Sindhi people

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This article is about the socio-ethnic group of South Asia. For other uses, see Sindhi.
سنڌي / सिन्धी / Sindhi khudabadi.png
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Regions with significant populations
 Pakistan 39,410,910[1]
 India 2,810,000[2]
 Iran 15,000
 Indonesia 10,000
 Hong Kong 7,500[3]
 Singapore 5,000
Islam 80%, Hinduism 20%
Related ethnic groups

Sindhis (Sindhi: سنڌي (Perso-Arabic), सिन्धी (Devanagari), Sindhi khudabadi.png (Khudabadi)) are a Sindhi-speaking ethnic group primarily of Indo-Aryan origin native to the Sindh province of modern-day Pakistan.

Sindhi culture is highly influenced by Sufi doctrines and principles. Some of the popular cultural icons are Raja Dahir, Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, Jhulelal, Sachal Sarmast and Shambumal Tulsiani.

After independence of Pakistan in 1947, most Hindu and Sikh Sindhis migrated to India and other parts of the world, though, in 1998, Hindus still constituted about 16% of the total Sindhi population in Pakistan.[4] Sindhi Hindus also believe in tenets of Sikhism but are predominantly Sahajdhari. As a result, this group of Sindhis can be regarded as concurrently following both Hinduism and Sikhism.

There are 40 million Sindhis living in Pakistan, with 39.5 million in Sindh, and over 500,000 living in other provinces. About 16% of the population of Sindhis in Pakistan are Hindus.[5] Most of them live in urban areas like Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, and Mirpur Khas. Hyderabad is the largest centre of Sindhi Hindus in Pakistan with 100,000-150,000 people.

Sindhi is also spoken in India, especially in the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. It is also spoken in Ulhasnagar near Mumbai which is the largest Sindhi enclave in India, Sindhi is also spoken as a minority language in several other countries where Sindhi People have emigrated in large numbers, such as the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, where it is the fourth-most-commonly used language, and Canada, where it is the fourth-most-spoken language. Total Sindhi population is over 42 million. There are 35 million Sindhi speakers in Pakistan, 5 million in India, 150,000 in the U.A.E, 100,000 in the UK ,50,000 in KSA, 50,000 in USA, 35,000 in Canada in 2006, and smaller numbers in other countries .


Prehistoric period[edit]

The original inhabitants of ancient Sindh were believed to be aboriginal tribes speaking languages of the Indus Valley civilization around 3300 BC.

The Indus Valley Civilization went into decline around the year 1700 BC for reasons that are not entirely known, though its downfall was probably precipitated by a massive earthquake or natural event that dried up the Ghaggar River. The Indo-Aryans are believed to have founded the Vedic civilization that existed between the Sarasvati River and Ganges river around 1500 BC. This civilization helped shape subsequent cultures in South Asia.

For several centuries in the first millennium B.C. and in the first five centuries of the first millennium A.D. western portions of Sindh, the regions on the western flank of the Indus river, were intermittently under Persian, Greek, and Kushan rule, first during the Achaemenid dynasty (500-300 BC), then, from 150 BC after the downfall of the Seleucids under the Parthians, and still later under the Sassanids, before the Islamic invasion of Iran in the 7th century AD. Alexander the Great marched through Punjab and Sindh, down the Indus river, during his invasion of the eastern flank of the Persian empire.

Persian Sassanid empire showing Sindh provinces within empire borders.

Historical period[edit]

Because of its location at 'one' of the more western edges of South Asia, Sindh was one of the earliest regions to be influenced by Islam after 632 AD - as the Qu'ran was not written until then. Prior to this period, it was heavily Hindu, and Buddhist. After 632 AD, It was part of the Islamic empires of the Abbasids and Umayyids. Fundamentalist rulers played a pivotal role in forcibly converting millions of native Sindhis to Islam.[6][7] Habbari, Soomra, Samma, Arghun dynasties ruled Sindh.


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Main article: Demographics of Sindh
"The Priest King Wearing Sindhi Ajruk", c.2500 BC, in the National Museum of Pakistan.

The region received its name, Sindh, from the River Sindhu (Indus), and the people living in the region are referred to as Sindhi. The terms Hindi and Hindu are derived from the word Sindh and Sindhu, as the ancient Persians pronounced "s" as "h" (e.g. sarasvati as hrauvati). In the same way, Persians called the people of this region as Hindhi people, their language as Hindhi language and the region as Hindh, the name which is used for this region since ancient times and later for the whole northern part of the Indian sub-continent even today. India is also known as Hindustan.

The two main and highest ranked tribes of Sindh are: the Soomro - descendants of the Soomro Dynasty, who ruled Sindh during (970 - 1351 A.D.) and the second is Samma - descendants of the Samma Dynasty, who ruled Sindh during (1351 - 1521 A.D.). Both these tribes belong to the same blood line as well. Among other Sindhi Rajputs are the Bhachos, Bhuttos, Bhattis, Mahendros, Buriros, Lakha, Sahetas, Lohanas, Mohano, Dahars, Indhar, Chachar, Dhareja, Rathores, Dakhan, Langah, etc. The Sindhi-Sipahi of Rajasthan and the Sandhai Muslims of Gujarat are communities of Sindhi Rajputs settled in India. Closely related to the Sindhi Rajputs are the Jats of Sindh, who are found mainly in the Indus delta region. However, tribes are of little importance in Sindh as compared to in Punjab and Balochistan, and identity is mostly based on a common Sindhi ethnicity.

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 the Haris, whose name is derived from the term "Harijan."[8] These people are generally believed to be the descendants of indigenous Dravidian populations that were enslaved by various invading people. Many are still living in abject poverty and under slave-like conditions in rural Sindh, because of the benign neglect and only nominal efforts by the government to improve the situation. The majority of Haris are nominally Muslims while practicing what is generally known as folk Hindu beliefs all over rural Pakistan like head tonsuring and sacred thread ceremonies. Many Haris have moved on as artisans and wage laborers. Due to their Dravidian heritage, different physical appearance from mainstream Sindhis, and highly syncretic culture.

Nearly 14 million Muslims (Muhajirs) migrated from various parts of India and settled in Sindh after the creation of Pakistan, populating mostly urban centers of the province. They spoke Urdu, Gujarati, Bengali as well as other languages that reflect their different regions of origin.[9]

Sindhi Muslims[edit]

Abida Parveen is a Pakistani singer of Sindhi descent and one of the foremost exponents of Sufi music.

With Sindh’s stable prosperity and its strategic geographical possession, it is not surprising that it was subject to successive conquests by foreign empires. In 712 A.D., Sindh was incorporated into the Caliphate, the Islamic Empire, and became the ‘Arabian gateway’ into India (later to become known as Bab-ul-Islam, the gate of Islam).

Sindhi culture also has certain Persian influences as Sindh was exposed to cultural, religious and linguistic influence from Islamic Persia. Most significantly, numerous Persian loanwords made their way into the Sindhi language along with the Nastaʿlīq script, in which modern Sindhi is written today.[citation needed]

Muslim Sindhis tend to follow the Sunni Hanafi fiqh with a substantial minority of Shia Ithna 'ashariyah. The Sufism has made a deep impact on Sindhi Muslims and Sufi shrines dot the landscape of Sindh.

Sindhi Hindus[edit]

Read also Sindhis in India

Sindh is also home to some Hindus. It is notable that the ratio of Hindus was higher before the independence of Pakistan in 1947. Many Hindus are migrating to India and other parts of the world, they are regarded as minority in decline.

Hindus in Sindh were concentrated in the cities before the independence of Pakistan in 1947, during which many migrated to India according to Ahmad Hassan Dani, but in reality Hindus were spread over Sindh province. The Hindus of Kutch are also Sindhis but call themselves as Kutchi because they come from Kutch. Their new year is different from the Sindhi Hindus. Thari (a dialect of Sindhi) is spoken in both Sindh in Pakistan and Rajasthan in India.


Sindhi names[edit]

Main article: Sindhi names

Muslim Sindhis tend to have traditional Muslim first names, sometimes with localized variations. Most Sindhis have tribal and clan names as their surnames. Nearly forty percent of Sindhis have Baloch tribal names.

Hindu Sindhis tend to have surnames that end in '-ani' (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 or location of an ancestor. In northern Sindh, 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'.

Notable Sindhis[edit]

Main article: List of Sindhi people

Famous Sindhis include Pir Hisamudin Rashidi,[12] Hyder Bux Jatoi, G. M. Syed, Rasool Bux Palijo, Shaikh Ayaz, Amar Jaleel, Sabeer Bhatia, Hassan Ali Effendi, Ghulam Ali Allana and Imdad Ali Imam Ali Kazi.


Historical Sindhi leaders include:



Indian Politicians[edit]

Pakistani politicians[edit]

Pakistan's political scene has been dominated by Sindhi politicians, including:


Sindhi Computing[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Population Census Organization, Government of Pakistan - Population by Mother Tongue
  2. ^ Ethnologue report for India Archived 18 January 2010 at WebCite
  3. ^ Rising India and indian communities in East Asia - By K. Kesavapany, A. Mani, Palanisamy Ramasamy, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies
  4. ^ "Pakistan Census Data". 
  5. ^ "Pakistan Census Data". 
  6. ^ Memoir of the Emperor Timur (Malfuzat-i Timuri) Timur's memoirs on his invasion of India; describes in detail the massacre of Hindus, forced conversions to Islam and the plunder of the wealth of Hindustan (India). Compiled in the book: "The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians. The Muhammadan Period", by Sir H. M. Elliot, Edited by John Dowson; London, Trubner Company; 1867–1877
  7. ^ Nicholas F. Gier, FROM MONGOLS TO MUGHALS: RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE IN INDIA 9TH-18TH CENTURIES, Presented at the Pacific Northwest Regional Meeting American Academy of Religion, Gonzaga University, May 2006 [1]
  8. ^ "Refugee Review Tribunal". United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Retrieved 2007-08-01. 
  9. ^ The People and the land of Sindh Archived 14 February 2011 at WebCite
  10. ^ The foreign policy of Pakistan: ethnic impacts on diplomacy, 1971-1994 By Mehtab Ali Shah Published in 1997 by I B Tauris and Co Ltd,London PAGE 46
  11. ^ Proceedings of the First Congress of Pakistan History & Culture held at the University of Islamabad, April 1973 ,Volume 1 University of Islamabad Press, 1975
  12. ^ Book review – DIL JE DAFTAR MAAN [Saroonyoon] « Indus Asia Online Journal (iaoj) Archived 14 February 2011 at WebCite

External links[edit]