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Who are Pasmanda Muslims?

  • Published
    9th Jul, 2022
Context

The bid to provoke the Pasmanda Muslims support, the political parties in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar comes to prepared to face the crucial 2024 general elections.

  • Communal Politics in the country is widespread, and Muslims are no other to left out over the community divisions among their community in India.
Background

How Muslims categorizes themselves?

  • Muslim society in India consists of several status groups or ‘biradaris’ that are broadly sorted in three categories:
    • the Ashrafs (the ‘noble’ elite or the ‘honourable ones’)
    • the Ajlafs (backward Muslims)
    • the Arzals (Dalit Muslims)
  • Ashrafs in India are Muslims who either claim to have a foreign pedigree — descendants of Muslims from Arabia, Persia, Turkey, Afghanistan (Syeds, Sheikhs, Mughals and Pathans,) — or who are upper-caste converts from Hinduism (Rajput, Gaur, Tyagi Muslims among others).

Pasmanda Muslims

  • India has a history of caste associations across communities. Among Pasmanda Muslims, such caste associations started emerging from 1910 onwards.
  • There were caste collectives of weavers (julahas), butchers (qureshis), cotton carders (mansooris), saifis, rayeens, etc.
  • These were reformist in nature, but also acted like pressure groups led by upwardly mobile lower caste communities.
  • These outfits manifested the new kinds of demands from within the Muslim community.

Who are exactly the Pasmanda Muslims?

  • The term ‘Pasmanda Muslims’ was first used in 1998 by Ali Anwar Ansari when he founded the ‘Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz’.
  • A Persian word, ‘Pasmanda’, means the ‘ones left behind’, and is used to describe depressed classes among the Muslims, while underlining their deliberate or conscious exclusion.
  • Pasmanda has become an umbrella identity used by backward, Dalit, and tribal Muslims to push back against caste-based discrimination against them within the community.

Does Islam support caste-based classifications?

  • While Islam does not mandate the creation of such groups, these caste categories are a lived reality for Muslims across the country.

How Indian Muslims can classify according to Reservation status- as a backward community?

  • In the absence of a caste census, a clear estimate of the present-day numbers and demographic distribution of Pasmanda Muslims is not available.
  • The tallies with the 1871 census that said only 19% of Muslims in India were upper caste, while 81% were made up of the lower castes.

Sachar Committee

  • Formed in: 2005
  • Objective: to study social, economic and educational condition of Indian Muslims, said in its report.
  • The Sachar Committee in its report put the number of OBC and SC/ST Muslims at 40% (all India 2004-05).
  • ne can discern three groups among Muslims:

(1) Those without any social disabilities, the Ashrafs

(2) Those equivalent to Hindu OBCs, the Ajlafs

(3) Those equivalent to Hindu SCs, the Arzals

Those who are referred to as Muslim OBCs combine (2) (Ajlafs) and (3) (Arzals)

About their Revolt Movement

  • In the 1980s, the All India Muslim OBC Organisation (AIMOBCO) from Maharashtra started spearheading the fight for the rights of Pasmandas, and went on to enlist the unwavering support of Bollywood thespian Dilip Kumar, a Pathan.
  • The 1990s saw the rise of two outfits:
    • The All-India Backward Muslim Morcha (AIBMM) set up by Dr Ejaz Ali, and
    • The Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz founded by Ali Anwar.
  • This marked the phase of getting small caste-based outfits among Muslims to close ranks.
  • Several other outfits started to work for the uplift of Pasmanda Muslims across states.

What are the reasons of their concerns as a community?

  • Lack of Representation: Pasmanda Muslims say that despite their overwhelming numerical strength within the community, they are under-represented in jobs, legislatures and government-run minority institutions, as well as community-run Muslim organisations.
  • Facing Discrimination: The Pasmanda versus Ashraf divide stems from a feeling of being deliberately ignored amid the ruling elites’ focus on “Muslimness”. They are also opposed to the demand for giving religion-based reservation to the entire Muslim population, arguing that it ignores unequal access to state resources within the community.

What can be done to support them?

  • Caste-based Census: The major Pasmanda demands include conducting a caste census, restructuring of the existing reservation categories, and state support for artisans, craftspersons, and agricultural labourers, who are among the most impoverished groups in the community.
  • Categorising them into MBCs: As an example, the Pasmandas hold up the Bihar model, where a separate MBC category was carved out within the OBC list and most backward Muslim castes — 27 according to the Sachar committee — placed in that category.
  • Including under Reservation: Also, Dalit Muslims should be taken into the SC category but after increasing the quota limit, so that it does not create any confrontation with Hindu Dalits.
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