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The Arain (Urdu: آرائیں‎) are a Muslim tribe of Pakistan who are found mainly in the Punjab province and also that of Sindh. They are chiefly associated with farming, with many being "peasant-proprietors"[1] and some being zamindars (landlords).


The Arains are historically exclusively Muslim.[2] Their origins are uncertain, with some members of the community claiming a connection with the Rajputs. Others, with whom the historian and political scientist Christophe Jaffrelot agrees, believe that they are probably 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.[3]

British Raj period[edit]

The British considered the Arain as a landholding '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% of the land that was allotted to Muslim agricultural castes in canal colnies.[4][5]

The British considered the Arain the best cultivators amongst all the castes, and were favoured for their "hard work, frugality and sense of discipline".[6][full citation needed][7][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.[6] Education was prioritised with the new-found wealth[8][page needed] and the Arain came to dominate the legal profession amongst urban Punjabi Muslims. Many used law to enter politics.[9][page needed]

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 the largest agricultural community in Pakistan and they often have a wealth that belies their low ritual status.[3]


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 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. ^ Burki, Shahid Javed (October 1988). "Pakistan under Zia, 1977-1988". Asian Survey 28 (10): 1082–1100. JSTOR 2644708.  (subscription required)
  2. ^ Jaffrelot, Christophe (2004). A History Of Pakistan And Its Origins. trans. Beaumont, Gilliam. Anthem Press. p. 154. ISBN 9781843311492. Retrieved 10 December 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Jaffrelot, Christophe (2004). A History Of Pakistan And Its Origins. trans. Beaumont, Gilliam. Anthem Press. p. 208. ISBN 9781843311492. Retrieved 10 December 2012. 
  4. ^ Punjab Colony Manual (Lahore, 1936), p. 13; and Chenab Colony Settlement Report (1915)
  5. ^ "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).
  6. ^ a b Pakistan under Zia, 1977-1988, Shahid Javed Burki.
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ "...the Arain families put their money into education and reaped quick rewards.", Pakistan under Zia, 1977-1988, Shahid Javed Burki.
  9. ^ "Soon they came to dominate the legal profession... ...and... ...spring into politics.", Pakistan under Zia, 1977-1988, Shahid Javed Burki.
  10. ^ Punjabi Musalmans, 1915, reprinted 1991, p 66, J. M. Wikeley - Ethnology
  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. ^ A People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII
  17. ^ "Dina Arain: the master 'double game' player". 
  18. ^ a b Pakistan under Zia 1977-1988 by Shahid Javed Burki. Asian Survey. Vol. 28, No. 10 (Oct., 1988), pp. 1082–1100