Islam first arrived in the Eastern Indian state of Odisha in the 16th century after the invasion of Kalapahad, a Hindu convert to Islam, a vassal of Suleiman Kirrani the Sultanate of Bengal, after defeat and death of Raja Mukund Dev of Cuttack in 1568 CE. Suleiman Kirrani was the Governor of Bengal appointed by Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great. Kirrani was invited by Raja Mukund Dev to defeat Raja Ramchandra Bhanja the Gajapati King of Odisha, his arch enemy.
Kirrani brought with him Muslim soldiers who settled down in Odisha, however their number was very few. Some early Oriya Muslims were converts. However, the number of these Muslims, almost all converts from Hinduism, was statistically insignificant and though they were Muslims by faith, they continued subscribing to the local customs and traditions and retained Oriya as their native tongue, as opposed to Persian or Urdu, the then lingua franca of most Indian Muslims. The descendants of these Muslims are still found in the districts of Puri, Khurda and Cuttack.
Kalapahad was the title of an Iconoclast Muslim general of Mughal governor Sultan Sulaiman Karrani of Bengal. According to some historical documents he was either, Rajiv Lochan Ray, an Oriya convert to Islam or a Pashtun from Afghanistan. After conversion to Islam he took a Muslim name but is popularly know as Kalapahad. He was instrumental in conquering Odisha for Mughal Empire. Kalapahad was buried in Sambalpur. Large number of tombs believed to be those of the dead soldiers of Kalapahar are also located in a mango grove near Samaleswari College building on the bank of river Mahanadi in Odisha. The tomb of Kalapahad and the graves of his soldiers were destroyed in 2006 by Hindu extremists.
Later migration continued under Mughal as well as the Nawab of Bengal's rule. The majority of these were traders or clergy, sent to preside over the courts, both secular and Islamic. There is also a small number of Bengali Muslims who emigrated during the tumult of the Indo-Pak War of 1971. Similarly Telugu speaking Muslims from Andhra Pradesh are also found in the southern districts of Odisha.
Islam has had a very slow rate of growth in Odisha even during the Muslim rule as there had never been any major Musim missionary work. The current population of Muslims in Odisha is 761,985 (2001 census), roughly 2.1% of the total population. The city of Bhadrak has the maximum number of Muslims as a percentage of the total population (about 35%). The Oriya Muslims have a literacy rate of 71.3%, higher than the national average of 64.9%.
Muslim Population by District
Here is a breakdown of the Muslim population by district.
|District||Headquarter(s)||Population (2001)||Muslim Population (2001)||Percentage|
|Baleswar (Balasore)||Baleswar[disambiguation needed]||2.024,508||76,270||4%|
The vast majority of Oriya Muslims are Sunni Muslims belonging to the Hanafi school. Majority of the Muslims are concentrated in the townships of Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Kendrapara and Bhadrak. The Sunnis are divided between the Deobandi and Barelvi sub-sects. The prominent Muslim families of Odisha include the Muftis and Qazis of Jajpur and Cuttack District, who have Arab heritage, the Syeds of Cuttack and the Mullahs of Dharamshala (of Pashtun descent). The Ahmadiya community, considered heretical by mainstream Muslims also has some presence, mainly in Kerang of Khurda District.
Islamic sites in Odisha
- Kaipadar Sharif (near Khurda)
A eighteenth-century shrine of the Sufi saint, Syed Abdullah Jalal Bukhari Pir Saheb. He originally belonged to Bukhara, Uzbekistan came to Khurda in 1731 CE via Mecca after performing Hajj. The then Oriya king of Khurda, Gajapati Raja Ramchandra Dev II who was mesmerized by his Sufi thoughts and action donated about 223-acre (0.90 km2) land in 1733 CE to establish his Mosque and Hujra which is now known as Kaipadar. It is now famous for the annual Urs celebration when thousands of devotees both Hindus and Muslims gather with religious fervour from all over India. People come here to get their desires fulfilled throughout the year.
- Qadam Rasul (in Cuttack)
Reputed to contain the footprint of Prophet Muhammad, this shrine dates back to the 15th century.
- Badshahi Mosques
--In Jajpur: Built by a Mughal officer, Nawab Abu Nasir in the 17th century during the reign of Aurangzeb. It was renovated in the 19th century by the Public Works Department under British supervision.
--In Lalitagiri: Also known as the "Takht-e-Sulaiman" (Throne of Solomon), it was built in 1719 CE by Shuja ud Din who was also known as Suleiman, on the orders of the Governor of Bengal, Nawab Murshid Quli Khan. It is located on top of Mount Alamgir in the Assia range of the Eastern Ghats.
- Capital Mosque, Bhubaneswar
Redesigned by Syed Mumtaz Ali, the then Chief Engineer of Odisha State in 1962. It has a simple look without traditional dome but having two very tall minarets. This mosque also acts as the of headquarters of Tableegh-e-jamat of Odisha unit. Previously, belonged to the Barelvis.
- Dhamnagar Sharif (near Bhadrak)
Mausoleum of the famous Barelvi scholar, Maulana Habib-ur-Rahman a.k.a. Mujahid e Millat (1904–1981)
- Jama Masjid, Cuttack
- Kadam Rasul (Jagti), Dhamnagar.
- Kazi Rafiuddin Baba (Kazi Baba), Quazisahi, Dhamnagar.
- Shah Mohammad Hanif (Baghu Baba), Munsipatna, Dhamnagar.
- Shah Saheb Baba, Nazar Sahi, Dhamnagar.
- Gazi Baba, Pathan Mohalla, Dhamnagar.
- Molana Shaduddin Ahmed (Molana Saheb Baba), Molnasahi, Dhamnagar.
Built by Nawab Ikram Khan in 1689 A.D. on the orders of Aurangzeb Alamgir, the Jami Masjid at Balu Bazar is an imposing mosque. The mosque stretches from east to west to enable the devotees to turn towards Mecca while praying. The present access to it is through the southern gate built much later. There is a 'hauz' (cistern) in the courtyard and a pulpit in the main hall. There are two tall and elegant minarets on both sides of the mosque.
Culture and Education
The Urdu Academy of Odisha, a wing of the Department of Culture, Government of Odisha is engaged in the propagation and popularization of the Urdu language in Odisha. Jamia Ashraful Uloom,the biggest Islamic seminary in the state run by Maulana Md. Farooque Qasmi is situated at Kendrapara town with a very large attractive campus with facilities of modern and traditional education with separate campuses for boys and girls running under the supervision of Al-Farooque Educational Trust, an educational and charitable registered trust established for the welfare and advancement of Muslims and the poor section of the state. Markazul Uloom, Sungda established in the 1940s by Maulana Syed Ismail Qasmi of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind is a prominent centre of Deobandi Islamic learning in Odisha. .Besides that, there are also many other Barelvi Islamic Institutions run by Maulana Habibur Rahman in the state which also produce Islamic Scholars and Ulemas.
- Muslim Peoples: A World Ethnographic Survey editor Richard V Weekes
- History of Modern Orissa: 1936-2000 page:5 by Kartik Chandra Rout, Published by Anmol Publications PVT. LTD., 2004, ISBN 81-261-2006-1, ISBN 978-81-261-2006-2
- Indian Census
- Imperial Gazetteer2 of India, Volume 5, page 204 - Imperial Gazetteer of India - Digital South Asia Library