|Regions with significant populations|
|Punjabi • Urdu • Saraiki • Sindhi|
The origin of the Arain community is uncertain, with some members of the community claiming a connection with the Rajputs and others, with whom the historian and political scientist Christophe Jaffrelot agrees, believing 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 community mainly in the northern India and eastern Pakistan. Some scholars have linked Arains to the Rayeen, a Rajput caste of India. Ishtiaq Ahmed, a political scientist that is also a member of the Arain community, acknowledges that some early Arain texts ascribe a Persian origin and others a Rajput descent. He says that the Arain claims of Arab descent could be viewed as a claim to status as "conquerors and original Muslims". He believes that the Arains "are a mix of many ethnicities and races", similar to other "farming castes of the Punjab and Haryana".
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. The Arain received 86 per cent of the land that was allotted to Muslim agricultural castes in canal colonies.[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.
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.
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