Muslim Barhai

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Total population
(584,000 [1])
Regions with significant populations
 India   Nepal
AwadhiKhari boliHindiUrdu
Islam 100% •
Related ethnic groups

The Muslim Barhai, or sometimes pronounced Badhai are Muslim community, found in North India. A small number are also found in the Terai region of Nepal. The community is also sometimes referred to as Multani.[2]


The community derive their name from the word barhai, which means carpenter in Hindi. According to their own traditions, they are descended from early Muslim settlers to India. It is however likely, that they are converts from the Barhai caste.

In Uttar Pradesh, the Barhai have two sub-divisions, the Dese or native and the Multani or immigrants from Multan. Each of these two groups in endogamous. They are found mainly in the Doab and Rohilkhand regions, and speak the Khari boli dialect. The community has been granted Other Backward Class status.[2]

Present circumstances[edit]

The Behna are no longer mainly employed mainly as carpenters, and many work in farming. They are largely small and medium sized farmers, although a sizeable number are agricultural labourers, and live in multi caste and multi religious settlements, but occupy their own distinct quarters. Each settlement has a caste council, known as a panchayat, which acts as an instrument of social control. It deals with intra community disputes, as well as punishing those who breach communal norms. Although they live in close proximity to other Muslim groups, such as the Shaikh, Gaddi, Ansari, Rajput Muslim and Qassab in Doab, and the Muslim Teli, Muslim Banjara, Baghban and Rohilla in Rohilkhand, there is very little interaction, and virtually no intermarriage. The only group with which close relations are maintained are the Saifi, and this includes intermarriage. With regards to neighbouring Hindu groups such the Jat and Gujjar, a social distance is maintained.[2]

The Barhai are Sunni Muslim of the Barelvi sect. They speak Urdu, and various dialects of Hindi. There customs are similar to other Uttar Pradesh Muslims.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c People of India Uttar Pradesh, Volume XLII Part One, edited by A Hasan & J C Das, pp. 190-193.
  3. ^ People of India Uttar Pradesh, Volume XLII Part One, edited by A Hasan & J C Das, p. 243.