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Thread: South Asian claims of Persian/Arab descent - is it true?

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    South Asian claims of Persian/Arab descent - is it true?

    Now as you all probably know, I have legitimate very sizeable Iranian ancestry as proven by DNA results.

    All my Pakistani (and even some Indian) friends also claim Persian, Arab and/or Afghan ancestry. I got a few of them tested and as I predicted they had no such foreign ancestry. Why do so many like to claim false ancestry? Is there any reason behind this misconception?

    Which South Asian groups would have legit Irano-Afghan/Arab ancestry?

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    I believe Muslim populations situated near the prominent Mughal capitals (Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, Delhi) or locus of control do seem to show Iranic (Persian, Afghan) as well as Turkic ancestry. Not sure about Arab ancestry however.

    Populations descending from areas with a Nawabi history (Bhopal, Hyderabad, etc.) also show Iranic ancestry as well.
    Last edited by desi; 02-11-2021 at 04:07 AM.

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    WANA or Central Asian-based foreign ancestry in Muslims seems to peak in Hyderabad, Agra-Lucknow corridor, and coastal Gujarat.
    Last edited by subzero85; 02-11-2021 at 01:44 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Azbuzz View Post
    Now as you all probably know, I have legitimate very sizeable Iranian ancestry as proven by DNA results.

    All my Pakistani (and even some Indian) friends also claim Persian, Arab and/or Afghan ancestry. I got a few of them tested and as I predicted they had no such foreign ancestry. Why do so many like to claim false ancestry? Is there any reason behind this misconception?

    Which South Asian groups would have legit Irano-Afghan/Arab ancestry?
    There are Muslims who show mixture of Iranic or central Asian ancestry like the guys above me have stated. If you're asking why do people claim false ancestry then it is due to the caste system still being relevant in Pakistan and also to seem "Pure Muslim" in some cases. Unfortunately there are people who do not like or do not want to accept that their ancestors may have been Hindu or Buddhist or whatever other religion was being practiced in the Indian Subcontinent.

    But we do have some users here on this forum that show elevated levels of SW Asian and other things that show foreign admixture.

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    Depends which group of Pakistanis you mean and which group they are claiming ancestry from. Pakistan has the largest population of Pashtuns/Afghans in the world, so I guess you are not referring to them?

    The Arab ancestry was clearly an attempt to enhance their status symbol, and as of yet, I haven't seen many Pakistanis with proven Arab ancestry.

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    I think it's something that developed during the colonial period, but had a background in earlier muslim thinking. Castes saw foreign ancestry as away to freedom from the caste system or ranking. It's something that took root in the late 19th and early 20th century. That was the case with some castes like the Arain. The whole notion that they were Arab started with the Mian family of Baghbanpura and with some propaganda it become the generally accepted theory into the modern era. Theres a lovely paper on this (with a few mistakes by the author but you get the general jist): https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/...8.2016.1260348

    At the end of the day if a caste or community has foreign ancestry it can't properly be placed into the caste hierarchy. It can also rise in status with much greater ease then for example if the caste in question were like Mirasis (caste of troubadours quite close to the bottom) with a long history of being at the bottom. In pakistan at least. Muslim Brahmins, Rajputs and Kashmiri Butts (same thing as Bhatts -and really they're meant to be brahmin too). Are all quite proud of their ancestry, and don't claim foreign ancestry. They have an equal footing with anyone claiming foreign ancestry whether they be Pasthuns, Awans or Arain. They'll affix native titles to their names like Raja (Raja Parvez Ashraf), Mian (Mian Nawaz Sharif -even though he was from more humble backgrounds) and etc. And generally be very proud.

    Nowadays in Pakistan the caste system has evolved into becoming a more tribal concept among the higher caste with caste baste discrimination reserved for the lower castes like chamar. There's very little discrimination between medium/high castes other than famous stereotypes -which are generally accepted as being harmless. And these days they do marry each other where before they didn't.

    There are probably also people with recent foreign ancestry especially with upheavals like Nadir Shah's invasion. Qizilbash for example are a very recent group to come into south asia. Then you have families with known foreign ancestry and migration that if they were to test themselves today you probably wouldn't find anything conspicuous. If you took a modern person from the family of the Nizam's of Hyderabad (Asaf Jahi) who are from Central Asia, Nawabs of Bengal (Najafi dynasty) from Iran, Nawabs of Oudh (Qaraqoyunlu) from Iran, Nawabs of Bagnapalle (Najm-e-sani) from Iran, the Imperial family (Mughals) from central asia or even Safavis from Iran. It's probably the case that they wouldn't show any conspicuous foreign ancestry, especially as their respective Harems were generally filled with native women. Genetic Recombination is random. So even someone with recent foreign ancestry could inherit DNA that does'nt have any foreign element. And someone further away might still cary some segments after more generations. But the average person belonging to such a family would probably be normal.

    With Muslims especially theres a strong foreign element. Especially in North India because generally all migrants who stayed were muslims from muslims eras. That's why you don't find Irani/Turani ancestry among Hindu and Sikhs. If you were to just look at the muslim royal families of the colonial era (Here is a list of Salute states with their respective dynasties: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salute_state). They're almost all with recent foreign ancestry.And these are just the royalty. There's tons of foreign ancestry among muslim nobility and gentry. Just because of how the Mughal army especially the early mughal army up to Aurangzeb. Had a huge bias toward foreign recruitment especially Pathans. It's why you have so many foreign royal families especially of Pathan origin. Because these guys were faujdars or Subahdars in the Mughal machinery and when all anarchy broke loose they were pretty well positioned to start their own kingdom. And thats exactly what they did, like the Babi Nawabs of Gujarat or Orakzai Nawabs of Bhopal. Foreigners also formed a big part in Muslim clergy, especially Shia. So you have families like the Shustari family of Hyderabad (See White Mughals by William Dalrymple), and when one person came they usually recommended migration for others too. (see the same source). The bias sort of evens out when you get to the Zamindar/Jagirdar/Taluqdar level because Zamindar's and tax collectors were usually picked from whoever happened to own more land in the local area.

    There was probably a much older mentality of foreign high status. If you look at statistics of mughal mansabdars (nobles), foreign ancestry almost always makes up a bigger proportion than native Shaikhzadas. And the mentality goes much further too. After all the Delhi sultanates were all foreign with huge dependence on foreigners to maintain their imperial machinery. If a native met a foreigner he was probably working in the imperial machinery and had a well off living standard with a high status. So being foreign was probably already in the collective psyche as a high status thing and was capitalised on in the colonial era for advancement. Hence the whole Ashraf thing. But high caste natives have always not shied away. It's a little more complex then Ashrafs always being at the top. Shaikhzada's have always had some amount of power and they worked as one with their Hindu counterparts to form the somewhat powerful Hindustani court faction during the mughal era. The same faction that deposed and killed the Emperor Furrukhsiyar.
    Last edited by royaljoker; 02-11-2021 at 12:20 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by subzero85 View Post
    WANA or Central Asian-based Foreign ancestry in Muslims seems to peak in Hyderabad, Agra-Lucknow corridor, and coastal Gujarat.
    This sums it up best, they are found pretty much near the traditional centres of Muslim power in South Asia.

    My maternal grandfather's direct paternal ancestors in Harihans, Siwan, Bihar were probably converted to Islam by a Sufi shaikh known as Makhdum Sadruddin Chiragh-i-Hind who was from Zafarabad which was a qasbah near Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh.

    My khalujan from Muslimpatti, Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh is the only member of my family who probably has legitimate foreign ancestry through his paternal line, his maternal line is Rajput.
    Last edited by deuterium_1; 02-11-2021 at 01:02 PM.

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    Overall, some people's claims are true, but many people's claims aren't true. People can unfortunately be elitist and snobby about it.

    People with a higher baseline of Brahmin/Kshtriya ancestry + West Eurasian/Central Asian foreign ancestry are typically found in endogamous communities: Syeds, Pashtun, Qidwais, etc.

    Also what is considered foreign is relative over time. I'm sure my Uttar Pradesh ancestors in 1500 viewed Pashtuns as foreigners, even the equivalent of being like Arab/Iranian/Turkish/Uzbek. My second/third cousins in Karachi likely wouldn't agree with this.
    Last edited by subzero85; 02-11-2021 at 01:56 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlluGobi View Post
    Depends which group of Pakistanis you mean and which group they are claiming ancestry from. Pakistan has the largest population of Pashtuns/Afghans in the world, so I guess you are not referring to them?

    The Arab ancestry was clearly an attempt to enhance their status symbol, and as of yet, I haven't seen many Pakistanis with proven Arab ancestry.
    A lot of 'Pathans' are strongly admixed, some people who claim to be Pathan like SRK are also Hindkowans in reality but just follow elements of Pashtunwali.

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    I guess it depends. Re: Iranian, Central Asian, and Arab admixture on 23andMe I have relatives who show little to none and others who show up to 5-7% of one or the other, possibly thanks to a history of endogamy on those branches and/or more recent Pashtun ancestry.

    Then there’s one 3rd cousin who’s the grandson of some Nawab from Hyderabad Deccan with 20% Iranian. I agree with others in this thread who say foreign admixture is probably more common among those with ancestry from/near the historic centers of Muslim power in the subcontinent, but still not as common as many would like to believe.
    Last edited by pakistani; 02-11-2021 at 05:05 PM.

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