Abstract: This article calls for a re-evaluation of basic concepts such as caste and status groups for making sense of the social organisation of Muslims in Malabar. Muslim social groups, while disseminating notions of egalitarian claims of Islam, rationalise social divisions and discriminatory practices among themselves largely in terms of Islamic juristic concepts of purity, knowledge, piety and morality. Due to increasing Islamisation, these notions have been reconstructed to sustain social divisions among Muslims. Therefore, it is argued here that social divisions among Muslims in Malabar today do not derive primarily from acculturative influences of Hinduism. The article concludes that since sociological concepts such as caste, ethnicity and status groups as used in South Asia have failed to capture this Islamic cultural mediation, these phenomena need to be further researched.
Published in South Asia Research, 37 (1): 19-36.