|A Malihabadi Muslim family|
Several tribes from North East have converted [or reverted] to Judaism. But at least the Afridi Pathans of Malihabad [near Lucknow], who have been told about a Jew connection seem not at all enthusiastic.
In fact, they are embarrassed [even offended].
Not at all surprising though. Senior journalist Farzand Ahmed reported the story in India Today recently.
In India, the Shanivari Telis of Maharashtra claimed that their fast on Saturday was nothing but an age-old tradition of Jews.
Similarly, a number of tribes of Manipur and Mizoram claim that they were converted by Christian missionaries in 19th century but they were in reality the descendants of the lost tribes of Israel [Bnei Menashe].
Many of them who migrated from India to Israel are not happy as they were reportedly discriminated against, once they got settled in Jerusalem or nearby towns. Rabbis from Israel routinely come to India's North Eastern region for re-conversions.
The story of Jew lineage came from nobody else but a Afridi Pathan himself. Navras Afridi has published an e-book 'The Indian Jewry' that traces their lineage to one of the lost tribes of Israel. It was a doctorate work for Lucknow University.
A research team including Professor Tudor Parfitt of Jewish Studies Centre London had visited Malihabad and collected DNA samples from 50 paternally unrelated Afridi males to confirm the Israeli descent. Many scholars hail it as a landmark research.
So why the fuss? Even if they have a Israeli lineage. Israeli news agencies seem quite excited about the news and have flashed it. An elderly Malihabadi Qavi Kamal Khan says, 'I have heard that we have this lineage but we are Afridis, not Jews'.
Why are Pathans embarrassed?
Anybody's ancestor 1000-2000 years ago could be a Jew, Manichae, Zoroastrian or anybody. And isn't Judaism an Abrahamic religion! Owing to Muslim sympathies with Palestinians and considering Jews as enemies, the thought that they had Jew blood in veins, can be really annoying.
After all, Urdu papers are always filled with [suspicion towards Jewry] conspiracy theories being blamed on Zionism and Jews. It is in this context that once can understand why the Malihabadi Pathans are least excited about this theory regarding their genetic lineage.
[Pix: Photo of an Afridi Pathan family of Malihabad, the town near Lucknow that produced great litterateurs and warriors including poet Faqeer Mohammad Khan Goya and Shaa'er-e-Inquilab Josh Malihabadi].