Introduction / History
The word 'Teli' is derived from the Sanskrit word 'tailika' or 'tails', which means oil pressed from seeds. The community are traditional manufacturers of mustard or sesame oil.
Muslim Teli can be found in Pakistan and North India. In India, the term Teli is a business caste among Hindus. Hindus who convert to Islam are called Roshandaar or Muslim Teli. Hindu Teli are named Teli Sahu and Muslim Teli are called Teli Malik.
The Muslim Teli of Punjab say that they have descended from Baba Hasu, who is said to have invented the oil press. According to their tradition, their ancestor Luqman was apprenticed to the Biblical King David. Luqman is said to have first started the oil extraction profession. It is said that Luqman's ancestor was the Prophet Ayoub (Biblical Job). Baba Hasu is said to be a descendant of Luqman.
Where are they located?
In North India, the Muslim Teli community is also known by the name Shaikh Mansuri. The Muslim Banjara is a Muslim community found in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India. Many members of this community migrated to Pakistan in 1947 and have settled in Karachi and Sindh.
In Delhi, the Teli can be sub-divided into two communities, the Teli proper and the Teli Dhuniya. They live in the neighbourhoods of Phatak Teliya, Phatak Habash Khan, Khirwala Phatak and Borhaiya in Old Delhi. The Delhi Teli are also known as Shaikh Mansuri, and this name has replaced Teli as a self-description. Many of the Delhi Teli emigrated to Pakistan, at partition, and are now found in Karachi.
In Pakistan, three distinct Teli communities can be identified. Shaikh Mansoori based in Karachi and Teli Malik and Teli Rajput who are largely in the province of Punjab.
What are their lives like?
Muslim Teli depend on the land for their living. Their traditional occupation of oil pressing is now being replaced with cash crops and other private business. The Teli now have many small businessman and traders amongst them, although many are still engaged in oil pressing.
In the province of Punjab, many Teli are landless and earn a living working in cash crop farms (wheat or maize farms). Significant changes, however, have occurred in the cities of central Punjab, such as Faisalabad,Sahiwal, Sialkot and Gujranwala where the urban Teli have started small industries. The Teli Malik of Faisalabad have been particularly successful in small business. Teli Rajputs have also taken up into other professions besides oil pressing.
The Teli have traditional community councils and also formal community associations. Their traditional councils or panchayats are sub-divided into circles made up of 10 to 20 villages.
In Pakistan, the Muslim Teli speak mainly Punjabi. They were among a number of artisan communities that were converted to Islam. Shaikh Mansoori speak Urdu.
What are their beliefs?
The Teli belong to the Sunni sect of Islam, and offerings are also made to Ghazi Mian.
What are their needs?
The Teli have little concept of a loving creator God who is willing to forgive their sins and give them an abundant life. There are a few followers of Christ among the Teli. They need to adequately provide for their families and educate all their children. The Teli need to have their material and spiritual needs met. The Teli community is large and speak several languages.
The Muslim Teli traditionally identify with oil. Oil is a particularly useful connection point between Christians and the Teli. The physical and spiritual significance of oil in the Bible can be a key point for sharing the gospel with them.
The Teli need to understand that they have a loving creator God who wants to forgive them and offers an abundant life.
The Teli need to learn about Jesus Christ, and follow Him wholeheartedly.
The Teli need to provide for their families
They need good schools for their children.
Pray for teams of workers to preach the good news to the Teli communities in their many languages
Pray that a strong church planting movement would take root among the Teli.
ReferencesView Teli (Muslim traditions) in all countries.