Muslim Kayasths

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Kayastha Musalmaan
Total population
4.000.000
Regions with significant populations
• India • Pakistan
Languages
UrduEnglish
Religion
Islam
Related ethnic groups
KayasthaMilkimanihar SiddiquiShaikh of Uttar PradeshShaikh

The Kayastha Muslim (Urdu: مسلمان کائستھ‎) are community of Muslims, descendents of members of the Kayastha caste of northern India, mainly in modern Uttar Pradesh, who embraced Islam during the rule of Muslim dynasties.[1] The Muslim Kayastha community estimated to be over 4 million compared to 800,000 Hindu Kayasthas. The Muslim Kayastha are considered to be Shaikh and follow Sunni Hanafi fiqh. The Muslim Kayasths have intermarried with the other Muslim communities over the centuries and have lost their community consciousness and consider themselves to be part of the Urdu speaking Muslims of Pakistan and northern India.[2] They live in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India, the provinces of Sindh and Punjab in Pakistan and many have now settled in United Kingdom, United States and Canada.

History and origin[edit]

The Kayastha community has historically been involved in the occupations of land record keeping and accounting. Some Hindu Kayasth found favour with Muslim rulers for whom the acted as Qanungos. This close association, led to the conversion of many members of the Kayastha community to Islam. They speak Urdu, although they are also fluent in Hindi in India,[3] while they also speak Sindhi and Punjabi in Pakistan. The Kayasth sometime use Siddiqui, Maniharzada and Farooqi as their surnames, and consider themselves belonging to the Shaikh community.[4]

A number of Shaikh groups found in Uttar Pradesh are converts from the Kayastha or Kayasth Hindu caste that embraced Islam during the rule of Muslim dynasties. This is especially true of the Siddiqui Kayasth of Pratapgarh and Allahabad districts.[5] Kayasths were scribes, Officials, administrators, writers, magistrates, judges. lawyers, chief executive officers and village accountants in ancient South Asia. Kayasthas celebrate: Qalam and Dawaat (pen and ink-pot) worship, a Hindu ritual in which pens, papers and books were worshipped. This clearly shows that they were clerks and official record keepers of the kings. Kayasthas were valued in the second millennia by most kingdoms and princely states as desired citizens or immigrants within South Asia. They were treated more as a community rather than a Hindu caste because they developed expertise in Persian (the state language in Islamic India), learned Turkish and Arabic, economics, administration and taxation. This gave them an edge over the Brahmins (the priestly Hindu caste), who traditionally had reserved the study of Sanskrit shastras to themselves. They successfully adapted themselves as scribes and functionaries under Islamic rule and later on under the British. Some historians hold the view that during the reign of the Mughals, a number of Hindus who were educated and endowed with sharp intellect attained administrative positions through rapid adaptation to the Persian language and culture of the new rulers of South Asia. These influential Hindus got together and formed a new caste known as Kayastha. Their secular viewpoint to life, adaptability and lifestyle was an asset which allowed them to succeed. This close association with Muslim rulers led to the conversion of many members of the Kayastha community to Islam. The Muslim Kayasths outnumbered the Hindu Kayasths. The Muslim Kayasths have intermarried with the other Muslim communities over the centuries and have lost their community consciousness and consider themselves to be part of the Urdu speaking Muslims of northern India. The Muslim Kayastha community also adapted to changes, such as the advent of the British rule in India. They learned English, the more affluent ones sent their children to the United Kingdom, they became civil servants, tax officers, junior administrators, teachers, legal helpers and barristers, and rose to the highest positions accessible to natives in British India. The Kayastha and Manihar Muslims have also produced the families of the taluqdars of Sarwa Jalalpur in Sitapur district and Azizabad in Raebareli district, in both these districts.[4]

The Muslim Kayasth have traditionally been a landless community living as Patwaris and Qanungohs (land record keepers). The only exception being the large taluqdar families, who were substantial landowners. They have high rates of literacy, and many have played important roles in the cultural life of the North Indian Muslim community.[4]

Present circumstances[edit]

The Muslim Kayastha community is over 4 million compared to 800,000 Hindu Kayasthas. The Muslim Kayastha are considered to be Shaikh and follow Sunni Hanafi fiqh. The Muslim Kayasths have intermarried with the other Muslim communities over the centuries and have lost their community consciousness and consider themselves to be part of the Urdu speaking Muslims of Pakistan and northern India. They live in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India, the provinces of Sindh and Punjab in Pakistan and many have now settled in United Kingdom, United States and Canada.

Religion[edit]

The community are Sunni Muslims of the Hanafi fiqh (school of thought). They also visit shrines of Sufi saints, such as that of the famous Sufi saint, Khawaja Moinuddin Chisti.[citation needed]

Distribution[edit]

India[edit]

The Muslim Kayasth are found in the various urban and semi-urban areas of Uttar Pradesh state of India, with Allahabad, Bareilly and Pratapgarh being the centre of the community, from where they scattered in various districts of Uttar Pradesh. The Allahabad District Muslim Kayastha claim to have originated from Pratapgarh District. They are found mainly in Karchana and Bara tehsils, mainly in the villages of Rampur Haldi Khurd Kalan, Panwar, Dandupur, Mahewa East, Bhandra, Purwa,Diwan Ka Pura, Panwar, Barsawal, Akodha, Amreha, Mou (Chitrakoot) Bharatganj, Ghumari, Bunawa, Amreha, Naudia, Dhate, Meja, Phoolpur, Jalalpur and Manpur.[5] In neighbouring Pratapgarh District, the Muslim Kayasth are found mainly in Pratapgarh district, mainly in the villages of Gonda, Ranjitpur-Chilbia, Katra Gulab Singh and Purabgaon.[6] The occupy a total of thirty villages in both districts, that are collectively referred to as Kaethana.[3]

Pakistan[edit]

After independence in 1947, many Muslim Kayasths migrated and settled in the provinces of Sindh and Punjab in Pakistan. In Sindh province, they are mainly settled in the urban centers especially in Karachi and Hyderabad. In Punjab province they have settled in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Faisalabad. There is also large community also in Islamabad, capital of Pakistan.

Overseas[edit]

Many Muslim Kayasth have emigrated to western countries in Europe, North America and Australasia, and now have settled in United Kingdom, United States, Canada and Australia.

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part 2 by K S Singh page 1046
  2. ^ Muslim Kayasths
  3. ^ a b People of India Uttar Pradesh page 1047
  4. ^ a b c Endogamy and Status Mobility among Siddiqui Shaikh in Social Stratication edited by Dipankar Gupta
  5. ^ a b Muslim Kayasthas of India by Jahanara KK Publications ISBN 81-675-6606-2
  6. ^ District gazetteers of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh . Volume XLVII Pratabgarh District edited by H.R Nevill