Kayastha Musalmaan
Regions with significant populations
• India • Pakistan
Languages
UrduHindiEnglish
Religion
Islam
Related ethnic groups
KayasthaShaikh of Uttar PradeshShaikhs in South Asia

The Muslim Kayastha (Urdu: مسلمان کائستھ), a community of Muslims, are related to the Kayastha[1] of northern India, mainly modern Uttar Pradesh, who converted to Islam during the rule of the Islamic empires in India.[2][3] The Muslim Kayastha and Nagar Muslims of Uttar Pradesh are considered Shaikh and follow Sunni Hanafi fiqh. The Muslim Kayasths have intermarried with other Muslim communities over the centuries, lost their community consciousness, and consider themselves Urdu speaking Muslims of Pakistan and northern India.[4]

History and origin

The Kayastha community has historically converted to Islam and held the occupations of land record keeping, administration and accounting.[5] They speak Urdu, although they are also fluent in Hindi in India.[6] in Pakistan they also speak Sindhi and Punjabi. They consider themselves part of the Shaikh community.[7]

The Muslim dynasties recruited individuals from different Hindu castes by merit and trained them to become civil servants and members of the Kayasth caste.[8][9] They successfully adapted as scribes and functionaries under Islamic rule, then the British. In the reign of the Mughals, a number of educated upper caste Hindus with sharp intellects attained administrative positions through rapid adaptation to the Persian language and culture of these new rulers of South Asia. These influential upper caste Hindus formed the Kayastha, whose secular viewpoint and adaptability allowed them to succeed. Their close association with Muslim rulers led most of them to convert to Islam.

According to the Hindu scriptures known as the Puranas, the Kayasthas descend from Chitragupta, a Hindu god who keeps complete records of the actions of human beings on earth. When they die, Chitragupta decides between heaven or hell for them, based on their actions. Chitragupta Maharaj (Chitragupta the King) is the patron deity and forefather of the Kayasthas Hindu caste: scribes, officials, administrators, writers, magistrates, judges. lawyers, chief executive officers and village accountants. Kayasthas celebrate Qalam and Dawaat (pen and ink-pot) worship, a ritual in which pens, papers and books were worshipped.

Most South Asian kingdoms and princely states valued Kayasthas as desired citizens or immigrants in the second millennium. They treated the Kayasthas more as a community than a Hindu caste, because they developed expertise in Persian (the state language in Islamic India), and learned Turkish and Arabic, economics, administration and taxation. This gave them an edge over the Brahmins, the priestly Hindu caste) who traditionally reserved the study of Sanskrit shastras for themselves. Muslim Kayastha outnumber the Hindu Kayastha even today. They adapted to change, such as the advent of the British Raj. They learned English, and the more affluent sent their children to school in the United Kingdom. They became civil servants, tax officers, junior administrators, teachers, legal helpers and barristers, and rose to the highest positions accessible to natives in British India.[7]

Muslim Kayasth have traditionally been a literate landlord community, Patwaris and Qanungohs (land record keepers), except the large land-owning taluqdar families.

Distribution

India

The Muslim Kayasth live in the northern Indian states of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and also in other states: Jharkhand, West Bengal, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. In Uttar Pradesh, the Muslim Kayasth live in the urban and semi-urban centers of the state.[9][10][6] There is also a large community in Delhi, capital of India.

Pakistan

After the independence in 1947, many Muslim Kayasthas migrated and settled in the provinces of Sindh and Punjab in Pakistan. In Sindh province, they are mainly settled in the urban centers especially in Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur. In Punjab province, they have settled in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Multan and Faisalabad. There is also large community also in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.

See also

References

  1. ^ Gupte, TV (1904). "Appendix I.(page 7) Translation of the letter addressed by the Benaras Pandits to the Peshwa Darbar". Ethnographical notes on Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu. p. 8. Kayasthas are said to be of three sorts (kinds)— (1) the Chitragupta Kayasthas (2) Dhalbhaga Gatri Kshatriya Kayasthas and (3) Kayasthas of the mixed blood. The origin of Chitraguptavanshi Kayasthas is given in the Puranas. He was born from the body of Brahma while he was contemplating how he should know the good and evil acts of living beings. He was a brilliant person with pen and ink in his hands. He was known as Chitragupta and was placed near the God of death. He was appointed to record the good and evil acts of men. He was a Brahmin possessed of supra sensible knowledge. He was a god sharing the offerings at sacrifices. All the Brahmins offer him oblations of rice before taking their meals. He is called Kayastha because of his origin from the body of Brahma. Many descendants of his bearing different Gotras still exist on this earth. From this it will be seen that Kayastha Brahmins of Karhada and Khandesha are the Brahma-Kayasthas. Now about the origin of Chandraseniya Kshatriya Kayastha.....
  2. ^ People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part 2 by K S Singh page 1046
  3. ^ Muslim Backward Classes: A Sociological Perspective
  4. ^ Russel, Jesse; Cohn, Ronald (January 2013). Muslim Kayasths. ISBN 9785510754926.
  5. ^ Jahanara (1 January 2003). "The Muslim Kayasthas of India". The Oriental Anthropologist. 3 (1): 48–51. doi:10.1177/0976343020030106. ISSN 0972-558X. S2CID 220082119.
  6. ^ a b People of India Uttar Pradesh page 1047
  7. ^ a b Endogamy and Status Mobility among Siddiqui Shaikh in Social Stratication edited by Dipankar Gupta
  8. ^ Calcutta Review, Volumes 100-101
  9. ^ a b Muslim Kayasthas of India by Jahanara KK Publications ISBN 978-81-675-6606-5
  10. ^ District gazetteers of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh . Volume XLVII Pratabgarh District edited by H.R Nevill