The term ‘Iraqi’ in Eastern Uttar Pradesh (U.P., India) denotes a Mussalman caste (aka Iraqi Biradri/Brotherhood, Raqi Biradri, Iraqi-Shaikh, Quraishi, Lari, Iraqi-Sayyid). These Iraqis form a rare Sunni Muslim community with a history of population growth specifically in Eastern U.P. Iraqis as a caste in India are poorly understood due to lack of up to-date population research and, hence, need to be investigated.

The old reports contain that origin of the Iraqis of Eastern U.P. is akin to indigenous Hindu artisan castes 'Kalwar/Rankia' (1-2). Somewhat similar view was presented in his book earlier by Crooke, W (1890), which is as follows. " IRAQI-  (Iraq the territory between Persia and Arabia) A tribe in the eastern districts known also as Iraki, Araki or Raki who are anxious to make out that they are the descendants of Persian immigrants. But in physiognomy and colour many of them resemble the lower order of Hindus, and though they may have some foreign blood they are much corrupted. Some connect the name with araq liquor and identify the tribe with Kalwars. They are generally engaged in trade, and are most enterprising merchants. They are not under the government of a Panch. (An Ethnographical Hand-book for the N.-W. Provinces and Oudh …, p 91, 121)."

In fact, all these reports are incompatible due to failure in distinguishing the aforementioned Iraqis of Eastern U.P. from those Convert Kalwar/Kalal and Rankia castes (1-2). As described below, it is the former people, and not Kalwar/ or Rankia Converts, that are presumed to be closer to common ancestors from ethnologically distant Arab and "IE-Persian" speaking peoples from Iran/Iraq. In addition, DNA admixture analysis from the autosomal DNA tests performed on some living Iraqi men show more closeness to upper caste Hindus such as U.P. Brahmin/Kshatriya as opposed to low castes/or tribes, native to India (ref 1,2  vs Preliminary ancestry data, Section B). If this were the case, lack of distinction between the Iraqis of Eastern U.P. and others, each in India, would limit authenticity of the old papers albeit some relevance to the common Caste Panchayat/or similar tactics, and grouping together in government records (e.g. Entry No. 30 under OBC, other backward classes in U.P. India) (1,2).

It is a worthwhile view to propose that Iraqi Muslims of Eastern U.P. began as a sort of mixed population earlier. The foremost is a Sayyid-Shia and the Sunni descended, in the same order, from a common Arab Ancestor who along with his warriors migrated from Iraq to India in 1330 AD. The later Sunni descendants and the parental Sayyid-Shia descendants were found initially to inhabit Ghazipur in Eastern U.P. as summarized earlier (3). However, the earliest Sunnis were possibly combined with contemporary people of West Asian origin including Iraq in a distinct ancestral group because the later Sunni descendants as a caste were characterized by many titles among others as ‘Iraqi-Sayyid’, Iraki SheikhLari, or simply Iraqi Biradri in Eastern U.P. (4-7).

The scope of this review concerning to Iraqi Muslims of Eastern U.P. India is two fold. Firstly, it updates the origin by sharing recent genealogical/historical migration data linked to common Arab ancestors from Iraq. Included are data from DNA Tests, specially Y-chromosome results, performed on few Iraqi individuals. It points to Indo-European ancestors, the Asian Z93-R1a clades that are linked to Indo-Aryans, Mitannis, Medes and Persians being also part of Arab population similar to Ashkenazi-Levites as Jews. These facts need investigation whether bulk of the Iraqis of Eastern U.P. are linked to TMRCAs who existed, 20-25 generation ago in India [A].

Secondly, it invites the attention of members of the Iraqi Society of Eastern U.P. with a view to characterizing individual DNA we share as a result of our growth from the Common Ancestors, at the root 700 years ago, possibly under the influence of genetic selection/or random drift. It creates an“IRAQI INDIAN GROUP ANCESTRY PROJECT” for publication of our ancestry results as needed due to lack of such effort before [B]. 



It is important to note that population under Iraqi Group in Eastern U.P. shares history with an honorific noble person, Syed Masud Al Hussaini, and his major descendants known as Sydes (Shia) of Ghazipur in view of new research. Syed Masud is known as a founder of Ghazipur city (U.P. India), being a recent migrant in India from a noble family of Iraq 700 years ago. His biography is written in government documents, history books and records related to other ethnic groups (5-8). For example, the earliest noble ancestor of the Ansaris of Yusufpur town in Ghazipur, Khwaja Badruddin son of Khwaja Abdur Rahman, is known to accompany Syed Masud Al Hussaini when Ghazipur expedition took place in history (8). Syed Masud Al-Hussaini along with his family and 40 champions migrated from South Iraq to Delhi (India) in 1330 AD, when Mohammed bin Tughlaq was the ruler as Sultan of Mamluk dynasty in Delhi. First, he acted as a minister or a Muqarrab under Delhi Sultanate. Later in 1330 AD, he earned the title ‘Ghazi’ and was made Governor of Ghazipur by Firoz Shah Tughlaq, the deputy and the cousin of Sultan Mohammed bin Tughlaq because he played a pivotal role in annexing the aforementioned adjoining Northeast area to Delhi Sultanate according to reports published in Government Gazettes and summarized recently (3). His burial place is found in Ghazipur, U.P. India (1330-1366 AD). His possessions including land were inherited by his children; some of his sons and their descendants settled permanently in Ghazipur. These later descendants are known as Syed (Shia) of Ghazipur, each occupies a place in the genealogical tree of Syed Masud Al-Hussaini (aka Malikus Sadat) as described recently by S.M. Taqi Hussaini (7).

The genealogical work of Taqi Husaini is fascinating. Given that his research recapitulates the unique history of Syed Masud in India in addition to the knowledge of some other historical Muslim populations, in particular, the history of Iraqi Society of Eastern U.P. in India past speculation. Syed Masud Al-Hussaini was born as a Shia Muslim in South Iraq, and his earliest ascending ancestors, at the root of the tree, included Hadhrat Imam Hussain RA, son of Hadhrat Ali RA as described by S.M. Taqi Husaini possibly in his books (7).  From his birthplace of Iraq, he migrated along with his family and a group of 40 warriors to India in 1330 AD. and lived until 1366 AD. How he is linked to extant Iraqis of Eastern U.P. as a distinguishable ancestor is as follows. It is shown in his genealogical tree that a branch, an 8th generation individual in Nonahra-Ghazipur, represents a Sunni Convert (see under the descendants of his son Syed Qutubuddin, Figure 1). Moreover, it can be seen that the Sunni Convert arose in early 1500 AD, sometimes during the reign of Sultan Ibrahim Lodhi in Delhi to be marked as a historical reference (Figure 1).


Figure 1: Genealogical tree of Syed Masud Al-Hussaini.  He migrated to India in 1330 AD, names of ascending ancestors and descending individuals in India are worked out by S.M. Taqi Husaini. The tree with all names of the descendants including Sunni Convert in India is constructed with the help of the published work; an 8th generation Sunni Convert in Nonahra-Ghazipur is indicated in red colour (5,7). 

As early as 1500 AD, these few Sunni Converts were thought to inhabit Ghazipur, forming alliance with contemporary people from ancestral land Iraq, and carried titles such  as ‘Iraqi+Sayyid, or simply Iraqi Brotherhood or Biradri as reported recently (4-6). A living population with such a title as Iraqi Biradri in Eastern U.P. including those common places in Ghazipur, is distinguishable from Syed-Shia of Ghazipur, also a descendant group of Syed Masud Al Hussaini (7). These argue that the former descended from diverse ancestors who were the Sunni Converts of Syed Masud's family and other noblemen of West Asia, Arab/or non-Arab Persian as described herein. To our knowledge, the genealogical tree of Syed Masud Al-Hussaini is the only source that gives a common origin of Iraqi Biradri as a Caste in 1517 AD i.e. 500 years ago in Ghazipur India (or actual age 700 years) (5-7).

Name(s) of the earliest Sunni descendants of Syed Masud have been indicated here based on the research work of S.M. Taqi Husaini, available on online in the form of the family tree of honorific Syed Masud Al-Hussaini/or Malikus Sadat (5). The hallmark of early Sunni descendants can be described in the following: Firstly, sharing a common ancestry of extant Iraqis (or Iraqi/Syeds); and secondly, a link between Iraqis and historical Arab-Syed Masud, a recent migration from Iraq, who lived from 1330-1366 AD in India. The latter implies that the earliest Sunni Converts lived in Ghazipur, and by the way of ascending Shia ancestors, are linked to Syed Masud particularly from 1517 AD to earlier 1366 AD (Figure 1). It is noteworthy that population of Iraqis at the root (or the base) in Nonehra and Gangauli towns in Ghazipur still exists. At the same time, the descendants from the basal Iraqi families have spread to many different places, e.g. Eastern U.P, Kanpur, Lucknow, Kolkata and Karachi (Pakistan); many families from Ghazipur migrated to Pakistan at the time of the partition of India in 1947 as recorded elsewhere (9). It is summarized here that Ghazipur has been a common domicile of both, the Iraqi Biradri and Shia-Syed Group since origin of the former in 1517 AD or origin of the latter in 1330 AD, and thereby gives a maximum 700 years as a survival age of Iraqis in India (5).





The historical facts and the initial genetic data are employed in order to gather knowledge of the ancestors.  Although the aim is to verify the predicted time at which the ancestors (TMRCAs) were present in India, the speculated ethnological feature of the latter TMRCs are described below.  The proposed ancestors first settled in Ghazipur (U.P.) in India circa 1330 AD, followed by steady growth in parallel to world population; the descendants then spread to nearby towns into Ganga-Ghaghra 'doab' and to the other side of Ghagra river into Gorakhpur toward late 1700 AD. Finally, the fact that bulk of Iraqi/Indians forms a single population group related by blood/or marriage proves that they descended from a few distinguishable ancestors as is partially characterized  below. 

Arab Ancestors

The honorific Arab Sunni Converts, the descendants of Syed Masud Al-Hussaini, possibly formed as one of the founders (see Figure 1)(5).  However, it is unclear why Iraqi elders living in Eastern U.P.,100s of years later from the origin, do not  remember the former as one of the founding ancestors as should have been. Did they fall under the influence of genetic drift as opposed to better growth chances of other common ancestors discussed below? In similar cases, genetic drift results in random loss of the rare alleles and, hence, a decrease in gene pool diversity.  By this logic, original allele composition of the Iraqi ancestors compatible with Arab Sunni Converts were in minority as compared to other ethnic West Asian alleles.  The latter may include the descendants of other linguistic/ethnic Iraqi Nobles and Warriors who migrated as part of the expedition of Syed Masud Al-Hussaini circa 1330 AD. If it were so, much reduced Syed allele contribution to the extant Iraqi gene pool, 700 years later, would be expected.  It is now interesting to know the actual representative J1, J2 or some G/L haplotypes in Iraqi gene pool, as the survivor descendants of 'Sunni Converts' (10).  

It is unclear what events led Shia descendants of Syed Masud to Sunni conversion by few circa 1517 AD (11). However, the events that could follow the arising of Sunni Converts in Ghazipur and its relationship with ancestry of the Iraqi Group is speculated as follows. It is possible that “Arabs from other known clans”, e.g. an honorific Arab Quraish from Lar, or Laristan, Fars, Western Iran (either fresh off or present at the origin in India) possibly entered into ‘Iraqi’ Brotherhood, co-inhabited the place from early 1500 AD (also see Figure 2, ref 12). The descendants from the proposed ancestor would perhaps share Y chromosome markers similar to Sunni Arab Converts (10, 12). More interestingly, the timing of the origin of the two, i.e. the Sunni descendants of Syed Masud versus the descendants of the Laristani ancestor, is similar (5 versus 12).  Thus, the presumed Arab from Laristan with widespread living descendants as ‘Lari’ (or Iraqi-Shaikh) would likely share history with early Sunni descendants and others described below in Ghazipur, U.P.  

Figure 2: ABDUL AZIZ LARI as a descendant of an early Iraqi Ancestor, the honorific Arab Shaikh from Laristan, Iran (circa 1500 AD; reproduced from ref 12). "Abdul Aziz Khan Saheb,Vakil, Managing Director of the Kasia Co-operative Bank, was born at Lar in 1864, and educated under the care of his father, Maulvi Sheik Mokarram Ali. He is descended from a good family of Iraqi Mussalmans, who trace their descent ,among others, from Abu Bakar Siddiq, the first Kaliph. His ancestors migrated to India, and several of them obtained high office under the Mohammadan rulers. In the reign of Mughal king Akbar, Shaikh Mohammad Abdul Ghafur Khan, one of the Maulvi's ancestors, was sent on a mission to Nepal ; he was noted for his statesmanship and administrative abilities. The descendants of this minister settled in the district now known as Gorakhpur, and gave to their new domicile the name of Lar, derived from their ancestral province of Laristan in Persia. Maulvi Abdul Aziz commenced the practice of his profession in 1885. His abilities soon brought him to the front of the local Bar. He has found time to devote to many movements of public utility and beneficence, in all of which he has taken a keen and active interest. The successful working of the Kasia Central Co- operative Bank, which was started in 1902, is chiefly due to his untiring efforts as Managing Director, and he received a sanad for these services in 1910. His services were also freely placed at the disposal of the public during the famine in 1908,and he exerted himself to great purpose in connection with the King Edward Memorial Fund. His services to Government and the public were further recognized on the occasion of the recent Coronation Durbar, when he received his title, and a certificate in recognition of his excellent work in connection with the Kasia Bank. Publication : "Commentary on the Agra ,Tenancy Act ", in Urdu. Address: Kasia, Gorakhpur, U. P." (12).

Indo-European (IE) Ancestors:  R1a-Z93

R1a-Z93 is the main Asian branch of Indo-European (IE) R1a haplogroup. It is found in Central Asia, South Asia and West Asia (including among Ashkenazi Jews). R1a-Z93 is the marker of historical peoples such as the Indo-Aryans, Persians, Medes, Mitanni, or Tatars; and pervaded the genetic pool of the Arabs and Jews.

We have explored a possibility whether few warriors from MedievalʿIrāq ʿajamī or “Persian Iraq”(i.e. ancient Media region in Iran) along with fellow Arab warriors had migrated from Iraq to India in AD 1330 with Ameer Syed Masud Al-Hussaini as a part of his total 40 champions. Consequently, we followed whether the descendants of the Persian Iraqis acted, 200 years later, as ancestors under ‘Iraqi Brotherhood/Biradri' together with Iraqi-Syeds, Iraqi-Laris, or Iraqi-Shaikhs' in Ghazipur circa 1500 AD (5,12). In order to extend this hypothesis, it is being probed how much the ancestral range of extant Iraqis of Eastern U.P. overlaps the genetic characteristics of the population found in modern Iraq or Mesopotamia (13). The genetics of Iraqis of East U.P (in a big cohort) would, thus, be very interesting. In other words, the ancient paternal lineage(s) along with common SNPs inherited from autosomal DNA, Y-DNA STR data in particular, may lead us track the time the Most Recent Common Ancestors (TMRCAs) existed i.e. 20-26 generation ago, more than 500 years ago or so in India.

In keeping in line with the above belief, ‘Genetic Tests’ indicated that extant population alluded to as Iraqi Biradri actually carries Y-chromosome with 2 mutations defining M560 allele or some individuals may carry different mutations defining L657/Y6+ allele, each type descended from separate ancestral branches under Z93 > Z 94 > Z95-R1a haplogroup (see Figure 3). It is emphasized that IE-R1a, next to Near East J2 haplogroup, is the significant part of the Iraqi population as an Arab republic reported in a genetic study earlier (13). The Asian Z93-R1a is a result of diversification from the European Z280/Z282-R1a clade, each downstream the same parental R1a 417 > R1a1a (M17) (23andMe DNA Test‎; YSEQ DNA Shop, see Section B).  



Figure 3: Z94>Z95-R1a YFull-YTree.  The branches are shown by markers Y40, L657, and Z2124 descended from Asian Z93 >Z94-R1a haplogroup. Descendants from the Branches Y40 and L657 are proposed to be major contributors, among others, to Iraqi Indians (see Ancestry Project Section under B).

In regard to M560 (also Y40) positive SNPs, it is determined that it has a common origin some where in Iraq/or Iran (or West to in situ origin of basal R1a clade) with survival age 5-6 K years. It is a rare IE clade under Asian Z93 family, and is distinguishable from others in the family which have the abundant L657 (M780) and Z2124 > Z2125 >Z2123 clusters. It is  dispersed during 1K years after its origin. M560 line is found more in South Asia but it is also reported in West Asia such as Iranian Azerbaijan (communication with Dr. P. Underhill,  and ref 14, 15).  It is not definite whether existence of M560 lineage is recently related migration or a long time presence in East U.P.; the brother clades YP294/Z667 exist in North Iraq, East Turkey, and Tuscany-Italy.  The abundant L657 (M780) line is dominant in South Central Asia, but it is spread out to Near East region, i.e. Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Iran (14,15). Its branches both Y7+ and Y6+ are shared greatly by Brahmins in India, and there is good amount is found in Arabia (as high as 10-17%). It is also known that many Arabs (i.e. Quraish, Wahab/Rass, Tamimi, among others) from  Mecca, Medina, Nejd are R1a1-L657 (Y7+/or Y6+) including the family that is the hereditary holder of the Kaaba key (al Shibi of Banu Shaiba). 

The precursor, i.e. early carriers of the above mentioned markers, were possibly peoples who spoke Indo-Iranian languages. These and the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) language group described in the history as Pontic-Caspian steppes inhabitants, are possibly the same, and they were indistinguishable in in early Bronze Age as a basal R1a haplogroup carriers. Due to spatial distribution and diversity patterns within initial R1a-M420 clade i.e. the rare basal R1a branches are detected primarily within Iran and Eastern Turkey; episode of basal R1a diversification has been linked to Iran with coalescence time greater than 6 K years including the R1a-M417, downstream R1a1a (14).  Descendants downstream to R1a-417 into European and Asian branches including their sub-branches spread with rapid growth to regions such as East Europe, Central Asia, East Asia/South Asia within 5-6K years before from the origin in Iran/or Eastern Turkey.

As shown in Figure 3, it may be proposed that both the rare IE-R1a sub-clade i.e. M560 (possibly fraternal YP294 ?) and abundant L657/Y6+ sub-clade, each under Z93-R1a Family, are widespread (4/4 tested) in Iraqis of Eastern U.P, as opposed to the older Neolithic J2 linked to Near East, or the genetic groups native to India. Moreover, presence of M560 and L657/Y6+ marked Y-DNA, as descendants of common Iraqi Indian ancestors, is a distinguishable feature. To our knowledge the latter feature may be the first example to be seen in a South Asian population, specially in North India, where R1a1 (M198/M17) is dominant paternal haplotype. It is probable that M560 and L567-R1a haplogroups carried by Medes, Mitanni, or Persian as ancestors (possibly with Arab ancestors) in the past, with Sunni Islamic faith, actually contributed Y- and autosomal DNA traits to some extent to the Iraqis of Eastern U.P. 

The proposed view implies that common ancestors with the above characteristics, actually migrated from West Asia to Eastern U.P. in agreement within the historical time frame so as to achieve optimal population growth of Iraqi/Indians. The primary colony of the latter existed in Ghazipur circa 1330 AD, and the descendants expanded to other areas of Eastern U.P. in large numbers around 1700 AD as a result of population growth in Ghazipur. Given these views, there should be minimal Y-DNA (but not autosomal DNA due to Indian origin of Maternal lines) contribution to Iraqi/Indians, from longtime South Asian IE-counterparts/or others, even though it is hard to prove, now,  due to lack of written records of TMRCs.

It needs to be seen whether TMRCs linked to Iraqi/Indians could be detected by their Y DNA-STR pattern within the time predicted by historical description/or oral records. The latter Y-DNA STR contribution may indeed distinguish them from longtime resident IE-counterparts.

Ancestors Native to India/South Asia

Small percentage of the population may descend from South Asian paternal ancestors like other castes including upper castes of India (haplogroups C,H,F,K,O, and P), percentage of which may be known from the haplogroup composition data. However, trend of the maternal ancestry (Female Paternal) seems to be mainly South Asian such as M3 which is dominant in the North-West India with a minor spread over to Iran and is distinct from indigenous hapogroups M2, U2, R5 ; others include U7, A4b, and R8a haplogroups. U7 is found in Pakistan and Gujarat in India whereas A4B is rare in India. A4B has origin 13,000 years ago in East Eurasia and is reported in Turkic peoples native to Siberia and Central Asia (see Section B).   

The Most Recent Common Ancestors (TMRC) predictable from Y-DNA STR study

As shown in Preliminary Result under Section B, Y-DNA STR data from a single Biradri individual, alleles found from 12 marker, 25 marker, 37 marker (67 and 111 markers N/D) from Family Tree DNA -FTDNA test and the consequent DNA matches/distant cousins do not highlight the existence of the presumed common ancestors within the historical time period. However, DNA matches found from this single test indicated ancient common ancestors who migrated to west in East Europe Ukraine/Russia from the origin of R1a1 haplogroup in Iran/West Asia (see Section B).  Finding historical common ancestors as TMRCs will depend much on STR data from Iraqis of Eastern U.P. as close to distant cousins.  


In order to know the physical presence of common ancestors, we achieved the following numerical estimates in origin Ghazipur, India circa 1500 AD. The population of Ghazipur according to 1891 census is reported to be, Hindus 913, 764 (90.1%), Sunni Muslims 96,786, and Shia Muslims 2,891, respectively (17).  According to the world population growth curve, the Shia Syed population would translate into 500-600 persons, from which honorific Sunni descendants of Syed Masud Al-Hussaini as ancestors of Iraqis could be assumed 20 people or 2-3 families circa 1500 AD in Ghazipur, Eastern U.P.

A separate Ghazipur Gazetteer (1909), Under Other Musalman Castes, published that “the Iraqis, Raqis or Ranqis numbered 869 persons, and are found chiefly in the Ghazipur tahsil: they are said to be converted Kalwars and are engaged in trade and money-lending, whereby several of them have attained considerable wealth (18)”. The latter 869 Iraqis in year 1891 AD census would yield, after correction of dispersed Iraqis, a small group of 300-400 inhabitants due to all Iraqi founders identified under 'Common Ancestors' including few Sunni Converts in Ghazipur circa 1500 AD. 

However, discrediting Iraqis as Converted Kalwars, Kalals or Ranqis as one caste noted in the above report does not have any scientific merit. This is actually the reminiscent of the mistake reported earlier (1-2). The Muslim Ranqis (actually Rankia) and Kalwars or Kalals, each as Convert from Hindu, are long time inhabitants of a separate part of U.P. (i.e. Mirzapur) and Bihar, respectively. In contrast, the original Iraqi cluster existed, more specifically, around Ghazipur in Eastern U.P. ; they have a recent origin in India circa 1500 AD with characteristic ethnological and possibly genetic features (1-2 versus 4-7, 12). It is unclear whether combining history/origin of Iraqis of Eastern U.P. with that of converted "Ranqis/ or Kalwars" in literature in the past amounted to a flawed quotation, or mixup due to mere similar titles, or a deliberate mischief to mislead readers (1-2, 18).  

The survival growth, i.e. the level of living Iraqi population today in India (and Pakistan) became possible due to: firstly, a built-in diverse gene pool made up of distinct founders including honorific Sunni Convert from Shia Arab from Iraq, Quraish Arab, and West Asian IE-Persian noblemen as characterized above under Common Ancestors; secondly, the subsequent timing of population expansion from its origin Ghazipur to other places in Eastern U.P. to be seen below, in accordance with world population growth profile.  

The fact that the steady growth of a small number of Iraqi families estimated in Ghazipur (possibly from all founders), particularly in late 16th to 17th century, is evident from the history of nearby towns around Ghazipur in Eastern U.P. Those latter towns are known to harbor Iraqi population mostly after late 1700 AD (ancestor 6-10 generation earlier is recorded by most families). It is because the migration of Iraqis possibly began in late 17th century when the growth became optimal in place of the origin Ghazipur, in agreement with the world population growth profile. We know from Government Gazetteers of India that small towns, around Ghazipur, within Ganga-Ghaghra doab, with larger populations > 5,000 people, in 1891 AD. were, among others, Ballia, Reoti, Rasra, Lar, Barhaj, Rudrapur, Azamgarh and Gorakhpur (19). As will be referred to some of the towns in the following paragraphs, Rasra, Barhaj, and Lar have major Iraqi Muslim populations, and are similar to Qasbahs of India. Similar migration is predicted in order to explain the ethnic population changes, i.e. presence of Iraqis in many other notable small towns: Kotwari, Nawanagar, Baragaon, Siar, Bahorawa, Mau, Amilo, Rampur (in toto 2), Batrauli, Balua-Siwan, and others, around Ghazipur in Eastern U.P.  It is thus implied that migration of ethnic Iraqis from Ghazipur took place toward 18th century (4-7, 12, 18-19).

In late sixteenth century a change in the region due to dominant influence of East India company and its vigorous economic activity in Patna and Calcutta occurred as the Mughal administration lost the Battle of Plassey circa 1757 AD in India. That period coincided with the spread of Iraqi population to nearby small towns within Eastern U.P. around origin Ghazipur noted as above. This is an important observation that an intense activity of the manufacturing and trade of goods began with a peak time during most of the 17th century among many small towns of Eastern U.P. including parts of Nepal (see paragraph below ref 19). Therefore it is inferred that growth of Iraqi families in several towns mentioned above, away from the origin Ghazipur, has a sort of reciprocal relationship with the economic activities of the small towns in Eastern U.P. and in turn the latter places were populated by Iraqi families around late 1700 AD.

“In government record, for example. Dohrighat post, which at the close of 1877-78 had been established for nine months only, the returns are even simpler. They may be shown for half a year as follows. The principal imports passing this station were, from Ghazipur, European piece-goods (15,088 maunds), oilseeds, and saltpetre; from Azamgarh, cotton goods, oilseeds, and metals. From these registration statistics and other information it may be summary of ex- gathered that the chief exports of Gorakhpur are rice,sugar porta, grains and oilseeds ; the chief imports, are European and other cloth. The distinctive feature of the cloth-trade is the import of European piece-goods from Ghazipur. In the district Gorakhpur itself, of whose total area but '002 per cent, is under cotton, little cloth is produced. Indigenous cotton and cotton manufactures find their way from many surrounding marts, and chiefly through Oudh from Cawnpore. But European fabrics are despatched from a few distributing centres only, of which Ghazipur is one.The merchants who export grain are said to take in exchange large quantities of cloth, which are sold at Gorakhpur, Barhaj, Dhani, Sahibganj, and Mendhfiwal, to numerous travelling retailers (baipadris). Gorakhpur is of course the principal seat of this business ; and a statement of its cloth and other imports. A good deal of cloth is re-exported to Nepal, just as most of the Nepal rice is re-exported to other districts. Amongst minor imports included timber, hides, braziery, deer-horns, wool, and ivory, that Nepal sends into this district. In Sidhua Jobna, also, is a large hide trade. That of Salempur has somewhat declined - a fact which, as the business tended to encourage cattle-poisoning, is hardly to be regretted.... (paragraph ref 19)".

It should be emphasized here that early Iraqi Biradri was linked to trade/business as opposed to a ruling/warrior profession described for early ancestors such as Sed Masud Al Hussaini in Nonahra/Gangauli in Ghazipur district (5-7). While most of the later Sunni Iraqi descendants are found to be more active in trade/business in line with the sunnah of prophet Mohammad (PBUH) the Shia Syed descendants of Syed Masud Al Hussaini remained part of the landed aristocratic systems in Nonahra and Gangauli towns of Ghazipur tahsil until the abolition of Zamidari (20). Actually, the trade/business are still followed by majority Iraqis (see the Present Circumstances below) and by means of which the early ancestors performed successfully within migration around origin Ghazipur in eastern U.P.; later the ancestors inherited a tendency to relocate businesses to big towns in U.P. and elsewhere in India (18-19).  

During the periods 1800 AD and onward, sign of growth in the Iraqi population Group with regard to increase in number, better socio-economic standard, relatively big descent houses, ponds and gardens were visible in towns of Eastern U.P. This became possible as most of the populations were connected to various business/trade activities, albeit some were indirectly linked to the agricultural activity as Zamindars with or without cultivating lands in Eastern U.P. More focus on cultural and religious life could also be seen from the following facts. Several mosques: Lar Jama Masjid with a tomb of founder Sheikh Fateh Mian; the old Barhaj Jama Masjid; Dumri-Ballia and Ratsar Ballia Masjids, among others, came into existence during the same period. In keeping with the spirit of Sunni religion, Madrasas based on Deobandi thought were functioning in towns with Iraqi population; later colleges were established for modern education. The institutions became a source of inspiration to people who could excel in spiritual and other knowledge, but the result from this at grass root level remained mixed. Therefore, individuals in Iraqi population who would otherwise pursue a tradition of religious/or scientific knowledge versus backwardness, were inconsequential.

It is appropriate to add the following reports published in Government Gazetteer (1891) from which a distinguishable history of Iraqi peoples including occupation in few towns of Eastern U.P., among others, is discerned during most of the 18th thru 19th centuries (19).

Lar ---Lar, a town of tappa Balia (tappa was used as parganah before Sultan Ghori) or parganah Salempur (also as Majhauli Raj in Mughal records of 1500 AD), is the principal place in the south-eastern corner of the district. Lar is situated at the junction of two unmetalled roads from Gorakhpur and Barhaj respectively. It lies 58 miles south-east of the former. It had in 1872 a population of 4,382 persons.     Site and Appearance  --From a distance," writes Mr. Crooke, " it looks one of the most imposing towns in the district. It is surrounded by Site an appearance . beautiful mango-groves and fields in unusually excellent cultivation. On a closer inspection it is found to contain no building of importance except the Imambara. The bazar is narrow and incommodious, and the merchants' houses are mean in the extreme." Lar has, however, a first-class police-station, a parganah school, and an imperial post-office. It possesses also a hostel (sarai) for travellers ; but this a poor structure standing on a site exposed to floods. Besides the im6mb&ra, which in design and workmanship is the best modern Muslim building in the district, there are two or three mosques.     The Irakis  --- All those places of worship are due to the strong Muhammadan fervour of the Iraki Shaikhs, who are the principal *merchants of the town. Though their name would point to a Mesopotamian origin, their physique and appearance indicate an extensive admixture of Hindu blood.      Trade ---The Irakis might be called the only enterprising Muslims in the district. Exporting to Calcutta and Patna large quantities of grain, spices, indigo, hemp, linseed, and sugar, they import in exchange cloth. This again they export, by way of Dhani or Nichlaval, to Nepal. They some time since attempted to start sugar refineries. But the black-ants which abound in the town are said to have impeded the business, and all the sugar of the neighbourhood is now refined at Barhaj (19).                   House Tax ---The Chaukidari Act (XX. „ of 1856) is in force at Lar; and during 1877-78 the house- House-tax. tax thereby imposed, added to balance of Rs. 208 from the preceding year, gave a total income of Rs. 948. The expenditure, which was chiefly on police (Rs. 398), conservancy and public works, amounted to Rs. 614. Of the 901 houses in the town 251 were assessed with the tax, whose incidence was Rs. 2-15-2 per house assessed and Re. 0-2-9 per head of population (19).

Barhaj -- There are no large commercial centres, and the trade of the District Gorakhpur is carried on at numerous small towns and markets, marts, among which BARHAJ is the most important; The most enterprising merchants are a colony of Marwaris, and some Kalwars, Baniyas, and Irakis. Some of the Marwaris do a good trade in insuring boats and cargoes from the danger of the snags and rapids of the Rapti and Ghagra (19). 

Ballia --The Iraqis from the Section under Population and census 1881/1891, Full text of "Ballia - A Gazetteer" - Internet Archive   --we come next to the Iraqis, of whom there were 2,573, a higher figure than that of any other district. They occur in the Benares, Gorakhpur and Fyzabad divisions alone, and according to their own account are immigrants from Iraq, though in colour and physiognomy they resemble the lower orders of Hindus and are generally believed to be of indigenous origin, akin to Kalwars, the name being derived from araq or arrack. They are generally shopkeepers and money-lenders and many of them are in prosperous circumstances. About half of them reside in the Rasra tahsil, their chief settlements being in Lakhnesar and the two parganas of Sikandarpur. A large property was  acquired by Haji Hidayat-ullah of Nawanagar, a member of their caste, and is still hold by his descendants. (Note: some part of description undermines history of Biradri similarly as noted earlier in a derogatory tone in ref 1-2 and 18, and appears an act of mischief).

"In Summary: i), the above mentioned observations present a view that existence of the extant Iraqi families to be dominant at multiple places in Eastern U.P., domicile of which population is conceivably dated from late 1700 AD t0 early 1800 AD (12-14, 17-19);  ii), It is consistent with the knowledge of ancestors that is limited to 6th to 10th generation grandparents within most families, each fails to qualify in a role of a projected deep common ancestor of all the distant families found therein; and iii),  A steady relationship between extant families in all those towns, including original Nonahra and Gangauli in district Ghazipur, is noteworthy”. 

Moreover that growth of Iraqis in India, Eastern U.P. as in situ, included the origin of the first colony at Ghazipur circa 1517 AD (or 1330 AD if arrival of Syed Masud/his 40 Iraqi champions is considered, i.e. 500-700 years ago), followed by its expansion as descendant Iraqis to other parts within Eastern U.P. just 200-250 years ago. The ethnic nature of the common ancestors were presumably Arab and Indo-European 'Persian' noblemen (4-7, 12-14).


Names of early honorific Sunni Converts in 16th century (~circa 1517 AD) from Nonahra (Syed Abu Bakr, 8th generation descendant of Syed Masud Al-Hussaini), and from Gangauli (unknown), among other notables as founder of the Iraqi Biradri are under progress (Figure 1, ref 5-7). Presented herewith is a contemporary Arab ancestor, Shaikh Mohammad Abdul Ghafur Khan (i.e. 16th century).  He acted as a statesman/or administrator in Mughal Emperor Akbar’s Court; his descendant Honourable Abdul Aziz Lari (b 1864 AD), son of Maulvi Shaikh Mukarram Ali, received certificate from the great Coronation of Delhi Durbar in 1911 AD (12).

Other notable ancestors from Iraqi Brotherhood (as Iraqi/Syed, Iraqi/Lari, Iraqi/Shaikh) are from the period (b 1800 AD-1900 AD).  Examples are: Honourable Noori Miyan (former owner of Sugar Mills in Eastern U.P. and founder of Nooriganj town, Nooriganj - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia); Honourable Makhdum Bakhsh and his family, famous Industrialist and Businessmen in India (hotel & travel agencies - Federation of Nepalese Chambers of ...); Honourable Z. H. Lari (Constituent Assembly Debates On 8 November, 1948 Part I ; Full text of "Report Of The United Provinces Zamindari Abolition ...); Dr. Mohammad Yusuf, Dr. Nurul Haq, Moulvi Mahmud (Dr. Yusuf Lari Memorial Foundation); Honourable Haji Amir Hasan, U15421WB1969PTC027527, Al Haj Amir Hasan Sugar Mils Private Limited ... ; Sheikh Ismail Raqi Deobandi, Founder of Ratsar Jama Masjid (Images for ismail raqi deobandi masjid); Late Maqbool Ahmed Lari Sahab (Padam Shri in Literature & Education, Are Indian Minorities Backward? ); Faisal Aftab Sahab (Uttar Pradesh State Civil Service Officer/IAS Officer, (PDF(English) - Ccis.nic.in); Elders in religious learning - Moulvi Mohammad Qasmi and his family, Mau; and Mughis Qureshi Sahab,(Life.Members).




Consistent with a record of enterprising Muslims in business in U.P., a majority from Iraqi Biradri has been engaged in manufacturing business/trades of goods during 20th century , albeit a small number acted as absentee Zamindars with and without cultivating lands in Ballia (previously Ghazipur and before abolition of Zamindari act). Examples in the recent past included: ownerships of Sugar Mills in North Eastern U.P., North Western Bihar, Textile mills in Kolkata and leather tanneries in Kanpur, and brewing industry in Nepal.

The Iraqi population is linked to many businesses even today in 21st Century. As a result, significant population lives in many big towns in India in keeping with earlier tendency of moving businesses toward bigger business/urban centres for the last 200 years or so.  Therefore, the present trend includes and continues to focus more on Leather Industry in Kanpur, Kolkata, Chennai, Hotel and tourism Business in India and Nepal, Indian Film Industry. Majority, however,  is involved in retail/small manufacturing business in places of residence. As education level is increasing in India, few Iraqis are also found in careers like politics, government civil services; few are working as medical doctors, engineers, philosophers and teachers at universities in India and abroad; and some in IT Sector.


There is no census data on Iraqis per se. The population size is estimated approximately from the current census of Muslim in Uttar Pradesh, region wise, and Iraqis living at known places like Kanpur, Gorakhpur, Lucknow, Kolkata, and Karachi in Pakistan (2011). The total number could be 200-300 thousands, consistent with estimates found in some other writings. The population originated from few number of ancestors described above (Ghazipur circa 1330-1517 A.D), spreading to adjacent places in Eastern U.P. within couple hundred years. After repeated migration in the past i.e. population expansion with time, a steady level of basal population is still left out in key towns of the districts of Ghazipur, Ballia, Deoria/Gorakhpur, Mau/Azamgarh in Eastern U.P. As the migration follows a pattern which is against the empty basket mode, it is easy to track the original ethnic Iraqi/Indians for future studies, suitable to Genetics and hereditary diseases. Its current size resembles a small ethnic mix of peoples/or a unique population in India. In general, people speak Urdu as is spoken by North Indian Muslims; grasps on Arabic/more Persian was strong in Iraqi families 50-100 years ago. Population speaks number of other local dialects i.e.Bhojpuri, Hind, and Awadhi.


Iraqi Muslims in India practice endogamy within own population; consanguineous i.e. first cousin/second cousin marriages are allowed. A broad genetic study, or Y-chromosome sequencing in Iraqi population is needed. The actual allele frequency or Y-chromosome haplotypes: J2 (Middle Eastern ancestry), R1a (Indo-European ancestry) and others E1b1b, R1b, G, L, R2,C, F, H, O, P need to be established in extant Iraqis. It is speculated, however, the Iraqis may have some paternal ancestry similar to those of Syeds (Shia) in U.P. The latter is based on the genealogical work of S.M. Taqi Husaini (5-7). It may also be noted that Nonehra town in the district Ghazipur is known for big Iraqi and Shia Syed populations, and is reported to be populated mainly by descendants of Syed Masud Al-Hussaini, his grandchild Syed Yahya according to Imperial Gazetteer of India (21). The genetic observations alluded to Iraqis here, and preliminary ancestry results (see Ancestry Project, B), are indicative of diverse/unique paternal haplogroups, mainly Indo-European R1a1a, and Near East J2 haplogroups. Recent data on ancestries of five distinct populations in U.P. i.e., Sunni Muslims (aka Shaikhs), Shia Syeds and pre-historic Hindu Brahmins, Chaturvedis, and Bhargavas are known. Haplogroup defining binary SNPs/other I/D mutations were examined in these 5 population groups in a study at SGPGIMS, Lucknow. Each population shows the prevalence of some haplogroups mainly J2, R1a, R2 in a unique compositions (10,21). Even though similar diversity in Y-DNA haplogroup is expected in extant Iraqis, genetic composition of Biradri may be distinct from either Muslim population in U.P. (10). Finally, preliminary maternal ancestry data (i.e. lack of proto-Indian subgroups M2, U2, R5) in extant Iraqis may compare to that of two Muslim groups (10,22-24).  

In short, both the custom of endogamy and presumed bottleneck/or genetic drift in its evolution history may result in a more uniform genetic background, due to which Iraqi muslims may be distinguished from others in India (Iraqi Indian Ancestry Group Project - B).



1. Muslim Caste in Uttar Pradesh

2. The tribes and castes of the North-Western Provinces and Oudh

3. Ghazipur

4. Ethnological features of South Asian Countries

5. Malikus Sadat

6. Sayyid

7. S. Taqi Husaini of Ghazipur

8. Ansaris of Yusufpur

9. Anjuman Iraqi Biradri

10. Presence of three different paternal lineages among North Indians: A study of 560 Y chromosomes

11. Roots of North Indian Shi'ism in Iran and Iraq

12. Supplement to Who's who in India...

13. Y-chromosome and mtDNA polymorphisms in Iraq, a crossroad of early human dispersaland of post-Neolithic migrations

14. The phylogenetic and geographic structure ofY-chromosome haplogroup R1a

15. For what they were... we are: Y-DNA R1a spread from Iran   

16. http://www.yfull.com/tree/R-Y40/  

17.  Full text of "The imperial gazetteer of India" - Internet Archive

18. GHAZIPUR: - DSpace@GIP  ( GIPE-017952 (1).pdf)

19.  Full text of "Statistical, descriptive and historical account of

20.  Legacy of a Divided Nation: India's Muslims Since Independence By Mushirul Hasan

21.  The imperial gazetteer of India, xii, 19o8; Gharipur District         

22.  North Indian Muslims: enclaves of foreign DNA or Hindu converts? Terreros MC, Rowold D, Luis JR, Khan F, Agrawal S, Herrera RJ Am J Phys Anthropol. 2007 Jul; 133(3):1004-12.


24.  Muslim caste in Uttar Pradesh: (a study of culture contact) by Ansari, G, (Ghaus)