The Shirani (or Sherani or Sharani (شیرانی )) are a Sarbani Pashtun tribe living in Pakistan and Afghanistan. They should not be confused with the Baloch Shirani, who live in Iran. The word Shirani also includes the Harifal tribe.
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 the annexation by the British, their homeland was 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 from there southeast 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.
Topography and physical features
In the north-east 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 1500 sq.k m.
Qais Abdul Rashid (575 AD - 661 AD) who is believed to be one of the progenitors of the Pushtoons lived in the Suleiman mountains. Natives call the place where he is buried "Da Kase Ghar" (the mountain of Qais).
In the Pushto dialect "Q" has no pronunciation. The Kiase Ghar was known to Britisher as Takh-e-Sulaman, or thorn of Solomon. It makes the eastern boundary of the district, with highest peak at 3441 metres. The general elevation of the district is about 1500 to 3000 metres. Shinghar's height is 9273 feet. Torghar is the continuation of southern hills of Suleiman range, the highest peak is Charkundai (7517 feet) above from sea level.
In June 1891, the first Political Agent Zhob, Captain I. MacIver,(22 January 1890 to 14 March 1898) and Sir Henry visited the area of Takht-i Suleiman and recorded their account dated 8 August 1894 which was published in the "Geographical Journal" for that year: Takht-i-Suleman shrine is situated on a ledge below the crest on the southernmost bluff of Kaisa-ghar mountain. Both sister peaks (Shinghar and Kiasaghar) form the highest point of the Suleiman range.
Many legends attach to it, one legend says Noah's Ark alighted here 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-i-Suleman. The lofty ranges west of the Takht-i-Suleiman contain strata of liassic[disambiguation needed] (lower Jurassic) and middle Jurassic (about 146 to 208 million years ago ). Rainfall is about 10 inches. Clouds causing rain in district come from Bengal gulf. 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 temperature of about 36.7 °C (98.1 °F) to 21.8 °C (71.2 °F) respectively.
Being in the monsoon range the district receives heavy rainfall from July to September. The district headquarters is under construction at "Stano Raaghah.
The District was created in January 2006, following bifurcation of Zhob District. The main language of the district is Pashto. It is bounded by Zhob on the west and north, while bounded on south by Musakhil. On eastern side the contiguous district is DIK.(225 km). Dahna pass links this district with DIK.
Actual length of the gorge is 4 miles. The enclosing limestone cliffs rise perpendicularly some 15,000 feet (4,600 m). The gorge gradually narrows from 20 yards to a few feet. Britishers made road through pass thus connecting Zhob with DIK. It took from 1895 - 1905. Inhabitants of the district generally live in stone built houses with flat mud roofs, while nomad in improvised tenements. The area of district is 1,500 square miles (3,900 km2).
Geographically the Shiranis are divided into two groups; those residing to the east of the Suleiman range being known as the Largha Shiranis, falls under the administrative control of DIK, while those residing to the west of that range are called the Bargha Shirans, comes in the jurisdiction of Sherani district. This division was effected by British raj following Khiderzai expedition in 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.
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 consanguine war with Baitanis. The Sherani leader met a Syed boy, who had migrated from Pishin; sought his supernatural help, and shiranis, with whose miraculous help had turned out victorious over Baitanis. The leading men of the shiranis sent a batch of their tribe under his 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, leading men of shirani besought him to run his horse from dawn to dusk, and the land came under the feet of his horse shall 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 Shirais irrespective of their geography, out of courtesy call Harifal "Neeka" meaning grandfather. A position of reverence even above father. When Elphinstone visited this region in the early 19th century, he recorded that 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".
Mountstuart Elphinstone on page # 382 of his book: "An Account of the kingdom of Caubul and its dependencies in Persia, Tatary......The great historian writes." "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 Largha and Bargha shirani (Khan Mir Ajab Khan) still lives in Largha. Till recently he & his family's leading members used to make periodic visit to Harifal's country to pay homage and seek blessings.
Besides the populations living in Pakistan and Afghanistan, there is a village SheraniAbad 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 lineage 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 in India during the time of the Mughal 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 Pathan 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 Dodia Rajput in battle, and took over their land; they were called Shembher (or Summer), since they came from Samarkand. The peoples of Sherani district have long historical background. They also put up resistance to the British occupation.
Masho Khan Sherani, a folk hero; was the refractive leader of these Sherani warriors. He was killed during fighting against British army in the famous area of Zhob District called "Silyazi" After the murder of Masho khan his many companions were arrested including his confidant Adam khan Harifal.
During the era of Amir Amanullah Kahan many Harifal families migrated to Afghanistan against 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, was Dewan of Jay Chamraja Wadeyar king of Mysore settled in Tumkur district Karnataka. He was prominent leader of Muslims and also was freedom fighter. Till today there is Road named after him as "Sherani Road" in Tumkur. His grand children settled in Bangalore city karnataka India.
- 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.