Origins of our Caste System: Hindu Jaat or Arab Kafa’a?
It has often been said that the Caste System (or Racism, Tribalism, Casteism, Classism) in Pakistan is merely a left-over from the Hindu past and that having separated from Hindu-India, Pakistan will very soon eliminate all this to become a truly egalitarion Islamic Society.
But it this true? Does our Caste System (or Racism, Tribalism, Casteism, Classism) really originate in the pre-Islamic Hindu society from which Pakistan was formed?
Or do at least parts of it come from the Arab Caste System (or Racism, Tribalism, Casteism, Classism)?
After all, most Pakistanis who have lived in the GCC countries have experienced the painful fact that the Arabs do not consider us to be their equals. They will not allow Pakistani Muslim men to marry Arab women. Even amongst themselves, they are well-known to be obsessed with their lineage and the lineage of all the people they know.
And this is not something new that came after the Oil Boom. This is a traditional approach, that is actually encoded in Shariah as follows–
QUESTION: What exactly is kafa’a (suitability) in marriage?
ANSWER: Suitability (kafa’a) for marriage is considered in six things:
1. Lineage, if the two parties are of Arab origin;
Arabs, according to the fuqaha, are those whose lineage is established to go back to one of the Arab tribes. Others are considered non-Arab (`ajami).
All of Quraysh (whether sayyid or non-sayyid) are considered suitable for each other.
All Arabs are considered suitable for each other, except that non-Qurayshis are not considered suitable for Qurayshis.
Non-Arabs are not suitable matches for Arabs.
Lineage is not considered for non-Arabs.
Muslim ancestry is considered in non-Arabs, but not in Arabs.
Among non-Arabs, then, Muslim ancestry is considered with respect to father and paternal grandfather only.
Someone Muslim whose father is not Muslim is not a suitable match for someone whose father is Muslim.
Someone Muslim whose father is Muslim but paternal grandfather is not Muslim is not a suitable match for someone whose father and paternal grandfather are both Muslim.
Free-man status is considered in non-Arabs, but not in Arabs.
Among non-Arabs, then, Free-man ancestry is considered with respect to father and paternal grandfather only.
Someone who is a free-man (non-slave) but whose father is not a free-man is not a suitable match for someone whose father is a free-man.
Someone who is a free-man (non-slave) with a free-man father but a slave grandfather is not is not a suitable match for someone whose father and paternal grandfather are both free-men.
This entails the suitor possessing:
a) the amount of mahr (dowry) that is customarily given up front, and
b) a month’s support for the wife, if without a job, or being able to provide for the wife daily if with a job.
Beyond this, having little or much wealth is of no consideration in terms of suitability.
A religiously corrupt man is not suitable for a righteous woman with a righteous father.
A religiously corrupt man is suitable for a religiously corrupt woman, whether she has a righteous father or not.
This is considered in other than Arabs, and among Arabs who themselves work [i.e. as opposed to owning business interests, for example].
If the profession of the suitor and the woman’s father are similar in social standing, then he is considered a suitable match.
If the profession of the suitor and the woman’s father are disparate in social standing, then the suitor with a comparatively low profession is not considered suitable for someone of a high profession.
The customs of each land are considered in terms of the social standing of different professions.
In my political-religious ideology, Pakistani men are allowed Arab wives, but not the other way around. Of course, religion is more important than lineage.