Shaikhs in South Asia

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Total population
Regions with significant populations
 Pakistan India Bangladesh
Allah-green.svg Islam 100% •
Related ethnic groups

ArabsShaikh of PunjabShaikh of KashmirShaikh of SindhShaikh of Uttar Pradesh

Shaikh of GujaratShaikh of RajasthanShaikh of Biharmanihar milki qidwai

Sheikh, also rendered as Sheik, Shaykh, Shaikh, Shekh, Cheikh, Šeih, Šejh, Şeyh and other variants (Arabic: شيخ‎, shaykh; pl. شيوخshuyūkh), is a word or honorific term in the Arabic language that literally means "elder." It is commonly used to designate an elder of a tribe, a revered wise man, or an Islamic scholar. Although the title generally refers to a male, a very small number of female sheikhs have also existed in history.[2]


The Shaikh title is used by the descendants of Arab and other Muslim immigrants who settled in areas of South Asia as well as the converts who were assimilated into the family of such migrants.

However, majority of the Shaikhs are of local origins. They are largely converts from upper Hindu castes, such as Brahmins, Rajputs and Khatris. Many locals of agricultural and tradesmen castes also attained the affiliation of Shaikh. Sufi and other migrants from the Middle East and Central Asia too attained the title 'Shaikh'.

Foreign Muslim origin[edit]

In South Asia, the term Shaikh may signify Arab ancestry, or other Middle-eastern or Central Asian origins.

Genetically, significant foreign element has been detected. But the foreign genes are still minor. There is very minute and negligible genetic inflow directly from the Arabian peninsula. Most of the foreign genes come from Turkic and Iranian peoples, not the Arabs.


The subdivisions of the Shaikh include:

Prominent People[edit]

Linguistic groups[edit]

The Shaikhs of South Asia are found within all the major Muslim ethnic groups in the region, for example there are Punjabi Shaikhs found within the Punjabi ethnic groups, and Sindhi Shaikhs are found within the Sindhi ethnic group, Gujarati Shaikh and Rajasthani Shaikh and so forth.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ People of India by Sir Herbert Risely

External links[edit]