To day Sindh is one of the provinces of Pakistan. Sindh had one of the world's oldest civilizations, the Indus Valley civilization.

Earlier references


The province of Sindh has been designated after the river Sindh (Indus) which literally created it and has been also its sole means of sustenance. However, the importance of the river and close phonetical resemblance in nomenclature would make one consider Sindhu as the probable origin of the name of Sindh. Later phonetical changes transformed Sindhu into Hindu in Pahlavi and into Hoddu in Hebrew. The Greeks (who conquered Sindh in 125 BC under the command of the Alexander the great) rendered it into Indos, hence modern Indus.


The Indus valley civilization is the farthest visible outpost of archeology in the abyss of prehistoric times. The areas constituting Pakistan have had a historical individuality of their own and Sindh is the most important among such areas. The prehistoric site of Kot Diji in Sindh has furnished information of high significance for the reconstruction of a connected story which pushes back the history of Pakistan by at least another 300 years, from about 2,500 BC. Evidence of a new element of pre-Harappan culture has been traced here. When the primitive village communities in Baluchistan were still struggling against a difficult highland environment, a highly cultured people were trying to assert themselves at Kot Diji one of the most developed urban civilization of the ancient world that flourished between the year 25,00 BC and 1,500 BC in the Indus valley sites of Moenjodaro and Harappa. The people were endowed with a high standard of art and craftsmanship and well-developed system of quasi-pictographic writing which despite ceaseless efforts still remains un-deciphered. The remarkable ruins of the beautifully planned Moenjodaro and Harappa towns, the brick buildings of the common people, roads, public-baths and the covered drainage system envisage the life of a community living happily in an organized manner.


The earliest authentic history of Sindh dates from the time when Alexander the Great abandoned his scheme of conquest towards the Ganges, alarmed at the discontent of his soldiers. He embarked a portion of the army in boats, floated them down the Jhelum and the Chenab, and marched the remainder on the banks of the river till he came to the Indus. There he constructed a fleet, which sailed along the coast towards the Persian Gulf with part of his forces, under the command of Nearchus and Ptolemy, whilst Alexander himself marched through Southern Baluchistan and Persia to Seistan or Susa. At that time Sindh was in the possession of the Hindus, the last of whose rulers was Raja Sahasi, whose race, as is reported by native historians, governed the kingdom for over two thousand years. The Persian monarchs were probably alluded to, for in the sixth century BC Sindh was invaded by them, They defeated and slew the monarch in a pitched battle and plundered the province and then left. Eight years after his accession to the Persian throne, Darius I, son of Hystaspes extended his authority as far as the Indus. This was about 513 BC.

The Arab conquest of Sindh by Muhammad Bin Qasim in 712 AD gave the Muslims a firm foothold on the sub-continent. The description of Hiun Tsang, a Chinese historian, leaves no doubt that the social and economic restrictions inherent in the caste differentiations of Hindu society had however, gradually sapped the inner vitality of the social system and Sindh fell without much resistance before the Muslim armies. According to Al-Idreesi, the famous city of Al-Mansura was founded during the reign of Mansur (754-775 AD) the second Khalifa of the Abbasid dynasty. Khalifa Harun-al-Rashid (786-809 AD) was able to extend the frontiers of Sindh on its western side. For nearly two hundred years since its conquest by Muhammad Bin Qasim, Sindh remained an integral part of the Umayyad and the Abbasid caliphates. The provincial governors were appointed directly by the central government. History has preserved a record of some 37 of them.

The Arab rule brought Sindh within the orbit of the Islamic civilization, Sindhi language was developed and written in the naskh script. Education became widely diffused and Sindhi scholars attained fame in the Muslim world. Agriculture and commerce progressed considerably. Ruins of Mansura, the medieval Arab capital of Sindh (11 km south east of Shahdadpur) testify to the grandeur of the city and the development of urban life during this period.

In the 10th century, native people replaced the Arab rule in Sindh. Samma and Soomra dynasties ruled Sindh for long. These dynasties produced some rulers who obtained fame due to judicious dispensation and good administration.

Sindh was partially independent and the scene of great disorders till late in the sixteenth century when it failed into the hands of Emperor Akbar, and for a hundred and fifty years the chiefs paid tribute, but only as often as they were compelled to do so, to the Emperor at Delhi. Later the Kalhora clan claiming descent from the house of Abbas and long settled in Sindh produced religious leaders of whom Main Adam Shah attained prominence in the 16th century. His descendants continued to gather large following and this enabled them to capture political power in the north western Sindh under the leadership of Mian Nasir Muhammad. This happened in the 2nd half of the 17th century. By the turn of that century, foundations of the Kalhora power were firmly laid in the northern Sindh under the leadership of Mian Yar Mohammad. During the reign of his son, Mian Noor Muhammad, lower Sindh with Thatta as its capital came under the Kalhora administration (1150 A.H).

Under the banner of Mir Fateh Ali Khan Talpur, the Balochis defeated the last Kalhora ruler Mian Abdul Nabi in the battle of Halani in 1782 AD. Talpur Amirs regained the parts of Sindh (Karachi, Khairpur, Sabzal Kot and Umar Kot) which the last Kalhora chief had conceded to the neighboring rulers. By eliminating the foreign interference, which had plagued the Kalhora rule, and by their essentially democratic way of governance, the Talpurs were able to take the people into confidence and thus achieved

Great many things within a short period of 60 years. They built up an excellent system of forts and outposts guarding the frontiers, extended the irrigation system, encouraged scholarly pursuits and educational institutions, and promoted trade and commerce internally as well as with the neighboring countries.

The British who came to Sindh also as traders became so powerful in rest of the sub-continent that in 1843 Sindh lost its independence falling prey to the British imperialistic policy. The Talpurs were defeated on the battlefields of Miani, Dubba and Kunhera and taken prisoners. The conquerors behaved inhumanly with the vanquished as they did with the Muslim rulers in India. Charles Napier who commanded the troops subsequently became the first Governor of the province of Sindh.

The British had conquered Sindh from their bases in Bombay and Kutch and their supporters were Hindus. Therefore, Sindh was annexed to the Bombay Presidency in 1843 and a constant policy to subdue the Muslim majority and to lionize the Hindu minority in Sindh was followed. Trade and commerce, Services and education became monopolies in the hands of the minority whom with the support of the rulers wrought havoc on Muslims. Within a few years forty percent of the Muslim land holdings passed on to the Hindu creditors. It was after a long struggle that the cause of Sindh was supported by the Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah when he brought in his famous 14-points the demand of Sindh's separation from Bombay Presidency. H.H. Sir Agh Khan, G.M. Syed, Sir Abdul Qayyum Khan (NWFP) and many other Indian Muslim leaders also played their pivotal rule that was why the Muslims of Sindh succeeded in getting Sindh separated from the Bombay Presidency in 1936.

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Melas (fairs) and malakharas (wrestling festivals) are popular. Falconry, horse and camel breeding and racing are characteristic pastimes. Sindhi fishermen float earthen pots to catch the palla fish in the Indus, bullock cart racing and cockfighting are also typical of the province.

Genuine love for fellow beings, large heartedness and hospitality constitute the very spirit of Sindhi culture and it is the association of the cultural elements that elevate it and keep aloft its banner among the contemporary cultures of South-Asia. Having lived for centuries under the changing sway of various dynasties i.e. the Arabs, Mughals, Arghuns, Turkhans and Soomras, Sammahs, Kalhoras and Talpurs, Sindhi culture is a fusion of multiple culture patterns. These splendor and enrichment are reflected in Sindhi art and architecture, habits and customs. The old tombs and buildings in Thatta, Sehwan, Hyderabad, Sukkur and the excavations at Bhambore, Brahmanabad and Debal bear ample evidence in support of the above statement. These places fostered in their environment, some of the best cultural values which were handed down to the inhabitants of the adjoining areas. Today, these values form the very foundation of Sindhi culture.

The Sindhi language has pure Sanskrit basis and is closely related to the ancient Prakrit. Its alphabet contains fifty-two letters. The Rev. Mr.G. Shirt of Hyderabad, one of the first Sindhi scholars, considered that the language is probably, so far as its grammatical construction is concerned, the purest daughter of Sanskrit. It has small sprinkling of Dravidian words, and has in later times received large accessions to its vocabulary from Arabic and Persian. After the advent of Islam, a number of Sindhi scholars not only wrote books in Arabic on various aspects of Islam, but also composed poetry of a high order in that language. During the rule of Soomras and Sammas, Sindhis produced excellent poetry, and amongst the earliest and best-known poets we find the name of Syed Ali and Qazi Qadan both of Thatta and their younger contemporary, Shah Abdul Karim of Bulrhi, the great-grandfather of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai.

Qazi Qadan (870-985 A.H.) introduced Philosophy into Sindhi poetry. He has in his poetry laid great emphasis on purity of mind and the study of the self. In one of his verses he says, "Even if you master thoroughly the great Arabic works Qudoori and Kafia you will only be like an ant sitting within a well in a limited environment knowing nothing of the world outside".

Then comes Shah Abdul Karim of Bulrhi. In 98 couplets he has explained the intricacies of human philosophy. In one of his couplets, he says "The best way of Living in the world is to give your heart to the beloved and be bodily connected with fellow human beings".

Shah Latif and his contemporaries, Shah Inayat, Muhammad Moeen Thattvi lsso Mian and Misri Shah, were also pioneers in the field of the well-known Sindhi Kafi Lyric. Others who contributed to kafi were Qasim, Hyder Shah, Fazil Shah, Pir Mohammad Ashraf, Assooran and Qaleech Beg. Misri Shah is considered to be the undisputed monarch in the domain of Kafi. The term Kafi was originally taken from Shah Abdul Latif's waie, which correspond to Ghazal. Sachal Sarmast added glory to Kafi in his lyrics.

After the advent of Islam, a number of Sindhi scholars not only wrote books in Arabic on various aspects of Islam, but also composed poetry of high order in that languages. It is presumed that these scholars also wrote in their own language. During the rule of Sumras and Sammas, Sindhis produces excellent poetry, and amongst the earliest and best-known poets, we find the name of Syed Ali and Qazi Qadan both of Thatta and their younger contemporary, Shah Abdul Karim of Bulrhi, the great-grand father of Shah Abul Latif Bhitai.

Long before the British rule, under the influence of Persian poetry, the Sindhi poets borrowed many ideas from Persian poets. There were, however, some poets such as Mohammad Qasim, Murtaza Thattavi, Gul Mohammad Gul, Syed Gada, Hafiz Hamid, Mir Abdul Hussain Sangi, Zaman Shash and others who, in spite of having adopted Persian forms, derived their inspiration from the classical Sindhi poets. Theirs works have, therefore been popular among the masses, as well as people of more sophisticated tastes. Others, who continued to compose in indigenous styles, using the Sindhi language in its purest from, include Misree Shah, Mahdi Shah, and Hafiz Shah. Sahibdion Shah, Wali Mohammad Leghari and Hammal Faqir.

Qazi Qadan (870-985 A.H.) of Sehwan was the Sindhi poet who introduced philosophy and mysticism into Sindhi poetry. He has in his poetry laid prate emphasis on purity of mind and the study of self. In one of his verses he says: " Even if you master thoroughly the great Arabic works Qudoor and Qafa you will only be like an ant sitting within a well in a limited environment, knowing nothing of the world outside.

Kafi the Shah and his contemporaries, Shah Inayat, Muhammad Moeen Thattvi, Isso Mian and Misri Shah, were also pioneers in the field of the well-known Sindhi Kafi Lyric. Others who contribute to Kafi were Qasim, Hyder Shah, Fazil Shah, Pir Mohammad Ashraf, Assooram and Qaleech Beg. Misri Shah is considered to the undisputed monarch in the domain of Kafi. The term Kafi was originally taken from Shah Abdul Latif's waie, which corresponds to ghazal. Sachal added glory to kafi in his lyrics. After Khalifo Gul Mohammad a host Sindhi poets contributed to the development of the ghazal. The following poets deserve special mention: Qasim Shamsuddin Bulbul, Mir Abdul Hussain Saangi, Bewas Lekhraj Kishanchand Aziz, Zia Fani, Farid, Fakir Abdul Rahim of Groroh and Hafiz Mohammad Hayat.

Humour Shamsuddin Bulbul was the first poet to introduce humor in Sindhi poetry. He can very well be compared to Akbar Allahabadi.

In this field Mohammad Hashim Mukhlis and more particularly Mirza Qaleech Beg, the father of modern Sindhi poetry and prose have left an indelible mark. The latter’s humor is much more polished and constructive. " Saudai Khan" is a modest collection of his poetry dealing wit the experiences of life and the ravages of time. The book is in two volumes, and each column consists of homage paid to his ancestors and guide. He composed only 14 ghazals in Urdu.


Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai (1689-1752) perfected Sindhi poetry both in from and in content and is reckoned as the peerless master of Sindhi verses. The most salient feature of his poetry is Sufism, which he had presented with dexterity in his famous work, Shah Jo Risalo. The main characteristics of Shah Leif's poetry is that it is a ‘remarkable record of God-intoxicated man’s longing to rise above his level of life in order to meet his Maker". He had a command to express and interpret the joys and sorrows, hopes and aspirations of the people of Sindh. Shah Latif's poetry depicts nature and its manifestations in a most vivid and vivacious manner. He had composed beautiful verses on the river Indus, the shining surface of lakes and the barren ranges of hills. He had also versified on the behavior of the sea and the boats and boatsmen living on the shore of the sea. He was the most prolific writer and poet of his age. His poetry is deeply rooted in the soil of Sindh, yet it has a universal appeal.

So great is the impact of his immortal work on Sindhi literature that one hears its distinct echo in all the poetry produced by later generations. From the time of shah Latif to the British conquest of Sindh, there were a large number of Sindhi poets, such as Mohammad Zaman of Luwar, Abdul Grohari, Sachal Sarmast, Bedil, Bekas, Sami, Pir Ali Gohar Asghar (Pir Pagaro), Roohal Faqir, Pir Asghar Ali, Pir Ghulam Shah Rashidi and Sabit Ali Shah Sabit, whose works a still to be found. During the days of the Sumras, the Sammas and later on during the Kalhora and the Talpur period, Sindh was the court languag.


Sachal Sarmast (Abdul Wahab) is another Sufi poet of distinction who composed verses on philosophy and Sufism. He was at home in a number of languages and composed poetical pieces in Arabic, Sindhi, Saraiki or Multani, Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu and Persian. His poetry is replete with Divine Love. It is on Monotheism, the Glorious Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon him). He also composed poems of high order in Urdu and Persian. The great Sufi poets-Attar, Jami and Roomi influenced him.

Hiis Sindhi poetry encompasses a wide range of subjects and possesses its own individuality. He perfected a great deal of old style i.e. Abyat and Dohas greatly in vogue before hi, While Shah Latif enhanced the standard of Sindhi to the highest level of excellence in style, diction and subject matter, Sachal Sarmast took the lead in raising the standard and level of kafi, ghazal and marsia in /Sindhi poetry. Unlike Shah Latif, whose compositions are woven around local and folk themes, Sachal has touched on all Great Sufi saints, fountains of knowledge and learning, besides the most popular folktales of the Indus valley. The images, similes, metaphors and allegories employed by Sachal give him a prominent place in Sindhi literature after Shah Latif.

It was in the British period that really good prose began to be produced. Syed Miran Mohammad Shah-I of Tikhar, Diwan Kewal Ram, Ghulam Hussain and Akhund Latifullah are among the early prose writers. But Shamsul Ulema Mirza Qaleech Beg can rightly be called the father of modern Sindhi prose. He is said to have written or translated from other languages about 400 books of poetry, novel short stories, essays etc.

"Diwan-e-Qaleech" is a collection in alphabetical order of his poetry in Sindhi. In contains about 433 verses. Another work of importance is his translation of Rubaiyat-e-Omar Khayyam in which he has followed the same meter as employed in the original Persian work. This translation has filled an important gap in Sindhi literature.

Music the patronage of music in Sindh started wit the advent of Muslims. In 72AD; when the famous Arab General Muhammad Bin Qasim was engaged in his conquest of Sindh, the Sammas of Central Sindh gave him a rousing reception. Headed by musicians, playing the Dhol-and-Shahnai, "Orchestra", and skilled dancers giving their performances, they came to greet Muhammad Bin Qasim, who echoed the whole show. The grandeur of the musical performance and the big crowd impressed a lieutenant of Muhammad to such an extent that he suggested to the General that their army should pray to God that such a powerful tribe had been subjugated so easily. Muhammad who had a good sense of humor". The Dhol-and-Shahnai performance whish has been the traditional " Orchestra" of Sindh, before and since 8th century AD. Is most popular throughout the province even today.

Interest in the classical ‘Hindustani’ as well as the indigenous music in Sindh reached its height in 16th century during the reign of the Turkhan rulers, Mirza Jani Beg and his son Mirza Ghazi Beg. Both the father and the son were great patrons of poets like the famous Talib Amuli and others, and of numerous musicians who invented new musical forms, naghams, and a variety of tunes. Both the rulers were accomplished musicians themselves. Their capital Thatta was the rendezvous.

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