This article needs additional citations for verification. (September 2019) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
The community have acquired their name from the Hindi and Urdu word Daf, meaning tambourine, which they used to play during wars and marriages in earlier times. They are one of the very few Muslim communities which have been Muslim since the origin, i.e they are not converts. They played the daf instrument at various Sufi shrines in North India. The community traces its descent to the Sufi saint of Bahraich popularly known as Ghazi Mian.
The Dafali are found throughout the country, primarily in Uttar Pradesh, with special concentrations in Saharanpur and Bareilly districts in the west, where the community speak Khari boli, while in Awadh, they are found mainly in the districts of Bahraich, Balrampur, Gonda, Shravasti and Sitapur, Basti District, Balrampur, Gonda, Shravasti and Sitapur, Sidharth Nagar District/Sidharthnagar where the community speak Awadhi.
This section does not cite any sources. (November 2018) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
There traditional occupation was playing the daf at weddings as well as at various Sufi shrines. Like other Muslim artisan groups, they have seen a decline in their traditional occupation. Many are now engaged in the repair and manufacture of the dholak, an Indian musical instrument. A larger number are now involved in the manufacture of bidis, the traditional Indian cigarette.
The community live religious settlements, but occupy their own distinct quarters. Each settlement has a which acts as an instrument of social control, and is headed b is elected by the community elders, for a term with intra community disputes, as well as punishing those who breach communal norms.
- People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part Two edited by A Hasan & J C Das page 398 to 402 Manohar Publications