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Mewat, Haryana: The birthplace of Tablighi Jamaat and the Mewati Gharana of Indian Classical Music

Arshad Shaikh digs into some amazing facts about the Mewat region in the Indian state of Haryana, which was recently in the news for the wrong reasons. Meo-Muslims have been targeted by cow-vigilantes and anti-social elements. Communal violence rocked the region last week.  Six people lost their lives, scores were seriously injured, thousands were arrested and many houses were controversially demolished. The Hindu-Muslim violence in the Mewat region was extensively covered by the media, however, not many know about some of the amazing facts of this region and how it is emblematic of the denial and deprivation that Muslims have suffered in post-Independence India.

Mewat (now officially re-named as Nuh) is a Muslim-majority district in the state of Haryana. The Mewat district was established in 2005, through the incorporation of regions from Gurgaon district and the Hathin Block of Faridabad district.

Nonetheless, in 2008, the Hathin sub-division underwent restructuring with the formation of Palwal district. In 2016, Mewat district’s name was changed to Nuh, given that Mewat represents a cultural area that extends across Haryana, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh states. Mewat (Nuh) is located in the southern part of Haryana. It is one of the 22 districts of Haryana.

The region is bordered by the Aravalli Range to the north, the Gurgaon district to the northeast, the Alwar district of Rajasthan to the south, the Bharatpur district of Rajasthan to the southwest, and the Palwal district of Haryana to the west.

The following Table compares the district of Mewat (now known as Nuh) with the entire state of Haryana:

Variable Haryana Nuh district Comparison
Area 44,212 sq km
(17,070 sq miles)
1,860 sq km
(720 sq miles)
4.2% of the state
Population 25,351,462 1,089,263 4.2% of the state
% of Rural population 65.12% 95.36% Shows the degree of neglect by successive governments
% of Urban population 34.88% 4.64%
Sex ratio (number of females per 1000 males) 926/1000 907/1000 19 less than state sex ratio (this is surprising, given that Mewat is a Muslim-majority district and Islam strictly prohibits any preference for male children)
Literacy 75.55% 54.08% 21% behind the state, again highlights a problem that poses a challenge to both the government and the community
Hindu versus Muslim population Hindu (87.46%)

Muslim (7.06%)

Hindu (20.3%) Muslim (79.2%) Mewat is one of the few districts in India with a Muslim population close to 80%
Languages spoken Hindi – 47.9%
Haryanvi – 37.1%
Punjabi – 7.3%
Bagri – 2.1%
Mewati (1.66%)
Urdu (1.48%)
Number of Railway Stations 211 3 Ferozepur Jhirka, Punhana and Tauru


Legislature: Mewat has three Haryana Vidhan Sabha constituencies:  Nuh, Ferozepur Jhirka and Punhana. All three are parts of the Gurgaon Lok Sabha constituency.

Roads: There are currently 5 national highways in the Mewat region of Haryana. The Delhi Mumbai Expressway will pass through the Mewat region. This expressway will connect Delhi and Mumbai via Manesar, Gurugram, Sohna, Nuh, and Palwal.

History: Mewat was once a princely state, ruled by the Meo Rajputs. The Meos are a Muslim Rajput tribe who are believed to have migrated to the region from Rajasthan in the 12th century. In the 16th century, Mewat was conquered by the Mughal Empire. The Mughals ruled Mewat for over 300 years, until the decline of the Mughal Empire in the 18th century.

In the 18th century, Mewat was conquered by the Maratha Empire. The Marathas ruled Mewat for about 50 years, until the British East India Company conquered Mewat in 1803. The British ruled Mewat until Indian Independence in 1947. After Independence, Mewat became a part of the state of Haryana.

Here are some not-so-well-known facts and “figures” from the Mewat region in India:

Raja Hasan Khan Mewati, a Khanzada Rajput ruler, held dominion over Mewat as a Muslim leader. He succeeded his father, Raja Alawal Khan, in a dynasty that had governed the Mewat State for approximately two centuries. He undertook the reconstruction of the Alwar Fort during the 15th century. In a significant historical event, he allied himself with 5,000 compatriots from the Rajput Confederation and participated in the Battle of Khanwa. Tragically, he met his demise on the battlefield, confronting the Mughal forces commanded by Babur.

Firuz Khan Mewati was a Mughal commander who served under the emperor Bahadur Shah I. He was born in Mewat in the 17th century and is known for his bravery and military prowess. He was also a skilled diplomat and administrator.

The Tablighi Jamaat was established in 1926 by Maulana Muhammad Ilyas al-Kandhlawi, in the Mewat region. According to community historian Siddique Ahmed Meo (as reported in the Hindustan Times) – “People from Mewat would travel to Delhi for work and halt for lunch near the masjid in Nizamuddin, before proceeding ahead with the journey. Maulana Ilyas took notice of the labourers and enquired about them one day. Through conversations with the Meos, he realised that while they were Muslims, they did not have a good understanding of Islamic practices.

“Driven by his interactions with Meos in Nizamuddin, Maulana Ilyas visited Ferozepur Namak in Mewat for the first time in 1925. He started surveying the region and over subsequent visits, he came to the understanding that Meo-Muslims needed to be introduced to Islamic practices and brought back into the fold. A panchayat was called in Nuh and a charter consisting of names of 103 people was shared. Some 31 proposals aimed at laying the groundwork for the Jamaat were passed in that panchayat. Finally, in 1926, the Jamaat started undertaking trips to reach out to people and spread the message of Islam.”

The Mewati Gharana is a Hindustani classical music tradition that was founded in the late 19th century by Ustad Ghagge Nazir Khan. The gharana is named after the Mewat region of India, where Ustad Ghagge Nazir Khan was born and raised. The Mewati Gharana is known for its emphasis on purity of tone, intricate taans, and expressive singing.

The gharana also has a unique style of khayal singing, which is characterised by its use of subtle ornamentation and its focus on the emotional content of the lyrics. Some of the most famous vocalists of the Mewati Gharana include Pandit Jasraj, Pandit Maniram, and Pandit Pratapnarayan. Pandit Jasraj is considered one of the greatest khayal singers of all time, and he helped to popularise the Mewati Gharana around the world.

Mewati Martial Art is a traditional martial art that originated in the Mewat region of India. It is a combination of wrestling, boxing, and stick fighting. Mewati martial arts are known for its emphasis on self-defence and its focus on using the opponent’s strength against them. Mewati martial art was further developed in the 17th century, when the Mewat region was ruled by the Mughals. This led to a fusion of Mewati martial arts with Mughal martial arts, which resulted in the development of the modern form of Mewati martial arts.


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