After Hindu religion, Muslim
religion people are the second dominated religion in Orissa.
Orissa was a Hindu Kingdom till the mid sixteenth century.
Sulaiman Karrani conquered Orissa in 1568 defeating Raja Mukundadeva
and appointed Khan Jahan Lodi as the governor of Cuttack.
The Afghans ruled Orissa from 1568 to 1592 and later the state
was under Mughal rule till 1759.
The Muslim settlement in Orissa
started in fifteenth century with the migration of Muslims
from Bengal and propagation of Islam. However, Muslim population
in the state has remained very small till today. According
to 1981 census, there were 422,266 Muslims in the state against
25,161,725 Hindus. In 1991, the Muslim population increased
to 577,775 and the Hindu population to 29,971,257. The percentage
of growth of the Muslim population during the decade 1981
– 1991 was 36.83. There are only three Muslim representatives
in the 147 member strong state legislature. Only 3 percent
of the Orissa population is Muslim and most of them are concentrated
in Cuttak, Jagasinhapur and Puri districts. Today Muslims
make up only about three per cent of the population (over
1 million of Orissa’s estimated population of 40 million).
With the establishment of
the Muslim rule, Orissa became an integral part of India’s
national political life. During Muslim rule, dress, ornament,
food habit, art and culture of the Oriya people were deeply
influenced by the Islamic culture. A good number of Persian,
Urdu and Arabic words were assimilated in Oriya language and
literature. The Mughal Tamasha of Bhadrak bears testimony
of the Muslim influence on the indigenous art and culture
of Orissa till to day.
At the other extreme, folk
Islamic practices strongly influence many of the Muslims of
Orissa (as is the case throughout most of South Asia). Cuttack
town is one of a number of places in Eastern India and Bangladesh
that has a Qadam-i-Rasul shrine, containing what is alleged
to be a footprint of the Prophet Mohammed; both Muslims and
Hindus venerate this shrine. In some places, Muslims even
participate in Hindu rituals related to the Rath Yatra “Festival”
dedicated to the Orissan deity Jaganath.
Missionary teams are needed
to go to Orissa to proclaim the Messiah to the Muslims of
the cities and rural areas. Practical demonstrations of God’s
love, through community development programmes, literacy and
education, and even small business loans, are crucial as well.