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The Banu Israil or Bani israili are a Muslim community found in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India. Their name means "Children of Israel", and the community claims descent from the Jewish community of Madinah. They belong to the Shaikh caste, and typically carry the surname Israily. They should not be confused with the Bene Israel, a Jewish community found in western India.[1]


The exact circumstances of their settlement in India is unclear, but their traditions make clear that they were Muslims at the time of their settlement. They are largely an urban community, occupying distinct quarters in a number of towns and cities in western Uttar Pradesh, such as Banu Israilyan in Aligarh. Quite a few of them occupied important administrative positions under both the Sultanate of Delhi and its successor, the Mughal Empire. This was especially true of the Banu Israil of Aligarh, where the community were the heredity kotwals, a post which entailed being both the head of police and garrison commander.[2]

Although largely an urban community, there were several settlements of rural Banu Israil in Etah District. These Banu Israil are unique in that they are largely a community of farmers. In additions, the community were found in the town of Dhampur in Bijnor District, in Bilari in Moradabad District, in Sahaswan and Badaun in Badaun District, and in the city of Bareilly in Bareilly District.[3]

See also


  1. ^ The Lost Tribes of Israel: The History of a Myth by Tudor Parfit ISBN 0-297-81934-8 page 131
  2. ^ Boundaries and identities : Muslims, work and status in Aligarh by E. A. Mann ISBN 0-8039-9422-2
  3. ^ Ganjdundwara in Kasganj District, Tribes and Castes of North Western Provinces and Oudh Volume IV by William Crook