A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns Glossary

Ahmad Shah Massoud

A military leader who was fundamental in fighting the pro-Soviet force out of Afghanistan. Massoud became Defense Minister in 1992 and was assassinated by Al-Qaeda in 2001.

Al-Qaeda

An alliance of international Islamic terrorist organizations

Allah

the Arabic word for God, Allah is considered to be the one divinity in Islam who is omnipotent and responsible for the creation of the universe.

bath house

a public facility used for bathing to ensure cleanliness

Buddahs of Bamiyan

Two statues of Buddah carved into a mountain at a high altitude, they were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001.

burqa

A long article of clothing that covers the wearer from head to toe, with only a small translucent portion to allow the wearer to see.

Communist

one who subscribes to the beliefs of communism which emphasizes the importance of a classless society in which the citizens have common ownership over the means of production

daal

A type of food that is customary in Afghan cuisine. It is a stew made of dried beans.

Dostum

Abdul Rashid Dostum leads Afghanistan's Uzbek community and is a leader in the Afghan National Army.

Eid or Eid-ul-Fitr

The celebration that marks the end of the month of Ramadan, Eid is marked by the sighting of the new moon. Eid lasts three days and is celebrated with festivities and merriment. Special prayers and rituals are associated with the three day observance.

fast

to refrain from eating intentionally for religious reasons or as a political demonstration

hashish

a narcotic drug made of compressed cannabis

Hazaras

People who inhabit the central region of Afghanistan and speak Persian, most of which are Shia Muslims.

Hekmatyar

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was a leader of the Mujihadeen and a warlord. He was prime minister twice during the 1990s.

infidel

One who denies specific religious beliefs

jihad

Jihad is defined as a struggle for Allah, but it also used to refer to a holy war on an enemy of Islam.

jinn

In Arabic, jinn refers to a supernatural creature. However, in the book, the word is also used to describe a seizure or spasm of some sort.

kolba

The small shack or house in which Mariam and Nana live.

Koran or Qur'an

The Islamic holy book, the text is considered to be the revelation of Allah (God) as it was delivered to Muhammad.

land mine

An explosive device that is hidden underground and triggered by a person, vehicle, or animal, coming near to the device

militia

a citizen military force

Mohammad Najibullah

The last president of Afghanistan before the Taliban came to power.

Mujihadeen

The term used for those that fight for Islam, but most commonly refers to the group of Afghans and Pakistanis that fought against pro-Soviet rulers.

Mullah

A title given to an Islamic spiritual and ceremonial leader who has studied Islamic law and tradition.

Mullah Omar

Leader of the Taliban, Mullah Omar was a recluse who held the title "Commander of the Faithful".

Pashtuns

A group of people who span Pakistan, southern Afghanistan, and eastern Iran, Pashtuns encompass a group of tribal peoples. Pashtuns reigned as the dominant group in Afghanistan.

Ramadan

The Islamic spiritual observance that lasts one month, spanning the time when the Koran was given to Muhammad. Considered the most spiritual month of the year, fasting (between sunrise and sundown), prayer, and charity are emphasized.

republic

A state or country in which the people of that state or country have some say in the government

Socialist

One who subscribes to socialism, which is the belief that the distribution of wealth should be controlled by the citizens of a country.

Soviet

referring to the former Soviet Union or U.S.S.R, which was socialist state that encompassed Russia and nearby nations

Tajiks

A group of people that make up a minority of the Afghan population, they speak the Persian language.

Taliban

A movement headed by Sunni extremists which controlled Afghanistan from 1996-2001.