Sindhi literature (Sindhi: سنڌي ادب) writers have contributed extensively in various forms of literature both in poetry and prose. Sindhi language has remained cradle of civilization and confluence of various cultures from the initial times.
The earliest reference to Sindhi literature is contained in the writings of Arab historians. It is established that Sindhi was among the earliest languages of the East in which the Quran was translated in the eighth or ninth century AD There is evidence of Sindhi poets reciting their verses before the Muslim Caliphs in Baghdad. It is also recorded that treatises were written in Sindhi on astronomy, medicine and history during the eighth and ninth centuries. Shortly afterwards, Pir Nooruddin, an Ismaili Missionary, wrote Sufistic poetry in Sindhi language. His verses, known as "ginans", can be taken as the specimen of early Sindhi poetry. He came to Sindh during the year 1079 AD. His poetry is an interesting record of the language which was spoken commonly at that time. He was a Sufi and a preacher of Islam. His verses are, therefore, full of mysticism and religion.
After him, Pir Shams Sabzwari Multani, Pir Shahabuddin and Pir Sadardin are recognized as poets of Sindhi language. We even find some verses composed by Baba Farid Ganj Shakar, in Sindhi language. Pir Sadruddin (1290–1409 AD), was a great poet, saint and Sufi of his time. He composed his verses (ginans) in Lari and Katchi dialects of Sindhi. He also composed the "ginans" in the Punjabi, Seraiki, Hindi and Gujarati languages. He modified the old script of Sindhi language, which was commonly used by the lohana catse of Hindus of Sindh who embraced Islam under his teaching and were called by him 'Khuwajas' or 'Khojas'.
During Samma Rule of Sindh(1351 AD-1521 AD) Sindh produced may scholars and poets of high stature.Sammas were original inhabitant of Sindh.This period has been captioned as "Basic period for Sindhi poetry and prose".Mamui Faqirs'(Seven Sages) riddles in versified form are associated with this period.Ishaq Ahingar (Blacksmith) was also a famous poet of this period. The most important person, scholar, Sufi and poet of this period is Qazi Qadan(d-1551 AD).He has composed Doha and Sortha form of poetry and are an important landmark in history of Sindhi literature. Shah Abdul Karim Bulri, Shah lutufullah Qadri, Shah Inayat Rizvi, Makhdoom Nuh of Hala, lakho lutufullah, Mahamati Pirannath and many others are the renowned literary personalities of this period who have enriched Sindhi language with mystic, romantic and epic poetry.
The age of Shah Abdul Latif(Kalhora period) is most significant in the history of Sindhi literature.It was during this age that Sindhi was standardized.Sindhi classical poetry achieved its full blossom in the poetic work of Shah abdul Latif Bhittai. Dr. Sorely, who compared the poetry of the great poets of all major languages of the world, including Greek, Latin and Arabic, in his book Musa Pravaganus, gives first place to Shah Latif for his language and thought. He invented a variant of tanbur, a musical instrument still used when his verses are sung by people who love his literature. He wrote Sassi Punnun, Umar Marvi in his famous book Shah Jo Risalo.
Bhittai gave new life, thought and content to the language and literature of Sindh. He traveled to remote corners of Sindh and saw for himself the simple and rustic people of his soil in love with life and its mysteries. He studied the ethos of the people and their deep attachment to the land, the culture, the music, the fine arts and crafts. He described Sindh and its people. Through simple folk tales, Lateef expressed profound ideas about the universal brotherhood of mankind, patriotism, war against injustice and tyranny, and above all the romance of human existence. He was a great musician also and he evolved fifteen new melodies (swaras). The great beauty of his poetry is that his every line or verse is sung till this day with a specific note or melody.
Sachal Sarmast, Saami and Khalifo Nabi Bux Laghari are celebrated poets of the Talpur period in Sindh (1783–1843 AD). Khalifo Nabi Bux is one of the greatest epic poets of Sindh, known for his depictions of patriotic pathos and the art of war. Rohal, Sami, Bedil, Bekas, Misri Shah, Hammal Faqir, Dalpat Sufi, Sabit Ali Shah, Khair Shah, Fateh Faqir and Manthar Faqir Rajar are some of the more noteworthy poets of the pre and early British era.
Modern Sindhi literature began with the conquest of Sindh by the British in 1843. The printing press was introduced. Magazines and newspapers brought about a revolution in Sindhi literature. Books were translated from various European languages, especially from English. People were hungry for knowledge and new forms of writing. The accelerated pace of literature production can be judged from the example of Mirza Kalich Beg, who in the last two decades of the nineteenth century and the first two decades of the twentieth wrote more than four hundred books, including poetry, novels, short stories and essays. He also wrote on science, history, economics and politics. Thousands of books were turned out at that time on all forms and facets of literature. Hakim Fateh Mohammad Sewhani, Kauromal Khilnani, Dayaram Gidumal, Parmanand Mewaram, Lalchand Amardinomal, Bheruamal Advani, Dr. Gurbuxani, Jhetmal Parsram, Sayaid Miran Mohammad Shah, Shamsuddin 'Bulbul' and Maulana Din Muhammad Wafai are some of the pioneers of modern literature in Sindhi language.
After World War I, the social and economic scene of the world underwent a tremendous change. The aftermath of the war and the socialist revolution of Russia affected the literature of every country. Sindhi literature too was influenced by these trends. Creating new awakening in the minds of the people working in the field of literature, they began to translate the new social consciousness into artistic forms of literature. They were now more objective and less romantic. Progressive thoughts opened the door for new trends in Sindhi literature.
Soon the struggle for freedom from the British also gathered momentum. This gave further momentum to literature. Consciousness about history and cultural heritage of Sindh served as a catalyst for research and intellectual upsurge. Scholars like Allama I. I. Kazi his wife Elsa Kazi, Rasool Bux Palijo, G. M. Syed, Umer Bin Mohammad Daudpota, Pir Ali Muhammad Shah Rashidi, Pir Husamuddin Shah Rashidi, Maulana deen Muhammad Wafai, Chetan Mariwala, Jairamdas Daulatram, Hashoo Kewal Ramani, Bherumal, Mehar Chand Advani, Dr. Abdul Majeed Sindhi (Memon), Badaruddin Dhamraho, Muhammad Ibrahim Joyo, AllahDad Bohyo, Tirath Wasant and many others produced learned treatises on various aspects of history, culture and other social subjects.
Mir Hasan Ali and Mir Abdul Hussain sangi, Khalifo Gul, Fazil Shah, Kasim, Hafiz Hamid, Mohammad Hashim, Mukhlis, Abojho, Surat Singh, Khaki, Mirza Qalich Baig, Zia and Aziz were the pioneers of poetry in Persian meter.But the modern form and content of Sindhi poetry were given a new impetus by 'Bewas', Hyder Bux Jatoi and Dukhayal. There have been innumerable poets who have composed verses in the same vein.
The novel and short story became the main forms for prose. Hundreds of novel and short stories were translated from the European and modern languages of Pakistan. World War II saw the emergence of novelists and short storywriters like Narain Das Bhambhani, Gobind Malhi, Sushila J. Lalwani, Lokram Dodeja, Sundri Uttamchandani, Popti Hiranandani, Dr. Moti Prakash, Sharma, Kala Sharma, G L Dodeja, Padan Sharma, Ghulam Rabbani Agro, Usman Deplai, Jamal Abro, Shaikh Ayaz, Rasheed Bhatti, Hafeez Akhund, Amar Jaleel, Naseem Kharal, Sirajul Haq Memon, Agha Saleem, Anis Ansari, Tariq Ashraf, Ali Baba, Eshwar Chander, Manak, Asghar Sindhi, Adil Abbasi, Ishtiaq Ansari, Kehar Shaukat, Mushtaq Shoro, Shaukat Shoro, Madad Ali Sindhi, Rasool Memon, Akhlaq Asnari, Reta Shahani, Rehmatullah Manjothi, Badal Jamali, Ishaque Ansari, Jan Khaskheli, Hasan Mansoor, Pervez, Shakoor Nizamani, Tariq Qureshi, Munawwar Siraj, Ismail Mangio, Fayaz Chand Kaleri, Ayaz Ali RindAltaf Malkani and many others. Sindhi dramas have also been flourished during past a few decades. Aziz Kingrani is one of the prominent playwrights who has written scores of Sindhi plays.
For the last several decades, young writers experimented with new forms of prose as well as poetry. Free verses, sonnets and ballads have been written alongside the classical forms of poetry such as Kafi, Vaee, Bait, Geet and Dohira.
A few famous poets of today's Sindh are Makhdoom Muhammad Zaman Talib-ul-Mola, Ustaad Bukhari, Shaikh Ayaz, Darya Khan Rind, Ameen Faheem, and Imdad Hussani. Mubarak Ali Lashari is also a prominent name in literary criticism whose book Kuthyas Kawejan has been published.
In 1952, Noor-ud-din Sarki and Abdul Ghafoor Ansari restructured the literary forum of Sindhi language and called it Sindhi Adabi Sangat. Initially its activities were confined to the city of Karachi. Inspired by the success of its activities in Karachi, interest developed throughout the rest of Sindh, leading to the emergence of branches in other parts of Sindh. It now attracts most of the Sindhi literary figures all over the world; besides branches in Pakistan, there are now chapters overseas as well.
Though Sindhi writers have not given a proper attention towards literature for children yet many writers and institutions have been creating good stuf for the Sindhi children. Gul Phul is one of the most popular children's magazines in Sindhi. Akber Jiskani, a renowned writer has remained its editor for a long time till his death. Laat is another magazine by Mehran Publication which got instant attention of the readers founded by Altaf Malkani and Zulfiqar Ali Bhatti. Sindhi Adabi Board has also taken measures to promote children's literature by publishing books for children.A spy novel, Khofnaak Saazish is also written by Zulfiqar Ali Bhatti which is published by Mehran Publication. Mehran Publication also published another children's magazine Waskaro in Sindhi in 1990. Sindhi Language Authority has also published books for children.