Andhra fatwa draws flak

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  • Published 21.06.07

Patna, June 21: Muslim social scientists, politicians and religious gurus turn down Jamia Nizamia’s fatwa against classifying Muslims into castes for providing reservation.

They hold while Islam might not provide for castes among Muslims, there have been castes and sub-castes and “a clear-cut social and educational divide” among Muslims.

The All India Pasmania Muslim Mahaz, promoting social equality and political empowerment, has termed the Hyderabad’s Islamic seminaries’ fatwa “un-Islamic and irrational”.

The organisation’s president and JD(U) Rajya Sabha member, Ali Anwar, told The Telegraph: “It is a fact that neither Islam nor the Quran talks about castes but caste has been a reality in Muslim society since ages.”

Anwar explained Arabian jurisprudence divides Muslims into three categories — Ashraf (elite), Ajlaf (artisan class) and Arjal (dalits). “Sachchar Committee has used the three terms to elaborate caste divide among Muslims justifying a need for reservation for socially and educationally backward Muslims, he said.

Ashraf includes Saiyads, Moghuls, Arabs, Pathans, Sheikhs, Qazi, Mullick and Mirzas, Ajlaf has artisan classes having Ansari, Raini, Mansoori and sundry other surnames and Arjal has “Muslim marginalised and untouchables’ such as dhobis, halalkhor and dhuniya.

The Rajya Sabha member, who considers himself a social scientist, said: “No Islamic seminaries can prove that there is no caste in Muslims, It is rampant and reeking and hence, a fatwa is un-Islamic, irrational and preposterous.”

Right from Kaka Kalelhar Commission to Mandal Commission to Bihar government's Mungeri Lal Commission have observed that castes were a reality.

Islam, he said, is a religion of equality and Muslim religious gurus have no business to let inequality continue by resisting reservation on caste lines. “Anyway, Islam believes in helping the poor and hence, reservation is very much in consonance with religious spirit,” said Anwar.

Coincidentally, retired IAS officer P.S. Krishnan submitted a 300-page report to Andhra Pradesh government two days ago recommending not to give reservation to “the elite — Saiyad, Mushaik, Mughal, Pathan, Bohra, Arab, Irani, Siya, Imami, Ismailis, Khoja, Cutchi Mamon, Jamayat and Nawayat”. The Bihar minister of state for housing and construction, Monazir Hasan said: “Though I am not given to speak against religious gurus, I vouch for reservation to dalit OBCs.” The minister said reservation was a must for marginalised Muslims as they did not enjoy legal protection as SCs/ STs get under Atrocities Act.