Islam in Assam
The Muslims first came to Assam in the early 13th century, when Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji led an army to eastern India in 1205. Although the Muslims of Assam did not identify with any caste, they had caste-like divisions based on family ancestry (e.g. Syed, Mughal, Pathan and Sheikh) and functional sections (e.g. Maria, Mahinial and Jalaha). In order of traditional social status, the ancestral groups include:
- The Syeds claim descent from Muhammad. In 17th century, a Syed Muslim saint Ajan Fakir came to Assam and promoted Islam.
- This section is formed by the descandants of invading Muslim soldiers who married local Assamese girls, some of whose relatives also converted to Assam.
- These are descended from the captured Muslim soldiers, who came with the armies of Khilji (1206) and Turbak of Gaur (1532).
Migration during the British era
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 the 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 East Bengal, nearly 85% of whom were Muslims. The tea planters and Marwari businessmen, who needed workers, also welcomed the immigrants.
Early establishments were in the Goalpara district, mostly in the char (riverine) lands and reserved forests. These Muslim migrants from Assam were known as "Miyas", and most of them have assimilated with the indigenous Muslims. Since many of them came from the Mymensingh District, they were sometimes referred to as "Mymenshingia". The Muslim migrants from the Gaur region were also known as Gariyas.
Assam has a substantial number of indigenous Muslims, but there have been concerns that illegal immigration from the neighbouring Bangladesh has contributed to a sharp rise in the Muslim population of Assam. This fear of "demographic invasion" by Bangladeshi Muslims has been a political issue in Assam since the days of Assam Movement (1979-1985). In 1983, around 2000 Bengali-speaking Muslims were killed in the Nellie massacre.
In 2001, there were 6 Muslim-majority in the Assam district. By 2011, this number had increased to 9.
|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|
- 2011 Census Data: Assam.
- "Assam: Religion and Caste". Government of Assam. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
- Jayashree Roy (2003). Decentralisation Of Primary Education in the Autonomous District Council of Karbi Anglong - Assam (PDF). National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration. p. 10.
- N. S. Saksena (1985). Terrorism History and Facets: In the World and in India. Abhinav Publications. p. 165. ISBN 978-81-7017-201-7.
- Census 2011 data rekindles ‘demographic invasion’ fear in Assam
- Memory and forgetting in Nellie
- Muslim majority districts in Assam up
- Population by religious communities, 2001 Census of India