World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Pir Roshan

Bayazid Ansari
Born 1525
Jalandhar, Mughal Empire (in modern-day Punjab, India)
Died 1581/1585 (aged 55–60)
Between Tarbela and Topi, Kabul Province, Mughal Empire (in modern-day Swabi District, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan)
Ethnicity Pashtun (Ormur)
Known for Pashto poetry, Roshaniyya movement
Notable work(s) Khayr al-Bayān
Home town Kaniguram, Waziristan
Title Pīr Roshān
Religion Islam (Sunni)
Children Sheikh Omar
Pir Jalala
Parents Sheikh Abdullah[1]

Bāyazīd Ansārī (Pashto: بايزيد انصاري‎), also known as Pīr Roshān or Pīr Rokhān (Pashto: پیر روښان‎, "the enlightened Pir"; Persian: پیر روشن‎) (1525 – 1581/1585),[2] was a Pashtun warrior, poet, Sufi master and intellectual from the Ormur tribe. Pir Roshan wrote mostly in Pashto, but also in Persian and Arabic, while his first language was Ormuri. Pir Roshan is known for founding the 16th-century Roshaniyya movement which gained many followers in the Pashtun region. Pir Roshan wrote the Pashto book Khayr al-Bayān to present his philosophical ideas.

Pir Roshan assembled Pashtun armies to fight against the Mughal emperor Akbar in response to Akbar's continuous military agitations, and to counter Akbar's Din-e Ilahi. Seeing the spiritual and religious hold of Pir Roshan over a large portion of Pashtuns, Akbar brought in a number of religious figures against the struggle, most notably Akhund Darweza, who also wrote a Pashto book in an attempt to refute Pir Roshan's ideas. Akhund Darweza called Pir Roshan as Pīr-e Tārīk, "the dark Pir". Mughals eventually killed Pir Roshan, and a Yusufzai militia allied with Mughal forces killed four of his five sons leaving only his youngest son Pir Jalala, who later took up arms against the Mughals himself and was largely successful in his battles. The modern Afghan city of Jalalabad is named in Pir Jalala's honor. Akbar forced Pir Jalala to escape to Chitral where he died in 1601.[3] Roshaniyya followers in Tirah, Waziristan, Paktia, Logar and Nangarhar continued their struggle against the Mughals for nearly a hundred years.


  • Overview 1
  • Genealogy 2
  • Early life 3
  • Exile and rebellion 4
  • Roshanniya Movement 5
  • Contribution to Pashto literature 6
  • Modern-day folklore 7
  • Recent books and research 8
  • Song for Pir Rokhan 9
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12


Pir Roshan became known for his thinking with its strong Sufi influences, radical for the times and unusual for the region. As to claims by some Burkis of an "Ansari" connection, refer to "An Enquiry into the Ethnography of Afghanistan" by Henry Walter Bellew (1891). Bayazid's people—currently referred to as "Burki"—who until the early twentieth century were known as Barak or Baraki were found in large numbers during the Greek period in their present environs (p. 62). On page 8, Bellew in this seminal work refers to the Baraki's origins as "mysterious" but not of Arab/Ansari descent.

He became known for his thinking with its strong Sufi influences, radical for the times and unusual for the region. Like other Pushtun tribes, the Burki seek self segregation from the outside world thus the importance of Kaniguram as the historical focal point of the tribe and the continued effort to retain their native tongue (Urmar)which predates Pushtu. Bayazid Khan of the Urmars/Baraks became widely known as Pir Roshan, which means in Pashto "the enlightened Pir". He was the first Pushtun to lead a major insurgency against the Mughal emperor Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar.

Pir Roshan was an advocate for learning and equal treatment for women. A revolutionary concept for the times, and even today in South Waziristan. From his base in Kaniguram, he started his insurgency—Roshaniya (enlightened) movement—which was carried on against the emperor's troops by his children and then his grandchildren and great grandchildren . The Roshaniya movement spanned almost a century: 1560–1638.

During the 19th century orientalists translating texts from Pushto and other regional texts termed his movement a "sect", a mistake which persists to this day amongst many European researchers. The major focus of the movement was to create equality between men and women, including the right to learn and listen to lectures of scholars and fight to against Akbar after his proclamation of Din-i-Ilahi.


Bayazid Khan belonged to the Burki tribe and was an Urmar. Urmar/Burki of Kaniguram retain a keen desire to self segregate from the outside world by retaining strong kinship ties. Family narratives passed down vary on the origins of their forebears. One opinion however, is that their origins are Kurdish from an area known as Uromiyeh in Western Iran. Captain Leech[4] is the first person who has given some detailed notes on the Baraki Barak (Logar) dialect of the Ormuri language. He collected quite a few words and sentences and published them in "The Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal"[5] under the name of "A Vocabulary of the Baraki language". While introducing the tribe and its language, he says: "The Barakis are included in the general term of Parsiwan, or Tajak; they are original inhabitants of Yemen whence they were brought by Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni; they accompanied him in his invasion of India, and were pre-eminently instrumental in the abstraction of the gates of the temple of Somnath. There are two divisions of the tribe. The Barkis of Rajan in the province of Lohgad, who speak Persian, and the Barakis of Barak, a city near the former, who speak the language called Barki; at Kaniguram under Shah Malak who are independent. The Barakis of this place and of Barak alone speak the Baraki language. It is clear from Capt. Leech's "assessmnet" that he is mixing the Barakis up with the Balochis, whose lineage does suggest a possible peninsula connection of some who came to the Balochistan region in Mahmud of Ghaznavi's time. But the Baraki have been in the present Pashtun regions much longer/prior to the tenth century.

Just like Elphinstone, Captain Leech was "hypothesizing" about the mysterious origins of the Barakis/Baraks/Urmurs/Burkis based on the narrative probably fed to him by the Barakis/Urmurs. After all, why would most of them trust this feringhee with their "origins," not being able to discern (at face value) what his true intentions might be? This was/is a region characterized by unending warfare and strife, inhabited by xenophobic/self segregating tribes with foreign origins. The "Yemen/Arab" narrative, it can be argued, was an attempt of a "foreign" people to successfully embed/survive, especially after Pir Roshan's (Bayazid Khan)enemies, and orthodox Pushtuns in the north, (Yusufzai, Khattak etc.) regarded him as a heretic due to his "progressive/heretical/revolutionary" ideas. It is rightfully said: "the victors write/disseminate the historical narrative."

It can, therefore, be postulated that the Barakis (later "Burki" in the twentieth century) were desperate to wipe out any public mention of Pir Roshan's ideas (although many of them, along with other Pushtuns, privately espoused his views). Thus, their counter narrative to Khushal Khan Khattak's poetic attacks of "Pir Rokhan" (so much for Khattak showing gratitude towards the man -Pir Roshan—who invented Pushtu script which enabled Khattak's prolific writing in Pashto less than a century later!) by some shrewd Barakis/Urmurs (unidentified) to reinvent Bayazid Khan's lineage (and suggesting he was an embed, and not native to the tribe, even though the Baraki have been one of the most reluctant Pushtun tribes to marry outside, let alone a non-Pashtun) as being that of the Ansar! (as in an Ansari from Medina/Yathrib). Some of the descendents of the man, as well as members of the tribe (especially in Kaniguram) have, over time, convinced themselves (not an uncommon tendency in the Muslim world, especially in Iran and South Asia) that they are syeds thus a reinvention when in fact they also widely acknowledge their roots in what is now Kurdistan. The Arab/Yemeni survival narrative does not stand up to careful scrutiny: the mother tongue, features and cultural traditions of the Baraki are not indicative of this narrative. Nor does the historical xenophobia and reluctance to intermarry outside the tribe and the Pushtun qaums in general lend credence to this thesis. Bayazid Khan's provocative challenge to the information status quo necessitated a "survival narrative" at the time after his movement/struggle failed. As mentioned the orthodox Pushtuns, the Yusufzais (sons of Yosef) and the Khattaks hated Pir Roshan's seemingly heretical ideas. It is indeed a bitter irony to read Khushal Khan Khattak's poem (written in Pashto!) which he begins by attacking the Afridi (supporters of the Pir in the Tirah and Khyber) and then Pir Roshan himself:

Nas me Afridai dai

My Carnal nature's an Afridi,

Without a care for true religion;

With good thoughts it's not over burdened,

Being more prone to every evil.

I teach it pious orthodoxy

As steadily as did Darweza

But it goes on, like Pir Rokhan.

To preach its cursed heresy


Early life

Bayazid was born in 1525 at Jullundur in Punjab but moved back to his homeland Kaniguram in South Waziristan, present-day Pakistan with his family.

Exile and rebellion

Bayazid belonged to a religious family and his father was a Qazi of Waziristan area. However, Bayazid himself was against many of the customs which prevailed in his time and specifically in his family. These were usually the fringe benefits which his family received being considered as scholarly and religious. He was known as a strong willed, stubborn man inclined to "express" himself. Once this led to a heated argument with his brother and upon intervention of his father he was given the choice of either he leave or his give up his radical ideas. He opted to leave and started spreading his ideas away from his home. He found ears in the Mohmand tribesmen, from there he went to the Peshawar valley and started spreading his message to the Khalils and Muhammadzais. However when he and his followers started spreading word of their movement amongst the Yousafzais he went into direct confrontation with the orthodox followers of Pir Baba of Buner. Soon he established his base in the Tirah valley where he rallied other tribes to his cause. He eventually raised the flag of open rebellion to the Mughal Emperor Akbar after Akbar's proclamation of Din-i-Ilahi and although he led his army successfully in several skirmishes and battles against Mughal forces, they were eventually routed in a major battle in Nangarhar by the Mughal General Muhsin Khan.

He escaped but later would be surrounded, and wounded, by a Yousafzai Lashkar near Topi and later killed by them near Tarbela. There is a controversy about his year of death, which is recorded as 1585. But it looks more likely that it was in 1581, soon after he was defeated by the Mughal General along with his sons. All his sons were put to death with one exception. His youngest, fourteen-year-old, son Jalala who was also captured was, due to his tender age, pardoned and released by Emperor Akbar himself. This son—Jalala—soon took up arms and it was this Pir Jalala Khan who engaged Mughal armies successfully. Raja Birbal a favorite of Mughal Emperor Akbar, was killed fighting against Jalala Pir near Bir Gali in Sawabi District of KPK in 1587.(This also supports Pir Roshan's death in 1581, as Jalala (it is rumored that the city of "Jalalabad" is named after him) was by then leading his Lashkars in the field). After Jalala's death on the battlefield, his nephew Ahdad (also spelled Ihdad)Khan took charge of the struggle against many of the famous Mughal commanders of that time, like Raja Man Singh, Zain Khan Kokaltash, Qaleech Khan, Mahabat Khan, Ghairat Khan and Muzaffar Khan. As part of a concerted campaign to destroy the Roshaniyyas, around 1619 or 1620, Mahabat Khan, under the Emperor Jahangir, treacherously massacred 300 Daulatzai Orakzai in the Tirah (which straddles the Khyber and Kurram agencies today), who were Roshaniyya members. Absent and on a visit to see Emperor Jahangir at Rohtas, Ghairat Khan was sent back to the Tirah region to engage the Roshaniyya forces with a large military force via Kohat. He advanced to the foot of the Sampagha pass, which was held by the Roshaniyyas under Ahdad Khan and the Daulatzai under Malik Tor.[7]

The Rajputs attacked the former and the latter were assailed by Ghairat Khan's own troops, but the Mughal forces were repulsed with great loss. Six years later, however, Muzaffar Khan, son of Khwaja Abdul Hasan, then Sibahddr of Kabul, marched against Ahdad Khan by the Sugawand pass and Gardez, and after five or six months' of intense fighting, Ahdad Khan was killed fighting sword in hand and his head sent back to Emperor Jahangir. Ahdad Khan's Roshaniyya followers then took refuge in the Logar. The death of Jahangir in 1627 led to a general uprising of the Pashtuns against Mughal forces to put an end to attempts of Mughal domination.[8]

Later Abdul Qadir, Ahdad's son, along with his mother and Ahdad's widow, Allai Khatoon (daughter of Pir Jalala), returned to the Tirah to seek badal (vengeance). There, under Abdul Qadir's command, the Roshaniyya defeated Muzaffar Khan's forces. Muzaffar Khan was attacked while on his way from Peshawar to Kabul, and severely handled by the Orakzai and Afridis. Muzaffar Khan was killed near Peshawar. Abdul Qadir attacked Peshawar, plundered the city, and invested the citadel.[9]

It was not till the time of Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan (1628–1658) the grandson of Emperor Akbar (1542–1605) when a truce was brokered through Mughal commander Said Khan with Abdul Qadir, Bayazid's great grandson. Thus, the "peace" was brokered between the grandson of the Emperor and the great grandson of "Insurgent/Freedom Fighter."[3] It was only after Emperor Akbar's death in 1605, that Bayazid Khan's descendants who moved to Jullundhar purchased lands from the local land owners and established Basti Danishmandan and Basti Sheikh Derveish and later Basti Baba Khel (in fact at the place of Basti Baba Khel there already existed a village which was appendid by "Khel" to pushtunize it). The Baba Khel branch of the Baraki would live here in fortress like compounds fighting off the Sikhs who surrounded their lands until the early 20th century (the last skirmishes between the two). In 1947, with the independence, his descendants (many serving in the British Indian Army and Navy) would flee to the new state of Pakistan.

Roshanniya Movement

Roshanniya Movement (or Illuminati) is the set of teachings of Pir Roshan which his people followed. The movement had one focal teaching; equality of every man and woman. This included the idea that based on birth no one could become a religious leader or King. These titles are to be earned in one's life through hard work alone. Having access to only two books on Pir Roshan, all of the English translations associated Pir Roshan to have started a spiritual sect which believed in the transmigration of souls and in the representation of God through individuals. This information also led some writers to associate the movement with everything from Ismailis to Kharijites to Shia or Sufi influences.

Contribution to Pashto literature

Besides his reputation as a revolutionary, Pir Roshan invented Pushto script thus ensuring the emergence of Pashto literature and writing. Pir Roshan realized that Pashto could not be written in Arabic script owing to some of its sounds. He invented 13 characters to represent those sounds, thus making written Pashto a reality. Some of these characters patched up vocal differences between the hard and soft dialects of Pashto as well. Pir Roshan's contribution to Pashto nationalism and Pashto language has been neglected, possibly because: first, he was from the small—but influential—tribe of Baraki, whose mother tongue was Ormuri (a Western Persian language) not Pashto and whose lineage was attributed via his Baraki roots to the Kurdistan region and could not supposedly be traced to one of the Pashtun confederations, although rumor has it that the Barakzai (sons of Barak) are originally "Baraki", and secondly his "Roshaniya" movement was militarily crushed over and over although his ideas spread beyond the Pukhtunkhwa region. The victors in a concerted effort demonized the man and his movement as being a "secret cult," and in the minds of many this character assassination stuck. Pir Roshan, however, is credited with writing the first book in Pashto language; Khair-ul-Bayan and thus sowing the seed of Pashto literature. The book was thought to be lost till recently when an original hand written Persian manuscript was found, preserved in the university of Tübingen, Germany. This reached London through the courtesy of Norwegian professor Margestierne, who delivered it to Sir Denison Ross, then the Director of London School of Oriental and African Studies. Moulana Abdul Qaadir of Pashto Academy-Peshawar, obtained it from there and published the Pashto edition in 1987. Khairul-Bayan was written in four languages – Pashto, Persian, Arabic, and Hindi by the author himself and is considered the first book on Pashto prose. However this Pashto book is not in author's words but a Pashto Academy translation of his original Persian manuscript.[7-A]

He wrote nearly a dozen books, although less than half of these have survived to modern days, mostly in private and family libraries. His works include, "Khayr al-Bayan", "Maksud al- Muminin", "Surat-i Tawhid", "Fakhr", "Hal-Nama" "Maksud al- Muminin", "Surat-i Tawhid", "Fakhr", "Hal-Nama" quiet meditation, known as Khilwat.

Modern-day folklore

Based on the successes gained by a small group of dedicated people against The Mughal Empire and Akbars Din-i-Ilahi the Roshanniya Movement became somewhat of a legend which seems to have made its way to the Universities of Europe such as University of Tübingen Germany.

Roshaniya was a sixteenth-century reformation and enlightenment movement which conspiracy theorists have been quick to liken to everything from being remnants of the Hassassin to having influenced the creation of the Illuminati in Bavaria in the eighteenth century to the "New World Order". The reality, as exemplified in Pir Roshan, and which made him so very popular with disparate Pushtun qaums, was that he spoke of liberating oneself from self-inflicted ignorance and from the tyranny of the hereditary rulers/despots. Liberation of all humanity from the shackles of intolerance was his message and he inculcated the right for each human being to seek knowledge (to include women).

Because Pir Roshan failed in his mission, his message has been demonized and distorted by the powers that be who wished to retain the status quo. His ideas were congruent with the Enlightenment movement that followed in Europe. Thus, the predilection to somehow link his struggle with that of the Europeans (to include cult like entities), and even the American and French revolutions. His ideas did appear to make their way to the Universities of Europe but that was the extent of it.

Yet it seems that totalitarian type ideologies, and their adherents, have been determined to continue this false narrative (Marxists, fascists etc.) to discredit Pir Roshan's call of liberty or death in the face of tyranny. He came up with the concept: All humans are created equal. And, thus were free to choose the path as they pleased. This in an era when most of humanity were slaves, serfs or indentured or lived in abject poverty.

Recent books and research

The invading armies in Afghanistan seem to have paid significant attention from a historical perspective. During the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, Saint Petersburg State University Institute of Oriental Studies seemed to have been the institution tasked to study the Roshaniyya movement, in order to understand their foe (see reference section below). The Soviets were not far off the mark as it so happens that Waziristan was the focal point for some of the toughest fighters against the Soviets.

Aminullah Khan Gandapur, in his book "Taikh-i-Sar Zamin-i-Gomal" (History of the Gomal Land; National Book Foundation-2008) has ascribed a complete chapter to the Roshnayee Movement and to their strife and achievement with the sword and the pen [8-A]

Following the 2002 invasion, the West also sent their scholar into the field to study and understand this movement. Dr. Sergei Andreyev,[10](Chief Joint Mission Analysis Center, United Nations), an Oxford academic was sent on UN assignment to Afghanistan, while at the same time he was funded by the Institute of Ismaili Studies to research and write a book on the movement. There have been multiple editions of this book; however its sale and distribution remains restricted in 2011.

Song for Pir Rokhan

  • Kamal Masood song of Waziristan YouTube

Waziristan Singer Kamal Masood song exemplifies the special place Kani-Garram (Kaniguram) (2:06) and Pir Rokhan/Pir Roshan (southern dialect) 2:14 have for all Waziris, Masoods and Burkis alike. He is almost 500 years later still revered by them due to his ideas.

See also


  1. ^ E.J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam 1913-1936, Volume 9. Houtsma, M Th. BRILL. 1987. p. 686.  
  2. ^ "Bayazid Ansari on Khyber.Org". 
  3. ^ Wynbrandt, James (2009). A Brief History of Pakistan. Infobase Publishing. p. 82.  
  4. ^ Leech, Captain (1838). The Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. London. 
  5. ^ "The Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal", Vol. VII-1838, Part-I, Jan to June, 1838; About five pages from 727 to 731 have covered the subject.
  6. ^ Poems From the Divan of Khushal Khan Khattak (translated from Pashto by D.N. Mackenzie), p. 102.
  7. ^ Tīrāh – Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 23, p. 389.
  8. ^ Ibid
  9. ^ Ibid
  10. ^ "Dr. Sergei Andreyev". 

[7-A] Aminullah Gandapur; Tarikh-i-Sarzamin-i-Gomal (History of Gomal Land) National Book Foundation, Islamabad; 2008; page-61

[8-A]Aminullah Gandapur, ibid Chapter-4, Page −55

Tarikh-i-Sarzamin-i-Gomal,(Urdu) Aminullah Gandapur; National Book Foundation, Islamabd, 2008. ISBN 978-969-37-0270-5

External links

  • [1] Pir Roshan on WikiMir
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.