"The historical phase of India began with the Muslim invasion. Muslims were India's first historians." --- Gustave le Beon : Les Civilisations de L'Inde, Book III, p.146
Muslims in India - An Overview
The Muslims entered Sind, India, in 711 C.E., the same year they entered Spain. Their entry in India was prompted by an attempt to free the civilian Muslim hostages whose ship was taken by sea pirates in the territory of Raja Dahir, King of Sind. After diplomatic attempts failed, Hajjaj bin Yusuf, the Umayyad governor in Baghdad, dispatched a 17-year-old commander by the name Muhammad bin Qasim with a small army. Muhammad bin Qasim defeated Raja Dahir at what is now Hyderabad in Pakistan. In pursuing the remnant of Dahir's army and his sonÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s supporters (Indian kings), Muhammad bin Qasim fought at Nirun, Rawar, Bahrore, Brahmanabad, Aror, Dipalpur and Multan. By 713 C.E., he established his control in Sind and parts of Punjab up to the borders of Kashmir. A major part of what is now Pakistan came under Muslim control in 713 C.E. and remained so throughout the centuries until some years after the fall of the Mughal Empire in 1857.
Muhammad bin QasimÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s treatment of the Indian population was so just that when he was called back to Baghdad the civilians were greatly disheartened and gave him farewell in tears. There was a Muslim community in Malabar, southwest India as early as 618 C.E. as a result of King Chakrawati Farmas accepting Islam at the hands of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The Muslim presence as rulers in India dates from 711 C.E. Since then, different Muslim rulers (Turks of Central Asia, Afghans, and the descendants of the Mongol - the Mughals) entered India, primarily fought their fellow Muslim rulers, and established their rule under various dynastic names. By the eleventh century, the Muslims had established their capital at Delhi, which remained the principal seat of power until the last ruler of Mughal Dynasty, Bahadur Shah Zafar, was deposed in 1857 by the British. A few British visitors were given permission by Akbar to stay in Eastern India more than two centuries before. The British abused that privilege, and within a few decades the British began to collaborate with Rajas and Nawabs in military expeditions against the Mughals and Muslim rulers of the east, southeast and south India. After two centuries of fighting, the British succeeded in abolishing the Mughal rule in 1857.
Muslims were a minority when they ruled major parts of India for nearly a thousand years. They were well liked generally as rulers for their justice, social and cultural values, respect for freedom to practice religion as prescribed by the religion of various communities, freedom of speech, legal system in accordance with the dictates and established norms of each religious community, public works and for establishing educational institutions. In their days as rulers, the Muslims constituted about twenty percent of India's population. Today, Indian Muslims constitute about fifteen percent of India's population, about 150 million, and they are the second largest Muslim community in the world.
The region now part of Pakistan and many other parts of India were predominantly Muslim. After the British takeover in 1857, many of these areas remained under loose control of Muslims. When the British decided to withdraw from India without a clear direction for the future of Muslims (former rulers), a political solution was reached for some of the Muslim majority areas. This resulted in the division of India and the creation of Pakistan in 1947.
Among the famous Muslims scientists, historians and travelers who visited and lived, though briefly, in India were Al-Biruni, Al-Masu'di, and Ibn Battuta. Their writings illuminate us with the Indian society and culture. Al-Biruni stayed in India for twenty years. Ibn Battuta, an Andalusian who was born in Morocco, served as a Magistrate of Delhi (1334-1341) during the reign of Sultan Muhammad Tughluk. It is conceivable that Ibn BattutaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s description of Muslim India inspired Ferdinand and Isabella who had taken over the last Muslim kingdom of Granada, Spain in 1492. That same year Columbus received the permission in the Alhambra palace (of Granada) and made his famous voyage bound for India in search of gold and spice but he landed in the Americas.
--- Dr. A. Zahoor
Help us research the history of Muslims in India.
Al-Azhar goes to India
A team from Al-Azhar visited India in 1936 to spread Islam, especially among the untouchables. Professor Yunan Labib Rizk says how the scholars fared
That Al-Azhar should be a source of knowledge is only normal. For it to have drawn Muslim scholars from around the world is also understandable, given the ancient Islamic university's long and illustrious history and given the stability and traditions in Egypt that have enabled this institution to grow and develop, as is evidenced by the many sections that have been added over the years to accommodate a large and diverse student body. But that Al-Azhar would play a religious role in India, and among a class of non-Muslim peoples at that, comes as a surprise.
The people in question formed what was formerly known as the untouchables. In India's once rigidly structured caste system there were four closed, hereditary classes, or Varnas, that were traditionally proscribed in social dealings with others. In this system, "untouchable" did not designate a fifth caste but rather a general class of people abhorred by the higher social orders. The untouchables were regulated to the basest most unclean occupations, such as street sweeping, and were thus considered as a polluting people. They were therefore forbidden to touch persons of the four Varnas, to enter their homes or temples and to use their wells, and, in public occasions, they were supposed to sit well apart. In some areas, even touching the shadow of an untouchable was considered polluting, requiring the defiled member of the upper order to immerse himself immediately in water to purge himself of the impurity.
By the mid-1930s Mahatma Gandhi had become the symbol of Indian pacifist resistance to the British occupation. In 1934 he ceded the chairmanship of the Congress Party to Jawaharlal Nehru so that he could devote himself full-time to social reform. One of Nehru's major concerns was the plight of the untouchables. As part of his campaign to end their stigmatisation, he proposed renaming them Harijan -- the children of the god Hari. The untouchables themselves opted for a name with a more political ring: Dalit, which in Hindi means "the persecuted". Also, inspired by Gandhi's campaign on their behalf, many believed they could free themselves of their stigma by embracing one of the major religions of the subcontinent, such as Hinduism or Islam. As the latter was more readily open to converts, many turned to this divinely revealed religion, which explains why Al-Azhar now felt it its duty to send a mission to that vast and populous land.
The first report on the Al-Azhar mission to India appears in Al-Ahram of 9 September 1936. After learning of the situation of the untouchables in India, the newspaper relates, a group of Al-Azhar scholars decided to send a delegation to India "to make contact with the untouchable classes and then submit a report stating its opinions on the procedures followed by the members of these classes in their conversion to Islam". The delegation consisted of four senior members of the venerable Islamic university: Ibrahim El-Gibali, Abdel-Wahab El- Naggar, Mohamed Ahmed El-Bedawi and Mohamed Habib.
From the outset the members of the delegation realised that theirs would be a delicate mission. No sooner was the news of their mission out than they were cautioned that their arrival in India would spark animosity between Hindus and Muslims because their mission would be seen as an attempt to openly proselytise for Islam. The rector of Al-Azhar wisely thought it best to defer the departure of the delegation until he could better ascertain the situation.
A week later, another Al-Ahram item underscored the potential difficulty of the mission. Al-Azhar officials, it writes, "have received an alarming letter from the head of a major Muslim society in India, stating that the Hindu sects are working round the clock to collect money and produce the publications necessary to combat this delegation. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of donations have already been collected. The members of the delegation are greatly apprehensive that their arrival in India under such circumstances would be too risky."
No further news was heard for more than a month. During this time, however, continued inquiries of Al-Azhar officials led them to the conclusion that the reports were exaggerated. Suddenly, on 24 October Al-Ahram reports that the rector of Al-Azhar applied to the British Consulate in Cairo for travel permits for the members of the expedition.
After yet another month without news, Al-Ahram reports on 23 November that all obstacles had been overcome and that the mission would be departing on 2 December. Its purpose: "To contact Islamic universities and academic institutions in diverse parts of India in order to promote cooperation in the spread of Islamic culture. It will then study the situation of the untouchables who are disposed to embrace Islam and consider the most suitable procedures for effecting their conversion."
The day before the mission was due to depart, its leader, Sheikh El-Gibali held a lengthy interview with Al-Ahram reiterating the objectives of the mission, which included "determining how Egypt can best contribute to spreading Islam among [the untouchables]". He also informed the newspaper that the delegation's mission in India would last three months.
At 11.00am on 1 December, the Al-Azhar delegation boarded the train from Cairo to Port Said. On hand to see them off was a large gathering of Al-Azhar officials -- the rector, the deans of the university's three faculties and the heads of Al- Azhar's other academies -- and students from Al-Azhar and the Egyptian University. At 5.15pm that same day, the delegation members boarded ship bound for Suez, the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean and their final destination, India, with its population of millions, among whom were the object of their mission, the untouchables.
As was its custom with such important events, Al-Ahram attached a correspondent to the mission. His first report was from Bombay: "There is a constant flow of Muslim leaders to the hotel throughout the day and into the night, eager to discuss general Islamic issues, the status of Al-Azhar in the Arab world and its responsibility to the Islamic nation at large.... Their reverends performed Feast of the Sacrifice prayers with no less than 40,000 worshippers in Bombay's largest square, which had been equipped with amplifiers to broadcast the sermon and the speech of the head of the delegation." The correspondent also reports that the delegation's leader delivered a lecture in Bombay University's Faculty of Languages and Literature on the history of Al-Azhar. Culminating his overview of the successive eras through which the famous Islamic university passed was a discussion of the modern revival during which the university was divided into three faculties -- theology, Islamic law and Arabic -- and these in turn into diverse departments of specialisation.
In early January 1937, the delegation left Bombay bound for Delhi, which it reached on the fourth of that month. Continuing its programme of establishing communications with Islamic universities and institutions, the delegation visited an Islamic school attached to a mosque. "One of the mission members told me that the mosque and its school resembled Al-Azhar as it was some 20 or more years ago, the only difference being that Al-Azhar had many more students," wrote the Al-Ahram correspondent.
Also in Delhi the delegation engaged university professors in long and fruitful discussions on matters of concern and benefit to the greater Islamic community. The next stop was a mosque built on the ruins of a Buddhist temple and its embellishments, therefore, incorporating a blend of Buddhist and Islamic motifs. More important, however, was the visit, on 7 January, to Aligarh. The tour of this Islamic university, founded in 1875, took the delegation members through the Arabic language and theology departments, and then to the mosque where they met with both Sunni and Shia professors of theology, after which they were introduced to the history department, in which they sat in on a lecture on how to achieve world peace. In the evening, the Egyptian visitors were shown a wing in the boarding school where students eagerly rained them with questions on student life in Al-Azhar. The following day, after Friday prayers in the university mosque, the head of the delegation delivered a lecture to an assembly hall packed with students from the Arabic language and literature department on reviving the glory of Islam. The lecture, Al-Ahram reports, "was greeted with loud and enthusiastic applause".
Disturbed that he had to rely exclusively on Al-Ahram for information on the mission, Al-Azhar Rector Mustafa El- Maraghi instructed the head of the delegation to keep him updated. Sheikh El-Gibali's reports started coming in towards the end of January when, as he pointed out in his first report, the delegation had completed only a quarter of its time in India. He adds: "So enthusiastic has the response been to our mission that we have repeatedly had to readjust our travel plans so as to extend our stays and expand the scope of our visits. I cannot tell you how many hundreds of times officials, journalists and ordinary visitors have asked us why Al-Azhar delegated us to visit this country. Our answer has been that Al-Azhar, that venerable university of the Orient, sought to strengthen the bonds of friendship and affection with Muslims of distant countries in order to promote intellectual and scholastic cooperation... And how often we have conferred with distinguished well-wishers among the Muslim community, of whom we have many in India, over the question of spreading the Islamic call and expanding the scope of its message. We will soon apprise you in detail of the many opinions we have received in this regard."
El-Gibali's letter helps to clarify the Al-Ahram correspondent's silence on the second task of the mission, which was to spread Islam among the untouchables. The issue was clearly so delicate that the delegation members felt they could only discuss it under conditions of confidentiality with leaders of the Indian Muslim community whom they felt they could trust.
Throughout the remainder of its trip, the delegation adhered to its policy of openly seeking to promote closer educational and cultural bonds with Indian Muslims while keeping its proselytising interests under wraps. In subsequent reports, therefore, we read only of the many religious and academic institutions they visited on their tour.
In Rampur, a Muslim state that was incorporated into Uttar Pradesh in 1950, the Al-Azhar team visited the private library of its prime minister, which contained 20,000 Persian and Arabic manuscripts, and Rampur's historic festivities palace, the venue for celebrating three annual events: Eid Al-Fitr after Ramadan, the Feast of the Sacrifice and the birthday of the ruler. They also took in the Islamic college "which now follows the theological pedagogy that has been in practice in Egypt for decades", and the Husseini Mosuq, which contained "a tomb made of pure silver on the model of that in Karbala" and "a spacious hall for the celebration of the Day of Atonement".
Back in Delhi they visited the Noamaniya school for religious studies and the Red Citadel "which served as the headquarters of the rulers of the glorious Islamic eras until just before the great Indian mutiny in 1858". They then went to Amritsar "where they met its president and discussed the state of Muslims and Islamic education in that city", after which they travelled to Lahore. Apparently, word had quickly spread of their visit to this city, for when they visited one of its mosques, they found it filled with thousands of people who had come especially to see the delegates from Al-Azhar. After prayers, El-Gibali graciously obliged and addressed the large gathering.
To Al-Ahram correspondent the visits to Lahore and then Karachi were one of the highlights in the tour. The cities in what was then known as Sind had a majority Muslim population. In what had been administratively subordinate to Bombay until only a few months before the Al-Azhar mission arrived and the delegates were accorded a warm and enthusiastic welcome. "The mission arrived in Karachi at 8.30am on Wednesday 17 February to find the station platform packed with people to meet them in spite of the early hour of the day. As the members stepped off the train they were greeted by cheers of 'God is great!' and presented with wreathes. They were then escorted to automobiles in which they were escorted in procession to the Hotel Bristol."
The following morning, the delegation was taken to an elementary through secondary school for girls founded by a wealthy merchant of Karachi, after which they went to Sind Madrasa, the city's major Islamic school, and then to a religious college modelled on the old Al-Azhar structure.
But beneath all these educational and religious visits were political currents. There was, for example, the meeting with Sir Mohamed Iqbal. Once a foremost supporter of Hindi- Muslim solidarity, he became in 1930 head of the Islamic League and one of the first proponents of the establishment of an Islamic state. Although he died in 1938 and therefore did not live to see the fulfilment of this dream in 1947, Pakistanis regard this politician, thinker and poet as the spiritual founder of their state and commemorate him annually on the anniversary of his death on 21 April.
The meeting took place in his home at 3.00pm on 10 February. The topic of conversation, as reported by Al-Ahram 's correspondent, was a project for founding a higher level school for girls, on which subject "the members of the Egyptian delegation were asked to explain the system used in Egypt for primary and secondary religious education for girls." Our suspicion, however, is that the members of the delegation also took this opportunity to raise the question of their other mission in India, which was to promote Islam among the untouchables.
Another meeting, in which the political undertones were unmistakable, was with Mahatma Gandhi. The meeting took place in Wardha, a town that, in spite of its small size, acquired great symbolic importance in India because, as Al-Ahram 's correspondent relates, "this is the town in which Gandhi chose to establish his residence and, therefore, it has become a frequent destination of Indian politicians eager to seek out the leader of India for his views and advice." He also informs us that only two days before the Al- Azhar delegation arrived, Indian political leaders who were members of the Congress Party had just left "after having come here especially to consult him on policy questions following the recent sweeping electoral victory of the Congress Party in most districts".
On the meeting itself, the correspondent recounts: "The Al-Azhar mission made an unscheduled stop in Wardha. It arrived at the city's train station last night and was put up in the government rest house. Soon after the delegates reached the hotel, they were contacted by Gandhi's secretary and the mystery of this unscheduled stop was solved. The following morning -- 2 March -- Gandhi's secretary escorted the delegation members by car to the village in which Gandhi had taken a humble but immaculately clean hut, his home for himself and his two daughters. The Mahatma was clearly delighted by the visit and I learned that he told the delegation leader, 'If you hadn't made this call I would have had to scold Al-Azhar.' In the course of the long conversation that followed, Gandhi presented the delegation with a block of sugar which, he said, the Indians made from the sap of a certain type of palm tree. In presenting it he said, 'This keepsake will help you understand my principles. The tree was once useless to us, but now we have succeeded in extracting sugar from it and, therefore, no longer have to buy it.'"
Following the meeting, the delegation visited the model school "which seeks to overcome the differences that separate Muslim from other communities". They also toured "the industrial institutions espoused by Gandhi and that all rely on manual labour and require little capital investment".
As Hyderabad had close relations with Egypt because it regularly sent students to Al-Azhar and the Egyptian University and because it had a 30,000-strong Arab community, there was a political substance to the visit to this city as well. Even so, the promotion of educational and cultural bonds was still billed as the purpose of the visit, as can be discerned from the Al-Ahram correspondent's description of its ruler: "His Highness Ali Khan, the seventh in line of the Khan dynasty, is an ardent promoter of Islamic studies and the study of Arabic language, literature and culture. Towards this end, he has lavished enormous efforts and expenses in order to create the institutions that will entice Arabic-speaking scholars to his country. The University of Hyderabad is reputed the best school in all of India in which to study Arabic language and literature and Islam."
Arriving in Hyderabad on 4 March as personal guests of the ruler, the delegation members met with several top officials who, Al-Ahram notes, were well informed about Egypt in general and Al-Azhar in particular. "The minister of education lauded Egypt's contributions to science and education in the ancient and modern eras and he spoke at length on the history of Al-Azhar, demonstrating his thorough familiarity with both the past and present circumstances of this venerable institution."
Information on the progress that the delegation was making on its mission would only be revealed following its return to Egypt, and then only after some time. They arrived in Alexandria on 19 March 1937, having chosen to return by plane via Iraq rather than ship. The flight went smoothly, Al-Ahram relates, "although during the last leg of the journey the plane was buffeted somewhat by the wind causing Prof El-Bedawi some discomfort".
Egyptians were naturally eager to learn the results of the mission, for which reason Al-Ahram 's correspondent in Alexandria was on hand at the airport to interview them. El- Gibali's response to his question on his mission's work among the untouchables would not satisfy readers' curiosity. These people, he said, were to be found throughout the length and breadth of India. His team had succeeded in learning much about their circumstances and the contempt with which the Hindu people hold them. The delegation added that it had met one of the three untouchable leaders. The Al-Ahram correspondent could only comment vaguely, "It appears that the members of the mission have acquired a thorough understanding of the curious situation of these people."
Information was not more forthcoming in the parliament meeting of 13 April 1937 during which MP Ahmed Thabet Marafi asked the minister of awqaf about the purpose of the Al-Azhar delegation's visit to India. The minister said no more than that the purpose of the mission had been made public in advance of its departure and that he was now waiting for the delegation's report.
Egyptians had to wait three months until the newspapers published the delegation's report to the rector and senior ulama of Al-Azhar. The delegates declared that they had been successful in "establishing bridges between religious and secular scholars, eliminating barriers between Muslims and organising Indian study missions to Al-Azhar". With regard to the untouchables, the report recommended establishing "cultural and information centres in various locations, such as Surat in the state of Bombay, Dakafi in Bengal Minor and Nagaur in central India." It further recommended that Al-Azhar invite five untouchables to complete their religious studies in Egypt, furnish financial aid to the League of Ulama in exchange for which that society would accept 20 untouchables into its religious education programme, and to offer financial aid to the Islamic Association in Nagaur to enable it to open new classes for outstanding students from the untouchable community. These were some very modest recommendations when compared to the mission's original ambitions and the fanfare that surrounded it.
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.
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
[submitted by Majid Siddiqui; Reference: Maqbool Mahmood (Alig) Urdu Book " Yeh Khulde Barin Armanon Ka" published in 2003]
"My son take note of the following: Do not harbour religious prejudice in your heart. You should dispense justice while taking note of the people's religious sensitivites, and rites. Avoid slaughtering cows in order that you could gain a place in the heart of natives. This will take you nearer to the people.
Do not demolish or damange places of worship of any faith and dispense full justice to all to ensure peace in the country. Islam can better be preached by the sword of love and affection, rather than the sword of tyranny and persecution. Avoid the differences between the shias and sunnis. Look at the various characteristics of your people just as characteristics of various seasons."
--- Islamic Voice, June 2006.
[A copy of this will is preserved in State Library of Bhopal.]
The Beary (also known as Byari) is a small Muslim community concentrated mostly in coastal South Kanara (Dakshina Kannada) district of Karnataka, a south Indian state. It is an ethnic society having its own unique traditions, and distinct cultural identity. The Beary community holds an important place among the other coastal Muslim communities like Nawayath's of North Kanara district, Mappilas (Moplahs) of the Malabar coast and Labbay of the Coromandel coast.
Bearys incorporate the local Tulu culture of Dakshina Kannada and diverse traditions of the Moplahs of the Malabar coast. The Beary people are followers of Islam and belong to the Shafi'i school of Islamic jurisprudence, unlike North Indian Muslims who generally adhere to the Hanafi school. Since Bearys are in the majority amongst the Muslims in Dakshina Kannada district, the Muslim community thus is some times referred to as Bearys or Byaris by local people.
The Beary community of Dakshina Kannada or Tulunadu is one among the earliest Muslim population of India with a clear history of more than 1350 years. One mosque was built in the Bunder area of Maikala (Mangalore) by Habeeb Bin Malik, an Arab Da'ee, in 644 A.D.
The Tulu folk songs called Paad-danaas, an integral part of Tulu culture, refer several times to olden days Bearys who were still following Tulu culture.
Total populations : Approx 15 lakhs & spreaded in regions like Tulunadu, Dakshina Kannada, Chikmagalur district, Shimoga district, Hassan district, Uttara Kannada, Mumbai, Goa, Persian Gulf States etc.
Languages - Beary bashe
Related ethnic groups -Nawayath, Mappilas, Labbay
The word 'Beary' is said to be derived from the Tulu word 'Byara' which means trade or business, as this community were primarily traders. Since the major portion of this community people were involved in business activities, the local Tulu speaking majority called them as Beary or Byari.
According to the census of 1891 Dakshina Kannada had 92,449 Muslim businessmen consisting of 90,345 Bearys, 2,104 Nawayaths and 2,551 non-Muslims. Thus the district had total number of 95,000 individuals involved in business activities. Records proves that towards the close of 19th century percentage of Muslim traders in the district was as high as 97.3 and hence the local Tuluvas rightly named this community as Bearys.
Another popular theory is that the word Beary comes from Arabic word Bahar (Arabic). Bahar means ocean and Bahri (Arabic) means sailor or navigator. It is said that Beary community had trade relations with Arab businessmen travelling to coastal South India, especially the coastline of Tulunadu and Malabar. Inscriptions are found in Barkur that proves the Arab trade links with Tulunadu.
Third theory says that the word Beary is derived from the root word Malabar. The great Islamic Da'ee, Malik bin Deenar (RA) had arrived on the coast of Malabar during the 6th century with a group of Da’ees or Islamic propagators. A member from his group, Habeeb bin Malik (RA) travelled through Tulunadu and preached Islam. He had also built mosques in Kasaragod, Mangalore and Barkur.
The Bearys constitute around 80 per cent of the Dakshina Kannada Muslims, others are scattered in the neighbouring districts of Chikmagalur, Shimoga, Kodagu, Hassan and Uttara Kannada. Mumbai and Goa also have a considerable Beary population. Also, a good number of Bearys are in the Persian Gulf States of the Middle East doing a variety of jobs. Total number of Beary population is approximately 1.5 million distributed as described above.
Beary community has a history of more than 1,350 years with an ethnic identity and speaking its own dialect called Beary bashe or nakk-nikk which is also known as beary palaka.
Bearys used to refer the area south of Mangalore as Maikala or Maikal which is in fact their culture and economic capital. According to historian B. A. Saletore, Maikala was an area in the southern part of Mangalore. It got its name through the Kadri Manjunath Temple, which earlier was a Buddhist temple. The Buddhist goddess Tara Bhagavathi was also known as Mayadevi. In course of time it came to be called as Maikala, or Maikal. Historians are of the opinion that Maikala is one of the ancient names of Mangalore.  But today Maikala refers to the whole of Mangalore city covered by the Mangalore City Corporation.
The origin of the Beary community is still not much known; history reveals that there were many rich traders, from the coastal belt dealing with the traders of the Middle East through the Arabian Sea. Arab merchants have been visiting the coast of Tulunadu for business purposes even before the time of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam.
Following the advent of Islam in the early stage in the land of Arabia, the polytheistic and pagan Arabs were attracted to the teachings of Qur'an and Muhammad and adopted it in their daily life. The lofty values that Muhammad preached covered every walk of life including honesty in trade and transaction. Having embracing Islam the Arabs adopted and practised these values in their economic activities. It is said that Arab Muslim traders who were visiting Tulunadu coast attracted the inhabitants to Islam by good behaviour in their contact, honesty in trade, discipline in dealings and peaceful religious and pious life within the doctrines of Islam. Thus the people of Tulunadu who were dealing with these Arab traders accepted their religion, Islam. At the same time as per Islamic teachings of spreading the message of Islam, these Arabs were also performing Da'wah in the coastal Tulunadu and Malabar area. Some Arab businessmen who travelled to Tulunadu coast also married the local women.
The first Muslim missionaries to Mangalore can be traced to Malik Bin Deenar, an Arab trader said to be the kith and kin of Sahaba (companions of Prophet Muhammad). He is said to have visited Malabar and landed near Manjeshwar in the northern Malabar coast. He constructed the first mosque in Manjeshwar, the Malik Dinar Mosque (where his shrine is still present). Also the Masjid Zeenath Baksh popularly known as Jumma Masjid or beliye palli, in Bunder area is said to have been established in Mangalore by Habeeb bin Malik in 644 A.D. and the first Qadhi (Qazi) appointed was Hazarath Moosa Bin Malik, son of Malik Bin Abdullah. Records reveal this Mosque was inaugurated on Friday the 22nd of the month of Jumadil Awwal (fifth month of Islamic Calendar) in 22 of Hijri (644).
There are several documents available which prove that at least 90 years prior to the invasion of Muhammad bin Qasim in North India, Arab Muslim businessmen were thriving in the south. This proves Islam was prevalent in South India much before Muslim invaders came to North India. These facts are available in a research document Mykal, written by Ahmed Noori, who conducted a research on the Beary community way back in 1960.
Noori disputes the claim that the first Muslims came to India along with Alauddin Khilji between 1296-1316 AD and points out that according to renowned historian, Henry Miers Elliot, (The History of India as told by its own Historians, Part I) the first ship bearing Muslim travellers 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. Bartholomew also has similar things to say about the early Muslim settlers in India. J. Sturrock in his Madras Districts Manuals: South Kanara, says that Parsi and Arab businessmen settled in different places of the Malabar coast during the 7th century. Ahmed Noori has quoted these and other sources to validate his argument that the Muslim settlers came to India much before the invaders came to North India.
Dr. Susheela P. Upadhyaya, a research scholar in Beary bashe and Beary folklore is of the opinion that the Indian west coast came under Islamic influence long before any other part of India was influenced by Islam or Muslims. History also reveals that during the rule of Banga and Chowta dynasty in 16th century Beary men have served as seamen in the naval force. The Chowta dynasty queen, Rani Abbakka had personally supervised the construction of dam at Malali, she had appointed Bearys for boulders work.
An ancient historical work - Keralolpathi - reveals that a king of Malabar, Cheraman Perumal, embraced Islam during the very beginning days of advent of Islam in the Arab land. Thus the Arabs had royal patronage to practice and propagate Islam in Malabar area. They were also given the permission of sea trading with a royal patronage. Because of the Da'wah activities of Arab traders many people from the down trodden section of society embraced Islam and assumed better social status as Muslims.
The Portuguese lost their dominance during the rule of Hyder Ali and Tippu Sultan in Mysore. During this period the Beary Muslims again received royal patronage and intensified their sea trade activities.
Participation in the freedom struggle
The Bearys of the coast actively participated in the Indian freedom struggle against Portugal and British colonialism. There were a number of Beary men served in the naval force, and also as soldiers and military commanders in the army of brave queen of Chowta dynasty, Rani Abbakka (Kannada: ???? ???????) who ruled in Ullal region. The Bearys had also joined the army of Nawab Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan of Mysore. Historians and researchers have enlisted famous Beary personalities who participated in the freedom struggle of India. Many such freedom fighters were imprisoned by British and few died during imprisonment.
A sixteenth century Arabic work of Malabar, Tuhfah al Mujahideen or Tuhafat Ul Mujahideen compiled by Shaikh Zainuddin Makhdoom II (grand son of Shaikh Zainuddin Makhdoom I) had motivated Malabar Muslims which had influence on Bearys of the Tulunadu as well to fight the foreign invaders. Thus the Bearys had actively participated in the freedom struggle against Portugal and British rule.
The dialect spoken by Beary(Byaris), is known as Beary Bashe.  While Muslims of Uttara Kannada, called Nawayaths, speak a dialect of Konkani and Mappilas of Kerala speak Malayalam (Mappila Malayalam), Bearys spoke a language made of Malayalam idioms with Tulu phonology and grammar. This dialect was traditionally known as Mappila Malayalam because of Bearys close contact with Mappilas. Due to vast influence of Tulu for centuries, it is today considered as a language, close to Malayalam and Tulu.
Beary bashe is largely influenced by Arabic language. Most of the Bearys especially in coastal area still use a lot of Bearified Arabic words during their daily transaction. Saan, Pinhana, Gubboosu, Dabboosu, Pattir, Rakkasi, Seintaan, Kayeen, are the few words used in Beary bashe that has its roots in Arabic language. Beary Bashe also have words related to Tamil and Malayalam. Tamil and Malayalam Speakers can understand Beary by 75%
Quick reference table
Beary Arabic English
Saan Sahan Plate
Pinhana Finjan Bowl/cup
Kayeen Nikah Nuptials
Seintaan Shaitan Evil spirit
Patteer Fateerah Bread
Kalbu Qalb Heart
Rabbu Rab God
Supra Sufra Dining Mat
Gubboosu Khubz Bread
Beary Sahitya (Beary literature)
The Bearys of the coast have produced rich literary work using both Beary Bashe and Kannada language. The literature comprises Beary poetry, research articles on Bearys, historical analysis of Dakshina Kannada Muslims, essays, stories and other fields of literature. "English-Kannada-Beary" dictionary is also available in the market produced by Dr. A. Wahhab Doddamane. A number of notable Beary littérateurs have contributed to enrich the Beary literature. Dr. Susheela P. Upadhyaya, an eminent scholar has made a comprehensive study in finding the roots of Beary literature. Dr. A. Wahhab Doddamane has produced a book entitled The Muslims of Dakshina Kannada, which is an informative documentary work.
The Bearys have also produced a number of magazines and periodicals from Mangalore and other cities of the district. Some periodicals have become popular and a few of them have become a part of Beary history. Generally Kannada script is used to produce Beary literature. More than a 100 books, 400 audio cassettes and 2 video albums have been brought out so far. 
Bearys have brought out numerous lyrics and songs in Beary Bashe. Beary songwriters and music composers have published a number of Beary albums, thousands of copies in electronic format have already been sold.
The Beary Bashe has its own songs and 'ghazals'. Although it is unique in its nature the songs bore resemblance to Moplah Patts (Mappila Songs). The Beary folk songs were rendered during marriage (Mangila) parties, and for many other occasions. Kolkkali patt is a song sung during a cultural play called Kolata which uses short sticks in both the hands while playing, Unjal patt is sung by the girls during the occasion of putting the child to cradle, Moyilanji patt is sung during marriage ceremonies.
Unfortunately modern day Bearys do not know the folk songs sung by their ancestors. Several Beary folk games have also vanished.
One of the famous folk songs sung by Beary women to tease the bride during her wedding celebrations is "appa chudu chudu patima". Elderly ladies of the neighbourhood gather around the bride on the day of Mangila (wedding) to sing those melodious teasing lines. The first few lines are:
appa chudu chudu patima,
ippa baru baru mapule;
chutte appa karinhi poyi,
banne mapule madangi poyi ....
Beary language film
The inaugural ceremony of first Beary language video movie, Mami Marmolu was held in Mangalore on October 22, 2008. The film is being produced by Sony Enterprises, B.S. Gangadhara is the producer of the film. The film will focus on social and family problems being faced by the Beary families. Rahim Uchil has written the story, screen play, dialogue of the film. The director of this first Beary movie is Rahim Uchil while Prakash Padubidri is the assistant director. Rajesh Haleangady will be the cinematographer and music is being provided by Ravindra Prabhu.
The movie stars Vaibhavi (Faujiya), Rahim Uchil, Veena Mangalore, Roopashri Varkady, Riyana, K. K. Gatti, Ashok Bikernakatte, Ibrahim Thanneerbhavi, Riyaz, Sujnesh and Imtiyaz. Retired Police officer G. A. Bava will also have a role. Film will be shot in and around Mangalore city including Maripalla and Pilikula. 
World Beary Convention
The World Beary Convention was held 2006 in Dubai under the banner World Beary Sammelana & Chammana 2006.
The word Chammana stands for felicitation. Since the organizers felicitated a few Beary dignitaries during this world convention held in Dubai, UAE, the convention is called World Beary Sammelana & Chammana 2006. The Convention was also attended by several dignitaries which included Dr.B.K.Yusuf, President/Patron of Karnataka Sangha, Dubai, M.B. Abdul Rahiman, Renowned Lawyer and Notary, Syed Beary, Managing Director, Bearys Group, B.M. Farooque, Managing Director, Fiza Group, Shiraj Haji. Director Universal Export Tradeways. S.M. Syed Khalil, Galadai Group, Dubai, M.B. Noor Mohamed, MD. Fakruddin, Managing Director, Ajmal Group, Abdul Jaleel, A.S. Puthege, Editor in Chief, Varthabharathi Kannada Daily, Haju Jamalluddin, Chairman, Crescent School, Shamshudeen, P.T. Abdul Rahiman, General Secretary of Indian Islamic Centre, T.S. Shettigar, Jamalludin, Apsara Group, Dr. Viquar Azeem, Dr. Azad Moopen, Ganesh Rai, M.K. Madhavan, Kumar, Indian Association Dubai, Kanukaran Shetty, President Hotel, Prabhakar, KOD, K.P. Ahmed, Yaseen Malpe etc. Some Beary dignitaries have been facilitated during the convention.
The banner of Sammelana seen at BanakalThere are four Beary Sahitya Sammelanas (The Beary Literature Summit) have been taken place so far. Cultural activities, exhibition related to Beary culture and society, talks on Beary society by Beary scholars, publications and Beary literature stalls are the centre of attraction during any Beary Sahitya Sammelana.
The first Beary Sahitya Sammelana was presided by B.M. Iddinabba, Member of Legislative Assembly, Ullal constituency, Karnataka State.
The second Beary Sahitya Sammelana was presided by Goltha Majalu Abdul Khader Haji.
The third Beary Sahitya Sammelana was presided by Beary research scholar Prof. B.M. Ichlangod.
The Fourth Beary Sahitya Sammelana was presided by novelist Fakir Mohammed Katpady.
Fourth Beary Sahitya Sammelana
The Fourth Beary Sahitya Sammelana (The Fourth Beary Literary Summit) was held in Vokkaligara Samaja Bhavana in city of Chikmagalur on 27 February 2007 which demanded the state government for the establishment of a Beary Sahitya Academy. The Sammelana was jointly organized by Kendra Beary Sahitya Parishat, Mangalore, and Chickmagalur Bearygala Okkoota. Chikmagalur is the district that harbors second largest number of Beary population next to Dakshina Kannada.
The theme of the Sammelana was Prosperity through Literature, Development through Education and Integrity for Security. 
The sammelana also took up issues such as official recognition to the Beary bashe by the State Government, setting up of Beary Sahitya Academy, and recognition to the community as linguistic minority. It is said that Beary bashe is as old as Tulu language and spoken by more than 1,500,000 people around the world. The history of this dialect is at least 1200 years old.
Beary Sahithya Academy
The banner of Sammelana seen at BanakalThe Bearys have felt the need for an independent Beary Sahitya Academy since long time. They have been urging the state government to constitute an academy since a decade using every possible means. The Fourth Beary Sahitya Sammelana (February 2007) held in Chickmagalur played a vital role since its focal point was aimed at establishment of Academy. Later, on 3rd of October 2007 the government of the Sate of Karnataka recognised 'Beary Sahithya Academy' and issued government order to that effect. The government further issued an order naming senior lawyer from Beary community, M. B. Abdul Rahman as the first president of Beary Sahitya Academy in February 2009.
M.B. Abdurrahman took charge as the first president of Beary Sahitya Academy on 17th Februrary 2009 in a formal function held at the premises of Karnataka State Tulu Sahitya Academy, Mangalore. The presidential term is for 3 years as per the present norms of Academy.
This community people have played a vital role in the media activities of Tulunadu or Dakshina Kannada district. Apart from publishing a lot of books in Beary bashe and Kannada, Bearys have also brought out periodicals, magazines and newspapers. Some of such works are now a history but some are running todate with good reputation.
List of periodicals brought out by Bearys:
No. Name Editor
1 Jyothi - Kamal Hyder
2 Swatantra - Bharata Kamal Hyder
3 Antaranga - Kama Hyder
4 Human Affairs- Kamal Hyder
5 Hamdard- Raheem Ahmad
6 Sadakat Post - Raheem Ahmad
7 Udaya Chandra- F.H. Odeyar
8 Nawa Shakti - B.M.A. Rafeeq
9 Shanti Sandesh - Dr. M.M. Salih
10 Divya Vani - C.K. Hussain
11 Musalman- C.K. Hussain
12 Millat - A.T.M. Shafi
13 Hilal - A.T.M. Shafi
14 Amaanat- Abdul Raheem Haji
15 Agni - K.H. Hussain Mulki
16 Bhooloka - Abdullah Belthangady
17 Himmat- Ibrahim Kareem
18 Ananta - M.A. Raheem
19 Apsara - Dr. Wahab Doddamane
20 Shikshakara Vani- J.M. Mohammed Master
21 Dharma- Vani Hameed Kandak
22 Popular - Hameed Kandak
23 Nawaneet - Muhsin Haji Caup
24 Al Misbah - Dr. K.M. Shah Musliyar
25 Aalamul Huda - Dr. K.M. Shah Musliyar
26 Sarala Patha - Dr. K.M. Shah Musliyar
27 Sandesha - Abu Raihan Ahmed Noori
28 Kitaab - Abu Raihan Ahmed Noori
29 The Message - Abu Raihan Ahmed Noori
30 Mesco Varthe - Abul Hasan Muhammad Moulavi
31 AL Miftaah - B.M. Mohammed Mangalanti
32 Al Muneer- Saletore Aboobaker Faizi
33 Al Ihsan - Mohammed Ullal
34 Tawa Nidhi - Prof. B.M. Ichlangod
35 Media Times - Prof. B.M. Ichlangod
36 Sanmarga - Ibrahim Saeed
37 Anupama - M. Sadullah
38 Al Ansar - Haji Ibrahim Bawa
39 Moilanji - Hamza Malar
40 Pavitra Sandesha - Karnataka Salafi Association
41 Mustaqeem - Eden Publication
42 Hi Puttur - Mittur Hameed Kandak
43 Isha Patrike - Ismail Shafi
44 AL Aqsa - T.M. Haneef Maulavi
45 Puttur Mitra - Ibbatulla Kadaba
46 Pushpa Mandaara- Aziz Bajpe
47 Asar Vani- Aziz Bajpe
48 Jana Vahini- K.M. Khaid
49 Hoodota - A.C.M. Saletore
50 Firdous- M.E Mohammed
51 Hasiru Bhoomi - T.H. Ibrahim Musliyar
52 Al Qamar- Shareef Moodabidri
53 Kodagu Kesari- B.A. Shamsuddin
54 Janadesha Patrike- U. Muhammad Nazeer
55 Nawa Keerti - B.M. Iddinabba
56 Karawali Maruta- Iqbal Ahmed Kuthar
57 Encounter- Iqbal Ahmed Kuthar
58 Eye Special News - Iqbal Ahmed Kuthar
59 Lathi Charge - Ismail Moodushedde
60 Hello Mangalooru - Raheem Uchil
61 Noble Universe - B.M. Haneef
62 Islam and Science- S.E. Abdul Rahman
63 The Islamic Guidance- M Anwar Bajpe
64 Payaswini Sullia- M.B.M. Madani
65 Sunni Sndesha - K.M.S. Faizi
66 Baala Sandesha- K.M.S. Faizi
67 Samyukta Prabha - Mohammed Rafi
68 Beary- Akbar Ullal
69 Utkarsha - Akbar Ullal
70 Beary Varthe- Basheer Baikampady
71 Beary Times - Kuwainda Hamzatullah
72 Kittale Naadu - Kuwainda Hamzatullah
73 Pernal - Umer U.H.
74 Indian News- A.S. Anduka
75 Special News- Bawa Padrangi
76 Varthabharathi - Abdussalam Puthige
77 Mesco Varthe Moulavi - Abul Hasan
78 Sirathe musthaqeem Da'wa Publications
Some of these periodicals are still being published and reaching to the hands of a sizable population of Tulunadu and other adjecent districts and to the Persian Gulf States.
Beary Muslim Community Newsportal:- www.frontworld.com
List of the Books published in Beary bashe:-
No. Title Author
1 Muthu Maale (Islamudo Nadavadi) Abul Hasan Muhammad Moulavi
2 Kammane* (A collection of poetry) Mohammed Baddur
3 Tanal (A collection of poetry) Ibrahim Tanniru Bawi
4 Ponchiri* (Proverbs) M.B. Abdul Rahman
5 Choltonnu Chelonnu (A collection of stories) U.A. Qasim Ullala
6 Video Casstte (A collection of stories) U.A. Qasim Ullala
7 Niskaaratho Krama, Adl Chelred Piine Adre Artha U.A. Qasim Ullala
8 Beary Cassette-re Paatnga (A collection of songs) Hussain Katipalla
9 Beary Cassette-re Paatnga (A collection of songs) Basheer Ahmed Kinya
10 Paalum Ten (Folk tales) Hamza Malar
11 Oru Pannre Kinaavu* (Short Novel) Hamza Malar
12 Pernal* (A collection of stories) Mohammed Kulai
13 Kinaavu* (A collection of stories) Beary writers
14 Duniyaavy (A collection of songs) Beary poets
15 Meltiri (A collection of songs) Beary poets
*These books are available at the largest library in the world, the Library of Congress at Washington, D.C., USA.
The Bearys have a distinct culture different from other Muslim communities. The marriage customs of the Bearys seem to be a mix of the Tulu and Moplah customs along with some distinct customs of their own. Bearys do not follow the matrilineal tradition, unlike the Moplahs. Curiously, the Bearys until recently followed a custom known as the Gotra or illam, which resembles the Bunt bali custom. Though Islam is basically patriarchal, illam, influenced by the Tulu culture, has matriarchal tendencies. Marriage between people belonging to the same illam (comparable to the gotra) was not encouraged. People identified with an illam were known as talakkar. And people of low castes who converted to Islam were identified as tala illatavaru. A similar illam system with the same name illam is strigently being practiced by some Brahmin families in Kerala. Those are basically Tulu Brahmins and are hailing from Tulunadu. In Tulu language word illu stands for house. So it is evident that illam system observed by Beary people is taken from the local Tulunadu culture. In the recent days, as this community has come closer to the original teachings of the religion they follow, Islam, this illam system has vanished from the day to day life of Bearys.
The marriage of the Bearys is considered to be a pointer to their prosperity. Marriage celebration is normally spread over 3 days starting with Moilanji (henna tattooing) at the brides house a day before the marriage (close relatives and friends are invited) and an Islamic style Nikah known as Kayeen is performed at the groom’s place on the day of the marriage. A garland exchange between Bride and groom is also part of Beary marriage which is an adoption from Tulu culture. The dowry system is still quite prevalent among most Bearys.
Modern marriages of most of the families are arranged in community halls with large number of invitees including relatives and community members.
Paunaraga of Maikala
Before the advent of the Portuguese, Maikala or Mangalore was one of the main centers of Jains with many Jain Muts, Basadis and also palaces. Especially the Bunder area Maikala was dominated by rich Jain houses. The Jains who enjoyed economical and social status maintained a system known as Jaina Beedu, which literally means Jain House.
Later when these Jains embraced Islam, they still maintained this Beedu system as status symbol. Beedu can be translated in Beary bashe as Aga which means House. The Paunar Aga or Paunaraga - which literally means sixteen houses - of high status are:
1. Kallare Aga 2. Beliye Ballal Aga 3. Cheriye Ballal Aga 4. Beedhire Ballal Aga
5. Pandiol Aga 6. Chettra Aga / Bandassale Aga 7. Kozhikkan Aga 8. Kajimane Aga
9. Moosarikana Aga 10. Beliyabbaka Aga 11. Sayirikana Aga 12. Khayirikana Aga
13. Bubakana Aga 14. Anakhana Aga 15. Siyalikhana Aga 16. Getre Aga
These houses enjoyed supreme social status amongst Bearys throughout 19th century and treated other Bearys as second class citizens. The people belonging to these houses were identified as Agakkar which means the People of the House. The history of these houses is short lived glory that these houses enjoyed socially and economically. Many of the social customs that the people of Paunaraga observed were special to them and had no roots in Isalm.
Thus the lifestyle of Agakkar of Beary community was largely influenced by Jains. Most of the ornaments used by Agakkar was of Jain pattern and had Jain names. Kharjana is the jewel box used by both Jains and Bearys. Today the people of Paunaraga or Agakkar have lost their social and economic status but some of the houses still remain in Bunder area. Their surnames tell the glory once they enjoyed.
Next to Agakkar comes Taalakkar and then Taala-illatavar. All these system the Bearys maintained in the olden days which they inherited from local people. However these systems are vanished with the advent of Isalmic literature of late.
Some peculiar names of Bearys
Usually Muslim community people name their children which has Arabic roots. But olden day Bearys had some strange names which are not seen anywhere else in the Muslim world. Although those peculiar names are now vanishing, here are some such examples:
Kayiri, Sayiri, Sayirabba, Cheyya, Cheyyabba, Saunhi, Kayinhi, Sekunhi, Baduva, Mayabba, Puthabba, Hammabba, Cheyyabba, Ijjabba, Kunha, Kunhi, Bava, Bavunhi, Kunhibavu, Puttubavu Unha, Unhi, Unhimon, Iddinabba, Podiya, Podimonu, Pallikunhi, Kunhipalli, Kidavaka, Abbu, Abbonu, Chakaka,
List of the Books published related to Beary culture:
No. Title Author
1 Muslims in Dakshina Kannada- Dr. A. Wahab Doddamane
2 English - Kannada - Beary dictionary- Dr. A. Wahab Doddamane
3 Maikala- Abu Raihan Ahmed Noori
4 Beary bashe matthu Jaanapada Kathegalu- Dr. Susheela Upadhyaya
5 Tulunada Muslimaru- Prof. B.M. Ichlangod
6 Moilaanji- Hamza Malar
7 Beary Muslimaru - Hamza Malar
*These books are available at the largest library in the world, the Library of Congress at Washington, D.C., USA.
In olden days Bearys used to hold ceremonial marriage functions. Its prodigality some times remained for a full year. Pomp and flaunting rituals and dinner parties some times made some wealthy families victim of bankruptcy. Most of these customs and rituals were against the teachings of Islam, the religion of Bearys. There is no evidence for dowry system in the olden day Beary marriages but a lot of customs inherited from the local Tuluva communities living in Tulunadu has been found.
Marriage in Beary bashe is known as Mangila. A lot of ceremonial rituals related to Beary Mangila which once was an essential part of nuptials today vanishing. Keli kekre, Naal kuri, Bethale beikre, Varappu, Moilanji, Kayeen, Beett, Birnd, Oppane, Kaikottu patt, Appathe mangila – all these are related to Mangila or the Beary marriage.
Madrasah education system-
Although this community is backward in modern education, it still has successfully achieved 100% literacy rate due to prevailing Madrasa education system. All the Beary children are sent to Madrasah (Arabic: ?????) which is managed and run by the community that imparts religious education. All such Madrasahs are affiliated to Samastha Board which conducts well organized public examination for 5th, 7th and 10 grade students. Visiting inspectors called Mufattish are appointed to inspect the quality of education in Madrasahs. For administrative purposes divisions have been made as range, area, taluq and district. The teachers are qualified in Arabic language and religious education are known as Mu’allim and students as Muta’allim. The Madrasahs do use a centralized syllabus prepared by the Samstha Board and media of instruction is now shifted to Kannada from traditional Arabic based Malayalam called Arabi-Malayalam – a special language that uses Arabic script and Malayalam phonetics.
Mundu, Chatte and Toppi is the preferred uniform for boys in Madrasas. Girls do wear a long gown with a head-dress known as yalasara. But today this traditional dress pattern is vanishing. Boys are going for shirt - trousers and girls are adopting Churidars and Salwar kameez style.
In those villages where there is no separate building facility available to run Madrasas independently, this education is however imparted in the mosques it self. Thus mosques some time do play the role of Madrasas in many Beary dominant villages.
Apart from Samstha Board many other educational institutions also have been surfaced lately. The Salafi group has established their own Madrasahs through out Dakshina Kannada district. Salafis also have started separate religious schools exclusively for girls in Ullal. Jamat-e-Islami is now running an exclusive college for girls in Deralakatte province. There are several other schools managed by Bearys which are aimed at providing both modern and religious education simultaneously to the children.
The Beary attire is different from that of other south Indian community. Men wear a traditional white muslin turban and a Rani-mark belt (wide, green in colour) at the waist, with long full sleeve white shirts (known as Chatte) and bleached mundu. MS belle mundu and Moulana mark Kambai is also among traditional outfit of Bearys. Today due to a cultural shift young Bearys have adopted a shirt-trouser pattern.
Beary women are traditionally clad in three pieces of clothes, viz, tuni, kuppaya and yalasara. While going out the Beary women took a long rectangle blanket, known as valli, a sort of veil to cover entire body. If two women want to go out together they would use a joduvalli (double veil). Surprisingly Valli of Beary bashe and Veil of English language have similarity in pronunciation and convey the same meaning. Thus it demands an etymological research into these words.
Today, different varieties of burqa or Abaya have replaced the traditional valli. Hence Beary women now wear a black over-coat known as Burqa or Abaya while going out. The Abaya or Burqa is more like a business suit for a Beary woman while she is out of home. Many exclusive Arabic pattern Abaya shops have also emerged with commercial interest.
The beary women has excessive love for ornaments and uses it on every possible occasion such as Mangila, Sunnat Mangila, Appate Mangila, Birnd, Moilanji and other social gatherings. There were different types of ornaments used by beary community in past which is at the verge of vanishing today due to the cultural invasion and urbanization. These ornaments are made out of mainly gold and silver and used for the ornamentation of head, ears, neck, waist, wrist, fingers and feet. Beary research scholars are of the opinion that Beary ornaments were largely influenced by Jain ornament patterns. The ornament storage box used by Bearys was made out of brass and other metals was also used by Jain community and was called Kharjana by both Bearys and Jains.
Head ornaments:- Tale singara, Tirupi, Kedage, Jadepalle, Nera Nilaavu, Chauri
Ear ornaments: Alikat, Kett Alikat, Illi Alikat, Kuduki, Bendole, Lolak, Voli,Jalara,Koppubalsara, Vale
Neck ornaments: Misri male, Sara, Naklees, Bandi male, Minni male, Nalchuttu male
Wrist ornaments: Cheth Bale, Alsande bale, Kett bale, Yeduru bale, Sorage Bale, Kadaga
Waist ornaments: Aranjana, Arepatti
Finger ornaments: Modara, Kallre modara
Feet ornaments: Kunipu, Kal sarapali, Chein
The 18th Century Eidgah MosqueThe traditional Islamic festivals of Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha (also known as Bakrid) are celebrated. Special Eid prayer is offered during these two occasions. Mangalore city has a centralised Eidgah in Bavuta Gudda where congregational special prayers or Salat al Eid is held. The Eidgah of Mangalore city has a mosque which is said to have been built by then Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan towards the close of eighteenth century. Usually in the central Eidgah the Qadhi leads the Eid prayer and delivers Khutba. Colourful costumes, delicious food, exchanging the Eid greetings - Eid Mubarak (Arabic/Persian/Urdu: ??? ?????) and generous charity to the poor and needy are part of Eid celebration. Other occasions celebrated are 12th Rabi' al-awwal of the third month of Islamic calendar commemorating Meelad-al-Nabi - prophet Muhammad's birthday. Moon citation is an event of rejoice for Beary folk.
Beary cuisine is highly influenced by the South Indian Cuisine. Just like Mangalorean cuisine it uses a lot of coconut, curry leaves, ginger, chilli and spices like pepper and cardamom. Beary cuisine boasts of a special kind of biryani, which is very different from the other types made elsewhere. Rice preparations, both fresh and dry fish, meat and eggs enjoy top place in Beary daily menu.
A few traditional dishes very popular amongst all the Tulu communities have unique names in Beary dialect. Pindi, pinde-basale, kunhi-pinde, bisali-appa (kaltappa), tondare-appa, guli-appa, syame, muttere-appa, pattir, nei pattir, poo-pole, pulche-pole, vodu-pole, uppu-molavu, kanhi, methe-kanhi, nei-kanhi, chekkere-appa, manhel elero appa, pittappa etc. are to name a few.
The Bearys, who once enjoyed a high social status, slowly lost their position during the British and Portuguese rule. Their opposition to the English resulted in them being denied English education, which in course of time turned them into a socially backward community.
Today, hardly 20% of the community is engaged in trading and business, thanks to the modern education community offlate have been seeing professionally qualified members. Some Bearys are involved in the beedi industry and fish trade, and a majority are farmers. A few Bearys have progressed even further in the past few years and have achieved tremendous development in the field of Education, Business & Politics. Bearys today own many Educational Institutions. Professional Colleges in Mangalore are mostly owned or partnered by Bearys. Bearys have also achieved high positions in Karnataka Politics and few have also attained positions in the Central Government. In spite of these achievements, majority of the people of the community are still economically backward. The recent job opportunities in Persian gulf countries have improved the standard of living to some extent. However, Bearys in rural areas are still extremely backward socially, economically and educationally.
Since Islam prohibits interest based financial dealings, Beary community is not seem to have taken benefits from interest based or conventional banking system. In the modern days they have embarked on establishing a small scale interest free banking system namely Interest Free Loan and Welfare Society in Mangalore.
Today the Beary community of coastal Karnataka is surging ahead in diverse fields like international business, education, medicine and technology. Bearys have also formed various social and cultural organizations of diversified interests.
Beary's Welfare Association, Bangalore-
Beary's Welfare Association is based in Bangalore the capital of Karnataka state. The association came into being on March 21, 1988 with a motive to provide a means of communication and integration, and also to provide a platform to work towards the betterment of the Beary community in all aspects of life.
Beary Welfare Association has organized a number of cultural programs every year right from its very inception. Beary Prakashana is its sister concern and involved in print and publication activities. It has published a number of titles on Beary culture, Beary bashe, Beary history, and also on research studies on Bearys.
Bearys Welfare Forum, Abu Dhabi (BWF)-
Bearys Welfare Forum of Abu Dhabi, popularly known as BWF is an association of Beary expatriats in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. It does community activities and mainly community welfare activities.
BWD was established in the year 2004 with an intention of working for all sections of the society. It has helped the victims of communal riots in Mangalore by providing medical assistance and other aids. The BWD gained popularity when it held mass marriage ceremony of twelve pairs of poor and deserving youth at the Shadi Mahal of Mangalore city.
Capman Media Makers-
Capman Media Makers has been active in 'Beary Movement' for the last few years. It has felicitated Beary poets, writers and others who have come up with remarkable achievements in the society. Surmatho Kann, Maafi Mushkil, Savunchakaro Shale are some of the productions of Capman Media Makers. , beary Naseehath Majlis
Famous Beary personalities
There are intellectuals, writes, lyricists, songwriters, politicians, businessmen, journalists, professionals, research scholars in Beary community who became famous through their contribution to the community and society:
Late Khan Bahadur Aboobakar Haji Fakeera: recipient of Khan Bahadur title from British rulers in 1893
Late Haji Kappal Hasan Beary
Late Kunhamu Sahib: community leader in 1940s
Late Arkula Iddinabba Vodeyar: led the community in 1950s
Late Muhammad Kamal: a prominent Muslim leader during 1970s and 80s
Late Mata Bandsale Yousuf Sahukar: a prominent Muslim leader during 1970s
Mr. Ahmed Noori
Mr. B.M. Iddinabba
Mr. B.M. Ichlangod
Mr. Ibrahim Saeed
Mr. Abdussalam Puthige
Mr. K.P Abdul Hameed
Late Mr. U. Muhammad Nazeer, Founder Editor- Janadesha Patrike.
Mr. B.M. Ichlangod, Founder Editor, Thavanidhi
Late Mr. Mohammed Kamal
Late Mr. Ibrahim Saeed, founder editor, Sanmarga weekly
Mr. Ismaell Shafi, Editor, Isha patrike
Mr. Abdussalam Puthige, Managing Director and Editor in Chief, Varthabharathi Kannada daily
Mr. Sharafuddin B.S., journalist, orator and translator
Mr. Umer U.H., Editor, Pernal monthly
Mr. B.M. Haneef, journalist, Prajavani
Mr. Ismail, journalist, Udayavani
Mr. B.M. Basheer, journalist, Varthabharathi
Beary Political Leaders-
B.M. Iddinabba, MLA, Indian National Congress,
Late Mr. U.T. Fareed, MLA, Indian National Congress,
Al Haji Hameed Kandak, Vice President D.K.District Congress
U.T. Khader, MLA, Indian National Congress, 
Late Mr. Umarabba, MLA, Indian National Congress,
B.A. Moideen, MLA, Janata Dal
Late Mr. Mohammed Huassain, Janata Dal
B.A. Khader Haji, Ex Mayor, Mangalore
Ashraf, Ex Mayor, Mangalore
B.A. Hasanabba, Ex MLC, Bangalore
M.B. Abdul Nazeer Mata, Vice President, Youth Congress, Mangalore District.
Mr. J. Imtiyaz (Rafi) (Karavali Rafi Award Winner)
Late Mr. Muhammad Nazir (Mukesh) (Award Winner)
Mr. M.B. Abdul Samad (Rafi)
Mr. Noushad (Rafi)
Mr. Haneef Perliye (Mohammed Rafi)
Mr. Akbar Ali (Mohammed Rafi)
Beary Police Officials in high level-G.A. Bava ACP
T.C.M. Sharieff DSP
K.S. Ibrahim DSP
Beary Advocates-M.B. Abdul Rahman, Notary
B.A. Mohammad Hanif, Notary
Late Yusuf Haider
M.M. Basheer Ahmed
B.A. Hasanabba, Ex consumer court judge, Madikeri
Ullal Nooruddin Ahmed (Retd. Deputy Tahsildar and Writer)
Other Beary Personalities-M G. Rahim, Director, cenematographer, producer
Mr. Hanif, lyricist and composer
Rise and fall of Coromandel Muslims
COLOMBO DIARY | PK Balachandran
January 16, 2006
Before the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English established themselves on the Coromandel or East Tamil Nadu coastline, maritime trade was entirely in the hands of Tamil-speaking Muslims of Arab-Tamil ancestry.
But once the pushy, ruthless, cunning and better organised European merchants entered the arena, the Coromandel Muslims began to lose ground rapidly.
And in their fight for survival, they got no help from the Indian rulers, writes Dr J Raja Mohamad, in his fascinating book entitled: Maritime History of the Coromandel Muslims (published by the Government Museum, Chennai, India, in 2004).
The local rulers were indifferent to the Muslims' plight because they were not interested in maritime trade and the Muslims had not cultivated them.
In the new era, when trade was inextricably tied to political and military power, the apolitical Coromandel Muslims found themselves completely outplayed by the more savvy Europeans, Raja Mohamad says.
The dominant Muslim communities on the Coromandel coast were the Marakkayars, also known as Maraikars, Marikkars or Marcars, and the Labbais, also known as Lebbe or Coromandel Moplahs. Maraikars and Labbais were found in Ceylon too.
These communities dominated trade with Ceylon and South East Asia. So much so, that English records describe the ports on the Coromandel coast as "Moor ports".
Cuddalore was known as Islamabad and Porto Novo or Parangipettai, as Mohammad Bandar.
The Tamil-speaking Muslims of Arab-Tamil ancestry had inherited their dominant position in South and South East Asian trade from the Arabs, who had acquired a virtual monopoly of Indian maritime commerce by 3rd Century BC.
The Arab and Tamil-speaking Muslim traders brought much prosperity to India. The 14th century Arab writer Ibn Fadbullah ul-Omari had written that in India the seas were pearls and the trees were perfumes!
According to Raja Mohamad, Arab contact with Tamil Nadu is mentioned in the Tamil Sangam literature of 2nd Century AD.
He says that the "Yavana" in Sangam literature are not Greeks, as generally presumed, but Muslims from what is now Yemen.
He also says that the term "Sonaka" used to identify Coromandel and Ceylon Muslims of Indo-Arab descent is but a corruption of Yavana. He also points out that the Mapilla or Moplah Muslims of Kerala were known as Sonaka Mapillas.
The Arabs came to the Coromandel coast not as conquerors, but as traders.
Conversions to Islam took place through preaching to the under-privileged sections of the caste-ridden Hindu society, and marriage to Tamil women. Islam came to the Coromandel coast in its earliest days.
The oldest mosque in Tamil Nadu which is near the Kottai (Fort) Railway station in Tiruchi is dated 743 AD.
The native Hindu rulers of what is now Tamil Nadu and Kerala, encouraged the Arab-Muslims to settle down and trade.
The Zamorin of Calicut in Kerala needed Muslims to man his ships. He even decreed that the Arab traders should marry Malayali women and bring up at least one of their children as a Muslim.
The Rowthers, as the name suggests, had made a name for themselves as traders in Arab horses.
The Marakkayars (boat people) and Lebbais were expert mariners and traders. The Marakkayars claimed a higher social and economic status.
Arrival of Portuguese and end of free trade
Prior to the advent of the Portuguese in the early part of the 16th. Century, trade in South and South East Asia was free.
It was the Portuguese (followed by the Dutch and the English) who introduced the system of monopolies and unfair trade regimes based on military might and political clout, Raja Mohamad says.
Cooperation and peace were replaced by discord and war, he comments.
In bringing about this iniquitous system, the Indian rulers had a hand. Indian rulers at that time did not enter trade.
So they did not pitch for monopoly over trade in the Indian Ocean. They extended all facilities to the Portuguese to attract them to their ports, Raja Mohamad says.
He laments that the Indian rulers did nothing to protect the Muslims, who were the only Indian maritime traders operating shipping services to far-flung areas.
The Indian rulers declared that trade in spices, gold and silver were a Portuguese monopoly.
Being virulently anti- Muslim, the Portuguese told the Christians of Kerala not to sell their pepper to the Muslims.
By 1530, the Arabs lost their monopoly over trading in horses. This passed entirely into the hands of the Portuguese.
By 1537 they had converted to Christianity an oppressed fishing community on the Tamil Nadu coast called Paravas.
The rejuvenated Paravas were set up to compete with the Muslims in trade and pearl fishing.
Pearl fishing, which was entirely in the hands of the Muslims for a long time, went into the hands of the Paravas.
To control trade in the entire region, the Portuguese established their power over key points like Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, and Malacca in South East Asia. Ceylon passed into their hands.
Under the Cartaz system, only those ships with a Portuguese Cartaz (document or permit) could trade and enter ports in this region.
Indian rulers favoured Portuguese
To the misfortune of the Coromandel Muslims, the Nayak rulers of Thanjavur favoured the Portuguese, and the latter in turn favoured the Hindu Chettiar merchants, who were taken as local partners.
This affected the Muslims badly because their trade centre was the port of Nagapattinam in Thanjavur.
In Madurai too, the Nayak rulers favoured the Portuguese. This was because the Portuguese helped Thirumalai Nayak in a succession dispute.
Taking advantage of the Nayaks' lack of interest in seafaring and sea trading, the Portuguese took control of the Madurai Nayakdom's ports.
But the Portuguese ran into trouble with the Sethupathi Rajas of Ramanathapuram, who formed an alliance with the Dutch against the Portuguese.
As the Muslims too had complaints against the Portuguese, the Ramanathapuram Rajas helped the Muslims establish themselves on the Ramanathapuram coastline facing Ceylon.
With the local Rajas being generally indifferent, if not hostile, to the Muslims, the Portuguese were able to persecute the Muslim traders with impunity.
Their ships used to be disallowed in harbours even if they had the Cartaz and heavy bribes were demanded. It cost the Muslims a great deal more to get a Cartaz.
When the Portuguese acquired Colombo in Ceylon, they found a strong Muslim population there dominating trade.
Persecution was set in motion immediately. They were driven out of the maritime regions into the Kandyan region at the Centre.
From there they had to go to the Eastern and South Eastern Coast, where they became rice cultivators.
Dutch displace Portuguese
The Dutch set up their first factory in India in 1605, and by 1658, they had displaced the Portuguese from most places on the Coromandel coast.
The Indian princes welcomed the Dutch because they needed help to counter the Portuguese who had become rapacious.
The Dutch were given trade concessions in return for help to counter the Portuguese.
The Sethupathi of Ramanathapuram had borrowed money from the Dutch, and as repayment, he had to mortgage all his ports to them.
In Ceylon, the Dutch confiscated the vessels of the Sethupathi and his allies, the Muslims.
Heavy restrictions were put on the Muslims both in India and Ceylon. In Ceylon, after the Dutch had established themselves, government lands were not rented out to the Muslims and no government work was entrusted to them.
But the Dutch could not stand the pressure from the English who had also started forming alliances with native princes by exploiting differences between them.
By 1783-84, the Dutch East India Company was virtually bankrupt and before long, the Dutch had to quit India.
Muslims turn to smuggling
Raja Mohammad says that because of the restrictions put on them by the Portuguese and the Dutch, Muslim traders and mariners took to smuggling in a big way in the 17th and 18th centuries. Records tended to describe them as smugglers.
The French, who followed the Dutch, were more favourable to the Muslims. The French used Muslim mariners in their trade with Burma.
The Muslims began to operate from Pondicherry, where the customs rates were lower.
Impact of the British
The British changed the character of trade in peninsular India. They entered into deals with weavers and financed their production for export. Many of the weavers were Muslims from the Lebbe community.
But by the first half of the 19th century, all this changed, Raja Mohamad observes. The British began to export cotton from South India and import finished cloth made in Lancashire, England. South Indian cloth lost its market in England.
Muslim traders were disadvantaged by the growth of British Joint Stock Companies in the trading sector.
The system of advancing money to weavers had broken the back of the Muslim trader and exporter.
Local weavers sold their products to the British merchants not the Muslims. The British Indian government favoured British companies and discriminated against Muslim merchants.
Muslims who were in shipping and ship building were badly hit when the British restricted Indian shipping and ships having Indian crew.
A ship entering English waters had to have a White captain and at least 75 per cent of the crew had to be White, Raja Mohamad writes.
The British also preferred to work with the docile Hindu Chettiars rather than the Muslims, he says.
Muslim traders lost out to the Chettiars also because the financial clout of the latter was much greater.
After the revolt of 1857 in North India, British attitude towards the Muslims in general hardened.
Southern Tamil Nadu was the home ground of the Tamil Muslim trader and mariner.
When the British started developing Madras as the main port of the Coromandel coast, the Muslims were highly disadvantaged.
Ports on the southern coast like Kayal, Kilakarai, Devipattinam, Thondi, Adiramapattinam, Porto Novo, and Nagapattinam began to lose their importance.
These remained dominant only in Indo-Ceylon trade, in which of course, the Tamil Muslims had a big role to play till quite recently.
The heavy restrictions on Muslim maritime trade forced the Coromandel Muslims to leave this line and look for other trading opportunities further inland in India and abroad.
Migration to Ceylon, Malaya and other parts of British-held South East Asia began in a big way.
Muslim-owned ships began to take passengers rather than cargo. Many Muslims became traders, peddlers and contractors in South East Asia.
Reasons for the decline of the Coromandel Muslims
Raja Mohamad has identified several reasons for the decline of the Tamil-speaking Muslims of the Coromandel coast:
1) There was a sharp religious and economic conflict between the Portuguese and the Dutch on the one hand, and the Muslims on the other.
2) The Portuguese and the Dutch and later the British preferred to work with the Hindu Chettiar merchants rather than the Muslims.
3) Native Indian rulers, whether Hindu or Muslim, barring the Sethupathis of Ramnad, had no interest in maritime trade and therefore gave away their ports and maritime trading rights to the European powers in return for financial/political/ military help against their rivals.
In the process, the interest of the indigenous maritime trader, the Muslim, was sacrificed.
4) Unlike the Europeans, the Muslims showed no interest in the politics or political conflicts in the areas in which they lived, and therefore failed to take advantage of political currents.
5) Muslims did not modernise their business styles and practices. The British were more innovative and reaped huge benefits as a result.
6) Muslims did not have the financial resources of the Hindu Chettiars or the British merchants. They had to borrow from the Chettiars at high rates of interest.
7) Unlike the Chettiars, the Muslims were not united. And unlike the British merchants, they did not have the backing of the British Indian government.
The British Indian government placed such restrictions on overseas shipping and trade that it was impossible for Muslim overseas traders and shipping interests to survive.
Raja Mohamad ends his book on a somber note. He says that the Muslims of Coromandel, who were the "rulers of the waves, merchant princes at home and king makers and economic builders in far off countries", disappeared from the scene rapidly, because they could not match the strength and guile of the Europeans.
Sadly, the short-sighted Indian rulers had no use for the Muslims and ignored them.
Today, the Coromandel Muslims are a pale shadow of what they were even 200 years ago.
Though their deeds "glitter in the pages of history," they do not remember their past, Raja Mohamad observes.
(PK Balachandran is Special Correspondent of Hindustan Times in Sri Lanka)
Evolution of kinship and clan system among Manipuri Muslim
Corvee Labour (Lallup) to Functional Divisions of Labour (Loyamba Shinlen) Perspectives
- Part 1 -
By: Imam Khan Makhjummayum *
In the age of silk route trade and ancient globalization, other than the main Silk Route across Central Asia connecting Roman and Arab lands and China, there was also another lesser known silk route passing through Manipur along which Brahmanism, Buddhism, Nestorian, Christianity and Islam traversed to reach East Asia and Southeast Asia.
There were both land silk route and sea silk route. From the sea silk routes, Arabs were sea-farers and explorers who converted an ancient Kerala king named Perumal to Islam, coastal people of Bengal delta, and some Nagara Brahmans of Sylhet embraced Islam in post-Harsha period in c. 655 AD who learnt the art of paper-making and silk-craft (sericulture) from the Chinese who participated in the trans-Asiatic trade, and Manipur valley was an entrepot and meeting place of Indo-Aryans and Mongoloid races.
Manipur traced their first king to Nongda Lairen Pakhangba (33-154 AD) to whose period is attributed the intermingling of at least nine racial (ethnic) ethnic groups known as Salai, and by the period of king Naophang Ahal period (594-624 AD) there existed on record two known racial groups (Salai) of Pasha and Pathan who were variously described as Turushka, Mlechhas, Aribahs in Vaishnavite literature or known as Passi, Ta-shih and Ta-t'sin in Tang period Chinese accounts, or known as Pangals, Khalazi, Aribam, Pasha, Turushka, Pasa, Pathan in Manipuri Meitei accounts (Puyas). There was Aribam clan in Naophang Ahal period (624 d.) period and Aribam, Makak, Khullakpam, Merai clans in Naophang Ahal period (624-714 AD).
Almost all Pangal (Manipuri Muslim) clans- numbering upto 62 so far, are patrilineal (Piba lineage) in nomenclature except in the case of two clans. There were matrilineal clans- Chesam and Phisam, and patrilineal clans as Aribam, Khullakpam, Makakmayum, Solaimayum which were apparent in king Irengba period of 10th century. An Arab account Hudud al-Alam (982 AD) described 'Manipur' as 'Manak' and Al-Beruni (1030 AD) called 'Manipur' or its neighbour as 'Udayagiri' in his Kitabul Hind.
The term 'Bangal' is derived from 'Bang'. 'Pangal' is derived from 'Pang' tribe who embraced Islam like the Nagara Brahmans did in Sylhet in early 7th century AD. This was possible because there was early form of globalization of trade involving Romans, Greeks, Arabs, Persians, Indics, Bengals, Chinese peoples well in the 7th century.
G. Kabui et al noted: "Muslim traders and explorers established an early global economy across the world resulting in globalization of crops, trade, knowledge and technology. During the Mongol Empire there was greater integration along the Silk Road. Such integration continued through the expansion of European trade in the 16th and 17th centuries when the Portuguese and the Spanish empires expanded to the then recently discovered America. Globalization had tremendous impact on indigenous cultures around the world". From the matrilineal side, Manipuri Muslims are indigenous people speaking Manipuri, wearing Manipuri clothes and taking local food habits conforming to Islamic tenets.
The Panchayat report of 1932 tried to group the then 51 clans under four major groups (Salai or heritage) as- Shaikh, Syed, Pathan and Mughal which was plausible and incorrect. However, it was compelled due to the British historiography that grouped the Muslims as- Pathan, Shaikh, Syed, Bengal, Mughals etc in frontier Bengal and Brahmaputra-Barak region.
The British however identified the Muslim population of Manipur as belonging to Sunni group of Hannafi school of thought after perusing the Shariat system as provided in the Personal Law Board of the Pangals (Muslims) and some Muslim chiefs were made members of the Manipur Durbar of the king under British suzerainty (1891-1949).
'Corvee labour', functional division of labour, confederate:
"Corvee labour" refers to the "obligatory service by subjects due to the kingdom or military service for the king" especially in old period. The historic "Lallup" of erstwhile Manipur kingdom and "Paik" that of Assam would mean this "corvee labour". Most of the Pangal clans (yumnak or sagei) were named from the epistemology that developed out of functional division of labour in horizontal effect not vertical-hierarchical model.
There are four Panas as groups (whether 'social divisions' or 'revenue divisions' or 'military group" are not clearly explicable historically) in Manipur society that comprises of both Meitei (Vaishnavite Hindus) and Pangal (Muslims) as: Ahallup, Naharup, Khapham, Laipham. This is because Ahallup and Naharup developed in Muslim context historically, and the later two- Khapham and Laipham developed in Meitei context. They became mixed up or irrelevant in certain period or contexts; yet the names survived which needs an explanation accordingly. Ahallup of the Muslim was originally (functionally) equivalent to Laipham of the Meitei. Same is Naharup with Khabam in this model.
However, in certain period (s) of history it appears that these four- Ahallup, Naharup, Khapham and Laipham became four Panas for broadly four functional division of labour that seemed to cover both the valley communities. They were called lup (luf) and pana interchangeably meaning the same entity. 'Lup' today is a common Manipuri terminology (Meiteilon which is also adopted/spoken by the Pangal) term that means an 'organization' or a 'confederacy' or a 'joint action committee'. There are many Arabic and Persian words or loan words that have become Meiteilon.
Ahal'laf (Arabic) carries the meaning "Body of lawmakers" having the same meaning of 'Majalis". Though Ahallup was established by Naophang Ahal (d. 624 AD), some opine that it might have arisen in the time of king Naothingkong in his phambalkaba (coronation in 744 AD) and the Naharup was established in the wake of proclamation of king Loiyamba shinlen (functional distribution of labour) in the period 1121-41 AD. It is certain that Muhammad al-Hanifa died in Maungdaw (Upper Burma) after marrying the native queen Khaya Pari (who embraced Islam), in c.710 AD. They had two sons- Shaikh al-Hanifa (Sukhanfa) and Salim al-Hanifa (Samlong alias Samlongpha).
The legendary Pangalba who arrived in Manipur in king Naophangba period and further proceeded to settle in Taraf (Srihatta/Sylhet) is identified with Pang al-Hanifa.
While the Naophang Ahal period Muslim pir is identified with Amir Hamza who temporary abode (amirate/umarate) later came to be called U'mara (or Pangal Mar in later puya/annals of Meitei). While the king Irengba period pir identified with Makhdum Jahaniyan Jahanghast (World-roamer), who by tradition brought the Qadam Rasul (footprint of the Prophet) and the Jhanda (heraldic device mounted on a staff) who is related with Poa-Makka tradition of Hajo in Kamrup. Some believe, the Irengba period saint is Shaikh Jalaluddin Tabrizi d. 1244 or Shah Sultan Rumi who on the way converted the Koch king to Islam in 1054 AD.
The term "lup" is derived from "louf" which is an Arabic word meaning "confederate". The 'pana' of Manipur refers to 'revenue divisions of territorial lands' as was prevalent in Shan (Pong) region. "Lup was the former name of Pana". "Ahali" (or "iyal") means family; "Ahl" means "the people of…"; "ilaf" means "pact of security"; hilf means "limited alliance".
The "Ahl-e-louf" became "Ahallup' in nomenclature development that was of 7th or 8th century context. Now, 'Ahallup' is to be explained from current/existing vocabulary. Now, what do 'Aha'l and 'lup' mean? Somehow, if 'Ahallup' term existed, the term 'Naharup' has to arise for the sake of identification or formality. So, epistemologically speaking, 'Ahallup' is Islamic origin, and Naharup is local (indigenous) term. Now, "Ahal" means "old"; and that "Naha" means "new". Thus, the term 'Ahallup' is Arabic origin but 'Naharup' is not.
In other words, Ahallup also developed among Meitei community simultaneously in co-relational manner.
Classification of Muslim Clans (Criteria)
Ahl-e Hadith Clans: pre-13th century AD
Hanafite (of Sunni) clans: post-1303 AD (under influence of Shah Jalal of Sylhet)
Nowadays, the terms Ahallup and Naharup are tried to be explained from prevailing Manipuri meanings which, as historical practice shows, is plausible. [See TC Hudson, 1908, The Meithei (pp.66-67); N. Ibobi Singh, 1976, The Manipur Administration, p.90]. Ahallup refers to racial clans (crude classification period). Naharup refers to kinship clans (later subdivisions).
In Muslim society context of Manipur, pre-1210 AD clans can be dubbed as Ahallup clans and later clans can be called as Naharup or newer clans. This knowledge is necessary because Muslims are also 'intricated' with Ahallup, Naharup, Lallup (be they 'departments' or 'revenue divisions' or corvee labour groups) terms or groups like the Meiteis were in.
But they (Ahallup, Naharup) became irrelevant terms by the British period especially by 1891 AD. British writers were also apparently at a loss as to how to define or explain Ahallup and Naharup when they noticed the four functional divisions (panas)—Ahallup, Naharup, Laipham and Khapham and the roles attributed to these divisions. Today, 'lup' simply means 'organisation' or federation'. Ahallup tends to mean "department of senior citizens" and Naharup as "department of junior citizens". Lallup (like Pike system of medieval Assam) is historically relevant term as Lallup covers all these four groups (divisions). 'Laipham' refers to northern revenue sector while 'Khapham' refers to southern revenue sector.
Observation of TC Hudson on Lup and Pana
TC Hudson (1904), the most authentic British writer on anthropo-socio-historo-political aspects of the Manipuris in general and the Meiteis in particular in his "The Meithei" (1908) noted that the functional division of labour attributed to Ahallup was repeated to Laipham, and those of Naharaup repeated to Khapham, and not vice versa! And, he asked why? Similarly N. Ibobi Singh (1976) raised the same query and wondered!
The answer lies in the fact that the twins each were the same functional departments which were meant for the Meiteis and Pangals respectively. The Muslims had their own personal law board since 1606 that functioned in autonomy except in matters of three list—marriage, divorce and baby feed price. under the sovereignty of the Manipur king. Before king Garib Niwaz Pamheiha, the kingdom was federal till 1709 that became unitary later on. "Before him the authority was federal".
TC Hudson noted: "It is curious to note the division of offices between the Panas (Subdivisions). Why do we find officers as the head of the House of the Clerks (Lairik Yengba Shanglakpa), the chief maker of daos (Thangsuhanba), the chief arrow maker (Tensuhanba) in Panas—the Ahallup and the Laipham, and not in Panas- the Naharup and the Khabam? Why, again, should Panas—the Naharup and the Khabam include the Chief of the scouts (Huiroi Lakpa) and the Chief brass worker (Konsahanba), to the exclusion of these officials from the list of Panas—the Ahallup and the Laipham?"
Later the separation (of departments of the two communities under different names but given same roles) became blurred and abstract due to close inhabitation and even mix-up of houses belonging to communities—Meiteis and Pangals—in certain regions historically and till now. However, the Pana (the system or role) of Meiteis existed since the time of Pakhangba (33-154 AD) but the department (system) gained its name by 1074 AD only.
"The operation of the system of Lallup (corvee or forced labour) was conducted on the basis of Panas. War Department was the most important department in those days. In times of peace, such social festivals as hockey, polo, boat races and Lamchel (annual race) were conducted on the basis of Panas". "This Lamchel was a competition between the different Panas or classes among the Manipuri population.
The Brahmanas, as also the lowest class of Manipuris, the Lois, were not allowed to compete, but the Mussalamsn might". It is also noted: "we find that Panas were established during the reign of Pakhangba. But only four Panas—Ahallup, Naharup, Khabam and Laipham were then formed. The number of Panas increased in 1074 AD to six including the two new Panas—Potshangba and Hidakphangba (relatively inferior panas). But it must be said that the exact date of establishment of Panas is uncertain."
"Lup was the former name of Pana. The six divisions in 1074 AD was named as Lup. We do not come across the term, Pana till 1596 when Raja Khagemba introduced this term" during whose period 1,000 Pasha Muslims soldiers arrived in Manipur, took Meitei women and received lands and settled in appropriate places with the king conferring various Muslim clan names on them that numbered upto 31 in his time.
The Ahallup and Naharup were collectively called Naija; Khapham and Laipham were called Khunja, and the rest two Potshangba (estate guards) and Hidakphanba (planters, croppers) were called Khumei.
TC Hudson noted that Muslim influence was predominant for some time (1612-1709) as reflected in that king Pamheiba was conferred the Persian title Garib Niwaz, the terms 'Shah', 'Diwan' 'Amin' etc, were employed by Meitei nobles. Garib Niwaz Pamheihba was once thinking of becoming a Muhammadan but he became a Vaishanavite. Mughals occupied Sylhet and Cachar in 1612 incorporating in the Mughal Empire.
Shah Shuja (former Bengal Subhadar) left Arakan and found shelter in Manipur in 1661. Three Mughal Ambassadors were sent to Manipur by Aurangzev in 1661-2 ostensibly to find the truth of Shuja's existence from the secret telegram. Arrivals of Mughal and settlement in Manipur (1612-1708) raised the social status of Manipuri Muslims.
This led Vaishnavite preacher Shanta Das Gossain from Sylhet to declare (confer) that the Meiteis were indeed Hindus of Kshetriya caste altogether, and Hinduism became State religion of Manipur kingdom henceforth under a decree of Garib Niwaz Pamheiba in 1710.
Among the Manipuri Muslims, there was a Mughalmayum (Mughal clan) in 1612-1680 that became amalgamated to Makakmayum (Makak clan). The department of the Muslims formerly known as the Pangal Loishang or Musalman-Loishang that existed since 1606 came to be called Mughal-shang in 1679.
So, the Mughal salai (racial) clans of Makak mayums (3 subclans) and Nongsaibam and Shajabam clans adopted surnames- Khan, Shaikh, Saiyid, Shah, Makki, Ashraf etc, liberally. Originally, Makak clan denoted the old group who came from Makka in Rashidi Caliphate period and even earlier in the Prophet's lifetime. It is notable that Perumal of Kerala became a Muslim in that time.
There are Korimayum and Baseimayum clans too. In Vaishnavite, accounts, Kori and Pasi are also noted an indentured peasant groups or manual labourers in southern Assam context. But there is no Pasimayum or Pasi clan in Assam or Manipur.
So far, there are 62 clans among Manipuri Muslims which are as follow :-
1. Aribam : This clan is traced to ancestor Kutwan Khan, Sadik Para (probably Saad bin Waqqas) and Ashim Shah of Naophang Ahal period (594-624 AD) who came from Gaya. This group came as a family; clan name Aribam was conferred by king Naophang Ahal. Clan classification was not necessary or insignificant before 1550 AD as the Muslim society was still less in number for the reason that endogamy like cross cousin marriage is permissible in Islam. All pre-1606 Muslims were called 'Ariba' or 'Aribam' which simply means 'old group' or 'old-clansmen'.
So, the existing Aribam clan is held to be the earliest clan of Manipuri Muslims that might not be necessarily true. So, some writers trace Aribam from Naophangba period (7th century) while some from Mungyamba period (around 1550 AD). It is notable that Hindu (Meitei) clan of 'Aribam' is traced to c.1610 or 1710 AD when Brahmins (now Bamon) arrived from mainland India.
So, it is a Bamon clan in Meitei society. So, Muslim Aribam clan evolved in different context and period carrying different meaning. 'Aribah' simply means "the Arab", or "pure Arabs" or "genuine Arabs" in the Dictionary. The Muslim clans—Aribam, Makak, Khullapkpam, Solaimayum, Baseimayum—came into existence from the silk-route period of Arabs and Persians (and by the time of Masudi, Khurdadbhih and Suleiman—the Arab travellers and explorers in c. 845-1020 AD).
2. Ayekpam : This clan claims to an artist or writer since early seventh century. Ayekpa means "one who draws a picture or paint".
3. Baseimayum : This clan traces its origin to Basa (Pasha) kingdom in Sylhet of 777 AD which R.B. Pemberton noted as capital of Cachar kingdom, west of Manipur. Basa is considered to be old Pasa (Sylhet).
4. Bogimayum : This group is traced to an emissary team of three persons having arrived in Manipur during Aurangzev period in 1661 to seek confirmation of the alleged information that Shah Shuja (brother of Aurangzev and ex-Subhadar of Bengal) took shelter in the hills of Manipur (at Kairang cave). A later interpolation believes they might have been close to Imam Bukhari heritage of Delhi Juma Masjid who came from Bukhara (Uzbekistan). They have Mughalo-Pathan element.
5. Buyamayum : This clan is traced to Bhuiya of Assam who were Chieftains in eastern Kamrup during Mughal period. They were Afghan dissidents during Mughal period in Bengal and Sylhet.
6. Chesam : This group traced to those group of Arabs-Persians of silk route period (7th- 8th century) who made papers after learning from the Chinese. Another view is that when Khagemba defeated the Chinese invaders with the help of Muslim troops from Sylhet-Taraf in 17th century.
7. Dolaipabam : This group came with Shah Shuja in 1661 who carried the palanquin.
8. Firingimayum : This group traced their clan to traders who connected with Portuguese sailors of Chittagong or trade middlemen in 17th century.
9. Hawai Ingkhol : This group attended and looked after the estate of the king of Manipur in c. 1610.
10. Heikhamayum : This group arose as a peasant clan who settled at a pasture (with a landmark identified with a Heikha tree).
11. Heipokmayum : They lived near a field of Heipok tree in Khagemba period.
12. Hidak Ingkhol : This clan planted some amount of tobacco in 17th century.
13. Ipham : The clan is traced to Munron Khan of 1606 who came with Muhammad Shani. Another view is that Ipham clan traces their ancestor to one Putan (Pathan) Khan in 1688 who from Gujarat along with some Brahmans.
14. Kamalmayum : Their clan ancestor was one Kamal of 1606 AD who came from Brahmaputra region or Barak region.
15. Keinoumayum : This group lived at a place called Keinou that was named during king Khagemba period.
16. Keikhongta : This clan is one of the oldest one that traced their ancestry to an immigrant group having arrived in king Naothingkhong period of 8th century.
17. Keithel Inkhol : This group lived in a farm that grew cereals and sold the produce at the market.
18. Khullakpam : This group traced to one Shaikh Chunet (Junaid) who was captured by Kabui tribes of Thollang Hao and was given a daughter of Thollang Hao chieftain. Shaikh Chunet acted as a chieftain (Khullakpa) of the hillsmen in c. 1610 AD. He had pierced ears bearing big rings in tribal. After the decease of the first tribal wife, he married a tribal nai (attendant, servant). They later came down to valley and lived at Turen Ahanbi. They gave birth to a man named Chongthom Darji whose descendants came to be called Khullakpam. A later interpolation traced their origin to a man Mirza Khakkan Turani who came to Sylhet in 14th-15th century which is a plausible explanation.19.Khutheibam: This group traced their clan name from a skilled labour group that was recognized by the Ahallup (revenue department) in c. 1670 AD. One Waliullah who was a Darbar member in British period belongs to Khutheibam clan.
20. Konthamayum : This clan group is traced to a tailor family in Khagemba period.
21. Korimayum : This group was an ironsmith (metallurgy) clan; Kori refers to a metal copper (kori) and their descendants were called Korimayum.
22. Labuktongbam : This group settled at a high plain (field) called Atongba Labuk thus deriving their clan name.
23. Leishangkhong : They lived in Leishang village as a clan in 17th century.
24. Loupanmayum : This group planted rice, produced a big output in a season that came to the notice of the Manipur who conferred its clan name in appreciation by king Khagemba.
25. Luplakpam : This clan group traced its genesis from a man who was a chairman of the Ahallup or Naharup revenue guild in 1608 AD.
26. Maibam : This group is traced to a noted Shaman (folk-medicine or traditional physician) called Maiba.
27. Makakyum Ariba : This group is traced to a Makhzum clan from Makka led by Amir Hamza (623 AD), a clan of Khalid bin Walid later in 638 AD. They came via Chittagong (called Sadjam by the Arabs) in c. 636. The event gave rise to an era called Makki (later Muggy) era. This clan group founded the poa-Maka of Hajo (eastern Kamrup) by laying some auspicious soil brought from Makka that was later renovated in 1498 by Alauddin Hussain Shah Makki al-Arabi (Bengal Sultan) as their (Makkan) ancestral landmark of holiness. It is also noted that a saint (faqir) from Arab brought holy soil from Makka. The famed traveler Ibn Battuta visited Shaikh Shah Jalal Tabrizi in 1345 in Kamrup hill which is identified with this Hajo poa-Makka. The Mughal Governor (subahdar) of Kamrup named Lutfullah Shirazi also added another mosque at poa-Makka khanka in 1672 AD.
28. Makak Amuba : The clan traced their ancestor Lukhiyarful from Nurullah Herati, the Kamrup subhadar of 1677 AD.
29. Makak Angouba : The clan is traced to an ancestor Sunarful who was a descendant of Lutfulla Shirazi, a Kamrup subhadar during Mughal period of Kamrup (1612-88). They also went to Sylhet and founded a place called Makak there. All the mentioned three Makak clans are considered belonging to Poa-Maka heritage who came from Makka and as descendant or close to the heritage of Allaudin Hussain Shah Makki al-Arabi, 1489 (the most famous Bengal Sultan) who conquered both Koch Vihar and Kamrup.
30. Malsam : This clan traces its name from a place or man called Malsa who came to Manipur from Brahmaputra valley in early 17th century.
31. Mansam : This group traces the clan ancestry to a man of 17th century who came from Surma valley.
Imam Khan Makhjummayum wrote this article for The Sangai Express . This article was webcasted on December 16th, 2009.
Cheraman Juma Masjid
India's first Masjid is believed to be built in 628 AD at the behest of legendary ruler Cheraman Perumal, who died in Arabia after embracing Islam.
Legend has it that before he died, Cheraman Perumal sent an emissary to Kodungalloor to seek the help of his descendant there to propagate Islam along the Kerala coast.
The original Hindu architectural scheme of the mosque has been retained intact to a great extent, though essential additions have been made over the years.
Situated at the northern end of the Periyar River, about 50 km from Kochi, Kodungaloor has been the gateway for Christianity, Judaism and Islam in India.
he 87-year-old Raja Valiyathampuram of Kodungallur in Central Kerala is a descendant of King Cheraman Perumal, the first Indian to embrace Islam in the early 7th century. Talking to him is like talking with history. In the following interview taken by A U Asif (right in the picture) in Ernakulam, he dwells in detail upon his great early ancestor and the oldest mosque (above) of the sub-continent. He also asks North Indians to come to Kerala and see how people of different religions are living there for centuries in an atmosphere of harmony, fraternity and peace.
How do you take your great great grandfather Cheraman Perumal?
Cheraman Perumal was not only a king and my ancestor, but the first Indian to come into the fold of Islam. He was actually the person who gifted Islam and the first ever mosque to the Indian sub-continent. This happened much before the advents of Muhammad bin Qasim and Mahmood Ghaznavi. This shows that Islam didnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t come to India with the sword.
Is it a fact?
As is well known in Kerala, on a moon-lit night the king while walking on the rooftop of his palace along with the queen saw the moon suddenly splitting into two halves. Later he came to know through the Arab traders that that a prophet called Muhammad had wrought a miracle on that fateful night and sundered the moon before a crowd of dazed spectators. Impressed by this new messenger of God in Arabia, the king set out for the holy land after dividing his kingdom and assigning various territories to local chieftains to ensure smooth governance. In Arabia he met the Prophet and embraced Islam in the presence of Abu Bakr Siddique, who later became the first caliph. Cheraman, who took a Muslim name, Tajuddin, died on his way back to India and was buried on the shore of the Arabian Sea at Salala in the Sultanate of Oman. It is said that he had earlier written letters to the local rulers of Malabar and sent it through his ministers along with Malik bin Dinar, a companion of the Prophet. In the letters he had asked them to "receive the bearers of the letters and treat them well and help them to construct mosques at Kodungallur and elsewhere". The rulers of Kerala honoured the letters and permitted Malik Bin Dinar and his fellow Arab traders to build mosques in Kerala. The mosque built in the early 7th century at Kodungallur, known as Cheraman Malik Masjid, still exists with its original structure and is said to be the oldest mosque in the sub-continent. It is named after both Cheraman Perumal and Malik bin Dinar.
Is the mosque intact with its original structure?
Yes, the original structure, including the sanctum sanctorum, remains intact. However, there have been a few extensions in the past. Its front portion is new while the back portion with its sanctum sanctorum, mehrab, mimbar (pulpit), wooden work on the roof of mimbar and traditional lamp as well as the ancient ceremonial pond, is still untouched.
Anything more about Malik bin Dinar?
After the construction of the mosque at Kodungallur, Malik bin Dinar moved towards Mangalore and died at Kasaragod, now in Karnataka, where rests in peace. Interestingly, Cheraman Perumal and Malik bin Dinar are buried on two sides of the Arabian Sea, one at Salala in the Sultanate of Oman and the other at Kasaragod in India. In other words, their graves are interlinked by the waters of the sea. There exist 14 mosques of the same pattern and design from Kodungallur to Mangalore.
How do you see all this?
We see all this with pride. There is no question of any ill-feeling about Cheraman Perumal. We have high regard for him. He was our patriarch. He embraced Islam but could not come back from Arabia as he fell ill and died on way. I hail from his lineage and have faith in Hinduism.
How do the general people, particularly Hindus consider Cheraman and his gift in form of the first ever mosque in the Indian sub-continent?
People belonging to different religions, including Hindus, hold him in high esteem and the mosque built as per his wish as a historical monument. The historic mosque has been visited by numerous dignitaries over the centuries and decades.
President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam was recently here. He was given a warm reception in the mosque. I was also among those present on the occasion.
Unlike north India, there is no communal strife over places of worship in South India?
No, not at all. In this part of land exist IndiaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s oldest places of worship. The first synagogue, the first church, the first mosque and the ancient Bhagwathi and Mahadeva temples are located in this region. We have maintained a record of exemplary communal harmony here. I often wonder about the sudden eruption of controversy over places of worship. Unlike north, people of all faiths have high regard for all places of worship. My suggestion is: People in the north should come to Kerala and see and learn how we belonging to different religions live here for centuries without any communal hatred, animosity and strife. g
[The interviewer is a Delhi-based senior journalist. He can be contacted at email@example.com]
source : iosworld.org
Since 1947 Indian Muslims have been lot of pressure at the domestic front to give any kind of support other than moral and prayers to Muslims in rest of the world. Years earlier, Indian Muslims were very active in supporting their brothers and sisters all over the world.
Periodically, they used to raise funds for constructions in Mecca and Medina. Here we present a similar case of Muslims of India helping Turkey during Word Word I with money and manpower.
THEY TOO FOUGHT FOR FREEDOM ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ ROLE OF MINORITIES IN FREEDOM STRUGGLE
Asghar Ali Engineer
(Secular Perspective Dece.1-15, 2005)
The new generation of Indians is hardly in know of the role played by minorities in our freedom struggle. They think only majority community fought for it. In case of Muslims partition made them culprits for dividing the country Firstly all Muslims were blamed for partition and secondly it was thought they played no role in the freedom of the country. It is this view with which the whole new generation has grown. Even Maulana AzadÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s role has been obscured and our textbooks on history of our freedom struggle either totally ignore him or mention him just casually.
In fact besides majority community all other minorities have played important role in freedom struggle. The Sikhs (Sikhs are a minority with a distinct identity and they resent being clubbled with Hindus) played glorious role and who can ever forget the supreme sacrifice made by Bhagat Singh. He has become an icon of IndiansÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ hearts. Besides Bhagat Singh Sikhs played glorious role right from beginning. Who can ever forget Ghadar Party which was formed mainly by Sikhs and they went to Canada and America to fight for IndiaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s freedom.
The role of Dalits also has been ignored by and large and also that of tribals from different parts of India. While much light has been thrown on the role of Mangal Pandey (recently a film also has been made on him), a Brahmin, one hardly finds mention of various Dalit leaders who also played role in 1857 war of independence. The Christians and Parsis too were in the forefront of freedom struggle. Who can forget Dadabhai Naoroji and Phirozshah Mehta besides others?
But today we find hardly any mention of these persons who never hesitated to throw themselves in the struggle for freedom of our country. But our school textbooks hardly mention them. If the role of these communities is not highlighted what of Muslims who are thought to be culprits for dividing the country. And during the NDA rule even Father of the Nation GandhijiÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s role was sought to be de-emphasised.
I would like to deal with the role played by Muslims in freedom struggle, as this is important for de-communalising thinking of our people today. However, before we proceed further I would like to point out that while it is important to discuss the religious identity of people who fought for our freedom it is not our intention to communalise the role of those individuals in history. Those Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, Muslims and Hindus fought for freedom as they loved their motherland and not simply because they belonged to this or that community. Yet in the Indian subcontinent since nineteenth century religious identity became main identity as the British rulers divided us on the basis of religions and each individual despite his/her patriotism also considered himself/herself as belonging to this or that community. It is for this reason we have to talk of role of minority communities in freedom struggle.
Unfortunately the minority communities have been marginalized in every respect including in respect of their role in freedom struggle. The history of freedom struggle as also that of medieval period is being written today from majoritarian perspective. It thus becomes necessary to emphasise the role of minority communities. While Mangal Pandey, a BrahminÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s role is glorified in the 1857 war of independence (recently a film also has been made on him) the role of dalits has been completely ignored or if at all mentioned, it is mentioned only on the margin. The tribals also played important role but hardly mentioned in history books.
Who can ever forget the role of Sikhs (though Sikhs are often clubbed with Hindus but Sikhs themselves resent being so clubbed) in freedom struggle. The Ghadar party mainly consisted of Sikhs and Ghadar Party played very important role. The members of Ghadar Party migrated to Canada and United States in early twentieth century to fight for IndiaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s freedom.
The Namdhari Sikh movement, which came to be known as Kuka movement and consisted of lower caste Sikhs from artisan class and poor peasant started after occupation of Punjab by the Britishers posed a great threat to the British rule and challenged the role of Sikh elite including the Mahants of Sikh temples. It was the first radical challenge to the British rulers in Punjab. On the other hand the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œPunjab Unrest of 1907ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â?, which was spearheaded by Ajit SinghÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Bharat Mata Society or alternatively called Anjuman-e-Muhibban-e- Watan (i.e. organisation of the lovers of the country) was a secular, political struggle of the peasantry against the destructive economic policies and laws of the British Government.
Similarly, our history of the freedom struggle ignores the role played by lower class Muslims led by the orthodox ulama. The Muslim masses were mostly from artisan classes and belonged to poor peasantry. Most of the ulama came from these sections of Muslim society and they fought British rule tooth and nail. When Indian National Congress (INC) was formed in 1885 Maulana Qasim Ahmed Nanotvi (who was founder of Darul Ulum, Deoband) issued a fatwa urging Muslims to join INC to fight against British rule. He also got fatwas issued by several other ulama on similar lines and published them in a book form called Nusrat al-Ahrar (help for freedom fighters) and as a result of his efforts large number of Muslims joined INC.
It is true Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, an ardent advocate of modern education among Muslims and founder of Mohommedan Anglo-Oriental College (MAO) opposed Muslims joining the Congress but it was because of his priority to modern education rather than politics and not because of lack of patriotism. Also, he was representing the interests of upper classes of Muslims i.e. ashraf whereas the ulama in north India represented interests of lower class Muslims know as ajlaf.
But realities in western India were quite different. There Badruddin Tyebji, the retired acting Chief Justice of Bombay High Court urged upon Muslims to join INC and himself joined it with three hundred Muslim delegates and was elected President of INC. It is interesting to note that three presidents of INC were from minority communities in those days. Badruddin Tyebji, a Muslim, W.C. Bonnerjee, a Christian from Bengal and Phiroz Shah Mehta, a Parsi. Dadabhai Naoroji was a critic of British economic policies and was devoted to the cause of IndiaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s welfare.
The ulama, particularly of the Deoband School, were greatly devoted to the cause of Indian freedom. Maulana Mahmudul Hasan of the Reshmi Rumal (silk kerchief) conspiracy fame was stauch supporter of freedom movement. Another important name in this respect is that of Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi. Prof. Barkatullah also played key role in fighting the British in those days.
In fact a provisional Azad Hind Government was formed in Afghanistan with Raja Mahendra Pratap as President and Prof. Barkatullah as Prime Minister. The Ulama urged upon Muslims to migrate from India to Afghanistan as they had declared India as Darul Harb under the British rule. Thousands of Muslims migrated and faced great hardships. Though it was not a wise decision but that is a different matter. What we intend to show here is that Muslims played very important role in freedom struggle.
Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi was very enthusiastic fighter and when he was forced out of Afghanistan by the Afghan King he migrated to Russia through Central Asia and witnessed revolution in Russia and was greatly influenced by Russian revolution. Another very important figure is Maulana Hasrat Mohani who stood for complete freedom along with Tilak. He was great admirer of Tilak and opposed the Congress policy of Home rule in those days. He used to publish an Urdu magazine, which was confiscated by the British along with his press and his valuable books were also destroyed by the British police.
Mention must be made here of Maulana Husain Ahmed Madani, the then President of JamÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢at-ul-ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Ulama-I-Hind who was an important ally of INC and was totally opposed to the partition of the country. He opposed two nation theory and wrote a book Muttahida Qaumiyyat aur Islam (Composite Nationalism and Islam). It is a seminal contribution by the Maulana. He argued against separate nationalism and quoted from the QurÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢an to support his contention. He gave example of the Holy Prophet who migrated from Mecca and set up a composite city state in Madina with Muslims, Jews and pagan Arabs constituting one political community described as ummah wahidah. All communities were given full freedom to practice their religion and charged with responsibility to protect Madina from outside attack.
Many other Muslim leaders, besides Maulana Azad, who played an important role in freedom struggle and stood for united nationalism, were Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (Sarhadi Gandhi), Hakim Ajmal Khan, Dr. Ansari, Rafi Ahmad Qidwai and others. We must also mention the role of Ali Brothers i.e. Maulana Muhammad Ali and Shaukat Ali who play key role in Khilafat movement along with Mahatma Gandhi and also their mother Bi Amma.
We cannot mention the role of several others in this article for want of space. But it becomes obvious that Muslims played very important role in freedom movement and also opposing two -nation theory propounded by a small minority of Muslims belonging to upper class. Large number of Muslims belonging to artisan classes, poor peasantry and backward caste Muslims, particularly the All India Momin Conference vehemently opposed partition of the country. It would, therefore, be wrong to blame all Muslims for partition of the country. Vast number of Muslims made great sacrifices for the cause of freedom of their motherland.
Lankan Muslims' historical links with India
COLOMBO DIARY | PK Balachandran
April 3, 2006
Sri Lanka's indigenous Muslims, called Ceylon Moors, like other communities in the island, have had historical ties with India, especially Tamil Nadu and Kerala in South India.
Today, sadly, these links are very weak, if they exist at all. And they are neither remembered nor acknowledged.
Political exigencies arising from the redrawing of international boundaries after the collapse of the British Empire have put up barriers between the Ceylon Moors and India.
New identities were created, and are being constantly created. New links are forged in response to new stimuli, both domestic and international.
But India's impact on the Ceylon Moors (a community distinct from Indian Moors who are more recent Muslim migrants from India) cannot be ignored because it can be seen in the language, culture and practices of the community.
The active links have snapped, but the legacy is there for all to see.
Early migration from Kerala
Ceylon Moors are of Arab descent. Although from the earliest times, Arabs from the Gulf had been coming straight to the island for trade, the really significant migration for settlement came via the Malabar coast in what is now Kerala.
Marina Azeez, in her contribution to The Ethnological Survey of the Muslims of Sri Lanka (The Razik Fareed Foundation, Colombo, 1986) says: "The first Muslim fleet is said to have sailed to the Indian Ocean in 636 AD during the Caliphate of Omar; and since then Muslim traders began settling along the Malabar coast of India wherein pre-Islamic-time Arabs had settled as far back as the 4th.century AD."
"According to Tennent (James Emerson Tennent, London, 1859) when these settlements expanded with increase in trade as well as migration, the people spread to the coasts of Sri Lanka, settled here and carried on their trading activities."
By 7th Century AD the Arabs had settled in Kayalpatnam in what is now Tamil Nadu. From Kayalpatnam, they spread to the East and West coasts of Sri Lanka.
Although the Arabs had been traders from the earliest times, Islam gave their occupation a tremendous boost. Expansion of trade meant more settlers overseas and more converts from non-Arab peoples.
"By the 9th century AD all trade between Europe and the East was transferred to the Arabs, and by the 14th. Century AD they were operating in the region of the Persian gulf, the Indian Ocean, the Malay Archipelago and China," says Azeez.
The Arabs had displaced the Greeks and the Romans as the traders in this area.
The Muslims of Arab-Indian origin from Malabar and Kayalpatnam, along with those from Arab lands, settled in Colombo and Beruwela, a coastal town en route to Galle.
Beruwela, which retains its distinctive Muslim character even today, received its first Muslim immigrants in 1024. It is acknowledged that the art of weaving was introduced in Beruwela by migrants from Kayalpatnam.
Colombo, which has a substantial Muslim population even today, was predominantly Muslim when the Portuguese arrived in Sri Lanka in 1505, says Azeez.
Muslims of Arab and Arab-Indian descent, married local women in Sri Lanka. They mostly took Tamil wives because the Tamils populated the coast and were the local traders too.
Those who headed for the Eastern Sri Lankan coast, arrived first in Kathankudy near Batticaloa. Today, Kathankudy is perhaps the only all-Muslim town in Sri Lanka. It also has the largest number of mosques per square kilometre in the world.
In Batticaloa, the Muslim Arabs and those of Arab-Indian descent married local women from the dominant Mukkuvar caste.
The Mukkuvars were themselves early migrants from the Malabar Coast, who came to Eastern Sri Lanka via Mannar and Jaffna in the 4th century AD.
The Muslims and Mukkuvars of Batticaloa practiced matriliny or the system of tracing descent through the female line and organised themselves into matrilineal "kudis" or clans.
The administration of temples and mosques was in the hands of the kudis and the chief of the mosque was the head of the kudi with which the mosque was identified.
Adoption of Tamil language
The early Muslim settlers in Sri Lanka adopted Tamil as their spoken language.
This was because Tamil was the language of the traders in South India and Sri Lanka and it is these Tamil trader families the Muslims married into.
The Portuguese chronicler, Duartes Barbossa, wrote in the 16th.century AD that in the port of Colombo, the Muslims spoke a mixture of Arabic and Tamil and used the Arabic script to write Tamil.
Tamil, written in the Arabic script, came to be known as "Arabic Tamil".
Many Muslims in the Sinhala majority areas now say that their mother tongue is Arabic Tamil.
The Muslims of Sri Lanka produced literature in Arabic-Tamil, as well as pure Tamil, using the Arabic script, besides the Tamil script.
However, Arabic Tamil as a literary tool is not in vogue now. The Muslims today use the purest form of Tamil in their writings and formal speech. But their spoken Tamil remains unique, with the use of Arabic and Islamic words, terms and expressions.
In his paper "The Language and Literature of the Muslims" MM.Uwise says that "Muslim Tamil" is different from the Tamil spoken by Sri Lankan Tamils in terms of words used and also pronunciation.
The use of Arabic words and terms is easily noticeable.
But many of the differences could be traced to the Sri Lankan Muslims' historic links with Indian Tamils and Malayalees of Kerala.
To give just one example, "Itam" (Sri Lankan Tamil word for place) becomes "Etam" in Muslim Tamil. But in Tamil Nadu too, Itam is pronounced as Etam or Edam.
Some of the Muslim Tamil words are actually classic Tamil words, which are still in vogue in Tamil Nadu.
The Sri Lankan Muslims use "Nombu" for the "vrat" or "vritham" (fasting). Recitation of prayers is "Odhudhal" not "vaasithal." But both Nombu and Odhudhal are pure Tamil words, which are used in Tamil Nadu as substitutes for the Sanskritic terms Vritam and Vaasithal.
There are signs of Malayalam influence too. "Kudithen" (drank) becomes "kudichcha" which is but a variation of the Malayalam "kudichchu".
In Tamil Nadu Tamil too, Kudithen is Kudichchen.
Uwise says that the Tamil spoken by the Muslims living in the Sinhala areas if very different from the Tamil spoken by Muslims in the Tamil areas. He also says that the Muslims in the Sinhala areas use many Sinhala words.
But the cases he is able to cite are few and far between, and these are used only in common speech.
It cannot be denied that the Muslims in the Sinhala areas speak Tamil at home. They have been responsible for the survival of the Tamil language against great odds in the Sinhala areas.
As the renowned Tamil scholar Prof Karthigesu Sivathamby put it: "If Tamil is heard today in the villages deep inside Sinhala country, it is because of the Muslims. But for them, Tamil would have vanished from the Sinhala areas."
Earlier, Quixotic attempts by some Colombo-based elite politicians to get the Muslims to accept Arabic or Sinhala as their spoken language failed, because the love for Tamil ran in the veins of the Sri Lankan Muslims.
In the field of the performing arts, the influence of Tamil Nadu and Kerala is clear, though MMM Mahroof in his paper "Performing and Other Arts of the Muslims" portrays them as being of Arab origin.
Even if some of them are, they do clearly show links with India.
The Silambam or Silambattam, which shows dexterity in the handling of sticks, is portrayed as being an Arab game. However, Mahroof admits that Silambam is popular in Kerala and the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu also.
The Kali Kambu dance, a dance done by men with small sticks, is also said to be Arab origin. This could well be. But the Moplahs of Kerala have a similar dance.
The Villu Pattu, a very Tamil art, is also part of the Muslim folk arts.
However, these links with Tamil Nadu and Kerala have either disappeared, or are fast vanishing because of the Islamisation of the Sri Lankan Muslims since the 1980s.
Many of these performing arts have been dubbed as being "un-Islamic" and discouraged.
Portuguese era and the Indian connection
The arrival of the Portuguese in 1505 had a devastating impact on the Muslims of Sri Lanka because the Portuguese saw them as rivals in Asian and Euro-Asiatic trade.
The Portuguese took on the Muslims both on the Malabar Coast and Sri Lanka, with an intention to drive them out, cripple them or decimate them.
Force was used unabashedly, though traders in the Asian region, including the Arabs and Arab-Indian/Ceylon Muslims, were men of peace and never used force.
As it happened, the Portuguese came to Sri Lanka via India. On hearing that Muslim ships were dodging the Portuguese men-of-war by going to the Gulf via the Maldives, the Portuguese Governor in Goa sent nine armed ships under the command of his son Don Laurenco de Almeida to decimate them. But because of bad navigation, the Portuguese commander landed in Colombo instead!
The Portuguese began to persecute the Muslims of Colombo from the word go. The Zamorin of Calicut, who had a lot of problems with the high handed Portuguese in Malabar, sent a fleet of ships to help the Muslims of Colombo resist the Portuguese.
But this did not prevent the Portuguese from virtually driving the Muslims out of the Western seaboard of Sri Lanka.
Taking pity on them, the Sinhala king of Kandy, Senarat, gave them land to cultivate in Batticaloa district on the Eastern coast.
This had a deep impact on the Muslims because traders became peasants overnight. Eventually, paddy cultivation became the single most important occupation of the community.
After the nightmare of Portuguese and Dutch rule, the Muslims rose to some freedom under British rule. Tolerance, peace and law and order, helped the growth of Muslim trade.
The Indian influence continued because the British ruled India too. Trade with the Coromandel Coast and Malabar flourished. According to the 19th.century chronicler, Alexander Johnston, the Muslims of Sri Lanka followed the trading practices of the Hindu traders of India.
(PK Balachandran is Special Correspondent of Hindustan Times in Sri Lanka)
By: Farooque Ahmed Makakmayum
The term "Pangal" is derived from "Pang" by adding the suffix "al" as early Pang ethnic (tribal) group was the first to embrace Islam. Then the Naophangba period "Musalman" saint (scho-lar) was henceforth recognized as "Pangal Musal-man guru" in subsequent puya literature handed down through generations of Meitei tradition of history preservation.
Since the Muslim preacher ('Musalman' is Persian terminology for 'Muslim') lived among the Pangs, he was addressed as "Pangal Musalman guru". Pang ethic group is mentioned in the Poireiton Khunthok puya too as a Tai group.
Similarly Muslims gave the name "Bengal" (Bangal) by adding the Arabic suffix "al" to the place called "Bang" (Dr. Sushila Mandal: 1970: 1; Ain-I-Akbari, trans. by Jarrett, vol. 3: 120, 141). The Muslim saint was Amir Hamza who probably reached China and went back to Arabia where he died shortly after the battle of Uhud in 625 AD (The Sangai Express, 18 May 2006).
Some other accounts noted that Saad bin Waqqas, another uncle of Prophet was the one who went to China but Abul Fazl Ezzati himself believes that Waqqas did not go beyond Persia (Ezzati: 1994: 331). So we are left to wonder who was that uncle of the Prophet Muhammad who, as George Watt 1892 wrote, was an immigrant to China. It shows that the Prophet of Islam had high opinion about Chinese civilization and their tradition of education.
While in Manipur, at that time Meiteis seemed to live on highlands (hills) and worshipped their deity at Koubru Hill as much of the valley region was waterlogged. Overall population was small, hill-slop cultivation and shifting cultivation was the main subsistence of agricultural practice; it was pre-feudal Chieftainship mode of social structure. The few Pangals (Musalmans) too followed this Chieftainship pattern of way of life.
The London School of Oriental and African Studies made available a document in 1983 (also translated in the 'preface' of the Pangal Thorakpa puya, by R.K. Sanahal Singh, 1985/89: viii-xv), which made studies on the process of the formation of the various clans about 50 in number.
The document noted that the Palace pandits (Meitei scholars) are of the record that Manipuri Muslim clan formation initiated with what is named as the "Aribam sagei" since the period of king Naophangba. Hence he must have reigned around 590- 680 AD.
This Pangal population as found in 930 AD was adept in preparing salt from dug-wells since their Muslim coreligionists used to collect salt from the Bengal sea beach according to B. Kulachandra Sharma (1997: 62). Muslim population in 1859 AD and 1873 AD is estimated to be 3461 and 4500 persons respectively (see also R. Brown: 1873: 13-15).
The first ever Manipur Census in 1881 put the total Muslim population to be 4881 persons. B.C. Allen found Pangal (Muslim) population to be 10,383 in number making up 4% of the total state population in the year 1905 (Allen: 1905:61, 135).
We have a range of sources on the accounts of the activities of the pre-16th century Muslims, but their population was small and insignificant, and when, at later period, histories emerged about them, they were all described as "Ariba Musalmans", though they had different ethnic make-ups as local Pang converts, Bengalis, soldier groups, ethnic Pashas and Pathans who were foreign elements as Turko-Afghans, Mughals, Black Abyssinians, and then low caste converts as well who were all later on collectively called "Pangals" since most of them came from Bengal side; one theory is that "Pangal" is a corrupted word of "Bangal", which is less likely because Hindu Brahmans (Meiteis) now Bamons who came from Bengal are not called Pangals.
Abdur Rahman (1981) in a research paper wrote that many Muslims or Mongoloid Muslims also came from China through upper Burma where Muslims are called Panshi (R.K. Sanahal: 1989: ii). These Muslims came from Yunnan between 1215-94 when the Mongol ruler Kublai Khan, who was the ablest grandson of Chingis Khan, ruled China covering Yunnan and Kublai Khan ravaged Upper Burma in a series of expeditions that forced many Shan, Tai and Chin-Kuki groups to flee to northeast India.
Kublai Khan made Nasiruddin, a Muslim the Governor of Yunnan (Kulachandra: 1997: 74) and because of the silk route across Manipur, trading activity along the Manipur-Yunnan (China) route was active. In other provinces too, wrote Marco Polo, these Mongol Khans (yet not Muslims) put Muslims as Governors.
"In the face of native (Chinese) hostility, the Mongols in China as elsewhere employed many foreigners, particularly Moslems from Central and Western Asia, in a sort of international Civil service" (Edwin O. Reischauer & John K. Fairbank: 1960:276). Earlier "the first ambassadors from the Islamic Caliphate came to China in 713" (P. 236).
The silk route across Manipur leading to Yunnan was stopped since c. 1820 AD. "The Panthay (Muslims) of Burma are chiefly known as muleteers (sturdy horse-riders) on the trade routes. They are excellent caravan drivers, carrying goods as far as Rangoon and Moulmein. They are mostly engaged in trade and cultivate only just enough to supply their immediate needs" (Scott and Hardiman: 1900:606-13).
Probably these same people were called Panshi in China and Pasha in Manipur as found in Ningthourel Lambuba. Once in Manipur the only local economy that made them possible their affairs of economy was cultivation, fishing and farming because of the changing nature of riverine paths and flood; they made a sedentary mode of livelihood and economy.
(Pemberton: 1835:33). Ningthourel Lambuba described that two Pasha and one Pangal village flourished during the reign of king Irengba who reigned between 984-1074 A.D (O. Bhogeswor, 1967: 74, 94). Living at Khuga valley at that time, these Pangals introduced the practice of "rice broad-cast & transplantation" procedure in Manipur (Bhogeswor Moirang Ningthourel Lambuba, vol.2, 1988:47) as they did in frontier Bengal where the Muslim rulers and pirs encouraged clearing forest for human inhabitation and agriculture (Richard M. Eaton: 1997:207).
At this time, Muslim ethnic composition was diverse; they became a close-knit society because of the egalitarian and congregational nature of Islam; yet community authority was feudalistic. Tona Malik was the Qazi-ul-Quzat and Muhammad Sani was the Qazi in 1606 (Sanahal: v)
As regards the Prince Shuja ordeal in Manipur, Sir Jadunath Sarkar (1973:378) informs us while Shuja was in Arakan en route to Tripura: "The European traders who had free access to Aracan were likely to be best informed and I believe the truth lies in what they have recorded of Shuja's fate".
Historian Niccolai Manucci from Venice who served in Mughal army for a time and came to Bengal in 1660s wrote about Shuja's Dacca-Arakan-Tripura route: "The date of flight was June 5, and arrived in Arakan on August 26, 1660. They (Dutch Factory Register) record that on Feb 6, 1661 after the Prince's household had been surrounded, he set fire to it and escaped with his family and 300 followers but his eldest and youngest sons were captured. With his middle son, he made for Tipperah (May 16).
The news of Shuja's was sent to Mir Jumlah and he forwarded it to Aurangzeb (Oct. 18)" (Niccolai Manucci, Storia do Mogor or Mogul India, 1965 reprint, pp. 356-7). Then Aurangzeb wrote a letter to Tripura king that read: "I have definite knowledge that… Shuja is hiding in your kingdom… I hope you will capture him and take care to send him under the surveillance of your army officers and thereby oblige me, so that the age-old friendship may continue unabated" (N.R. Roy Choudhury: Tripura Through the Ages: 1983: 28).
Shuja immediately sensed the situation and fled to Manipur. Naorem Sanjaoba summed up: "We learn from the Persian historians that Prince Shuja, the son of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan was the governor of Bengal. He was defeated by Mir Jumla (Mughal governor of Bengal) in a battle and he fled from his capital Dacca to the Mogali (Manipuri) country. We also learn from Niccolai Manucci…." (Naorem Sanjaoba, Manipur - Past & Present, vol.1, (ed.), Delhi: 1988: 44).
The rest is history, which only God knows. Yet we have aclue that the enigmatic cave called Shujalok at Heingang (Kairang) at the east of Imphal is generally to be the shelter and later the own graveyard of Prince Shuja that is adjacent to a grave of one Iphammayum elder man called Munawar Khan according to M.A. Janab Khan (Manipuri Muslims: 1972: back flap-page).
The Mughals who later came to be called Makak-mayum (B. Kulachandra: 1997:95) came by 1612 only through Cachar. "Manipuri Muslims of Cachar had a glorious past. They got settled in Cachar during Islam Khan's (Nawab of Bengal) invasion of Cachari kingdom during the reign of Yasonarayan.
They were the horsemen and veterinary doctors to look after the horses of the armed forces…The Cachari rulers welcomed them and even granted them lands…In the rural Cachar they had the reputation of medical men…There is a Yumnak sagei (clan) and 'Piba' among the Manipuri Muslims…There is a group of Manipuri Muslims who are called Funga nai, i.e., household slaves who embraced Islam…The position of the women in the Manipuri Muslim society has always been lagging behind the other communities…There was no Purdah system in Manipur at the end of 19th century" (Suhas Chatterjee: 2000-79-81).
"They were divided into Siead, pathan, Seikh and other mixed communities according to the English writers" (P. 128).
"The Mangol Shanglen that existed earlier was later converted into an institution entitled as Mughal Shanglen for the Muslims of Manipur after the immigration of a few Mughal princes during the reign of King Paikhomba" (N. Birachandra: 1984:89).
This is described as: "In 1678 AD (the 6th of Inga, 1601 Saka on Friday), two Makak princes from Makak (Mughalpur) named Sunarful and Lakhiayrful, traveler Millia Shaikh, saint Fulleicha Shantullah Shaikh with their attendants and slaves all numbering 37 persons arrived in Manipur on elephants in pomp and grandeur during Paikhomaba's reign (1666-97) [Sanahal: 1989:v]. "The brothers Sunarful and Lakhiaful became the ancestral founders of Makakmayum Angouba and Makak-mayum Amuba respectively (B. Kulachandra: 1997: 95) as they brought two kinds of flowers from Makak (Plumbaginaeae/Plumbago Indica)[Janab: 1972: 69].
That was the time as Suhas Chatterjee (2000: 80) observed: "There is no distinction of high and low among the Sagei of Manipuri Muslims and they can marry from any Sagei. But intermarriage of the same clan is not common to the Manipuri Muslims and probably it may be the customs of the Meiteis… The marriage system of Manipuri Muslims is a combination of Islamic and the Meitei customs".
R. Brown (Statistical Account of Manipur: 1873: 15) gives us a brief: "Musalman or Meitei Pangal - There is considerable population of Musalman, descendants of settlers from Bengal for the most part; they number about 900 families or 4,500 men, women, and children. They chiefly reside to the east of the capital. The Manipuris say that from great antiquity Musalmans have formed part of the population of the valley as well as Hindus.
The Musalman populations appears, before the devastation of the country by the Burmese, to have attained a very considerable amount; but, as was the case with all the other sections of the Manipur community, the greater portion of it was carried into captivity by these ruthless invaders, and the present Musalmans are the descendants of the few that then escaped being captured.
The Musalman population has undoubtedly arisen almost entirely from emigrant Bengalis, chiefly reside from the districts of Silhet and Kachar, who have formed connections with the women of the country and settled in the valley. All the Musalmans have a decidedly Bengali cast of countenance. They chiefly follow the trades of gardening, turning, carpentry, pottery, & c.; numbers of them also serve as sepoys, and nearly all the buglers and drummers attached to the Raja's army are Musalmans.
They have over them a kazi, who is appointed by the raja. They have no Masjid, and are, for the most part, very ignorant of the religion they profess. Their women conform to the customs of the country as regards non-seclusion. They have the reputation of being an honest, hard-working class, and perform lallup as Manipuris".
Actually Manipuri Muslim mosques don't have domes and are built like simple homes which are not indistinguishable from each other to outsiders; hence Mr. R. Brown in 1873 could not distinguish mosques. A 'Kazi', as he mentions, means a 'learned religious man' and is supposed to have a mosque. Anyway he made a fairly good observation.
Farooque Ahmed Makakmayum wrote this article for The Sangai Express
By Mohammad Hassan
Literature is often described as he conscience of a nation. It mirrors the finer sensibility of a people and denotes their intimate responses to the everyday challenges of national life. Hence the cultural ethos of a community is perhaps most faithfully represented in literature, particularly poetry.
Indian Muslims have always been such an integral part of the nation, that it will be nearly impossible to identify their distinct role without considering the whole gamut of the cultural heritage. Practically in all modern Indian languages, their role has been quite significant for one cannot discuss Bengali without Nazrul Islam, or Punjabi without Waris Shah or Kashmiri without Habba Khatoon, or Awadhi without Jaisi or Brij Bhasha without Rahiman or Tamil without Abdur Rahman or Malayalam without K T Mohammad or, for that matter Indian literature without Ghalib; the list is endless.
But let's start from the beginning. Islam came to India in the 8th century and the first Muslims who arrived were the Arabs who landed in Kerala as traders and were warmly received by the Zomorin. Undoubtedly Indo-Arab relations go much further back than the advent of Islam. But the new religion brought by Prophet Mohammad emphasized mono-theism with great vigor and, as a corollary advocated and to a great extent, practiced equality among men of different race, colour and social strata. This message of equality attracted a large number of converts and it soon spread to other parts of the land.
The second major contact developed in Sind-not as traders but as conquerors for here Mohammad Bin Qasim, an Arab lad of 14 years conquered a part of Sind in 712 AD as a reprisal to the looting of a ship of Arab pilgrims by Raja Dahir of Sind. This contact, though political had a cultural impact and it was to this that the Sindhi language and literature owe their origin. To this day, Sindhi is written in a modified Arabic script and bears a strong component of Arab and Islamic influence in the tone and tenor of its poetry.
And it was here that Abdul Latif Bhitai composed his songs of mystic devotion and human love. A new era had already began- the era of cosmopolitan mystic vision.
Undoubtedly mysticism is no monopoly of Islam but in the centuries that followed, several groups of Muslim mystics so swarmed over parts of North India that mysticism began to acquire as a Muslim face. Till today, Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti who came from Iraq in the 12th century to settle down in Ajmer as a lonely immigrant is held in high esteem both by Hindus and Muslims and the compositions of one of his disciples, Baba Farid, form part of the holy book of the Sikhs - the Guru Granth Sahib. Both of them emphasized the concept of the equality of man and sang of man's total submergence in the divine existence of God Almighty. The idea caught on and spread with speed and alacrity to practically all the dialects and languages of the land, and assumed different shapes and forms.
One of these was that of allegory and symbolism. Human existence was symbolized as a woman in love who has been unwittingly separated from her beloved and consequently sings the songs of separation form her divine love and thirsts for re-union. Hence, the poet- or human existence was portrayed as a woman in love while God was taken to be the separated husband.
This also took the form of Bara-masa, (Twelve months) in which the damsel describes the charms of every season, month by month, and implores her beloved to take pity on her and to join her in enjoying the seasonal blessings. The first available Bara-masa was written by Addiman, who is believed to be a convert to Islam named Abdur Rahman. He belonged perhaps to the area between the North West Frontier Province (NWFP)and Sind in the 12th century, according to Hazari Prasad Dwivedi and Vishwanath Tripathi, the first editor of the treatise, Sandesh Rasak and this happens to be the first literary work traceable in Awhat, the language deemed the precursor of the present Hindi and Urdu.
This marks the great beginning in practically all-modern Indian languages. The mystic era had begun. The famous Indian historian Dr. Tara Chand has traced the origin and development of the Bhakti movement in the south and its spreading in the north to the impact of Islam and Muslim poets and saints played a very significant part therein.
In Hindi, for instance even before the advent of the four recognized categories of Bhakti poetry Gyana-Kshri, Prem Margi Sufi, Ram Bhakti and Krishna Bhakti , the emergence of Amir Khusrau was noticeable . Though mainly a Persian poet, born in Patiali (Uttar Pradesh) or, according to some scholars, in Delhi Khusrau was a devout mystic and disciple of the Sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Auslia of Delhi, and his bridal songs, riddles and stray couplets mark the beginning of poetry in a mixed language with an amalgam of Khari Boli grammatical syntax and a sprinkling of Turkish, Persian and Arabic words. He sings praises of his motherland and mixes with the common man of his times so as to give unhampered expression to his feelings with exuberance and spontaneity.
Later on Kabir (whom several scholars consider Muslim) and his followers wrote poetry of iconoclastic humanism and robust commonsense in the Gyana-Kshri and Nirgun Bhakti which are similar in not worshipping idols and believing in the non-material existence of God. Syed Mohammad Jaisi's Padmavat, on the other hand, was the allegorical and anecdotal exposition of man's quest for Divine Beauty, and of self-abnegation in the process, as narrated in the form of Alauddin Khiliji's abortive attempt to conquer Padmini, who burns herself to death and escapes surrender. And the followers of Jaisi's philosophy and diction were many, who adorn the ranks of Prem Margi Sufi poets, including Mulla Daud, Qutban and Manjhan.
Then came the Krishna Bhaktas and these also include a number of Muslim poets. Sri Krishna has often been symbolized as the romantic embodiment of divine existence and not only in Brij Bhasha Hindi poetry of the 16th century but also in Urdu poetry of the 20th century. Poets like Maulana Hasrat Mohani took pride in proclaiming himself a Krishna Bhakt, Hence the continuing tradition from Ras Khan (the famous Brij Bhasha poet) to Hasrat Mohani.
Of course, Riti Kal of Brij Bhasha Hindi poetry abounds in Muslim names and these includes some very distinguished poets, like Akbar's Minister Abdur Rahim Khan Khanan whose dohas are exemplary.
Another branch of the Khari Boli developed as Urdu literature, which claims Amir Khusrau as the common ancestor and extends its frontiers to Gujarat and Deccan (mainly parts of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra), in the form of Gujri and Deccani. In these literary traditions, too, Indian Muslims played a significant, even predominating, role. In Gujarat, saint poets like Mahmud Daryai, Miranji, Janam and Khub Mohammad Chishti enriched the allegorical mystic tradition while in far off Deccan, first under the Bahmani Kingdom and later on under the Bijapur, Golconda and Ahmadnagar Kingdoms, a whole corpus of literary writings developed with Muslim authorship.
Even prose pieces in Deccani like sab Ras of Wajhi (of Golconda) were written and acclaimed. Wajhi's is a perfect allegory with Beauty, Reason and Heart as symbolic characters and, according to some, draws heavily from a Persian mystic's work and, according to others from Prabhad Chandra Uday, an Indian classic. Earlier, a Muslim saint-disciple of Nizamuddin Aulia of Delhi, living in Gulbarga (Karnataka) had written copiously in prose and poetry for propagating his humanistic teachings, bearing close resemblances with Hindu mystic thought.
In Bijapur and Golconda kings, saints, courtiers and itinerant scholars and poets, all made their contribution in making an indigenous language rich. These included the Muslim ruling monarch Quli Qutub Shah, the first Urdu poet with a regular collection and poets like Nizami, Nusrati, Ibn-Inishati, Ghannasi, Hashmi and a host of prose-stylists like Burhanuddin Janam, Aminuddin Aala, Miran Yakub and others. That their writings are enriched by their cultural environs is beyond doubt as they sought to achieve a blend of cosmopolitan elements with the indigenous traditions.
The development of Urdu language and literature in the north began rather late but the imprint of Indian Muslims on it is so unmistakable that it has been wrongly identified with them though a galaxy of non-Muslim Urdu writers adorn the pages of literary history.
Urdu literature in the north flourished mainly in the 18th and 19th centuries in Delhi , Uttar Pradesh and Bihar where masnavi writers like Afzal, Mir, Mir Asar and Mir Hasan continued to enrich and extend the tradition of allegorical and non-allegorical romantic poetic tales and started writing ghazals in Urdu, thus combining earthly romance with deeper metaphysical thought pattern. Of course, Muslim poets played an important part in giving shape to this new idiom, which heralded a new cultural climate - the climate of secularism, cosmopolitanism and urban sophistication.
The stalwarts included Mir Taqi Mir and Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib in Delhi whose Catholicism and free-thinking earned for them an eternal place in the hearts of millions; Agha Hasan Amanat's Inder sabha in 1846 attempted an amalgam of Hindu mythology with Awadh culture and ushered in a new era in Indian drama; Mir Anis' religious epics on the battle of Karbala gave its Arab characters local habitation and an Indian look the inimitable Nazeer Akbarabadi of Agra identified himself with the common man and wrote poems on everyday subjects like bread, water melons and the rainy season.
Urdu literature by itself stands witness to the involvement and identification of Indian Muslims with the Indian ethos. Urdu literature particularly the ghazal, gave typical expression to the agony and ecstasy of the national scene throughout the ages. Of course, non-Muslim writers participated equally in the process but any literature can be justly proud of poets like Mir, Ghalib, Iqbal and Josh Malihabadi; fiction writers and movelists like Nazeer Ahmed, Mirza Mohammad Hadi Ruswa, Abdul Haleem Sharar, Sajjad Yaldram, and in our own times, Qurratulain Hyder, Ismat Chughtai, Jilani Bano, Hayatullah Ansari and Khwaja Ahmed Abbas; prose writers like Abul Kalam Azad, Qazi Abdul Ghaffar and Rashid Ahmed Siddiqi; and dramatists like Agha Hasan Amanat, Agha Hashr, Imtiaz Ali Taj and Mohammad Mujib. The whole galaxy of progressive writers who lit the fire for the independence struggle and stormed the citadel of conservatism and obscurantism comprises of names like Faiz, Majaz, Makhdoom Mohiuddin , Parvez Shahidi, Ali Sardar Jafri, Jan Nisar Akhtar, Sahir Ludhianvi, Kaifi Azmi and Majrooh Sultuanpuri. No history of Indian literature can be complete without mentioning the literary and artistic sensibility brought about by Urdu poets and literatures. Every one of them deserves a whole chapter for his or her achievements. K.A. Abbas, for instance, left an indelible mark not only as a storywriter or a novelist but also as a distinguished filmmaker and outstanding journalists.
Iqbal by his philosophy of Self aroused the Asian nations from their long slumber and gave them the message of self-reliance and dignity. His clarion call for the emancipation of the subject nations of the Orient added a new dimension to contemporary literature. Similarly Josh Malihabadi's revolutionary poetry and Abul Kalam Azad's fiery writings made the struggle for national independence an article of faith and extended the frontiers of literary consciousness.
In Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the cradles of Urdu and Hindi Khari Boli literatures the galaxy of great names in both poety and prose include Rasikh, Shad, Hasrat Mohani, Jigar, Josh and innumerable others. Yet the Indian Muslims contribution to folk literature of the area should not be overlooked. In local dialects as well as in Khari Boli folk idiom. Muslim writers and composers have made their mark in Kajri, Laoni and other popular folk forms. Recently, Azhar Husain Faruqi's Uttar Pradesh ke lok geet gives a long list of Muslim composers and these represent only a portion of such contribution.
But the contribution of Indian Muslims was by no means restricted only to Urdu literature. In Punjab literature, for instance, mystics and saints left their own indelible marks. Waris Shah and Bulhe Shah composed classics in the 18th century, which are yet to be surpassed in excellence and acceptability. Even when the subcontinent was divided into two hostile countries, India and Pakistan and the border state of Punjab, the land of five rivers, was itself partitioned, the gathering of Punjab soldiers on both sides of the frontier could be seen listening to or reciting Waris Shah's epic Heer Ranjha jointly in the dead of night.
Further North, Kashmiri literature also boasts of its Indian Muslim authors, the greatest of them being, perhaps, Habba Khatoon, a plain peasant girl wedded to a ruling monarch and sharing his destiny in glory and Suffering. Then comes Mahjur, who sang songs of liberty and social justice and enthused Kashmiris to wrest their rights with courage and determination. Of course, these two names are only representative of dozens of other such writers and poets.
Further east, the development of Bengali literature, according to some literary historians, owes much to the patronage of Muslim kings of Bengal. Since its very inception, Muslim poets and writers have been in the vanguard of Bengali literature but the stature of Qazi Nazrul Islam remains unsurpassed. His poetic talent came to a sudden flowering when lying in a trench in a 21-day ambush during the Second World War and he broke into revolutionary song. Nazrul stands next to Tagore in his appeal and artistic excellence and his poetry inspired millions of Bengali-speaking people of India and Bangladesh in their struggle for independence. In fact, Nazrul inspired poets of all the modern Indian languages and provided a model for Josh Mahilabadi in Urdu, Subhramaniam Bharati in Tamil, Vallathal in Malayalam and Dinkar in Hindi.
Bengali literature can boast of other Muslim writers and composers, among them the outstanding literary critic, Kazi Abdul Wudood, Communist writer and intellectual Muzaffar Ahmad and of course, the innumerable Muslim singers and minstrel poets who roam the countryside and compose and sing Baul poetry.
Further down, we come across Oriya in which Mughal tamasha, a distinct form of folk drama, owes its origin mainly to Muslim writers. In Tamil, Abdur Rahman is still considered a major poet. In the sister languages of Kannada and Telugu, the present writer has limited information but the first Urdu poet with a regular poetic collection, the Golconda king, Quli Qutub Shah was also credited to be a Telugu poet. In Marathi, and Gujarati too, Muslim writers made their mark while in Malayalam, the stories and novels of K T Mohammad gained distinction.
This is only a cursory outline of the Muslim contribution to the various and modern Indian languages and literatures. But merely listing names of Muslim poets and writers, does not do justice to their role nor does it evaluate the true nature, extend and depth of their impact. This impact was not restricted only to Muslim writers but percolated to all levels and all kinds of writers irrespective of their religious fidelities.
What does this impact really mean in terms of the literary structure of these languages?
Firstly, it must be appreciated that the word Muslim denotes a much wider cultural domain than Islam. Islam was a set of beliefs but Muslims of different countries, though adhering to these common beliefs, developed their own cultural identities in conjunction with their indigenous environments. Islam for instance, forbids, or at least discourages all arts, frowns on the practice of music, dance and sculpture and deprecates painting, yet in all these fields Indian Muslims, and devout Muslims at that, earned distinction. It has often been the case that the artistic talent of Muslims in the forbidden arts found expression either in permitted media (for example, the expression of painting talent in calligraphy or of sculpture in the carving of Quranic verses on the Qutub Minar) or in the innovative transfer of these talents to other media. Hence the Muslim contribution to literature and poetry should be taken in this context, which in some measure, explains the popularity enjoyed by poetry among Muslims in general so that couplets form part of ordinary everyday conversation.
The second important factor that should be noted is that this contribution was basically secular and cosmopolitan in character. Secular - because Muslim poets and men of letters could not identify themselves with Hindu religious or devotional poetry (barring instances where it had been raised to mystical or allegorical heights) and hence their writings, both in poetry and prose, opened the gates of secular and materialist subjects. What sustained this new poetic idiom was its cosmopolitanism.
To bracket this cosmopolitanism with alien influences would be erroneous. The fact remains that the Turco-Iranian cultural tradition was, in the Dark Ages, the predominant world tradition. Europe was still to emerge as the new arbiter of human destiny and Arabs were dispensing the knowledge acquired from Greek sources, through translations. The Turco-Iranian tradition had absorbed this corpus of knowledge and had become its champion in Asia and the Middle East. Hence, the adoption, or acceptance of these Turco-Iranian influences meant imbibing the impact of the then pervading world culture.
Thirdly, it should also be borne in mind that Muslim contact was not primarily through administrators or rulers but mainly through traders (who purchased handicrafts and other manufactured goods and materials from the Indian towns or trade centres and sold them in Central Asian and West Asian courts and markets), Sufi saints, scholars and mercenary soldiers. Consequently, the adoption of these influences was the acceptance of world cultural norms and values of that period. The literary exchanges between Turco-Iranian traditions and modern Indian languages were therefore a part of this transaction, which can be compared to the impact of the English language and literature on various Indian languages today.
The Indian Muslim writer's contribution to various modern Indian languages and literatures, therefore, is two-fold: first in creating a secular and cosmopolitan literary idiom, and second in forging a new syntactical conciseness and close-knit poetic and literary expression mainly brought about as part of this Turco-Iranian impact.
Though very close to Sanskrit, old Persian had taken a different syntactical line of development. To discuss in detail the nature of the syntactical influences of the Turco-Persian traditions on the modern Indian languages is beyond the scope of this essay but the use of izafat (conjunctional lower apostrophe) alone gave much greater compactness and conciseness to expression.
The same holds good in the case of symbols- and non-religious and non-mythical symbols at that. The Indian Muslim writers in many cases revolutionized the literary idiom by introducing new symbols or by communicating a different conceptual system through old and familiar images and symbols. Even Nazrul Islam, who is greatly influenced by Hindu mythological symbols, introduced several new dimensions to them and introduced a series of symbols from the Turco-Iranian tradition.
The system of symbolism was used in a peculiar way by the ghazal, a poetic genre born in Arabic as an introductory digressive part of Qasida (eulogy) poetry which came to flowering in Persia as a separate form with scattered self-contained couplets bound together by common rhyme and ending with a subjective tone and symbolic expression of its own. Even though the ghazal symbols were not altogether indigenous, its popularity in practically all the modern Indian languages is due to its compact subjectivity and generalised symbolism, which covers at once different fields of human activity. For instance, a ghazal couplet, though apparently addressed to one's beloved can thanks to the prevailing generality of ghazal symbols be recited as a political statement. Hence, the ghazal as poetic form remains popular in Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Bengali and several other languages. Not exclusively a contribution of Muslims alone, it has however a Muslim connexion.
This clearly shows that the Muslim contribution to Indian languages and literatures has been a source of strengthening its cosmopolitan links and giving it a modern, secular and worldly look. In fact, this literary contribution was a part of the composite culture, which brought the diverse religious and regional identities together and tried to develop it into a national culture. Unfortunately, the process was rudely interrupted by a long spell of British rule which erected various barriers between the various components and constituents of this composite cultural ethos and the final act of the country's partition undermined the very basis of this emerging synthesis.
In the post-Independence period, Urdu has suffered the greatest setback with total exile from most of the north Indian states and this exile covers schools, libraries, government offices and courts. Yet mushairas are held in almost every important town and attract large crowds. ghazal concerts are a craze and immediate commercial success. Of late, however, Urdu has been accorded the status of the second official language in Bihar and UP and about ten Urdu Academies and a Bureau for Promotion of Urdu have been set up in several states and at the centre.
While Muslim writers are among the prominent literary authors of various Indian languages, in many cases, a sense of alienation separates them from their fellow writers. Recurrent communal Hindu-Muslim riots breed extremists on both ends and create distrust and insecurity. Hence the psyche of the Indian Muslim writer, whether writing in Urdu or Malayalam or Marathi, experiences an ordeal different from his compatriots.
Add to this, the rise of fundamentalism, the eleven year rule of Pakistani military dictators and the reign of orthodox papacy of Imam Khomeini of Iran, which have been posing serious threats to liberalism and rationalism to Muslims everywhere in the world and we get a complete, or a near complete, picture of the context an average Indian Muslim writer finds himself in.
Yet there is a silver lining to this dismal panorama. A number of Indian Muslim writers view their own preservation as well as that of the composite culture evolved through centuries of communion as a part of the defence of democratic values in our land. This crusade cannot be waged and won in isolation but with wider, much wider, cooperation and support of the people. And it is for this that writers, and among them Muslim writers too, though it fit to break the conventional framework of communication media and reach the common man through street theatre. Habib Tanvir attempted to mobilize the actual man in the street and, without any commercialized make-up, express through him the woes and sufferings of a suffocated society. Safdar Hashmi took street theatre to the masses even more vigorously and addressed them on burning topics directly connected with their own lives. For the temerity of criticizing the Establishment he paid the price with his own life, and symbolized the participation and involvement of Indian Muslims in the struggle of making India a safer and a better place to live and in preserving the highest values of a composite culture evolved during centuries of our history.
The author is a Professor in Urdu at the Center of Indian Languages, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He has written 70 books and is an Urdu playwright and literary critic.
By Farooque Ahmed Makakmayum
Having come to the full circle of research in this area, I now put briefly about the history of Manipuri Muslims (Pangals who are acculturated to the Meiteis in various aspects) wherein I consummate the points of relevant previous papers and at the same time abrogating the inconsistencies of the earlier same hereby providing the ultimate and authentic opinion vide exhaustive studies and findings.
This passage tries to trace the earlier history only and the most known theory is that 'Pangan'/'Pangal' is a word derived from 'Bengal', from where most of the Muslims came between 1550 AD and 1690 AD. And neighbouring history is also referred to for a better grasp of idea.
On close scrutiny and critical analysis, I find that the Manipuri Muslims are one of the earliest settlers (i.e., from circa 680 AD) outside the Arab Peninsula and the Gulf region vis-a-vis histories of South Asian and S.E. Asian Muslim histories including China where the Prophet Muhammad (570-632 AD) sent two preachers by sea in c. 616 AD.
Teaching of Prophet Muhammad (Sa'd bin Waqqas) and that of Tang period Chinese records reveal that in a return journey to China in reciprocity to the Chinese embassy to Arabia, i.e a Muslim embassy to Chinese capital Chan'gan reached in 651 AD. The Hui of China (Chinese Muslims) trace their origin to the date of 25 August, 651 AD.
"The advent of Islam in South China makes a fascinating study. The earliest Muslims came to these parts by sea. Arab traders were known to have sailed to China even during the period beyond historical records. Records exist from 5th century A.D. (Tang Dynasty 618-907) which shows the route from Siraf in the Persian Gulf to Muscat in the Gulf of Oman, thence to the South Indian (Malabar) coast. From there the route continued to Ceylon (Sarandip), to Nicobar group of islands, to straits of Malacca, then round the South coast of the Malay Peninsula to the Gulf of Siam and thence to Canton and Hangchow in China.
According to Muslim traditions, when the early Muslims were being persecuted in Mecca some of them were allowed to migrate to Habash (Abyssinia) but most of them later came back, including the famous companions and muazzin Bilal. However, the Books of Individual Records noticed that four companions did not return, one of them being Abi Waqqas, a maternal uncle of the Holy Prophet. It is narrated that Abi Waqqas had gained favour with the Najashi King of Habash who had allowed him to sail to China.
"This tallies with the account of Liu Chih (who wrote a 12-volume Life of the Prophet in Chinese in 1721 A.D.) according to which Abi Waqqas, the Holy Prophets maternal uncle, arrived in China with three other Sahaba. Broomhall gives the date of this arrival in China of the Sahaba. Broomhall gives the date of this arrival in China of the Sahaba as 611 A.D. The Chinese historian gives the date as 587 A.D. Both the dates are incorrect, since the first revelation to the Prophet came in 611 A.D. and the first batch of Muslim emigrants went to Abyssinia in 615 A.D.
Abi Waqqas could not have reached Canton before 616 A.D.) Abi Waqqas then went back to Arabia to being the Holy Quran and came to China the second time after 21 years. An inscription at Canton dated 1861 A.D. also states that Abi Waqqas landed in Canton in 587 A.D. and built the mosque of Holy Remembrance. It is believed that the earliest mosque built in China is the present mosque of Holy Remembrance at Canton. The mosque was built along-side the Smooth Minaret (Kwang Ta) which was built earlier by the Arabs as a lighthouse.
The mosque and the minaret exist even today in Canton, and the tomb of Abi Waqqas as well as a small mosque are also located in the Muslim graveyard of Canton. According to Great Ming Geography, two of his companions lie buried in nearby Fukian. It is almost certain that these were the first Muslim preachers who came to South China by sea and propagated Islam in the coastal cities of Kwangchow, Chuanchow, Hangchow and Yang- chow.
There is, however, a difference of opinion about the exact dates because of the difficulties in calculations in the Western Gregorian Calendar and the Chinese and Muslim Lunar Calendars.
"The introduction of Islam in Western China makes a still more colourful and fascinating study. According to Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.) records, two embassies, one from Yezdegrid, the grandson of Khosroes and the other from the Roman Empire, came to the court of Tai Tsung, the second tang Emperor (627-650) in 638 and 643 respectively and both reported their defeats at the hands of the Arabs. Yezdegird, the last of Sassanian Kings of Iran, had sought refuge with the Turkish tribes of Ferghana and had also sought friendship with Emperor Tai Tsung whose capital was at Chang An (modern Sian). The Chinese of the time were at the height of their power, and had their frontiers with the Persian Empire.
In 650 Tai Tsung died and his son, Emperor Kao Tsung, received an appeal for aid from Firuz, the son of Yezdegird. Kao Tsung sent an emissary to Caliph Osman at Madina to plead for Firuz and the Caliph in return sent one of his generals to Sian in 651 and thus the first Muslim Embassy was established in Western China."
(Source :: http://www.geocities.com/khyber007/china.html)
Prophet Muhammad (born to a Quraish clan) proclaimed: "Utubul ilma lau kana bisseen" (literal meaning: Go in quest of knowledge unto China). Thus China and Arab civilizations were familiar to each other since early Tang period by virtue of trans-Asia trade by the Silk Route and sea route as well. Another lesser known silk route passed through Manipur to Yunnan along which early Arab caravan, muleteers and Persian traders and adventurists (known as Posa/Posse/Pasa from Persian/Farsi in Japanese and Chinese annals) traded in items as horse-trade and on return journey the Middle east and Syrian Arabs brought back silk, spice and other items.
Another silk route was via Tripura-Arakan besides the Patkai range along which the Ahoms (Tai) led by Sukanpha came and settled in Upper Burma in 1228 AD and earlier Turuskas (a disgruntled section of Bakhtiyar Khilji's army that conquered gaur/Bengal in 1204 AD) reached Gauhati and Mikir Hills, some of which reached and settled in Manipur setting up a principality within the Meitei kingdom, known as Pathan Ningthourel/Turushka principality as found in Puyas (Yengkhom Bhagya Singh, 1956, "Leithak Leikharol", pp. 112-3) and Vaishnavite literatures.
Earlier, a group of Arabs led by Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyya (son of Caliph Ali) of Ummayad dynasty based in Damascus (Syria) sailed from Kufa across the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal trying to reach China but ended up in Arakan and then Maundaw in 680 AD. Some of them led by a saint probably Hanafiyya himself visited and preached in Manipur, and founded a nascent Arab hamlet possibly taking Meitei women as wives in Manipur by circa 680 AD during king Naophangba's reign.
Habib Siddiqui notes: "Some historians tell us that the first Muslims to settle the Arakan were Arabs under the leadership of Muhammad ibn Hanafiya in the late 7th century (CE). He married the queen Kaiyapuri, who had converted to Islam. Her people then embraced Islam en masse. The peaks where they lived are still known as Hanifa Tonki and Kaiyapui Tonki" (http://www.weekly holiday.net/2005/020905/edit.html). A. Ezzati (1994, Spread of Islam, Tehran, pp. 333, 428): This Hanifa was a son of Ali, the 4th Caliph, 656-661 AD) and reached Arakan in 680 AD.
Rajkumar Kokngangsana ("Kanglei Langba Pakhangba", 1955: 2) and Khulem Chandrasekhar Singh ("Sakok Lamlen Ahanba", 1992: 10) wrote in these puyas: "Lairen Naophangbaki hakthakta nongchuplomdagi Pangal Musalman guru ama phaorakye". R.K. Sanahal (Pangal Thorakpa, 1983/1989) and N. Dibendra Singh (2005) noted that Muslim (Pangal) Aribam clan had been existing, the clan name being conferred by king Naophangba, since the reign of this ancient king.
This group from Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyya included some Persians (Pasa) that founded hamlets in Sylhet and Cachar in 7th-8th century. Pemberton (1966:113) noted of a Pasa (Basa) kingdom apparently in Cachar of 777 AD (Chietharol Kumbaba, 1989; 2005 by S.N. Arambam Parratt) till where Shan adventurer Samlungfa raided, before he raided Manipur. A Chinese account Chia Tin's itinere of 785-805 AD, mentions of a Ta-ts'in Po-lo-men of Manipur which G.E. Gerini (1909:813) opined to be Sylhet.
From the Ummayad Caliphate (660-750 AD) based in Syrian Arabia (Damascus), Hanifa (Hanafiyya) and his group reached Arakan coast; Tang period Chinese account recorded of contemporary Syrian people as Ta-ts'in and the Arabs in general as Ta-shih, as they (Syrian and Arab Muslims) came from the land of Syria-based caliphate. Hence the Ta-ts'in meant the Arabs (Aribah whose literal meaning is 'Pure Arab' in Peter Thomas Hughes, The Dictionary of Islam, 1999) settlement or abode in Manipur within the Meitei (Kathe) kingdom.
As such the Aribam (the earliest Manipuri Muslim clan) term could have been derived from the word 'Aribah', or it could be mere co-incidence of name as Ariba/Liraba/liba in Meitei language simply means 'old' or 'antiquity'. Aribam clan (sagei/yumnak) also exists prominently among the Meitei community. "Leithak Leikharol" (op. cit, pp. 112-3fts.), records of Pasa Ningthourel and Pathan Ningthourel, that would explicitly mean two Manipuri Muslim abodes or principalities as initiated in different periods.
L. Joychandra (Lost Kingdom: 1995:1) noted that Manipuri (Meitei) king Naofangba reigned between 624 AD and 714 AD. Ch. Manihar (A History of Manipuri Literature, 1997:104) and Wahengbam Ibohal (History of Manipur, 1986:215) noted that Pasa is the old name of Sylhet, while Pemberton (eastern Frontier of India, 1966:113) noted that Pasa/Basa 'probably means Banga, the ancient capital of Cachar country).
Henry Yule noted that Muslims of early Manipur (Kathe Musalmans) are descendants of early Muslims of Arakan, Cachar and Manipur that later altogether got fusioned to form a Muslim (known as Pangal) community. All these records would account that the earliest Muslim clan of Manipur are traced to the period of around 685 AD of initiation of the first Muslim clan. They fanned out eastward to Shan-Pagan area and further to Yunnan, as Moshe Yegar noted of Chinese annals revealing that Chinese travellers found Persian colony on Yunnan-Burma border in 860 AD.
The Pansi (derived from Persian) Muslims of Upper Burma and Panthay of Yunnan have the reputation of being sturdy horse-riders. Frank. M. Lebar et al (Ethnic Groups of Mainland Southeast Asia, Toronto/New Haven, 1964:2) wrote:
"The Panthay of Burma are chiefly known as muleteers on the trade routes. They are excellent caravan drivers, carrying goods as far as Rangoon and Moulmein. They are mostly engaged in trade, and cultivate only just enough to supply their immediate needs. Much of the domestic work is carried in by slaves or by hired servants (Scott and Hardiman: 1900:600-13)."
During, king Irengba's period of Manipur (984-1074 AD according to "Cheitharol Kumbaba") there were distinctly two Pasha and one Pangal villages (Mars) indicating the diverse nature of ethnic origin of Manipur Muslims- from different directions and different eras- that later subsumed to make the Pangal or Meitei-Pangal community as is known today. Abbasid period (750-1258 AD) coins were also found in Lalmai-Samtata region of frontier Bengal (Richard M. Eaton, 1997). The Pangals living at Khuga valley under their chieftain Maradon Adon (Murad al Abdullah) were noted to be a peasant community as found in Moirang Ningthourel Lambuba, K.C. Tensuba's account, Ningthourel Lambuba etc.
According to the Lost Kingdom (op. cit), king Irengba ruled in 1031 to 1121 AD; and Khuman principality was prominent at this time. Asim Roy (1983:89) noted that there were legendary tales, corroborated in early hagio-logical (hagiography) accounts of Muslims of Bengal-Samatata-Arakan continuum regarding Muhammad al Hanifa (son of Caliph Ali, 656-661 AD, from his second wife from Hanifa clan of Central Arabia), who must have brought the heroic tales of Amir Hamza, a maternal uncle of Prophet Muhammad, as Amir Hamza's tales are found in legends and early annals of Muslims of Bengal.
Earlier it was thought that Amir Hamza could have arrived in this frontier region because of such renderings, but the fact is that Hamza died in the Battle of Uhud in 625 AD. Historians such as Abul-Fazl Ezzati, Taher Ba Tha, Maung Than Lwin, Habib Siddiqui and Ashraf Alam noted that Muhammad al Hanifa (Hanafiyya) landed in Arakan and married the local queen there, and their tombs are still exiting in Maungdaw, north of Arakan, who are revered as saints.
Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â© Dr. A. Zahoor 1992, 1997, All Rights Reserved
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (India's Prime Minsiter 1947-64) in ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“The Discovery of India,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ 1946, p. 218, 225.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe impact of the invaders from the north-west and of Islam on India had been considerable. It had pointed out and shone up the abuses that had crept into Hindu society - the petrification of caste, untouchability, exclusiveness carried to fantastic lengths. The idea of the brotherhood of Islam and the theoretical equality of its adherents made a powerful appeal especially to those in the Hindu fold who were denied any semblance of equal treatment.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â?
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œ...his (BabarÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s) account tells us of the cultural poverty that had descended on North India. Partly this was due to Timur's destruction, partly due to the exodus of many learned men and artists and noted craftsmen to the South. But this was due also to the drying up of the creative genius of the Indian people.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â?
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe coming of Islam and of a considerable number of people from outside with different ways of living and thought affected these beliefs and structure. A foreign conquest, with all its evils, has one advantage: it widens the mental horizon of the people and compels them to look out of their shells. They realize that the world is a much bigger and a more variegated place than they had imagined. So the Afghan conquest had affected India and many changes had taken place. Even more so the Moghals, who were far more cultured and advanced in the ways of living than the Afghans, brought changes to India. In particular, they introduced the refinements for which Iran was famous.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â?
Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramayya, Presidential Address to the Fifty-fifth Session of the Indian Congress, Jaipur, 1948.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œ(The Muslims had) enriched our culture, strengthened our administration, and brought near distant parts of the country... It (the Muslim Period) touched deeply the social life and the literature of the land.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â?
Humayun Kabir in 'The Indian Heritage,' 1955, p. 153.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIslam's democratic challenge has perhaps never been equaled by any other religious or social system. Its advent on the Indian scene was marked by a profound stirring of consciousness. It modified the basis of Hindu social structure throughout northern India.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â?
N.S. Mehta, in 'Islam and the Indian Civilization,' reproduced in 'Hindustan ke Ahd-i-Wusta ki ek Jhalak,' by S.A. Rahman.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIslam had brought to India a luminous torch which rescued humanity from darkness at a time when old civilizations were on the decline and lofty moral ideals had got reduced to empty intellectual concepts. As in other lands, so in India too, the conquests of Islam were more widespread in the world of thought than in the world of politics. Today, also, the Islamic World is a spiritual brotherhood which is held together by community of faith in the Oneness of God and human equality. Unfortunately, the history of Islam in this country remained tied up for centuries with that of government with the result that a veil was cast over its true spirit, and its fruits and blessings were hidden from the popular eye.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â?
Prof. K.M. Panikkar in 'A Survey of Indian History,' 1947, p. 163.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œOne thing is clear. Islam had a profound effect on Hinduism during this period. Medieval theism is in some ways a reply to the attack of Islam; and the doctrine of medieval teachers by whatever names their gods are known are essentially theistic. It is the one supreme God that is the object of the devotee's adoration and it is to His grace that we are asked to look for redemption.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â?
Zaheeruddin Babar in his Autobiography 'Tuzuk-i-Babari,' (Founder of Mughal Dynasty, Ruled India 1526-1530).
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThere are neither good horses in India, nor good meat, nor grapes, nor melons, nor ice, nor cold water, nor baths, nor candle, nor candlestick, nor torch. In the place of the candle, they use the divat. It rests on three legs: a small iron piece resembling the snout of a lamp... Even in case of Rajas and Maharajas, the attendants stand holding the clumsy divat in their hands when they are in need of a light in the night.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThere is no arrangement for running water in gardens and buildings. The buildings lack beauty, symmetry, ventilation and neatness. Commonly, the people walk barefooted with a narrow slip tied round the loins. Women wear a dress ...ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â?
Dr. Gustav le Bon in 'Les Civilisations de L'Inde' (translated by S.A. Bilgrami).
"There does not exist a history of ancient India. Their books contain no historical data whatever, except for a few religious books in which historical information is buried under a heap of parables and folk-lore, and their buildings and other monuments also do nothing to fill the void for the oldest among them do not go beyond the third century B.C. To discover facts about India of the ancient times is as difficult a task as the discovery of the island of Atlantis, which, according to Plato, was destroyed due to the changes of the earth... The historical phase of India began with the Muslim invasion. Muslims were India's first historians."
Sir William Digby in 'Prosperous India: A Revelation,' p. 30.
"England's industrial supremacy owes its origin to the vast hoards of Bengal and the Karnatik being made available for her use....Before Plassey was fought and won, and before the stream of treasure began to flow to England, the industries of our country were at a very low ebb."
Brooks Adams in 'The Law of Civilization and Decay,' London, 1898, pp. 313-17.
"Very soon after Plassey the Bengal plunder began to arrive in London, and the effect appears to have been instantaneous, for all authorities agree that the Industrial Revolution, the event that has divided the l9th century from all antecedent time, began with the year 1760....Plassey was fought in 1757, and probably nothing has ever equaled the rapidity of the change which followed....In themselves inventions are passive, many of the most important having laid dormant for centuries, waiting for a sufficient store of force to have accumulated to have set them working. That store must always take the shape of money, and money not hoarded, but in motion.
"...Before the influx of the Indian treasure, and the expansion of credit which followed, no force sufficient for this purpose existed....The factory system was the child of 'Industrial Revolution,' and until capital had accumulated in masses, capable of giving solidity to large bodies of labour, manufactures were carried on by scattered individuals....Possibly since the world began, no investment has ever yielded the profit reaped from the Indian plunder, because for nearly fifty years Great Britain stood without a competitor."
Recounting Untold Story
Darul Uloom Deoband
a heroic struggle against the British tyranny
download the book from the link below:
By Zafarul Islam Islahi
It is an established fact that the Muslims after their settlement in India adopted it as their home and considered it their duty to work for socio- economic and cultural development of the country and general welfare of the people. In fact, they took part in the freedom movement with the same sense of duty and worked whole-heartedly along with their country-fellows to achieve the desired goal of the freedom of their homeland. The different sections of the Muslim society, including ulama, utilised their respective resources for this purpose.
As torchbearers of the Muslim community, the ulama employed various methods to serve the cause of the freedom movement. Apart from actively participating in different programmes of the movement which were going on in those days under the leadership of Gandhiji, they did their best to make the movement successful through their speeches, writings and issuing fatwa for creating awareness among the Muslims about the Britishers or in support of the crucial programmes of the freedom movement.
The fatwa (pl. fatawa), as it is well-known, is exposition of the Shariat's point of view by a mufti or a learned jurist with regard to any emergent problem in response to a legal query (istifta) by any person or on his own. As a matter of fact, the institution of ifta (writing or issuing fatwa) is an integral part of Islamic juridical system and has important role in guiding the ummah in emergent problems or new situations. It is pertinent to explain here that the fatwa issued by the competent legal authority about any issue is given much importance by the common Muslims, because it is believed that a fatwa is a declaration of the Shariat's point of view expressed either in the light of the Quran and Hadith or through interpreting their text. As such it is considered binding as a provision of the Shariat, though, of course, a mufti individually can not force any one to follow his fatwa. It can not be denied that in recent times, some of the fatawa issued by certain muftis in haste, without thorough examination of the concerned cases, have undermined the dignity of this great institution of Islam.
The issuing fatwa is not an easy job as it is generally thought. It requires extreme care and utmost regard for the well-defined principles of the ifta. As a matter of fact, issuing fatwa or delivering legal verdict about different issues or cases has a very old history in India. In the modern media, the fatwa is sometimes dubbed as document which negates democratic principles, serves the sectarian approach and undermines the rights of women and non-Muslims. It has been forgotten that it was the fatwa which had set into motion the struggle against the Britishers who had established their control over India and had snatched the rights of the Indians to rule over their country. There are enough evidences to suggest that fatawa of the Indian ulama had mobilized the Muslims to render services and make sacrifices for the sake of their homeland and had boosted the cause of the freedom movement in its several stages.
In the history of the freedom movement in India, the fatwa of Shah Abdul Aziz Dehlawi, issued in 1803, has crucial importance as it declared India of that time as Darul Harb and thus prompted the Muslims to start struggle against the Britishers and permitted them to wage war for bringing change in the situation.
In fact, it was the starting point of the freedom movement in a practical way, though it is rightly said that the ground for the movement was actually prepared by the writings of Shah Waliullah Dehlawi (d. 1762 CE) about the political situation of India in the 18th century. The historic fatwa of Shah Abdul Aziz was endorsed by many ulama of that period, including Qazi Sanaullah Panipati, Shah Rafiuddin, Shah Abdul Qadir, Shah Ismail Shaheed, Shah Muhammad Ishaq and Mufti Ilahi Bakhsh. It is noteworthy that the fatwa of some of these ulama had clearly declared that in the present situation it had become obligatory for the Indian Muslims to wage jihad against the Englishmen to change the situation of the country. This edict had certainly given legal sanction for the same to check the enslavement of the country and its inhabitants and had also awakened the people to prepare themselves for further line of action. During the subsequent period, the fatawa continued to be issued by the contemporary ulama in support of the different programmes of the freedom movement. Quite obviously, the fatawa that were issued with the signature of a large number of ulama proved to be more effective. Some such fatawa belonged to the pre- and post-first war of independence. Just before the painful event of 1857, when the Britishers were exhausting their energies to gain full control over Delhi and were damaging the life and property of those who were resisting it, a fatwa was issued with the signature of 31 ulama of Delhi, which declared jihad farz-i-ain for the Muslims of Delhi and farz-i kifayah for those of adjoining areas. The signatories to the fatwa included Sayyed Nazir Husain, Maulana Rahmatullah Kairanwi, Mufti Sadruddin, Mufti Ikramuddin, Maulana Abdul Karim, Shah Abdul Ghani Mujaddidi, Mufti Rahmat Ali Khan and Maulana Ilahi Bakhsh.
It is well-known that after 1857, the main target of revengeful action of the British government were Muslims, as they had led the first war of independence and had posed great challenge to the rising power of the Britishers. In this situation, some of the ulama, including Maulana Kifayatullah of Muradabad reinforced the above edict to motivate the Muslims for struggle against the oppressive Government.
Another important fatwa issued by Shaikhul Hind, Maulana Mahmud Hasan in July, 1920 is related to non-cooperation with the British Government, which was actually an important part of the freedom movement to put pressure on it. The fatwa of the Shaikhul Hind declared it unlawful for the Muslims to join the government service, especially in police and army and to cooperate with it in any way. The fatwa endorsed by a large number of ulama in the meeting of the Jamiatul Ulama (held at Calcutta in September, 1920) was printed with the signature of 474 ulama and distributed in different parts of the country. It contributed a lot to make the programme of non-cooperation more effective as many Muslims following the dictates of the fatwa left the government jobs, discarded the military service and returned the government awards and titles. Moreover, echoing the same edict, a resolution supported strongly by Ali brothers, was passed in the Khilafat Conference session of September, 1921, (held at Karachi) openly declaring the police or military service of the British government unlawful (haram). Subsequently, the resolution was compiled under the fatwa format by Shaikhul Islam Maulana Husain Ahmad Madani and was signed by him along with Maulana Nisar Ahmad and Peer Ghulam Mujaddid. It was also sent in the printed form to several parts of the country, which generated more heat in the freedom movement as the non-cooperation had become a mass programme among Muslims due to the impact of the fatwa. The situation was quite alarming for the government which took steps to suppress the rising impact of the fatwa by seizing it and arresting the compiler and supporters of the same. It was the same fatwa on the basis of which the famous Karachi case of inciting sedition was started against the above prominent freedom fighters who were put to trial and finally awarded punishment of two years rigorous imprisonment. Instead of bringing any setback to the movement, these repressive measures spread the message of the fatwa far and wide and strengthened the people's resolve to go ahead on the path of the freedom.
In addition to the non-cooperation programme, the salt satyagraha movement started by Gandhiji in March, 1930 against the anti-people salt law of the government also proved to be more effective to air the feelings of resentment and anger against the Britishers and exhorted them to work more vigorously to relieve the country from their oppressive and unjust rule. The Muslims, including ulama, actively participated in this historical satyagraha, and worked hard to give it wider acceptance through their speeches and writings. Some of them, like Mufti Atiqur Rahman Usmani, are reported to have given a verdict that no government has right to levy tax on items like water and salt and that it is permissible to make struggle against a government which dares to do it. Such fatwa had led to create more awareness among the common Muslims for participation in the satyagraha.
It is well-known that the freedom movement and the Khilafat Tahrik were interlinked. They got support and strength from each other. The whole-hearted support of Gandhiji to this Tahrik had made it an all India issue. Consequently, the Khilafat Tahrik had given great strength to the Hindu-Muslim relationship and their unity which was obviously the most powerful source for the country to achieve the lofty goal of freedom from the foreign rule. The Indian ulama, as is well- known, had been in the forefront in the Khilafat movement led by Ali brothers. Though I could not come across any formal fatwa issued in support of this movement, but it could not be overlooked that this Tahrik itself was started on the basis of the well-considered opinion of the Indian ulama that according to the Shariat at that time no one was legitimate Khalifa of Muslims except the Sultan of Turkey. So, the Muslims all over the world were required to raise this issue and work for restoration of his Khilafat. Moreover, just about one month before the formation of the Khilafat Committee in India, in a public meeting of Anjuman Muaiyyidul Islam held in Farangi Mahal (Lucknow) in February, 1919 under the chairmanship of Maulana Abdul Bari Farangi Mahli, it was resolved unanimously that a fatwa giving details of the rules of the Shariat about the institution of Khilafat be prepared and after being signed by the ulama of the Arab and Islamic countries be sent to the Governor General.
Another well-known matter which was juridically examined by the ulama in course of the freedom movement was joining the Congress party by the Muslims and working in coordination and cooperation with the Hindus to bring freedom to their country. Some of the ulama of the period put their seal to it by their fatawa to remove any misgiving, if found in this regard. The fatwa in support of joining the Congress party had been issued by the famous freedom fighter Maulana Habibur Rahman Ludhianwi in 1888. It was published with the signature of about 300 ulama and distributed in different parts of country. This fatwa, though confiscated by the government like other important fatawa, had also served the cause of the freedom movement, because it is generally accepted that among the political parties of that time the Congress was playing the leading role in this movement. In the same way, many ulama of the period stressed the need of the Muslims jointly working with the Hindus against the Britishers who had subjugated their country and had enslaved them. What is important in this regard is that some of them openly declared that there was no bar from the Shariat for Muslims working with non-Muslims for a good cause.
In brief, it is quite clear from the above details that many important programmes of the freedom movement were supported by the ulama and given wide acceptance among the Muslims through their fatawa. This was actually an important part of the multi-dimensional role of the ulama (especially those belonging to Darul Uloom, Deoband) in the freedom movement which is generally overlooked by the historians and writers of the modern period. The real importance of their fatawa lies in the fact that they contributed to build up the opinion of the common Muslims against the Britishers who had adopted repressive policies towards the Indians particularly Muslims and under whose rule their life and property was insecure and their religious and political rights were in peril. Besides, these fatawa led to make them more active and dutiful with regard to the struggle for freedom of the country. The Britishers, as also became clear from the above deliberations, were themselves fully aware of the inherent impact of the fatwa and had tried their best, though unsuccessfully, to suppress it by seizing copies of different fatawa and subjecting their authors, printers and propagators to harsh and humiliating punishment. It may be also added here that the fatawa referred to above in relation to the freedom movement are merely a fragmented part of huge fatawa literature of the same nature available in the well-known Fatawa-collections, records of Darul Ifta of different madrasahs and treasures of private libraries. These are required to be brought out, studied thoroughly and compiled systematically to assess their quantum and to find out the real role of this hitherto-neglected literature produced by the Indian ulama.
Lastly, it can not be missed to point out that the ulama, who prepared the above fatawa and took care of their distribution in printed form among the people to make them more effective, were mostly products of the madrasahs or institutions of Islamic learning. This strongly supports the view that they are not only assets to the Muslim community, they are also rendering (as they did in the past) many services (khidmat) to the country ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ the noblest being promotion of learning, reform of moral life and socio-cultural upliftment of the people. Their good works, undoubtedly, cannot be obliterated by the ongoing hateful campaign and adverse comments about them in a section of modern media.
Professor Islahi teaches in the department of Islamic Studies, AMU
Source: The Milli Gazette, 1-15 November 2006, p. 16
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