One thinks that Muslim society is a homogeneous society, while the truth is that the Muslim society is not a monolithic society but is clearly divided into the foreign-born Ashraaf (ruling upper class) and the native Pasmanda (tribal, Dalit and backward of the Muslim faith) .
In addition to the doctrinal and theoretical nature of Islamic casteism, it is well known that there are no such verses in the Quran that could be cited in support of casteism, but it is very strange that most Ulemas of Ashraaf (clerics, priests, scholars) have done their best to give the color of caste in their interpretation of the verses of the Koran which are in opposition to caste/racism. If we look at Islamic history, it is known that the first caliph was chosen for racial reasons, i.e. the caliph should be from the Quraish (Saiyad, Shaikh) tribe. With few exceptions, even today in the Islamic world, the Quraish (Saiyad, Shaikh) have presided over political and spiritual leadership.
Other official sources of Islam, hadith and Islamic fiqh (law) clearly recognize caste/racial discrimination in the selection of the caliph and the selection of marriage partners. Islamic Sharia law prevailing in India has a doctrine for marriage called “kufu” which legitimizes discrimination on the basis of caste, race, wealth, occupation and region (Arab-Ajmi ), etc. ‘Majmuy-e-Qawanin-e-Islami’ published by the Council for Muslim Personal Law, which the council recognizes as a statutory document on personal law in Muslim society, openly supports the above points. However, some hadith will also be found which strongly oppose caste, so there are both types of hadith – pro caste and anti caste which are used by Ashraaf accordingly.
There is evidence that the existence of racism and casteism is somehow found in Muslim society in Arab and other Muslim countries. Where even today people from the Saiyad caste have the privilege of wearing a black imama (turban), discrimination and untouchability are common among people from the Akhdam community of Yemen who are sweepers, the name Full name of Jordan is “Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan”. ‘ which is a caste-based name. It should be noted that Hashmi is the title of the Saiyad caste which is also commonly found in India. The three main Muslim countries, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran, are ruled respectively by the Turkic tribes, the Bedouin tribe, which are considered inferior to other Arab tribes, and the Saiyads. The Taliban currently in power in Afghanistan is a group dominated by the Pakhtun Pathans.
Whether or not there are castes in Islam might be a matter of perceptual-cognitive debate, but the Islam that prevails at present is thoroughly caste-ridden.
In Islam, the appointment of the first Caliph, the fixing of his salary and other allowances, the killing of the third Caliph were all based on race/caste and the importance of a particular race/caste in the Khutbah of Juma’a and strong caste demarcation in marriages, in these scenarios how could Islam claim to be caste free so far.
If we talk about India, then with the arrival of Arab, Iranian and Central Asian Muslims, the Islamic style of racism/casteism also starts here, which is clearly visible during their reigns (which can also be called rulers of Ashraaf).
The sentiments and incorporation of the racial and caste nobility were such that they intensely had a formal organized department called Niqabat which investigated the caste and race of candidates for appointment in government administration and also investigated the suspect persons already named.
During Altamash’s reign, there is evidence of the dismissal of 33 of these people from the administration, who were related to the so-called lower castes.
They were so secular in this regard that they did not even spare his co-religionists (Pasmanda) of Indian origin.
Emperor Akbar had issued a state order for butchers and fishermen that their homes were to be separated from the general population and those who continued to socialize with them would be fined. He had also ordered that the Razils (lower castes) be barred from education because these castes are causing unrest.
The last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar ordered Nawab Saiyad Hamid to prepare a special army of 500 men. He also mentioned that there should only be noble and brave castes like Sheikh, Saiyad and Pathan. People of the Razil caste (low caste) should be kept away from this.
The Saiyads were privileged throughout Muslim rule and were not sentenced to capital punishment. The reign of Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq and Muhammad bin Tughlaq was an exception, during their time many Saiyad Sufis and other Saiyads were sentenced to death. Muhammad bin Tughlaq, whose original name was Jauna, after whom Jaunpur was named, had appointed the so-called lower-caste Hindus and Muslims to the administration on the basis of their merit.
In the changing situation and scenario, after the arrival of the British, the Muslims of Ashraaf played the game of the theory of two nations, the Khilafat movement and even the partition of the country just to maintain their power and their dominance.
Throughout this period, the indigenous Pasmanda Muslims were kept in the illusion of religion and religious unity by the Ashraaf class. However, the early Pasmanda movement under the leadership of Asim Bihari strongly opposed Muslim communalism, casteism and two nation theory and continued to oppose the partition of India till the last. The remaining Ashraafs in post-partition India maintained their power and dominance through the Muslim appeasement policy of Congress and organizations such as the Muslim Personal Law Council.
Commissions constituted from time to time such as Kaka Kalelkar Commission, Mandal Commission, Ranganath Mishra Commission and even Sachar Committee have accepted caste and caste-based discrimination in Muslim society. Since the implementation of the Mandal Commission, the Indian Muslims of Pasmanda are enjoying reservation in education and government jobs, due to which the condition of the Muslims of Pasmanda is improving from before.
Looking at the number of Muslim representatives of the Lok Sabha membership so far, it can be seen that the Ashraafs have received more than double their number, while the pasmanda equals almost “nil” in proportion to their population. The situation is more or less the same in state assemblies, municipalities and panchayats. Like the legislature, representation of Pasmandas in the judiciary, bureaucracy and institutions operating on behalf of the minority and Muslims is minimal based on their population. It should be noted that the indigenous population of Pasmanda represents 90% of the total Muslim population.
Here one thing is also very strange that even in the institutions run by the Muslims themselves which claimed to be the representative body of whole Muslims like the Muslim Personal Law Council, Jamat-e-Islami, Jamiatul Ulema, Milli Council, Majlis-e-Mashwarat, Waqf Council, important madrasas, Imarat-e-Sharia, etc., the situation is not different, here too, only members of a few special Ashraaf families are seen. And this is perhaps one of the main reasons why various Pasmanda movements fighting for social justice in Muslim society have become more vocal about representation in these institutions.
It is clear from the above description that Ashraaf only protected his own interests by showing the mass of Pasmanda Indian Muslims in the name of Muslim and minority religious identity politics.
Various Pasmanda organizations active across the country have openly opposed it, considering the untouchability, the sense of caste of superiors and inferiors, the casteism prevalent in Muslim society as evil and considering it an obstacle to edification. of the nation.
There is an urgent need for people from ruling and opposition parties, intellectuals, social workers and the media to think and understand that Muslim society is also divided into different strata like caste and class and that this distinction is still more deeply rooted in them. than Hindu society.
Therefore, it would be justified to talk about the representation of Pasmanda, not just the representation of only Muslims.
(Writer is an author, translator, researcher, columnist, media panelist, social activist and physician by profession.)