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Aligarh Muslim University

1877 : AMU started out as Mohammaden Anglo Oriental College, Aligarh by Sir Syed
Ahmad Khan.
1920 : It became Aligarh Muslim University by an act of Indian Legislative Council.
1968 : Supreme Court in Azeez Basha Vs. Union of India case gave judgement that AMU as
a University was established by the an Act of Parliament and not by the Muslims of India
thereby stripping its minority status.
1981 : AMU amendment Act passed restoring the minority status of the University. "the
educational institution of their choice established by the Muslims of India."
2005 : Allahabad High Court declared AMU amendment act unconstitutional thus in its
opinion AMU is not a minority institution.
List of AMU Vice-Chancellors
1. Saherbzada Aftab Ahmad Khan 16/02/24 - 15/11/1926
2. Syed Ross Masud 25/01/1930 - /11/1933
3. Dr. Ziauddin Ahmad 18/11/1935 - 25/01/1938
4. Shah Mohd. Sulaiman 30/12/1938 - 08/12/1940
5. Dr. Zakir Husain November 1948 - September 1956
6. Col. Bashir Husnain Zaidi October 1956 - November 1962
7. Badruddin Tayabji November 1962 - Febuary 1962
8. Nawab Ali Yawar Jung March 1965 - January 1968
9. Prof. Abdul Aleem Jamuary 1968 - January 1974
10. Prof. A. M. Khusro January 1974 -December 1978
11. Syed Hamid June 1980 - April 1985
12. Syed Hashim Ali April 1985 - October 1989
13. Prof. Mohd Naseem Faroqui October 1990 - December 1994
14. Dr. Mahmoodur Rahman May 1995 - May 2000
15. Mohd. Hamid Ansari 28th May 2000 - March 31, 2002
16. Mr. Naseem Ahmad 8th May 2002 - 7 April 2007
17. Dr. P.K. Abdul Aziz June 2007 - present
History of Islam in India
Cheraman Perumal Juma Masjid in the Malabar Coast , probably the first Mosque in India
Jama Masjid, Delhi, one of the largest mosques in the "Asia-Pacific" region.
Contrary to popular belief, Islam came to South Asia prior to Muslim invasions of India.
Islamic influence first came to be felt in the early 7th century with the advent of Arab traders.
Trade relations have existed between Arabia and the Indian subcontinent from ancient
times. Even in the pre-Islamic era, Arab traders used to visit the Malabar region, which
linked them with the ports of South East Asia. According to Historians Elliot and Dowson in
their book The History of India as told by its own Historians, the first ship bearing Muslim
travelers was seen on the Indian coast as early as 630 AD. H.G. Rawlinson, in his book:
Ancient and Medieval History of India claims the first Arab Muslims settled on the Indian
coast in the last part of the 7th century AD. Shaykh Zainuddin Makhdum’s “Tuhfat al-
Mujahidin” also is a reliable work. This fact is corroborated, by J. Sturrock in his South
Kanara and Madras Districts Manuals, and also by Haridas Bhattacharya in Cultural
Heritage of India Vol. IV. It was with the advent of Islam that the Arabs became a prominent
cultural force in the world. The Arab merchants and traders became the carriers of the new
religion and they propagated it wherever they went.
The first Indian mosque is thought to have been built in 629 A.D, purportedly at the behest of
an unknown Chera dynasty ruler, who is considered the first Indian Muslim, during the
lifetime of Muhammad (c. 571–632) in Kodungallur, Kerala by Malik Bin Deenar.[35][36][37]
In Malabar, the Mappilas may have been the first community to convert to Islam as they
were more closely connected with the Arabs than others. Intensive missionary activities were
carried out along the coast and a number of natives also embraced Islam. These new
converts were now added to the Mappila community. Thus among the Mappilas, we find,
both the descendants of the Arabs through local women and the converts from among the
local people.
In the 8th century, the province of Sindh (in present day Pakistan) was conquered by an
Arab army led by Muhammad bin Qasim. Sindh became the easternmost province of the
Umayyad Caliphate.
In the first half of the 10th century, Mahmud of Ghazni added the Punjab to the Ghaznavid
Empire and conducted several raids deeper into modern day India. A more successful
invasion came at the end of the 12th century by Muhammad of Ghor. This eventually led to
the formation of the Delhi Sultanate.
Arab-Indian interactions
There is much evidence in history to show that Arabs and Muslims interacted with India and
Indians from the very early days of Islam, if not before the arrival of Islam in Arabia. Arab
traders transmitted the numeral system developed by Indians to the Middle East and
Many Sanskrit books were translated into Arabic as early as the Eighth century. George
Saliba writes in his book 'Islamic Science and the Making of the European Renaissance' that
"some major Sanskrit texts began to be translated during the reign of the second Abbasid
caliph al-Mansur [754-775], if not before; some texts on logic even before that, and it has
been generally accepted that the Persian and Sanskrit texts, few as they were, were indeed
the first to be translated."
Spread of Sufi Islam
Tomb of Sufi saint Shaikh Salim Chisti in Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh
Sufis (Islamic mystics) played an important role in the spread of Islam in India. They were
very successful in spreading Islam, as many aspects of Sufi belief systems and practices
had their parallels in Indian philosophical literature, in particular nonviolence and monism.
The Sufis' orthodox approach towards Islam made it easier for Hindus to practice. Hazrat
Khawaja Muin-ud-din Chishti, Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, Nizam-ud-din Auliya, Shah Jalal,
Amir Khusro, Sarkar Sabir Pak, Shekh Alla-ul-Haq Pandwi, Ashraf Jahangir Semnani,
Sarkar Waris Pak, Ata Hussain Fani Chishti trained Sufis for the propagation of Islam in
different parts of India. Once the Islamic Empire was established in India, Sufis invariably
provided a touch of colour and beauty to what might have otherwise been rather cold and
stark reigns. The Sufi movement also attracted followers from the artisan and untouchable
communities; they played a crucial role in bridging the distance between Islam and the
indigenous traditions. Ahmad Sirhindi, a prominent member of the Naqshbandi Sufi
advocated the peaceful conversion of Hindus to Islam. Imam Ahmed Rida Khan contributed
much in defending traditional and orthodox Islam in India by his famous work Fatawa
Ahmadiyya Islam
India has a significant Ahmadiyya population. Most of them live in Rajastan, Orissa,
Haryana, Bihar, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and a few in Punjab in the area of Qadian. In India,
Ahmadis are considered to be Muslims by the Government of India. This recognition is
supported by a court verdict (Shihabuddin Koya vs. Ahammed Koya, A.I.R. 1971 Ker 206).
There is no legislation that declares Ahmadis non-Muslims or limits their activities, but they
are not allowed to sit on the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, a body of religious
leaders India's government recognises as representative of Indian Muslims.
Role in Indian independence movement
Tipu Sultan, also known as the Tiger of Mysore, was one of the prominent Indian kings who
fought against the British East India Company.
The contribution of Muslim revolutionaries, poets and writers is documented in India's
struggle against the British. Titu Mir raised a revolt against British. Maulana Abul Kalam
Azad, Hakim Ajmal Khan and Rafi Ahmed Kidwai are Muslims who engaged in this purpose.
Muhammad Ashfaq Ullah Khan of Shahjehanpur conspired to loot the British treasury at
Kakori (Lucknow). Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan (popularly known as Frontier Gandhi), was a
great nationalist who spent 45 of his 95 years of life in jail; Barakatullah of Bhopal was one
of the founders of the Ghadar party which created a network of anti-British organizations;
Syed Rahmat Shah of the Ghadar party worked as an underground revolutionary in France
and was hanged for his part in the unsuccessful Ghadar (mutiny) uprising in 1915; Ali
Ahmad Siddiqui of Faizabad (UP) planned the Indian Mutiny in Malaya and Burma along
with Syed Mujtaba Hussain of Jaunpur and was hanged in 1917; Vakkom Abdul Khadir of
Kerala participated in the "Quit India" struggle in 1942 and was hanged; Umar Subhani, an
industrialist and millionaire of Bombay provided Gandhi with congress expenses and
ultimately died for the cause of independence. Among Muslim women, Hazrat Mahal,
Asghari Begum, Bi Amma contributed in the struggle of freedom from the British.
The period starting from 1498 saw the rise of the naval and trading power of the European
countries, as they increasingly projected their naval power and expanded their trading
interests over the Indian subcontinent. Subsequently with the advent of the Industrial
Revolution in Britain and in Europe, the European powers gained a significant technological
and commercial advantage over the decaying Mughal Empire. They gradually began
increasing their influence on the subcontinent.
Hyder Ali, and later his son Sultan Tipu were early to understand the threat of the British
East India Company and resisted it. However, Tipu Sultan was finally defeated at
Srirangapatnam in 1799. In Bengal, Nawab Siraj ud-Daulah faced the expansionist aims of
the British East India Company and fought the British. However, he lost at the battle of
Plassey in 1757.
Maulana Azad was a prominent leader of the Indian independence movement and a strong
advocate of Hindu-Muslim unity. Shown here is Azad (left) with Sardar Patel and Mahatma
Gandhi in 1940.
The first ever Indian rebellion against the British saw itself in the Vellore Mutiny of 10th July,
1806 which left around 200 British Officers and troops dead or injured. But it was subdued
by the British and the mutineers and the family of Tippu Sultan who were incarcerated in the
Vellore Fort at that time had to pay a heavy price. It predates the First war of Independence,
which is British imperialists called the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. And as a result of the Sepoy
Mutiny, mostly the upper class Muslims were targeted by the Britishers, as under their
leadership the war was mostly fought in and around Delhi. Thousands of kith and kins were
shot or hanged near the gate of Red Fort, Delhi, which is now known as 'Khooni
Darwaza'(the bloody gate). The renowned Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib(1797–1869) has given a
vivid description of such massacre in his letters now published by the Oxford University
Press 'Ghalib his life and letters'compiled and translated by Ralph Russel and Khurshidul
As the Muslim power waned with the gradual demise of the Mughal Empire, the Muslims of
India faced a new challenge - that of protecting their culture and interests, yet interacting
with the alien, technologically advantaged power. In this period, the Ulama of Firangi Mahal,
based first at Sehali in District Barabanki, and since 1690s based in Lucknow, educated and
guided the Muslims. The Firangi Mahal led and steered the Muslims of India. The moulanas
and moulvis (religious teachers) of Darul-uloom, Deoband (UP) also played significant role in
freedom struggle of India declaring subjugation of an unjust rule is against Islamic tenets.
Other famous Muslims who fought for freedom against the British rule: Maulana Abul Kalam
Azad, Maulana Mehmud Hasan of Darul Uloom Deoband who was implicated in the famous
Silk Letter Conspiracy to overthrow the British through an armed struggle, Husain Ahmed
Madani, former Shaikhul Hadith of Darul Uloom Deoband, Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi,
Hakeem Ajmal Khan, Hasrat Mohani, Dr. Syed Mahmud, Professor Maulavi Barkatullah, Dr.
Zakir Husain , Saifuddin Kichlu, Vakkom Abdul Khadir, Dr. Manzoor Abdul Wahab, Bahadur
Shah Zafar, Hakeem Nusrat Husain, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, Abdul Samad Khan Achakzai,
Colonel Shahnawaz, Dr. M.A.Ansari, Rafi Ahmad Kidwai, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad, Ansar
Harwani, Tak Sherwani, Nawab Viqarul Mulk, Nawab Mohsinul Mulk, Mustsafa Husain, VM
Ubaidullah, SR Rahim, Badaruddin Taiyabji, and Moulvi Abdul Hamid.
Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan also known as Frontier Gandhi, Khan led the non-violent
opposition against the British Raj and strongly opposed the partition of India.
Until the 1930s, Muhammad Ali Jinnah was a member of the Indian National Congress and
was part of the freedom struggle. Dr. Sir Allama Muhammad Iqbal, poet and philosopher,
was a strong proponent of Hindu - Muslim unity and an undivdided India until the
1920s.Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy was also active in Indian National Congress in Bengal
during his early political career. Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar and Maulana Shaukat Ali
struggled for the emancipation of the Muslims in the overall Indian context, and struggled for
freedom alongside Mahatama Gandhi and Maulana Abdul Bari of Firangi Mahal. Until the
1930s, the Muslims of India broadly conducted their politics alongside their countrymen, in
the overall context of an undivided India.
In the late 1920s, recognizing the different perspectives of the Indian National Congress and
that of the All India Muslim League, Dr. Sir Allama Muhammad Iqbal presented the concept
of a separate Muslim homeland in India in the 1930s. Consequently, the All India Muslim
League raised the demand for a separate Muslim homeland. This demand was raised in
Lahore in 1940 (Known as the Pakistan Resolution). Dr. Sir Allama Muhammad Iqbal had
died by then, and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan, Huseyn Shaheed
Suhrawardy, and many others led the Pakistan Movement.
Initially, the demand for separate Muslim homeland(s) was within a framework of a large,
independent, undivided India with autonomous regions governed by the Muslims. A number
of other options to give the Muslim minority in India adequate protection and political
representation in a free, undivided India, were also debated. However, when no common
formula leading to early independence of India from the British Raj could be agreed between
the Indian National Congress, the All India Muslim League, and the British colonial
government, the All India Muslim League pressed unequivocally with its demand for a
completely independent, sovereign country, Pakistan.
Prominent Muslims in India
Naseeruddin Shah, regarded as one of the finest actors in Indian cinema and recipient of the
2003 Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian award.
India is home to several eminent Muslims who have made their mark in several fields and
have played a constructive role in India's economic rise and cultural influence across the
Out of the twelve Presidents of independent India, three were Muslims — Dr. Zakir Hussain,
Dr Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed and Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Additionally, Mohammad
Hidayatullah, A. M. Ahmadi and Mirza Hameedullah Beg held the office of the Chief Justice
of India on various occasions since independence. Mohammad Hidayatullah also served as
the acting President of India on two separate occasions; and holds the distinct honor of
being the only person to have served in all three offices of the President of India, the Vice
President of India and the Chief Justice of India.
The current Vice President of India, Mohammad Hamid Ansari, is a Muslim. Prominent
Indian bureaucrats and diplomats include Abid Hussain and Asaf Ali. Zafar Saifullah was
Cabinet Secretary of the Government of India from 1993 to 1994. Salman Haidar was Indian
Foreign Secretary from 1995 to 1997 and Deputy Permanent Representative of India to the
United Nations. Influential Muslim politicians in India include Sheikh Abdullah, Farooq
Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah (the current Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir),
Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Sikander Bakht, A R Antulay, C. H. Mohammed Koya, Mukhtar
Abbas Naqvi, Salman Khurshid, Saifuddin Soz, E. Ahamed, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Syed
Shahnawaz Hussain.
Some of the most popular and influential actors and actresses in Mumbai-based Bollywood
are Muslims. These include Yusuf Khan (stage name Dilip Kumar), Shahrukh Khan, Aamir
Khan, Salman Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Madhubala, Katrina Kaif and Emraan Hashmi. India is
also home to several critically acclaimed Muslim actors such as Naseeruddin Shah, Johnny
Walker, Shabana Azmi, Waheeda Rehman, Amjad Khan, Parveen Babi, Feroz Khan, Meena
Kumari, Prem Nazir, Mammootty, Nargis Dutt, Irrfan Khan, Farida Jalal, Arshad Warsi,
Mehmood, Zeenat Aman, Farooq Sheikh and Tabu.
Some of the best known film-directors of Indian cinema include Mehboob Khan, K. A. Abbas,
Kamal Amrohi, K. Asif and the Abbas-Mustan duo. Indian Muslims also play pivotal roles in
other forms of performing arts in India, particularly in music, modern art and theater. M. F.
Husain is one of India's best known contemporary artists. Academy Awards winners Resul
Pookutty and A. R. Rahman, Naushad, Salim-Sulaiman and Nadeem Akhtar of the Nadeem-
Shravan duo are some of India's most celebrated musicians. Abrar Alvi penned many of the
greatest classics of Indian cinema. Prominent poets and lyricists include Javed Akhtar,
Shakeel Badayuni, Sahir Ludhianvi and Majrooh Sultanpuri. Popular Indian singers of
Muslim faith include Mohammed Rafi, Anu Malik, Lucky Ali, Talat Mahmood and Shamshad
Begum. Another famous personality is the tabla maestro Zakir Hussian.
Sania Mirza, from Hyderabad, is the highest-ranked Indian woman tennis player and is
widely considered to be a youth icon in India. In cricket (the most popular game in India),
there are many Muslim players who have made their mark. Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi,
Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi and Mohammad Azharuddin captained the Indian cricket team on
various occasions. Other prominent Muslim cricketers in India are Mushtaq Ali, Syed
Kirmani, Arshad Ayub, Munaf Patel, Mohammad Kaif, Zaheer Khan, Irfan Pathan, Yusuf
Pathan and Wasim Jaffer.
Azim Premji, CEO of India's 3rd largest IT company Wipro Technologies and the 5th richest
man in India with an estimated fortune of US$17.1 billion.
India is home to several influential Muslim businessmen. Some of India's most prominent
firms, such as Wipro, Wockhardt, Himalaya Health Care, Hamdard Laboratories, Cipla and
Mirza Tanners were founded by Muslims. The only two South Asian Muslim billionaires
named by Forbes Magazine, Yusuf Hamied and Azim Premji, are from India.
Though Muslims are under-represented in the Indian Armed Forces compared to Hindus
and Sikhs, several Indian military Muslim personnel have earned gallantry awards and high
ranks for exceptional service to the nation. Air Chief Marshal Idris Hasan Latif was Deputy
Chief of the Air Staff during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 and later served as Chief of the
Air Staff of the Indian Air Force from 1973 to 1976. Indian Army's Abdul Hamid was
posthumously awarded India's highest military decoration, the Param Vir Chakra, for
knocking-out seven Pakistani tanks with a recoilless gun during the Battle of Asal Uttar in
1965. Two other Muslims — Brigadier Mohammed Usman and Mohammed Ismail — were
awarded Mahavir Chakra for their actions during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947.[64] High
ranking Muslims in the Indian Armed Forces include Lieutenant General Jameel Mahmood
(former GOC-in-C Eastern Command of the Indian Army) and Major General Mohammed
Amin Naik.
Dr. Abdul Kalam, one of India's most well respected scientists and the father of the
Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP) of India was honored through his
appointment as the 11th President of India. His extensive contribution to India's defense
industry lead him to being nicknamed as the Missile Man of India and during his tenure as
the President of India, he was affectionately known as People's President. Dr. Syed Zahoor
Qasim, former Director of the National Institute of Oceanography, led India's first scientific
expedition to Antarctica and played a crucial role in the establishment of Dakshin Gangotri.
He was also the former Vice Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia, Secretary of the Department
of Ocean Development and the founder of Polar Research in India. Other prominent Muslim
scientists and engineers include C. M. Habibullah, a stem cell scientist and director of
Deccan College of Medical Sciences and Allied Hospitals and Center for Liver Research and
Diagnostics, Hyderabad;. In the field of Unani Medicine, one can name Hakim Ajmal Khan,
Hakim Abdul Hameed and Hakim Syed Zillur Rahman.
Ahle Sunnat Sufi leader Hazrat Syed Muhammad Ameen Mian Qaudri and Sheikh
Aboobacker Ahmad Musliyar have been included in the list of most influential Muslims list by
Georgetown University. Maulana Mahmood Madani, leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind and MP
was ranked at 36 for initiating a movement against terrorism in South Asia. Syed Ameen
Mian has been ranked 44th in the list.
Indo-Islamic art and architecture
The Taj Mahal in Agra is one of India's most iconic monuments.
Gol Gumbaz at Bijapur, has the second largest pre-modern dome in the world after the
Byzantine Hagia Sophia.
The Humayun's Tomb in Delhi, India.
Bahauddin Makbara, mausoleum of the Wazir of Junagadh.
Indian architecture took new shape with the advent of Islamic rule in India towards the end of
the 12th century AD. New elements were introduced into the Indian architecture that include:
use of shapes (instead of natural forms); inscriptional art using decorative lettering or
calligraphy; inlay decoration and use of coloured marble, painted plaster and brightly
coloured glazed tiles. Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque built in 1193 CE was the first mosque to be
built in the Indian subcontinent; its adjoining "Tower of Victory", the Qutb Minar also started
around 1192 CE, which marked the victory of Muhammad Ghori and his general Qutbuddin
Aibak, from Ghazni, Afghanistan, over local Rajput kings, is now a UNESCO World Heritage
Site in Delhi.
In contrast to the indigenous Indian architecture which was of the trabeate order i.e. all
spaces were spanned by means of horizontal beams, the Islamic architecture was arcuate
i.e. an arch or dome was adopted as a method of bridging a space. The concept of arch or
dome was not invented by the Muslims but was, in fact, borrowed and further perfected by
them from the architectural styles of the post-Roman period. Muslims used a cementing
agent in the form of mortar for the first time in the construction of buildings in India. They
further put to use certain scientific and mechanical formulae, which were derived by
experience of other civilizations, in their constructions in India. Such use of scientific
principles helped not only in obtaining greater strength and stability of the construction
materials but also provided greater flexibility to the architects and builders. One fact that
must be stressed here is that, the Islamic elements of architecture had already passed
through different experimental phases in other countries like Egypt, Iran and Iraq before
these were introduced in India. Unlike most Islamic monuments in these countries, which
were largely constructed in brick, plaster and rubble, the Indo-Islamic monuments were
typical mortar-masonry works formed of dressed stones. It must be emphasized that the
development of the Indo-Islamic architecture was greatly facilitated by the knowledge and
skill possessed by the Indian craftsmen, who had mastered the art of stonework for
centuries and used their experience while constructing Islamic monuments in India.
Islamic architecture in India can be divided into two parts: religious and secular. Mosques
and Tombs represent the religious architecture, while palaces and forts are examples of
secular Islamic architecture. Forts were essentially functional, complete with a little township
within and various fortifications to engage and repel the enemy.
Mosques: The mosque or masjid is a representation of Muslim art in its simplest form. The
mosque is basically an open courtyard surrounded by a pillared verandah, crowned off with
a dome. A mihrab indicates the direction of the qibla for prayer. Towards the right of the
mihrab stands the mimbar or pulpit from where the Imam presides over the proceedings. An
elevated platform, usually a minaret from where the Faithful are summoned to attend
prayers is an invariable part of a mosque. Large mosques where the faithful assemble for
the Friday prayers are called the Jama Masjids.
Tombs: Although not actually religious in nature, the tomb or maqbara introduced an entirely
new architectural concept. While the masjid was mainly known for its simplicity, a tomb could
range from being a simple affair (Aurangazeb’s grave) to an awesome structure enveloped
in grandeur (Taj Mahal). The tomb usually consists of a solitary compartment or tomb
chamber known as the huzrah in whose centre is the cenotaph or zarih. This entire structure
is covered with an elaborate dome. In the underground chamber lies the mortuary or the
maqbara, in which the corpse is buried in a grave or qabr. Smaller tombs may have a
mihrab, although larger mausoleums have a separate mosque located at a distance from the
main tomb. Normally the whole tomb complex or rauza is surrounded by an enclosure. The
tomb of a Muslim saint is called a dargah. Almost all Islamic monuments were subjected to
free use of verses from the Quran and a great amount of time was spent in carving out
minute details on walls, ceilings, pillars and domes.
Islamic architecture in India can be classified into three sections: Delhi or the Imperial style
(1191 to 1557AD); the Provincial style, encompassing the surrounding areas like Jaunpur
and the Deccan; and the Mughal architecture style (1526 to 1707AD).
• Majumdar, R. C. (ed.), The History and Culture of the Indian People, Volume VI, The
Delhi Sultanate, Bombay, 1960; Volume VII, The Mughal Empire, Bombay, 1973.
• Mistry, Malika B. (December 2005). "Muslims in India: A demographic and socio-
economic profile". Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs
• M K A Siddiqui (ed.), Marginal Muslim Communities In India, Institute of Objective
Studies, New Delhi (2004)
• Nizami, Khaliq Ahmad (1957). "Some Aspects of Khānqah Life in Medieval India".
Studia Islamica
Law and politics
Muslims in India are governed by "The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act,
1937." It directs the application of Muslim Personal Law to Muslims in marriage, mahr
(dower), divorce, maintenance, gifts, waqf, wills and inheritance. The courts generally apply
the Hanafi Sunni law for Sunnis, Shia Muslims are independent of Sunni law for those areas
where Shia law differs substantially from Sunni practice. However, in year 2005, Indian
Shias broke away from the country's most important Muslim organization, the All India
Muslim Personal Law Board and formed their sepearate Law Board as All India Shia
Personal Law Board.[75]
The Indian constitution provides equal rights to all citizens irrespective of their religion.
Article 44 of the constitution recommends a Uniform civil code. However, the attempts by
successive political leadership in the country to integrate Indian society under common civil
code is strongly resisted and is viewed by Indian Muslims as an attempt to dilute the cultural
identity of the minority groups of the country. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board was
established for the protection and continued applicability of “Muslim Personal Law” i.e.
Shariat Application Act in India.
Conversion controversy
Considerable controversy exists both in scholarly and public opinion about the conversions
to Islam typically represented by the following schools of thought:
1. The bulk of Muslims are descendants of migrants from the Iranian plateau or Arabs.
2. Muslims sought conversion through jihad
3. Conversions occurred for non-religious reasons of pragmatism and patronage such
as social mobility among the Muslim ruling elite or for relief from taxes
4. Conversion was a result of the actions of Sunni Sufi saints and involved a genuine
change of heart
5. Conversion came from Buddhists and the en masse conversions of lower castes for
social liberation and as a rejection of the oppressive Hindu caste strictures.
6. A combination, initially made under duress followed by a genuine change of heart
7. As a socio-cultural process of diffusion and integration over an extended period of
time into the sphere of the dominant Muslim civilization and global polity at large.
Embedded within this lies the concept of Islam as a foreign imposition and Hinduism being a
natural condition of the natives who resisted, resulting in the failure of the project to
Islamicize the Indian subcontinent and is highly embroiled within the politics of the partition
and communalism in India. An estimate of the number of people killed, based on the Muslim
chronicles and demographic calculations, was done by K.S. Lal in his book Growth of
Muslim Population in Medieval India, who claimed that between 1000 CE and 1500 CE, the
population of Hindus decreased by 80 million. His work has come under criticism by
historians such as Simon Digby (School of Oriental and African Studies) and Irfan Habib for
its agenda and lack of accurate data in pre-census times. Lal has responded to these
criticisms in later works. Historians such as Will Durant contend that Islam was spread
through violence. Sir Jadunath Sarkar contends that several Muslim invaders were waging a
systematic jihad against Hindus in India to the effect that "Every device short of massacre in
cold blood was resorted to in order to convert heathen subjects." Hindus who converted to
Islam were not immune to persecution due to the Muslim Caste System in India established
by Ziauddin al-Barani in the Fatawa-i Jahandari., where they were regarded as an "Ajlaf"
caste and subjected to discrimination by the "Ashraf" castes
Disputers of the "Conversion by the Sword Theory" point to the presence of the large Muslim
communities found in Southern India, Sri Lanka, Western Burma, Bangladesh, Southern
Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia coupled with the distinctive lack of equivalent Muslim
communities around the heartland of historical Muslim Empires in the Indian Sub-Continent
as refutation to the "Conversion by the Sword Theory". The legacy of the Muslim conquest of
South Asia is a hotly debated issue and argued even today. Different population estimates
by economics historian Angus Maddison and by Jean-Noël Biraben also indicate that India's
population did not decrease between 1000 and 1500, but increased by about 35 million
during that time.
Not all Muslim invaders were simply raiders. Later rulers fought on to win kingdoms and
stayed to create new ruling dynasties. The practices of these new rulers and their
subsequent heirs (some of whom were borne of Hindu wives) varied considerably. While
some were uniformly hated, others developed a popular following. According to the memoirs
of Ibn Batuta who travelled through Delhi in the 14th century, one of the previous sultans
had been especially brutal and was deeply hated by Delhi's population, Batuta's memoirs
also indicate that Muslims from the Arab world, Persia and Anatolia were often favored with
important posts at the royal courts suggesting that locals may have played a somewhat
subordinate role in the Delhi administration. The term "Turk" was commonly used to refer to
their higher social status. S.A.A. Rizvi (The Wonder That Was India - II), however points to
Muhammad bin Tughlaq as not only encouraging locals but promoting artisan groups such
as cooks, barbers and gardeners to high administrative posts. In his reign, it is likely that
conversions to Islam took place as a means of seeking greater social mobility and improved
social standing.
Religious conflict
Muslim-Hindu conflict
Before 1947- The conflict between Hindus and Muslims in the Indian subcontinent has a
complex history which can be said to have begun with the Jihad of the Umayyad Caliphate in
Sindh in 711. The persecution of Hindus during the Islamic expansion in India during the
medieval period was characterized by destruction of temples, often illustrated by historians
by the repeated destruction of the Hindu Temple at Somnath and the anti-Hindu practices of
the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.
From 1947 to 1991 -The aftermath of the Partition of India in 1947 saw large scale sectarian
strife and bloodshed throughout the nation. Since then, India has witnessed sporadic large-
scale violence sparked by underlying tensions between sections of the Hindu and Muslim
communities. These conflicts also stem from the ideologies of Hindu Nationalism versus
Islamic Extremism and prevalent in certain sections of the population. Since independence,
India has always maintained a constitutional commitment to secularism.
Since 1992 -The sense of communal harmony between Hindus and Muslims in the post-
partition period has been compromised in the last decade with the razing of the disputed
Babri Mosque in Ayodhya. The demolition took place in 1992 and was allegedly perpetrated
by the Hindu Nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party and organizations like Rashtriya
Swayamsevak Sangh, Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad. This was followed by tit for
tat violence by Muslim and Hindu fundamentalists throughout the country including Bombay
with the Bombay Riots and also the 1993 Bombay Bombings, amongst those allegedly
involved in these atrocities were the Muslim Mafia don Dawood Ibrahim and the
predominantly Muslim D-Company criminal gang.
In 2001 a high profile attack on the Indian Parliament by Islamic militants created
considerable strain on community relations.
Some of the most violent events in recent times took place during the infamous Gujarat riots
in 2002 where it is estimated one thousand people were killed, most of whom allegedly
Muslim, some sources claim there were approximately 2,000 Muslim deaths, there were also
allegations made of state involvement. The riots were in retaliation to the Godhra Train
Burning in which 50 Hindus pilgrims returning from the disputed site of the Babri Mosque,
were burnt alive in a train fire at the Godhra railway station. Gujarat police claimed that the
incident was a planned act carried out by extremist Muslims in the region against the Hindu
pilgrims. The Bannerjee commission appointed to investigate this finding declared that the
fire was an accident. In 2006 the High Court decided the constitution of such a committee
was illegal as another inquiry headed by Justice Nanavati Shah was still investigating the
matter. The Nanavati Shah commission has already given its first report, in last week of
September 2008, where it has said that burning of train in Godhra was pre-planned and
petrol of large quantity was bought by a group of Muslim people for this purpose.
The skyline of Ahmedabad filled with smoke as buildings and shops are set on fire by rioting
mobs. The riots, which took place following the Godhra train burning incident, killed more
than 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus, including those killed in the Godhra train fire.
There was widespread communal violence in which Muslim communities suffered. In these
riots, the role played by chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, and some of his ministers,
police officers, and other right wing Hindu organization has been criticized. Gujarat
administration, Gujarat police under Narendra Modi, deliberately targeted Muslims. Narendra
Modi was even accused of genocide.
Muslim-Hindu conflicts have also been fomented due to the mushrooming of Islamist
organisations like SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India) whose goal is to establish
Islamic rule in India. Other Pakistan based groups such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-
Mohammed have been fomenting bias in the local Muslim populace against Hindus. These
groups are believed by many to be responsible for the 11 July 2006 Mumbai train bombings,
in which nearly 200 people were killed. Such groups also attacked the Indian Parliament in
2001, declared parts of Indian Kashmir to be Pakistani in 1999 and have orchestrated
numerous other attacks including constant attacks in Indian Kashmir and bombings in the
Indian capital New Delhi. In the meantime, the toll of innocent Muslims and Hindus at the
altar of communal strife continues to mount.
As per Professor M.D. Nalapat (Vice-chairman of the Manipal Advanced Research Group,
UNESCO Peace Chair, and professor of geopolitics at Manipal University), the reason for
"Hindu - Muslim" conflict is "Hindu Backlash" or "partial" secularism, in which only Hindus
are expected to be secular while Muslims and other minorities remain free to practice
exclusionary practices.
In 2004, several Indian school textbooks were scrapped by the National Council of
Educational Research and Training after they were found to be loaded with anti-Muslim
prejudice. The NCERT argued that the books were "written by scholars hand-picked by the
previous Hindu nationalist administration". According to The Guardian, the textbooks
depicted India's past Muslim rulers "as barbarous invaders and the medieval period as a
dark age of Islamic colonial rule which snuffed out the glories of the Hindu empire that
preceded it". In one textbook, it was purported that the Taj Mahal, the Qutb Minar and the
Red Fort—all examples of Islamic architecture—"were designed and commissioned by
In 2010 Deganga riots began on 6 September when an Islamist mob resorted to arson and
violence on the Hindu localities of Deganga, Kartikpur and Beliaghata under the Deganga
police station area. The violence began late in the evening and continued throughout the
night into the next morning. The district police, Rapid Action Force, Central Reserve Police
Force and Border Security Force all failed to stop the mob violence, army was finally
deployed. The army staged a flag march on the Taki Road, while Islamist violence continued
unabated in the interior villages off the Taki Road, till Wednesday in spite of army presence
and promulgation of prohibitory orders under section 144 of the CrPC.
Muslim-Sikh conflict
Sikhism emerged in the Punjab during the Mughal period. Conflict between early Sikhs and
the Muslim power center at Delhi reached an early high point in 1606 when Guru Arjan Dev,
the fifth guru of the Sikhs, was tortured and killed by Jahangir, the Mughal Emperor. After
the death of the fifth beloved Guru his son had taken his spot Guru Har Gobind who
basically made the Sikhs a warrior religion. Guru ji was the first to defeat the Mughal empire
in a battle which had taken place in present Sri Hargobindpur in Gurdaspur After this point
the Sikhs were forced to organize themselves militarily for their protection. Later in the 16th
century, Tegh Bahadur became guru in 1665 and led the Sikhs until 1675. Teg Bahadur was
executed by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb for helping to protect Hindus, after a delegation
of Kashmiri Pandits came to him for help when the Emperor condemned them to death for
failing to convert to Islam. This is an early example which illustrates how the Hindu-Muslim
conflict and the Muslim-Sikh conflicts are connected.
In 1699, the Khalsa was founded by Guru Gobind Singh, the last guru. A former ascetic was
charged by Gobind Singh with the duty of punishing those who had persecuted the Sikhs.
After the guru's death, Baba Banda Singh Bahadur became the leader of the Sikh army and
was responsible for several attacks on the Mughal empire. He was executed by the emperor
Jahandar Shah after refusing the offer of a pardon if he converted to Islam. The decline of
Mughal power during the 17th and 18th centuries, along with the growing strength of the
Sikh Confederacy and later, the Sikh Empire, resulted in a balance of power which protected
the Sikhs from more violence. The Sikh Empire was absorbed into the British Indian empire
after the Second Anglo-Sikh War of 1849.
Massive population exchanges took place during the Partition of India in 1947, and the
British Indian province of Punjab was divided into two parts, and the western parts were
given to the Dominion of Pakistan, while the eastern parts were given to the Union of India.
5.3 million Muslims moved from India to West Punjab in Pakistan, 3.4 million Hindus and
Sikhs moved from Pakistan to East Punjab in India. The newly formed governments were
completely unequipped to deal with migrations of such staggering magnitude, and massive
violence and slaughter occurred on both sides of the border. Estimates of the number of
deaths range around roughly 500,000, with low estimates at 200,000 and high estimates at
Muslim-Christian conflict
The Jamalabad fort route. Mangalorean Catholics had traveled through this route on their
way to Seringapatam
In spite of the fact that there have been relatively fewer conflicts between Muslims and
Christians in India in comparison to those between Muslims and Hindus, or Muslims and
Sikhs, the relationship between Muslims and Christians have also been occasionally
turbulent. With the advent of European colonialism in India throughout the 16th, 17th and
18th centuries, Christians were systematically persecuted in a few Muslim ruled kingdoms in
Anti-Christian persecution by Tippu Sultan in the 17th century
Perhaps the most infamous acts of anti-Christian persecution by Muslims was committed by
Tippu Sultan, the ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore against the Mangalorean Catholic
community from Mangalore and the erstwhile South Canara district on the southwestern
coast of India. Tippu was widely reputed to be anti-Christian. The captivity of Mangalorean
Catholics at Seringapatam, which began on 24 February 1784 and ended on 4 May 1799,
remains the most disconsolate memory in their history.
The Bakur Manuscript reports him as having said: "All Musalmans should unite together,
and considering the annihilation of infidels as a sacred duty, labor to the utmost of their
power, to accomplish that subject." Soon after the Treaty of Mangalore in 1784, Tippu
gained control of Canara. He issued orders to seize the Christians in Canara, confiscate
their estates, and deport them to Seringapatam, the capital of his empire, through the
Jamalabad fort route. However, there were no priests among the captives. Together with Fr
Miranda, all the 21 arrested priests were issued orders of expulsion to Goa, fined Rs 2 lakhs,
and threatened death by hanging if they ever returned.
Tippu ordered the destruction of 27 Catholic churches, all beautifully carved with statues
depicting various saints. Among them included the Church of Nossa Senhora de Rosario
Milagres at Mangalore, Fr Miranda's Seminary at Monte Mariano, Church of Jesu Marie Jose
at Omzoor, Chapel at Bolar, Church of Merces at Ullal, Imaculata Conceiciao at Mulki, San
Jose at Perar, Nossa Senhora dos Remedios at Kirem, Sao Lawrence at Karkal, Rosario at
Barkur, Immaculata Conceciao at Baidnur.[107] All were razed to the ground, with the
exception of The Church of Holy Cross at Hospet,owing to the friendly offices of the Chauta
Raja of Moodbidri.
According to Thomas Munro, a Scottish soldier and the first collector of Canara, around
60,000 of them, nearly 92 percent of the entire Mangalorean Catholic community, were
captured, only 7,000 escaped. Francis Buchanan gives the numbers as 70,000 captured,
from a population of 80,000, with 10,000 escaping. They were forced to climb nearly 4,000
feet (1,200 m) through the jungles of the Western Ghat mountain ranges. It was 210 miles
(340 km) from Mangalore to Seringapatam, and the journey took six weeks. According to
British Government records, 20,000 of them died on the march to Seringapatam. According
to James Scurry, a British officer, who was held captive along with Mangalorean Catholics,
30,000 of them were forcibly converted to Islam. The young women and girls were forcibly
made wives of the Muslims living there. The young men who offered resistance were
disfigured by cutting their noses, upper lips, and ears. According to Mr. Silva of Gangolim, a
survivor of the captivity, if a person who had escaped from Seringapatam was found, the
punishment under the orders of Tippu was the cutting off of the ears, nose, the feet and one
The Archbishop of Goa wrote in 1800, "It is notoriously known in all Asia and all other parts
of the globe of the oppression and sufferings experienced by the Christians in the Dominion
of the King of Kanara, during the usurpation of that country by Tipu Sultan from an
implacable hatred he had against them who professed Christianity."
The British officer James Scurry, who was detained a prisoner for 10 years by Tipu Sultan
along with the Mangalorean Catholics.
Tippu Sultan's invasion of the Malabar had an adverse impact on the Syrian Malabar
Nasrani community of the Malabar coast. Many churches in the Malabar and Cochin were
damaged. The old Syrian Nasrani seminary at Angamaly which had been the center of
Catholic religious education for several centuries was razed to the ground by Tippu’s
soldiers. A lot of centuries old religious manuscripts were lost forever. The church was later
relocated to Kottayam where it still exists to this date. The Mor Sabor church at Akaparambu
and the Martha Mariam Church attached to the seminary were destroyed as well. Tippu’s
army set fire to the church at Palayoor and attacked the Ollur Church in 1790. Furthernmore,
the Arthat church and the Ambazhakkad seminary was also destroyed. Over the course of
this invasion, many Syrian Malabar Nasrani were killed or forcibly converted to Islam. Most
of the coconut, arecanut, pepper and cashew plantations held by the Syrian Malabar farmers
were also indiscriminately destroyed by the invading army. As a result, when Tippu's army
invaded Guruvayur and adjacent areas, the Syrian Christian community fled Calicut and
small towns like Arthat to new centres like Kunnamkulam, Chalakudi, Ennakadu, Cheppadu,
Kannankode, Mavelikkara, etc. where there were already Christians. They were given refuge
by Sakthan Tamburan, the ruler of Cochin and Karthika Thirunal, the ruler of Travancore,
who gave them lands, plantations and encouraged their businesses. Colonel Macqulay, the
British resident of Travancore also helped them.
His persecution of Christians also extended to captured British soldiers. For instance, there
were a significant amount of forced conversions of British captives between 1780 and 1784.
Following their disastrous defeat at the battle of Pollilur, 7,000 British men along with an
unknown number of women were held captive by Tipu in the fortress of Seringapatnam. Of
these, over 300 were circumcised and given Muslim names and clothes and several British
regimental drummer boys were made to wear ghagra cholis and entertain the court as
nautch girls or dancing girls. After the 10 year long captivity ended, James Scurry, one of
those prisoners, recounted that he had forgotten how to sit in a chair and use a knife and
fork. His English was broken and stilted, having lost all his vernacular idiom. His skin had
darkened to the swarthy complexion of negroes, and moreover, he had developed an
aversion to wearing European clothes. During the surrender of the Mangalore fort which was
delievered in an armistice by the British and their subsequent withdrawal, all the Mestizos
and remaining non-British foreigners were killed, together with 5,600 Mangalorean Catholics.
Those condemned by Tipu Sultan for treachery were hanged instantly, the gibbets being
weighed down by the number of bodies they carried. The Netravati River was so putrid with
the stench of dying bodies, that the local residents were forced to leave their riverside
Modern times
In modern times, Muslims in India who convert to Christianity are often subjected to
harassment, intimidation, and attacks by Muslims. In Kashmir, the only Indian state with a
Muslim majority, a Christian convert and missionary named Bashir Tantray was killed ,
allegedly by militant Islamists in 2006.
Muslim-Buddhist conflict
In 1989 there was a social boycott by the Buddhists of the Muslims of Leh district. The
boycott remained in force till 1992. Relations between the Buddhists and Muslims in Leh
improved after the lifting of the boycott, although suspicions remained. In 2000's, the
desacralization of the Quran in a village in Kargil and subsequent clashes between groups of
Muslims and Buddhists in Leh and Kargil town are indicators of simmering tensions between
the two major communities in Ladakh.
Caste system among South Asian Muslims
Caste system among South Asian Muslims refers to units of social stratification that have
developed among Muslims in South Asia.
Sources indicate that the castes among Muslims developed as the result of the concept of
Kafa'a. Those who are referred to as Ashrafs (see also Sharif) are presumed to have a
superior status derived from their foreign Arab ancestry, while the Ajlafs are assumed to be
converts from Hinduism, and have a lower status. Actual Muslim social practice, including in
India, points to the existence of sharp social hierarchies that numerous Muslim scholars
have sought to provide appropriate Islamic sanction through elaborate rules of fiqh
associated with the notion of kafa'a.
Most prominent Muslim scholars like Maulvi Ahmad Raza Khan Barelvi and Maulvi Ashraf Ali
Faruqui Thanvi have championed the notion of caste superiority based on birth. It is argued
that Muslims of Arab origin (Sayyeds and Shaikhs) are superior to non-Arab or Ajami
Muslims, and so while a man who claims Arab origin can marry an Ajami woman, the
reverse is not possible. Likewise, they argue, a Pathan Muslim man can marry a Julaha
(Ansari) Mansuri (Dhunia,) Rayin (Kunjra) or Quraishi (Qasai or butchers) woman, but an
Ansari, Rayin, Mansuri and Quraishi man cannot marry a Pathan woman since they consider
these castes to be inferior to Pathans. Many of these ulama also believed that it is best to
marry within one own caste. The practice of endogamous marriage in one's caste is strictly
observed in India. Interestingly, in three genetic studies representing the whole of South
Asian Muslims, it was found that the Muslim population was overwhelmingly similar to the
local non-Muslims associated with minor but still detectable levels of gene flow from outside,
primarily from Iran and Central Asia, rather than directly from the Arabian Peninsula.
In some parts of South Asia, the Muslims are divided as Ashrafs and Ajlafs. Ashrafs claim a
superior status derived from their foreign ancestry. The non-Ashrafs are assumed to be
converts from Hinduism, and are therefore drawn from the indigenous population. They, in
turn, are divided into a number of occupational castes.
Sections of the ulema (scholars of Islamic jurisprudence) provide religious legitimacy to
caste with the help of the concept of kafa'a. A classical example of scholarly declaration of
the Muslim caste system is the Fatawa-i Jahandari, written by the fourteenth century Turkish
scholar, Ziauddin Barani, a member of the court of Muhammad bin Tughlaq, of the Tughlaq
dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate. Barani was known for his intensely casteist views, and
regarded the Ashraf Muslims as racially superior to the Ajlaf Muslims. He divided the
Muslims into grades and sub-grades. In his scheme, all high positions and privileges were to
be a monopoly of the high born Turks, not the Indian Muslims. Even in his interpretation of
the Koranic verse "Indeed, the pious amongst you are most honored by Allah", he
considered piety to be associated with noble birth. Barrani was specific in his
recommendation that the "sons of Mohamed" [i.e. Ashrafs] "be given a higher social status
than the low-born [i.e. Ajlaf]. His most significant contribution in the fatwa was his analysis of
the castes with respect to Islam. His assertion was that castes would be mandated through
state laws or "Zawabi" and would carry precedence over Sharia law whenever they were in
conflict. In the Fatwa-i-Jahandari (advice XXI), he wrote about the "qualities of the high-born"
as being "virtuous" and the "low-born" being the "custodian of vices". Every act which is
"contaminated with meanness and based on ignominity, comes elegantly [from the Ajlaf]".
Barani had a clear disdain for the Ajlaf and strongly recommended that they be denied
education, lest they usurp the Ashraf masters. He sought appropriate religious sanction to
that effect. Barrani also developed an elaborate system of promotion and demotion of
Imperial officers ("Wazirs") that was primarily on the basis of their caste.
In addition to the Ashraf/Ajlaf divide, there is also the Arzal caste among Muslims, who were
regarded by anti-Caste activists like Babasaheb Ambedkar as the equivalent of
untouchables. The term "Arzal" stands for "degraded" and the Arzal castes are further
subdivided into Bhanar, Halalkhor, Hijra, Kasbi, Lalbegi, Maugta, Mehtar etc. The Arzal
group was recorded in the 1901 census of India and are also called Dalit Muslims “with
whom no other Muhammadan would associate, and who are forbidden to enter the mosque
or to use the public burial ground”.They are relegated to "menial" professions such as
scavenging and carrying night soil.
Some South Asian Muslims have been known to stratify their society according to Quoms.
These Muslims practise a ritual-based system of social stratification. The Quoms who deal
with human emissions are ranked the lowest. Studies of Bengali Muslims in India indicate
that the concepts of purity and impurity exist among them and are applicable in inter-group
relationships, as the notions of hygiene and cleanliness in a person are related to the
person's social position and not to his/her economic status. Muslim Rajput is another caste
distinction among Indian Muslims.
Some of the backward or lower-caste Muslim communities include Ansari, Kunjra,
Churihara, Dhobi and Halalkhor. The upper and middle caste Muslim communities include
Syed, Shaikh, Shaikhzada, Khanzada, Pathan, Mughal, and Malik . Genetic data has also
supported this stratification. It should be noted that most of the claims for Arabic ancestry in
India is flawed and points to Arabic preferences in local Shariah. Interestingly, in three
genetic studies representing the whole of South Asian Muslims, it was found that the Muslim
population was overwhelmingly similar to the local non-Muslims associated with minor but
still detectable levels of gene flow from outside, primarily from Iran and Central Asia, rather
than directly from the Arabian Peninsula.
The Sachar Committee's report commissioned by the government of India and released in
2006, documents the continued stratification in Muslim society.
Interaction and Mobility
Interactions between the oonchi zat (upper caste) and neechi zat (lower caste) are regulated
by established patron-client relationships of the jajmani system, the upper castes being
referred to as the 'Jajmans', and the lower caste as 'Kamin'. Upon contact with a low-caste
Muslim, a Muslim of a higher zat can "purify" by taking a short bath, since there are no
elaborate rituals for purification. In Bihar state of India, cases have been reported in which
the higher caste Muslims have opposed the burials of lower caste Muslims in the same
Some data indicates that the castes among Muslims have never been as rigid as that among
Hindus. An old saying also goes in Bangladesh "Last year I was a Julaha (weaver); this year
a Shaikh; and next year if the harvest be good, I shall be a Sayyid.". However, other
scholars, such as Ambedkar, disagreed with this thesis.(see criticism below). The well-
known Sufi, Sayyed Jalaluddin Bukhari, also known as Makhdum Jahaniyan-e-Jahangasht,
is said to have declared that providing knowledge beyond that of the Quran and the rules of
prayers and fasting to the so-called razil (ajlafs) castes is like scattering pearls before swine
and dogs! He reportedly insisted that other Muslims should not eat with barbers, washers of
corpses, dyers, tanners, cobblers, bow-makers and washermen, besides consumers of
alcohol and usurers. Mohammad Ashraf writes in his “Hindustani Maashra Ahd-e-Usta Main”
that many medieval Islamic rulers did not allow to low-class people to enter their courts, or if
some did they forbade them from opening their mouths because they considered them to be
‘impure’. The scholar Shabbir Ahmad Hakeem quotes from another book by Thanvi called
“Masawat-e Bahar-e Shariat”, in which Thanvi argues that Muslims should not allow
‘Julahas’ (weavers) and ‘Nais’ (barbers) to enter Muslims’ homes. In his “Bahishti Zewar”
Thanvi claimed that the son of a Sayyed father and a non-Sayyed mother is socially inferior
to the child of a Sayyed couple.
In his “Imdad ul-Fatawa”, Thanvi announced that Sayyeds, Shaikhs, Mughals and Pathans
are all ‘respectable’ (sharif) communities, and that the oil-presser (Teli) and weaver (Julaha)
communities are ‘low’ castes (razil aqwam). He claimed that ‘nau-Muslims’, non-Arab
converts to Islam, cannot be considered the kafaa, for purposes of marriage, of ‘established
Muslims’ (khandani musalman). Accordingly, he argued, Pathans, being non-Arabs and,
therefore, ‘nau-Muslims’, are not the kafaa of Sayyeds and Shaikhs, who claim Arab
descent, and, so, cannot inter-marry with them. The first president of All India Muslim
Personal Law Board and Vice Chancellor of the Deoband madrasa, Maulvi Qari Mohammad
Tayyeb Siddiqui, was also supporter of casteism and wrote two books in support in Mufti
Usmani’s book on caste: “Ansab wa Qabail Ka Tafazul” and “Nasb Aur Islam”. True to this
tradition of legitimising caste, even today the admission form of the Deoband madrasa has a
column that asks for applicants to mention their caste. For many years after it was
established, non-ashraf students were not generally admitted in the Deoband and the
practice still continues.
Some Muslim scholars have termed the caste-like features in Indian Muslim society as a
"flagrant violation of the Qur'anic worldview.". However, most Muslim scholars tried to
reconcile and resolve the "disjunction between Qur'anic egalitarianism and Indian Muslim
social practice" through theorizing it in different ways and interpreting the Quran and Sharia
to justify casteism.
While some scholars theorize that the Muslim Castes are not as acute in their discrimination
as that among Hindus, Dr B.R.Ambedkar argued otherwise, writing that the social evils in
Muslim society were "worse than those seen in Hindu society".
Babasaheb Ambedkar was an illustrious figure in Indian politics and the chief architect of the
Indian Constitution. He was extremely critical of the Muslim Caste System and their
practices, quoting that "Within these groups there are castes with social precedence of
exactly the same nature as one finds among the Hindus but worse in numerous ways". He
was critical of how the Ashrafs regarded the Ajlaf and Arzal as "worthless" and the fact that
Muslims tried to sugarcoat the sectarian divisions by using euphemisms like "brotherhood" to
describe them. He was also critical of the precept of literalism of scripture among Indian
Muslims that led them to keep the Muslim Caste system rigid and discriminatory. He decried
against the approval of Shariah to Muslim casteism. It was based on superiority of foreign
elements in society which would ultimately lead to downfall of local Dalits. This tragedy
would be much more harsher than Hindus who are ethnically related to and supportive of
Dalits. This Arabian supermacy in Indian Muslims accounted for its equal disapproval by
high and low caste Hindus during 1300 years of Islamic presence in India. He condemned
the Indian Muslim Community of being unable to reform like Muslims in other countries like
Turkey did during the early decades of the twentieth century.
Pakistani-American sociologist Ayesha Jalal writes, in her book, "Democracy and
Authoritarianism in South Asia",that "Despite its egalitarian principles, Islam in South Asia
historically has been unable to avoid the impact of class and caste inequalities. As for
Hinduism, the hierarchical principles of the Brahmanical social order have always been
contested from within Hindu society, suggesting that equality has been and continues to be
both valued and practiced in Hinduism ."
Muslim institutes
There are several well established Muslim institutes in India. Here is a list of reputed
institutes established by Muslims.
• Modern Universities and institutes: 1. Aligarh Muslim University 2.Anjuman-I-Islam,
Mumbai. 3. Era's Lucknow Medical College, Lucknow 4. Jamal Mohamed College,
Trichirapally 5. Dar-us Salam Education Trust 6. Jamia Millia Islamia 7. Hamdard
University 8. Al-Barkaat Educational Institutions, Aligarh 9. The Maulana Azad
Education Society, Aurangabad 10. Dr. Rafiq Zakariya Campus, Aurangabad 11. Al
Ameen Educational Society 12. Crescent Engineering College 13. Al-Kabir
educational society 14. Darul Uloom Deoband 15. Darul-uloom Nadwatul Ulama 16.
Integral University 17. Ibn Sina Academy of Medieval Medicine and Sciences 18.
National College Of Engineering,Tirunelveli 19. Al Falah School of Engineering and
Technology,Faridabad 20. Darul Huda Islamic University 21. Osmania University 22.
Jamia Nizamia 23. Muslim Educational Association of Southern India 24. Aliah
1. Traditional Islamic Universities: 1. Markazu Saqafathi Sunniya,Kerala 2. Jamia Darul
Huda Islamiyya 3. Raza Academy
Muslim population by states
Muslim population in Indian states according to 2001 Census.
State Population % State Population %
Lakshadweep Islands 56353 93.0 Tripura 2,54,442 8.0
Jammu & Kashmir 67,93,240 67.0 Daman & Diu 12,281 7.8
Assam 82,40,611 30.9 Goa 92,210 6.8
West Bengal 2,02,40,543 25.2 Madhya Pradesh 38,41,449 6.4
Kerala 78,63,842 24.7 Pondicherry 59,358 6.1
Uttar Pradesh 3,07,40,158 18.5 Haryana 12,22,916 5.8
Bihar 1,37,22,048 16.5 Tamil Nadu 34,70,647 5.6
Jharkhand 37,31,308 13.8 Meghalaya 99,169 4.3
Karnataka 64,63,127 12.2 Chandigarh 35,548 3.9
Dadra & Nagar
Uttaranchal 10,12,141 11.9 Haveli 6,524 3.0
Delhi 16,23,520 11.7 Orissa 7,61,985 2.1
Maharashtra 1,02,70,485 10.6 Chhattisgarh 4,09,615 2.0
Andhra Pradesh 69,86,856 9.2 Himachal Pradesh 1,19,512 2.0
Gujarat 45,92,854 9.1 Pradesh 20,675 1.9
Manipur 1,90,939 8.8 Nagaland 35,005 1.8
Rajasthan 47,88,227 8.5 Punjab 80,045 1.6
Andaman & Nicobar
Islands 29,265 8.2 Sikkim 7,693 1.4
Mizoram 10,099 1.1
Percentage distribution of population (adjusted) by religious communities: India – 1961 to
2001 Census.
Year Percentage excluding J&K ASSAM Year Percentage including J&K
1961 10.1% 1961 10.7%
1971 10.4% 1971 11.2%
1981 11.9% 1981 12.0%
1991 12.0% 1991 12.8%
2001 12.8% 2001 13.4%

Composition Hindus Muslims

% total of population 2001 80.5 13.4
10-Yr Growth % (est '91–'01) 20.3 36.0
Sex ratio* (avg. 933) 931 936
Literacy rate (avg. 64.8) 65.1 59.1
Work Participation Rate 40.4 31.3
Rural sex ratio 944 953
Urban sex ratio 894 907
Child sex ratio (0–6 yrs) 925 950
Islamic traditions in South Asia
Sufism is a mystical dimension of Islam, often complimentary with the legalistic path of the
sharia had a profound impact on the growth of Islam in India. A Sufi attains a direct vision of
oneness with God, often on the edges of orthodox behavior, and can thus become a Pir
(living saint) who may take on disciples (murids) and set up a spiritual lineage that can last
for generations. Orders of Sufis became important in India during the thirteenth century
following the ministry of Moinuddin Chishti (1142–1236), who settled in Ajmer, Rajasthan,
and attracted large numbers of converts to Islam because of his holiness. His Chishtiyya
order went on to become the most influential Sufi lineage in India, although other orders
from Central Asia and Southwest Asia also reached India and played a major role in the
spread of Islam. In this way, they created a large literature in regional languages that
embedded Islamic culture deeply into older South Asian traditions.
Leadership and Organizations
In mid 2005-2006 an estimated 2/3-rds of the 15 crore Indian Muslim population are believed
to be adherents of the Sunni Barelwi school of thought and follow Sufi traditions like
Mawlid,Dargah visit, Dhikr and mysticism. Manzar-e-Islam Bareilly and Al Jamiatul Ashrafia
are most famous Seminary of Barelwi Muslims.Raza Academy
Indian Shiite Muslims form a substantial minority within the Muslim community of India
comprising between 25%-31% of total Muslim population in an estimation done during mid
2005-2006 of the then Indian Muslim population of 157 million. Sources like Times of India
and DNA reported Indian Shiite population during that period between 40,000,000 to
50,000,000 of 157,000,000 Indian Muslim population
The Deobandis, another influential section of the Muslim population following the Hanafi
school of thought of India originate from the Darul Uloom Deoband (house/abode of
knowledge), an influential religious seminary in the district of Saharanpur of Uttar Pradesh.
The seminary is known for its nationalist orientation and played an important role in the
Indian freedom struggle.The Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind, founded by Deobandi scholars in
1919, supported the Indian National Congress in the national freedom movement and
became a political mouthpiece for the Daru'l Uloom.
The Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (Islamic Party), founded in 1941, advocates the establishment of
an Islamic government and has been active in promoting education, social service, and
ecumenical outreach to the community.
The Tablighi Jamaat (Outreach Society) became active after the 1940s as a movement,
primarily among the ulema (religious leaders), stressing personal renewal, prayer, a
missionary spirit, and attention to orthodoxy. It has been highly critical of the kind of activities
that occur in and around Sufi shrines and remains a minor if respected force in the training
of the ulema. Conversely, other ulema have upheld the legitimacy of mass religion, including
exaltation of pirs and the memory of the Prophet. A powerful secularising drive led by Syed
Ahmad Khan resulted in the foundation of Aligarh Muslim University (1875 as the
Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College)-with a broader, more modern curriculum, and other
major Muslim universities.
Ghettoisation of Indian Muslims
Though walled cities, have been traditional dwellings of Muslims in older cities, many upper
class Muslims moved out post-Partition and started living in other parts of the cities.
Ghettoisation amongst Indian Muslims began in the mid-1970s when first communal riots
occurred, this heightened after the Bhagalpur riots 1989, and became a trend after the Babri
Masjid demolition in 1992, soon several major cities developed ghettos, or segregated areas
where the Muslim population moved in. The trend however, did not help in the anticipated
security that the anonymity of ghetto was thought to have provided, as seen during 2002
Gujarat riots, where several such ghettos became easy targets, as it only aided in profiling of
residential colonies.
Increase in ghetto living has also shown a strengthening of social stereotyping due to lack of
cross-cultural interaction, and reduction in economic and educational opportunities at large.
On the other hand, the larger community which for centuries had benefited from its
interactions with Islamic traditions, to create a rich cultural and social fabric, formed through
amalgamation of the two diverse traditions faces a danger of fast becoming insular.
Secularism in India is being seen by some as a favour to the minorities, and not as a
imperative for democracy.