|Kafiristan - map Nuristan - map|
Kafiristan- The Land of the Infidel. A mountainous area with a number of tribes and languages in Hindukush, formerly between Afghanistan and colonial India. Most passes leading to the region are about 4 000 m. above sea level. The passes are mostly covered with snow as the area has a harsh, cold winter. As long as the area knew no borders, it was a stronghold of the Kafir religion and militant anti-islamic activity. After the Durand-line defining the eastern border of Afghanistan was drawn in 1893, the traditional religious life was doomed. The Afghan side of the border included most of Kafiristan. As soon as the Amir Abd al-Rahman Khan of Kabul realised he had an opportunity to subdue the troubling tribes in the east of his country, he set forth on a military campaign to destroy the old religion there and introduce Islam by force. He succeeded in 1896, with an attack from three sides, defeating the Kafir tribes, converting and depriving them of their old religious symbols. His troops burned the shrines, stole effigies and kidnapped children to foster them as soldiers in Kabul. Those who opposed him were killed whilst a small number fled over the new border to the province of Chitral (now in Pakistan). There they received permission from the Mehtar to settle in new villages just across the border. The refugees of the large settlement of Bargromatal (Bragamatal, Lutdeh) in the East Kati language sphere of the Bashghal Valley settled in Kunisht and Brumotul in the Rumbur Valley inhabited by the Kalash. With their culture destroyed, however, they soon converted to Islam. The last Kati priests' names were Kareik and Baghashai. They never converted and died by the mid-1930s. The several thousand Kalash of the area are today the only people who still adhere to the old Kafir religion and customs. The secluded area of Kafiristan remained virtually unknown to Europeans until George Robertson in 1896, the year of the disastrous invasion of The Land of the Infidel, published his experiences from a year's stay with the Kati in 1892. (The Kafirs of Hindu-Kush)
Nuristan- a large area in the east of Afghanistan, meaning The Land of Enlightment, the name introduced after the forceful Islamisation of Kafiristan in 1896. Today, Nuristan is a much smaller area than it was as Kafiristan before the partition between Afghanistan and Colonial India (Durand-line of 1893). The pre-islamic religion is not practiced there any more.