By Muhammadans of Asia Minor and the Western countries the Afghan is usually called Sulemani, apparently from the supposition that he dwells on the Suleman range of mountains. If so, the name is misapplied, for there are no Afghans settled on that range. It would appear more probable that the name is connected with the ancient Solymi of Syria, who are mentioned by Herodotus, and who were in olden times much mixed up with the Israelites in that country. It is not improbable that some of these Solymi were also carried into captivity along with the Israelites, and that they may have become incorporated with that people, and accompanied them in their subsequent wanderings. In this case we might suppose that some of them were among the Afghans of Ghor, and the supposition would explain the mission of Khalid-bin-Walid to these Afghans, for the Solymi were an Arab people of the same race as Khalid It is possible, indeed, that the Solymi of the ancients and the Afghan of the moderns, were originally one and the same people, and that the Bani Israil were merely refugees among them, for, at the time of their first settlement in Ghor, they were always spoken of separately as "Bani Afghana" and "Bani Israil".
By the people of India, and of the East generally, the Afghan is more commonly known by the name Pathan, in common with all other Pukhto-speaking peoples Sometimes he is also called Rohilla, but this name is properly applicable only to the true Pathan, the native of Roh (the Highlands), the true Highlander, as will be explained further on under the head of Pathan Amongst themselves, and in their own country, the Afghans rarely, if ever, call themselves by these names They are simply Afghan or Aoghan, as it is commonly pronounced, of such or such a clan; or they are Durrani, a term which only came into use with the rise of the nation to an independent sovereignty under Ahmad Shah in 1747. It is the name, too, by which this people is known in India as representing a distinct government. The Afghans admit that they are Pukhtana - the Hindustani form of which is Pathan - but they are careful in insisting on the distinction between Afghan and Pathan (or Pukhtana, the word in use among themselves). In fact, as they say, every Afghan is a Pukhtun (singular of Pukhtana), but every Pukhtun, or Pathan, is not an Afghan. The distinction thus made is a very proper one, for the two peoples are of different race and origin. The Afghan is a Pathan merely because he inhabits a Pathan country, and has to a great extent mixed with its people, and adopted their language The people of the country, on their part, have adopted the religion, and with it many of the manners and customs of the Afghans, though most tribes still retain certain ancient customs peculiar to themselves, which have survived their conversion to Islam, and serve as guides to the elucidation of their previous history. To enter upon an investigation of this subject is altogether beyond the scope of this treatise. It is one, however, of absorbing interest, and would well repay the labour of research From what has been stated, we see that the Afghans are a distinct and peculiar people among several other peoples, who together compose the mixed population of the country which is now named after them They call themselves "Bani Israil," and trace their descent from King Saul (Malik Talut) in regular succession down to Kais or Kish, the great ancestor of their nation in Afghanistan.
Of their numbers at the present day it is difficult to form an estimate, though I think it probable that they do not exceed a million souls, if even they be so many. They have for many centuries enjoyed a high reputation for their martial qualities, and have been largely employed in the armies of every conqueror invading India from the north-west or west. Numerous colonies and baronies of their people are to be found scattered about in different parts of the Indian peninsula, and they at one time - the thirteenth century - establish-ed a dynasty of kings at Dehli. They have risen into real importance, however, only within the last century and a half or so. And this by the accident of their sudden and unexpected bound to independence and the dominant rule of their country. As a people they have always been evilly notorious for their faithlessness, lawlessness, treachery and brutality, so much so that the saying Afghan be-iman - "the Afghan is faithless" - has passed into a proverb among neighbouring peoples, and, oddly enough, is acknowledged by themselves to be a true count, not only in their dealings with the stranger, but among themselves too. So far as their history as an independent and ruling people goes they have certainly not belied the character assigned to them. A darker record of misgovernment, of vice, of treachery, of savage cruelty, and of oppression, than marks the career of the independent Afghans, is hardly to be found in the annals of any other independent state of modern times, or of the same period.
Let us glance at their history from the time they first became known to the world as an independent people under a king of their own race. It is not a long period to go over - only one- hundred and thirty-two years - and the review brief and hurried as it must necessarily be, will show what they have done and what they have not done for their country and their compatriots. For most of the facts and dates brought together in the following summary account I am indebted to MacGregor's Gazetteer of Afghanistan - a perfect mine of information regarding that country, its tribes, its history, its geography, etc, etc.