Islam calls for uncompromising social equality of all humanity. Race, colour, caste and ethnic origin have no value in Islamic understanding of things — piety being the only determinant. This, however, has not stopped Muslims from adopting un-Islamic practices of social discrimination. Caste differences within the Muslim society are more apparent in the subcontinent than anywhere else. The book claims to “explore various dimensions of the caste question among Muslims in India.
The book deals with considerable length on the all-important issue of inter-case marriages and the concept of kafa’a (suitability and compatibility in marriage). For this, he relies on the comprehensive tract written in Urdu on the topic by Maulana Abdul Hamid Nu’mani, a senior leader of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind. Nu’mani has forthrightly brought to light, in no unambiguous terms, the internal hypocrisy of the community, which claims to be belonging to a universal brotherhood while at the same time shunning marital relationships with fellow Muslims. He deconstructs the widely misunderstood concept of Kafa’a and decisively proves that it has no basis in Islam. He also does not hesitate to criticize the revered ulema, like Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi and Maulana Ahmed Raza Khan Barelwi whose views on kafa’a contradicted those of the Qur’an and Sunnah.
Yoginder Sikand Yoginder Sikand is a seasoned author on Islam and Muslims in South Asia. He holds a doctorate in history from London Univeristy and has done post doctoral research at the International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World, Leiden, the Netherlands.
He has written several books on Islam and Muslims in contemporary India including Sacred Spaces: Exploring Traditions of Shared Faith in India (Penguin, 2003), Muslims in India Since 1947: Islamic Perspectives on Inter-Faith Relations (Routledge Curzon, 2004), Islam, Caste and Dalit Muslim relations in India (Global Media Publications) and Struggling to be Heard: South Asian Muslim Voices (Global Media Publications). He is currently a freelance researcher based in Bangalore.
He was associated with India’s leading university Jamia Millia Islamia as a professor and headed a center on Indian Muslims at another Delhi based university, Jamia Hamdard.