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Critical Podium Dewanand



Sacrificer           Dr Radhasyam Brahmachari
Sacrifice code       wfor0427
Sacrifice date       25 march 2009


By Dr Radhasyam Brahmachari

  • www.faithfreedom.org

  • It is needless to say that the Muslim clerics, Christian priests and the Communists blame the Hindus for their caste system and according to them this casteism of the Hindus is inhuman, loathsome and discriminative and it provides a legal sanction for the higher caste people to oppress and exploit the lower caste ones. While these people discuss this issue, they never say Hindu Dharma, but Brahmanya Dharma or Brahmanism to show that the Brahmins were the creators of this despicable institution of casteism to be used as tool to oppress the people belonging to lower castes, particularly the Sudras, who belong to the lowest stratum of the caste hierarchy.

    But historically this casteism of the Hindus, not created by Brahmins but originated as a division of labour. A civilized society needs various kinds of goods and services; it needs cloths to wear, needs pots and utensils for storing food and water so many other things. So, in the process of development, some people engaged themselves in reading, writing and teaching for generations, acquired a special skill in their trade and ultimately formed a caste. The group of people who engaged themselves in trade and commerce for generations formed a caste of traders. In a similar manner the group engaged in spinning threads and weaving cloth formed a class of weavers; people engaged in making iron implements for agriculture formed a caste of smiths and so on. So, it implies that the caste system must exist in every civilized society where division of labour exists. But difference is that, their caste system is undeclared, whereas, caste system of the Hindus is a declared institution.

    In the early stage of civilization, the Hindu society was divided into four major castes or Varnas and these were the teacher and priest caste (Brahmana), the warrior caste (Kshatriya), farmer and trader caste (Vasya) and the caste of manual labourers (Sudra). As the society progressed, various type other castes and sub-castes originated. New separate castes also appeared due to inter-caste marriages and in this manner a long list of castes came into being. And this development shows that Hindu casteism is a product of civilization and the resulting division of labour. And hence it was a natural process, and hence a caste system, in some form or other, must exist in every civilized human society.

    The people who blame Hinduism, admire both Christianity and Islam and say that these religions, particularly Islam, is far more humane and socialistic as they do not have any discriminatory and oppressive institution like casteism, and where the rich and the poor pray alike, standing side by side, in a mosque. But the renowned historian Tara Chand, in his History of Freedom Movement in India writes,

    "All census reports (of India) before 1931 used to give a long list of Muslim castes and there is no doubt whatsoever that in the 18th century, the Muslim inhabitants in India followed the pattern that of the Hindu society. … This was un-Islamic but an awakening against it was impossible at that time" (Vol-1, p-100).

    As a consequence, the Muslim society of India is also divided into innumerable caste, and even today, there exist more than 20 Muslim castes in a village alone in Uttar Pradesh alone.

    So the Muslim reader, who said that there is no caste system in Muslim society of India, has told a dark lie. On the contrary, caste system among the Muslims is far more rigorous and rigid than that of the Hindu society. If a Hindu girl marries a lower caste Hindu boy, her parents, may at best, refuse to maintain any relation with her. But a Muslim girl, if marries a lower caste Muslim boy, she runs the risk of falling a victim of honour killing.

    Tara Chand also writes that the Sayeds were at the zenith of the Muslim caste hierarchy. Auragjeb had strong sympathy for the Sayeds and he believed that they should be respected and honoured by every Muslim and they must not be hurt either physically or mentally. In a nut shell, the position of these Sayeds was as it were for the Brahmins in the Hindu society. Almost all these Sayeds were foreigners from West Asian Muslim countries. When a higher caste Hindu converted to Islam, they were called Sahikhs and used to claim a higher position in the Muslim society. But the lower caste Hindus who, after conversion called Razils, were treated as lower caste Muslims. These Razils were considered no better than kafirs by the Sayeds or by other higher caste Muslims and entering into a matrimonial relationship with these Razils was unthinkable.

    In addition to that, Muslims object to Quadiani and Ahmediya Muslims being called Muslims at all and refuse to allow the burial of a Quadiani in their graveyards. Conflicts between Shia and Sunni, Hanafi and non-Hanafi are a regular feature in Muslim society. In many countries, including India and Pakistan, Shia villages are sacked, looted and razed to the ground by the Sunnis. It is also important to note that Shia-Sunni disputes in India and elsewhere are more frequent and more prolific than Hindu-Muslims riots. In Muslim society, as pointed out above, Syeds, Moghals, Pathans, Shaikhs and the Muslims of foreign origin are considered superior to converted Indian Muslims. These Higher caste Muslims do not enter into any social and matrimonial relations with low caste Muslims like Kalus, Jolas, Nikaris etc.

    The Christian priests too do not miss a single opportunity to blame Hinduism for its caste system. But, as a matter of fact, the Christian society also has its own caste system, both in India and in the Western countries. The lower caste Hindus after their conversion to Christianity are called depressed classes or Dalit Christians. These Dalit Christians in South India have to suffer all their previous disabilities they had before conversion. A recent incident in a South Indian Church, where Adi-Dravid Christians forcibly occupied seats allotted to caste Christians, led to effective segregation as Christians and untouchable Adi-Dravid Christians. In another incident, a Christian priest at Erode, on his Bishop's instruction, segregated Adi-Dravid Christians from caste Christians in Church. The caste Catholics of Trichinopoly refused to allow celebration of a depressed Christian's marriage in Church. Generally, European and Anglo-Indian Christian are separated from Indian Christians in a church - even their burial places are separate.

    In England, people use the word class in stead of caste. There are many such castes, namely the Lord class, Baron class, the Manor class, the trader class, the working class and so on. In some sense, the British caste system is more rigorous than the caste system of the Hindus. A few examples may help the reader to understand the extant caste system in England. Swami Purohit when on a visit to England said,

    "I have been in this country for last four years and the majority of hotels and boarding houses all over the country refused me accommodations. Moreover, thousands of English homes were barred to me because I was a black man" (Truth-II.732). Negro tourists in London are refused admission to hotels. Similarly tram conductors in London are rude to Indians and say - "a black does not deserve any better" (Truth-IV.294).

    "An English woman in Nairobi flogged her native servant to death for a petty theft. She was then sentenced to only one year's imprisonment for her crime. Not only that, the government recommended her mercy petition for clemency" (Truth-II.389).

    In South Africa coloured people are precluded from traveling in Mail trains and other notified trains. Marriage between white woman and Negroes were prohibited. Whites and blacks form entirely different castes. A coloured man is punishable as a criminal if he sits in a railway carriage reserved for the whites.

    The renowned Islamic scholar Yoginder Singh Sikand has presented a detailed account of origin of Muslim caste system in India in his essay Caste in Indian Muslim Society. At the very outset, Mr Sikand Writes,

    "Although the Qur'an insists on the radical equality of all Muslims, caste (zat, jati, biraderi) remains a defining feature of Indian Muslim society, with significant regional variations. While the severity of caste among the Indian Muslims is hardly as acute as among the Hindus, with the practice of untouchability being virtually absent, caste and associated notions of caste-based superiority and inferiority still do play an important role in Indian Muslim society." He further writes, "This disjunction between Qur'anic egalitarianism and Indian Muslim social practice has been theorized by Muslim scholars in different ways. While some have sought to reconcile the two by interpreting the scripturalist sources of Islam to support social hierarchy, others have pointed out that the continued existence of caste-like features in Indian Muslim society is a flagrant violation of the Qur'anic worldview."

    To explain the origin of caste system in Indian Muslim society, Mr Sikand wrtites, "The vast majority of the Indian Muslims are descendants of converts from what is today called 'Hinduism'. Individual conversions to Islam in medieval times were rare. Rather, typically, entire local caste groups or significant sections thereof underwent a gradual process of Islamisation, in the course of which elements of the Islamic faith were gradually incorporated into local cosmologies and ritual practice while gradually displacing or replacing local or 'Hindu' elements. ….Hence, even after conversion to Islam, marriage continued to take place within the original caste group.. … And many of the converts retained several aspects of their local, pre-Islamic beliefs and practices."
    (To be continued)



    by Dr Radhasyam Brahmachari

  • www.faithfreedom.org

  • Origin of Muslim Caste System

    Initially, the Muslim caste system in India originated as Ashraf and Ajlaf divide: the Ashraf were the noble castes, who came from foreign lands; the converted Indians were classed as the inferior Razil, Kamin or Ajlaf. This Ashraf-Ajlaf divide was a kind of apartheid as Yogindar Sikand writes,

    This owed not just to racial differences, with local converts generally being dark-skinned and the Ashraf lighter complexioned, but also to the fact that the Ashraf belonged to the dominant political elites, while the bulk of the Ajlaf remained associated with ancestral professions as artisans and peasants which were looked down upon as inferior and demeaning.

    A classical, oft-quoted example in this regard is provided by the Fatawa-i- Jahandari, written by 14th-century Turkish scholar, Ziauddin Barani, a leading courtier of Sultan Muhammad bin Tughlaq of Delhi. This text is the only known surviving Indo-Persian treatise exclusively devoted to Islamic political theory from the period of the Delhi Sultanate. Barani was a fervent champion of Ashraf supremacy and despised the Ajlaf, whom he designated as 'low-born'. Barani insisted that the Sultan should consider it his religious duty to deny the Ajlaf access to knowledge, branding them as 'mean', and 'despicable'.
    Thus he designated the Ajlaf as dogs, pigs and bears and advised the Sultan:

    Teachers of every kind are to be sternly ordered not to thrust precious stones down the throats of dogs or to put collars of gold round the necks of pigs and bears, that is, to the mean, the ignoble and the worthless, to shopkeepers and to the low-born they are to teach nothing more than the rules about prayer, fasting, religious charity and the haj pilgrimage, along with some chapters of the Qur'an and some doctrines of the faith, without which their religion cannot be correct and valid prayers are not possible. But they are to be taught nothing else, lest it bring honour to their mean souls.

    According to Barani, if the Ajlaf were allowed access to education, they might challenge the Ashraf hegemony. Therefore, he sternly warned the Sultan and said:

    They are not to be taught reading and writing, for plenty of disorders arise owing to the skill of the low born in knowledge. If it is discovered at the time of investigation that the teachers have imparted knowledge or taught letters or writing to the low born, inevitably the punishment for their disobedience will be meted out to them.

    Barani continued:
    To promote base, mean, low-born and worthless men to be the helpers and supporters of the government has not been permitted by any religion, creed, publicly accepted tradition or state-law.

    Allah Himself, Barani claimed, had decided that the Ajlaf be confined to 'inferior' occupations, as they were 'low born, bazaar people, base, mean, worthless, plebian, shameless and of dirty birth'. He also maintained that Allah had given them 'base' qualities, such as 'immodesty, wrongfulness, injustice, cruelty, non-recognition of rights, shamelessness, impudence, blood-shedding, rascality, jugglery and Godlessness'. So the Ajlaf had to be restricted from taking up professions reserved by Allah for the Ashraf, even if they were qualified. Therefore, the Ashraf alone had the right and responsibility of taking up 'noble' occupations, such as ruling, teaching and preaching the faith.

    Barani warned the king that if the Sultan conferred any post in his court or government service to the Ajlaf, the

    'court and the high position of the king would be disgraced, the people of Allah would be distressed and scattered, the objectives of the government would not be attained, and, finally, the king would be punished on the day of Judgment'.

    To establish his claim, Barani referred to a hadith, in which Muhammad is said to have declared that for some tribes, 'The vein is deceptive'. Barani explained the tradition that 'the good vein and the bad vein draw towards virtue and vice', and that 'in the well-born and the noble only, the virtue and loyalty appear, while from the man of low birth and bad birth only wickedness and destruction originate'.

    Verse 49:13 of the Koran says,

    "O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! The noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is knower, Aware."

    Many pro-Ashraf scholars believed that the verse conclusively proves that Allah Himself created some people as noble and some others as lowborn. According to H. N. Ansari, a contemporary Indian Muslim scholar and an activist of a 'low' caste Muslim organization, remarked that, this represented a profoundly 'un-Islamic' explanation of the Qur'an. However, Prophet Muhammad himself held a similar view between Koreish and the non-Koreish Arabs. Furthermore, he believed that the Koreish were the noblest among the Arab tribes and only the Koreish had the right to be a Caliph.

    The Notion of Kafa'a

    The word kafa'a stands for legitimacy of a marriage. It is widely, but fallaciously or deceptively, propagated that the Qur'an and genuine Prophetic traditions consider Muslims as equals, and hence, allow any Muslim to marry a suitable Muslim spouse from any background. In choosing an ideal partner for marriage, they propagate the notion that the Qur'an recommends piety (taqwa) and faith (iman) as the only mark, rather than birth or wealth. They cite examples of the Prophet that he had allowed freed slave men to marry the Arab women. In this regard, they cite the example of Zaid, a black slave freed by Muhammad, to whom the Prophet gave his cousin Zainab in marriage. But they ignore the fact that this marriage was sham, a ploy, set up by aged Muhammad in his desire to add the young and beautiful Zainab into his own harem

    (read the story: Sex With Daughters-in-Law: Divinely Ordained in Islam).

    One must also take into account that the famous Salman the Persian, a distinguished convert of Muhammad, had to withdraw his desire to marry a daughter of Caliph Omar, because he was a non-Arab. It should be added here that Salman had saved Muhammad and his community, and, Islam, for that matter, in the Battle of the Ditch by giving Muhammad the idea of digging a trench surrounding his community as defence. Muhammad himself had thanked Salman for the saving the day for Islam and praised him and his people for their excellence in knowledge.

    The social hierarchical system, as recognized by the Quran and Prophet Muhammad (read more here: Racism in Islam: Allah's White Faces), in which the Koreish were placed at the height of nobility, followed by other Arab tribes, followed by non-Arabs, later on evolved further transforming Islamic societies into a sharply hierarchical social order. Notions of social hierarchy based on birth, clan or race also gradually became incorporated into the corpus of writings of Islamic jurisprudence or fiqh. Taking a spouse from outside one's kafa'a was sternly frowned upon, if not explicitly forbidden by the fuqaha (jurists). For a non-Arab, marrying an Arab, particularly a woman, became a social crime during the entire age of Islam, continuing to this day in Arab societies.

    In the Indian subcontinent, the vast majority of Indian Muslims follow the Hanafi law. The opinions of the classical Hanafi scholars regarding kafa'a continued reflect the caste system and social hierarchy. Most Indian Hanafis seem to have regarded caste (biraderi), understood as hereditary occupational group (i.e., division of labour) as an essential factor in deciding kafa'a. It was continued to be determined on consideration of following salient points: (1) legal status as free or enslaved (azadi), (2) economic status (maldari), (3) occupation (pesha), (4) intelligence ('aql), (5) family origin or ethnicity (nasb), (6) piety (taqwa), and (7) absence of bodily defects.

    In this way, the caste system was legitimized amongst Muslims of India through the notion of kafa'a: taking a spouse from outside one's kafa'a was sternly frowned upon, if not explicitly forbidden by the fuqaha. In support of this notion of kafa'a, the ulama used to refer to a hadith according to which caliph 'Umar refused to let a girl from a rich family to marry a man from a lower class.

    But later on, many scholars raised their voice against the above-mentioned caste system amongst Muslims declaring it un-Islamic, out of their ignorance of course. Contemporary Indian Muslim scholar, Maulana 'Abdul Hamid Nu'mani, was one of them. Nu'mani belonged to the Ansari caste of hereditary weavers, traditionally considered 'low born' by ashraf Muslims. He asserted that, according to the Qur'an, kafa'a should be considered only on piety. Hence, the only criterion for deciding a marriage partner should, ideally, be his or her personal character and dedication to the faith. In other words, he suggested that, there should be no religious bar for a Muslim man, even from a low caste, or a low caste Hindu convert to Islam, to marry a Muslim girl from a high caste or vice versa.

    However, caste and caste-based social hierarchy, through the notion of kafa'a, were accepted and propagated as a social norm and binding for Muslims by important sections of the ulama. It is widely practised amongst Muslims today, despite some Muslim scholars' denouncement of it (as do Hindus in their society). So, the Muslims of India, who usually denounce Hinduism for its caste system and try to project that Islam is free from this evil, are either ignorant or trying to hide caste system deeply integrated in Muslim society.

    In conclusion, let me emphasize that the Muslim society of India are not at all free from many of the socials ills of Hindu society, they frequently point to. They are often as stark and integrated in the Muslim society, but remain unrecognized, unspoken. The Hindus have recognized all its past and continuing social ills and are making strenuous efforts to rid their society from them. The Hindus of India would cleanse their society of these ills and move forward to become a proud and contributory part of the emerging global civilization: the sings are all there for one to see.

    Unfortunately, the same cannot be expected of the stagnant Muslim world, of India's Muslims in particular. The Arab Islamic imperialism they embraced did little to free themselves from what they call the ills of Hinduism. Instead, the debilitating, violent nature of their new ideology is crippling them in every respect: their contributions to all indices of social and national development and progress are declining.. Poverty, lack of education, propensity of violence, human rights violation within the Islamic community and beyond are becoming the hallmark of their community within the wider Indian society.

    Freeing themselves from the yoke of the Arab imperialism, from the debilitating cult of Islam, remains a precondition for the subcontinental Muslim society (and of the wider Muslim world) to march toward progress and prosperity. Freedom and liberty to choose as one wishes to live one's life, to pursue one's dream, is a precondition to excel in the race of modern civilization. The Islamic creed imparts religious scruples at every step of one's life to pursue what is needed to excel in today's society. For India's Muslims, returning to their civilizational root, which, undoubtedly, allows much greater freedom and liberty, is an option to them. They just have to look around to realize where their non-Muslim neighbors are heading to and where their own society.


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