Rumi was a Persian poet and Sufi mystic whose spiritual legacy has been attracting praises for the past 800 years! Often described as the best-selling and most popular poet in the US, Rumi's poems are widely read today in many countries. His poetry has influenced the literary traditions of many languages, such as Pashto, Urdu, Chagatai, and Ottoman Turkish.
Lal Shahbaz Qalandar was a Sufi poet and saint of present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan. Revered by the Sindhi population, Shahbaz is credited with helping many people convert to Islam. A profound scholar of religions, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar is viewed as a holy figure in Sindh as it is believed that he performed many miracles during his time.
The only known international model from Afghanistan, Zohre Esmaeli was 13 when she fled Afghanistan and its Taliban regime to move to Germany with her family. She has been featured in magazines such as Elle and Cosmopolitan and is associated with charitable initiatives such as Save Society.
Afghan poet and journalist Nadia Anjuman published her first poetry collection, Gol-e Dudi, or Smokey Flower, when she was 25. Soon after the release of her book, she was beaten to death. It is largely believed that she was killed by her husband though the death was officially declared a suicide later.
Homeira Qaderi is an Afghan activist, writer, and educator. An advocate for women's rights, Qaderi was honored with the Malalai Medal for bravery at a young age. She found ways to educate herself despite Taliban's draconian edicts against women and received a Ph.D. from Jawaharlal Nehru University. She then fought to improve the situation of orphans and widows in Afghanistan.
Remembered as the Mother of the Afghan Nation, Nazo Tokhi, or Nāzo Anā, was an Afghan poetess and writer who wrote in Pashto language. She was the mother of the Hotak dynasty Afghan ruler Mirwais Hotak. She defended her fortress valiantly when her brother went to war after her father’s death in combat.
Afghan woman Nadia Ghulam spent ten-years of her life posing as a boy, adopting identity of her dead brother, so that she can work to support her family while avoiding Taliban's strictures on women. She recollected her experiences in the 2010 book El secret del meu turbant that she co-authored with Agnès Rotger. It won Prudenci Bertrana Prize for fiction.
Afghan singer, composer, and poet Amir Jan Sabori was covered in the documentary Golden Dream. The musician from Herat went on a long hiatus, before returning to the world of music with the 2005 album Zindagi Hameen Ast, or This Is Life. Afghan singer Tawab Arash is his nephew.
Afghan Pashtun musician, singer, and composer Awalmir specialized in ghazals and performed for the first time at age 18. He later sang on Afghan radio and was also bestowed with the honorific title of Ustad. His best-known songs include Da Zamong Zeba Watan, or Our Beautiful Homeland.
Former Afghan diplomat and award-winning feminist author Chékéba Hachemi was 11 when she fled her country and moved to France, in the wake of the Soviet invasion. A prominent women’s rights activist, she founded the charitable organization Afghanistan Libre. She was also the first Afghan female to be made a diplomat.
Born to Afghan refugee parents in Iran, Fereshteh Forough initially majored in literature but then switched to computer science. She launched Afghanistan’s first all-female coding school, Code to Inspire. She has also been a Peace is Loud and TED Talk speaker and is a mentor at Google’s Made With Code initiative.
Afghan Tajik author, poet, artist, and playwright Youssof Kohzad is known for his works such as When God Created Beauty. Educated in art in Italy, he later traveled to places such as Russia and India, to showcase his works. He later moved to India as a refugee and then settled in the US.
Afghan author Akram Osman was not just a contemporary intellectual who mingled Western themes and indigenous literary traditions in his short stories, but he also held a PhD in law and political science. His best-known works include Real Men Keep Their Word and The Hero and the Coward.
Former Afghan journalist Zakia Zaki was a prominent part of Afghan Radio Peace. A feminist and women’s rights activist, she is remembered as one of the first female Afghan journalists who were vocal against the Taliban. She was shot and killed in her home by unidentified gunmen, in her husband’s absence.
Iranian political activist Elham Yaghoubian is also a prolific author. She launched a social-media group named Iran-Israel Alliance of Nations, which later became a non-profit organization. She is also known for her novels, such as Ashk-e Sham and Tondbad e Sarnevesht, which talk about Persian women.
Afghan women’s rights activist and politician Azra Jafari scripted history as the country’s first female mayor. While she initially grew up as a refugee in Iran, she later went back to Afghanistan. She contributed to a couple of books, founded an elementary school, and also worked for a cultural magazine.
Afghan author and politician Masuma Esmati-Wardak has previously been a minister of education. She also became one of the first women to be part of the Afghan parliament. She has also served as the president of the Afghan Women's Council and is equipped with a business degree from the US.
Afghan author Sayyida Makhfi-Badakhshi wrote under the pseudonym Makhfi Badakhshi. She was an influential poet but couldn’t use her real name to write for fear of being attacked by extremists. She was known for her ghazals and is remembered for her works such as On Sayyida.
Afghan author Spôjmaï Zariâb, who is best known for her short stories, has been exiled in France since 1991. Initially a translator at the French embassy in Afghanistan, she fled to France during the Russian invasion. Her best-known works include The Man from Kabul and Babylon Reconquered.
Afghan-origin author, scriptwriter, and director Chabname Zariab moved to France as a child. She is best known for her works such as the novel The Afghan Pianist and the short film To the Sound of Bells. Her other notable works are the short films The Camel Boy and Hizia.