DALIT CHRISTIANS, a word coined by a Texan lady who created DALIT FREEDOM NETWORK is now very active in India and has influence among the Indian parliamentarians who immediately jump at the bandwagon when they see a vote bank. Christianity has no room for caste-ism and votaries of this group have become so vocal that they tend to drown the voice of real dalits who can be only from amongst the Hindus.The catholic clergy which was supporting the demand for RESERVATION for this group has got official support from protestant groups also, a shame realy. They will not clean their own practise of separate communion, separate burial ground for dalit Christians but will ask government for reservation.
This stands in sharp contrast to the stand of Mr. K.T. PAUL who in the Round table conference of 1930 wherein he opposed "reservation" for Indian Christians as he considered this demand as " Communal" though Congress party offered this sop just like it offered to Anglo Indians which was accepted by them. This visionary not only promoted social justice amongst the weaker lot of Christians but also encouraged EDUCATION as the tool to get out of poverty and communal ghetto thinking. He was General secretary of YMCA in 1914 and guided the Indian Christian community especially in the south towards national thinking. So the Indian leadership of so called Dalit Christians like John Dayal may have proximity to ruling politicians for their own personal benefit but in the long range they are enemies of Dalit christians themselves as also Indian nationalism. Of course we all know the pride of Jat Sikhs and the place of scheduled caste Sikhs in Indian army and Punjab.
We now have a Sachar committee report which has brought about the economic backwardness of Indian Muslims compared to general Indian population. The following article which was written by my blog friend Kabir is very educative of the social division amongst the Indian Muslims.The Indian Muslim clergy will not remove them but will fight with Indian government for Reservation on the basis of Sachar report!!!! When an Ajlaf APJ.Abdul Kalam became President of India, this clergy did not know what to do. He was not only a scientist but also an eminent Tamil Scholar to boot(not Urdu or Arabic).They can understand Presidents Zakir hussein, Fakhruddin Ali ahmed all congress politicians but not this man from Tamilnadu.
Indian Muslims by Kabir
In descending order the top classes or "castes" are Sayyad, Sheikh, Mughal and Pathan. They are the self-proclaimed parachutes from Garden of Eden via Wadi-al-Kora in to this landmass. That leaves perhaps 90% of Muslims in Ajlaf classes.
Their own further classifications can be mind-boggling. A Darzi (tailor) is superior to a Nai (barber) who is superior to a Dhobi (washer man) who is superior to a Qasai (Butcher). Julaha (weaver) and Rangarez (house-painter) may think they are direct descendants of Turkish quilt makers or Persian calligraphers whose work decorates Taj, respectively but we know better, says the Ansari who thinks his forefathers were the first to welcome the Prophet at Medina and therefore he is next only to a Sayyad who is after all directly related to the blood line of the Prophet unlike the Sheikh, or Mughals that are really the by-products of inter-racial marriages or the Usurious Pathan! But none of the Sayyads would consider even a Kidwai anywhere near to them. The Qasai who slaughters only mutton or chicken is better than the one who deals in beef too but he may have a bone to pick with a Mirasi who is just a Singer/Dancer/Musician/Baul-Sufi Minstrel or a Manihar (Bangle maker) of Faizabad or Lad Bazaar of Hyderabad but the Mirasi may look with contempt at one who handles effluents..
An Ajlaf treats himself to Ashraf-hood by first arriving at some level of economic security and when that happens, the first thing that he does is to obtain a "fair" complexioned woman of higher class even if a widow of poorer means and then put her in Purdah exactly as a Ghairatmand Khandaani Sayyad would, so that she doesn't have to work outside. No more jobs in a Tanning Factory for her even if she is the smartest one around. Next, he must procure a lower caste Muslim or even a Hindu maid-servant so that Begum Sahiba does not have to deal with riff-raff by going to Bazaar on her own. Next is to prevent his girl-child from even thinking of going to a co-ed school. The colloquial simple dialect common to common men must be dropped by the children and Zer/Zabar/Pesh must make an appearance even in speech. Dark spot of Piety on forehead by then is a must and a few phrases dropped here and there in Arabic are always useful. Next is to become choosy about whom not to break bread with. Social Stratification has to be converted to one's advantage, not to that of the others. In due course one must look for a Daughter-in-Law from a Higher Caste making SURE at the same time that one's daughter does not start making eyes with a "badzaat" boy of lower caste!
Next is to create a Legend. By the time his grandson starts growing up Abbumian whose father belonged to caste of Dhobi and hence accused of permanent state of "nijasaf," (pollution) would want to forget his real ancestors. Short of looking for a Clan Coat of Arms, it may now become essential for him to discover an Ancestor who either came with Ghori, Nadir or Abdali as a Swordsman. And then he honorably married a High Caste Brahmin or Rajput woman after making her "embrace" Islam before entering in to her embrace, would say such fine story Abbumian to grandchildren with a nostalgic catch in his throat. If only he could produce a Firman issued by Aurangzeb, as claimed by ZAB, donating thousands of acres at Larkana, he would!
It is amazing irony that more a Muslim tries to flaunt the outward symbols of his religion (skull-cap, beard, prayer, fasts, pilgrimage, Urdu etc) to assert his individuality more and more "Hindu" he becomes in his social stratification. While the Hindu has tried with quite some success to break out of the shackles for which some early reformers got inspiration from egalitarian Islam/Christianity and self-efforts, followers of both Islam and Christianity want to outdo the Hindus now in terms of social hierarchy!
Ironically a "high caste" Mirza girl like Sania is perfectly fine playing lawn tennis in shorts and sleeve-less tops but the daughter of a "lower caste" Mirasi may well be forced in to Purdah. It is another matter that, the Mirza lass is fast becoming a thorn on which the rose sits.
Some are born Noble, some acquire Nobility and some thrust their Nobility in your face. Such are the plans of mice and men.
Caste, Class, Quom, Biradari, tribe within a Tribe, sub-sect within a Sect...One can keep adding; have a lot to do with at least three factors: birth, hereditary profession and exposure to Saudi Preachers' influences.
There are a few honest-to-God Muslims who practice discrimination most unwittingly. They really don't mean any harm but they themselves are First Victims. There is a couple of interesting twists:
Firstly: - A Muslim Family considers itself higher on social-scale depending upon how long "Islam" has been in their Clan, genuinely or as per exaggerated family lore. Thus, it is common for one Clan to look down on the other claiming that while WE have been Muslims right since the days of the Prophet (or, near about of Qasim's times) YOU are actually recent Hindu "converts" who are practicing some mixed-up form. Who really knows the truth?
Take the case of Allama Iqbal. As per one version, his great-grandfather was a Kashmiri Hindu Pandit named Sapru who became a Muslim. Angry counter arguments were put forth by somebody else that Iqbal's family had been Muslim at the very least for 250 years. I do not understand the economy exercised by the latter. Neither may have cared much for Iqbal's world view or his own mystical thoughts. Conclusions are self-serving: longer your Clan has been Muslim; better you must be.
Secondly: - The harder the form of Islam one claims to profess, better class he belongs to. Soft-speaking, easy going South-Indian and Bengal Muslims had mostly remained indistinguishable from their Hindu or Christian peers except in few details. Dress, culture, social practices, cuisine and most important the language is almost identical. This is no longer acceptable to the New Brand of Evangelists who keeps looking for finding ways of accentuating differences. The Gulf influence is trying to create a gulf among peoples and drive a wedge in a social scene that had simply and painlessly evolved over centuries.
Thirdly:- One tends to look for ancient roots as far away from (British)India as possible, claiming ownership with present locale-the motherland-at the same time. The desire for conformity is always at conflict with a desire to be somebody special. One, who can manage to demonstrate, in some acceptable manner, his kinship with some group far away, always can claim a higher status on the social ladder. His Quom, Khaandaan, Biradari is greater in the pecking order. What is so great about being just another Balochi; one needs to be more and it is the Omani or Kurdish connection that matters and that does NOT mean one is negating one's present environs!
There is a kind of dichotomy here and some poorly informed but well meaning Hindu Indians, who do not understand, straightaway think that the Muslim loyalties are divided. It is not so. He loves his land of birth and would remain forever loyal to it but it gives him some temporary joy to show that look, I am somebody DIFFERENT, even as I am part of you. And I choose to live with you but I am STILL somebody SPECIAL. I am of ancestry from far off lands and though you are my own, there are some whom I have never seen but they are more of my own even if THEY never acknowledge me to be one of theirs. There is sweet agony and harmless wistfulness with an added pinch of fevered imagination leading to false pride of a kind which I understand but I am unable to articulate here well.
Such harmless sentiments are the ones on which an Arab-petro-dollar financed Wahabi plays. An innocent desire to be "special" can lead in a matter of a single generation to a hard form of Islam-ism where anything that has a "local" flavour needs to be discarded as un-Islamic. In reality, what the Evangelist means is all that is Non-Arabic is Un-Islamic!Instead of guiding a person towards piety and tolerance they goad a man towards hate and intolerance. If every other chap claims that he is a direct descendent of the Prophet or Companions of Prophets or early Khalifas or the Rashidun or of stock from the Turk or Mughal or Afghan or Arian or Early Converts or First One to Embrace Islam or related to a pioneer's family....it merely points to a need to acquire the seal of antiquity as proof of superiority within his peer group. Whether they have actually practiced piety or not is a separate matter. And then whether he calls all that "Caste-ism" or something else is just a matter of semantics.
And the crowning glory would be a City dwelling Tribal fellow holding on to some Pre-Islamic semi-barbarous Code of Honour and calling a simple, peace-loving Namazi a "Pagan-Muslim" lacking in any such Code!
Mughals are dead and gone and Shah Jahan is just a name and Babur's ancestry of Samarqand & Bokhara is just a wisp of memory but not for anything that the Cleric who runs the imposing Jama Masjid in Delhi still calls himself: Shahi Imam of Bokhara.
The self-indulgences of men of High Birth!