Thursday, December 9, 2010

Soomra Dynasty

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The Sumra dynasty (Urdu: سلسله سومرو), (also written Soomra dynasty or Soomro Dynasty) was established by Muslim Rajput Soomro tribe of Sindh. They were the first local Emirs and ruled Sindh from their vibrant capital Mansura. Mansura was the largest and most wealthiest inhabited city of its time.

The Sumra ruled Sindh from 1026-1351. Their first ruler is named Khafif[1] The dynasty had both Arab and local Sindhi heritage. However the overwhelming majority of the Soomro are Sunni.

The Sumra shifted their capital to Tharri, nearly 14 km eastwards of Matli on the Puran. Puran was later abandoned due to changes in the course of Puran river. Then Thatta was the capital for about 95 years until the end of their rule in 1351 AD. Khudabadi Sindhi Swarankar Community and other Hindus who had not converted to Islam under the Samma moved from Sindh to Vegh Kot and Lakhpat (Kutch) around 1028 AD, to avoid sectarian violence and live under a Hindu ruler. During this period, Kutch was ruled by the Samma Dynasty, who enjoyed good relations with the Sumras in Sindh. Today the Soomro clan is settled in parts Sindh and southern Punjab.

The Sumra is a Muslim community of Gujarat named after Samara, a place in Iran, where their ancestor, a Hindu convert, Mohamed Haneef Ali had settled. They had converted from the Parmar Rajputs of Mallani and Rajaputana communities. They had migrated to Kutch and then to Saureshtra in Sindh. Stories of their migration are recalled in their folk lore and oral traditions.

They speak Kutchi and Gujrati. Traditionally they were warriors but at present they are involved in business, agriculture, government and private service.


Renaissance in Sindh came during the reign of Soomra Dynasty from 1011 AD and onwards, whereas in Europe renaissance came first in Italy during 1340-1540 AD.

In 1011 AD, the first Soomra King Sardar Khafif Soomro conquered Sindh after utterly defeating the last Arab ruler of Ali bin Umar of Habbari dynasty. King Khafif Soomro and his successor kings Soomar, Bhoongar and Dodo-1, established their rule from the shores of the Arabian Sea to Multan, Bahawalpur, Sadiqabad and Uch in the north and in the east to Rajistan and in the west to Balochistan.

The Renaissance started from 1092 AD when Princess Zainab Tari Soomro became the sovereign Queen of Sindh. As a first step, attention was paid to Sindhi language, which had remained dominated by Arabic during the last three centuries. Not only reforms were made in promoting Sindhi language for good governance, but fast progress was made in Arts and Crafts, Architecture, Agriculture and music, both instrumental and vocal. Sports like horse and camel races, wrestling known “Mulluh” and other marshal sports were patronized.

Language and Literature

As everywhere in the world, the literature had a poetic start, so in Sindh also, the Minstrels and Bards made great strides in Sindhi Folk poetry. They composed their poetry around popular myths, folk tales, historical events and romances. A minstrel named SUMANG CHARAN stands prominent among all other minstrels and bards of the early period.

In this period, “Doha (couplets)”, “Gaha”, “Geech (marriage songs)” “Gaya (songs of Soomra women)”, forms of Sindhi poetry developed as a part of dramatic narration. Later on new dimensions were brought to Sindhi poetry, after the battle of Dodo Chanesar, the Soomra kings with the armies of Sultan Allauddin of Dehli, in 1313 AD near the city of “Thaar Banghar” which gave rise to Epic form of poetry in Sindh.

A minstrel named Bhagu Bhan, also a court poet of Soomra Kings, was renowned as composer and singer of Epic poetry. He was an expert in playing local musical instruments, especially “Surando”. This instrument could be called the violin of the East.

There were other master musicians and singers as Chand Fakir, Bahiro Mangto, Lado Bhag and many others from Charans, Mangtas and Manganhars tribes. From the women poets, Mai Markha Shaikh was a remarkable poet of that time. They all played their part towards poetical progress in Sindhi literature during the rule of Soomra Dynasty in Sindh.

The great historical dramatic romances that took place in the reign of the last few Soomra kings were Lila Chanesar, Umar Marvi and Momal Rano. Earlier than this, the love tales of Sassi Punnun, Sohni Mahiwal and Sorath-Raidiach were narrated in melodious poetry by minstrels and bards in public musical evenings patronized by the Soomra Kings.

Centuries afterwards, the tales of these historic romances became the subject matter of Sufistic poetry by the famous Sufi poet of Sindh, Hazrat Shah Abdul Latif Bhita'i, who immortalized these tales. He transformed these tales into different Surs i.e. musical composition with classical norms. Since then great Sindhi, master musicians and singers keep singing these soulful melodies even in this 21st.

Golden Period of Sindhi Women

Golden period of Sindhi women
Like Arabs, Soomras were also the sons of desert. Arabs were nomad tribes of the Arabian desert which comprised vast areas of huge sand dunes, dry hills and rugged mountains with no rivers of sweet water flowing anywhere. Scattered oasis and wells were the only source of water for them. Similarly, Soomras were also the desert people of Thar Desert of Sindh, but they had the advantage of the waters of the mighty River Indus which then flowed along the western ridge of the Thar Desert.

The Arabs and the Soomras had the temperament of desert people and were great warriors.

The Arabs conquered Sindh in 711–712 AD from Hindu Rajas and established the rule of Sharia of Islam, throughout Sindh. A vast majority of Sindhis who were idol worshippers, embraced Islam and those who chose to follow the religion of their forefathers, were allowed to do so but according to Sharia, they had to pay Jazia which was a tax for their protection etc.

Many Rajput clans who became Muslims, intermarried their sons and daughters in Arab families. The women of these families, along with their Muslim names, called their children with local Sindhi names also.

The Arabs ruled Sindh from 711 AD to 1011 AD, albeit a much smaller area than today's Sindh province of Pakistan. Their rule was well established. They had built their capital city and named it Mansoora. They built mosques, Madarsas, Qazi Court for rendering justice, Army Garrisons, roads and Caravanserais etc. They built sea ports and improved agricultural system. The foreign and local trades flourished.

However gradually their hold on Sindh became weaker and weaker due to the constant invasions of Hindu tribes to get rid of the Arabs and stop the flow of grains, cattle and other commodities to Arabia.

Ultimately Sardar Khafif Soomro, a great Muslim Rajput warrior, took over Sindh by defeating the last Habari Arab ruler son of Ali bin Umar in 1011 AD and became the first king of Soomra Dynasty of Sindh.

Most of the system of government already established by Arabs remained intact except that the Soomra kings had realised that the people of other religions i.e. Hindus, Budhists, Jains and the people of other cults needed relaxation as minorities. Sindhi was re-instated as the national language as Arabic language favored the Arabs in every field of life. The decisions of Panchaits (system of justice) and similarly the decisions taken by Jirgas of Muslim tribes were respected and accepted.

These efforts brought peace and tranquility among the populace.

For the women, it was their golden period as they enjoyed all the rights under Islamic Sharia and were revered as mothers, daughters, sisters and housewives. The women of the Royal families were educated especially in Arabic, Sindhi and in local dialects. They were trained to rule and fight in wars to defend their Country. Even the common women were sturdy and brave, helped the warriors in the battle and treated the wounded. They excelled in Arts and Crafts. The government protected their property, trade and merchandise. They were bestowed with the highest honours when we find that the Princess Zainab Tari was made the first ever Muslim Queen of Soomra Dynasty of Sindh, when her father King Asamuddin Daula Dodo-I retired from kingship to live a pious peaceful life.

Queen Zainab Tari Soomro ruled Sindh wisely and bravely as an independent sovereign queen for 10 years without any interruption. In the subsequent period also, there were Soomra queens who held the reins of the kingdom for short periods and they ruled with the assistance of their kinsmen and the council Ministers.

The Sindhi women were undaunted, brave and patriotic. They maintained their high moral standards. They stood side by side with men in every walk of life and never shrank from their duties and sacrificed their lives for their families and their Country.

Since those times, Sindhi women have never enjoyed such freedom, power and reverence under the rule of any subsequent ruling Dynasty of Sindh, even up to this most civilised 21st century they do not have the absolute independent equality with men in Sindh and elsewhere in the Islamic World.

In the history of Sindh, the period of the Islamic Kingdom of Soomra Dynasty, was, therefore the golden period for the women of Sindh.

Soomro as a tribe (in modern era)

Soomro tribe is an important tribe amongst Sindhi Muslims. They are very old Feudals. They are found throughout Sindh and are the Princes of Peace, a title given to them by the British.

Soomra are well-known all over Pakistan, as it is a large Sindhi Wadera tribe.