The Impact of Religion inAfghanistan Religion impacts Afghani culture inthis novel The Kite Runner, written by Khaled Hosseini as it divides thecharacters. This novel depicts the major sects in Afghanistan, Hazara’s andPashtun’s. Furthermore, it is evident that class divides the nation, and beinga Pashtun means that respect and honor is stored, whereas if someone is anHazara, they are looked down upon and mistreated. In the novel, Baba and Amirare Pashtuns, the majority, and are superior to Hazara’s.Additionally, this novel portrays various examples of division andclassification that is supposedly justified by Islam.
Religion tends to behelpful and can be an aid to those in need, but it can also be the root causeof distinction and destruction. It is evident that the division betweenHazara’s and Pashtuns vs Sunni and Shi’a, the comparison between Baba and Alivs Hassan and Amir, and the betrayal of Baba to Hassan are examples ofdiscrimination caused by religion.To begin with, The Kite Runner depictsethnicity as a very important sector of the Afghani society. The twomain characters, Amir and Hassan belong to different ethnic groups, Amir who isa Pashtun and a Sunni belongs to a wealthy father who is respected and honoredin Afghanistan, whereas Hassan is an Hazara and a Shi’a. Hassan’s father is aservant to Amir’s father as they had both grown up together.
Furthermore,Pashtuns are Sunni Muslims, while Hazara’s are Shi’a Muslims. Hazara’s facemajor discrimination as Afghanistan is predominantly Sunni, and people lookdown on the Shi’a. Additionally, since Pashtun’s are in control of the Afghanigovernment they make sure that Hazara’s are disliked and don’t get muchimportance in the country’s history.
As shown in this quote, Hazara’s are oppressedand bullied, in the novel when Ali would walk down the streets kids would callhim “Babloo” which translates to “Boogeyman”, this is avery offensive term as it is an example of bullying someone based on theirlooks. There is also an attempt to cover up the genocide against Hazara’s andhow Hazara women were raped by Pashtun men. Religion divides the Hazara’s fromPashtun’s because the majority of Afghani’s were Sunni and the treatment wasdetermined by your ethnicity. An example of the unfair treatment would be Amirtreating Hassan, he would make fun of Hassan for being illiterate and not beingable to read texts.
As a child, this wasn’t a big deal to Amir but thetreatment was harsh due to the fact that it wasn’t Hassan’s decision to beilliterate. Furthermore, Hazara’s were traditionally illiterate as they woulddo labor work since they were lower class. Throughout the novel, Hassan isdiscriminated against since he is an Hazara and they are considered to be anunimportant part of Afghani culture. On page 75, Assef who is a bully decidesto rape Hassan and doesn’t feel guilty about it because he is grown up to hateHazaras. Not only is this discrimination but it’s cruelty “He is just a Hazara.”(Hosseini 75). The anger and hate has built up so much against Hazara’s that hedoesn’t think twice before committing a sin and a crime.
Hassan was treatedlike an animal as they didn’t realize he as a human being had feelings too. To begin with, in thenovel when Ali was introduced as a kid, it was told that Baba’s father took himin when his parents were killed. Baba and Ali grew up together just like Amirgrew up with Hassan. Religion affects the bond these four characters shared.Ali grew up to be a servant to Baba and proved his loyalty by staying with Babafor many years. Ethnic grouping divided these characters because no matter whatHassan did for Amir, he was never taken seriously, as a result Amir took Hassanfor granted as he always expected him to be there for him and cover up for hismistakes. At the end of the day, Hassan was always a servant to Amir, whereasAmir was Hassans only friend and always proved his loyalty by covering up forAmir. Society taught Amir to treat Hassan a certainway, he never proved his loyalty to Hassan when he was getting raped because hewas scared, and he thought of Hassan only as a servant whereas Hassan expectednothing but friendship from Amir.
Hassan lived his life being loyal to Amir, hehad always sacrificed himself for Amir and expected nothing in return makinghim a selfless character in the novel. When Amir had taken the watch and moneyand placed it under Hassan’s mattress, he then went to Baba and told him thathe thinks that Hassan stole the money. When Baba confronted Hassan about theissue, Hassan did not deny it.
He took the accusations because he wanted toprotect Amir. Even when Hassan and Amir grow up, he remained loyal because heloved Amir. Hassan eventually learned to become literate so he can writeletters to his best friend, Amir. He ended up dying due to his loyalty to Amir,when the Taliban accused him of stealing Amir’s home. Therefore, no matter how harsh Amir treatedHassan, he stayed loyal. Religion divided these characters in this novel becauseclass weighed heavier on the scale. Amir was portrayed as a selfish characterwho only cared about himself, at school it was taught that Hazara’s are oflower class.
Baba never considered Ali his friend, just like how Amir didn’tconsider Hassan as his friend. According to Amir, their ethnic and religiousdifferences kept them from being friends. .Furthermore, religionimpacts the bond between Baba and Hassan. Baba sacrifices Hassan because he isan Hazara and generally they are looked down upon. Furthermore, Baba is acoward because he had sexual relations with Sanaubar, and never accepted Hassanas his own child because he was afraid of what people would say. This also goesagainst religion due to the fact that in Islam it is forbidden to have sexualrelations with anyone that you are not married to.
Baba did not want to accepta child that was a Hazara, religion and ethnic differences divided a son and afather. It was never revealed to Hassan whom his biological father was,throughout the entire novel Hassan assumed that Ali was his father because Aliwas the one that always took care of him. Baba betrayed Ali by having sexual relationswith his wife, Sanaubar. Additionally, Baba betrayed Hassan because he livedhis entire life clueless of his own identity. Rahim Khan says that “it wasa shameful situation” (Hosseini 57), this is a valid point because havinga child with someone that is not your spouse in Islam and in Afghanistan is adishonor to your name.
Since, this is a sin in Islam, Hassan never came to knowwho his biological father was. Therefore, religion separated Hassan from hisfather. Moreover, religion candivide nations and destruct them. In this novel, The Kite Runner writtenby Khaled Hosseini, it was portrayed through many examples such as thediscrimination against Hazaras and the division between the two sects, Sunni’sand Shi’a. How Hassan was treated by Amir and the neglect Hassan faced by Baba.