is an Islamic republic where "no law can be contrary to the sacred religion of Islam", while the government under the Constitution is also required to defend human rights and to guarantee people's fundamental rights and freedoms.

The Constitution gives the adherents of religions other than Islam the right to freely practise their faith and perform their religious rites within legal limits.

About 99% of the population are Muslim. The majority are Sunni Muslims of the Hanafi School (estimated at about 80%). Over the course of the last 30 years, the Deobandi Movements and Salafists (Wahhabis) have gained power among the Sunnis.

About 15% of the population are estimated to be Shia Muslims (Jafaris) and a few percent adhere to Ismailism (a branch that developed in the 700s).

Most Shiites live in the central parts of the country, as well as in the west and in cities like Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif, Herat and Ghazni. The largest group is Shia Hazaras, but there are also Sunni Hazaras. There are also Shiites, among several other ethnic groups, among others the Tadjik and the Pashtun. The largest group is the Shia Farsiwan in Herat Province.

The majority of Ismaili are Hazaras. Most live in the northeast of the country. The largest group is in Baghlan Province. There are small groups of Ismaili among the Tadjik in Badakshan Province and Wakhi in the Wakhan Corridor in the same province. The highest spiritual leader of the Ismaili is the Agha Khan.

Among the Sunni Muslims there are also Sufis. Most Sufis belong to the two Sufi orders Naqshbandi and Qadiri. Their religious leaders in Afghanistan called Pirs.

There is also a small minority groups of Sikhs and Hindus, as well as a limited number of Christians in the country.

The local religious leadership is the mullahs, who leads prayers in local mosques, teach children about Islam and distribute alms to the poor.

The position of religion is very strong in Afghanistan, but interpretations may vary between different parts of the country and between communities, families and individuals, not only between the different faiths.

Bland sunnimuslimerna finns det även sufier. De flesta sufier är med i de två sufiordnarna Naqshbandi och Qadiri. Deras religiösa ledare i Afghanistan kallas pirer.

Det finns även en liten minoritet sikher och hinduer, liksom ett fåtal kristna i landet.

Det lokala religiösa ledarskapet är mullorna, som leder bönen i de lokala moskéerna, undervisar barnen i islam och fördelar allmosorna till de fattiga.

Religionens ställning är mycket stark i Afghanistan, men tolkningarna kan variera mellan olika landsändar och mellan folkgrupper, familjer och individer. Inte bara mellan de olika trosinriktningarna.