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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Casteism amongst Indian Muslims: Caste divide as strong among Muslims, as it is in Hindus

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Afshan and Nida were best friends and though the former got married, the latter's family couldn't find a match for her.

Nida's mother asked Afshan to look for a 'suitable boy'. She told her husband who mentioned the name of a youth who was working for a prestigious company where he earned Rs 30,000 per month.

But Afshan had a shock of her life a few weeks later when she found her friend's mother was furious over the suggestion.

'Woh to kunjde* hain'. How dare you think that we will marry off our daughter to that family! Afshan's husband was no less shocked. He hadn't given thought to the possibility that suggesting such a handsome match for her wife's friend would turn into an embarrassment.

His initial reaction was, 'Musalmaan to hai na!' The girl's family was 'offended' and angry at the couple for suggesting the boy's name. Though he lacked nothing except that he came from the caste of sabzi-farosh (now they call themselves Raeen/Rayeen). But this is the tip of ice-berg.

Casteism is as rampant in Indian Muslims as any other community in this country. This is a recent exmple. Sometime back I knew a family who were not Pathans but had started writing the surname, Khan, which is a common practice in certain areas of Northern India.

After the marriage it became known to the bride's family that he was not a Pathan but 'bihishti' [generally known as bhishti]. It took an enormous effort to save the marriage but even though there was no divorce, things couldn't return to normal after that.

How mistaken are those who claim that Indian Muslims are a monolithic block. Apart from Sunnia-Shia schism, the Barelvi-Devbandi differences, Indian Muslims are no less casteist than our Hindu brothers.

*Ashraf (pronounced as Ashraaf): The supposedly upper class amongst Muslims, mostly Muslims whose ancestors came from Arab peninsula

*Ajlaf (pr. Ajlaaf): Muslims without foreign ancestry who are considered to have converted to Islam in the past.

*Arzal. (pr. Arzaal): The Muslims castes who are engaged in menial jobs like scavenging and carrying nightsoil. They are now claiming themselves as Dalit Muslims.

There is so much talk about lack of political leadership amongst Muslims. But what about social leadership. The clergy has failed to address this situation. And there is no such movement in this country among Muslims that is likely to change the situation.

It is always felt that with upward mobility such things will go but we have seen that it doesn't happen. Here I cited incidents in Upper Middle stratum, which are enough to open eyes.

It's sick. Isn't it?

[Kunjde*=the community vegetable sellers]


Khadaksingh said...

I agree with you on all counts, especially no political & social leadership.
The gulf between the clergy and muslim masses is doing no good either.

Advait said...

It is a great Indian tragedy that with each passing day we have manged to draw more lines in the name of Religion, region, community, caste etc.

I wonder if there is a civilized way for groups of people to communicate and live together. Recent trends of jingoistic rancour spilling on to the streets is disheartening.

My fear is that the dominant forces in a community would do their very best to thwart any individual attempts to establish a distinct identity, which does not conform to the popular belief.

Anser azim said...

Its there very much there and smetimes more than our Hindu and Sikh brotheren. This shakes the basics of Islam. Iqbal says:
"Firqa bandi hay kaheen aur kaheen zatein hain
kya zamane mein panapne ki yahee batein hain"

"Tum syed bhi ho Mirza bhi ho Afghan bhi ho
tum sabhi kuchh ho batao ki musalman bhi ho"

One of The reasons about Islamic downfall.

Its always good to read Prophets last sermon where he says:
"All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.

Keep up the good work. I like your postings.

anser azim

Sourav said...

This is totally in conjunction with the comment I made on your post regarding the lack, or rather the absence, of secularism in Hindi literature.

Caste is so fundamentally rooted in India that even Islam, with its zeal and ideas of universal brotherhood, could not escape it. Muslims in India are definitely not a cohesive unit, though in recent times they have increasingly begun to form so. They, like all Indians, are divided by languages, cultures, and as you point out - caste. This is the fundamental fact that most radicals fail to accept or account for.

Miracles said...

dearth of sensible muslim leadership i would say

Khawatein Voice said...

Dalit Voice – Minting Money in the Name of Dalits…

Mr V T Rajshekar is Editor of the Bangalore based magazine “Dalit Voice.” He presumes himself as the Messiah of Dalits. He has spent his entire life finding flaws in Judaism and Hinduism. He has nothing good to say about these two religions. These two religions are anathema to him. He feels that Judaism and Hinduism reek of racial prejudice and are therefore detrimental to civilized human society. The Brahmins of Hindus and the Rabbis of Jews have robbed their people of the more humane feelings of equality and brotherly love. It’s true that all religions have flaws – no denying that. But look at the other side – the best scientific achievements to humankind have been rendered by Jews [Jews have the highest number of Nobel Prize winners... more than 150. Visit http://www.science.co.il/Nobel.asp and use the search interface] – and the best example of human equality (irrespective of religion or caste) comes from India, the land predominantly of Hindus. India is secular (because anyone can say and do anything) because we live in a Hindu India.

Rajshekar’s son lives in United States. But the father himself is a big critic of US. This is the biggest hypocrisy commonly seen amongst the communists and Muslims of India. If VT Rajshekar falls ill, he would not go to Saudi Arabia or any Muslim country for treatment. Nor would he search for any Muslim doctor. He’d take treatment in India or else go to US or UK. He talks of equality in Islam. What equality is this? Where a man can keep four wives to satisfy his carnal lust? Isn't there disparity in the income and lifestyles of Muslims?

Are Muslim women given proper education? Aren’t they kept more within the confines of their homes than in the open air of education and equal opportunity? They are the true dalits of India and not these Muslim men who perhaps have more freedom in India than the Muslims of Pakistan or Afghanistan. The Muslim women are dalits everywhere. They are exploited, humiliated and have continued to be wretched creatures for centuries. VT Rajshekar doesn’t find anything bad when a Saudi Sheikh comes to Hyderabad and buys a young Muslim concubine for himself. But he doesn’t pity the Jews who have been the worst sufferers of religious hatred and persecution.

I request Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and Sikhs to come forward and help us – the truly wretched Muslim women! We need your helping hand. Please come out and help in liberating us from the clutches of Islam.


Mrs. Haseena Khatun, Editor
"Khawatein Voice"

Anser Azim said...

Haseena Sahiba:
I have lots of sympathy for you. It will be nice if you see a psychiatrist the sooner the better.
If it is left untreated you acn harm people in your home and who live around you.
best wishes.


harmony said...

When there are untouchables in ISLAM, like those of NON-KHANS and once those who converted to islam during mughal rule,and seen as untouchables as KHAN moslims, why dont the untouchables in islam dont convert to hinduism, as in hinduism all are accepted.....Many untouchables in ISLAM and CHRISTIANITY reverting to HINDUISM, as HINDUISM proves that it doeant follow casteism, but the varna system(according to profession), and more untouchable moslims and untouchable christians, should come out frm semetic faiths and should accept the faith of equality and brotherhood HINDUISM!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Dear Muslim Bretheren,

Please consult some true knower of vedic/puranic views & you will discover that every person is said to be all four: brahmin/xatriya/vaishya/sudra depending on his KARMA..
1) Brahmin: when he/she spreads knowledge
2)Xatriya :when he/she lays down life for motherland
3)vaisya: when indulges in business
4)sudra: when serves all humanity

according to vedic philosophy,god's Head is called brhmin, chest arms are called xatriya, belly is called vaisya & entire body below waist line is called sudra.
It is widely said that all human are born SUDRAs coz from below the waist... therre are clear cut duties assigned to all four : AND NO1 IS ABOVE OR BELOW AS PER VEDAS & PURANAS: IT was gr8 misfortune that clergy men in medieval times misused & exploited sudras.
"long live hindu muslim unity"

Niyantha said...

what freedom is it if one is not free to form or be part of a group?
People have their own opinions and should be free to not like any one they don't like!! Trying to impose a rule that every one should like every one else is just another form of dictatorship.

Anonymous said...

Yes,of course debate is interesting.But I want to say something.There is a fundamental difference in Hindu & Muslim society.Without knowing it,no one can understand the reality.
In Hindu Samaaj,a great man or Mahaapursh is the person who critisises and tries to abolish Kureetiyaan(Bad traditions)For example Swami Dayanad,Swami Vivekand,Raja Ram Mohan Rai,all these Mahaapurush tried to remove these Kureetiyaan.Baal Vivaah, women education,child marriage,cast system,Sati pratha etc,these are some examples.All our mahaapurushs tried to preach Hindu society.Mahatma Gandhi tried to uplift so called Harijans.Can you give any example in Muslim society who tried to abolish kureetiyan in muslim society?Jo mulims ko 18th century mein le jaane ki baat kare,vo hi muslims ke neta ban jaate hein.No one dare to talk on Bahu-vivaah,pardah system,girl-education,teen Talaaq,gujaara bhatta etc.We saw the result of Shah Bano case.But Hindu marriage act,Sharda act were accepted by Hindues because these were progressive acts.One can read the reaction of Anser Azim to Khawatien voice.This is true muslim mentality.How can one think any reform in Muslim society?Hindu society mein bhi kureetiyaan hein, but no one rationalize them.We accept them our Kureetiyaan but muslims are not ready to accept their kureetiyaan as their kureetiyaan.They always want them to sustain in the name of Mazahab.Progressive muslims have no courage to oppose them openly like Hindues.Unke khilaaf foran non muslim hone ka fatwa aa jaayega. Kya kabhi kisi ne koi Hindu fatwa dekha hai non Hindu hone ka?This is the basic difference.

raaz said...

Assalam Wa'Alaikum Bhai

Iske bareme maine bhi suna hai. Per Hum MAHARASHTRA me rahte hai aur yaha Cast ka tasawwur nahi hai. Ha Jo Attar aur maniyar ( chudiya pahnanewale) wo aapas me rishte karte hai. Tamboli hai bas. Sayyad, Qazi, Shaikh, Patel, Pathan ye to sab ek dusre se rishte karte hai.

Yaha Itna dekha jata hai k family kaha ki hai, unke rit riwaj kya hai? Bihar is strictly no-no.

I think castism isliye hai k Insan me hamesha apne aapko dusrese behtar samajhne ki, sabit karne ki kharabi rahi hai. Castism karne wale khandan aap dekho to ye sab land owners / Governing class rahe hai. Pathan, Sayyad, Qazi, Patel, Chowdhary etc. aur Apne cast ki dekhne me ye hota hai k Unke halat ki guarantee hoti hai. Economical, social. Mere pahchan me kuch ladkiya mehedwi ya shia k ghar byahi jane se bal bal bachi hai. Ye bhi ek wajah hai k Aapko apne cast k akido ka to khayal hota hai. Aur aaj castism itna badh gaya hai k aap dusre cast me shadi karo to aapk gharme aurok nikah ka masla ho jata hai.

Isme ISLAM ka koi kasoor nahi hai. Namaj me to hum kandhe se kandhe milakar khade hote hai. Per aaj sawal ye hai hum me se kitne namaj k liye khade hote hai. Namaj ki sifat hamare jindgi me aa jaye to ye sab problem na rahe.

Rishto k jo ishtehaar aate hai akhbar me usise mujhe samajh aaya k north me ye problem hai.

Hamare apne khandan me 3 chije dekhi jati hai. 1) Unke akaid kya hai? Wo kabr parast to nahi hai? 2)Unke ghar me koi sharabi ya juari to nahi hai? 3)unke gharme kisika love marriage to nahi huwa?

And funyy thing is...hamara khandanme jyadatar SAYYAD hai ya Pathan ya Shaikh(Patel).

Baki maal aur ijjat ka denewala ALLAH hai.


Anonymous said...

Every society has this hypocrisy, practicing the same thing, while accusing others. Islamic society is no exception, but what is an exception is a Muslim boldly pointing out the flaws. It takes a lot of courage to talk the truth, without worrying about the Ummah! India needs good leaders, not just within Islam but also for other religious groups. If religion happens to be a way to unite people under one umbrella, then it must be used constructively to better the society, not to blame/condemn other groups, but unfortunately our leaders are incapable of thinking about public good!

Anonymous said...

Casteism among Indian sub-continent
Muslims is against basic teachings of Islam and in other Muslim countries is not even thought of,let alone practicing.

Those Muslims who came from Arab,Central Asia and other parts of the world,settled down in India
looked down upon local converts to

Muslim society was stratified in three categories:Ashraf(so-called
high-born),Ajlaf(low-born) and Arzal(mean).The former two classes
were not only exploited by Brahminical Social Order(BSO) but
by Muslim Brahmins,the so-called
Ashraf(Syed,Sheikh,Moghul and Pathans fall in the category of so-called Ashraf).Syed claim that they
are decedents of the prophet,a lie
and concoction because prophet had
one son who died at very young age
as bachelor.

Now Dalit Muslims and backward Muslims have formed association and are demanding reservation in jobs and other facilities government has granted to non-Muslim dalits and OBCs.


It is clear that castism has no place in Islam. Prophet, (PBUH), is his last address, as clearly and catagorically declared that there is no difference between Arab and Ajam (non- Arab) except in piety.

It is further clear that in actual practice, Indian Muslims, in some parts, have been influenced by local practices and have succumbed to some casteist practices.

Now it is up to us, whether to treat the Islamic norms or local norms as our guidelines. No doubt, Brahmins are bent on infusing Muslim society with their prejudices. But just to take material advantages,should Muslims disregard Islam's noble injunctions and rush to accept, for practical reasons, the worst practices of Brahminical society.

Prasad said...

This problem is not limited to muslims, social leadership is lacking amongst all Hindu and non-Hindu communities in India.

Anonymous said...

This has reference to your article of 13 june ,2007. Are you reffering Afshan Anujum of NDTV INDIA and Nida Khan of headlines today TV channels here?