Indian Muslims need to break the shackles of caste and sects

By Farheen Sultana

‘Yoon to Syed bhi ho Mirza bhi ho Afghan bhi ho,
Par ye batao kya tum Musalman bhi ho?”

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These lines of Allama Iqbal are invigorating enough to rock the foundations of uncorroborated casteism and naive sectarianism prevalent among the Muslims.

According to Allama, “Islam is non-territorial in character.” The very principle of unshakeable foundation of Islam is equality. Equality in all spheres.

In today’s scenario, to face challenges put forth on the Muslim world, unification is needed. Unity not only in terms of caste but the parasite of various sects should also be evacuated to achieve oneness.

Today, Muslims in the Indian sub-continent (perhaps because of the influence of other religions) have divided themselves into Ashrafs, Ajlafs and Arzals. Descendants of Muslims who came to India from other countries consider themselves Ashrafs – the noble ones. Ashrafs include Syeds, Pathans, Mughals and Sheikhs. The descendants of the indigenous population, which was converted by the influence of these invaders are called ‘Ajlafs’— the lowly. Yet, one more category exists shamelessly, the ‘Arzals’— the degraded ones.

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It is ironical that this is the Ummah of the same prophet who had long ago declared “O people! Indeed your lord is one and father is one. Indeed their no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab, nor of a non-Arab over Arab, nor of a white over a black, nor of a black over a white.”

Alas! The Muslims of today are butchering other Muslims and have become insensitive to the agony of their brethren. The so-called upper caste Muslims are trying to establish their supremacy on the grounds of inheritance and lineage which is straightforwardly refuted by Allah and his Prophet (Peace be upon Him).

Not only this division, but a major sectarian crisis also plagues the beautiful ambiance of Muslim society. The categorisation as Shias, Sunnis, Barelvis, Deobandi, Ahle Hadees and Jamat e Islami is worsening enough for declension.

As this problem was clearly manifested by Allama Iqbal in his famous couplets:

‘Tamaddun tasawwuf bootane ajam ke pujari tamaam
Haqeeqat khurafat mein kho gayi ye ummat riwayat mein kho gayi’

Be it the current turmoil in West Asia or the upheavals in the Muslims societies/ nations, the root cause of these uncertainties lies in the self-made divisions and ignoring straightaway the basic tenets of Islam.

Until unless we realise that we all are petals of the same garland, complete in-activeness can’t be eradicated. We need to free ourselves and break the shackles of castes and sects. It is the piousness and purity of heart that gets counted before the almighty and not purity of races. If these were so, the prophet would not have preferred the black African (Hazrat Bilal Habshi RaziAllah Ta’ala Anhu) to make the call for prayer.

Our aim should be to furnish a model for ultimate amalgam of humanity by bringing together different strands of mutually repellent races from the entire globe.

(Farheen Sultana is a B A (English Honours) student at the Jamia Millia Islamia).