World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Soraya Tarzi

Article Id: WHEBN0008966352
Reproduction Date:

Title: Soraya Tarzi  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Pashtuns, Mahmud Tarzi, Tarzi, Ahmad Shah Durrani, Meetup/DC/Legislative Data Workshop
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Soraya Tarzi

Queen Soraya
Queen Soraya
Queen of Afghanistan
Reign February 28, 1919 – January 14, 1929
Afghanistan January 28, 1919
Predecessor Established position
Successor None
Alma mater      University of Oxford
Consort Amanullah Khan
Full name
ملکه ثریا
House Barakzai
Father Mahmud Tarzi
Mother Asma Rasmiya Tarzi
Born (1899-11-24)24 November 1899
Damascus  Ottoman Empire
Died 20 April 1968(1968-04-20) (aged 68)
 Rome,  Italy
Burial Jalalabad,  Afghanistan

Soraya Tarzi, known mostly as Queen Soraya (Pashto/Dari: ملکه ثريا) (November 24, 1899 – April 20, 1968),[1][2][3] was the Queen consort of Afghanistan in the early 20th century and the wife of King Amanullah Khan. Born in Syria, she was educated by her father, who was the Afghan leader and intellectual Sardar Mahmud Tarzi.[2] She belonged to the Mohammadzai Pashtun tribe, a powerful sub-tribe of the Barakzai dynasty.[4]

Early life and family background

History of Afghanistan principal ruling families. Ancestors of Queen Soraya.

Soraya Tarzi was born on November 24, 1899, in Damascus, Syria.[4] She was the daughter of the Afghan political figure Sardar Mahmud Tarzi, and granddaughter of Sardar Ghulam Muhammad Tarzi. She studied in Syria, learning Western and modern values[3][4] there, which would influence her future actions and beliefs.

When Amanullah's father (Habibullah Khan) became the King of Afghanistan in October 1901, one of his most important contributions to his nation was the return of Afghan exiles, specifically that of the Tarzi family and others. This is because the Tarzi family promoted the modernization of Afghanistan.[4][5] Upon her family's return to Afghanistan, Soraya Tarzi would later meet and marry King Amanullah Khan.[3]

Queen of Afghanistan

After the Tarzis' returned to Afghanistan, they were received at Court as wished by the Amir Habibullah Khan. This is where Soraya Tarzi met Prince Amanullah, son of the Amir Habibullah Khan.[4] They struck an affinity. The prince, who was a sympathiser of Mahmud Tarzi's liberal ideas, married Soraya Tarzi in August 1913.[3][4][6] Soraya Tarzi was King Amanullah Khan's only wife, which broke centuries of tradition. It was when she married into the monarchy that she grew to be one of the region's most important figures.[2][4][7]

When the prince became Amir in 1919 and subsequently King in 1926, the queen had an important role in the evolution of the Country and was always close to her husband. He had her take part in all national events. He was said, ”I am your king, but the Minister of Education[2] is my wife—your Queen”.[8] Queen Soraya was the first Muslim consort who appeared in public together with her husband, something which was unheard of at the time.[2] She participated with him in the hunting parties,[9] riding on horseback, and in some Cabinet meetings. She was present at military parades with the king. During the war of Independence, she visited the tents of wounded soldiers, talked to them, offered them presents and comfort. She accompanied the king even in some rebellious provinces of the country, something which was a very dangerous thing to do at that time.[8]

In 1928 Queen Soraya received an Honorary Degree from University of Oxford. As Queen of Afghanistan, she was not only filling a position – but became one of the most influential women in the world at the time.[6]

Because of the reforms King Amanullah Khan instituted, the country's religious sects grew violent. In 1929, the King abdicated in order to prevent a civil war and went into exile.[3] The king and queen's first stop was India, which was then part of the British Empire. There, the sovereigns were applauded everywhere they went by thousands of Indian people. There was also ovation from the Indian women who were crying and shouting the name of "Soraya" without mentioning "Queen".

Women's rights

Queen Soraya Tarzi in Berlin in 1928.

Amanullah drew up the first constitution, establishing the basis for the formal structure of the government and setting up the role of the monarch within the constitutional framework. Amanullah was influenced and encouraged by Mahmud Tarzi in his endeavors. Tarzi was specifically instrumental in designing and implementing changes pertaining to women through his personal example of monogamy.[4][6][9][10] His daughter, Queen Soraya Tarzi, would be the face of this change. Another daughter of Tarzi's married Amanullah‘s brother. Thus, it is not surprising that Tarzi's sophisticated and liberal intellectual ideology blossomed and concretely embedded itself in Amanullah's reign.[6]

King [6][11] Upon her family's return, she would meet and marry King Amanullah Khan.

Queen Soraya encouraged women to get an education and sent 15 young women to Turkey for higher education in 1928.[6][10] Soraya was very instrumental in enforcing change for women and publicly exhorted them to be active participants in nation building. In 1926, at the seventh anniversary of Independence from the British, Soraya gave a public speech:[4][10]

It (Independence) belongs to all of us and that is why we celebrate it. Do you think, however, that our nation from the outset needs only men to serve it? Women should also take their part as women did in the early years of our nation and Islam. From their examples we must learn that we must all contribute toward the development of our nation and that this cannot be done without being equipped with knowledge. So we should all attempt to acquire as much knowledge as possible, in order that we may render our services to society in the manner of the women of early Islam.[11]

She founded the first magazine for women called Ershad-I-Niswan (Guidance for Women).[6]

In 1927 and 1928, Amanullah Khan and his wife Soraya visited Europe.[6] On this trip they were honored and feted. In 1928, the King and Queen received honorary degrees from Oxford University. The Queen spoke to a large group of students and leaders. This was an era when other Muslim nations, like Turkey and Egypt were also on the path to modernization. Hence, in Afghanistan, the elite was impressed by such changes and emulated their development models, but the time may have been premature.[6] Not only did conservative Muslims disagree with the changes, the British distributed pictures of Soraya without a veil, dining with foreign men, and having her hand kissed by the leader of France, Germany, etc. among tribal regions of Afghanistan.[6] Conservative mullahs and regional leaders took the images and details from the royal family's trip to be a flagrant betrayal of Afghan culture, religion, and "honor" of women. One can take the circulation of such images from foreign sources as evidence of British efforts to destabilize the Afghan monarchy, the first of many international attempts to keep the country in political, social, and economic turmoil. The British did not have a good relationship with Soraya's family as a whole, for the chief representative of Afghanistan that they had to deal with was her father, Mahmud Tarzi. When the royal family returned from Europe, they were met with hostility and eventually forced out of office.[6][9][11]

Marriage controversy

According to a second source, Amanullah married a second time (for a brief period) to pacify the opposition.[6]

According to a third lesser source, Amanullah was married three times.[12]

  1. Shahzaha Hanım in 1910, Kabul, Afghanistan (Shahzaha Hanım died on 19 November 1912)
  2. Queen Soraya Tarzi Hanım in 1912, Kabul, Afghanistan
  3. Aliah Begum in 1929 (location unknown)

Final years

Queen Soraya and her husband King Amanullah are buried at this mausoleum in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

In 1929, the King abdicated in order to prevent a civil war and went into exile.[3][4] Queen Soraya lived in exile in Rome, Italy, with her family, having been invited by Italy.[3] She died on 20 April 1968 in Rome.[3][4][9]

The funeral was escorted by the Italian military team to the Rome airport, before being taken to Afghanistan where a solemn state funeral was held.[4] She is buried in Bagh-e Amir Shaheed,[13] the family mausoleum in a large marble plaza, covered by a dome roof held up by blue columns in the heart of Jalalabad, next to her husband the King, who had died eight years earlier.[3][4]

Her youngest daughter, Princess India D’Afghanistan, has recently visited Afghanistan, setting up various charity projects.[3][14] D’Afghanistan is also an honorary cultural ambassador of Afghanistan to Europe.[14] In September 2011, Princess India D’Afghanistan was honored by the Afghan-American Women Association for her work in women's rights.[15]


  1. ^ "Extended Definition: Soraya". Webster's Online Dictionary. Webster's Dictionary. Retrieved 7/6/2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Runion, Meredith (October 30, 2007). The History of Afghanistan. 139: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 155.  
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Halidziai, K. "The Queen Soraya of Afghanistan". AFGHANISTAN OLD PHOTOS. Retrieved 7/6/2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "H.M. Soraya Tarzi". Key figures of the Tarzi Family. The Tarzi Family & The Tarzi Family Historical Society. Retrieved 7/6/2012. 
  5. ^ A History of Women in Afghanistan: Lessons Learnt for the Future
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Ahmed-Ghosh, Huma (May 2003). "A History of Women in Afghanistan: Lessons Learnt for the Future or Yesterdays and Tomorrow: Women in Afghanistan". Journal of International Women’s Studies 4 (3): 14. Retrieved 7/6/2012. 
  7. ^ "Soraya Tarzi-Queen of Afghanistan". Retrieved 7/6/2012. 
  8. ^ a b c d "When Afghanistan was in Vogue". Wadsam -Afghan Business News Portal. Retrieved 7/6/2012. 
  9. ^ a b c d Ismene. "Burqa Babes: Soraya Tarzi". A Handful of Dust – On Afghanistan, Counterinsurgency, and Whatever Else We Might Fancy. A Handful of Dust – On Afghanistan, Counterinsurgency, and Whatever Else We Might Fancy. Retrieved 7/6/2012. 
  10. ^ a b c Women of Afghanistan: The Stor...Link
  11. ^ "Biyografi of King Amanullah Khan". Paschtunistan. Paschtunistan. Retrieved 2012-07-07. 
  12. ^ Shalizi, Hamid. "Afghan king's shrine neglected as city modernizes". Reuter. Retrieved 2012-07-07. 
  13. ^ a b Garzilli, Enrica; Asiatica Association (December 3, 2010). "Afghanistan, Issues at stake and Viable Solutions: An Interview with H.R.H. Princess India of Afghanistan". Journal of South Asia Women Studies 12 (1). Retrieved 7/10/2012. 
  14. ^ "Afghan-American Women Association honor Princess India D’Afghanistan". Afghan-American Women Association. September 2011. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 

External links

  • A History of Women in Afghanistan: Lessons Learnt for the Future or Yesterdays and Tomorrow: Women in Afghanistan By Dr. Huma Ahmed-Ghosh
  • Old pictures of the Queen Soraya of Afghanistan
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.