Abdul Hai Habibi was a prominent Afghan historian for much of his lifetime as well as a member of the National Assembly of Afghanistan (Afghan Parliament) during the reign of King Zahir Shah. A Pashtun nationalist from Kandahar, Afghanistan, he began as a young teacher who made his way up to become a writer, scholar, politician and Dean of Faculty of Literature at Kabul University. He is the author of over 100 books but is best known for editing Pata Khazana, an "old" Pashto language manuscript that he claimed to have "discovered" in 1944; the academic community, however, does not acknowledge the manuscript as genuine.
Habibi was born in the city of Kandahar in 1910, in a Pashtun family of scholars. He was the great grandson of Allamah Habibullah, the eminent scholar known as "Kandahari intellectual" who authored many books. Habibi's father died at an early age and he grew up studying in the mosques of Kandahar, and in 1920 he was admitted to the primary school of Shalimar. Being good at his studies, he received his diploma at the age of 15 and began working as a teacher in the primary schools of Kandahar. In 1927 he was appointed as the deputy editor of Tulo Afghan weekly newspaper in Kandahar and 3 years later became the editor of the newspaper.
In 1950s, he was forced to exile by living in Peshawar, Pakistan, because of his opposition to Afghan Prime Minister Shah Mahmud Khan. While in exile, he published a journal called Azad Afghanistan (Free Afghanistan). He was permitted to return to Afghanistan in 1961 to become professor in the faculty of literature of Kabul University. In 1966, he was appointed president of Afghan Historical Society and he published a number of books on Afghan history.
As an academic, Habibi worked diligently throughout his life. He is the author of 115 books and over 500 papers and articles on the literature, history, philosophy, linguistics, poetics and the culture of the people of Afghanistan. Several of his books have been translated to English, Arabic, German and other foreign languages.
Abdul Hai Habibi died on 9 May 1984, in Kabul, during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. He was 74 years old at the time of his death. He was fluent in Pashto and Dari.