According to the Census of 1961 the Muslim population of Dhulia numbers 76.040 (Males 38,894: Females 37,146). This is nearly 5.56 per cent, of the total population. Most of these are classified as Sayyads, Saikhs, Pathans and Moghals. Apart from these. There are sections of population among Muslims who go by the names of their traditional occupations like Attars, Maniars, Nalbands and Tambolis. Most of these were originally Hindus but alter conversion to Islam, whether voluntarily or under duress, they adopted the family name of Sayyad, Saikh or Pathan from the religious, military or civil leader under whom they were converted.
Except the Sia Bohoras and Khojas and a few who have become Wahabis. all profess to be Sunnis. In common behaviour and even in appearance,
they are like their Hindu brethren in various callings and occupations.
The community of traders of Dawoodi Bohoras who are sias of the Islamia sect and followers of the Mullaji Saheb who had formerly his headquarters at Surat have now shifted to Bombay. With a strain of Arab and Persian blood in some of them, they are chiefly descendants of converts of Nagars and Banias of North
Gujarat. They are easily distinguished from other Muslims by their small tightly bound white or golden turbans and skull caps as also by their flowing white robes and loose trousers widening from the ankles upwards and fastened round the waist into puckers with a string. Their language is Gujarati. They marry among themselves. In most important towns they have their own mosques; they do not attend Sunni mosques. The Mulla conducts their marriage, death and other ceremonies. Bohoras are supposed to pay an annual contribution of one fifth of their incomes to the Mullaji Saheb. They are all traders dealing chiefly in iron and hardware goods.
Marriage and Morals.
Among Dhulia Muslims offers of marriage come from the parents of the marriageable boy. The boy's father first spots a girl and if the girls father is willing both of them consult the Kazi and the
Maulvi over the birth stars of the boy and the girl. There is nothing like prohibited degrees preventing marriages. First cousins are joined in wedlock, the only restriction being that the bride and the groom must not have fed at the breasts of the same mother: If the stars are found favourable, they settle as to what the boy's father should pay the girl's father as dowry for the girl. The girl's father usually spends the sum on the marriage. If both parties are well off, no such transactions take place. Girls of poor and middle class families are married earlier but among the rich marriages are usually delayed over finding suitable matches. Caste endogamy and observation of some Hindu marriage customs still prevail, particularly in rural areas among the unsophisticated. Betrothal usually takes place a year before the wedding. A Kazi is present at the betrothal. On this occasion which is usually a selected auspicious hour, the bridegroom sends a bride the present of a green coloured sadi and bodice piece to match and an ornament like the todas, to be worn on the anklets and he receives in return from the bride's father a turban, a ring and a cloth piece. When the wedding day approaches, a pandal is erected in front of the house and the muhurtamedh is planted just as Hindus do. The rajjaka ceremony is performed at night, the main item of which is recital of songs in praise of god and beating of drums by women of the household and relatives and often by professional players. While this revelry goes on. gulgulas and rahims heaped in a pyramid shape in two big plates are kept, the former by the bride and the latter by the groom. Gulgulas are small stuffed wheat cakes and rahims are boiled rice Hour balls made with milk, sugar and rose water. After offering red cotton cord, flowers and burnt incense to the pyramids of these sweets, they are broken and the cakes and balls are distributed among the women. Next day, a woman with her husband alive marks the groom's clothes with turmeric paste. This is done without the knowledge of the boy and is therefore known as corhalad. This is followed in the evening by savhalad i.e., public turmeric ceremony in which the bride and the groom are rubbed with turmeric paste, each separately and one after the other. This is followed by the biyapari feast at which incense is burnt in the name of Allah and the bride and the groom pray and salute all present. Friends and relatives make presents of clothes to the parents of the bride and the groom. This is akin to the aher custom among Hindus. A feast of pulav (special rice cooked with mutton) or mutton and
capati is served to the guests. The next ceremony is telmendi i.e. applying oil and henna paste. This is brought from the bride's house by her sister or by some one who is like a sister. She sits behind a curtain and rubs it on the groom's palms and gets a money present. The remaining henna paste is then applied to the palms and soles of the bride.
Muslim marriages are usually solemnised at night. About 10 O'clock, the groom's kinsmen and friends seat him on horseback and accompany him in procession to the bride's house. The groom is dressed in a jama i.e., a long coat and a mandil (turban) and a cloak
of jasmine or similar white flowers is thrown on his body from top to toe. The procession reaches the marriage pandal or hall and processionists are received by the bride's kinsmen and seated. The Kazi is then called to register the marriage. Two male agents called Vakils and two witnesses, one for the bride and one for the groom, stand before the Kazi and declare that they have agreed to the proposed marriage and are ready to hear evidence. Before making this declaration, they approach the bride, formally repeat the name and age of the bridegroom and ask her whether she is willing to accept him as her married partner. After she has given her assent, they declare it to the Kazi and the guests present. The Kazi then asks the groom and the bride's father to sit facing each other and hold each other's right hand and registers the marriage. The sum stipulated as dowry to the girl is also registered. The bridegroom announces before all present that he has taken the bride for his wife with the said sum of dowry. The bride's father repeats the announcement. This done, the groom embraces his father-in-law and salutes every one present. Then there is a music and dance party till early hours of the next day. About daybreak the bride's brother calls the bridegroom to the women's apartment. The new couple is asked to sit side by side on a raised seat and look into each other's face. While they are thus seated the Kazi takes a little sugar, puts it on the bride's right shoulder and asks the groom whether he finds the sugar sweeter than his wife. He says the sugar is sweet, but the wife is sweeter than sugar and the Koran is the sweetest. The couple look at each other's face in a mirror, place their hands on the backs of either and make a bow to Allah five times. If they are literate, they read the chapter on Islam from the Koran. The bride then leaves the groom who stays in the pandal or hall till the varat or home-going procession time. In this procession it is customary to seat the bride in a carriage and the groom riding a horse escorts his wife home. When they reach the front gate of their house, they are welcomed by the groom's sisters and cousins who before letting him go in, take his promise that he would give his daughter in marriage to a son of one of them. Although most Muslims are monogamous, plurality of wives is allowed.
Most Muslims do not attend the mosque daily for prayers, but they do so on occasions like Ramzan and Bakri-Id. Yet they are particular to join public prayers and most of them fast during Ramzan. The traditional religious functionaries of the Muslims are the Kazi who now chiefly acts as the Marriage register, the Khatib or preacher, the Mulla or Maulana that is priest and the Mujawar, beadle. Even these officers have now almost disappeared and the mosque services are now led by any learned or prominent man or Maulavi who is usually a lawyer. The Banji who cries Alla ho Akbar five times a day from the turret of the mosque and calls the faithful to the prayers is invariably employed even in the humblest of mosques. Muslims believe in pirs or saints to whom they pray for children or for health and offer sacrifices and gifts to them.
It is the aspiration of every Muslim to become a haji by making a haj i.e. pilgrimage to Mecca and bow to the Kaaba but few can afford to do so.
Muslims believe in Satvai like Hindus for on the sixth day of the
birth of a child, a silver human tooth and a small silver sickle are
worshipped as her symbol. The tooth and the sickle are placed in a winnowing fan with a platter containing the heart and head of a goat and boiled rice, some coconut kernel, two betel leaves, a betel-nut and a marking-nut with a needle through it for the Satvai to write the fate of the newly born. A feast is given to friends and relatives. The family is regarded as ceremonially unclean for forty days after child birth. The mother is given a ceremonial bath on that day and a new dress is given to her. She is also given new glass bangles. Feasts of pulav and banga (i.e. rice and mutton respectively cooked together and separately) are given to friends and kinsmen. In the evening the child is given new little clothes and its hands and feet are decorated with silver trinkets. Women gather near the cradle, rock it and give the child a name which is chosen by the Kazi in conformity with the position of the stars at the time of its birth. Before naming the child, a piece of sandalwood is wrapped in a napkin, waved about the cradle and passed from one woman to another with the words, 'Take this moon and give the sun'. After repeating this several times, they lay the piece of wood by the side of the babe and name the child.
An important Muslim sacrament for males is circumcision or sunta. It is performed at any time between a male child's third and twelfth year, but it is always thought that the younger the age, the better it is for the child. The ceremony, if elaborately gone through, may extend over three or four days. A pandal is erected as on the occasion of a wedding and the boy to be circumcised is rubbed with turmeric paste for two days. A biyapari feast is held. on the second day when women, friends and relations are invited and five women with their husbands alive are asked to fast and are treated to a special dinner after the fast is over. On the third day, the boy is given a ceremonial bath, dressed in jama and a sultan sera i.e., a veil made of net-work of flowers and is taken in a procession to the mosque to offer prayers. On return home, after midday meals, he is seated on a raised seat and the barber who is called Nabi (prophet) or Khalifa (ruler) calls out 'Din Din' and skilfully performs the circumcision. Next day the barber washes the wound, turns up the foreskin with a wooden instrument called ghodi and applies oil to the wound. He is given a suitable fee for his services. In most families, the ceremony is finished in a day. Instead of going to the mosque, the ceremony is also performed at home in the presence of a Kazi. The wound heals in about two weeks. To celebrate the recovery also, a feast is given, but the tendency of late is to cut down the ceremony to the shortest duration possible and not much fuss is made about it. The Bismilla (Initiator) and akica (sacrifice) are now-a-days not much cared for, partly owing to ignorance of the scripture and partly because of poverty.
Burying the dead is invariably the custom among Muslims. When
a Muslim dies, some near relations accompanied by a Mulla purchase
a shroud 75 feet long for a man and 90 feet long for a woman and
other things necessary for a funeral viz., rose water, scents, sulphurate
of antimony, frankincense and yellow earth and a flowernet when the
dead person is a female. The dead body is washed with hot water boiled with bor and promegranate leaves and then with soap nut water and laid on the back on a wooden board. The Mulla writes the creed about the greatness of Allah from the Koran in aloe powder on the chest and forehead of the dead and puts pieces of camphor at all joints of the body. The body is then wrapped in a shroud and placed in a bier called janaja and taken to the graveyard. While going there all mourners who are only men recite Kalma-i Sahadat and verses from the Koran. The bearers keep on constantly changing. At the Idga, prayer place, everybody prays. The corpse is then taken to the grave and buried. Everybody helps by throwing in some earth. The grave is closed and retiring forty paces from there, they again pray for the dead. These prayers are called khatmas, last prayers. All come back to the house of the dead, repeat the khatmas and go home. No food is cooked in the home of the dead on this day. It is provided by others. On the third day, there is the ziarat when flowers and sabja are placed on the whitewashed grave. Feasts are held on the fortieth day. Maulad i.e., reading of the Koran are gone through. The Mulla is paid for his services in connection with the funeral. On this day, a garland of flowers is kept hanging from the centre of the roof on a large platter filled with a number of savoury dishes. The mourners burn incense before the platter and offer prayers for the soul of the dead. At the funeral feast, tobacco is not tabooed but no pan is eaten. Muhammedan law prescribes only one form of mourning in the case of the head of the house viz., his widow should remain in strict seclusion. This lasts for four months and ten days.