History of the Sarwani tribe

Sarwani Pashtuns (corrupted into ‘Sherwani’ in India) are descendants of Sarwanaey, son of Shah Hussain Ghori, by his second wife Bibi Mahi who was daughter of a servant of Shaikh Batan. Descendants of Sarwanaey were brought up by Bibi Mato and are also grouped under the general name of Mati tribes.

Out of Shah Hussain’s descendants, the Sarwanis were the first to leave their original home.  They are said to have taken possession of Darabhan and surrounding areas (in present-day Dera Ismail Khan, KP), soon after the time of Shahabuddin Ghori. The ancient Darabhan has been deserted, the present town of that name having built on a different site. Its northern gate was named after its founder Shaikh Mali Qatal Sarwani of Sari-pal section that was, till recently, referred to as Shaikh Qatal Sarwani gate.

A feud with the Sur tribe was the cause of Sarwani decadence and made them unable to withstand the inroads of more energetic neighbors. It is said that a Sur from Rohri eloped with a girl of his clan and took refuge with the neighboring Sarwanis of Darabhan. Sarwanis demanded handing over of the culprit. The Sarwani jirga, following the tenets of Pashtunwali, refused the demand and instead offered five maidens from Sarwani tribe to the relations of the girl. This offer was refused by Suri men who repeated their demand and prepared to enforce it. Roused to indignation the Sarwani also flew to arms, and the opposing forces met at old Darabhan. The fight was very fierce, and not until most of the young men on both sides were killed, did the remaining few desist from mutual slaughter, to collect the thousands of the slain and dispose of them in shallow, hastily made graves. 

In the reign of Humayun, Miyakhel and Bakhtiyar clans attacked the enfeebled Sarwani tribe, destroying and dispersing them, and taking their principal own Darabhan. Most of the survivors made their way to Maler Kotla (East Punjab, India), the ruler of which was a fellow clansman. Many of the Sarwanis had earlier moved to Hind and made their name as powerful mercenary groups. The tribe may say to have been extinct in Afghanistan/Pakhtunkhwa.

The Sarwanis consisted of 52 or 104 ‘Khels’ or minor sub-divisions and though possibly they may have visited India before the Tughlaq Sultans of Delhi, but the first Sarwani of note, about whom we hear , was Malik Qabul Khan, Governor of Badoan, during the reign of Feruz Shah Tughlaq, and later on, about the end of Tughlaq dynasty, we find that Malik Yousuf Sarwani was included as a commander in the army of Tamurlang that overran India up to the Gangetic plain. Powerful and influential Sarwani chiefs were in the service of Lodi sultans and later, that of Sur sultans.

Known Sarwani nobles of the Lodi empire

→ Sikandar Khan Sarwani

→ Umar Khan Sarwani (entitled Khan-i-Azam)

→ Ibrahim Khan Sarwani

→ Babu Khan Sarwani

→ Saif Khan Sarwani

→ Ahmad Khan Sarwani (entitled of Azam Humayun , rank of 45,000 sawars, 700 elephants)

→ Fateh Khan Sarwani ( rank of 10,000 sawars)

→ Daud Khan alias Rao Khan Sarwani

→ Haibat Khan Sarwani

→ Said Khan Sarwani

→ Muhammad Khan Sarwani

→ Darya Khan Sarwani

→ Firoz Khan Sarwani (rank of 6,000 sawars)

→ Isa Khan Sarwani

→ Islam Khan Sarwani (rank of 40,000 sawars and 500 elephants)

→Jamal Khan son of Khaira Sarwani (governor at the fort of Budaun , 1495-96)

→ Qutb Khan Sarwani

→ Dilawar Khan Sarvani

Sarwani nobles of Sur empire

→ Isa Khan Sarwani (entitled Masnad-i Ali)

→ Muzaffar Khan Sarwani (entitled Khan-i-Azam)

→ Said Khan Sarwani

→ Shaikh Muhammad Sarwani

→ Saif Khan Acha Khel Sarwani

→ Shahbaz Khan Acha Khel Sarwani

→ Ibrahim Khan Sarwani (entitled Sarmast Khan)

→ Bijli Khan Sarwani

→ Ayub Kakbur Sarwani

→ Muhammad Kakbur Sarwani

→ Darya Khan Sarwani


Khwaja Khizr Sarwani


Mausoleum of Khwaja Khizr Sarwani (Sonipat, Haryana, India)


According to a Persian inscription on the site, Khwaja Khizr was the son of Darya Khan Sarwani. Darya Khan himself was an influential noble in the court of Sikandar Lodi. Work commenced on the tomb in 1522 and was completed by 1524 by Ibrahim Lodi.

Shaikh Sadar-ud-Din Sarwani

Shaikh Sadar-ud-Din, commonly known as Sadar Jahan, fourteenth in descent from common ancestor Sarwani, was of devout life and pious practices. Leaving his native Darahban, he set out for a journey through Hindustan, and having reached what is now Maler, built himself a hut on the banks of a tributary of the Sutlej, and there became absorbed in religious practices and meditations. In view of his piety, Bahlol gave him his daughter in marriage and bestowed on her 12 large and 55 small villages which formed the nucleus of Malerkotla state. The Shaikh afterwards also married a Rajput maiden. Shaikh Sadr-ud-Din died in 1515 A.D, and was buried in the midst of Maler, where his grave is still resorted to by high and low. His children by the Afghan princess became the guardians of his shrine while his children by Indian wife succeeded to his rank and jagir.

Afghans of Malerkotla, c.1830-1840. British Library. Photo courtesy: Farrukh Husain


Aligarh Fort

Aligarh Fort (Uttar Pradesh, India). The fort was built by Muhammad Khan Sarwani son of Umar Khan Sarwani (Sarwani is a Pashtun tribe), Ibrahim Lodi’s governor of Kol (Aligarh). Muhammad Khan Sarwani hastily constructed and completed fort in 1525. We do not know what happened to Muhammad Khan Sarwani after battle of Panipat. The inscription in the fort says: –

“At first i said: —’ Praise be to God, who has created Mustafa (the prophet).’ 

I then wrote several verses on account of the fort. I shall not remain, a monument (of me) shall remain. 

A strong fort, a firm foundation, completed in the reign of my king, 

Whose name is Ibrahim [son of] Sikandar, who bestows silver and gold on beggars. 

During the shiakdari of Muhammad, son of Umar, when Shihab, son of Munawwar, was councillor. 

He has suffered much hardship on account of the building, and raised the structure, in a short time. 

It was in 931 H (1525). when the fort was completed. 

May I, a helpless man, whose name is Ahmad, find on the day of resurrection the shadow oi Ahmad (the prophet).” [Proceedings of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1872, p-167]

 Aligarh fort built by Muhammad Khan Sarwani


Lineage tree of Sarwani tribe






1- Muhammad Hayat Khan,”Hayat-i-Afghani“, p-302.
2- Muhammad Abbas Khan Sarwani, ‘Proceedings of the Indian history congress”, 1943, p-392-95
3- Haroon Rashid, “History of the Pathans”, Vol-III, pp-390-393.
3- Rita Joshi, ”Afghan nobility and the Mughals”, p-92 , p-99
4- Abdul Halim, History of the Lodi sultans of Delhi and Agra


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