Evolution of kinship and clans among Manipuri Muslims
Evolution of kinship and clan system among Manipuri Muslim
Corvee Labour (Lallup) to Functional Divisions of Labour (Loyamba Shinlen) Perspectives
- Part 1 -
By: Imam Khan Makhjummayum *
In the age of silk route trade and ancient globalization, other than the main Silk Route across Central Asia connecting Roman and Arab lands and China, there was also another lesser known silk route passing through Manipur along which Brahmanism, Buddhism, Nestorian, Christianity and Islam traversed to reach East Asia and Southeast Asia.
There were both land silk route and sea silk route. From the sea silk routes, Arabs were sea-farers and explorers who converted an ancient Kerala king named Perumal to Islam, coastal people of Bengal delta, and some Nagara Brahmans of Sylhet embraced Islam in post-Harsha period in c. 655 AD who learnt the art of paper-making and silk-craft (sericulture) from the Chinese who participated in the trans-Asiatic trade, and Manipur valley was an entrepot and meeting place of Indo-Aryans and Mongoloid races.
Manipur traced their first king to Nongda Lairen Pakhangba (33-154 AD) to whose period is attributed the intermingling of at least nine racial (ethnic) ethnic groups known as Salai, and by the period of king Naophang Ahal period (594-624 AD) there existed on record two known racial groups (Salai) of Pasha and Pathan who were variously described as Turushka, Mlechhas, Aribahs in Vaishnavite literature or known as Passi, Ta-shih and Ta-t'sin in Tang period Chinese accounts, or known as Pangals, Khalazi, Aribam, Pasha, Turushka, Pasa, Pathan in Manipuri Meitei accounts (Puyas). There was Aribam clan in Naophang Ahal period (624 d.) period and Aribam, Makak, Khullakpam, Merai clans in Naophang Ahal period (624-714 AD).
Almost all Pangal (Manipuri Muslim) clans- numbering upto 62 so far, are patrilineal (Piba lineage) in nomenclature except in the case of two clans. There were matrilineal clans- Chesam and Phisam, and patrilineal clans as Aribam, Khullakpam, Makakmayum, Solaimayum which were apparent in king Irengba period of 10th century. An Arab account Hudud al-Alam (982 AD) described 'Manipur' as 'Manak' and Al-Beruni (1030 AD) called 'Manipur' or its neighbour as 'Udayagiri' in his Kitabul Hind.
The term 'Bangal' is derived from 'Bang'. 'Pangal' is derived from 'Pang' tribe who embraced Islam like the Nagara Brahmans did in Sylhet in early 7th century AD. This was possible because there was early form of globalization of trade involving Romans, Greeks, Arabs, Persians, Indics, Bengals, Chinese peoples well in the 7th century.
G. Kabui et al noted: "Muslim traders and explorers established an early global economy across the world resulting in globalization of crops, trade, knowledge and technology. During the Mongol Empire there was greater integration along the Silk Road. Such integration continued through the expansion of European trade in the 16th and 17th centuries when the Portuguese and the Spanish empires expanded to the then recently discovered America. Globalization had tremendous impact on indigenous cultures around the world". From the matrilineal side, Manipuri Muslims are indigenous people speaking Manipuri, wearing Manipuri clothes and taking local food habits conforming to Islamic tenets.
The Panchayat report of 1932 tried to group the then 51 clans under four major groups (Salai or heritage) as- Shaikh, Syed, Pathan and Mughal which was plausible and incorrect. However, it was compelled due to the British historiography that grouped the Muslims as- Pathan, Shaikh, Syed, Bengal, Mughals etc in frontier Bengal and Brahmaputra-Barak region.
The British however identified the Muslim population of Manipur as belonging to Sunni group of Hannafi school of thought after perusing the Shariat system as provided in the Personal Law Board of the Pangals (Muslims) and some Muslim chiefs were made members of the Manipur Durbar of the king under British suzerainty (1891-1949).
'Corvee labour', functional division of labour, confederate:
"Corvee labour" refers to the "obligatory service by subjects due to the kingdom or military service for the king" especially in old period. The historic "Lallup" of erstwhile Manipur kingdom and "Paik" that of Assam would mean this "corvee labour". Most of the Pangal clans (yumnak or sagei) were named from the epistemology that developed out of functional division of labour in horizontal effect not vertical-hierarchical model.
There are four Panas as groups (whether 'social divisions' or 'revenue divisions' or 'military group" are not clearly explicable historically) in Manipur society that comprises of both Meitei (Vaishnavite Hindus) and Pangal (Muslims) as: Ahallup, Naharup, Khapham, Laipham. This is because Ahallup and Naharup developed in Muslim context historically, and the later two- Khapham and Laipham developed in Meitei context. They became mixed up or irrelevant in certain period or contexts; yet the names survived which needs an explanation accordingly. Ahallup of the Muslim was originally (functionally) equivalent to Laipham of the Meitei. Same is Naharup with Khabam in this model.
However, in certain period (s) of history it appears that these four- Ahallup, Naharup, Khapham and Laipham became four Panas for broadly four functional division of labour that seemed to cover both the valley communities. They were called lup (luf) and pana interchangeably meaning the same entity. 'Lup' today is a common Manipuri terminology (Meiteilon which is also adopted/spoken by the Pangal) term that means an 'organization' or a 'confederacy' or a 'joint action committee'. There are many Arabic and Persian words or loan words that have become Meiteilon.
Ahal'laf (Arabic) carries the meaning "Body of lawmakers" having the same meaning of 'Majalis". Though Ahallup was established by Naophang Ahal (d. 624 AD), some opine that it might have arisen in the time of king Naothingkong in his phambalkaba (coronation in 744 AD) and the Naharup was established in the wake of proclamation of king Loiyamba shinlen (functional distribution of labour) in the period 1121-41 AD. It is certain that Muhammad al-Hanifa died in Maungdaw (Upper Burma) after marrying the native queen Khaya Pari (who embraced Islam), in c.710 AD. They had two sons- Shaikh al-Hanifa (Sukhanfa) and Salim al-Hanifa (Samlong alias Samlongpha).
The legendary Pangalba who arrived in Manipur in king Naophangba period and further proceeded to settle in Taraf (Srihatta/Sylhet) is identified with Pang al-Hanifa.
While the Naophang Ahal period Muslim pir is identified with Amir Hamza who temporary abode (amirate/umarate) later came to be called U'mara (or Pangal Mar in later puya/annals of Meitei). While the king Irengba period pir identified with Makhdum Jahaniyan Jahanghast (World-roamer), who by tradition brought the Qadam Rasul (footprint of the Prophet) and the Jhanda (heraldic device mounted on a staff) who is related with Poa-Makka tradition of Hajo in Kamrup. Some believe, the Irengba period saint is Shaikh Jalaluddin Tabrizi d. 1244 or Shah Sultan Rumi who on the way converted the Koch king to Islam in 1054 AD.
The term "lup" is derived from "louf" which is an Arabic word meaning "confederate". The 'pana' of Manipur refers to 'revenue divisions of territorial lands' as was prevalent in Shan (Pong) region. "Lup was the former name of Pana". "Ahali" (or "iyal") means family; "Ahl" means "the people of…"; "ilaf" means "pact of security"; hilf means "limited alliance".
The "Ahl-e-louf" became "Ahallup' in nomenclature development that was of 7th or 8th century context. Now, 'Ahallup' is to be explained from current/existing vocabulary. Now, what do 'Aha'l and 'lup' mean? Somehow, if 'Ahallup' term existed, the term 'Naharup' has to arise for the sake of identification or formality. So, epistemologically speaking, 'Ahallup' is Islamic origin, and Naharup is local (indigenous) term. Now, "Ahal" means "old"; and that "Naha" means "new". Thus, the term 'Ahallup' is Arabic origin but 'Naharup' is not.
In other words, Ahallup also developed among Meitei community simultaneously in co-relational manner.
Classification of Muslim Clans (Criteria)
Ahl-e Hadith Clans: pre-13th century AD
Hanafite (of Sunni) clans: post-1303 AD (under influence of Shah Jalal of Sylhet)
Nowadays, the terms Ahallup and Naharup are tried to be explained from prevailing Manipuri meanings which, as historical practice shows, is plausible. [See TC Hudson, 1908, The Meithei (pp.66-67); N. Ibobi Singh, 1976, The Manipur Administration, p.90]. Ahallup refers to racial clans (crude classification period). Naharup refers to kinship clans (later subdivisions).
In Muslim society context of Manipur, pre-1210 AD clans can be dubbed as Ahallup clans and later clans can be called as Naharup or newer clans. This knowledge is necessary because Muslims are also 'intricated' with Ahallup, Naharup, Lallup (be they 'departments' or 'revenue divisions' or corvee labour groups) terms or groups like the Meiteis were in.
But they (Ahallup, Naharup) became irrelevant terms by the British period especially by 1891 AD. British writers were also apparently at a loss as to how to define or explain Ahallup and Naharup when they noticed the four functional divisions (panas)—Ahallup, Naharup, Laipham and Khapham and the roles attributed to these divisions. Today, 'lup' simply means 'organisation' or federation'. Ahallup tends to mean "department of senior citizens" and Naharup as "department of junior citizens". Lallup (like Pike system of medieval Assam) is historically relevant term as Lallup covers all these four groups (divisions). 'Laipham' refers to northern revenue sector while 'Khapham' refers to southern revenue sector.
Observation of TC Hudson on Lup and Pana
TC Hudson (1904), the most authentic British writer on anthropo-socio-historo-political aspects of the Manipuris in general and the Meiteis in particular in his "The Meithei" (1908) noted that the functional division of labour attributed to Ahallup was repeated to Laipham, and those of Naharaup repeated to Khapham, and not vice versa! And, he asked why? Similarly N. Ibobi Singh (1976) raised the same query and wondered!
The answer lies in the fact that the twins each were the same functional departments which were meant for the Meiteis and Pangals respectively. The Muslims had their own personal law board since 1606 that functioned in autonomy except in matters of three list—marriage, divorce and baby feed price. under the sovereignty of the Manipur king. Before king Garib Niwaz Pamheiha, the kingdom was federal till 1709 that became unitary later on. "Before him the authority was federal".
TC Hudson noted: "It is curious to note the division of offices between the Panas (Subdivisions). Why do we find officers as the head of the House of the Clerks (Lairik Yengba Shanglakpa), the chief maker of daos (Thangsuhanba), the chief arrow maker (Tensuhanba) in Panas—the Ahallup and the Laipham, and not in Panas- the Naharup and the Khabam? Why, again, should Panas—the Naharup and the Khabam include the Chief of the scouts (Huiroi Lakpa) and the Chief brass worker (Konsahanba), to the exclusion of these officials from the list of Panas—the Ahallup and the Laipham?"
Later the separation (of departments of the two communities under different names but given same roles) became blurred and abstract due to close inhabitation and even mix-up of houses belonging to communities—Meiteis and Pangals—in certain regions historically and till now. However, the Pana (the system or role) of Meiteis existed since the time of Pakhangba (33-154 AD) but the department (system) gained its name by 1074 AD only.
"The operation of the system of Lallup (corvee or forced labour) was conducted on the basis of Panas. War Department was the most important department in those days. In times of peace, such social festivals as hockey, polo, boat races and Lamchel (annual race) were conducted on the basis of Panas". "This Lamchel was a competition between the different Panas or classes among the Manipuri population.
The Brahmanas, as also the lowest class of Manipuris, the Lois, were not allowed to compete, but the Mussalamsn might". It is also noted: "we find that Panas were established during the reign of Pakhangba. But only four Panas—Ahallup, Naharup, Khabam and Laipham were then formed. The number of Panas increased in 1074 AD to six including the two new Panas—Potshangba and Hidakphangba (relatively inferior panas). But it must be said that the exact date of establishment of Panas is uncertain."
"Lup was the former name of Pana. The six divisions in 1074 AD was named as Lup. We do not come across the term, Pana till 1596 when Raja Khagemba introduced this term" during whose period 1,000 Pasha Muslims soldiers arrived in Manipur, took Meitei women and received lands and settled in appropriate places with the king conferring various Muslim clan names on them that numbered upto 31 in his time.
The Ahallup and Naharup were collectively called Naija; Khapham and Laipham were called Khunja, and the rest two Potshangba (estate guards) and Hidakphanba (planters, croppers) were called Khumei.
TC Hudson noted that Muslim influence was predominant for some time (1612-1709) as reflected in that king Pamheiba was conferred the Persian title Garib Niwaz, the terms 'Shah', 'Diwan' 'Amin' etc, were employed by Meitei nobles. Garib Niwaz Pamheihba was once thinking of becoming a Muhammadan but he became a Vaishanavite. Mughals occupied Sylhet and Cachar in 1612 incorporating in the Mughal Empire.
Shah Shuja (former Bengal Subhadar) left Arakan and found shelter in Manipur in 1661. Three Mughal Ambassadors were sent to Manipur by Aurangzev in 1661-2 ostensibly to find the truth of Shuja's existence from the secret telegram. Arrivals of Mughal and settlement in Manipur (1612-1708) raised the social status of Manipuri Muslims.
This led Vaishnavite preacher Shanta Das Gossain from Sylhet to declare (confer) that the Meiteis were indeed Hindus of Kshetriya caste altogether, and Hinduism became State religion of Manipur kingdom henceforth under a decree of Garib Niwaz Pamheiba in 1710.
Among the Manipuri Muslims, there was a Mughalmayum (Mughal clan) in 1612-1680 that became amalgamated to Makakmayum (Makak clan). The department of the Muslims formerly known as the Pangal Loishang or Musalman-Loishang that existed since 1606 came to be called Mughal-shang in 1679.
So, the Mughal salai (racial) clans of Makak mayums (3 subclans) and Nongsaibam and Shajabam clans adopted surnames- Khan, Shaikh, Saiyid, Shah, Makki, Ashraf etc, liberally. Originally, Makak clan denoted the old group who came from Makka in Rashidi Caliphate period and even earlier in the Prophet's lifetime. It is notable that Perumal of Kerala became a Muslim in that time.
There are Korimayum and Baseimayum clans too. In Vaishnavite, accounts, Kori and Pasi are also noted an indentured peasant groups or manual labourers in southern Assam context. But there is no Pasimayum or Pasi clan in Assam or Manipur.
So far, there are 62 clans among Manipuri Muslims which are as follow :-
1. Aribam : This clan is traced to ancestor Kutwan Khan, Sadik Para (probably Saad bin Waqqas) and Ashim Shah of Naophang Ahal period (594-624 AD) who came from Gaya. This group came as a family; clan name Aribam was conferred by king Naophang Ahal. Clan classification was not necessary or insignificant before 1550 AD as the Muslim society was still less in number for the reason that endogamy like cross cousin marriage is permissible in Islam. All pre-1606 Muslims were called 'Ariba' or 'Aribam' which simply means 'old group' or 'old-clansmen'.
So, the existing Aribam clan is held to be the earliest clan of Manipuri Muslims that might not be necessarily true. So, some writers trace Aribam from Naophangba period (7th century) while some from Mungyamba period (around 1550 AD). It is notable that Hindu (Meitei) clan of 'Aribam' is traced to c.1610 or 1710 AD when Brahmins (now Bamon) arrived from mainland India.
So, it is a Bamon clan in Meitei society. So, Muslim Aribam clan evolved in different context and period carrying different meaning. 'Aribah' simply means "the Arab", or "pure Arabs" or "genuine Arabs" in the Dictionary. The Muslim clans—Aribam, Makak, Khullapkpam, Solaimayum, Baseimayum—came into existence from the silk-route period of Arabs and Persians (and by the time of Masudi, Khurdadbhih and Suleiman—the Arab travellers and explorers in c. 845-1020 AD).
2. Ayekpam : This clan claims to an artist or writer since early seventh century. Ayekpa means "one who draws a picture or paint".
3. Baseimayum : This clan traces its origin to Basa (Pasha) kingdom in Sylhet of 777 AD which R.B. Pemberton noted as capital of Cachar kingdom, west of Manipur. Basa is considered to be old Pasa (Sylhet).
4. Bogimayum : This group is traced to an emissary team of three persons having arrived in Manipur during Aurangzev period in 1661 to seek confirmation of the alleged information that Shah Shuja (brother of Aurangzev and ex-Subhadar of Bengal) took shelter in the hills of Manipur (at Kairang cave). A later interpolation believes they might have been close to Imam Bukhari heritage of Delhi Juma Masjid who came from Bukhara (Uzbekistan). They have Mughalo-Pathan element.
5. Buyamayum : This clan is traced to Bhuiya of Assam who were Chieftains in eastern Kamrup during Mughal period. They were Afghan dissidents during Mughal period in Bengal and Sylhet.
6. Chesam : This group traced to those group of Arabs-Persians of silk route period (7th- 8th century) who made papers after learning from the Chinese. Another view is that when Khagemba defeated the Chinese invaders with the help of Muslim troops from Sylhet-Taraf in 17th century.
7. Dolaipabam : This group came with Shah Shuja in 1661 who carried the palanquin.
8. Firingimayum : This group traced their clan to traders who connected with Portuguese sailors of Chittagong or trade middlemen in 17th century.
9. Hawai Ingkhol : This group attended and looked after the estate of the king of Manipur in c. 1610.
10. Heikhamayum : This group arose as a peasant clan who settled at a pasture (with a landmark identified with a Heikha tree).
11. Heipokmayum : They lived near a field of Heipok tree in Khagemba period.
12. Hidak Ingkhol : This clan planted some amount of tobacco in 17th century.
13. Ipham : The clan is traced to Munron Khan of 1606 who came with Muhammad Shani. Another view is that Ipham clan traces their ancestor to one Putan (Pathan) Khan in 1688 who from Gujarat along with some Brahmans.
14. Kamalmayum : Their clan ancestor was one Kamal of 1606 AD who came from Brahmaputra region or Barak region.
15. Keinoumayum : This group lived at a place called Keinou that was named during king Khagemba period.
16. Keikhongta : This clan is one of the oldest one that traced their ancestry to an immigrant group having arrived in king Naothingkhong period of 8th century.
17. Keithel Inkhol : This group lived in a farm that grew cereals and sold the produce at the market.
18. Khullakpam : This group traced to one Shaikh Chunet (Junaid) who was captured by Kabui tribes of Thollang Hao and was given a daughter of Thollang Hao chieftain. Shaikh Chunet acted as a chieftain (Khullakpa) of the hillsmen in c. 1610 AD. He had pierced ears bearing big rings in tribal. After the decease of the first tribal wife, he married a tribal nai (attendant, servant). They later came down to valley and lived at Turen Ahanbi. They gave birth to a man named Chongthom Darji whose descendants came to be called Khullakpam. A later interpolation traced their origin to a man Mirza Khakkan Turani who came to Sylhet in 14th-15th century which is a plausible explanation.19.Khutheibam: This group traced their clan name from a skilled labour group that was recognized by the Ahallup (revenue department) in c. 1670 AD. One Waliullah who was a Darbar member in British period belongs to Khutheibam clan.
20. Konthamayum : This clan group is traced to a tailor family in Khagemba period.
21. Korimayum : This group was an ironsmith (metallurgy) clan; Kori refers to a metal copper (kori) and their descendants were called Korimayum.
22. Labuktongbam : This group settled at a high plain (field) called Atongba Labuk thus deriving their clan name.
23. Leishangkhong : They lived in Leishang village as a clan in 17th century.
24. Loupanmayum : This group planted rice, produced a big output in a season that came to the notice of the Manipur who conferred its clan name in appreciation by king Khagemba.
25. Luplakpam : This clan group traced its genesis from a man who was a chairman of the Ahallup or Naharup revenue guild in 1608 AD.
26. Maibam : This group is traced to a noted Shaman (folk-medicine or traditional physician) called Maiba.
27. Makakyum Ariba : This group is traced to a Makhzum clan from Makka led by Amir Hamza (623 AD), a clan of Khalid bin Walid later in 638 AD. They came via Chittagong (called Sadjam by the Arabs) in c. 636. The event gave rise to an era called Makki (later Muggy) era. This clan group founded the poa-Maka of Hajo (eastern Kamrup) by laying some auspicious soil brought from Makka that was later renovated in 1498 by Alauddin Hussain Shah Makki al-Arabi (Bengal Sultan) as their (Makkan) ancestral landmark of holiness. It is also noted that a saint (faqir) from Arab brought holy soil from Makka. The famed traveler Ibn Battuta visited Shaikh Shah Jalal Tabrizi in 1345 in Kamrup hill which is identified with this Hajo poa-Makka. The Mughal Governor (subahdar) of Kamrup named Lutfullah Shirazi also added another mosque at poa-Makka khanka in 1672 AD.
28. Makak Amuba : The clan traced their ancestor Lukhiyarful from Nurullah Herati, the Kamrup subhadar of 1677 AD.
29. Makak Angouba : The clan is traced to an ancestor Sunarful who was a descendant of Lutfulla Shirazi, a Kamrup subhadar during Mughal period of Kamrup (1612-88). They also went to Sylhet and founded a place called Makak there. All the mentioned three Makak clans are considered belonging to Poa-Maka heritage who came from Makka and as descendant or close to the heritage of Allaudin Hussain Shah Makki al-Arabi, 1489 (the most famous Bengal Sultan) who conquered both Koch Vihar and Kamrup.
30. Malsam : This clan traces its name from a place or man called Malsa who came to Manipur from Brahmaputra valley in early 17th century.
31. Mansam : This group traces the clan ancestry to a man of 17th century who came from Surma valley.
Imam Khan Makhjummayum wrote this article for The Sangai Express . This article was webcasted on December 16th, 2009.