The Rugmaker of Mazar-e-Sharif
Themes relating to Encountering Conflict

‘War had always been the background to my life (and sometimes much more than the background) and it surely helped to form the way I thought about things. In a way, war had become normal in Afghanistan; it was peace that was strange’ (p. 163)

In Afghanistan encountering conflict is inevitable, unavoidable and, according to Najaf Mazari, it has always been this way. Mazari writes in the first person a compelling account of violence in his homeland of Afghanistan and his harrowing journey to escape it to begin a new life in Australia. He provides a very personal account of his incarceration in Woomera Detention Centre. From the outset the significance conflict has played in Najaf’s life and the effects of such conflict are apparent.

The following themes reoccur throughout the text and should be used to link the text with your broader ideas on conflict.


· What affect does conflict have on our identity?
· How does our identity shape our reactions to conflict?
· Is identity ‘portable’?
· Can we successfully preserve our identities when faced with conflict?


· Can cultural conflicts be resolved?
· What affect does culture have on our reaction to conflict?
· Can the habits and customs of one culture flourish in a new and different cultural environment?
· How are cultures maintained?


· How does conflict affect families?
· How to different families deal with conflict?
· What are the benefits of family and friends in times of conflict?
· Can we find a sense of ‘home’ anywhere if we have our family?


· What role does religion play in shaping conflicts?
· Can religion overcome social barriers?
· What strength can people gain from religion in times of conflict?
· How are religions misunderstood within conflict?


· Can justice be reached through conflict?
· Is conflict ever just?
· How should we judge those who act differently in times of conflict?
· Are there just and unjust conflicts?

For each of these themes think about the questions listed and write some more of your own.
What insight into these issues can be gained from reading ‘The Rugmaker of Mazar-e-Sharif’?