There were qabeelas and tribes at the time of Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.) but the only purpose was to differentiate. What Muslims have set up today is not to differentiate, but to show oneself as superior, and therefore, it cannot be called qaum, qabeela, biradari or tribe.
When I wrote Castes among Muslims, I was horrified to see the number of people accusing me by saying there are no castes in Islam. The question is, when did I talk about Islam? I was only referring to the actions of Muslims. Just as Muslims have copied the evil dowry system, they have now come up with this nonsensical system of labeling people in order of superiority. Syeds, Sheikhs, Mughals, Pathans….the list goes on and on.
Why is it automatically assumed that whenever Muslims do something it is Islam. Even when there is absolutely no mention of Islam anywhere, people still bring Islam in the middle. Blaming Islam for the actions of people is like blaming a car, instead of the driver, for an accident.
Lets keep the actions of people and religion separate. Even when I talk about castes among Hindus, I would not say castes in Hinduism, but castes among Hindus.