Fārsīwān (Pashto/Persian: فارسیوان or its regional forms: Pārsīwān or Pārsībān, "Persian speaker") is a contemporary designation for Persian speakers in Afghanistan and its diaspora elsewhere. More specifically, it was originally used to refer to a distinct group of farmers in Afghanistan and urban dwellers. In Afghanistan, original Farsiwans are found predominantly in Herat and Farah provinces. They are roughly the same as the Persians of eastern Iran. The term excludes the Hazāra and Aymāq tribes, who also speak dialects of Persian (Hazaragi and Aimaq).
The Farsiwan are often mistakenly referred to as Tajiks. Although the term was originally coined with the Persian lexical root (Pārsībān), the suffix has been transformed into a Pashto form (-wān) and is usually used by the Pashtuns to designate both the Tajiks and the Farsiwans. The ethnographer Michael Izady does not make a Tajik-specific distinction and defines Parsiwans as "urbanites of any ethnic background who speak only Persian and have lost all their ethnic and tribal affiliations." In his 2013 study, he found that 4.2% of Afghanistan's population were Parsiwans and that the group were historically the most likely ethnic group to be employed in the government as bureaucrats and that "most of what people in the West know about Afghanistan has come to them through these three Persian-speaking minorities [Tajiks, Kizilbash and Parsiwans]."
Like the Persians of Iran, the Farsiwan are often distinguished from Tajiks by their adherence to Shia Islam as opposed to the Sunni sect favored by the majority of Tajiks. However, there are also minor linguistic differences especially among the rural Farsiwan. The Farsiwan sometimes speak a dialect more akin to the Darī dialects of the Persian language, for example the dialect of Kabul, as opposed to the standard Tehrānī dialect of Iran. However, most of the Fārsīwān speak the Khorasani dialect, native to the Afghanistan–Iran border region, namely Herāt and Farāh, as well as the Iranian provinces of Khorasan. Unlike the Hazara, who are also Persian-speaking and Shia, the Farsiwan do not show any, or very limited, traces of Turkic and Mongol ancestry. Although the Qizilbash of Iran and Afghanistan are also Persian-speaking Shias, they are usually regarded as a separate group from the Farsiwan.
Some confusion arises because an alternative name used locally for the Fārsīwān (as well as for the Tājiks in general) is Dehgān, meaning "village settlers", in the sense of "urban". The term is used in contrast to "nomadic".
There are approximately 1.5 million Farsiwans in Afghanistan, mainly in the provinces of Herat, Farah Ghor, and Mazar-i-Sharif. They are also the main inhabitants of the city of Herāt. Smaller populations can be found in Kabul, Kandahar and Ghazni. Due to the large number of refugees from Afghanistan, significant Farsiwan communities nowadays also exist in Iran (mostly in Mashhad and Tehran).
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