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Raeen, Rain or Arai
Raeens or Arains, Lahore
LocationPunjab, Sindh and Uttar Pradesh
LanguagePunjabi, Saraiki, Sindhi

Arain (also known as Raeen) are a large Punjabi Muslim[1] agricultural community with a strong political identity and level of organisation.[2][3]

At the beginning of the last century, they numbered around 1 million and were mainly rural cultivators and landowners concentrated in four districts: Lahore, Jalandhar, Amritsar and Ambala, all in the British Punjab province.[1] Following the 1947 partition of India, they are now mainly present in the Pakistani provinces of Punjab and Sindh with a small population in parts of Indian Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

A self-conscious community,[1] several meetings were held to establish an organisation to represent the Arain community in the 1890s. Eventually, in 1915, Anjuman Ra’iyan-i-Hind emerged as such a body in Lahore and a national community newspaper, titled Al-Rai, was established.[4]



The historian and political scientist Christophe Jaffrelot believes that the Arain are displaced farming communities who moved to Punjab from Sindh and Multan as Arab Muslim armies encroached; they originally practised Hinduism but many later converted to Islam. He says that the community is related to the Kamboj and Rajput communities mainly located in northern India and eastern Pakistan.[5]

Ishtiaq Ahmed, a political scientist who is also a member of the Arain community, acknowledges that some early Arain texts ascribe a Suryavanshi Rajput origin, while others note a Persian one to reflect to others the status of being "conquerors". He believes that the Arains "are a mix of many ethnicities and races", similar to other "farming castes of the Punjab and Haryana".[6]

Medieval period

According to Ahmed, during the Mughal and Sikh periods Arain held prominent positions, such as governors and army generals; he also believes that numerous names adopted by the community may indicate a tradition of military employment.[7]

Colonial period

During the Indian rebellion of 1857, Shah Abdul Qadir Ludhianvi, an Arain, led an uprising from Ludhiana to Delhi where he was killed. In the aftermath, the British viewed the Arain as a disloyal community, and categorised them as a non-martial caste which denied them entry into the Bengal Army.[7] Due to lobbying by the Arain community, in the early 20th century the Arain were officially re-classified as an "agricultural tribe", then effectively synonymous with the martial race classification.[8]

Traditionally associated with farming, when the British wanted land developed in the Punjab, Arain were brought in to cultivate lands around cities, and were one of the agricultural communities given preference to assist with opening up the agrarian frontier in the Canal Colonies between 1885 and 1940.[9][10][11] Shahid Javed Burki says that the British favoured the Arain for their "hard work, frugality and sense of discipline". The development of towns and cities and increasing urbanisation resulted in the value of the land settled by Arain to rise significantly, and Arain families flourished. Education was prioritised with the new-found wealth and Arain came to dominate the legal profession amongst urban Punjabi Muslims. Many used law to enter politics.[12]

During the colonial era, detailed decadal census reports covered the plethora of castes, subcastes and tribes that existed throughout British India. Information regarding the Arains was highlighted in census reports taken from Punjab Province.

"Arains are mostly Muhammadans. They have been declared an agricultural tribe throughout the Province with the exception of the Rohtak, Gurgaon, Simla, Kangra, Jhelum, Rawalpindi and Attock Districts, where their number is very limited. Apparently a functional caste with a strong nucleus of converted Kambohs, some of whom still call themselves Kamboh Arains. There are still 1,186 Hindu Arains, mostly in Patiala (803) and Karnal (290), and the Kambohs have a sub-caste called Arain. The term is derived probably from Rain or Rahin, equivalent to Rahak (tiller of soil).".[13]: 445 

— Excerpt from the Census of India (Punjab Province), 1911 AD



In 1921, Arains formed 9,5% of British Punjab's total Muslim population, up from 8,3% in 1901 and 6,6% in 1881.[14]

At the time of the 2017 Pakistan census, Arains constituted the largest community of the Lahore District, making up 40% of the district's total population or 4,45 million out of the total of 11 million back then, followed by Kashmiris (30%).[15]

The Arain biradari is particularly active in Lahore's industrial and commercial activities as well as in its politics.[4]


The 1881 Census of India detailed the Arain population was 795,032 in Punjab, of which 791,552 (99.56 percent) were Muslims, 2,628 (0.33 percent) were Hindus, 848 (0.11 percent) were Sikhs, and 4 (0.0005 percent) were Christians.[16][a]

As of 1931 Census of India, out of the total Arain population of 1,331,295 in Punjab, 1,330,057 (99.91%) were Muslims, 1,146 (0.086%) were Hindus, 67 (0.005%) were Sikhs and 5 (0.00038%) were Christians.[17]

Academic Ashish Koul, who specializes in the history of the group, has said of the Arains that they have been "a distinctive Muslim community with innately Islamic attributes."[1]


There are several diasporic Arain communities in British towns and cities, such as Manchester, Glasgow and Oxford.[18] The tribe has its own organisation, Arain Council UK, which was established as Anjuman-e-Arains in the 1980s and renamed in 2008.[19]

British Conservative Party politician Sajid Javid's family were farmers from the village of Rajana near Toba Tek Singh, Punjab, from where they migrated to the UK in the 1960s; Javid speaks some Punjabi.[20][21] Javid was the first British Asian to hold one of the British Great Offices of State, being first Home Secretary (2018–2019) and then Chancellor of the Exchequer (2019–2020).[22][23]

Notable people


Arts and literature



See also


  1. ^ a b c d Koul, Ashish (3 December 2016). "Making new Muslim Arains: reform and social mobility in colonial Punjab, 1890s-1910s". South Asian History and Culture. 8 (1): 1–18. doi:10.1080/19472498.2016.1260348. ISSN 1947-2498.
  2. ^ "Arain". The Punjab Record: Or, Reference Book for Civil Officers (page 24) via Google Books website. 1905. Retrieved 17 January 2023.
  3. ^ Katherine Pratt Ewing (1997). Arguing sainthood: modernity, psychoanalysis, and Islam. Duke University Press. p. 145. ISBN 9780822320265.
  4. ^ a b Ibrahim, Muhammad (2009). Role of Biradari System in Power Politics of Lahore: Post-Independence Period (Thesis).
  5. ^ Jaffrelot, Christophe (2004). A History of Pakistan and its Origins. trans. Beaumont, Gilliam. Anthem Press. pp. 154, 208. ISBN 9781843311492.
  6. ^ Ahmed, Ishtiaq (18 April 2006). "There is many a slip betwixt cup and lip". Daily Times. Pakistan. Archived from the original on 15 July 2014. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
  7. ^ a b Ahmed, Ishtiaq (15 December 2007). "An Arain freedom fighter". The News.
  8. ^ Rajit K. Mazumder (2003). The Indian Army and the Making of Punjab. Orient Blackswan. pp. 104–105. ISBN 978-81-7824-059-6.
  9. ^ Ali, Imran (1979). The Punjab Canal Colonies, 1885-1940 (Ph.D. thesis). Australian National University. p. 29. doi:10.25911/5d74e7b3b71c9.
  10. ^ Binay Bhushan Chaudhuri (2008). Peasant History of Late Pre-colonial and Colonial India, Volume 8. Center for studies in Civilization. p. 195. ISBN 9788131716885. Retrieved 11 February 2015.
  11. ^ Low, Donald Anthony (1968). Soundings in Modern South Asian History. University of California Press. p. 375. ISBN 978-0520007703.
  12. ^ a b Burki, Shahid Javed (October 1988). "Pakistan under Zia, 1977-1988". Asian Survey. 28 (10): 1082–1100. doi:10.2307/2644708. JSTOR 2644708. (subscription required)
  13. ^ "Census of India 1911. Vol. 14, Punjab. Pt. 1, Report". 1912. JSTOR saoa.crl.25393787. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  14. ^ Ibbetson, Report on the Census of the Punjab, vol. 1, 266 and v. 2, Tables I and III ; Imperial Gazetteer of India Provincial Series on Punjab, v. 1, p. 48 and 50 ; J. T. Marten, Census of India, 1921, v. 1, part II, 40, 43, 162. See Tables VI and XIII.
  15. ^ "District Profile". District Lahore - Government of Punjab. Archived from the original on 27 November 2023.
  16. ^ "Census of India, 1881 Report on the Census of the Panjáb Taken on the 17th of February 1881, vol. II". 1881. p. 104. JSTOR saoa.crl.25057657. Retrieved 7 April 2024.
  17. ^ Khan, Khan Ahmed Hasan. Census of India Punjab Part II Tables Vol. XVII, 1931. Civil and Military Gazette, Lahore. p. 283. Retrieved 25 April 2023 – via Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi.
  18. ^ Shaw, Alison (2000). Kinship and Continuity: Pakistani Families in Britain. Psychology Press. p. 121. ISBN 978-90-5823-075-1.
  19. ^ "About". Arain Council UK. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  20. ^ a b "British home secy belongs to TT Singh". The Nation. 8 May 2018. Archived from the original on 2 October 2019. Retrieved 2 October 2019. Newly appointed British Home Secretary Sajid Javed belongs to a Toba Tek Singh village.
  21. ^ "'Did you ever think we'd be here today?' UK's Sajid Javid asks mother in Punjabi". The Express Tribune. 2 October 2019. Archived from the original on 19 November 2019. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  22. ^ "Javid replaces Rudd as home secretary". BBC News. 30 April 2018. Retrieved 6 September 2020.
  23. ^ "Boris Johnson overhauls cabinet on first day as PM". BBC News. 24 July 2019. Retrieved 6 September 2020.
  24. ^ "Dina Arain: the master 'double game' player".
  25. ^ Individuals and Ideas in Modern India: Nine Interpretative Studies. India, Firma KLM, 1982.
  26. ^ LaPorte, Robert, et al. Pakistan under the military : eleven years of Zia ul-Haq. United Kingdom, Avalon Publishing, 1991.
  27. ^ "After election debacle, Wattoo resigns as PPP's central Punjab president". Dawn (newspaper). 14 May 2013. Retrieved 11 April 2021.
  28. ^ "پاکستان کی خدمت کرنے والے 'روشن خیال' اینگلو انڈینز جنھیں بھلا دیا گیا". BBC News اردو – via BBC News website.
  29. ^ "Anas Sarwar - First Muslim and Pakistani Who Elected leader of Scottish Labour Party". March 2021.
  30. ^ The Arain Diaspora in the Rohilkhand region of India: A historical perspective: General History of Arain tribe of Punjab & Sindh with sociocultural background of the diaspora in Rohilkhand, India. N.p., Rehan Asad , 2017.
  31. ^ Contemporary Problems of Pakistan. Netherlands, Brill, 1974.
  32. ^ Encyclopaedia of Muslim Biography: I-M. India, A.P.H. Publishing Corporation, 2001.
  33. ^ International Journal of Punjab Studies. India, Sage Publications, 1994.
  34. ^ "Sonia Ahmed: Our Real Hero |". 22 June 2021.
  35. ^ Ahmed, Ishtiaq (2022). The Punjab: Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed. Classy Pub. On Tuesday, 3 May 2005, cricket legend and arguably one of the greatest left-arm fast bowlers of all times, Pakistan's Wasim Akram and his father Chaudhary Mohammed Akram, visited their ancestral village Chawinda Devi, Amritsar district. Chawinda Devi was a mixed village with Arain and Syed biradaris of Muslims and Sikh and Hindus constituting an equal population. Wasim's family belonged to the Arain section of Chawinda Devi.
  36. ^ "Player Profile: Abdul Kardar". CricketArchive. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  1. ^ Population excludes districts that would ultimately form part of the North-West Frontier Province.

Further reading