Shaikh (nimadi)

Posted: April 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

Introduction / History
Islam arrived in the area now known as Pakistan in 711 CE when a Muslim Arab Army conquered the northwestern part of Indus Valley from Kashmir to the Arabian Sea. Technocrats, bureaucrats, soldiers, traders, scientists, architects, teachers, theologians and sufis flocked from the rest of the Arab & Muslim world, to the Islamic Sultanate in South Asia and settled permanently.

The descendants of these Arabs usually go by the title of Shaikh and also known in Pakistan as Muslim Khatri. The Shaikhs of Pakistan, however, claim pre-islamic ancestry. They are a sub-group of the Zamindar group or qoum, traditionally associated with farming, which is one of the two groups making up the Pakistani Punjabis (the other group is the Moeens group or quom, who are traditionally artisans). Shaikh is also a term that is usually attributed to the leaders or elders of Arabian social groups. Other variants of this term are Sheik, Shaykh, Shaikh, Cheikh, Šeih, Šejh, Seyh.

After the advent of Islam in South Asia, some high caste (Brahmins, Muslim Rajputs and Khatris) converted to Islam in the Punjab region and adopted this title. They are known as Punjabi Shaikh (Punjabi). Majority of the Punjabi Shaikhs are urbanized and detached from the traditional agricultural ancestry. However, a few families also cultivate their own land in the western districts of Punjab. The main professions of the urban Punjabi Shaikhs are business and public service, and are stereotyped for their reputation for business acumen. The Khawaja Shaikh, with their sub-division the Chiniotis and the Qanungoh Shaikh are two such communities.

The Sikh Shaikhs living in villages at the Indian border adjoining Pakistan were remnants of the Shaihks who chose to stay after the Independence of of Pakistan in 1947, embracing Sikhism as their religion. They are famous for their lori and dhool a traditional Indian drum.

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