The aim of this paper is to describe the rites and gift-exchanges associated with marriage among the Saifi-biradari, a Muslim occupational group, based on fieldwork, carried out in a township of western Uttar Pradesh in north India, from June 1995 to March 1997. Then the paper will try to analyze these customs by comparing it with similar customs among Hindus in the same region documented in anthropological works (i.e., Raheja  in particular). Through this, we will be able to examine the similarities and differences between the rites and gift-exchanges associated with marriages among Muslims and Hindus of north India, and to clarify a trait of the former.
The Saifi-biradari has been traditionally engaged in three occupations, blacksmithing, carpentery and masonry. They are said to be converts from Hinduism. This township has been rapidly developing as a distribution center of sugarcane and sugarcane products and as a trading center in this area since the 1970s. The Saifibiradari of this town have ridden on this wave of commercial success, because their trade, by its very nature, is closely connected to the manufacture, sale and repair of machinery and its parts used in the sugar factories. Again, in order to raise their social status in the caste-like system of Muslims, Saifis have changed their biradari name from lohār (blacksmith), baṛhaī (carpenter) and rāj (mason) to saifī (the word saifīmeans "sword in Arabic), named after a blacksmith Abu Saif who was one of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad. With these two changes in their circumstances, two very remarkable changes have occurred in the rites and gift-exchanges associated with marriage among Saifis. Firstly, they have abandoned some of the customs that closely resemble those of Hindus. The second remarkable change is the increase in jahez, the gift at the time of marriage given by the family of the bride to the family of the groom.
The practice of jahez is legitimated by saying that it has its origin in the jahez ("goods" in Arabic) given by the Prophet Muhammad to his daughter at her marriage. Further, it is differentiated from dat or dahej, so-called dowry, among Hindus in north India by saying that, unlike the dowry of Hindus which is demanded by the family of the groom, the jahez of Muslims is freely given by the family of the bride. But the jahez of Muslims is similar to the dowry of Hindus in two respects - the fact that it is a unilateral gift from the family of the bride to the family of the groom, and that there has been an increase in jahez expenses in recent years in both religious communities.
Upon further examination of the former point, we can see that, like the Hindus in north India, the Saifi kinship system conforms to the general north Indian pattern, with patrilineal descent and inheritance and preferred virilocal post-marital residence. Again, the relationship between affines among Muslims, like Hindus, is asymmetrical, that is, the wife-givers are inferior to the wife-takers. In this relationship, the natal family of the woman will perpetually and unilaterally send gifts, show hospitality, and show respect to the conjugal family of their daughter or sister. Further, the increasing expenses of jahez among Saifis is supported by keeping wealth through marriage within a smaller circle than Hindus' and by helping the bride's family through neotā (the system of delayed reciprocity). The main object of the practice of jahez, as mentioned before, is to raise their social status through ostentation.
Another closely resembling custom among the two religious communities is the gift to the kin. This gift is called neg (the reward for the ritual service performed by the certain kinsmen or kinswomen). In contrast to jahez, which is gifted to the affine or "other", neg is gifted to the kin or "one's own" [Raheja 1988: 212-219]. But in this Muslim society there is also a neg gifted to the affine, "other", that is called jūtācurāī. jūtācurāī is the money gifted by the father of the groom to the sisters of the bride in return for the latter's ritual service in stealing the groom's shoe (for reference, there is a money gift called phūpdān among another Muslim group in this township that is given by the father of the groom to the paternal aunt of the bride). Moreover, Muslims, unlike Hindus, are allowed to marry their paternal cousin, namely, FBD (father's brother's daughter). In such marriages, the two categories of the kin and the affine tend to overlap. In this case, jahez will be gifted not to "other" but to "one's own".
Consequently, although the rites and gift-exchanges associated with marriage among Saifis are broadly similar to those of Hindus in many respects, there are some differences between them. These differences emerge as a result of the influences of Islamicization and some fundamental disparity in the rules of marriage between the two religions. The most important traits of the gift-exchanges among Muslims that emerge are that 1) though jahez is the unilateral gift for "other", it can be the gift for "one's own" when a marriage has occurred with a paternal kin, 2) though neg is the gifts for "one's own", as we have seen above, there is also a neg gifted to "other", and can be said to be the unilateral gift given by the wife-takers to the wife-givers. These two unilateral gifts are similar in the fact that rather than the two categories of "other" and "one's own", what emerges is the father-brother category as a donor and the daughter-sister category as a recipient. This is the trait of this society.