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Kulhaiya • کلحیا
Total population
3,000,000 to 3,500,000
Regions with significant populations
Bihar, IndiaNepal
HindustaniMaithili[citation needed]
Islam 100%
Related ethnic groups
Shaikh of Bihar

The Kulhaiya (Urdu: کلحیا ‎) is Muslim community found in the northern part of state of Bihar in India and southern part in Nepal.[1] A person belonging to this community is also called by the same name (pl. kulhaiyas). Some people say kulhaiya is a particular ethnicity but in fact it is mixture of races, ethnicity and different castes like Brahmin, Harijan, Yadav, Rajput etc.


'Kulhaiya' is said to mean 'cap wearer' as the word 'kulah' means 'cap' in Persian.[2] This makes the kulhaiyas modest. According to some other school of thought, the modesty of Kulhaiyas is defined as- 'kul (کل)' means 'total' and 'haya (حیا)' means 'decency'.



Actually Kulahiyas served as soldiers in the Mughal Empire, the Faujdars of Purnia at the time of a Mughal nawab Saif Ali Khan on the advice of Delhi Sultanate appointed kulahiyas to protect Indian border on the side of Nepal.[3] Those who started this Muslim community in seemanchal area were basically Arabs and have inhabited India for more than 1000 years. Few members of the community are said to be the descendants of Hadrat Abu Baqar Siddiq, a companion of prophet Muhammad.[4] As Arabs and other Muslims were reaching all the parts of the world to spread Islam, some of them reached to the seemanchal region of Bihar and settled, and they tried to spread Islam. Some of them even married local woman. During Mughal period, some of them became landlords (reliably) of different regions, and under their landlordship, local populations started converting into Islam seeing the principle of equality of the religion. It's not surprising that like other part of India, backward Hindu classes of the region accepted Islam, most of them were Harijan. Also some herders and farmer from other parts of India like Gujarat, UP and many others migrated to the seemanchal region with their families in search of pasture and agricultural land and settled finding the region to be the place of their quest. All the people settled there either converted into Muslims or were Muslims, and the local populations converted into Muslims in earlier part of Islamic history of seemanchal area, i.e., Araria, Purnea, Kishanganj and Katihar. The whole amalgamated population converted into Islam or the islamic followers coming from different places totally came to known as the Kulhaiyas forming the community Kulhaiya. Even some upper castes converted into Islam as they found Islam to be the true way of life and some of them converted into Islam to evade from Jizya, though they had to pay Zakat in the same way Jizya was paid.

Actually it was Prof Rauf Anwer who studied the genes of the people of Kulhaiya and for which he got his PhD degree, and during his research he did confirm that the genes of the Kulhaiyas are much nearer to the lower Hindu castes including some mixed races of India. This research also supports the fact that Islam is the religion of equality and they were lower class people who chose Islam to evade centuries of persecution by upper class Hindus.

Cause of illiteracy and poverty[edit]

Before the strong steps taken by the Government of India against landlordship, many areas across the country were being exploited by the landlords treating people badly and they never wanted anyone to be literate so they could successfully play their landlordship. Education was seriously prohibited till the late 1990s in many areas of India including the Seemanchal region. Landlords were treating themselves to be special in every aspect and used to suggest negatively on asking to affect the generation. A big group persons in the community still now could be cited as examples as they have names as some 'rotten fruits'.

After its final overthrown, people have got a new sun to sea in after 2000s.[5]

Education in the community[edit]

Kulhaiya community is working as labourers since a long time and now too the majority in the population are of the labourers. After emergence of 21st century, the community started flourishing with its education members. The periods of illiteracy couldn't be overthrown easily because of the landlordship of some cruel landlords who always wanted the people to be illiterate, so that they could administrate their brains.

Kulhaiya is now developing in the field of education as it's the basic need to pair up with the modern world. Many prominent educated figures are also in the community working in different fields. The persons who have got legendary positions are acting now as the motivational figures for the upcoming generations. Mr Qaisar Khalid, Khalid, a 1998 batch IPS officer, currently representing Kulhaiyas in different parts of India. Recently he underlined the importance of IPS Officers quoting-

  "Despite the importance of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation,[6] civil services command importance and respect because it is these officers who help plan and execute the the government's policies."

IPS officers in the community include Mr Ahasn Raza (first IPS officer in Kulhaiya, currently IG in Hyderabad).[7] Md Salik Parwaiz and Mr Aslam are also from the community who are working as IRS officers in different part of the country.[8] PhD holders in the community include the names of Dr Afroz Alam from lauthora (PhD in Persian from JNU and got fellowship from UGC, now serves as assistant professor at Kashmir University). Dr Md Saquib Anwer from Bara Idgah (distt. Purnia) successfully completed PhD in Urdu from Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh. One of the eminent scholars in the department of political science, AMU, Aligarh. Dr Md Noman Ahmad from Domariya (distt. Araria) got his doctorate degree from AMU, Aligarh many more. IITians in the community include Md Ejaz Anwer from Purandaha (distt. Araria) who got his PhD degree (Economics) from AMU, Aligarh and the person is now having research and teaching experiences from IIT Roorkee and IIT Kanpur, Ex. Assistant Professor in TIT, Roorkee (Uttarakhand) and presently working as a Post Doctoral Research Associate in National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research, ICAR (Ministry of Agriculture, Govt. of India). Dr Md Humayoon Akhtar from Bagmara (Jokihat) got his PhD (Zoology) degree from AMU, Aligarh and has also worked twice as a senior researcher in India's one of the reputed research organizations, i.e., IIPR (Indian Institute of Pulses Research), Kanpur. Mr Shafique Matin completed his graduation and post graduation from AMU, Aligarh and received highest degree from IIT-Kharagpur; worked as scientist in MoES (Govt. of India) and presently working as a research scientist under the Irish Government. NITians like Asif Qamar who was a senior scientist at NASA and has also served as a professor in the University of California, Berkeley. There are lots of engineers more from the community which include Mughees Nasir, Shadab Anjum, Absar Anjum, Abuzar, Atif Habib, Md Ehtasham Arfee (Jec jaipur), Mohtashim Arfee (AMU, Aligarh), Minhaj Ahmed, Muntashir Hayat, and his brother Muntazir Hayat, Shahbaz Alam etc. Er Zaki Anwar Shakoor, currently working as an Engineer in National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC Ltd.) who completed his M.Tech. (in Power Systems) from National Institute of Technology, Patna. Mr Muntashir Alam is appointed as PGT teacher in Navodaya Vidyalaya since last one decade. Also Kulhaiya have the persons like Mr Mazharul Haque (son of Maulana Mahboob Ilahi from Barhat, Palasi) who topped twice in Patna University during his pursuance of Urdu graduation and post graduation and many more!

Since the financial condition of the majority is not good, so a good number of the children from rural background are moving to the states like UP for getting islamic graduation. And some of the children do study in local madarsas also. Number of madras as in the North Eastern part of the state is large. The number of aided and un-aided madrasas in Purnea of all levels is 132 and 431 respectively. The numbers of madrasas are also high in districts such as Araria, Kishanganj and Katihar. In fact these four districts (purnea, Katihar, Araria, Kishanganj) together account for about 54% of all aided madrasas as in Bihar. Since the number of un-aided madrasas in Araria and Kishanganj is not provided, one cannot compute the number of these madrasas, but it can be safely stated that these districts account for a substantial share of madrasas in Bihar.[9]

Female education[edit]

Education in girls has started gaining a little prominence in the community these days, it has not touched a good level yet. Actually the condition is because of the illiteracy among the people and the persons educated are not able ground a way to make any start for championing the education in females. The population mostly belong to the stereotypical group believing a woman should be bounded for the households citing the examples in the print or different media of daily woman incidents. The little change in minds for this may be credited to Sheikh Saidur Rahman (first govt. high school teacher of in the community even worked under British Raj), who championed the cause of Female education. He didn't stop even after the laud widespread of jibe and taunt. Many persons commented as he was bringing the English Culture into the community. Struggling at every step he could successfully educate her daughters whom Dr Husn-e-Ara Beghum is one who became the first female doctor in kulhaiya community.[10] Dr Farhat Ara is name of the first female PhD holder. So both the women who did create the history of being first to do so have acted as the iconic and motivational figures for other people which could developed the mind of the people. Thus, now independent minded kulahiyas are in good number allowing their female family members somewhat equal opportunities to do the better they can. Though the condition is not very nice, but satisfactory, hoping more in future. Education in females also worked nice in health of new mothers and newborn babies; in increasing the sex ratio; decrease for the female victims of dowry and many more.

According to the 2001 Census, male literacy among Muslims in Purnea is about 26% while only 15.6% Muslim females are literatell. For the same census, literacy rates for Baisi and Amaur are 19.9% and 26.39% respectively which can hardly be called a substantial increase from 12.7% and 13. 4% recorded in 1981.[11] Araria has about 27% and 16% Kulhaiya and Kulhaiya women literacy rate respectively. Same data goes for Kishanganj and Katihar with little inflation. The Kulhaiyas in Nepal have the least literacy with the worst female literacy.

In the context of Kishanganj, one of the major districts of Kulhaiyas in Bihar, Maulana Mohammad Asrarul Haque said he would fight illiteracy, which he calls the biggest enemy of Bihar, Maulana has opened a middle school exclusively for girls.[12] Open to all communities, the school has hostel facilities too and on Maulana’s insistence girls of different religions are deliberately housed in the same hostel or rooms to inculcate Ganga-Jamni Tehzeeb. Maulana says-

  “Of the 7.62 lakh (0.762 million) women of Kishanganj 5.27 lakh (0.527 million) are illiterate. My biggest aim is to make our womenfolk literate so that they can come out in society and assert their identity.”

Notable personalities[edit]

  • Moidur Rahman, Ex Minister,Ex MLA fromJoki Hat constituency ,Vice President Bihar Pradesh Congress committee, Ex Member Railway Board Northeast Frontier Railway Guwahati and renownedsocial worker.[13]
  • Taslimuddin, one of most prominent political figures in Bihar.[14][15]
  • Ahsan Reza, first IPS Officer in Kulhaiya.[16]
  • Haroon Rashid Ghafil, poet, radio announcer, and anchor.[17][18]
  • Mr Qaisar Khalid, IPS Officer and Urdu poet.[19][20][21]
  • Haqqani Al Qasmi, author and philosopher.
  • Dr Husn-e-Ara Beghum, first lady doctor in Kulhaiya.

Population statistics and distribution[edit]

The Kulhaiyas are confined to the Purnia division of Bihar.[4] Bihar and Nepal together have over 3 to 3.5 million Kulhaiyas.[22] The population of Kulhaiya is confined to Araria, Purnia, Katihar, Kishanganj and Morang (Nepal). More than 90 percent of the population lives in rural areas [23]

It is important to realize that along with Purnea, these districts have a high Muslim population (kulahiyas). According to 2001 census, Muslims constitute 67.6% in Kishanganj, 42.5% in Katihar and 41.1% in Araria.[24] Similar to the situation in Purnea, overwhelming number of Muslims of these three districts are primarily rural, non-literate and poor. In Kishanganj, Muslim literacy is only 27%. Only 6.5% Muslims live in urban areas and among the rural Muslims, more than 60% are agricultural labourers. In Katihar, Muslim literacy rate is 26.8%. Only 4.3% Muslims live in urban areas and among the rural Muslims, 62.6% are agricultural labourers. In Arana, Muslim literacy is 27.6%. Only 5.5% Muslims live in urban areas and among the rural Muslims, about 70% are agricultural labourers.[25]

Practice of Islam[edit]

The community is attached to the Deobandi school of thought of sunni sect. Believing in the Deobandi, the people engaged itself with Tablighi Jamaat(TJ). Tablighi Jamaat is working very nicely in the betterment of the community and because of this, many people take 'Jama'at-e-Tarteeb' (a three days Jamaat) moving in the local to spread the message of Islam. This establishes strong relation bonds between the people of different areas. The three days 'Jama'at-e-Tarteeb' is believed to be a must move in a month, 'Jama'at-e-Chilla' (Jamaat of 40 days which moves through states) in a year and 'Jama'at-e-Chahar-maah' (Jamaat of four months which also moves to foreign) in the whole life of a Muslim individual.[26]

Muslim areas of Kulhaiyas have central mosques (Jama-Masjids) with at least on Jamaat group for dawah coming from some specific part according to the provided direction from the Tablighi Jamaat office. The system works very smoothly and simply. In mosques after dua the Jama'at announces people to have a sit close to them and then they deliver their motives of coming to the mosque and request the listeners to think of going to somewhere making a Jama'at. Kulahiyas take keen interest in hospitality of the Jama'ats in their local mosques and after the namaaz offered, the host talks to the Ameer (the leader of a Jama'at) for hospitality in advance.

Present circumstances[edit]

There're no determined titles for the Kulhaiyas, though there are some groups which call themselves as "Meer", "Sheikh", "Baniya" etc. . This supports the fact that this community is the result of amalgamation of many people with different ethnicity.

Studies are now being promoted among the people. A large number of migration is seen because of this motive to the towns and cities. Most of the youngsters are now migrating to other cities for their higher education. Bangalore, Delhi, and Hyderabad are their favourite places for pursuing higher education. But a large portion of the population are labourers and they are currently working in different parts of the country.

The cabinet approved the inclusion of a Muslim caste so far among OBCs, Kulhaiya, in the EBC list.[27]

These days, the community is scattered to all parts of globe from San francisco to London, middle east countries, different part of India, Nepal etc.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ People of India Bihar Volume XVI Part-II edited by Surendra Gopal and Hetukar Jha, pages 587-589
  2. ^ Wiki Dictionary - meaning of the word Kulah
  3. ^ Aina-e-Purnea by Akmal Yazdani
  4. ^ a b Kulhaiya Bridari by Kabiruddin Fauzan
  5. ^ No Landlordship- Stated by Bombay High Court, 1999
  6. ^ Khalid underlined the importance of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation- Times of India
  7. ^ Ahsan Reza IPS transferred to Hyderabad for the IG post- The Hindu
  8. ^ Md Parvez Salik IRS officer
  9. ^ Report according to Appendix of Purnia district Census of 2001
  10. ^ Doctor Husn-e-Ara, the first female doctor in kulhaiya community
  11. ^ Shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in pdf Purnia statistics
  12. ^ The inclusive data is concerned to understand the data of kulhaiya as Bihar lacks in a good census of the communities in particular. So this data is based upon the general data statistics and the derived analogical data is considered to authentic
  13. ^ http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Araria_(Vidhan_Sabha_constituency)
  14. ^ Taslimuddin, Seemanchal Gandhi
  15. ^ Araria#Notable people
  16. ^ IPS of 1990 batch
  17. ^ Kulhaiya
  18. ^ Haroon Rashid ghafil Awami shair of Araria Awarded at Sonpur Mela
  19. ^ Qaisar Khalid, Commissioner of Mumbai, video on YouTube
  20. ^ A 1998 batch IPS Mr Qaisar Khalid
  21. ^ [ http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6aK1fL0gZwA Mr Khalid in a Mushaira sharing his creation, video on YouTube]
  22. ^ [http://indianexpress.com/article/india/politics/in-bihar-caste-rejig-the-backward-list-grows-longer Bihar has over Population according to 1990s data
  23. ^ Purnia division
  24. ^ SCR, Appendix Table 3.5
  25. ^ Shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in 10 chapter 5.pdf of Purnia district Census Statistics]
  26. ^ Tablighi Jamaat
  27. ^ The centre has approved after a long time demand, the kulhaiyas, to take in the EBCs list