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Is It The Lost Tribe of Israel?

Farzand Ahmed, India Today, November 6, 2006

A recent study has traced the origin of Afridi Pathans in a small town of Uttar Pradesh to the biblical 'lost tribes' of Israel. But the Pathans are not ready to accept themselves as Jews.

Malihabad, the small orchard town on the outskirts of Lucknow, will appeal to your senses straightway. While it is renowned for the sweet and fragrant Dussheri mango, the place has given birth to some of the finest Urdu and Persian poetry. And its claim to fame does not end there. The dusty town now stands home to something which can be traced back to biblical times. Among the inhabitants of Malihabad are a clan of tall, fair, well-built people who call themselves Afridi Pathans-warrior and poets. In fact, a huge arch at the entry to the town is dedicated to Bab-e-Goya, a famous warrior and poet. Growing evidence, however, suggests that their ancestry is not Muslim but Israelite and they are not originally from the Afghanistan-Pakistan area but are, in fact, one of the 'lost tribes' of Israel. In Malihabad, in the heart of Uttar Pradesh, they certainly stand out with their unique physical features.

Now a study by one of their own tribe, Navras Jaat Afridi, and published recently in the form of an e-book titled The Indian Jewry & The Self-professed 'Lost Tribes of Israel in India' traces their lineage to one of the 'lost tribes' of Israel. Says Navras, "The main purpose of the research (for a doctorate from Lucknow University) was to trace the Afridi Pathans' ancestry." To make his study credible, he got help from an international research team which included Professor Tudor Parfitt, director of the Centre of Jewish Studies, London University and Dr Yulia Egorova, a linguist and historian from Russia. The team visited Malihabad and collected DNA samples from 50 paternally unrelated Afridi males to confirm their Israelite descent. The reserachers looked at Israel's connections with Pathans in the Frontier areas of Pakistan and their links with Afridi Pathans in Uttar Pradesh's Malihabad and Qaimganj (Farrukhabad) as well as with Pathans in Aligarh, Sambhal and Barabanki besides tribes in Kashmir, Manipur and Guntur of Andhra Pradesh.

Historians and scholars like Professor S.N. Sinha, former head of the department of history, Jamia Millia Islamia and Professor V. D. Pandey, head of the department of medieval and modern Indian history, Lucknow University, have found Navras' research a 'landmark' study on the Jews in India and their links to Uttar Pradesh. According to the Bible, there were 12 tribes of Israel. The northern kingdom consisted of 10 tribes who were exiled and subsequently considered 'lost'. Four of 'lost tribes' have been traced in India: the Afridis, the Shinlung in the Northeast, the Yudu in Kashmir and the non-Muslim tribes in Guntur. Historians believe that Afghans were the descendents of Israel-another name of Abraham's grandson Jacob or Yaqub. They came to the region known as North West Frontiers and Afghanistan and as they moved onwards they were called Afridan, in Persian meaning 'newly arrived' and thus acquired the title 'Afridi'. Many of the Afridi-Afghans still follow Jewish tradition like Sabbath and circumcision on the eighth day of the birth."

For more information:
Researcher Claims Proof of Tribe of Ephraim in India
By Matt Zalen, November 14, 2006, The Jerusalem Post