Islam in Assam
Islam is the second largest religion in Assam. Islam is also fastest growing religion in Assam according to 2011 census report. According to the 2011 census, the population of Assam is roughly 31,169,272 out of which there were 10,679,345 Muslims in the Indian state of Assam, forming over 34.22% of its population. Muslims are majority in almost 9 districts of Assam according to 2011 census.
Muslims first came to Assam in the early 13th century, when Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khalji led an army to eastern India in 1205. A chieftain of the Mech tribe converted to Islam at the invitation of Khalji, and adopted the name Ali Mech Raja. He guided Khalji's army through the region known as Kamarupa during the expedition. Islam became popularised in the Barak Valley with the arrival of the Sufi Shah Jalal and his disciples in the early 14th century. A large part of the valley came under the Bengal Sultanate. Since then Muslims continue to play important in all walks of life in Assam.
In 1613, the Mughals briefly annexed Koch Hajo, in present-day western Assam. They also ruled Goalpara (as a part of their Bengal Subah), but could not subdue the other parts of Assam. The Mughal soldiers who were taken as prisoners of wars by the Assamese kingdoms were later assimilated by the local population, but maintained their Islamic beliefs and worked as brass metal workers.
In 1630, a Muslim saint named Shah Miran, popularly known as Ajan Fakir, came from Baghdad, the present capital city of Iraq, to Assam. He preached to the local population about Islam and as a result many converted to Islam and became his disciples. His mausoleum is present in Saraguri Chapori in Assam's Sivasagar district.
The British East India Company had established its rule in the neighbouring Bengal region after the Battle of Plassey in 1757. When Assam came under colonial rule, the British brought with them a number of Bengali settlers. These Bengalis encouraged other Bengalis to settle in Assam for economic reasons. The fertile land of Assam attracted a number of landless peasants from Bengal presidency, nearly 85% of whom were Muslims. The tea planters and Marwari businessmen, who needed workers, also welcomed the migrants.
Early establishments were in the Goalpara district, mostly in the char (riverine) lands and reserved forests. Some of these Muslim migrants were known as "Miyas", and most of them have assimilated with the indigenous Muslims. Since many of them came from the Northeast part of Rangpur and very few of them came from Mymensing, they were sometimes referred to as "Bongya" or Bongali. The Muslim migrants from the Gaud region were also known as Gariyas.
Assam has a substantial number of indigenous Muslims, but there have been concerns that illegal immigration from neighbouring Bangladesh has contributed to a sharp rise in the Muslim population of Assam. This fear of "demographic invasion" by Bangladeshi has been a political issue in Assam since the days of the Assam Movement (1979–1985). In 2001, there were 6 Muslim-majority districts in the state of Assam. By 2011, this number had increased to 9. However, these numbers have declined in recent years.
- Shaikh & Pathan
- These are the people who came from the Arab, Persia, north india region. They mainly settled in Sarpara, Dampur, Haligaon, Simina, Futiri, Chhaygaon, Anhitari, Jambari, Garigaon, Guwahati etc. Kamrup Assam region along with Kamrup and Nalbari district of lower Assam (mainly in Sarpara, Dampur, Haligaon, Simina, Futuri, Chhsygaon, Garigaon, Guwahati, Azara, Anhitari, Jambari etc ).Many of them now use Islamic surnames such as Khan, Haque, Ali, Hussain, Sabnam, Pathan, Shaikh Ahmed etc..They uses assamese language as their own mother tongue and Arabic Urdu as a secondary language.
- These are descendants from Koch-Rajbonshi, Mech, Rabha, Bodo and Indo-Aryan people who converted to Islam. They have a mixture of Mongoloid and Indo-aryan facial structure. They mainly speak the Goalpariya dialect . They are mainly settled in the districts of Dhuburi, Goalpara, South Salmara and Kokrajhar.
- These are descended from the captured Muslim soldiers, who came with the armies of Khalji (1206) and Turbak of Gaur (1532). They are named as such because they were engaged in the bell-metal and smithy industry, the word Maria meaning one who hits metals. They are very minority in numbers and can be found in Sivsagar, Jorhat, Tinsukia ,Golaghat , Kamrup(Hajo, Baihata, Rangia, amingaon etc).They uses assamese language as their own mother tongue.
- These Muslims arrived with the armies of different Muslim invasions from Gaur state(Bengal).
- They are one of the indigenous Muslims of Assam. They are mainly found in Lower Assam.
- These Muslims live in Cachar, North Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimgong of greater Sylhet region of Northeast Bengal (South Assam).
Human Rights issues
During the 2012 Assam violence there was communal riot between Bangladeshi origin Muslim and indigenous Bodo people. . Indian Hindu nationalist politicians have accused Bangladesh of trying to expand its territory by ostensibly promoting illegal immigration. However, Indian government census reports note a decline in immigration from Bangladesh between 1971 and 2011.
|Year||Muslim Population||Increase||% Increase|
* Variation for two decades (1971–1991). In 1981, census was not conducted in Assam due to disturbed conditions resulting from insurgency.
Population by district
|#||District||Total population||Muslim population||Percentage|
Though Assam Muslims follow all rules and obligations of Islam they are still probably one of the least orthodox Muslim communities of entire Asia. They follow many Hindu customs and take part in Hindu festivals. In fact, the day-to-day rituals of this community resemble the customs of the other local tribes and communities of Assam. A majority of the Assam Muslims are agrarian in nature and depend on agriculture for their subsistence.
Notable Assam Muslims
- Bagh Hazarika
- Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, the only Assamese Muslim president of India
- Anwara Taimur, the only woman chief minister of Assam
- Muhammed Saadulah, the only Assamese Muslim member of the drafting committee of the constituent assembly of India
- Parveen Sultana, Padma Bhushan vocalist
- Abu Nechim, the first Assamese muslim IPL cricketer
- Mafizuddin Ahmed Hazarika, writer
- Imran Shah, writer
- Syed Abdul Malik, writer
- Zerifa Wahid, actor
- Wasbir Hussain, journalist
- Adil Hussain, actor
- Ali Mech, First muslim of Assam
- Baharul Islam,actor
- Muhammad Saleh Akbar Hydari, First Governor of Assam
- Abdul Majid, actor
- Mirel Kuddush, actor
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