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Muslim communities of Gujarat

Submitted by admin on 3 May 2011 - 9:21am


Articles
Indian Muslim
By Kashif-ul-Huda, TwoCircles.net
TCN series on Gujarat: Part 5
Muslims of Gujarat are probably the most diverse of Muslim population of any oth
er Indian state. Some of them came from different parts of the Islamic world ove
r a period of thousand years to seek security, employment, trade, and to spread
Islam; bringing with them their culture, knowledge, and their own versions of Is
lam. Though there has been much interaction with different Muslim groups, the di
fferences have survived to make Gujarati Muslims a very diverse ummah.
First came the Arabs; within the first 100 years of revelation of Quran, there w
ere a number of Muslim towns along the coast of Gujarat. They were followed by I
ranians, Africans, and Central Asians. Earlier Muslims came as traders; some cam
e with the invading armies and settled down. Many others came seeking better emp
loyment opportunities, while some like Bohras came here fleeing persecution.

A Muslim trader in Ahmedabad. [TCN photo]


Bohras are a sub-sect of Ismailis Shias. They were persecuted in Yemen for their
acceptance of Tayyeb Abil-Qasim as Imam instead of his uncle Al-Hafiz, the elev
enth Fatimid Khalifa. Supporters of Tayyeb came to be known as Tayyibi Ismailis.
Tayyibis established the office of the Daee’-ul-Mutlaq after Imam Tayyeb went int
o occultation.
Initially, representatives from Yemen were sent to Gujarat to help establish the
community here. The 24th Daee’ Syedna Yusuf Najmuddin was the first Indian on thi
s position who assumed office in 1539 but remained in Yemen. The daees have been
in India beginning with the 25th, Syedna Jalal Shamsuddin. The current Daee Sye
dna Mohammed Burhanuddin is the 52nd in that long chain of Daee’s that began in Ye
men.
Tayyebis were called Bohra for their involvement in trading. The first test of B
ohras came after the death of the 26th Daee’. Question over the succession claims
led to the split in the Bohra community. Supporters of Suleman bin Hasan, the gr
andson of 24th Daee, are called Sulemani Bohras. Supporters of the claim of Indi
an Daee’ Dawood Burhanuddin bin Qutubshah came to be known as Dawoodi Bohras. Dawo
odi Bohras have seen at least two more splits giving birth to Aliya Bohras and H
ebtiah Bohras. Protest over absolute authority of Daee-ul-Mutlaq and call for re
form within the Dawoodi Bohras has led to another split in 1970s. The splinter g
roup calls itself Progressive Dawoodi Bohra and is led by noted Islamic scholar
Asghar Ali Engineer.
Seat of Daee’ for Sulemani Bohras was first in Yemen and now in Najran, Saudi Arab
ia. The highest authority of Sulemani Bohras in India is Mansub or representativ
e of the Daee. Badruddin Tyabji, writer Atiya Fyzee, ornithologist Dr. Salim Ali
, and painter M. F. Husain are some of the famous Sulemani Bohras.
Islam in Gujarat spread through the efforts of Sufis like Hazrat Shaikh Ahmad Kh
attu Ghanjbaksh. [TCN Photo]
Not unlike Bohras, Sunnis history in Gujarat is also very deep and wide. Abu Bak
ar Rabi’ bin Sabih al Basri, a tabi’ and author of the first book on hadith is burie
d in Gujarat. Two commentaries on Sahih Bukhari were written in Gujarat: Badrudd
in Muhammad bin Abu Bakar’s
and Syed Abdul Awal bin Ala al Husaini’s .
Gujarat was also the location for the first commentaries on Sahih Bukhari and Sa
hih Muslims written in India .
Islam spread in India mostly through the works of Sufis, Gujarat is no exception
to that. Chishtia, Saharwardiya, Maghribia, and Shattaria are some of the major
Sufi silsilahs that found home in Gujarat. In Gujarat there are many Muslim soc
ial groups with clues about their non-Muslim past hidden in their last names. Bu
t egalitarian message of Sufis was not enough to erase the social differences am
ong the groups. Muslim social groups retained their hereditary professions or so
cial class but thankfully the caste differences were not as rigid. A marriage re
gister of Qazi of Bharuch that records 269 marriages between Oct 5th, 1853 and S
ept 8th, 1855 provides evidence of inter-caste marriages that shows that caste a
nd social differences were not as rigid for Muslims.
A survey done in early 1960s identifies following Muslim communities in Gujarat,
in the order of their numerical strength: Shaikh, Sunni Vohra, Pathan, Momin, B
ohra, Ghanchi, Malek, Garasia, Syed, Fakir, Musalman, Mansoori, Khatki, Chhippa,
Kadia, Sipahi, Taik, Memon, Patel Vohra, Sindhi, Hajam, Pinjara, Mughal, Kasbat
i, Kumbhar, Dudhwala, Baluch, Makrani, Behlim, Qureshi, Mirasi, Khatri, Khokhar,
Dhobi, Jat.
Some of them are to be found in other states but some are only Gujarati in orign
and the idea of jamaat-bandi or social organization of a local community is uni
que to Gujarati communities.
Ref:
Satish C. Misra, Muslim Communities in Gujarat : preliminary studies in their hi
story and social organization. Asia Publishing House, 1964.
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Gujju Muzzies....
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on 5 May 2011 - 11:51am.
Then u have to accept Hindus as your elder brothers who gave u Job,food,shelter
as muslims came from other parts of the world to Gujarat(india)...and live in th
e shadow of Hindus...
reply
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