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🇮🇳 Dalit Muslims of India | Al Jazeera World



For centuries India’s social structure was built around a rigid Hindu caste system. While the caste system was constitutionally abolished in 1950, its legacy still deeply affects contemporary Indian society.

The Hindu population, around 84 percent of the 1.2 billion people that live in the country, is still influenced by the four main traditional castes, which also have their own sub-sects: Brahmins, the priestly and academic class; Kshatriya, the warrior caste; Vaishya, which comprises the business community; and Shudra, the working class.

Outside these four groups are others, including the Dalits, who are at the bottom of the hierarchy.

Dalits have traditionally done jobs considered ritually impure, like garbage collection, street sweeping, the cremation of dead bodies and the disposal of human waste.

With Dalits continuing to face prejudice and discrimination within their own communities, some try to find social acceptance by converting to Buddhism, Christianity, Sikhism or Islam.

“It bothers me whenever I introduce myself. People ask about my surname,” says Rakesh, who’s a dhobi, the washerman caste.

Rakesh has converted to Islam and changed his name to Ali Kanojia.

“I tell them my name is Rakesh. They ask, ‘Rakesh what?’ They normally ask you this at a Hindu’s house,” he says.

But conversion is not simply a way out – prejudices still carry over into other religions. Many converts face resistance and even violence from their families or the communities they were born into and the new chosen faith can pose a different set of challenges – like those faced by Ali Kanojia from his own family.

“It’s not easy to convert to Islam,” he says. “They [the family] say it’s not right. I ask, Why? They say it’s because Muslims have a bad reputation.”

Abdulrahman Bharti’s conversion to Islam almost cost him his life.

“I got shot by Hindu people from the Sawar clan … . When a person converts, the new religion welcomes them, but people from the old religion try to stop them. If they can’t, they’ll try to kill them. This happened to me,” says Bharti who was shot in the chest and leg.

After independence in 1947, the Indian government introduced positive discrimination in favour of low caste groups, but not everyone enjoys the same benefits.

It’s a highly complex benefit structure with certain jobs, education opportunities and political representation reserved for different social and religious groups.

The Reservation Act covers a wide range of eventualities, but for Dalits the disadvantages of conversion may arguably outweigh the advantages, especially when it comes to jobs.

“The protection includes Sikhs and Jains, and Buddhists, but it doesn’t include Christians and Muslims, so what happens is that they get excluded from those – the quotas for SCs [Scheduled Castes],” says Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director for Human Rights Watch.

Kanojia, for instance, has not been able to get a government job.

“If you don’t have a lower caste certificate you won’t get a reserved job. I don’t have the lower caste certificate. My parents were illiterate and had little understanding of things… I can’t get a job anywhere,” says Kanojia.

Set primarily in Mumbai and in the Madhya Pradesh countryside, this film provides an insight into conversion to other religions – the social reformer and principal architect of the Indian constitution, BR Ambedkar, was born a Dalit and converted to Buddhism and many followed in his footsteps – and the processes for finalising conversions.

We hear the personal stories of different Dalit Muslims and the campaign of one man, descended from Muslim converts, to end garbage picking and discrimination against Dalits in Madhya Pradesh.

This is part of a broader struggle where castes, clans and religions determine the course of millions of lives.

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20 comments

  1. And they say India is a necular super power ahead on technology etc but its so backwards nothing is surprising when it comes to India

  2. Only economic uplift of dalits can give that social respect

  3. Other Religion don't our enemies !!! Muslim Cristhian Jewish Buddhism Hinduism And many other it's God Relegion !!! Beliver people Kind of God

  4. All humans are equal in Islam

  5. Pakistan has clearly succeeded in creating equality among all it's people. It is not perfect but no one can even imagine treating another Pakistani as a low class or inferior based on cast.. Pakistan has been chosen as one of the least racist country in the world almost as a western nation. That's a huge achievement.

  6. Do upper cast Muslim marry their daughters to lower cast Muslim..?

  7. Caste system is purely an absurd system its same as racial practice in stratified form ….. abolished the root i.e. the caste everything will fall on line ….

  8. They are our brothers now they can be our leaders, even imam of holy Kaaba. They are servant of Allah SWT , follower of Holy prophet Mahammad ( peace be upon him ). And they are no more dalit.

  9. Bhai Dharam koe bhi ho insaniyat he sab se bada Dharam hai

  10. They are not dalit Muslim they r one and only Muslim in utter Pradesh some Muslim people are discriminate Muslim they r fools they r unknowledgeable Muslim Islam each equally love and peace..if you go gulf or Europe you will not find this ..

  11. एक किताब जिसका नाम किताब अल कायदा है,उसमे लिखा हुआ है कि अगर कोई काले रंग का गुलाम इस्लाम कबूल कर ले ,अल्लाह पर ईमान ले आए तो और किसी जी परस्ती ना करे तो उसे आजाद कर के खेत में बीज डालने का हक मिलता है।और उस खेती मेे से अपने हिस्से का 2.50% हिसा खुद काट कर अपने पास रखने का हक मिलता है।बाकी का हिस्सा खुद जी जमींदार या खेत मालिक है या लगान वसूलने वाला है वहीं अपने करिंदे भेजकर लेे लेगा। अगर काले रंग के यही गुलाम गैराल्लाह की इबादत करता है,उनकी परस्ती करते है।जादू करते है तो उसे हमेशा अल्लाह सजा देता है और उसे बदतरीन मुनाफिकीन कुफ्फार , बदतरीन मुनाफिकीन फाजिरीन और बदतरीन मुनाफिकीन फासिकीन लोगो के मुल्क मेे गुलाम बनाकर सजा देता है।और उन्हें हमेशा दीन से ख़वारिज करवा देता है।

  12. अल्लाह ने इस्लाम में लिखा है कि को मुस्लिम गोरे काले का भेद करता है वो भी बिना वजह वो हमेशा सजा पाता है फ़रिश्ते जिब्राइल से।पर खुद नबी ने एक बार कहा कि ये काले रंग का शक्स कौन है,तो वो बोला कि ये शैतान है।और इसे पत्थर मार कर अपने राज्य से भगा दो।उस शियतां को ही नबी ने बुराई कहा था ।पर आज मुस्लिम कौम मेे वहीं शैतान की बुराई आती जा रही है।खास तौर पर काले और गोरे का भेद बढ़ रहा है।नबी के मुताबिक जो सबसे घटिया आदमी इस्लाम मेे होगा,जिसे अल्लाह नापसंद करता है।वो काले रंग के अपने गुलामी करनेवाले गुलामों को अपने से दूर करेगा।और हमेशा बदतरीन फासिकीन, फाजिरीन काम करेगा।हमेशा दीन इस्लाम की जब को खोखला करेगा।मैंने एक फासिकीन के सरदार अबुल खलील अल बग़दादी से पूछा कि क्या काले रंग के गुलाम को तुम आजाद क्यूं भी करते है ,तो उसने कहा कि या रसुलाल्लाह गुलाम खरीदना और बेचना मेरा धंधा है।मैंने आपस से दुश्मनी तब लि टी।जब मुझे आप के बारे मेे पता भी नहीं था।पर जब आप ने अंसार को साथ लेकर कुरैश को जंग मेे हराया तो सभी कुछ बदल गया।ये अंसार भरोसे के लायक नहीं।आप फौरन इन्हे दफा करे।तब मैंने बिलाल को बुलाकर एक चाबुक दिया और उस फासिकीन के सरदार को 3 कोडे लगाने को कहा।उसी वक़्त बिलाल ने उसे माफ फरमाने की कहा तो मैंने उस फासिकीन को मक्का और मदीना और तमाम इस्लामिक हकुमत से जाने को कहा।और उसका सारा माल जब्त कर लिया।और बिलाल को दे दिया।सारे खजूरों के बाग बिलाल के हो गए।पर बिलाल ने कहा कि या रसूल खजूर का काम उसके काले रंग के गुलाम करेंगे और उन खजूरों को उगाएंगे भी हमारे गुलाम ही।दौलत ये मुनाफिकीन पाएंगे।

  13. this is the real face of india….

  14. Dont Come with this policy of Divide & Rule Maderchod Britishers…

  15. Lot of faces of india unfortunately all facec are dark,no democracy, no justice, no rules no humanity
    I'm proud to be a Pakistani Muslim Alhumdulillah
    (Be shakk Islam ghalib aa kar rahy ga)(Al Qura'an)

  16. Caste system is one of the evils of Hindu religion that still exists in the society. Caste system is nothing but isolating the low castes from the society. It divides people within the Hindu fold. The condition of low caste people has been miserable. Low castes people has always suffered the Brahminical oppression.

    Oppression by Brahmins made low castes people embrace other faiths especially Islam.

    Islam came in India as a savior to the low castes. The low castes were attracted towards the equality given in Islam unlike Hinduism which discriminated people based on their birth.
    ٌ
    "O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted." [Qur'an 49:13]

  17. Salam my Muslim dalit brothers,you all r great,our true brothers,love from Pakistan.

  18. From this documentary I have known that People haven't shown animosity with god… It is a problem with people have with people…. May the new god bring peace to them…………Let's not politicize gods….. This is too much for the sixth sense and mankind……

  19. Bhai log Zara btana iski channel ki funding Kon krta hai

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