Muslims of Manipur

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Muslim Manipuris or Pangal
Total population
190,939 (1991 census)[1]
Regions with significant populations
• Manipuri
Related ethnic groups

Manipuri Muslims or Pangals are Muslims who live in Manipur, in North East India. According to the most accepted view, there have been adherents to Islam in Manipur since at least the first decade of the 17th Century. In the 2001 Indian census, Muslims constituted about 8.32 percent of the total population of Manipur; 190,939 persons.[2] Other Manipuris, such as the Naga and Kuki, are more often Christians. Most Manipuri Muslims, identify as Pangal (also Pangahl or Pangan) – a Muslim subgroup of the Meitei (or Meetei) ethnicity. Hence they are also known as Meitei-Pangals and Miah Meitei.[3] The Pangals usually reside in valley communities, whereas adherents to other religions tend to be hill-dwellers. Meitei-Pangals live not only in Manipur, but also in Assam, Tripura, Nagaland and across the national border in Bangladesh. Significant expatriate communities live in Saudi Arabia, the UK and the United States.


Exile of Shah Shuja[edit]

While some Muslims were already living in Manipur, there was a significant influx of Muslims from 1660 onwards, as refugees followed the deposing of the Mughal Shah Shuja (Shangkusum) of Hindustan, who lost a war of succession to Aurangzeb. Shuja's flight is significant in the Islamic folklore of both north east India and Bangladesh.

On 6 June 1660, Shuja fled from Dacca (Dhaka), initially intent on travelling, via Chittagong to Arakan (Rakhine).[4][5] Arakan, capital of the Mrauk U Kingdom, was the destination, because Sanda Sudamma (Thudamma) had reportedly promised to provide ships to take Shuja and his entourage to Mecca for haj (pilgrimage). Shaju travelled with his wife Piari Banu Begum (a.k.a. Praveen Banu, Piara Banu, or Pai Ribanu) and her sister Sabe Banu, his sons Zainul Abidin (Zainibuddin, Bon Sultan or Sultan Bang), Buland Akhtar and Zain-ul-Din Muhammad (Zainul Abedi), and daughters Gulrukh Banu, Roshanara Begum and Amina Begum,[6] as well as two vessels of gold and silver, jewels, treasures and other royal trappings, on the backs of half a dozen camels, while about 1,000 palanquins (carriers) transported Shuja's harem. After staying for some time at Chittagong, Shuja took a land route (still called Shuja Road) southward. Shuja prayed the Eid prayer at a place called Edgoung (meaning eidgah) in Dulahazra. The part crossed the Naf River, half a mile north of Maungdaw, which is sometimes still known as "Shuja Village". The final leg was a sea voyage to Arakan where Shuja was received by an envoy of king Sanda Sudamma and escorted to quarters provided for him. However, after Shuja arrived in Arakan, Sudama reportedly reneged on this promise and confiscated some of Shuja's treasure. In retaliation, Zainul Abidin and another brother led a Mughal attack on Sudama and almost succeeded in setting fire to the royal palace. Two or three of Shuja's sons died in subsequent fighting and/or the Mughals' flight into the jungle. Many other Mughals were massacred. Shuja's daughter Gulrukh reportedly committed suicide after being captured and raped by Sudama. The surviving members of Shaju's party, helped reportedly by Mughals and Pathans resident at Arakan,[7] travelled north with Portuguese mariners, at a high cost in gold and jewels.

The Hindu kings of Tripura and Manipur were more agreeable hosts – probably because they did not like the expansionist policy of Aurangzeb – and played a crucial role in concealing Shuja's whereabouts. He and his party arrived at Tripura on 16 May 1661,[4] and in Manipur in December 1661.[8] Conscious that Aurangzeb’s scouts and spies were searching for them,[9] misinformation was spread that Shuja had died at Arakan, or was travelling to Mecca, among other stories.[7] Among other precautionary measures, Shuja was sent by elephant to the hill country of Ukhrul.[10] Mir Jumla II came to know of the situation and sent three men to Manipur in late December 1661, to detain and retrieve Shuja's family.[11] However, the Qazi of Manipur, Muhammad Sani, detained the chief emissary of the Mughals, Nur Beg to ensure that the others, Dur Beg and Rustam Beg, did not provide information regarding Shuja’s presence in Manipur.[12] At that time, Shuja was in hiding at a cave known later as Shuja-lok ("Shuja Cave"),[13] Haignang, Kairang (east of Imphal). According to some accounts he later died at the cave.

Since 1675[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Government of India, Manipur, Census, 2010.
  3. ^ Dr. N. Debendra Singh, 2005, Identities of the Migrated People of Manipur, Canchipur: Centre for Manipuri Studies (Manipur University).
  4. ^ a b Niccolai Manucci, Storia do Mogor or History of Mughal India, translator William Irvine
  5. ^ Suhas Chatterjee, 2008, The Socio-Economic History of South Assam.
  6. ^ Stanley Lane-Pool, 1971, Aurangzeb, vol.1.
  7. ^ a b Niccolai Manucci, Storia do Mogor.
  8. ^ Cheitharol Kumbaba, 1989.
  9. ^ Janab Khan, 1972, Manipuri Muslim also locally called "Moughlai Muslim".
  10. ^ see also How Shuja, Brother of Aurangzeb died (sic) at Ukhrul; he actually died and was buried at Kairang Shujalok.
  11. ^ A. Hakim Shah, 2008, The Manipur Governance
  12. ^ Names of Mughal ambassadors can be known from P. Gogoi, 1961, The Tai and Tai Kingdoms who gave Dur Beg and Rustam; Kheiruddin Khullakpam, 1997, Turko-Afghangi Chada Naoda, Lilong: Circles, gives the Boggy clan ancestor as Noor Bakhsh that must be Noor Beg.
  13. ^ Janab Khan, 1972, Manipuri Muslim.

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