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


The Arains are historically exclusively Muslim. 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 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]

According to Prof Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed of Stockholm University most is Arain sub-castes or Gotras indicate their army lineage or 'soldiering as an occupation. For example: Ghalar, Gahgeer and Goheer (ferocious horse of armoured corps), Gatku (fencer), Kavali (soldier patrolling while others rest), Basroo (observation post), Bahman (brave, uncontrollable or insurmountable), Bhaila (alms-keeper who walks with the commander when he is giving away alms after a victory), Daulay (those who got land in return for military services), Khatora (spy), Ramay (archers), Rattay (bloody, red, ferocious fighters), Ramday (red -eyed soldiers), Labanay (an army column equipped with batons), Jatalay (victors), Qutub Shahi: (soldiers or their offspring who accompanied Qutubuddin Aibak), Sappal (marksmen), Bahalwan (driver of a chariot), Mudh (logisticians supplying logistics and reinforcement to the army), Teerandaz (archers), Katarband (users of katar, a weapon used by ancient armies) and Bhutto (dwellers of high places).' [6]

British Raj period[edit]

The Arains have mostly been small farmers specializing 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 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][need quotation to verify]

The British didn't like them initially for their rebellious part in the War of Independence 1857 and persecuted them for their freedom fighters such as Abdul Qadir Ludhianvi. [8] Later however they 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] with a large number of refugees settled by the Thal Development Authority in the districts of Khushab, Mianwali, Bhakkar and Layyah.[11][page 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 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. ^ 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. ^
  7. ^ "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).
  8. ^
  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. ^ Honigmann, John Joseph (1953). Three Pakistan Villages. Institute for Research in Social Science, University of North Carolina. 
  12. ^ "Dina Arain: the master 'double game' player". 
  13. ^ Pakistan Under the Military: Eleven Years of Zia Ul-Haq by Shahid Javed Burki, Craig Baxter, Robert LaPorte, Kamal Azfar Pg.4
  14. ^ Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military By Husain Haqqani pg.112
  15. ^
  16. ^ The Garrison State: Military, Government and Society in Colonial Punjab, 1849-1947 by Tan Tai Yong pg.263