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The Arain (Urdu: آرائیں‎) are a Muslim caste of Pakistan who are found mainly in the Punjab province and also that of Sindh. They are chiefly associated with petty farming or gardening,[1][2] [3] with some being zamindars (landlords).


The Arains are historically exclusively Muslim with whom the historian and political scientist Christophe Jaffrelot agrees, believe that they are displaced farming communities who moved to Punjab from Sindh and Multan as Muslim armies encroached. Jaffrelot also believes the community to be related to the Kamboj.[4] Ishtiaq Ahmed, who is a political scientist like Jaffrelot and also a member of the Arain community, acknowledges that some early Arain texts ascribe a Persian origin and others a Suryavansha Rajput descent. He says that the Arain claims to be of Arab descent are based on the community's uniform belief in Islam and almost-entire adherence to the Sunni sect of that religion, which is a trait they share with the early Arab invaders under Muhammad bin Qasim.[5]

A study of blood types, published in 2005 and intended "to find out the frequency of ABO and RhD phenotypes in different ethnic groups and casts of Pakistan", concluded that "There is no statistically significant difference of ABO and Rh-D distribution among various ethnic groups and casts, O is the most common blood group except in Arains where B is the most common and O is less common. Further ethnic based studies are required to confirm."[6]

British Raj period[edit]

The British considered the Arain an 'agricultural' caste. When the British wanted land developed in the Punjab after its annexation, Arain were brought in to cultivate lands around the cities, and were preferred to assist with the opening up of the new agrarian frontier in canal colonies of the Punjab between 1906 – 1940. The Arain received 86 per cent of the land that was allotted to Muslim agricultural castes in canal colonies.[7][8][need quotation to verify]

The British considered the Arain the best cultivators amongst all the castes and favoured them for their "hard work, frugality and sense of discipline".[3][9][page needed][dubious ] Subsequent development of towns and cities and increasing urbanisation resulted in the value of the land settled by Arain to rise significantly, and Arain families thus flourished. Education was prioritised with the new-found wealth and the Arain came to dominate the legal profession amongst urban Punjabi Muslims. Many used law to enter politics.[3]

The Arain also contributed to military service predating and during British rule in India. Lt. Col. J. M. Wikeley acknowledged Arain presence in the military; "They (Arains) may be designated as a fighting race which has produced many Civil and Military officers who have rendered good services to the nation."[10] Their lack of classification as a martial race was most probably a consequence of rebellions against British rule. One notable rebellion occurred in the Mutiny of 1857, when the Arain Shah Abdul Qadir Ludhianvi led an inter-communal uprising in Ludhiana against the British East India Company.[11]

Present day[edit]

Although gardening and market-gardening were considered historically to be ritually impure occupations and thus those engaged in such activities were considered to be of low standing, the Arains have proven to be industrious and disciplined practitioners. In the present day, they are an important agricultural community in Pakistan.[4]


The Arain were found in territory stretching from the Chenab in the west to the Sultlej in the east, in what was the Punjabi speaking heartland of the British colonial province of Punjab. This was also the region that suffered the worst violence during the partition of India in 1947, with almost the entire Arain population of Indian Punjab migrating to Pakistani territory. However, there are still a small number of Muslim Arains still found in Malerkotla, Sangrur and Patiala districts.[12]

The bulk of the Arain population is now settled in the districts of Sialkot, Faisalabad, Sahiwal and Toba Tek Singh,[13][full citation needed] with a large number of refugees settled by the Thal Development Authority in the districts of Khushab, Mianwali, Bhakkar and Layyah.[14][full citation needed]

Related communities in North India[edit]

There are a number of communities in North India, that claim kinship with the Arain of Punjab. The Arain of Delhi claim to be descended from Arains who settled in Delhi during the rule of the Mughal Emperor Akbar.[15]

Another community that is connected with the Arain are the Rayeen, who are a Muslim tribe found in Bareilly, Pilibhit, Udham Singh Nagar, Nainital, Rampur, Bijnor and Saharanpur districts of Uttar Pradesh, India.[16][full citation needed]

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ Binay Bhushan Chaudhuri. Peasant History of Late Pre-colonial and Colonial India, Volume 8. Center for studies in Civilization. p. 195. ISBN 9788131716885. Retrieved Feb 2015. 
  2. ^ Donald Anthony Low. Soundings in Modern South Asian History. University of California Press. p. 375. ISBN 978-0520007703. Retrieved Feb 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c Burki, Shahid Javed (October 1988). "Pakistan under Zia, 1977-1988". Asian Survey 28 (10): 1082–1100. doi:10.1525/as.1988.28.10.01p0206e. JSTOR 2644708.  (subscription required)
  4. ^ a b Jaffrelot, Christophe (2004). A History Of Pakistan And Its Origins. trans. Beaumont, Gilliam. Anthem Press. pp. 154, 208. ISBN 9781843311492. Retrieved 10 December 2012. 
  5. ^ Ahmed, Ishtiaq (18 April 2006). "There is many a slip betwixt cup and lip". Daily Times (Pakistan). Retrieved 2014-06-15. 
  6. ^ Ali, Nadir; Anwar, Masood; Bhatti, Farhat Abbas; Nadeem, Mansoor; Nadeem, Asif; Ali, Arif Maqsood (January–March 2005). "Frequency of ABO & Rh Blood Groups in Major Ethnic Groups and Casts of Pakistan". Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences 21 (1): 26–29. Archived from the original on 2005-06-01. Further ethnic based studies are required to confirm. 
  7. ^ Punjab Colony Manual (Lahore, 1936), p. 13; and Chenab Colony Settlement Report (1915)
  8. ^ "The Punjab Canal Colonies', 1885-1940", Ph.D. thesis, Australian National University, 1980; and Imran Ali, The Punjab Under Imperialism, 1885-1947 (Princeton University Press,Princeton, New Jersey, 1988).
  9. ^ Castes The Panjab, North-West Frontier Province, and Kashmir, by Sir James McCrone Douie. Printed in India at Deluxe Offset Press, Daya Basti, Delhi-110035 and Published by Seema Publications, Delhi-110007
  10. ^ Wikeley, J. M. (1991) [1915]. Punjabi Musalmans. p. 66. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ People of India Punjab Volume XXXVII edited by I.J.S Bansal and Swaran Singh pages 37 to 42 Manohar
  13. ^ Kinship and continuity: Pakistani families in BritainAlison Shaw Page 121
  14. ^ Three Pakistan villages by John Joseph Honigmann
  15. ^ People of India Delhi Volume XX edited by T Ghosh & S Nath pages 49 to 52, Manohar Publications
  16. ^ People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII
  17. ^ "Dina Arain: the master 'double game' player". 
  18. ^ Pakistan Under the Military: Eleven Years of Zia Ul-Haq by Shahid Javed Burki, Craig Baxter, Robert LaPorte, Kamal Azfar Pg.4
  19. ^ Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military By Husain Haqqani pg.112
  20. ^
  21. ^ The Garrison State: Military, Government and Society in Colonial Punjab, 1849-1947 by Tan Tai Yong pg.263