Caste System - an ISLAMIC perspective

short and straight to the point. alhamdoulillah, may Allah reward this sister.

Islam, the Caste System and Marriage

One of the things that has become apparent to me in the last few years, and reared its ugly head again very recently, is the question of caste. You may be thinking “we are Muslim’s what on earth has caste got to do with us?” South Asian Muslims, certainly Muslim’s in Pakistan and I am pretty sure in India too, have a tradition of slotting people into castes according to their family occupation.

This is mainly a result of living amongst Hindu’s and Sikh’s for so long that we have taken on their customs without question and incorporated them into our practice of Islam. One of the things that I love about Islam is the fact that it treats all men and women as equals and judges a persons value not by their tribe or nationality but by their piety. None of us need to be shackled by the position our parents were born to.

I had no idea we had a caste system until my generation started to look at marriage. One of my parent’s friends had refused the partner their daughter had chosen because he was deemed of a lower caste – one of the “kami kameen” (a derogatory word for low-class or under-class which makes my blood boil). People of these castes are usually people whose parents or grandparents family occupations were barbers (nai), shoe-menders (mauchi), tailors (darzi), weavers (casbih), or similar – basically honest working people.
-exactly what i was thinking, i'd be so proud if my dad was a shoemender! or a tailor! these are valuable skills! where would the world be without those AWESOME people!-

I was truly amazed. That people in this day and age were still letting things like this influence their lives. Muslim’s at that. Now every time someone close to me raises the matter of marriage, the caste question is raised. Even people who should know better or are fairly religious cannot escape the tyranny of this issue for fear of losing face amongst their biradari (or extended kinship circles). I once argued with a brother-in-law about this saying it was completely wrong and he laughingly retorted “you know what we say here? Banda hai ya nai? (Are you a human or a nai?)”

One of the things that facilitated the spread of Islam within South Asia with such startling speed was its focus on equality amongst men in a place where the caste system was particularly oppressive. Whereas amongst Hindu’s, the shadow of a lower-caste person falling on a higher-caste person’s food was enough for the food to be deemed polluted and discarded, amongst these new people with their new religion were people who would share their food with anyone – even those assigned to the lowest castes and labelled dirty.

We are going to have to take steps to get over this practice. In Pakistan it is so deeply ingrained that even with people becoming more religious it would be difficult to deal with. People of “higher” castes maintain a sense of superiority because of this system and so would be more likely to hold on to it, sometimes even in ridiculous situations. Near where my parents originate from in Punjab, there were a very wealthy and prosperous clan called the Syeds (these are people in Pakistan who claim descent from our beloved Prophet (PBUH)) who cemented their power by aligning themselves with the British. My grandfather remembers them for their passion for hunting, horses, hounds and birds of prey. Wherever they turned up the people of surrounding villages were expected to care for their animals and run and fetch for them. These were people who could not feed their children properly and were feeding someone’s dogs. What they were not passionate about was education and hard work. Over the years, and especially after the British, left these qualities meant that they fell on hard times. In contrast the “lower” castes were focussing on education as a means to escape from poverty and started to travel to the big cities. This didn’t stop the Syed’s from abusing them as “upstarts” whilst they themselves sat about in the bazaars playing cards.

Here in the West though, perhaps we can overcome this. When we are marrying or arranging the marriage of our children we can endeavour to look past caste at good character. We can remind each other that Allah (SWT) does not elevate us by birth but by our deeds.

"O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other. Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well-acquainted. ~Al- Quran, 49:13

“All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black, nor a black has any superiority over a white- except by piety and good action” ~ Bukhari Chapter 3, Book 7

http://www.happymuslimah.com/2009/03/islam-caste-system-and-marriage.html

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Lets reunite the ummah under one flag LA ILAHA IL ALLAH MUHAMMADUR RASULULLAH

Fab article, but I don't get the comment about "Are we human or not?"

"If you stand for nothing, you'll fall for anything!"

Motto of Outlandish

The Lamp wrote:
Fab article, but I don't get the comment about "Are we human or not?"

where?

Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?

Sorry, I meant: "Are you human or not/Banda hai or nahi?"

"If you stand for nothing, you'll fall for anything!"

Motto of Outlandish

The Lamp wrote:
Fab article, but I don't get the comment about "Are we human or not?"

It says are you a person-human or a barber [Nai means barber in Punjabi and its called Hajjam in Urdu

My English is not very good

ive no idea what you guys are talking abt...

Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?

Lilly wrote:
ive no idea what you guys are talking abt...

We’re talking about this saying

once I argued with a brother-in-law about this saying

“you know what we say here? Banda hai ya nai? (Are you a human or a nai?[which means barber]

My English is not very good

JazakAllah for clarifying, but i dont really understand urdu so im just lost lool.

Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?

lollywood wrote:
Lilly wrote:
ive no idea what you guys are talking abt...

We’re talking about this saying

once I argued with a brother-in-law about this saying

“you know what we say here? Banda hai ya nai? (Are you a human or a nai?[which means barber]


what? it probably meant nahi as lampy understood it. I mean barber's are human too...

"How many people find fault in what they're reading and the fault is in their own understanding" Al Mutanabbi

ThE pOwEr Of SiLeNcE wrote:

what? it probably meant nahi as lampy understood it. I mean barber's are human too...

Then it would not make sense

My English is not very good

I think it means are you a human or a barber (as in the barber caste). No?

"If you stand for nothing, you'll fall for anything!"

Motto of Outlandish

The Lamp wrote:
I think it means are you a human or a barber (as in the barber caste). No?

Yes

My English is not very good

The Lamp wrote:
I think it means are you a human or a barber (as in the barber caste). No?

ooh that makes sense!

"How many people find fault in what they're reading and the fault is in their own understanding" Al Mutanabbi

ThE pOwEr Of SiLeNcE wrote:

ooh that makes sense!

It does caste wise

My English is not very good

lollywood wrote:
ThE pOwEr Of SiLeNcE wrote:

ooh that makes sense!

It does caste wise


What? I was just saying the sentence makes sense.

I should read the article before replying

"How many people find fault in what they're reading and the fault is in their own understanding" Al Mutanabbi

ThE pOwEr Of SiLeNcE wrote:

What? I was just saying the sentence makes sense.

You were being sarcastic

My English is not very good

I wasn't being sarcastic

"How many people find fault in what they're reading and the fault is in their own understanding" Al Mutanabbi

ThE pOwEr Of SiLeNcE wrote:
I wasn't being sarcastic

I thought you were because you added

ThE pOwEr Of SiLeNcE wrote:

ooh

My English is not very good

The Lamp wrote:
I think it means are you a human or a barber (as in the barber caste). No?

I thought that was a joke LOL... makes sense though i guess. So this caste system is similar to the old British caste system? Like with their surnames etc. Blacksmiths had Smith as a surname and i can't remember anymore....anyone know what i'm talking about?

Lets reunite the ummah under one flag LA ILAHA IL ALLAH MUHAMMADUR RASULULLAH

Foysol89 wrote:
...anyone know what i'm talking about?

Yeah, I get it now!

Many English surnames developed from a person's job or trade. Three common English surnames -- Smith, Wright and Taylor -- are excellent examples of this. A name ending in -man or -er usually implies such a trade name, as in Chapman (shopkeeper), Barker (tanner) and Fiddler. On occasion a rare occupational name can provide a clue to the family's origin. For example, Dymond (dairymen) are commonly from Devon and Arkwright (maker of arks or chests) are generally from Lancashire.

 

was this all abt what the brother in law said to the article writer? i did get that when i read the article...

Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?

Lilly wrote:
was this all abt what the brother in law said to the article writer? i did get that when i read the article...

I once argued with a brother-in-law about this saying it was completely wrong and he laughingly retorted “you know what we say here? Banda hai ya nai? (Are you a human or a nai?)”

Yup

 

The problem of castes vs tribes is that the former can have a rigid hierarchy etc.

I forgot that when I mixed up castes with tribes earlier.

"For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens 'as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone'" - David Cameron, UK Prime Minister. 13 May 2015.

at least there's movement in tribes.

Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?

Good thoughts,

i have lived in the city and did not know about cast system in person but this system developed and the land owner was given higher status. the land owners were usually granted land or jageer fir their loyality to english rulers and betrayel to local rulers. once they were in power they could do any thing, change their family etc. (you would be surprised to see the mushroom growth of kiyani people in during the reign of gen kiyani as COAS).

once the jageer was given to "meer jaffers" they etablished a village. land was given to farmers to cultivate. the farmer would pay atleast 50% of gross yeild to land owner and farmer has to do all effort and spending. the cobler, weaver, potter, carpenter, black smith,barber, tailor etc. did not cultivate but performed the vital duties for village.they were paid by farmers for their duties at the end of the year or when the corp was cultivated.

now as the society we are, the land owners were masters (although the were slaves of english), they used, abused, humiliated and killed any of their subjects (farmers and worker). living in this socity the farmers had to do the same to some one else. only the workers were left who were under the farmers because the were fed by the farmers. So the farmers humiliated them.

this was the culture then and this is the culture now.

Islam can do no good to these arrogant and ignorent people. Molvi of the village mosque is considered to be Kammi in this system.even in molana taiq jameels speaches this is clear that his father taunted him that he wanted to be one of kammis.

our islam is only for one reason, find weakness in other guy and give "kufar ka fatwa".

please stop qoouting islam for us hypocretes.

what if anyone change its cast like from any cost to syed,qureshi,abbasi etc .what islam says about it..

Anonymous wrote:
what if anyone change its cast like from any cost to syed,qureshi,abbasi etc .what islam says about it..

That is just superficial naming isnt it? You cant change your DNA…

If you mean marry from another caste, that is not an issue.

"For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens 'as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone'" - David Cameron, UK Prime Minister. 13 May 2015.