Arain

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The Arain (Urdu: آرائین) are an agricultural[1] caste[2] settled mainly in the Punjab[3][4] (Pakistan and India), with significant numbers also in the Sindh[5] (Pakistan). They are chiefly associated with farming[6][7], traditionally being small landowners or zamindars[8][9].

Origin

Many Arain claim Arab descent[10], doubtless based upon the demographic that nearly all Arain are, and have been, Sunni Muslim, as were the early Arabs of Muhammad bin Qasim's expedition[11].

The Arain, despite being majority Muslim, do have Sikh and Hindu members[12], as do the other agricultural castes of the Punjab (the Jats, Gujjars and Rajputs)[13]. The Arab origin claim can therefore be largely viewed as a desire for claiming an unbroken practise of Islam through the ages, for current prestige rather than accurate genealogical designation[14]. Local indigenous ancestry is claimed from other tribes of the Punjab such as the Surajbansi Rajput[15], or from Persia[16], and the majority of Muslim agricultural tribes are certainly converts to Islam[17].

A study by the Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences on blood types of the major ethnicities in the Punjab showed that O is the most common blood group (among all ethnicities), except among the Arain where B is most common[18], the difference being statistically significant[19]. Whilst not proof of non-local ancestry, it does illustrate a difference between the Arain and the other castes inhabiting the Punjab. Obviously, more research is needed for greater detail on the caste's migratory provenance[20].

The Arain during the British Raj

The Arain land holders should not be confused with the more gentrified zamindars such as the feudal Rajput landlords of vast holdings. Polo, partridge shoots and tea parties were therefore not associated attributes. Neither were the more negative and profligate practises such as "...dancing girls, drunken evenings listening to poetry, or numerous marriages..."[21]. When the British wanted land developed in the Punjab after its annexation, Arain were brought in to cultivate lands around the cities, forming irrigated colonies[22]. The Arain were so favoured for their "hard work, frugality and sense of discipline"[23]. 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[24]. Education was prioritised with the new found wealth[25] and the Arain came to dominate the legal profession amongst urban Punjabi Muslims. Many used law to enter politics[26].

The Arain were classified as a "non-martial race" by the British[27], a classification deemed arbitrary and based on prejudices prevalent at the time (see martial race).

Prominent Arain

General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, the sixth President of Pakistan (and Chief of Staff of the Pakistani Army) was an Arain from Jalandhar[28].

Chaudhry Mohammad Ali, a Civil Servant from Jalandhar, became Pakistan's second Finance Minister (1951-1956) and Pakistan's fourth Prime Minister (1956-1957)[29].

Mian Sir[30] Fazli Husain, the first Chief Minister of the Punjab[31].

Mian Amiruddin, mayor of Lahore at the time of the Partition[32].

Mian Sir Muhammad Shah Nawaz, an influential politician of the Punjab in the 1920s[33].

Mian Iftikharuddin[34], a politician[35], landlord and founder of the Imroze and Pakistan Times newspapers (later to be nationalized by the Ayub government). He was to play an important role in turning the Muslim community of urban Punjab towards favouring an independent Pakistan[36].

References

  1. "...but also among the so-called agriculturist castes, so designated by the British... ...Chauhan, Arain, Gaud...", An Alternative to the "Sati" Model: Perceptions of a Social Reality in Folklore, Prem Chowdhry, pp. 259-274, Asian Folklore Studies, Vol. 49, No. 2, 1990, http://www.jstor.org/view/03852342/ap040052/04a00070/0.
  2. "Behind them an angry farmer brandished a bamboo pole. He was a market-gardener, Arain by caste, growing vegetables and flowers for Umballa city, and well Kim knew the breed.", Kim, Rudyard Kipling.
  3. "...communities: 1. Acharaj. 2. Ad-Dharmi. 3. Aheri. 4. Ahir. 5. Ahluwalia. 6. Arain. 7. Arora. 8. Bahurupia...", "The land of the five rivers was known as panchanad in the ancient period, and as Punjab in the medieval period.", People of India: Punjab: Volume XXXVII, edited I J S. Bansal and Swaran Singh, New Delhi, ISBN 81-7304-123-7, https://www.vedamsbooks.com/no34962.htm.
  4. http://ncbc.nic.in/backward-classes/punjab.html
  5. See Arain population distribution on http://www.joshuaproject.net/index.php.
  6. "The Arain were small peasant-proprietors...", Pakistan under Zia, 1977-1988, Shahid Javed Burki.
  7. "Behind them an angry farmer brandished a bamboo pole. He was a market-gardener, Arain by caste, growing vegetables and flowers for Umballa city, and well Kim knew the breed." (Kim, Rudyard Kipling).
  8. "...from other zamindar (landowning) categories: Arain (5), Jat (2), Gujar (2), ...", Kinship, cultural preference and immigration: consanguineous marriage among British Pakistanis, Alison Shaw, Brunel University (http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/links/doi/10.1111/1467-9655.00065).
  9. "The Arain were small peasant-proprietors...", Pakistan under Zia, 1977-1988, Shahid Javed Burki (http://www.jstor.org/view/00044687/di014466/01p0206e/2?frame=noframe&userID=a301f288@ox.ac.uk/01cce4405f00501b38b9c&dpi=3&config=jstor).
  10. "Additionally, the Arain group, to which I belong, claims Arab extraction.", There is many a slip betwixt cup and lip, Ishtiaq Ahmed, Daily Times, Pakistan, 18/04/2006 (http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2006%5C04%5C18%5Cstory_18-4-2006_pg3_2).
  11. "The strongest argument in favour of this claim is that Arains are always Muslims and almost entirely Sunnis as were the early Arabs who came with Muhammad bin Qasim.", There is many a slip betwixt cup and lip, Ishtiaq Ahmed, Daily Times, Pakistan, 18/04/2006.
  12. Search for Sikh, Hindu and Muslim Arain at http://www.joshuaproject.net/index.php.
  13. "On the other hand, agricultural castes of Jats, Gujjars and Rajputs are divided into Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs.", There is many a slip betwixt cup and lip, Ishtiaq Ahmed, Daily Times, Pakistan, 18/04/2006.
  14. "The Arab-origin claim can be simply a re-orientation towards a (perceived) greater status as conquerors and “original” Muslims.", There is many a slip betwixt cup and lip, Ishtiaq Ahmed, Daily Times, Pakistan, 18/04/2006.
  15. "...some early Arain accounts claim a Surajbansi Rajput origin...", There is many a slip betwixt cup and lip, Ishtiaq Ahmed, Daily Times, Pakistan, 18/04/2006.
  16. "...some trace their origin to Persia.", There is many a slip betwixt cup and lip, Ishtiaq Ahmed, Daily Times, Pakistan, 18/04/2006.
  17. "...a number of other tribes..." "...like... ...the humbler and more ubiquitous Arain, which it is difficult to classify under any head..." "...but as a rule, the bulk of the Muhammedan agricultural tribes are converts.", The Indian village, Baden Henry Baden-Powell (http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0543994104&id=dhV_CCON-ncC&pg=PP1&lpg=PP1&ots=Fnyk5LlOH-&dq=baden+henry+baden-powell&sig=9oqHVCjN6WdivgRhroIfWCCEh44#PRA4-PA102,M1).
  18. "In our study we found blood group B is the most frequent blood group in Arain (40.5%), and blood group O is less common (24.7%) while it is the most frequent blood group among Awans, Rajputs, miscellaneous Punjabi sub casts, Balochs, Sindhis, and Pathans..." (http://www.pjms.com.pk/issues/janmar05/article/article6.html).
  19. "There is no statistically significant difference of ABO and Rh-D distribution among various ethnic groups and casts, O is the most common blood group except in Arains where B is the most common and O is less common." (http://www.pjms.com.pk/issues/janmar05/article/article6.html).
  20. "Further ethnic based studies are required to confirm." (http://www.pjms.com.pk/issues/janmar05/article/article6.html).
  21. Pakistan under Zia, 1977-1988, Shahid Javed Burki.
  22. "When the British opened new lands in Punjab, they brought in the Arains to cultivate...", Pakistan under Zia, 1977-1988, Shahid Javed Burki.
  23. Pakistan under Zia, 1977-1988, Shahid Javed Burki.
  24. Pakistan under Zia, 1977-1988, Shahid Javed Burki.
  25. "...the Arain families put their money into education and reaped quick rewards.", Pakistan under Zia, 1977-1988, Shahid Javed Burki.
  26. "Soon they came to dominate the legal profession... ...and... ...spring into politics.", Pakistan under Zia, 1977-1988, Shahid Javed Burki.
  27. "The army was an unusual career for an Arain youngster; the British had not regarded the community as one of India's "martial races"...", Pakistan under Zia, 1977-1988, Shahid Javed Burki.
  28. Pakistan under Zia, 1977-1988, Shahid Javed Burki.
  29. Pakistan under Zia, 1977-1988, Shahid Javed Burki.
  30. http://www.harappa.com/amjad_ali/amjadali_interview_mian_fazli.html
  31. Pakistan under Zia, 1977-1988, Shahid Javed Burki.
  32. Pakistan under Zia, 1977-1988, Shahid Javed Burki.
  33. "Mian Sir Muhammad Shah Nawaz, a prominent and influential politician of Punjab in the 1920s, was an Arain as was Mian Iftikharuddin...", Pakistan under Zia, 1977-1988, Shahid Javed Burki (http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&docId=98917428)
  34. "Mian Sir Muhammad Shah Nawaz, a prominent and influential politician of Punjab in the 1920s, was an Arain as was Mian Iftikharuddin...", Pakistan under Zia, 1977-1988, Shahid Javed Burki.
  35. http://www.chowk.com/show_article.cgi?aid=00003445&channel=civic%20center&start=0&end=9&chapter=1&page=1
  36. "...who was to play an...", Pakistan under Zia, 1977-1988, Shahid Javed Burki.