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The Shirani (Pashto: شيراني)—also called Sherani, Sharani, Sarwani, Sarvani, or Sherwani—are a Pashtun tribe, from the Bettani tribal confederacy, who live in Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and India. The Shirani are mostly settled in the Sherani District of Balochistan, Pakistan, and in the adjoining Frontier Region Dera Ismail Khan, in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. The Shirani tribe also includes the Harifal subtribe, and the Baloch Shirani, who live in Iran and have adopted the Balochi language. Some clans have settled in other surrounding districts of Balochistan; and in the Zabul, Ghazni, and Kandahar provinces of Afghanistan.
Traditional knowledge, substantiated by the Gazetteer says that about four hundred years ago Bargha lands were laying waste for fear of Wazir, and the Sherani were in constant & protracted war with Baitanis. The Sherani leader met a Syed boy who had migrated from Pishin, sought his supernatural help, and the Shiranis were victorious over the Baitanis. The leading Shirani men sent some of their tribe under the boy's leadership and occupied the deserted lands of Bargha. This boy later married a Shirani woman and became the nucleus and progenitor of the Harifal tribe.
Following occupation of Bargha land, the leading men of Shirani besought him to run his horse from dawn to dusk, and the land that came under the feet of his horse would be his allocation of booty. He ran his horse but before dusk, the horse being overstretched ran down and died, while he was performing his Asar Prayer. The land is now occupied by the Harifal tribe.
All Shiranis, irrespective of their geography, out of courtesy call a Harifal "Neeka", meaning grandfather. A position of reverence even above father. When Mountstuart Elphinstone visited this region in the early 19th century, he recorded that the Shirani were led by a "Neeka" who was supported by an annual tax of one lamb and one calf on all those who raised those animals. The Neeka served as a judge and a commander-in-chief and had derived his authority from the belief...that he is under the immediate guidance and protection of Providence".
The Neeka commands in their wars, and before any expedition, all the troops pass under his turban, which is stretched out for the purpose by the Neeka and a Moollah. This they think secures them from wounds and death; and they tell stories of persons who have lost their lives from neglecting or disdaining this ceremony.
The recognized khan of both the Largha and Bargha Shirani, Khan Mir Ajab Khan, still lives in Largha. Until recently he and his family's leading members used to make periodic visit to Harifal country to pay homage and seek blessings.
During the 19th century, the tribal group known as the Shirani was recorded as living on the northwest Punjab border in what became the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) of British India. After annexation by the British, their homeland became a part of the Sherani Agency. The agency occupied an area of 1,500 square miles (3,900 km2), and had a population of 12,371, according to the 1901 census. The Shirani occupied the principal portion of the mountain known as the Takht-e-Sulaiman, and the country southeast from there to the border of Dera Ismail Khan district, close to Baluchistan. They were constrained on the north by the Gomal Pass, and beyond that by the Mahsud and Waziri tribes; on the south by the Ustarana, Zmarai and Zimri tribes; and on the west by the Harifal, Kakar, and Mandu Khel tribes.
In June 1891, the first Political Agent of Zhob, Captain I. MacIver (in office 22 January 1890 to 14 March 1898), and Sir Henry[clarification needed] visited the area of Takht-e-Sulaiman, and their account, dated 8 August 1894, was published in the The Geographical Journal of that year.
The peoples of Shirani district put up resistance to the British occupation. Masho Khan Sherani, a folk hero, was the refractive leader of these Shirani warriors. He was killed during fighting against British army in the area of Zhob District called "Silyazi". After the murder of Masho Khan, his many companions were arrested, including his confidant Adam Khan Harifal.
In the northeast of the Balochistan plateau, the Zhob and Sherani basins form a lobe surrounded on all side by mountains. The Sherani district occupies an area of 1,500 square kilometres (580 sq mi). Qais Abdul Rashid (575 AD - 661 AD), who is believed to be one of the progenitors of the Pashtuns, lived in the Suleiman Mountains. Natives call the place where he is buried Kaseghar" (the "mountain of Qais", but "Kase" because, in the Pashto dialect, there is no "Q").
Kaseghar was known to the British as Takht-e-Sulaiman, or Throne of Solomon. It marks the eastern boundary of the district, with its highest peak at 3,441 metres (11,289 ft). The general elevation of the district is about 1,500 to 3,000 metres (4,900 to 9,800 ft). Shinghar's height is 9,273 feet (2,826 m). Torghar is the continuation of southern hills of Suleiman range, the highest peak is Charkundai, 7,517 feet (2,291 m) above sea level.
Takht-e-Sulaiman shrine is situated on a ledge below the crest on the southernmost bluff of Kaseghar mountain, which is one of the highest points of the Suleiman range, with its sister peaks Shinghar and Kaseghar. Many legends are attached to the shrine. One legend says that Noah's Ark alighted there after the deluge, while another connects it with King Solomon, whose throne alighted on this peak, which has ever since borne the name of Takht-e-Sulaiman.
Actual length of the gorge is 4 miles.[clarification needed] The enclosing limestone cliffs rise perpendicularly some 15,000 feet (4,600 m). The gorge gradually narrows from 20 yards to a few feet. The British made a road through pass thus connecting Zhob with DIK. It took from 1895 to 1905. Inhabitants of the district generally live in stone-built houses with flat mud roofs, while nomads live in improvised tenements. The area of district is 1,500 square miles (3,900 km2).
Rainfall is about 10 inches (250 mm). Being in the monsoon range, the district receives heavy rainfall from July to September. Rain clouds in the district come from the Gulf of Bengal. The climate is hot and dry in summer. January is the coldest month, with mean maximum & minimum temperature of about 11.5 °C (52.7 °F) and 1.9 °C (35.4 °F) respectively. July is the hottest month, with mean maximum and minimum temperatures of about 36.7 °C (98.1 °F) to 21.8 °C (71.2 °F) respectively.
Geographically the Shiranis are divided into two groups; those residing to the east of the Suleiman range known as the Largha Shiranis fall under the administrative control of DIK, while those residing to the west are called the Bargha Shirans and are under the jurisdiction of Sherani district. This division was effected by the British raj following the Khiderzai Expedition of 1890.
The physical configuration of the country makes the separation so complete that the two tribal divisions act independently of each other. The Bargha lands were formerly held by Hazaras, who deserted the country and migrated to Rozgan in the north.
The modern Shirani district was created in January 2006, following bifurcation of Zhob District. It is bounded by Zhob on the west and north, on the south by Musakhil, on the east the contiguous district is DIK (for 225 kilometres (140 mi)). Dahna Pass links the district with DIK. The district headquarters is under construction at Stano Raaghah. The main language of the district is Pashto.
Besides the populations living in Pakistan and Afghanistan, there is the village Sherani Abad in the Nagaur district of Rajasthan, India. The village has four mohallas: Sufiya, Gausiya, Najmiyan and Noori. There are also small villages—like Barnel, Bheniyad, Danta, Hamidpur and Dungari—with Shirani communities. The renowned Urdu poet Akhtar Sheerani belongs to this community. His father Hafiz Mehmood Khan Sherani was a noted author, and it was in his name that the Rajasthan Urdu Academy award was given. This family now resides primarily in Pakistan, in Lahore, Dera Ismail Khan, and Karachi).
Some Shirani Pathans also lived in Vadnagar, Gujarat, India. They lived in Shemberwada, near Samarkand. Pathan Shirani tribes migrated to India during the time of the Mughal Emperor Humayun who, with the support of Shirani Pathan warriors, was victorious in battle when he came to India for the second time. During the reign of the Mughal King Akbar (son of Humayun), the Shirani Pathans migrated to Kaligam, near Ahemdabad, Gujarat. At that time, the Nawab of Gujarat sent them to fight the Dodia Rajput near the Rajasthan-Gujarat border. The Shirani Pathan defeated the Dodia Rajput in battle, and took over their land; they were called Shembher (or Summer), since they came from Samarkand.
During the era of Amir Amanullah Kahan many Harifal families migrated to Afghanistan against the British Raj and are still settled there in Loghar, Makwar, and Kabul. Prominent amongst them were Nazak, Harifal, Abdulraheem Harifal, Gooloon Harifal, and Majeed Harifal. Dr. Ghouse Khan Sherani, Dewan of Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar, King of Mysore, settled in Tumkur district, Karnataka. He was a prominent leader of Muslims, and also a freedom fighter. Today there is road named after him as "Sherani Road" in Tumkur. His grandchildren settled in Bangalore City, Karnataka, India.
- پښتانه قبيلی وپېژنئ. Page 234. Khyber.ORG.
- Elphinstone, Mountstuart. An Account of the kingdom of Caubul and its dependencies in Persia, Tatary, and India. p. 382.
- Paget, William Henry (1874) "Section II: The Shirani Expedition, March 1853" A record of the expeditions undertaken against the North-west frontier tribes. Compiled from the military and political despatches, Lieut.-Colonel McGregor's gazetteer, and other official sources. Office of Supt. of Govt. Printing, Calcutta, OCLC 28445038
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.