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Muslims: Bio-Cultural Perspective

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Item Code: UAQ007
Publisher: B.R. Publishing Corporation
Author: S.H.M. Rizvi and Shibani Roy
Language: English
Edition: 2017
ISBN: 9789386223418
Pages: 253
Other Details 9.50 X 6.50 inch
Weight 560 gm
Book Description

No serious attempt has so far been made to study the ethnic composition of Indian Muslims. This remains a most debatable and delicate issue amongst the followers of Islam in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Till date, attempts of ethno-historians to typify Indian Muslims into various ethnic stocks had been purely conjectural. Further, the view of social anthropologists regarding the classification of Muslims distinctly has the overtones of Hindu 'varna' system. Thus Muslims and their immediate neighbours pose the baffling question of whether they originated from the Middle East or belonged to some of the divergent ethnic groups of the Indian sub-continent.

This work aims to answer the question of biocultural identity of Muslims from exclusively anthropological perspective. The concept prevailing currently and accepted by the native population dichotomizes Muslims. Those who came and settled in India during the various invasions and historical migrations constituted one group while the other group was believed to be formed by mass conversions of the local Hindu populations of a comparatively lower order in the caste hierarchy. Based on this, a clear line of distinction was drawn between 'shurfa' and 'nau-Muslim’ and non-Muslim elements present in the Indian sub-continent. The 'shurfa' was believed to comprise Shiekhs of Arabia, Sayyads of Persia and Moghuls and Pathans of the Persian Gulf and north-western frontiers. While 'nau-Muslims' were accepted to be drawn from innumerable occupational Hindu groups, Pathans being from our immediate neighbourhood represent a true picture of racial entity, whereas Moghuls being numerically negligible do not form a statistically sizable population to conduct research and derive any inference. From historic times Moghuls have been widely referred to and described as being the ruling family. That is the only evidence we have of Moghuls and a few families of Delhi who claim to be their descendants.


Indian Muslims are not a homogeneous community as one believes. This community is divided on the basis of different religious ideologies and customary alliances. Prophet Mohammad prophesied that his followers would be divided into 73 sects. And so far 132 sects have been recorded. The ethnic and cultural amalgamation of the foreign strain with the indigenous strain has contributed to Muslim population's unique rites and rituals. Historical records and inscriptions positively. "affirm that several holy men settled in this country about a century before Muhammedan conquest" (Journal of Asiatic Society of Bengal, xlii, 1; 25) as analysed by R. D. Banerjee after editing the inscriptions. Likewise, Islam was introduced in some of the regions of the western coast of India, foremost among them being Sindh, Kathiawad, Gujarat and Konkan. Most of these early settlers were Arab traders. However, the Arab invasion of Sindh led by Muhammad bin Qasim in A. D. 712 was marked off as the advent of Islam in India.

These trade relations and invasions were nothing new for India since the Aryans, the Sakas, the Huns, the Kushans, the Greeks, the Persians and the Bactrians each in their turn have entered India in their respective pursuits. But the invasion of Muhammad bin Qasim set the stage for further invasion of India from the north-west. The first invasion of Mahmud of Ghazni took place in 1001 A. D. Thus, "by the 11th century A. D., Muslims had also settled in some parts of Gujarat and Kashmir (Sharma, B. N., 1972; 120). The attitude of Muslim traders and invaders being contrasting, Ghazni is held largely responsible for planting ill-feelings between the two communities of Hindus and Muslims. Mahmud attacked several places in India between 1000 and 1026 A.D., resulting in the annexation of western Pakistan and parts of Indian Punjab to the Ghaznavite empire.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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