Many studies have shown that Muslim society was also strongly hierarchized and divided into social groups of varying status.
This article will review the apparent reappropriation of a specifically Hindu institution by the Muslims of South Asia.
We shall first examine how this particular system of stratification by status works, and how South Asian Islam has built up a body of sources that legitimize the Muslim social order, before looking at the way in which it has given rise to a number of struggles over classification.
Finally, we shall complete this introduction to Muslim castes by presenting the debates that centre on the future inclusion of Muslims in the reservation system (quotas) used by the Indian government.
Certain reformist schools of thought such as the Deobondi and Barelvi movements have often made use of this concept even today to legitimize the importance of caste in South Asian Islam.
Given that kafa’ah is hereditary, it enables the superiority of Ashrafs in relation to other groups within the Muslim social space to continue, beyond its role in drawing up marriage contracts.
Rémy Delage shows us the extent to which caste categories are important for understanding the social organization of Muslims in the region.Since equality between Muslims applies only if at least the father and grandfather are Muslims, marriage therefore becomes impossible between a young Muslim whose family converted fewer than two generations ago and another Muslim.However, this egalitarian view of Islam contrasts sharply with the functioning of Muslim society in the Indian sub-continent, whether medieval or modern, in which principles of hierarchization and deeply unequal relations govern.However, it can only be partly likened to the Hindu caste system, which is primarily based on criteria of ritual purity and hierarchization particular to Hinduism.For a time, the opposition between egalitarian Islam and hierarchical Hinduism was the cornerstone of the debate between supporters and opponents of Dumontian theory.