The poetry and prose of the educated circles of Afghanistan developed mainly in Persian, the official language in that country until 1936, when it was joined by Pashto. The production in Pashto, which is therefore the literature of the Afghans, is abundant. The courtly literature reflects the Persian style, but is permeated by an unmistakably different spirit, which appears with much more marked accents in popular works and traditions. The origins of Pashto literature are very doubtful, despite some discoveries which also raise new shadows. In a collection of biographies of poets accompanied by anthological passages, entitled Hidden Treasure, perhaps composed in 1729 in Kandahār by Muḥammad Hōtak and published in 1944 in Kābul by AH Ḥabībī, examples of poetry dating back to 756 are reported. If this date appears improbable, it is nevertheless certain that in the hidden Treasure the most ancient poetic documents in the language appear, without any dating being possible. pashto. The origins of the prose would go back to the Biographies of Saints, a work written at the beginning of the century. XIII by a certain Sulaymān Makū. But it is only in the Moghūl period (ie with the 16th century) that it truly flourishes. It is in this period, in fact, that we find the figure of the heretic Miyān Bāyazīd Anṣārī, nicknamed by his followers Pīr Rōšan (Luminous Master), author of The best exposition, whose original text, only partially in Pashto, was discovered only in 1962. Bāyazīd Anṣārī is the first Pashto-language writer whose works, along with those of his opponent, the orthodox doctor Āhūn (d), have survived. Darwēzah. Among the followers of Pīr, Arzānī, author of a dīwān that has come down to us, and his nephew Mīrzā Khan Anṣārī, also a mystic and poet, deserve to be mentioned. Contemporary of these is Hušhāl Khan Hatak (1613-1689), perhaps the most famous Afghan poet, author of a large number of verses, unfortunately largely lost, and a staunch opponent of the Mughal invaders. The poet ʽAbd ur-Raḥmān, better known among the Afghans as Raḥmān Bābā (d. 1706), refers to the themes of Persian mystical-erotic poetry. Another lyric poet also belonged to his tribe, ʽAbd ul-Hamīd (d. Ca. 1732), among whose disciples, in addition to Qalandar, famous for being sung in numerous poems by the master, Ḥamīd Gul, author of ballads, emerges also in dialect, written mostly in popular forms and meters. Among the prose works of this period we remember the History encrusted with gems, written by Afżal Khan Haṭak, descendant of Hušhāl Khan and tribal chief (until around 1770) as Ḥāfiẓ Raḥmat Khan (d. 1774), poet and collector of a vast library of works in the Pashto language, now lost, and father of Nawāb Maḥabbat Khan and Allāh-yār Khan, authors of Pashto grammars and lexicons.
Among the authors of the nineteenth century, Munšī Aḥmad Ğān, virtual founder of modern Pashto prose, who composed three volumes of short stories in a language that mirrored the popular one, must be remembered. The first illustrious exponent of contemporary Afghan culture can be considered Mahmud Tarzi (1865-1933), author of various essays, poems, travel diaries, translations of foreign poets and, above all, founder and editor of the periodical The torch of news. (published from 1911 to 1918), in which the modernization initiatives in the various fields of Afghan social, political and cultural life initiated by Emir Habibullah and which would then be continued by Amanullah were widely explained and propagated. The torch of news, in addition to offering a complete picture of the vast reform program implemented, it also spread rapidly abroad, particularly in India, in the Ottoman Empire and in Russian Turkestan, gaining considerable prestige also in the propaganda work of the various Muslim nationalisms. However, a real revival of Pashto literature took place only after 1937, the year of the foundation of the Afghan Academy which, with an intense study work and the publication of a notable group of works that were in danger of being lost, helped to spread the Afghan culture even among the people. But the revival had begun years earlier with the founding of Islam College in Peshāwar by Abd ul-Qayyūm Khan (1920), followed by Edward College. From these two centers all kinds of writers have come out, which have given the language its splendor. Contemporary Afghan literature sees among its most prestigious exponents Gulpacha Ulfat (1909-1977), Dastangir Panjsheri (b.1931), the poet Suleiman Laik (b.1931; published his first collection of verses in 1962, which followed the collections The nomad’s tent and Memories and fields in Pashto, and in 1981 his first anthology of verses in Dari, La Vela), and Barek Shafii (b.1932), writer, poet, publicist, coming from a family of intellectuals (his first verses appeared in the fifties of the twentieth century, and in 1963 he published the first anthology: Il ramoscello). In 1980 the Union of Afghan Writers was founded in Kābul. Asadullah Habib (b. 1941), writer, poet, philologist, scholar of contemporary literature and later rector of the University of Kābul, was elected first president of the newly formed association. We remember his collection of short stories The Three Laborers and the remarkable poetic production. Among the authors of the younger generation, Abdullah Naibi (b.1955) is worth mentioning. Moreover, the importance of popular literature of the various nationalities and tribes should not be forgotten. As a multi-ethnic country according to 800zipcodes, Afghanistan has different cultural expressions that give the folklore fascinating colors and dimensions, especially if we take into account that the languages spoken by the various populations are as many as thirty-six. Among the few who have dealt with the study of this conspicuous folkloric heritage we remember Abdul Rahman Baluch, who since the beginning of the eighties of the last century has edited the publication of vast original material of the Baluch area, accompanied by studies on the traditions and culture of this people. Popular literature also has fundamental importance in the nomadic tribes, which have elaborated, in a very lively and incisive way, poetic forms almost completely unknown to cultured literature. After almost a decade of forced “silence”, the literary movement is regaining life, thanks, for example, to the publication of collections of texts by authors who had had to leave the country during the “diaspora” (the forced exodus of millions of Afghans because of the Soviet occupation, first, and then of the Taliban regime), as we owe to the books of the aforementioned Khaled Hosseini (b.1965), author of The kite runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, two world bestsellers, the rediscovery of the Afghan reality of the last decades.