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Sindhis (Sindhi: سنڌي ) ( ) (Arabic: Al-Sindi:السندي) ‎are a Sindhi speaking socio-ethnic group of people originating from Sindhmarker, a province of Pakistanmarker. Today Sindhis that live in Pakistanmarker belong to various religious denominations including Muslim, Zorastrian, Hindus and Christians. After the Partition of India in 1947, a large number of Indian Muslim refugees (Muhajirs) flocked into Pakistanmarker and settled in the prosperous Sindhmarker region. At the same time Sindhi Hindus migrated to Indiamarker in large numbers.


Ancient history

Sindhi Speaking Population Area.
The original inhabitants of ancient Sindh were believed to be aboriginal tribes speaking languages of the Indus Valley Civilization around 3000 BC. The ancient civilization centered around the towns whose modern names are Mohenjodaromarker and Harappamarker (both names are derived from the modern Sindhi language - the language of the Indus Valley Civilization remains undeciphered).

The Indus Valley Civilization went into decline for reasons that are not entirely known. Their decline coincided with the arrival of Aryan tribes from Central Asia. The Indo-Aryans are believed to have founded the Vedic Civilization that have existed between Sarasvati River and Gangesmarker river around 1500 BC. This civilization helped shape subsequent cultures in the South Asia.

Muslim travelers, specifically the great Persian scholar Abū Rayhān Bīrūnī (Al-Beruni) in his book Kitab-ul-Hind, has declared that even before the advent of Islam into Sindhmarker (711 A.D.), the Sindhi language was prevalent in Sindh.

The Aryan Period

People in the ancient world that came from the region of India were known as 'Sindhi. There are people recorded in Turkey and also North of the Black Seamarker who were referred to as Sindi.It was like people nowadays that are in Canada or the UK are referred to as Indians.This fact is also the source of the theory that the Kurds of the SE Greecemarker, Turkeymarker, NW Iraq and Northern Syriamarker are believed to have had their origin in Indiamarker as the tribal name 'Sindi' is big amongst the Kurds.

As early as 2000 BC, the vanguards of the Indo-European speaking tribal immigrants, such as the Hittites and the Mittanis (Sindis), had arrived in southwestern Asia. While the Hittites only marginally affected the mountain communities in Kurdistanmarker, the Mittanis settled inside Kurdistan around modern Diyarbakir, and influenced the natives in several fields worthy of note, in particular the introduction of knotted rug weaving. Even rug designs introduced by the Mittanis and recognized by the replication in the Assyrian floor carvings, remain the hallmark of the Kurdish rugs and kelims. The modern mina khâni and chwar such styles are basically the same today as those the Assyrians copied and depicted nearly 3000 years ago.

The name ‘Mittani’ survives today in the Kurdish clans of Mattini and Millani/Milli who inhabit the exact same geographical areas of Kurdistan as the ancient Mittani. The name "Mittan," however, is a Hurrian name rather than Aryan. At the onset of Aryan immigration into Kurdistan, only the aristocracy of the high-ranking warrior groups were Aryans, while the bulk of the people were still Hurrian in all manners. The Mittani aristocratic house almost certainly was from the immigrant Sindis, who survive today in the populous Kurdish clan of Sindi—again—in the same area where the Mittani kingdom once existed. These ancient Sindi seem to have been an Indic, and not Iranic group of people, and in fact a branch of the better known Sindhis of Indiamarker-Pakistanmarker, that has imparted its name to the River Indusmarker and in fact, India itself. (footnote 8) While the bulk of the Sindis moved on to India, some wondered into Kurdistanmarker to give rise to the Mitanni royal house and the modern Sindi Kurds.

Arrival of Islam

In the year 711 Sindh was conquered by Umayyad Arabs from Damascusmarker, led by the young Muhammad bin Qasim .Sindh became the easternmost province of the Umayyad Caliphate Referred to as Al-Sindh on Arab maps with lands further east known as Hind".Muslim geographers, historians and travellers such as al-Masudi, al-Tabari, Baladhuri, al-Biruni and Ibn Battutah wrote about or visited the region and also sometimes used the name "Sindh" for the entire area from the Arabian Seamarker to the Hindu Kushmarker.

It is said that at the request of a Sindhi Raja, Mabrook, who had embraced Islam, the Quran was translated into Sindhi during the reign of Abdulla bin Omar Hibari (d. 893 AD) ruled for about 30 years and made great contribution to the cultural and economic development of the province. It was during the Hibari period that Sind severed its relations with the caliphate Due to the patronage extended by early Abbasid Caliphs and their Baramaka Prime Ministers,Abu Raja Al-Sindi, Abu Zila alsindi, Abu Mashar Sindhi, Abu Ata Sindhi, Abul Hassan Sindhi and a number of Sindhis went to Baghdadmarker and engaged themselves in scientific and literary pursuits They translated a large number of Sanskrit books on mathematics, astronomy, astrology, medicine, literature and ethics into Arabic.

By the twelfth century Sindhi sailors from the port city of Debal voyaged to Basramarker, Bushehrmarker, Musqatmarker, Adenmarker, Kilwa, Sofalamarker, Malabar, Sri Lankamarker and Javamarker.

Post 712 A.D.till 1947

Because of its location at the Western edge of South Asia, Sindh was one of the earliest regions in the Indian subcontinent to be influenced by Islam. It was part of the Islamic empires of the Abbasids and Umayyids. Muslim technocrats, bureaucrats, soldiers, traders, scientists, architects, teachers, theologians and Sufis flocked from the rest of the Muslim world to the Islamic Sultanate in Sindhmarker. Sufi missionaries played a pivotal role in converting millions of native Sindhis to Islam. Settled by Turks, Pashtuns, and Mughals, Sindh continued to evolve as a frontier state and by the time of British colonial occupation was ruled.

Partition and mass exodus of Hindu Sindhis

In 1947, with the departure of the Britishmarker from India, the state of Pakistanmarker was created out of the Muslim-majority provinces of British India. All of Sindh was allotted to Pakistanmarker. According to the 1941 census, 25% of the population of the province of Sindh was Hindu, about 23% was made up of Sindhi Baloch tribes and nearly one-third was Muslim . Most of the Hindu Sindhis were city dwellers and were over-represented in the fields of trade and commerce. A number of Sindhi Hindus opted to remain in Sindh even after Partition, because there was no history of conflict between Hindu and Muslim Sindhis. However, when waves of Muslim refugees from India (known as Muhajirs) started to pour into Sindhmarker, violence erupted on the streets. Many Hindu Sindhis were forced to flee Sindh leaving everything behind. Popati Hiranandani, a Sindhi Hindu writes in her autobiography that the local police were complicit in the anti-Hindu violence. After the mass exodus of Hindus, their property was taken over by Mohajirs, making it impossible for them to return. These Hindus were settled in refugee camps in India, and went on to assimilate into the local population, mainly in Western India. The city of Ulhasnagarmarker in Maharashtramarker, Indiamarker presently houses a large number of Sindhis which served as a refugee camp for Sindhis who fled from Pakistanmarker.

Modern history after independence of Pakistan

Bhutto at a PPP rally.
On 14 August 1947 Pakistanmarker gained independence from colonial British colonial rule. The province Sindh attained self rule, the first time since the defeat of Sindhi Talpur Amirs in the Battle of Miani on 17 February 1843. The first challenge faced by the Government of Sindh was the settlement of Muslim refugees. Nearly 7 million Muslims from India migrated to Pakistan while nearly equal number of Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan migrated to India. The Muslim refugees known as Muhajirs from India settled in most urban areas of Sindh. Sindh at the time of partition was home to a large number of Hindus who accounted for 23% of the total population of the province. They were more concentrated in the urban centres of the province and had a strong hold on the province's economy and business. Although the relations between the local Muslims and Hindus were good but with the arrival of Muslim refugees in the urban centres of the province, Hindus started to feel unsafe. Many of Sindh's Hindu community where further enticed by their co-relgionists in India to depart with all their belongings and financial capital to further cripple the new nation.
Benazir Bhutto.
Sindh did not witness any massive level genocide as other parts of the Subcontinent (especially Punjab region) did, comparatively there were few incidents of riots in Karachimarker and Hyderabad but over all situation remained peaceful mainly due to the efforts of the Muslim Chief Minister of Sindh Mr. Ayub Khuhro. According to 1998 census, there were 2.3 million Hindus in Sindh forming around 7% of the total population of the province. Sindhi Hindus in Pakistan (i.e caste Hindus accounting for 86% of the total Hindu population of Pakistan as of 1998 census) are mainly into small to medium sized businesses. They are mainly traders, retailer/wholesalers, builders as well as into the fields of medical, engineering, law and financial services. However the scheduled caste Hindus (Dalits) are in a poorer state with most of them as bonded labour in the rural areas of the province. Most of the Muslim refugees are settled in urban areas of Sindh especially in Karachi and Hyderabad.

Since Pakistanmarker's Independence in 1947, Sindh has been the destination of a continuous stream of migration from South Asian countries like Bangladeshmarker, Burmamarker, and Afghanistanmarker as well as Pashtun and Punjabi immigrants from the North West Frontier Provincemarker and the Punjabmarker Province of Pakistan to Karachimarker. This is due to the fact that Karachimarker is the economic magnet of Pakistan attracting people from all over Pakistan. Many native Sindhis resent this influx. Nonetheless, traditional Sindhi families remain prominent in Pakistani politics, especially the Bhutto, Zardari and Soomro dynasties. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Founder of Pakistan, was from Karachi, of Gujarati descent.

Sindhi Nationalist movement

The mass arrival of millions of indian refugees, known as Muhajirs and the later influx of Pashtun and Punjabi immigrants to Karachimarker and other parts of Sindh caused a great deal of resentment among the local Sindhi population. In 1972 the Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz movement was founded by G M Syed. The aim of this movement was the liberation of Sindhmarker and ethnic Sindhis from Pakistanmarker. G M Syed was placed under house arrest until his death on 25 April 1995. In spite of this, traditional Sindhi families remain prominent in Pakistani politics, especially the Bhutto dynasty. In recent years Sindhi dissatisfaction has grown over issues such as the construction of large dams, perceived discrimination in military and government jobs, provincial autonomy and overall revenue shares. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto further complicated matters. Nonetheless, Sindhis have actively participated in the bureaucracy of Pakistan, and many have attained senior positions. Recent changes in army recruitment have seen an increase in the number of Sindhis serving in the Pakistani armed forces.


Original Inhabitants and later migrants

Sindhi Women
Ethnic Sindhis are the direct descendants of the Great Sindhu Kingdom and followed Hinduism. Over the centuries the name of Sindhu has taken many forms: Indus, Indos, India, Sindhus, Sindhos, Sinthos, Hindus, Hindos, Hindu, Hind, Hindustan.

As regards the composition of the Non Ethnic Sindhi population the two main stocks that inhabited Sindmarker are related to, and common, one with the Punjab and another with Balochistan. The majority stock is that of Rajputs and Jats who are the partial descendants of Sakas, Kushans and Huns. During Kalhora rule a number of Jat tribes such as the Sials, Joya and Khawars came from the Punjab and settled in Sindh. They are called Sirai i.e., people from the north, and speak Siraiki, a group that overlaps and is sometimes considerable transitional between the Punjabis and Sindhis.

The two main Rajput tribes of Sind are: the Sammamarker, descendants of the Samma Dynastymarker tha ruled Sindhmarker during (1351 - 1521 A.D.); and the Sumra, descendants of the Sumra Dynasty who ruled Sindh during (750 - 1350 A.D.). Among other Sindhi Rajputs are the Bhachos, Bhuttos, Bhattis, Buriros, Lakha, Sahetas, Lohanas, Mohano, Dahars, Indhar, Chachar, Dhareja, Rathors, Dakhan, Langahmarker etc.

The smaller stock is that of Balochi tribes settled in various parts of Sindh mostly during the last five hundred years or so. Since they were martial people and ruled over Sindh for some time before the arrival of the British, they acquired vast lands in the province with the result that a large number of present-day Sindhi landlords are of Baloch origin. According to the 1941 census, which was the last one held before independence, Balochis formed 23% of the total population of Sindhmarker. Balochi tribes are spread over Balochistan, Sindh and the south-western districts of the Punjab. This group is almost entirely Muslim.

A third sub-stock of the Sindhi population comprises the descendants of Muslim conquerors, administrators and missionaries who were Arabs, Persians, Afghans and Turks (including the Mughals). They are a small minority settled in cities and towns and have largely blended with the other components of the population and yet maintain something of a sub-culture and are often referred to as Ashraf or the noble. Of this third element, Muslim Arabs have possibly contributed the most to the development of the modern Sindhi language and literature and to the advancement of its intellectual and cultural activities.

Another group of people who are largely overlooked in any discussions about groups and culture of Sindh are Haris a name derived from the term Harijan formerly used to describe Dalit people of India. These people are generally believed to be the descendants of indigenous populations that were enslaved by various invading people. Many are still living under abject poverty and in slave like conditions in rural Sindh, because of the benign neglect and only nominal efforts by the government to improve the situation. Some are nominally Hindus where as others have converted to Islam and moved on as artisans and wage laborers.

The last group of immigrants are the Urdu speaking Muhajir who settled in Sindh after the Partition of India.

Islamic influence

The Quranic artwork at a decorated grave of one of the Sufi Saints in the necropolis.
With Sindhmarker’s stable prosperity and its strategic geographical possession, it is not surprising that it was subject to successive onslaughts by foreign invaders. The Arabs persistently attempted to conquer the country but were unsuccessful until 712 A.D., when Sindhmarker was annexed into the Arab empire and became the ‘Arabian gateway’ into Indiamarker (later to become known as Babul Islam, the gate of Islam). After the conquest by the Arabs, the people of Sindh were influenced by the new faith of Islam.

Islamic Sindhi culture is a combination of Islamic traditions and local traditions with variances that include an adherence to a Muslim diet, i.e. Halal. Sindhi culture also absorbed considerable Arab cultural influence as well as that of the Iranian Baloch who still comprise a significant minority that have assimilated well with the Sindhis. Sindh is home to the Hindus who have remained in Pakistanmarker as well as other religious groups such as Parsis. Muslim Sindhis tend to follow the Sunni sect, but Shia Muslims are a substantial minority.

Sindhi language

A Sindhi Man Resiting Qura'an in Shahjahani mosque Thatta.
The immediate predecessor of Sindhi was an Apabhramsha Prakrit named Vrachada. Arab and Persian travellers, specifically Abu-Rayhan Biruni in his book 'Mal al-Hind', had declared that even before the advent of Islam in Sindh (711 A.D.), the language was prevalent in the region. It was not only widely spoken but written in three different scripts -- Ardhanagari, Saindhu and Malwari, all variations of Devanagari. Biruni has described many Sindhi words leading to the conclusion that the Sindhi language was widely spoken and rich in vocabulary in his time.

Sindhi was a very popular literary language between the 14th and 18th centuries. This is when sufis such as Shah Abdul Latif, Sachal Sarmast,Lal Shahbaz Qalandar (as well as numerous others) narrated their theosophical poetry depicting the relationship between humans and God.

During the British period, traders and common people—including Khojas and Memons -- were using Devanagari, Modi or Khudabadi Script (later known as Vanika script), without any vowels for writing Sindhi, while government employees used some kind of Arabic script.The Khudabadi script was invented by Khudabadi Sindhi Swarankar community. The members of the Swarnakar community, while residing in Khudabad, around 1750, felt it necessary to invent a very simple script so that they can send written messages to their relations, who were living far away from them in their own home towns. This necessity mothered the invention/creation of a new script. The new script had no vowels and to be written from left to right (like Sanskrit) and continued to be in use for very long period of time among Khudabadi Sindhi Swarankar. Due to its simplicity, the use of this script spread very quickly and got acceptance in other sindhi communities, for sending written communications. Even, The Education Department of Sindh, on advice of Directors of British East India Co., directed Hindu Sindhi Schools to employ Khudabadi Script for teaching. Because it was originated from Khudabadmarker, it was called Khudabadi script and later on, was known as Vanika and Hatkai, because it was mainly used by traders and shopkeepers, till 1947. The Khudabadi Script could not survive because it had no vowels.

In 1849 the first English-Sindhi dictionary was written in the Devanagari script.

According to Sindhi tradition, the first translation of the Quraan into Sindhi was made by in 270/883 by an Arab scholar. The first extant Sindhi translation was done by Akhund 'Azaz Allah Mutta'lawi (1160-124011747-1824) and first published in Gujratmarker in 1870. The first to appear in print was by Muhammad Siddlq (Lahore 1867).


Sindhi names

Muslim Sindhis tend to have traditional Muslim names, but sometimes with localized variations.

Hindu Sindhis tend to have surnames that end in '-ani' which is a variant of 'anshi', derived from the Sanskrit word 'ansh', which means 'descended from'. The first part of a Sindhi Hindu surname is usually derived from the name of an ancestor. In northern Sindhmarker, surnames ending in 'ja' (meaning 'of'), are also common. A person's surname would consist of the name of his or her native village, followed by 'ja'.


Sindh is known as ‘the land of 124,000 saints and dervishes, both Muslim and Hindu. It is because of the sufis that Sindh is called the cradle of love and peace. The sufi saints have large following among Muslims and Hindus of every strata. A number of Hindus come from India and other parts of the world to pay homage to different shrines.

There is no place for religious differences among Sufis- and hasn't been since the centuries old link between the people of Sindh and Sufism.

This spiritualism offers a world without sectarian, ethnic and communal difference. It is due to this hold of mysticism on Sindh culture, there is hardly any religious or sectarian frenzy in the interior of Sindh as compared to other parts of Pakistanmarker.

Sindhi Sufism is influenced, - alongwith the giants, Rumi and Shirazi - by many great souls from the Indian subcontinent. Notable among them are Baba Farid Shakar Gunj, Khwaja Mueen Chishti of Ajmir, Sultan Bahu, Waris Shah, Khawaja Ghulam Farid, Shaheed Inayat shah Sufi, Shah Karim of Bulri, Makhdoom Bilawal, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, Baba Bullah Shah, Sachal Sarmast, Bhai Chainrai Sami, Saeen Misri Shah, Saeen Rakhial Shah, and many more.

Sindhis culture has been strongly influenced by Sufism. Jhulelal, the Sufi pioneer of Sindh, is revered by both Hindus and Muslims. A common greeting among Sindhis "Jhulelal Bera-Hee-Paar".

Arts and crafts

The skill of the Sindhi craftsman continues to exhibit the 5000-year-old artistic tradition. The long span of time, punctuated by fresh and incessant waves of invaders and settlers, provided various exotic modes of arts which, with the passage of time, got naturalized on the soil. The perfected surface decorations of objects of everyday use - clay, metal, wood, stone or fabrics, with the floral and geometrical designs - can be traced back to the Muslim influence.

Ajrak has been in Sindh since the birth of its civilization. Blue colour is dominantly used in Ajrak. Also, Sindh was traditionally a large producer of indigo and cotton cloth and both used to be exported to the Middle East. Ajrak is a mark of respect when it is given to an honoured quest, friend or woman. In Sindh, it is most commonly given as a gift at Eid, at weddings, or on other special occasions - like homecoming. Along with Ajrak the Rilli or patchwork sheet, is another Sindhi icon and part of the heritage and culture. Every Sindhi home will have set of Rillis - one for each member of the family and few spare for guests. Rilli is made with different small pieces of different geometrical shapes of cloths sewn together to create intricate designs.

Rilhi is also given as a gift to friends and visitors. It is used as a bedspread as well as a blanket. A beautifully sewn Rilli can also become part of a bride or grooms gifts. Rural women in Sindh are skilful in producing Sindhi caps. Sindhi caps are manufactured commercially on a small scale at New Saeedabad and Hala New. These are in demand with visitors from Karachi and other places and these manufacturing units have very limited production due to lack of marketing facilities.Sindhi topi Sindh has one distinctive cap, which stands out for its colorful embroidery and glasswork; the Sindhi Topi. It is round in shape except that a portion in front is cut out to expose the forehead for the same reasons as explained earlier which represents the Islamic culture of Minbar and Mihrab. It comes in two varieties - hard and soft. The hard variety will keep its shape when not worn but the soft variety can be folded and even put into one’s picket. Most Sindhis, rich or poor, own a Sindhi cap.
Image:Z.A Bhutto j.jpg|
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Junior in traditional Sindhi dress
Image:Sindhi dress.jpg|
Japanese in Sindhi dress
Image:Abida Parveen concert 1.jpg|
The great Pakistani Sufi singer, Abida Parveen visited Oslo in September 2007
Sindhi Rilhi.
Image:Malakhra Wrastling.jpg|
Malakhra The Sindhi Traditional Wrestling.
Image:091108000515 camel dance.jpg|
Camel Decoration in Interior Sindh.
Image:House in the Thar.JPG|Huts in the Thar desert.Image:Sindhi Biryani.jpg|Sindh Food Sindhi Biryani.

Notable Sindhis


Pakistan's political scene is dominated by Sindhi politicians like

In India

Before partition, important Sindhi politicians included Dodo Bin Khafef Soomro III, Raja Dahir, Darya Khan Rind, Soreh Badshah, Hoshu Sheedi and Hemu Kalani.


The famous Sindhis in Bollywood include: Aftab Shivdasani, Jackky Bhagnani, Vashu Bhagnani, Tarun Mansukhani, Ritesh Sidhwani, Rajkumar Hirani , Gopal Raghani, Dalip Tahil, Jatin Lalwani, Ramesh Taurani, Nikhil Advani, Sadhana Shivdasani, Babita, Sangeeta Bijlani, Hiten Tejwani, Shilpa Saklani, Preeti Jhangiani, Kitu Gidwani, Hansika Motwani, Ramesh Sippy, G. P. Sippy, Rohan Sippy, Ramsay Brothers, Govind Nihalani, Vishal Dadlani, Ehsaan Noorani and comedian Asrani.

See also


  1. Sindhi Language and Literature
  3. Popati Hiranandani, one of the best-known Sindhi women writers, born in 1924 in Hyderabad, Sind
  5. Hindu Population in Pakistan according to 1998 census. Pakistan Hindu Concil
  6. Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz
  7. G. M. Syed - A national leader of the Sindhi people who struggled for human rights, democracy, secularism and freedom of Sindh
  8. The Destabilization of Pakistan
  9. The People and the land of Sindh
  10. Historical perspective of Sindhis
  11. About Jhule Lal Sai
  12. Sindhism in Bollywood

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