Muslims of Uttar Pradesh

Muslims of Uttar Pradesh

Muslims in Uttar Pradesh number about 30,740,158 (18.4961%), and form the largest religious minority in the state. They are also known as Urdu speakers, on account of Urdu being their native language, and have also been referred to as Hindustani Musalman.[1] In the strict sense, the Uttar Pradesh Muslims do not form a single ethnic community. They are differentiated by sectarian and caste divisions, as well as by dialect and geographical distribution. Nevertheless, the Uttar Pradesh Muslims possess a sense of group of group identity based on cultural and historic factors. These include the Islamic religion, a Persian cultural tradition and its Indian offspring, the Urdu language.[2] The Muslim population of Uttar Pradesh is unevenly distributed, with a greater number concentrated in western Uttar Pradesh. They are also a disproportionately urban community, reflecting an old historic legacy. Muslims are a not a majority in any district, with Rampur coming close at around 49% . [3]



Early History

Agra and Fatehpur Sikri in Uttar Pradesh were the capital cities of Akbar the Great.

Much of Uttar Pradesh formed part of the various Sultanate after 1000 CE and was ruled from their capital, Delhi. As a consequence of these invasions, their arose a community in what is now Uttar Pradesh, which was referred to as Hindustani Musalmans. In medieval times, the term Hindustani Musalman was applied to those Muslims who were either converts to Islam or who had a long settled in India. These Hindustani Musalmans did not form a single community, as they were divided by ethnic, linguistic and economic differences. Often these early settlers lived in fortified towns, known as qasbas. Important qasbas include Kakori in Lucknow District, and Sandhila in Hardoi District. With the rise of the Mongols under Genghis Khan, there was an influx of Muslim refugees into North India, many of whom settled in the provincial qasbas, bringing with them a Persianized culture. Many of these early settlers are the ancestors of the Sayyid and Shaikh communities. In these qasbas, over time a number of cultural norms arose, which still typify many Uttar Pradesh Muslim traditions. [4] The Turkish Sultans of Delhi and their Mughal successors patronized the émigré Muslim culture: Islamic jurists of the Hanafi school, Persian literati who were Athna Ashri Shia and Sufis of several orders, including the Chishti, Qadiri and Naqshbandi. These Sufi orders were particularly important in converting Hindus to Islam.[2]

In western Uttar Pradesh, there was conversion to Islam of a number of agrarian castes such as the Tyagi, Ranghar and Muley Jat. Many of these convert communities kept many of their pre-Islamic customs, such as clan exogamy. According to some scholars, this also led to the creeping into caste system. [5] This region also saw the settlement of Pashtun soldiers and administrors from what is now Pakistan and Afghanistan. The largest settlement was that of Rohilkhand, which was home to a number of Pashtun principalities. Other immmigrants included Kambohs from Punjab, who together with the Pathan formed part of the ruling elite in North India. [6]

Indian converts to Islam ultimately outnumbered the immigrant Muslims, and were also of diverse origin. Many of the converts belonged to the Hindu artisan castes, who were drawn to the new qasbas. Over time, many of these artisan groups evolved into caste like groupings, such as the Momin, who were weavers. Many of these new converts continued to speak their original dialects, such as Awadhi and Khari boli. These groups were sometimes referred to collectively as ajlaf. Groups that claimed actual or putative foreign ancestry were referred to as ashrafs. Over time a fourfold division arose among the Ashraf, with the Sayyids, the actual or claimed descendent of the Prophet Mohammad, the Shaikh, communities signifies Arab descent and comes under high caste of society, however majority are the native Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaishya clans who used the title of Sheikh after conversion to Islam, the Mughals, descendents of Central Asian Turks and Mongols and the Pathans, descendents of Pashtun tribesmen from Pakistan and Afghanistan. [6] Occasionally, important convert communities such as the Kayastha Muslim of eastern Uttar Pradesh, were also granted Ashraf status.

With the collapse of the Sultanate of Delhi, the Mughal established their control, U.P. became the heartland of their vast empire; the region was known as Hindustan, which is used to this day as the name for India in several languages. Agra and Fatehpur Sikri were the capital cities of Akbar, the great Mughal Emperor of India. At their zenith, during the rule of Aurangzeb, the Mughal Empire covered almost the entire Indian subcontinent (including present day Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh), which was ruled at different times from Delhi, Agra and Allahabad.

Later History

Burhan ul Mulk Sa'adat Khan

When the Mughal Empire disintegrated, their territory remained confined to the Doab region of and Delhi. Other areas of Hindustan (U.P.) were now ruled by different rulers: Oudh was ruled by the Nawabs of Oudh, Rohilkhand by the Rohillas, Bundelkhand by the Marathas and Benaras by its own king, while Nepal controlled Kumaon-Garhwal as a part of Greater Nepal. The state's capital city of Lucknow was established by the Muslim Nawabs of Oudh in the 18th century. It became an important centre of Muslim culture, and the centre for the development of Urdu literature. [7][8]

Of all the Muslim states and dependencies of the Mughal empire, Awadh had the newest royal family. They were descended from a Persian adventurer called Sa'adat Khan, originally from Khurasan in Persia. There were many Khurasanis in the service of the Mughals, mostly soldiers, and if successful, they could hope for rich rewards. These Khurasanis were Shia, and Lucknow became a centre of Shia culture in Uttar Pradesh. Burhan ul Mulk Sa'adat Khan proved to be amongst the most successful of this group. In 1732, he was made governor of the province of Awadh. His original title was Nazim, which means Governor, but soon he was made Nawab. In 1740, the Nawab was called Wazir or vizier, which means Chief Minister, and thereafter he was known as the Nawab Wazir. In practice, from Sa'adat Khan onwards, the titles had been hereditary, though in theory they were in the gift of the Mughal emperor, to whom allegiance was paid. A nazar, or token tribute, was sent each year to Delhi, and members of the imperial family were treated with great deference; two of them actually lived in Lucknow after 1819, and were treated with great courtesy. [8]

By the early 19th Century, the British had established their control over what is now Uttar Pradesh. This led to an end of almost eight centuries of Muslim rule over Uttar Pradesh. The British rulers created a class of feudal landowners who were generally referred to as zamindars, and in Awadh as taluqdars. Many of these large landowners provided patronage to the arts, and funded many of the early Muslim educational institutions. A major educational institution was the Aligarh Muslim University, which gave its name to the Aligarh movement. Under the guidance of Sir Sayyid Ahmed Khan, the Urdu speaking Muslim elite sought to retain their position of political and administrative importance by reconciling their Mughal and Islamic culture with English education. A somewhat different educational movement was led by the Ulema of Deoband, who founded a religious school or Dar-ul-Uloom designed to revitalize Islamic learning. The aim of the Deobandis, as the movement became known as was to purge the Muslims of all strata of traditions and customs that were claimed to be Hindu. Most of the early proselytization was concentrated in the Doab region where Deoband is located, which was home to a number of peasant castes, such as the Rajput Muslim, Gujjar, Tyagi and Jat, who had maintained a number of pre-Islamic customs. A reaction to the growth of the Deobandi movement was the rise of the Barelvi sub-sect, which was much more tolerant of the customs and traditions of the local population.[2]

The role of Urdu language played an important role in the development of Muslim self-consciousness in the early twentieth century. Uttar Pradesh Muslims set up anjumans or associations for the protection and promotion of Urdu. These early Muslim associations formed the nucleus of the All India Muslim League in Dhaka in 1905. Many of the leaders belonged to the Ashraf category. Uttar Pradesh Muslims formed the core of the movement for a separate Muslim state, later known as Pakistan. The eventual effect of this movement led to the partition of India, and creation of Pakistan. This led to an exodus of many Muslim professionals to Pakistan, and the division of the Uttar Pradeshi Muslims, with the formation of the Muhajir ethnic group of Pakistan. The role of the Aligarh Muslim University was extremely important in the creation of Pakistan. [9]

Modern history

The net result of partition and independence in 1947, was the division of the Urdu speaking Uttar Pradesh Muslims. It also led to major social, political and cultural changes, for example Urdu lost its status. The abolishment of the zamindari system also had a profound impact, as these large landowners provided patronage to local artisans. This was especially true of the Awadh region. But Muslim artisan communities have held their own, with the growth of specialized industries such as lock manufacturing in Aligarh. The Muslim peasantry in western Uttar Pradesh benefited from the Green Revolution, while those in eastern Uttar Pradesh did poorly. Another important event was the demise of the Muslim League, with most Muslims initially supporting the Indian National Congress.[10] The post partition period also saw a reduction in communal violence between Hindus and Muslims. This was also a period where Muslim leadership was still in the hands of Ashraf leaders such as Abdul Majeed Khwaja in Aligarh and Rafi Ahmed Kidwai in Barabanki. However, from the late 1960s onwards, there has been an increase in the number of communal riots, culminating in the destruction of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in December 1992. This period has also seen the decline of Muslim support for the Congress Party.[11]

The last three decades have seen two issues confronting the Muslim community, often referred to as Mandir and Mandal. Mandir refers to the building of a Hindu temple in the town of Ayodhya in eastern Uttar Pradesh, on the site of a mosque. This cause has been championed by the Bharatiya Janata Party, and as a consequence, there has been an increase in communal violence.[11] The other issue is commonly referred to as Mandal, a reference to the Mandal Commission, which was set up to consider the question of seat reservations and quotas for people to redress caste discrimination. Among the groups identified for reservation included a number of ajlaf communities. This has led to greater assertion of ajlaf political power, and a decline in the ashraf leadership. A major controversy is a demand for the Muslim community to receive reservation as a whole, which is being opposed by many ajlaf communities. There are also demands to extend the scheduled caste status, which the Indian Constitution restricts to Hindu castes only, to Muslim arzal groups like the Halalkhor and Lal Begi.[12]

Famous Muslims from Uttar Pradesh include the poet Javed Akhtar, Vice President of India Hamid Ansari, historian Irfan Habib, politician Salman Khursheed and cricketer Mohammad Kaif.

Sufi Orders

Tomb of Sufi saint Shaikh Salim Chisti in Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh

Sufis (Islamic mystics) played an important role in the spread of Islam in India. They were very successful in spreading Islam, as many aspects of Sufi belief systems and practices had their parallels in Indian philosophical literature, in particular nonviolence and monism. The Sufis' orthodox approach towards Islam made it easier for Hindus to practice. Hazrat Khawaja Muin-ud-din Chishti, Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, Nizam-ud-din Auliya, Shah Jalal, Amir Khusro, Sarkar Sabir Pak, Shekh Alla-ul-Haq Pandwi, Ashraf Jahangir Semnani, Sarkar Waris Pak, Ata Hussain Fani Chishti trained Sufis for the propagation of Islam in different parts of India. Once the Islamic Empire was established in India, Sufis invariably provided a touch of colour and beauty to what might have otherwise been rather cold and stark reigns. The Sufi movement also attracted followers from the artisan and untouchable communities; they played a crucial role in bridging the distance between Islam and the indigenous traditions. Ahmad Sirhindi, a prominent member of the Naqshbandi Sufi advocated the peaceful conversion of Hindus to Islam. Imam Ahmed Rida Khan contributed a lot by defending traditional and orthodox Islam in India by his famous work Fatawa Razvia.

Social system

Some South Asian Muslims have been known to stratify their society according to quoms.[13] These Muslims practise a ritual-based system of social stratification. The Quoms who deal with human emissions are ranked the lowest. These quams are further divided into biradaris, which claim descent from an actual or putative common male ancestor. For example, an individual will belong to the Shaikh quom and Behlim or Fareedi biradari. [14]

It is commonly believed[by whom?] that Muslims in Uttar Pradesh are divided into the ashraf and ajlaf categories which are distinguished by ethnic origin and descent. However, a number of students making empirical studies of Muslim communities in different parts of India have found that this distinction is not really meaningful in understanding the existing pattern among the diverse social groups in any locality. It may be asked, therefore, if the 'ashraf' and 'ajlaf' categories constitute meaningful units of distinction for the study of social stratification among Indian Muslims. Technically, the ashraf are descendents of groups with foreign ancestry, while the ajlaf are those whose ancestors are said to have converted to Islam. The Ashraaf are further divided into four groupings, the Sayyid, the supposed descendants of the Prophet Mohammed, the Shaikh claiming descents from early Arab or Iranian settlers, the Mughal who claim descent from the Mughal Dynasty and finally the Pathan, who claim descents from Pashtun groups that have settled in India. Technically the first two groups intermarry with each other, while the latter two intermarry. Included sometimes in the ashraf category are Muslim Rajput groups such as the Ranghar and Khanzada. A third category, arzaal are supposed to be converts from from Hindu Dalit communities. However, the term arzaal is never used in Uttar Pradesh. Groups that tend to fall in this category include the Halalkhor and Lal Begi.[15] The reality is more complicated, with UP Muslims identifying themselves in smaller units called biradaris, which are localized lineage groupings. For example the Qidwai Shaikh are one such localized lineage group, concentrated in Barabanki District.[16]

Those communities falling within the ajlaf category were traditionally associated with the practice of a particular craft, for example the Ansari were weavers, while the Saifi were blacksmiths. These artisan communities also call themselves biradaries or brotherhoods in English, and each biradari is characterised by strict endogamy. In the older parts of town and cities in Uttar Pradesh, they are also characterised by residential segration. .[17] Among other traditional artisan biradaris in UP are the Behna, Bhatiara, Bhishti, Manihar, Dhobi, Muslim Halwai, Teli and Raj, which were at one time associated with a particular craft or trade. [18]

In addition to occupational specialization, both biradaris are also concentrated in a particular geographic area. For example, the Doab region to home to number of biradaris of peasant cultivators, such as the Baloch, Dogar, Garha, Gujjar, Jat, Jhojha, Kamboh, Rajput and Muslim Tyagi, often living in their own villages, and following distinct customs. Almost all these groups are Sunni, and speak Khari boli. While the region of Awadh is home to both large communities of Ansaris, Khanzadas and Shaikh, some of whom are Shia, and most speak Awadhi.[19]

The population is also further divided by linguistic divisions, most UP Muslims speak Urdu, but in addition tend also to speak a local dialect. Most biradaries in western Uttar Pradesh speak Khari boli, while those in Awadh speak Awadhi.


Here is brief description of the main communities. [20][21]

Community Sect Description Distribution
Abbasi Sunni a Shaikh biradari, mainly urban found mainly in Bulandshahr District, Farrukhabad District, Etawah District, Bareilly District, Moradabad District, Allahabad District, Kanpur District, Jaunpur District, Ballia District and Basti District
Ahbans Khanzada some Sunni, some Shia a community landowners and cultivators found mainly in Lakhimpur Kheri District and Hardoi District
Alavi largely Shia, some Sunni a Shaikh biradari found in Muzaffarnagar District, Allahabad District, Azamgarh District, Basti District and Lucknow District
Ansari Shaikh Sunni a Shaikh biradari, mainly urban Saharanpur District, Muzaffarnagar District, Meerut District, Bulandshahr District, Aligarh District, Agra District, Rohilkhand and Awadh
Ansari Momin Sunni a community of weavers found throughout Uttar Pradesh
Atishbaz Sunni a community of fireworks manufacturers found mainly in Awadh and Varanasi District
Bachgoti Khanzada Sunni, except the taluqdar families a community of landowners and cultivators mainly in Sultanpur District and Faizabad District
Baghban Sunni mainly cultivators Lakhimpur Kheri District and Sitapur District
Bais Sunni landowners and cultivators found in Shahjahanpur District, Fatehpur District, Banda District, Jaunpur District, Ghazipur District, Gorakhpur District, Basti District, Azamgarh District, Raebareli District, Sitapur District, Bahraich District, Faizabad District, Sultanpur District, Pratapgarh District and Barabanki District
Baluch Sunni landowners and cultivators found mainly in Saharanpur District, Muzaffarnagar District, Meerut District, Bulandshahr District, Aligarh District and Mathura District
Banjara Sunni traditionally a community of carriers, but now mainly landowners and cultivators. found mainly in the Doab and Rohilkhand. Also found in the districts of Unnao, Sitapur and Kheri districts of Awadh
Bandmati Sunni traditionally ropemakers found mainly in Saharanpur District
Bannu Israil Sunni a Shaikh biradari, mainly urban mainly in the Doab and Rohilkhand
Bansphor Sunni traditionally involved in the manufacture of bamboo furtniture found mainly in the Doab and Rohilkhand (Bijnor and Moradabad districts)
Barhai Sunni traditionally carpenters found in the Doab and Rohilkhand
Behlim Sunni Shaikh biradari, mainly urban found mainly in the Doab, with scattered communities in Gonda and Bahraich
Behna, also known as Dhuna Sunni traditionally cotton carders found in Awadh, Rohilkhand and Puravanchal
Bhale Sultan Khanzada mainly Shia, some Sunni mainly landowners and cultivators found in Bulandshahr District, Raebareli District, Faizabad District, Sultanpur District, Barabanki District, Gonda District, Bahraich District, Gonda District and Lakhimpur Kheri District
Bharbhunja Sunni traditionally grain parchers found mainly in the Doab, Rohilkhand and the districts of Sitapur, Bahraich, and Barabanki in Awadh
Bharsaiyan Sunni landowners and cultivators found mainly in Raebareli District
Bhatiara Sunni traditionally innkeepers, now many are cultivators and petty traders found throughout Uttar Pradesh, with concentrations in Aligarh, Badaun, Moradabad and Allahabad district
Bhatti Khanzada Sunni, except the taluqdar families who are Shia landowners and cultivators found mainly in the Doab, Rohilkhand and Barabanki, Pratapgarh and Bahraich districts of Awadh
Bhishti , also known as Saqqa Abbasi Sunni traditionally water carriers, now mainly traders found in Awadh, Rohilkhand and Awadh
Bhumihar Sunni landowners and cultivators found in Ghazipur District
Bisati Sunni traditionally pedlars and traders found mainly in the Doab and Rohilkhand
Bisen Khanzada some Shia, some Sunni landowners and cultivators found mainly in Basti District, Gorakhpur District, Azamgarh District, Raebareli District, Sitapur District, Faizabad District, Sultanpur District, Barabanki District, and Bahraich District
Chandel Khanzada some Shia, some Sunni landowners and cultivators found in Awadh
Chhipi Sunni traditionally dyers and cloth printers found in Rohilkhand and Doab
Chikwa Sunni traditionally mutton butchers found in Rohilkhand and Awadh
Churihar Sunni traditionally bangle makers found in Mathura District, Agra District, Lalitpur District and Jhansi District
Dabgar Sunni traditionally manufacturers of rawhide jars Meerut District, Etawah District, and Jhansi District
Dafali Sunni traditionally agricultural workers throughout Uttar Pradesh
Darzi Sunni traditionally tailors found throughout Uttar Pradesh
Dhagi traditionally weavers Sunni found in Saharanpur District, Muzaffarnagar District and Meerut District
Dharhi Shia traditionally musicians found throughout Uttar Pradesh
Dhobi, also known as Hawari Sunni traditionally washer men found throughout Uttar Pradesh
Dikhit Khanzada Sunni cultivators and landowners found mainly in Banda District, Ghazipur District and Fatehpur District
Dogar Sunni cultivators and landowners Muzaffarnagar District, Ghaziabad District, and Bulandshahr District
Fareedi Sunni a Shaikh biradari found in Fatehpur District, Kanpur District, Badaun District, Moradabad District, Shahjahanpur District and Lakhimpur Kheri District
Faqir Sunni traditionally ascetics, but also cultivators found throughout Uttar Pradesh
Gaddi Sunni cultivators found throughout Uttar Pradesh
Garha Sunni landowners and cultivators found in Saharanpur District, Muzaffarnagar District and Meerut District
Gautam Khanzada Sunni landowners and cultivators found in Fatehpur District, Ghazipur District, Azamgarh District, Banda District, Sitapur District, Gonda District, Lakhimpur Kheri District, Gonda District and Sultanpur District
Ghosi Sunni traditionally dairymen and cultivators found throughout Uttar Pradesh
Goriya Sunni cultivators found Basti District and Sidharthnagar District
Gujjar Sunni, except a few in Barabanki District who are Shis cultivators found in the Doab, Awadh and Bijnor District
Hajjam Sunni traditionally barbers found throughout Uttar Pradesh
Halwai Sunni traditionally barbers found throughout Uttar Pradesh
Halalkhor Sunni traditionally sweepers and agricultural labourers found throughout Uttar Pradesh
Iraqi Sunni traditionally petty traders found in Awadh, Allahabad District, Ghazipur District, Azamgarh District, Basti District, Ballia District, Jaunpur District and Mirzapur District
Ja'fri Sunni a Shaikh biradari
Jaga Shia musicians and genealogists Awadh and Rohilkhand
Jat Sunni landowners and cultivators found in Saharanpur District, Muzaffarnagar District, Meerut District, Baghpat District and Ghaziabad District
Jhojha Sunni landowners and cultivators found in Saharanpur District, Muzaffarnagar District and Bijnor District
Jogi Faqir Sunni traditionally ascetics, many are cultivators found throughout Uttar Pradesh
Johiya Khanzada Sunni landowners and cultivators found in Allahabad District
Kabaria Sunni cultivators found in Lucknow District, Barabanki District and Bahraich District
Kamangar Sunni traditionally manufactured bows found in Doab and Rohilkhand
Kamboh largely Sunni, some Shia landowners and cultivators found in the Doab and Rohilkhand, especially in Etah District
Kankali Sunni traditionally musicians found in northern Awadh and Gorakhpur
Kanmailia Sunni traditionally labourers found throughout Uttar Pradesh
Kasgar Sunni traditionally potters found in Awadh
Kayastha Sunni traditionally scribes and accountants, as well as landowners found in Allahabad District and Pratapgarh District
Khanzada landowners and cultivators found throughout eastern Uttar Pradesh
Khokhar Khanzada Sunni landowners and cultivators found in Moradabad District and Fatehpur District
Khumra Sunni were once millstone manufacturers found in the Doab and Rohilkhand
Kingharia Shia traditionally were singers and entertainers found in Mirzapur District, Banda District and Ghazipur District
Kumhar Sunni traditionally potters found throughout Uttar Pradesh
Kunjra Sunni landowners and cultivators found throughout Uttar Pradesh
Lal Begi, also known as Hasnati Shia traditionally sweepers and agricultural workers found throughout Uttar Pradesh
Lalkhani Sunni landowners and cultivators found in Aligarh District and Bulandshahr District
Madari Sunni traditionally ascetics found throughout Uttar Pradesh
Malkana Sunni landowners and cultivators found mainly in Agra District, Mathura District, Etah District and Mainpuri District
Mandarkia Sunni landowners and cultivators found in Sultanpur District
Manihar Sunni traditionally bangle makers found throughout Uttar Pradesh
Meo Sunni landowners and cultivators found in the Doab and Rohilkhand
Milki largely Sunni, some Shia Shaikh biradari mainly in Awadh, Allahabad District, Azamgarh District, Gorakhpur District and Basti District
Mirasi Shia traditionally singers found throughout Uttar Pradesh
Mughal largely Shia, some Sunni landowners and cultivators found throughout Uttar Pradesh
Mujavir Sunni custodians of the shrine of Syed Salar Masud found in Bahraich District
Muker Sunni traditionally carriers, now mainly cultivators found in Shahjahanpur District, Lakhimpur Kheri District, Bahraich District and Balrampur District
Nagar Muslims Sunni landowners and cultivators found mainly in Bulandshahr District
Nalband Sunni traditionally horseshoe manufacturers found in the Doab
Nanbai Sunni traditionally bakers found in Awadh, Shahjahanpur District and Fatehpur District
Naqqal Sunni traditionally mimes and entertainers found mainly in Awadh
Nat Sunni traditionally acrobats and entertainers found throughout Uttar Pradesh
Panchpiria Sunni found in Awadh
Pankhiya Sunni cultivators found in Shahjahanpur District, Hardoi District, Kanpur District, Allahabad District, Basti District and Azamgarh District
Pathans Sunni landowners and cultivators throughout Uttar Pradesh
Putliwale Sunni traditionally pupeteers in Awadh
Qalandar Sunni traditionally ascetics found in the Doab, Rohilkhand and Allahabad District
Qassab, also known as Qureshi Sunni traditionally butchers and hides merchants found throughout Uttar Pradesh
Qaum Punjaban, also known as Shamsi Biradari Sunni traditionally merchants found in Aligarh District, Agra District, Moradabad District, and Kanpur District
Qidwai some Shia, some Sunni Shaikh biradari found mainly in Barabanki District
Qureshi Sunni Shaikh biradari found throughout Uttar Pradesh
Raibhat Sunni, some Shia in Awadh traditionally genealogist found throughout Uttar Pradesh
Raj Sunni traditionally masons found in the Doab, Rohilkhand and Awadh
Ramaiya Sunni traditionally traders and peddlers found in Muzaffarnagar District and Bijnor District
Ranghar, also known as Rajput Muslims Sunni landowners and cultivators found in the Doab and Rohilkhand, with especial concentrations in Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar and Meerut
Rangrez Sunni traditionally dyers throughout Uttar Pradesh
Rayeen Sunni traditionally landowners and cultivators found in Saharanpur District, Muzaffarnagar District, Rampur District, Bareilly District and Pilibhit District
Rohella Sunni, a few Shia in Rampur District a community of landowners and cultivators found in Rohilkhand
Sadaat Amroha largely Shia, some Sunni mainly an urban community found in Jyotiba Phule Nagar District
Sadaat-e-Bilgram Shia landowners and cultivators found in Hardoi District and Fatehpur District
Sai Sunni a caste of ascetics found in Saharanpur District, Bijnor District, Lakhimpur Kheri District, Sitapur District, Bahraich District and Bahraich District
Saiqalgar Sunni traditionally metal polishers, now mainly petty traders found mainly in Awadh, also found in Saharanpur District and Aligarh District
Saifi Sunni traditionally ironsmiths mainly in the Doab and Rohilkhand
Sayyid largely Shia, some Sunni found throughout Uttar Pradesh
Shaikh mainly Sunni, some Shia among the Qidwai and Milki found throughout Uttar Pradesh
Shaikhzada Sunni landowners and cultivators found in Muzaffarnagar District and Saharanpur District
Sherwani Sunni landowners and cultivators found throughout in Bulandshahr District, Moradabad District and Aligarh District
Sikarwar Khanzada Sunni landowners and cultivators found in Ghazipur District, Azamgarh District, Gorakhpur District, Basti District, Faizabad District and Sultanpur District
Teli Sunni traditionally oil pressers, most of the Teli of the Doab and Rohilkhand are cultivators found throughout Uttar Pradesh
Turk Sunni landowners and cultivators found mainly in Rampur District and Bareilly District
Tyagi Sunni landowners and cultivators found mainly in Saharanpur District, Muzaffarnagar District, Bagpat District, Meerut District, Bijnor District and Moradabad District
Zamindara Sunni a community of landowners and cultivators mainly in Azamgarh District
haque sunni intellectual teacher and landowners  found in lucknow,agra,barelliy,ballia

Muslim Population by district

Here is a breakdown of the Muslim poulation by district according to the 2001 Census of India.[22]

Number District Headquarters Population (2001) Muslim population (2001) Percentage
1 Rampur Rampur 1,923,739 945,277 49%
2 Moradabad Moradabad 3,810,983 1,735,381 46%
3 Bijnor Bijnor 3,131,619 1,306,329 42%
4 Jyotiba Phule Nagar Amroha 1,499,068 590,308 39%
5 Saharanpur Saharanpur 2,896,863 1,132,919 39%
6 Muzaffarnagar Muzaffarnagar 3,543,362 1,349,629 38%
7 Balrampur Balrampur 1,682,350 617,675 37%
8 Bahraich Bahraich| 2,381,072 829,361 35%
9 Bareilly Bareilly 3,618,589 1,226,386 34%
10 Meerut Meerut 2,997,361 975,715 33%
11 Siddharthnagar Navgarh 2,040,085 600,336 29%
12 Shravasti Bhinga 1,176,391 301,117 26%
13 Bagpat Bagpat 1,163,991 287,871 25%
14 Ghaziabad Ghaziabad 3,290,586 782,915 24%
15 Pilibhit Pilibhit 1,645,183 390,773 24%
16 Sant Kabir Nagar Khalilabad 1,420,226 341,154 24%
17 Barabanki Barabanki 2,673,581 589,197 22%
18 Badaun Badaun 3,069,426 654,797 21%
19 Bulandshahr Bulandshahr 2,913,122 613,660 21%
20 Lucknow Lucknow 3,647,834 748,687 21%
21 Gonda Gonda 2,765,586 532,585 19%
22 Lakhimpur Kheri Kheri 3,207,232 612,638 19%
23 Mau Mau 1,853,997 353,003 19%
24 Sitapur Sitapur 3,619,661 696,126 19%
25 Aligarh Aligarh 2,992,286 531,956 18%
26 Shahjahanpur Shahjahanpur 2,547,855 455,049 18%
27 Kushinagar Padarauna 2,893,196 487,674 17%
28 Maharajganj Maharajganj 2,173,878 357,822 17%
29 Ambedkar Nagar Akbarpur 2,026,876 332,212 16%
30 Firozabad Firozabad 2,052,958 260,414 16%
31 Kannauj Kannauj 1,388,923 219,104 16%
32 Kanpur Nagar Kanpur 4,167,999 653,881 16%
33 Sultanpur Sultanpur 3,214,832 524,642 16%
34 Varanasi Varanasi 3,138,671 497,516 16%
35 Azamgarh Azamgarh 3,939,916 593,907 15%
36 Basti Basti 2,084,814 306,540 15%
37 Farrukhabad Fatehgarh 1,570,408 232,599 15%
38 Faizabad Faizabad 2,088,928 304,434 15%
39 Kaushambi Manjhanpur 1,293,154 174,698 14%
40 Pratapgarh Pratapgarh 2,731,174 374,126 14%
41 Allahabad Allahabad 4,936,105 627,735 13%
42 Fatehpur Fatehpur 2,308,384 307,047 13%
43 Gautam Buddha Nagar Noida 1,202,030 156,415 13%
44 Hardoi Hardoi 3,398,306 445,419 13%
45 Deoria Deoria 2,712,650 308,731 12%
46 Rae Bareli Rae Bareli 2,872,335 340,129 12%
47 Sant Ravidas Nagar Gyanpur 1,353,705 161,962 12%
48 Unnao Unnao 2,700,324 296,780 11%
49 Etah Etah 2,790,410 319,386 11%
50 Chandauli Chandauli 1,643,251 168,281 10%
51 Ghazipur Ghazipur 3,037,582 300,327 10%
52 Jalaun Orai 1,454,452 146,317 10%
53 Jaunpur Jaunpur 3,911,679 399,186 10%
54 Mahamaya Nagar Hathras 1,336,031 134,851 10%
55 Agra Agra 3,620,436 323,634 9%
56 Gorkakhpur Gorakhpur 3,769,456 344,960 9%
57 Kanpur Dehat Akbarpur 1,563,336 145,525 9%
58 Banda Banda 1,537,334 126,203 8%
59 Hamirpur Hamirpur 1,043,724 83,064 8%
60 Mathura Mathura 2,074,516 167,628 8%
61 Mirzapur Mirzapur 2,116,042 158,204 8%
62 Auraiya Auraiya| 1,179,993 83,719 7%
63 Ballia Ballia 2,761,620 181,553 7%
64 Etawah Etawah 1,338,871 95,926 7%
65 Jhansi Jhansi 1,744,931 129,785 7%
66 Mahoba Mahoba 708,447 47,335 7%
67 Mainpuri Mainpuri 1,596,718 84,577 5%
68 Sonbhadra Robertsganj 1,463,519 79,102 5%
69 Chitrakoot Chitrakoot 766,225 27,168 4%
70 Lalitpur Lalitpur 977,734 28,796 3%


The phrase Zaban-e Urdu-e Mualla ("The language of the exalted camp") written in Nastaʿlīq script.

What unite the various Muslim communities in Uttar Pradesh is the use of the Urdu language. Urdu has much in common with the Hindustani, as is thus mutually intelligible with Standard Hindi. The grammatical description in this article concerns this standard Urdu. The original language of the Mughals was Chagatai, a Turkic language, but after their arrival in South Asia, they came to adopt Persian. Gradually, the need to communicate with local inhabitants led to a composition of Sanskrit-derived languages, written in the Perso-Arabic script and with literary conventions and specialized vocabulary being retained from Persian, Arabic and Turkic; the new standard was eventually given its own name of Urdu.[23]

Urdu is often contrasted with Hindi, another standardised form of Hindustani. The main differences between the two are that Standard Urdu is conventionally written in Nastaliq calligraphy style of the Perso-Arabic script and draws vocabulary from Persian, Arabic, Turkish and local languages[24] while Standard Hindi is conventionally written in Devanāgarī and draws vocabulary from Sanskrit comparatively[25] more heavily. Most linguists nonetheless consider Urdu and Hindi to be two standardized forms of the same language;[26][27] others classify them separately,[28] while some consider any differences to be sociolinguistic.[29] It should be noted, however, that mutual intelligibility decreases in literary and specialized contexts. Furthermore, due to religious nationalism since the partition of British India and consequent continued communal tensions, native speakers of both Hindi and Urdu increasingly assert them to be completely distinct languages.

Later on, during the Mughal Empire, the development of Urdu was further strengthened and started to emerge as a new language.[30] The official language of the Ghurids, Delhi Sultanate, the Mughal Empire, and their successor states, as well as the cultured language of poetry and literature, was Persian, while the language of religion was Arabic. Most of the Sultans and nobility in the Sultanate period were Turks from Central Asia who spoke Turkic as their mother tongue. The Mughals were also from Central Asia, they spoke Turkish as their first language; however the Mughals later adopted Persian. Persian became the preferred language of the Muslim elite of north India before the Mughals entered the scene. Babur's mother tongue was a Turkic language and he wrote exclusively in Turkish. His son and successor Humayun also spoke and wrote in this Turkic language. Muzaffar Alam, a noted scholar of Mughal and Indo-Persian history, asserts that Persian became the lingua franca of the empire under Akbar for various political and social factors due to its non-sectarian and fluid nature.[31]

Urdu's vocabulary remains heavily influenced by the Persian language.[32] Since the 1800s, English started to replace Persian as the official language in India and it also contributed to influence the Urdu language. As of today, Urdu's vocabulary is strongly influenced by the English language.


Traditional North Indian Muslim cuisine

The Uttar Pradesh Muslims clung to their old established habits and tastes, including a numberless variety of dishes and beverages. The Mughal and Indo-Iranian heritage played an influential role in the making of their cuisine, having taste vary from mild to spicy and is often associated with aroma. There cuisine tends to use stronger spices and flavors. Most of a dastarkhawan dining table include chapatti, rice, dal, vegetable and meat curry. Special dishes include biryani, qorma, kofta, seekh kabab, Nihari and Haleem, Nargisi Koftay, Kata-Kat, Rogani Naan, Naan, sheer-qurma (sweet), qourma, chai (sweet, milky tea), paan, and other delicacies associated with North Indian Muslim culture.


  1. ^ Indian Census 2001 - Religion
  2. ^ a b c Muslim Peoples: volume 2: A World Ethnographic Survey edited by Richard Weekes pages 823 to 828
  3. ^ Population geography of Muslims of India by N. A Siddiqui
  4. ^ Muslims in India edited by Zafar Imam Orient Longman
  5. ^ Muslim Caste in Uttar Pradesh: A Study in Culture Contact by Ghaus Ansari
  6. ^ a b The Caste System of North India by E A H Blunt, first edition in 1931 by Oxford University Press
  7. ^ The Rise and Decline of the Ruhela by Iqbal Hussain
  8. ^ a b The crisis of empire in Mughal north India : Awadh and the Punjab, 1707-48 / Muzaffar Alam
  9. ^ Separatism among Indian Muslims : the politics of the United Provinces' Muslims 1860-1923 / Francis Robinson
  10. ^ Legacy of a divided nation: India's Muslims since independence By Mushirul Hasan
  11. ^ a b The Production of Hindu-Muslim Violence in Contemporary India By Paul R. Brass
  12. ^ Identity and Identification in India: Defining By Laura Dudley Jenkins
  13. ^ Barth, Fredrik (1962). "The System Of Social Stratification In Swat, North Pakistan". In E. R. Leach. Aspects of Caste in South India, Ceylon, and North-West Pakistan. Cambridge University Press. p. 113. Retrieved 2007-06-12. 
  14. ^ Caste and social stratification among Muslims in India, edited by Imtiaz Ahmad.
  15. ^ Basic problems of OBC & Dalit Muslims / edited by Ashfaq Husain Ansari.
  16. ^ Muslim Caste in Uttar Pradesh (A Study of Culture Contact), Ghaus Ansari, Lucknow, 1960
  17. ^ Boundaries and identities : Muslims, work and status in Aligarh / E. A. Mann. SBN/ISSN 0-8039-9422-2
  18. ^ People of India. Uttar Pradesh, general editor, K.S. Singh; editors, Amir Hasan, B.R. Rizvi, J.C. Das.I SBN/ISSN 8173041148 (set)
  19. ^ People of India. Uttar Pradesh / general editor, K.S. Singh; editors, Amir Hasan, B.R. Rizvi, J.C. Das.I SBN/ISSN 8173041148 (set)
  20. ^ People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part One, Part Two and Part Three, edited by A Hasan & J C Das Manohar Publications
  21. ^ Tribes and Castes of North Western Provinces and Oudh by William Crook Volume I to IV
  22. ^
  23. ^ Hindi By Yamuna Kachru
  24. ^ "Bringing Order to Linguistic Diversity: Language Planning in the British Raj". Language in India. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  25. ^ "A Brief Hindi - Urdu FAQ". sikmirza. Archived from the original on 2007-12-02. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  26. ^ "Hindi/Urdu Language Instruction". University of California, Davis. Archived from the original on 2008-04-05. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  27. ^ "Ethnologue Report for Hindi". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2008-02-26. 
  28. ^ The Annual of Urdu studies, number 11, 1996, “Some notes on Hindi and Urdu, pp.204
  29. ^ "Urdu and it's Contribution to Secular Values". South Asian Voice. Retrieved 2008-02-26. 
  30. ^ [1]
  31. ^ Alam, Muzaffar. "The Pursuit of Persian: Language in Mughal Politics." In Modern Asian Studies, vol. 32, no. 2. (May, 1998), pp. 317–349.
  32. ^ [2]

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