Hospitality in Afghanistan Culture

One of the four key elements of Afghan culture is understanding how hospitality is valued by all Afghans. Afghans are very friendly.

Hospitality is really viewed as a religious obligation. Everyone must be ready to give "daily bread" to his neighbor.

Sharing a meal together, even a tea, indicates a relationship, a friendship. It is called "the right of salt" and places "great responsibility on the guest to be faithful to and honest with his host. An enemy would avoid drinking even water if given from the hand of his enemy.

A common story told to Afghan children "socializes" them to this cultural value of Hospitality.

A group of thieves one night entered a man's house while all of the family was asleep. the thieves, under the instructions of their leader, began carrying out carpets and cushions - anything portable that had any worth. In the dark, the leader of the band reached into a cupboard, finding a hard smooth rock-like object. He immediately decided that it must be some kind of a gem. The thieves had almost finished their work when the leader put this "gem" to his lips. Tasting it, he was not only disappointed at finding that the gem was just a block of salt, but he was horrified that he had stolen the property of a man whose whose salt he had eaten. He immediately ordered his men to return all of the property to the house before the family awoke."

There are numerous formal expectations of hospitality. When a woman's husband dies, she is required to be hospitable to all relatives who come for the grieving period. Hospitality is expected the six nights after a baby's birth, at engagement parties, weddings, and at special holidays.

Never offer to help out when in the home of an Afghan. Allow the host to arrange the serving. Eat slowly, as your plate will be constantly be filled, and no matter how much you ate, you'll hear, "but you didn't eat anything!"

A common mistake foreigners make is accepting the first invitation of an Afghan to tea. It is important to let the host insist, after the third time, and then accept the invitation to tea or dinner. Wait until the third offer to accept.

Afghan Proverb: "Honor the guest, O son. Even though he ben an infidel, open the door."

There is much more on this topic of hospitality. Enjoy learning Afghan ways and learning politeness from Afghans!

(All this information on Politeness in Afghan Culture may be found in the Enjoy Afghanistan book, published by Interlit.

Want to know some more about Afghan culture? Check out these links below.

Politeness, Time, and Social Structure.

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