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Book Review Afghan Proverbs2019 JPG.JPG
Book Review:  Zarbul Masalha: 151 Afghan Dari Proverbs (3rd ed.)
by Caroline McCullagh
"Passion Projects"  
Published in the Mensa Bulletin 
June 2019, p.22
Click on review image to read
Book Review Afghan Proverbs
Book Review:  Zarbul Masalha: 151 Afghan Dari Proverbs (3rd ed.)
by Samantha Berman 
"Proverbs with a Bonus"  
Published in the Electronic Journal of Folklore 
Issue 63/2016, P. 154-55
Book Review:  Zarbul Masalha: 151 Afghan Dari Proverbs
by Ruth Lynch
Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics
Published in the Journal of Folklore Research
January 27, 2016
A publication of Indiana University's Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology

"A wonderful compilation of Afghan Pashto Proverbs common to another element of Afghan culture. 

Captain Zellem takes an entertaining and enlightening approach to sharing ancient cultural wisdom from a country often veiled from our view.  Zellem, as an interpreter and educator while serving in the United States Navy, was privy to an aspect of Afghanistan's history that most combatants never discover.  As a man skilled in the languages and historical nuances of a country where our nation was at war, he chose to share proverbs that define it but also parallel our own. 


It is an interesting and different journey into a battlefield for anyone interested in history.  I recommend his book and thank Captain Zellem for his continued and successful work."


     - Mike Mullins

        Book Review, Military Writers Society of America

Exclusive:  World-renowned paremiologist

Dr. Wolfgang Mieder on Afghan Proverbs


As featured in the upcoming documentary film "Dates for Coffee" 



A film directed by Kiera Lewis


Coming Soon

Book Review:  Mataluna: 151 Afghan Pashto Proverbs
by Rachel Loveall
Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics
Published in the Journal of Folklore Research
January 2015
A publication of Indiana University's Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology

Qazi Ahmad Jan (1883-1951)

Pashto Writer, Grammarian,

Language Teacher (Munshi)

"I find it so heart-warming and fascinating that people from such diverse backgrounds are working to preserve and present these Proverbs using novel ways in the 21st century. 


This is incredible stuff.  It is a huge service to the languages and proverbs in this part of the world.  The narrative of peace, universal love and mutual understanding central to the idea is so beautiful."

   - Ali Jan

      Grandson of Qazi Ahmad Jan

      Peshawar, Pakistan  

ول نزنی گول میخوری.

"I can't say enough wonderful things about this book!  It is truly a treasure.  I think everyone should read such a beautiful book.  The teachings are important and the pictures are wonderful.  Edward Zellem has done an amazing job in bringing Afghanistan’s heritage and culture to a global audience through Afghan Proverbs.  


On behalf of Afghans and the Afghan community in United States, I would personally like to thank Captain Zellem for reawakening delightful memories of our rich culture and beloved watan, or homeland."

        - Fahim Fazli 

           Hollywood actor, award-winning author and combat interpreter 

"An informative and beautifully produced volume of Afghan proverbs that Edward Zellem collected in Afghanistan during his time of service there as a Captain in the United States Navy.


His collection represents a treasure of the proverbial wisdom of that country, and serves as an example of the commonality of life that ties humanity together all over the world." 

   - Dr. Wolfgang Mieder 

      Professor of German and Folklore, University of Vermont

      Internationally recognized scholar of over 100 books on proverbs

      PROVERBIUM: Yearbook of International Proverb Scholarship (Vol. 31, 2014) 

"A wonderful book that every Afghan under the age of 45 should have.  What I love about the book is that the Proverbs are in Dari, followed by transliteration in English so anyone can pronounce them. Then, it goes on to give the literal translation and finally the deep meaning or root of each Proverb.


I call on all young Afghans to get a copy of this book.  Your mothers will be dazzled to hear you speak using Proverbs.  I have my book marked up with favorite Proverbs and every time I talk to Jeja, my mom, I throw out a new saying.  It delights her to hear how much my Dari has improved."

     - Humaira Ghilzai

       World's top blogger on Afghan food and culture

       "Afghan Culture Unveiled" -


"Captain Zellem does a wonderful job of demonstrating cultural similarities with his unique presentation of Afghan proverbs. He has brought to light what little is known of Afghanistan and has spread the knowledge throughout the world for others to learn, enjoy and share.  Praise goes to Captain Zellem in bridging cultures, enabling all to learn from and enjoy this book."


     - Rosanne Franchini


"These proverbs are a reminder of old traditions and folklore that have been passed from generation to generation. And they are a true delight for anyone who has been away or alienated from Afghanistan.


I'm sure that when young Afghans raised in mixed languages read these traditional Afghan Proverbs, they will taste like 'food cooked by grandmothers'.  Thank you for helping keep history, tradition and a culture alive!"

   - Leena Alam

     Award-winning Afghan film actress  

     and UNAMA Peace Ambassador

"The whole family read the book. A very nice job!!  This parallelism in the proverbs was a beautiful idea. How nice that you translated it for us!  You see that all people on the planet want the same simple things... which I wish they had, of course.  Also, I particularly liked the drawings of the students and the texture of the paper. WELL DONE!"
- Katerina Zarifi

      Volos, Greece


Το βιβλίο το διαβάσαμε όλοι.  Πολύ όμορφη δουλειά!!  Αυτός ο παραλληλισμός στις παροιμίες πολύ όμορφη ιδέα.  Μα τι ωραία που μας τα έκανες μετάφραση!  Βλέπεις πως όλοι οι άνθρωποι πάνω στον πλανήτη θέλουν τα ίδια απλά πράγματα... που μακάρι να τα είχαν, βέβαια. Μου άρεσαν πολύ επίσης τα σχέδια των μαθητών και η υφή του χαρτιού. ΜΠΡΑΒΟ!

     - Κατερίνα Ζαρίφη


"Honestly,  when people say that no good came out of the Americans who went into Afghanistan, Captain Zellem restores my faith and proves them wrong.  


I am so grateful for this honour to represent his books, which recognize Afghanistan's culture and talent.  The books are written in English, Dari and Pashto, and have such beautiful verses and explanations."

   - Saadaf Jaan

     Afghan-Canadian model

“I wish I had these books when I was younger, because now I would be proficient in Dari and Pashto - but at least now I have a clear path.  They are the BEST!" 

   - Frinza Naqvi 

      Granddaughter of Abdul Wakil Sadaqat

      Advocate for education and literacy


"Educational, an easy read, and alluring illustrations.  A truly pleasurable read for Afghans and Dutch of the old as well as the new generations."

   - Sitara Attaie

      Hollywood actress, choreographer

      and linguist

"Leerzaam, makkelijk leesbaar, en fraaie illustraties. Een werkelijk genot om te lezen voor Afghanen en Nederlanders van zowel de oude als de nieuwe generatie."

    - Sitara Attaie

      Hollywood Actrice, Choreograaf, en Linguïst

"All types of social and cultural learning and understanding are enriched through Proverbs."

   - Nancy Dupree

     Author, historian, and

     founder of the Afghanistan

     Centre at Kabul University 


“A delightful book of proverbs...I commend Captain Zellem for honoring and selecting these glorious proverbs.  I heartily recommend this book." 

   - Bruce Cook 




"As one of the Proverbs in the book says,

 Dil ba dil raah daarad.  There is a way from heart to heart. I hope you enjoy the book as much as I have." 

book as much as I have." .' .دل به دل راه دارد  There is a way from heart to heart.  I hope you enjoy the book as much as I have."

        - General David H. Petraeus

           U.S. Army (ret)

           Former commander of U.S. and

          NATO forces in Afghanistan

Read General Petraeus' foreword to the next edition of Zarbul Masalha 

In English       In Dari

"Goal nazanee, goal mekhoree."  

گول نزنی گول میخوری.

 "We always say this Afghan Proverb before each of our matches.  It means score a goal or be scored upon.  This Proverb warns us that you have to keep the ball, or you cannot score."

   - Hazratgul Baran

     Afghan professional football  player 

“Edward Zellem has done an amazing job in bringing Afghanistan’s heritage and culture to a global audience through Afghan Proverbs.  On behalf of the Afghan Student Association at UC Davis and the Afghan community as a whole, I would personally like to thank Captain Zellem for reawakening delightful memories of our rich culture and beloved watan, or homeland.”

   - Zamarud Aminy 

      Student at University of California - Davis

      Publicity Director, UC Davis Afghan Student Association (ASA) 

"These books are available all over the world, and they show the world about the richness and lyricism of Afghan language and culture."

   - Khatera Yusufi 

      Award-winning Afghan television

      host of "Who Wants to be a

      Millionaire in Afghanistan"

"When I first heard of Captain Zellem 's project,  I got myself a copy of Afghan Proverbs Illustrated and immediately fell under its spell.  There is no better mirror for the mindset of a nation."

     -Daniela Skirl

       Biotechnologist and German translator


„Als ich das erste Mal von Captain Zellem's Projekt gehört habe, besorgte ich mir ein Exemplar von "Afghanische Sprichwörter Illustriert" und ließ mich sogleich von seiner Wirkung in den Bann ziehen. Es gibt wirklich keinen besseren Spiegel für die Denkart einer Nation."

"In Zarbul Masalha: 151 Afghan Dari Proverbs, author Edward Zellem offers up a wonderful collection of proverbs he collected during his service in Afghanistan.  How cool are some of these?  I particularly like the one about how important mothers are in the world.  The illustrations are very clever and well done.


I love the way each proverb is laid out, first written in Dari, then the pronunciation, followed by the translation and explanation.  This really helps connect the proverb to the language while making the meaning accessible to those of us who have never ventured to that part of the world. "

     - Judge, Writer’s Digest Book Awards


گول نزنی گول میخوری.

"I respect and appreciate what you do to promote Afghan Proverbs.  Throughout Afghan history, I have never seen a person who took this initiative and introduced a bright but hidden side of Afghanistan."

   - Tariq Arman

      Afghan-American Sports Nutritionist and Natural Bodybuilder

"Sharing these Proverbs with my family has allowed us to connect in such a deeply profound and meaningful way.  These treasured sayings have opened us up to heartwarming conversations that illuminate the history and beauty of our culture and traditions.


Edward has honored our heritage and gifted us a legacy for future generations.  Those of us who yearn for Afghanistan will find solace and comfort in these familiar sayings.  To tie our hearts to the motherland, in such a soul-inspiring way, is the highest form of sacred activism a human being can offer."

   - Fereshta 

      Singer, songwriter and spiritual activist

"Edward Zellem's Zarbul Masalha is not a history in the traditional sense. But it fills a historical void nonetheless. In Afghanistan the Taliban and other extremists burned books and attacked education thereby gravely threatening the nation’s cultural heritage. This slim volume not only helps increase literacy, it helps conserve a rich culture."

     - Cathryn J. Prince

       Award-winning author and journalist

"Who would have ever thought that Afghan Proverbs would one day become trendy, cool and even fashionable across the globe? Yet that seems to be what is happening."

    - Yasamin Rahmani

       World's first translator of Afghan 

       Proverbs Illustrated  into Russian

"There is great wisdom in Afghan Proverbs, and I hope more people will learn some of them.  They can be very useful!


As you well know, Afghans have a Proverb for everything. They summarize life so beautifully and so well. "

   - Najia Khaan 

      Bollywood actress, model and activist 

"Edward Zellem's work with Afghan Proverbs at this critical moment of Afghan reconstruction

is a tool for integration, communication and sharing values that is vital for the success of

our common goals and objectives in Afghanistan.  An excellent compilation."

    - Dr. Farid Younos

      Afghan-American TV personality

"I really enjoyed reading the book, and my family did too. It brought back a lot of good memories for all of us."

   - Lina Fouro 

      Afghan-Canadian pop music star


"Captain Edward Zellem has written one of the most remarkable books in recent memory about Afghanistan."

   - Veterans Radio Network

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