|Regions with significant populations|
|Punjabi, Hindko, Pashto, Urdu|
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (September 2014)|
Awan (Urdu: اعوان), is a prominent tribe living predominantly in northern, central, and western parts of Pakistani Punjab, with significant numbers also residing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Kashmir and to a lesser extent in Sindh and Balochistan . Awans are putatively descendants of the fourth Caliph, Ali and as such, a number adopt the title, Alvi.
There are different theories pertaining to the origin of the Awans:
The Awan historiographers[full citation needed] claim that the Awans are descended from one Qutb Shah, who originally resided in Herat, served in the army of Mahmud of Ghazni, and was a Hashemite descendant of the Prophet Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, Hazrat Ali R.A.
It is asserted that Qutb Shah and six of his sons accompanied and assisted Mahmud in his early eleventh century conquests of what today forms parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Northern India. It is claimed that in recognition of their services and valour, Mahmud bestowed upon Qutb Shah Awan and his sons (who, according to tribal traditions, settled primarily in the Salt Range) the title of Awan, meaning "helper".
Tribal history holds that Qutb Shah and his sons married local women who converted to Islam from Hinduism. Qutb Shah’s sons are said to have settled in different regions of the Punjab and to a lesser extent, what now constitutes parts of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa; Gauhar Shah or Gorrara, settled near Sakesar, Kalan Shah or Kalgan, settled in Kalabagh, Muzammil Shah colonized the hills close to the Indus, Mohammad Shah (Elder son of Qutab Shah) or Khokhar, settled by the Chenab, and Turi Shah and Jhajh Shah settled in Tirah the descendants of Turi or Tori and Jhajh are also known as Syeds of Tirah. Their descendants not only came to heavily populate these regions, but a number of Awan sub-clans that trace their origins to these six individuals, give their names to various localities such as Golera in Rawalpindi,Malpur in Islamabad, Khewra in Jhelum, Bajara in Sialkot, Jand in Attock, and Dhudial in Chakwal.
However, there are also many scholars who disagree with the Arab origin theory put forward by the Awans, and classify them as indigenous people of the Indian subcontinent. Those who attribute an indigenous origin to the Awan tribe include Ahmed Hasan Dani..
Kaul was of the opinion that the tribe was of either Jat or Rajput origin, pointing to the fact that in Sanskrit, the term Awan means "defender" or "protector" and asserting that this title was awarded by surrounding tribes due to the Awans successfully defending their strongholds against aggression.
The Awan deserve close attention, because of their historical importance and, above all, because they settled in the west, right up to the edge of Baluchi and Pashtun territory. [Tribal] Legend has it that their origins go back to Imam Ali and his second wife, Hanafiya. Historians describe them as valiant warriors and who imposed their supremacy on the Janjua and other Rajput tribes in part of the Salt Range, and established large colonies all along the Indus to Sind, and a densely populated centre not far from Lahore.
On a rural level, Awans historically were of the zamindar or landowning class, and many Awan families to this day live on and cultivate land, which their ancestors have held for centuries. They often carry titles typical to Punjabis who own tracts of ancestral land such as Malik, Chaudhry Jorhy, Khan and Kalera some where in Punjab and Khan. The modern surname system often results in members of the same family with different surnames, some choosing their position as a surname i.e. Malik or Chaudhry, and some choosing their tribal name of Awan. In general Awan is considered as a prestigious cast of South Asia.
Though the origins of the Awans may be a matter of some debate, it has long been recognised that the composition of the tribe is wholly Muslim. The most extensive study of the tribe was conducted during the era of the British Raj, and as a result of census data collated during this period, the Awan tribe was invariably classified as being entirely Muslim.
Similarly, John Henry Hutton has said of the Awans:
"They are exclusively Muslim and probably the descendants of some of the earlier Muslim invaders of the tenth century or earlier."
The bulk of the Awan tribe is to be found in the Punjab (Pakistan). Its population is concentrated in the districts of Rawalpindi, Attock, Chakwal,Sialkot, Jhelum, Khushab (particularly the Soon Valley and Jauharabad region side areas), Mianwali, Tracts in regions such as Khushab, Mianwali, Attock and Jhelum are so heavily populated by Awans, that they have long been referred to as Awankari. Before the independence of Pakistan in 1947, an Awankari existed in Jalandhar and an Awan bara in Hoshiarpur. Awankari is also a dialect of Punjabi. A section of the Awan tribe has established a settlement at Awan Town.
The Awan tribe is also to be found in considerable numbers in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa.
- Air Marshal Nur Khan (Commander in Chief of the Pakistan Air Force, 1965–69, Governor of West Pakistan, 1969–70, and recipient of the Hilal-i-Jurat, Pakistan’s second highest military award. A close relative of Malik Amir Mohammad Khan)[need quotation to verify]
- Malik Amir Mohammad Khan, of Kalabagh, Governor of West Pakistan, (1960–66)[need quotation to verify]
- Malik Meraj Khalid (Caretaker Prime Minister of Pakistan, Speaker of the National Assembly, Chief Minister of Punjab, Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture, and Rector of the International Islamic University Islamabad)[need quotation to verify]
- Major General Ameer Faisal Alavi (First General Officer Commanding of the elite Special Service Group of the Pakistan Army)
- Lieutenant General Abdul Qayyum (Former chairman of Pakistan Ordnance Factories, and former chairman of Pakistan Steel Mills. Recipient of the Hilal-i-Imtiaz, Pakistan’s second highest civilian award, and the highest medal award that can be given to those who have attained the rank of Lieutenant General)
- Sultan Bahu (Sufi poet-saint. Founded the Sarwari Qadiri Sufi order)[need quotation to verify]
- Qazi Mian Muhammad Amjad (eminent legal scholar of the Qur'an, Hadith, and the Hanafi school of Islamic law)[need quotation to verify]
- Qazi Mazhar Qayyum (Raees-Azam Naushera. Eldest son of Qazi Mian Muhammad Amjad. Renowned Hakeem, who wielded considerable political influence in the Punjab, prior to and following creation of Pakistan)[need quotation to verify]
Air Marshal Nur Khan, Commander in Chief of the Pakistan Air Force, 1965–69, Governor of West Pakistan, 1969–70
- "Dilip Kumar was born into a Hindko-speaking Awan family at Mohallah Khudadad sited at the back of the Qissa Khwani Bazaar." http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-216155-Peshawars-contribution-to-subcontinents-cinema-highlighted
- Tarikh-ul-Awan (History of Awan), Malik Sher Muhammad,Lahore,
- History of Awan, by Muhammad Sarwar Khan Awan, 2009 by the Al- Faisal Nashran, Lahore.
- Jones, P.E., 2003, The Pakistan People's Party: Rise To Power, Oxford University Press, p.61.
- Ali, I., 2003, The Punjab under Imperialism, 1885-1947, Oxford University Press, p.114.
- Jaffrelot, C., 2004, A History of Pakistan and Its Origins, Anthem Press, p.205.
- Ahmed, S., 1977, Class and Power in a Punjabi Village, Monthly Review Press, p.p. 131-132.
- Ahsan, A., 1996, The Indus Saga and the Making of Pakistan, Oxford University Press, p.88.
- Journal of Phonetics, Volumes 7-8, 1979, Seminar Press, p.89.
- Khan,R., 1999, The American Papers: Secret and Confidential India-Pakistan-Bangladesh Documents, 1965-1973, Oxford University Press, p.265.
- Feldman, H., 1972, From Crisis to Crisis: Pakistan 1962-1969, Oxford University Press, p.57.
- "City: Awan community grieved over Malik's demise. - PPI - Pakistan Press International | HighBeam Research - FREE trial". Highbeam.com. 2003-06-13. Retrieved 2010-12-29.
- "My soldier brother who died for honour, by Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul's wife". Daily Mail (London). 31 January 2009.
- Puri, J.R. & Khak, K.S., 1998, Sultan Bahu, Radha Soami Satsang Beas, p.6.
- Sarwar, S., 2002, Wadi Soon Sakesar: The Soon Valley, Al-Faisal Nashran, p.35, p.149, p.152, p.163, p.177.
- Tareekh e Alvi Awan by Mohabbat Husain Awan.
- , Tareekh Bab-Ul-Awan (A History of the Awan Tribe), Muhammad Noor-ud-Din Sulemani
- , Awan: A research article on the origin and history of the Awan tribe, Malik Sultan Mahmood
- , Zia-e-Soon: A journal of Government College Naushera, dedicated to the history of the Awan tribe