||This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. The specific problem is: complete mess: overlinks, original research, poor phrasing, dodgy sources. (January 2012)|
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2012)|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Pakistan • India|
|Related ethnic groups|
Meo (pronounced Mev) (also called Mewati) is a Muslim Rajput from North-Western India, particularly in and around Mewat that includes Mewat district of Haryana and parts of adjacent Alwar and Bharatpur districts in Rajasthan. Meos speak Mewati, a language of the Indo-Aryan part of the Indo-Iranian part of the Indo-European language family. The majority is uneducated and is currently classed under Other Backward Castes (OBC).[page needed]
After independence in 1947, a considerable number of Meos migrated to Pakistan where Meos have lost their distinct group identity and cultural traditions and have assimilated with other Muslim population.
History and origin 
Meos are inhabitants of Mewat, a region that consists of Mewat district of Haryana and some parts of adjoining Alwar and Bharatpur districts of Rajasthan and western Uttar Pradesh, where the Meos have lived for a millennium. They were Hindu Rajputs who converted to Islam with Moinuddin Chisti's influence stating from 1192 CE until as late as Aurangzeb's rule but they have maintained their age-old distinctive ethno-cultural identity until today. They have shared this region with a number of other Muslim Rajput communities, such as Khanzada, Qaimkhani and Malkana.
Hasan Khan Mewati represented Meos in the battle of Kanwah along with Rana Sangram Singh Rana Sanga in 1526 against the Mughal Babur. Hasan Khan and his Meo warriors gave a brave fight. Hasan Khan was killed in the battle of Kanwah while his son Tahir Khan was captured by the Mughals. Tahir Khan later fled from the Mughal camp. The Mughal Emperor Babar has also written about Hasan Khan Mewati in his autobiography, Bāburnāma. To the Mughals, the Mewatis were "rebels".
During mediaeval period, 'Hazi Khan Mewati', belonging to Nuh, and a close associate of Hindu King, Hem Chandra Vikramaditya, was a General in his army. Hazi Khan, a great warrior, played an important role in Battle for Delhi in 1556, in which he fought along with Hindu King Hemu against the Mughals at Tughlaqabad Fort area in Delhi and defeated Akbar's army on 7 October 1556, to establish a Hindu rule in Delhi after 350 years.
Hindu origins 
According to Robert Vane Russell, Meos called themselves by Hindu names with the exception of Ram, and Singh is a frequent affix, though not so common as Khan. The Meo represent a blending of Hinduism and Islam. Meo profess the beliefs of Islam but the roots of their ethnic structure are in Hindu caste society. In fact, the neighbouring Hindu Jats, Minas, Ahirs and Rajputs share the same bans. According to some sources, the Meo community may have a common origin with the Meena community.[page needed] Other traditions connect Meo with the Khanzada of Alwar, a neighbouring Muslim Rajput community.[page needed]
Hindu inhabitants of Mewat, although belonging to the same Kshatriya castes to which the Meos belonged before conversion to Islam, are not called Meo. Thus the word "Meo" is both region-specific and religion-specific. Apparently, Meos come from many Hindu castes who converted to Islam and amalgamated as Meo community.
Conversion to Islam 
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (August 2012)|
Although it happened gradually over the time, now nearly all Meo embrace Islam due to the efforts of Sufis, historical changes and different movements. Initially Islam was introduced to Meos by brother-in-law of Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi, commander Ghazi Salar Sahu and his son Ghazi Masud Salar Sahu. Khawaja Muin-ud-din Chisti (Ajmari) Hazrat Meeran Hussain Khang Sawar and Shah Naseer-ud-Din Chiragh Dehalvi continued the conversion. Moinuddin and his deputies, known as Mian Sahibs, taught Meos Islamic practices. After conversion to Islam the community was known as Meo. There were more conversions during the reign of Sultan Balban in the 13th century and during the reign of Aurangzeb rule in the 17th century.
Connection with other Hindus communities in Mewat region 
Many Rajasthani Meos retain mixed Hindu-Muslim names. Names such as Ram Khan or Shankar Khan are not unusual in the Meo tracts in Alwar. The Muslim community of Meos was highly Hinduised before independence. They celebrated Diwali and Holi as they celebrated two Eids (Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha). They do not marry within one's Gotras like Hindus of the north though Islam permits marriage with cousins. Solemnization of marriage among Meos was not complete without both Nikah as in Islam and circling of fire as among Hindus. Meos believe that they are direct descendants of Krishna and Rama even as they claim to be among the unnamed prophets of God referred to in the Quran.[page needed]
Cultural aspects 
Hybrid culture 
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (August 2012)|
The Meos are have two strong identities:
- Their Muslim identity, going back to their conversion to Islam by various Sufi saints who began settling in their territory from the 11th century onwards, and whose shrines/mausoleums or dargahs/mazars today dot the entire countryside in Mewat.
- Their Rajput heritage and lineage, which they are very proud of. Despite their conversion to Islam, they still follow some Hindu practices to this day as inherited customs.
- A penetrating sense of superiority of their Rajastani culture with the bravery of their warlords Hasan Khan Meo, a representative of Meo Rajputs in the War Against Gias-u-Din Balban and Deo Khan Meo, are the sources of proud for Meo.
Marriage and kinship customs 
Meos generally do not follow the Muslim law of inheritance and so among them, as in the sister communities such as Jats and Minas and Ahirs, custom makes a younger brother or a cousin marry the widow of the deceased by a simple Nikah ceremony.
In terms of family and kinship, and associated ceremonies, myths and legends, the Meo have long been regarded as unusual among Indian Muslims. They forbid what is regarded as a diacritical Muslim kinship practice -— patrilineal parallel-cousin marriage as well as cross-cousin marriage—and follow north Indian Hindu kinship rules.
Although the Meos today follow most Muslim customs, they still follow traditional Hindu marriage rituals and kinship patterns. Marriage between cousins is a taboo in Meo community as in Hindus though such marriages are acceptable in Islam. Attempts to break this tradition have met strong opposition. In addition, Meos do not observe the Muslim tradition of secluding their women. Meo society is divided into at least 800 exogamous clans. Some of the clan organizations resemble those of the Rajputs, but others seem to have connections with Hindu castes such as Brahmans, Meena, Jats, and Bhatiaras. Apparently the Meos come from many Hindu castes and not just the Rajputs.
The Meo have been subject to a number of recent ethnographic studies. These books have dealt with issues such as marriage and self-perception of the community. Raymond Jamous studied kinship and rituals among the Meo and wrote a book.
Georaphy and demography 
The boundary of Mewat region is not precisely defined. The region largely consists of plains but has hills of Aravali range. The inconsistency in Mewat topography is evident from its patches of land with hills and hillock of the Aravali on the one hand and plains on the other. The region is semi-arid with scanty rainfall and this has defined the vocations the Meos follow. They are peasants, agriculturists and cattle breeders.
Meo gotra 
Meo profess the beliefs of Islam but the roots of their ethnic structure are in Hindu caste society. Meos claim high-caste Hindu Rajput descent. This may be true for some of them. However, some of them may be descendants of other castes who might have laid claim to Rajput ancestry after converting to Islam to enhance their social standing (Harris 1901:23; Channing 1882:28). The names of many gots (gotra) or exogamous lineages of Meos are common with other Hindu castes as Meena, Ahir and Gujjar who live in their vicinity. It thus seems likely that the Meos belonged to many different castes and not just to the Rajputs (Aggarwal 1978:338).[page needed]
Meos outside Mewat 
Uttar Pradesh 
In Uttar Pradesh, the Meos are found mainly in the western regions of Rohilkhand and Doab. Unlike those of Mewat, the Uttar Pradesh Meos are dispersed. Their main gotras in the state are the Chhirklot, Dalut, Demrot, Pandelot, Balot, Dawar, Kalesa, Landawat, Rattawat, Dingal and Singhal. The Uttar Pradesh Meos maintain a system of community endogamy, and gotra exogamy. The Meos of UP are a community of small farmers, and urban wage labourers.
In the Doab, the region of western Uttar Pradesh situated between the Ganges and Yamuna river, the Meos are concentrated in the south-western portion of this region. The district of Mathura formed part of the historic Mewat region, especially the Chhata tehsil, and is home to a large community of Meo. The south west portion of Bulandshahr District is also home to a large community of Meo. The Meo also extend to Meerut District. The Doab Meos now speak Urdu, and have abandoned Mewati.
Separate from the Doab Meo are the Meo of Rohilkhand. Culturally they are now indistinguishable from the neighbouring Muslim communities. They are found mainly in Moradabad, Bareilly, Rampur and Pilibhit districts. These Meo are said to have Mewat in the 18th Century, fleeing the great famine of 1783, and these Meo are generally referred to by the term Mewati. They now speak Khari Boli and Urdu, and no longer maintain a system of gotra exogamy, with now many practicising parallel-cousin marriages.
The Meo in Delhi are found mainly in the neighbourhood of Walled City (Kucha Pandit Lal Kuan, Gali Shahtara Ajmri Gate and Bara Hindu Rao), Azadpur, Hauz Khas, Mehrauli and various outlying villages with names ending in Sarai which have become urbanised. All their villages have been swallowed up by ever-expanding Delhi city. The growth of urban Delhi has led to the abandonment of the Mewati dialect in favour of Hindi, which is now their main language. Similarly, there has been a decline in the power of the caste council (panchayat). The Meos of Delhi have maintained gotra exogamy, very rarely marrying into their own gotra.
- A socio-history of ex-criminal communities OBCs, Shyam Singh Shashi, P. S. Varma – 1991
- People of India Rajasthan Volume XXXVIII Part Two edited by B.K Lavania, D. K Samanta, S K Mandal & N.N Vyas page 986 to 990 Popular Prakashan
- R.S.Tripathi, Rise and fall of Mughal Empire, Second Edition, Allahabad, 1960,p. 174
- R.V. Russell; R.B.H. Lai (1995). The tribes and castes of the central provinces of India. Asian Educational Services. p. 234. ISBN 978-81-206-0833-7. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
- Guru Nanak Dev University. Sociology Dept (1 January 2003). Guru Nanak journal of sociology. Sociology Dept., Guru Nanak Dev University. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
- K. S. Singh (1 January 1998). People of India: Rajasthan. Popular Prakashan. pp. 638–. ISBN 978-81-7154-769-2. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
- Against History, against state: counterperspectives from the margins by Shail Mayaram.
- A Glossary of the tribes and castes of Punjab by H. A Rose
- Resisting Regimes: Myth, Memory and the Shaping of a Muslim Identity by Shail Mayaram.
- Hashim Amir Ali; Mohammad Rafiq Khan; Om Prakash Kumar; India. Planning Commission. Research Programmes Committee (1970). The Meos of Mewat: old neighbours of New Delhi. Oxford & IBH Pub. Co. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
- Kinship and Rituals Among the Meo of Northern India : Locating Sibling Relationship/Raymond Jamous. Translated from the French by Nora Scott. New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2003, xiv, 200 p., ills., tables, $31. ISBN 0-19-566459-0.
- People of India Rajasthan Volume XXXVIII Part Two edited by B.K Lavania, D. K Samanta, S K Mandal & N.N Vyas page 638 to 640 Popular Prakashan
- People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part Two edited by A Hasan & J C Das pages 811 to 963 to 967
- A Gazetteer of Bulandshar District Volume XLVI: Gazetteers of the United Provinces edited by H. R Neville
- People of India Delhi Volume XX edited by T Ghosh & S Nath pages 469 to 474 Manohar Publications