Friday, February 24, 2012

Castes among Muslims

Islam is a monotheistic religion infused with egalitarianism.It is based on casteless and class less premise with stress on brotherhood.But in India,Muslims from the time of their settlement got divided into groups with graded status resembling the Indian caste system.

With reference to Uttar Pradesh,Louis Dumont noted the presence of Ashraf or nobles the descendants of the immigrants divided into four kinds and common people of Indian origin meaning converts.The latter have always distributed along the lines of their original caste.Ashrafs belong to the four tribes of the same blood Saiyads,Sheik,Pathan and Mogul.Among Ashrafs there is no endogamous division though marriage is within a small circle.Among non-Ashrafs status is broadly distinguished as converts of superior caste,professional groups like artisans of Hindus,converted untouchables.These groups are endogamous like Hindu castes and many of them continued to follow their original Hindu customs.In South India ,converts even retain their caste names like Nadar Muslims.

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