Caste and Caste-Based Discrimination among Indian Muslims – Part 10

 

Caste and Caste-Based Discrimination among Indian Muslims – Part 10: Transformations in the Colonial Period

Continued from here.

Masood Alam Falahi

(Translated by Yoginder Sikand for NewAgeIslam.com)

[Part 10 of Masood Alam Falahi's Urdu book Hindustan Mai Zat-Pat Aur Musalman ('Casteism Among Muslims in India')]

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Caste and Religion

With the onset of British rule in India, which was formalised in 1857, the country witnessed the emergence of new religious movements among both Hindus and Muslims. These movements were related to the race for numbers among Hindu and Muslim elites, with political power for each community in the new dispensation linked to its numerical strength. Hindu and Muslim religious revivalist organisations and movements began to vie with each other to bring the oppressed castes into their respective folds. In part, this was clearly motivated by the desire to bolster the political fortunes of the 'upper' caste Hindu and Muslim elites, who claimed to speak for all of their co-religionists.

Numerous such movements emerged within the larger Hindu fold at this time. Many of them aimed at Hinduising the Shudras and preventing their conversion to Islam and Christianity. Some of them also sought to woo back into the Hindu fold Hindu converts or their descendants who were now Christians and Muslims. One such movement was the Brahmo Samaj, which was founded in 1830 by Ram Mohan Roy, a Bengali Brahmin. Although Ram Mohan Roy critiqued many superstitious and idolatrous aspects of popular Hinduism, he did not mount a radical critique of the caste system, Brahminism, and Brahminical supremacy. It is said that, following orthodox Brahminical practice, he employed a Brahmin cook, and refused all his life to remove his janeo, the 'sacred' thread that is the distinguishing mark of orthodox Brahmins.

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Caste and Caste-Based Discrimination among Indian Muslims – Part 9

 

Caste and Caste-Based Discrimination among Indian Muslims – Part 9: Evidence From the Mughal Period

Continued from here.

Masood Alam Falahi

(Translated by Yoginder Sikand for NewAgeIslam.com)

[Part 9 of Masood Alam Falahi's Urdu book Hindustan Mai Zat-Pat Aur Musalman ('Casteism Among Muslims in India')]

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It is likely that, like the Muslim so-called ashraf, the Brahmins, too, were greatly angered at Sultan Muhammad Tughlaq's patronage of the oppressed caste Muslims. After all, these Muslims, or their forefathers, had once been their slaves. An additional reason, one can surmise, for their probable resentment of the Sultan's policies was that these policies must certainly have made Islam an attractive option for many more Shudras who were desperate to be freed from the yoke of Brahminical tyranny.

At around this time there emerged across parts of India numerous social reformers who bitterly critiqued the caste system and preached an ethical monotheism. Many of them were heavily influenced by Islam. These were the Bhaktas, and the message of bhakti or selfless devotion to the one formless God that they taught was very similar to that of the Sufis. It was not, however, that all the Bhaktas were uniformly opposed to caste and caste-based discrimination. Some of them, particularly those of Brahmin origin, did not denounce caste as a social institution as such. The socially radical potential of the Bhakti movements was further limited by the fact that, over time, many of these were transformed into caste-like groups themselves. From being movements of social protest they soon compromised with the caste system. In this way, Brahminism was able to reassert itself and stave off the challenge posed by the Bhaktas, including those who had been deeply influenced by Islamic teachings, such as Kabir, Dadu/Daud and Nanak.

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Caste and Caste-Based Discrimination among Indian Muslims – Part 8

 

Caste and Caste-Based Discrimination among Indian Muslims – Part 8: Firoze Shah Tughlaq's Reign

Continued from here.

Masood Alam Falahi

(Translated by Yoginder Sikand for NewAgeIslam.com)

[Part 8 of Masood Alam Falahi's Urdu book Hindustan Mai Zat-Pat Aur Musalman ('Casteism Among Muslims in India')]

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Sultan Firoze Shah Tughlaq, who succeeded Muhammad bin Tughlaq to the throne of Delhi, was quite a contrast to the latter. He was not well-read, including in religious matters, and nor was he observant of the rules of the shariah. Further, he was under the control of the ashraf nobles who had revolted against Muhammad bin Tughlaq and had placed him on the throne. He was beholden to them and did not dare act against their wishes. He was also devoted to fake mullahs and Sufis who were ardent supporters of caste discrimination. In order to please the ashraf nobles, mullahs and Sufis, he selectively killed various supporters of Muhammad bin Tughlaq, many of who are said to have been orthodox Muslims.[i] But he did not stopat this. He showered these men with lavish favours, appointing them to senior posts and granting them vast landed estates. Just as when Buddhism was extirpated from India Hindu kings bestowed on the Brahmins the posts, land, wealth and prestige that they had earlier possessed but had subsequently lost, so, too, the ashraf regained their hegemony on the death of Sultan Muhammad bin Tughlaq. As Syed Ziauddin Barani put it, hardly able to conceal his glee, with Firoze Shah Tughlaq ascending the throne 'All the Syeds were blessed with a new life.'[ii]

The new Sultan killed many of his immediate predecessor's confidantes, granted the son of Qutlagh Khan, the ringleader of the conspiracy against Muhammad bin Tughlaq, the exalted title of Alap Khan and included him in the circle of leading nobles, and appointed Qutlagh Khan's brother Nizam ul-Mulk Amir Husain as governor of Gujarat. He gave back posts and perks to numerous mullahs, muftis, qazis and pirs that had been confiscated from them by Muhammad bin Tughlaq, reinstating them in place of those whom Muhammad bin Tughlaq had appointed. Thus, for instance, he removed Abul Fatah Shaikh Ruknuddin Multani from the post of sheikh ul-islam because he was opposed to wrongful innovative religious practices (biddat) and had been supportive of Muhammad bin Tughlaq.

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Caste and Caste-Based Discrimination among Indian Muslims - Part 7

 

Caste and Caste-Based Discrimination among Indian Muslims - Part 7: The Role of the Medieval Ulema

Continued from here.

Masood Alam Falahi

(Translated by Yoginder Sikand for NewAgeIslam.com)

[Part 7 of Masood Alam Falahi's Urdu book Hindustan Mai Zat-Pat Aur Musalman ('Casteism Among Muslims in India')]

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Following the end of the short-lived Arab rule in western India, the Muslim dynasties that followed and ruled vast parts of India for some five hundred years all strictly upheld and enforced the Brahminical law of caste. In this entire period, the overall conditions of the oppressed castes who had converted to Islam remained pathetic. Because of this, the pace of conversion of the oppressed Shudras to Islam slowed down considerably. For many 'low' caste people who witnessed the Muslim rulers so passionately upholding caste divisions and discriminations, conversion to Islam no longer appeared as a means for social liberation. They saw no difference in their oppression and degradation under the Brahmins and that of 'low' caste Muslim converts. In this way, the caste-conscious Muslim rulers proved to be a great stumbling block in the further spread of Islam in India.

The reign of Sultan Muhammad bin Tughlaq (d. 1351), who ascended the throne of Delhi in 1325, was somewhat different in this regard. He is said to have been a pious Muslim, an Islamic scholar in his own right. He was, so it is said, very regular in his prayers and had even memorised the entire Quran. At first, like most Muslim rulers of Delhi before him, he appointed large numbers of 'high' caste Muslims, especially those of foreign birth or descent, to top posts and bestowed on them vast estates and land grants. At this stage, he ignored the needs and interests of his own indigenous Indian subjects, Muslims as well as Hindus. However, later in his reign the Sultan developed sharp differences, to the point of enmity, with many of the foreign so-called ashraf elites whom he had earlier so lavishly patronised. The reason for this, as Kunwar Mohammad Ashraf writes, was that these foreigners had come to India simply to feather their own nests, to acquire as much wealth as they could and then quickly return to their countries. Therefore, their loyalty to the Sultan was always doubtful. Many of them were not interested in posts that would require them to stay on in India for what they considered was an excessively long period. Even those few who chose to settle down in India were motivated only by the desire for personal aggrandisement, not for promoting the prosperity of the country or for improving the functioning of the state's administrative apparatus.[i]

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Caste and Caste-Based Discrimination among Indian Muslims - Part 6

 

Caste and Caste-Based Discrimination among Indian Muslims - Part 6: In the Period of 'Muslim Rule'

Continued from here.

Caste Struggle

Masood Alam Falahi

(Translated by Yoginder Sikand for NewAgeIslam.com)

[Part 6 of Masood Alam Falahi's Urdu book Hindustan Mai Zat-Pat Aur Musalman ('Casteism Among Muslims in India')]

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With its philosophy of human equality Islam would have rapidly spread across India but this was not to be tolerated by the upholders of Brahminism or Manuvad. With the conversion of vast numbers of oppressed caste people to Islam they saw their hegemony, built on the caste system and untouchability, rapidly crumbling. They realised that if they did not modify Hinduism and if they did not halt the spread of Islam, Hinduism would be destroyed forever. Accordingly, they adopted many different strategies to counter the Islamic wave.

Division of Muslims into 'High' and 'Low'

Because political power over most of India was now in the hands of Muslims, the Brahminists could not quash them in the same way as they had earlier destroyed the Buddhists and the Jains—by physically exterminating them on a massive scale. Instead, they tried every means to prevent the further expansion of Islam. To take revenge on the Muslims for their political defeat and for attracting vast numbers of Shudras to the Muslim fold, the Brahmins spared no effort to promote hatred against the Muslims and their faith. In this way they tried to dissuade the Shudras and others from converting to Islam. They branded the Muslims as despicable Mlecchas, and treated them as 'impure' and 'polluted', a tendency that continues even today in large parts of India. This is why, leaving aside the Dalits, even 'low' caste Hindus refused to consume food or water touched by Muslims or to draw water from wells used by Muslims. If a Muslim touched a Hindu's water pot, he would break it, considering it to have been rendered impure. If a Muslim touched a Hindu, he would consider himself polluted and would have to take a ritual bath to 'cleanse' himself.

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Biological and Symbolical Killing of Dalits with Reference to Paramakudi Firing

 

V. Ratnamala

Abstract: The present paper aims to study the representation of biological and symbolical killing of Dalits with reference to Paramakudi Firing in the Print media. Space allotted for Dalits in print media will be analyzed. Six Dalits were shot dead at the Police firing on Sep 11, 2011 in Paramakudi. The Dalits were assembled to pay homage to Immanuel Sekaran, a Dalit leader on his death anniversary which turned violent following the arrest of their leader John Pandian. Content analysis will be the primary research method for this study. To study the inclusion and exclusion of Dalits in Print media, both the English and Tamil dailies will be selected including one week samples from September 11-17, 2011 of Dinamalar, Dina Thanthi, Dinamani, DinakaranThe Hindu, The Times of India and The New Indian Express (Madurai editions) will be used for the content analysis. All the articles, editorials, photographs, letters to the editor regarding the Paramakudi incident will be the unit of analysis. The variables of the study will be the sources in the article, the news language, the frequency of news occurrence and the themes.

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Caste and Caste-Based Discrimination among Indian Muslims - Part 5

 

Caste and Caste-Based Discrimination among Indian Muslims - Part 5: The Origin and Spread of Islam in India

Continued from here.

Masood Alam Falahi

(Translated from Urdu by Yoginder Sikand for NewAgeIslam.com)

[Part 5 of Masood Alam Falahi's Urdu book Hindustan Mai Zat-Pat Aur Musalman ('Casteism Among Muslims in India')]

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At a time when in India, as in many other parts of the world, social hierarchy, inequality and oppression were at their peak, with a large section of humanity, such as the Indian Shudras, being treated as worse than animals in the name of religion, the Prophet Muhammad began his mission in Arabia. The core of his message was the oneness of God. 'Say: "He is Allah, [the] One', the Quran exhorts the Prophet to announce to the world. Another central aspect of the divine message the Prophet was commissioned to preach was the oneness and ontological equality of all human beings. Thus, the Quran declares, 'O mankind! We created you from a single [pair] of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that ye may know each other [not that you may despise each other]. Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is [he who is] the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted [with all things]' (49: 13). The Prophet very explicitly announced, 'An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor has a non-Arab any superiority over an Arab. Nor has a black man any superiority over a white man or a white man over a black man except by the criterion of God consciousness (taqwa). All of you are from Adam, and Adam is from dust.' This message of social equality is a central pillar of the Islamic dawah or missionary call. It was, undoubtedly, one of the major factors for the powerful attraction that Islam exercised and for its rapid spread, in a matter of just a few years, across the Arabian peninsula and beyond.

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