Sur (Pashtun tribe)

Sur (Pashto: سور, literally the color "red"), also known as Suri, Zur and Zuri (Pashto: زوري), are a historical Pashtun tribe living primarily in Afghanistan and Pakistan.[1] They trace their descent to the Ghorids, a dynasty originating from Mandesh in the Ghor region of modern-day central Afghanistan. The founder of the Suri Empire in India, Sher Shah Suri, belonged to the Sur tribe. They ruled the Suri Empire from 1540 until they were removed from power in 1555 after the Battle of Sirhind by Humayun and the Persian army, who re-established the Mughal Empire.

Today, the Sur are part of the Pashtun tribal system, and identify with the Lodi Bettani confederacy. The Sur are also related to the Ghilji, another Bettani tribal confederacy but it is also believed that Suri is the sub-tribe of Kakar Pashtun.

It was at the time of this bounty of Sultán Bahlol, that the grandfather of Sher Sháh, by name Ibráhím Khán Súr,*[The Súr represent themselves as descendants of Muhammad Súr, one of the princes of the house of the Ghorian, who left his native country, and married a daughter of one of the Afghán chiefs of Roh.] with his son Hasan Khán, the father of Sher Sháh, came to Hindu-stán from Afghánistán, from a place which is called in the Afghán tongue "Shargarí,"* but in the Multán tongue "Rohrí." It is a ridge, a spur of the Sulaimán Mountains, about six or seven kos in length, situated on the banks of the Gumal. They entered into the service of Muhabbat Khán Súr, Dáúd Sáhú-khail, to whom Sultán Bahlol had given in jágír the parganas of Hariána and Bahkála, etc., in the Panjáb, and they settled in the pargana of Bajwára.[2]

Abbas Khan Sarwani, 1580


The Suri tribe of the Afghans inhabited the mountains of Ghor east of Furrah and their principal cities were Ghore, Feruzi and Bamian.[3]

Amir Suri

Amir Suri was a Buddhist[4] king from the ancient Ghorid dynasty in the 9th and 10th century. He was a descendant of the Ghorid king Amir Banji Baharan whose rule was legitimized by the Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid after a peace treaty. Amir Suri was defeated in war with the Saffarid ruler Ya'qub ibn al-Layth al-Saffar.

Amir Muhammad ibn Suri

Muhammad ibn Suri was also, despite his name, a Buddhist king of the Ghorid dynasty from the 10th century to 1011. He fought against Mahmud of Ghazni. According to Minhaju-S Siraj, ibn Suri was defeated and captured by Mahmud of Ghazni, made prisoner along with his son Abu Ali and taken to Ghazni, where ibn Suri died by poisoning himself.[5]

It was also the last stronghold of an ancient religion professed by the inhabitants when all their neighbors had become Muslim. In the 11th century AD Mahmud of Ghazni defeated the prince of Ghor Ibn –I-Suri, and made him prisoner in a severely-contested engagement in the valley of Ahingaran. Ibn-I-Suri is called a Hindu by the author, who has recorded his overthrow;[6]

Ibn Suri's son Abu Ali ibn Muhammad (reigning from 1011 to 1035) later converted to Islam, and constructed mosques and Islamic schools in Ghor.[7]

Conversion to Islam

According to recorded tradition, Surs are descended from the Ghori tribe. Several books by Islamic historians including Tarikh-I-Guzida of Hamdu-lla-Mustaufi, Towareekh Yumny, as well as Ferishta record that besides Muslim Surs there were also Non-Muslim Hindu and Buddhist, pagan Surs, who were attacked by Mahmud of Ghazni and converted to Islam by him.

Sultan Mahumud now went to fight with the Ghorians, who were infidels at that time. Suri, their chief, was killed in this war, and his son was taken prisoner; but he killed himself by sucking poison which he had kept under the stone of his ring. The country of Ghor was annexed to that of the Sultan, and the population thereof converted to Islam. He now attacked the fort of Bhim, where was a temple of the Hindus.[8]

In the following year AH 401 (AD 1010), Mahmood led his army towards Ghoor. The native prince of the country, Mahomed, of the Afghan tribe of Soor (the same race which gave birth to the dynasty that eventually succeeded in subverting the family of Sebüktigin), occupied an entrinched camp with 10,000 men. Mahmood was repulsed in repeated assaults which he made from morning till noon. Finding that the troops of Ghoor defended their entrenchments with such obstinacy, he caused his army to retreat in apparent confusion, in order to allure the enemy out of his fortified position. The Ghoorians, deceived by the stratagem, pursued the army of Ghizny; when the king, facing about, attacked and defeated them with great slaughter. Mahommed Soor, being made prisoner was brought to the king, but having taken poison, which he always kept under his ring, he died in a few hours; his country was annexed to the dominions of Ghizny. The author of the Towareekh Yumny affirms, that neither the sovereigns of Ghoor nor its inhabitants were Mahomedans till after this victory; whilst the author of the Tubkat-Nasiry, and Fukhr-ood-Deen Moobarik Shah Lody, the latter of whom wrote a history of the Kings of Ghoor in verse, both affirm, that they were converted many years before, even so early as the time of Ally.[9]

Other famous Surs

Shah Hussain was descended from the younger branch of the Ghorian race, while Muhammad-i-Suri, said to be the great-great-grandfather of the Sultans Ghiyas-ud-Din and Muizz-ud-Din (Muhammad of Ghor) was descended from the elder branch, with whom sovereignty lay. Shah Hussain by one of his Afghan wives, had three sons, Ghalzi, Ibrahim surnamed Lodi, and Sarwani. The Afghan tribe of Sur was founded by Sur, son of Ismail, grandson of Lodi.[10]

Another Sur king, Amir Banji Baharan, was appointed by the Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid as the king of Ghor after he signed a peace treaty.

The most famous Sur in history was Sher Shah Suri of Sasaram, Bihar,[11] who ruled the Sur Empire which covered a large northern territory of the Indian subcontinent, with Delhi serving as its capital.

See also


  1. Firishta (1560-16-20). "The History of the Rise of Mohammedan Power in India, Volume 2, chpt. 21". Packard Humanities Institute. Retrieved 2010-09-04. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. Abbas Khan Sarwani (1580). "Táríkh-i Sher Sháhí; or, Tuhfat-i Akbar Sháhí, of 'Abbás Khán Sarwání. CHAPTER I. Account of the reign of Sher Sháh Súr". Packard Humanities Institute. Retrieved 2010-09-04.
  3. Gazetteer of the world or dictionary of geographical knowledge. Vol 5. London: A Fullerton and Company. p. 61. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  4. Medieval India Part 1 Satish Chandra Page 22
  5. The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians by Eliot and Dowson, Volume 2 page 286
  6. The Kingdom of Afghanistan: a historical sketch By George Passman Tate Edition: illustrated Published by Asian Educational Services, 2001 Page 12 ISBN 81-206-1586-7, ISBN 978-81-206-1586-1
  7. History of Civilizations of Central Asia, C.E. Bosworth, M.S. Asimov, p. 185.
  8. Tarikh -I-Guzida of Hamdu-lla-Mustaufi. Page 65 from The History of India told by its own Historians H M Eliot and Dowson Volume 3
  9. Ferishta-Translation John Briggs, p. 28 vol 1
  10. "Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North West Frontier Province" H.A. Rose, Ibetson 1990, P210
  11. Moslem nationalism in India and Pakistan By Hafeez Malik, Washington DC Public Affairs Press (1963) p. 38

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