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The Arain (Urdu: آرائیں‎) are a Pakistani tribe who are found mainly in the provinces of Punjab and Sindh. They are chiefly associated with small-time farming or market gardening,[1][2][3] with some being zamindars (landlords).


The origin of the Arain community is 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 displaced farming communities who moved to Punjab from Sindh and Multan as Arab Muslim armies encroached. Jaffrelot also believes the community to be related to the Kamboj.[4] Some scholars have linked Arains to the Hindu Rayeen caste of India.[5] 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 Hindu 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.[6]

British Raj period

The Arains have mostly been small farmers specialising in vegetable production. In pre-partition Lahore district they were the main Muslim-landowning group located close to the urban areas while in the rural areas of the districts Jats predominated. When the British wanted land developed in the Punjab after its annexation, the Arain were brought in to cultivate lands around the cities, and were one of the preferred agricultural castes to assist with the opening up of the agrarian frontier in canal colonies between 1885 and 1940.[7] The Arain received 86 per cent of the land that was allotted to Muslim agricultural castes in canal colonies.[8][need quotation to verify]

The British favoured them for their "hard work, frugality and sense of discipline". 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 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.[9]

The bulk of the Arain population is now settled in the districts of Lahore, Sheikhupura, Sialkot, Faisalabad, Sahiwal and Toba Tek Singh.[10][need quotation to verify]

Notable people


  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 February 11, 2015. 
  2. ^ Donald Anthony Low. Soundings in Modern South Asian History. University of California Press. p. 375. ISBN 978-0520007703. Retrieved February 11, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b Burki, Shahid Javed (October 1988). "Pakistan under Zia, 1977-1988". Asian Survey. 28 (10): 1082–1100. JSTOR 2644708. doi:10.1525/as.1988.28.10.01p0206e.  (subscription required)
  4. ^ 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. ^ People of India Haryana Volume XXIII edited by M.L Sharma and A.K Bhatia Manohar pages 410 to 415
  6. ^ Ahmed, Ishtiaq (18 April 2006). "There is many a slip betwixt cup and lip". Daily Times. Pakistan. Retrieved 2014-06-15. 
  7. ^ "The Punjab Canal Colonies', 1885-1940", Ph.D. thesis, Australian National University, 1980, p.29
  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. ^ People of India Punjab Volume XXXVII edited by I.J.S Bansal and Swaran Singh pages 37 to 42 Manohar
  10. ^ Shaw, Alison (2000). Kinship and Continuity: Pakistani Families in Britain. Psychology Press. ISBN 978-9-05823-075-1. 
  11. ^ "Dina Arain: the master 'double game' player". 
  12. ^ Pakistan Under the Military: Eleven Years of Zia Ul-Haq by Shahid Javed Burki, Craig Baxter, Robert LaPorte, Kamal Azfar Pg.4
  13. ^ Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military By Husain Haqqani pg.112
  14. ^ The Garrison State: Military, Government and Society in Colonial Punjab, 1849-1947 by Tan Tai Yong pg.263