Muslim Communities of Gujarat

According to a survey carried out by the anthropologist Satish Chandra Misra in early 1960s, he identified the following Muslim communities in Gujarat, in the order of their numerical strength: Shaikh, Bohra (Sunni Hanafi), Pathan, Momin, Bohra (Ismaili Mustaali), Ghanchi, Malik, Garasia, Syed, Fakir, Musalman, Mansoori, Khatki, Chhippa, Kadia, Sipahi, Tai, Memon, Patel Vohra, Sindhi.Sandhi, Hajam, Pinjara, Mughal, Kasbati, Kumbhar, Dudhwala, Baluch, Makrani, Behlim, Qureshi, Mirasi, Khatri, Khokhar, Dhobi, and Jat.

History 

Located in the westermost portion of central India, Gujarat includes the region of Kutch, Saurashtra, and the territories between the rivers Banas and DamangangaIslam came early to Gujarat, with immigrant communities of Arab trading communities settling on the western seacoast of India as early as the 8th Century A.D. They were later joinded by Persian traders. Many of these early merchants were Ismaili, both Mustaali and Nizari. They laid the foundation of the Bohra and Khoja communities. Gujarat at this time was ruled by the Valabhi dynasty. In the thirteenth century, the last Hindu ruler Karna, was defeated by Alauddin Khilji, the Turkic Sultan of Dehli. This ushered a period of five centuries of Muslim Turkic and Mughal ruler. This led to a conversion of a number of Hindu Gujarati people to Islam, and led to the creation of new communities such as the Molesalam and Miyana communities.

In the sixteenth century, the Memon community immigrated from Sindh and settled in Kutch and Kathiawar. While in Bharuch and Surat, a schismoccurred among the Bohras, and new community of Sunni Bohras was created. Another Muslim sect, the Mahdawi also settled in Gujarat, and led to the creation of the Tai community. In 1593, the Mughal Emperor Akbar conquered Gujarat, and incorporated Gujarat in the Mughal Empire. This period led to the settlement of the Mughal community. A good many Sayyid and Shaikh families also are said to arrived during the period of Mughal rule. After the death of the MughalEmperor Aurangzeb, in 1707, Mughal rule began weaken after ruling for a century. Most of Gujarat fell to the Marathas, and this period saw the dispersal of further Pathan and Baluch, who came as mercenaries and were destroyed or defeated by the Marathas. Gujarat fell to British in the late 19th Century.

Jamat Bandi

Gujarati Muslim society has a unique custom known as Jamat Bandi, literally meaning communal solidarity. This system is the traditional expression of communal solidarity. It is designed to regulate the affairs of the community and apply sanctions against infractions of the communal code. Almost all the main Gujarat communities, such as the Memon, Chhipa, Ghanchi, Khoja, Bohra and Sunni Bohra have caste associations, known as jamats. Social organization at the Jamat Bandi level varies from community to community. In some communities, the Jamat simply runs a mosque and attached rest house, and a madrasah. Some larger communities, such as the Bohra and Khoja have developed elaborate and highly formalized systems with written and registered constitutions. Their organizations own large properties, undertake housing projects and schools, dispensaries and weekly newspapers. Perhaps the Memon have most formalized jamats, with census of community members, and distinct residential colonies.

 

Gujarati Muslim society can roughly divided into four major groupings, each of whom have traditional occupations. Here is a brief description of the various Muslim communities, starting with those who claim actual or putative foreign descen

Foreign Descended Groups

 

Community Sect Clans Language Distribution
Sayyid Sunni and Ithna Ashri Shia Shirazi, Mattari, Bukhari, Naqvi, Tirmizi, Zaidi, Rifai, Bhaktari, Qadiris, Chishti, Mahdawai, Kitoi, Mashadi, Idrusi, and Bahraini Gujarati and Urdu found throughout Gujarat
Shaikh Sunni Hashemi, Siddiqui, Qureshi, Farooqi, and Osmani in Gujarat and Shaikh Dada, Shaikh Syed and Shaikh Faqir in Kutch Gujarati, Kutchi and Hansoti, found throughout Gujarat
Pathan Sunni, some Ithna Ashri Shia Babi, Sama, Khanzada, Yousafzai, Lohani, Mandori, Suleiymani, Surat Turk and Zadran Gujarati, Kutchi and Urdu found throughout Gujarat, but large numbers in Baroda and Junagadh
Mughal Sunni and Ithna Ashri Shia Two sub-groups, the Irani who are Shia and the Turani who are Sunni Gujarati and Urdu found throughout Gujarat. Cambay was a Mughal ruled Princely State
Arabs, also known as Chavuse Sunni Akvon, Acari, Ansari, Anuj, Kathiri, and Qureshi Gujarati Junagadh, Bhavnagar, Panchmahal and Surat
Siddis Sunni None Gujarati Saurashtra, mainly in Junagadh District
Baluchis Sunni and Ithna Ashri Shia Gabol, Lashari, Birri, Gopang, Sukhe, Hooth and Korai Gujarati and Kutchi, some Sindhi Saurashtra and Kutch
Makrani Sunni Raees, Askani, Baluch, Umarzai, Rind-Baluch, Mulkajee and Gudizai Gujarati Saurashtra

 

Trading classes

Most people associate Gujarat with trading communities such as the Bohra, Khoja and Memon, but in fact they form no more then 10% of the total Muslim community.

 

Community Sect Language Distribution
Alavi Bohra Shia Ismaili Mustaali Gujarati Mainly in Vadodara District
Khoja

 

Ithna Ashri Shia Gujarati throughout Gujarat
Khoja

 

Shia Ismaili Nizari Gujarati and Kutchi found throughout Gujarat
Dawoodi Bohra Shia Ismaili Mustaali Gujarati throughout Gujarat
Doodwala Sunni Gujarati

 

throughout Gujarat
Memon who are further divided into the Hallari, Kathiawadi, Kutch, Juberi and Okhai Memon communities Sunni Gujarati, Kutchi and their own language known as Memoni Found mainly in Kutch and Saurashtra
Patni Jamat Sunni Gujarati Found in Veraval, Govindpura, Naodra, Kalji, Chourbad, Keshod and Junagadh.
Sulaymani Bohra

 

Shia Ismaili Mustaali Gujarati Found throughout Gujarat
Vyapari Sunni Gujarati Viramgam and Dholka talukas of Ahmedabad District

 

Landholders and Cultivators

 

Community Sect Clans Language Distribution
Sunni Bohra Sunni, both Deobandi and Barelvi Charotar, Patani, Kadiwal, Bharuch and Surat Jamats Gujarati found mainly in Bharuch, Ahmedabad, Mehsana and Surat districts
Agaria

 

Sunni, None Kutchi Kutch
Bhati Sunni, None Gujarati and Marwari Bharuch and Banaskantha districts
Chauhan Sunni, None

 

Gujarati north Gujarat
Dafer Sunni, None

 

Gujarati Saurashtra
Jat Sunni, Halai Jat (found in Jamnagar and Porbandar), Verai Jat (Banaskantha District), and Kutchi Jat (found in Kutch District) Gujarati and Kutchi Banaskantha District, Saurashtra and Kutch
Kasbatis Rajputs Sunni, Sayyid, Mughal, Qureshi, Shaikh, Pathan, Parmar, Ghori, Rathore, Kokwana, Bhelim, Khokhar and Soomra Gujarati through Gujarat
Khokhar Sunni, None

 

Gujarati North Gujarat
Maliks Sunni, None

 

Gujarati Kheda District
Makwana Sunni, None

 

Gujarati north Gujarat
Mandali Sunni, Kachhote, Salar, Patadia, Waria, Barogia, Adi and Panghed Gujarati Ahmedabad District
Miyana Sunni, Manek, Bhati, Dhona, Kathia, Mour, Ladhani, Malani, Samani, Musani, Jain, Kher, Makwana, Sadhwami, nd Baidmulla Gujarati and Kutchi Kutch and Saurashtra
Molesalam Rajputs / Garasia Sunni, Rathod, Rana, Mahida, Vaghela, Sindhia, Rawal, Bhalavat, Solanki, Parmar, Chauhan and Chavda. Gujarati throughout Gujarat
Momna Ithna Ashri Shia with a small Sunni minority Shersia, Khorzia, Wankaneri, Paradha, Badi, Serasia, Vakalya, Dholkhawalia, Godhrawalia, Kapadia and Chaudhary   the Shia Momna are found in Mehsana District, Ahmedabad city, and the talukas of Dholka and Dhandhuka of Ahmadabad District, while the Sunni Momna who re concentrated in fifty four villages of Wankaner and Morbi talukas of Rajkot District and the Wahabi Momna are found in Mehsana and Banaskantha Districts.
Nayak Sunni None Gujarati Banaskantha District and Saurashtra
Muslim Patel

 

Sunni None Gujarati Bharuch District
Shaikhda Sunni None Gujarati Godhra, Baroda and Ahmedabad
Rathore Sunni None Gujarati Sabarkantha and Banaskantha districts
Parmar Sunni None Gujarati north Gujarat

 

Sandhai Muslims Sunni Sameja, Samma, Jadeja, Nareja, Dal, Gothi, Solanki, Virsa, Theba, Nayi, Bafars, Hala, Shetha, and Khokhar Gujarati and Kutchi Kutch and Saurashtra
Sanghar Sunni None Gujarati and Kutchi Saurashtra and Mandvi Taluka of Kutch
Solankis

 

Sunni None Gujarati north Gujarat
Wagher Sunni Chamdia, Notitar, Chowra, Sodha, Mendani, Chauhan, Manak, Sumania, Juneja, Kero, Bhati, Koda and Ruchcher Gujarati and Kutchi Okha Taluka of Jamnagar District

Muslim Maldhari communities of Kutch

 

The Kutch region of Gujarat is home to a number of cattle rearing tribal communities, known as the Maldhari. Most of them speak Kutchi, with large Sindhi loanwords. All the Maldhari are Sunnis. Here is a list of the larger communities.

 

Community Distribution
Bafan village of Nagiari, as well as other parts of the Banni. There are also smaller communities in Jamnagar and Sabarkantha.
Bayad mainly in the town of Anjar, with a small number are found in Bhuj.
Chakee mainly in the cities of Bhuj, Mandvi, Mundra and Moghpat in Kutch, as well as the district of Jamnagar.
Halaypotra mainly in the talukas of Bhuj, Abdasa and Mandvi in Kutch District
Hingora mainly in the talukas of Bhuj, Abdasa and Mandvi in Kutch District
Hingorja mainly in the villages of Nandi Daddar, Mota Banda and Dumcara in the taluka of Bhuj
Juneja mainly in the districts of Amerli, Rajkot and the Banni region of Kutch
Ker mainly in talukas of Bhuj, Abdasa and Lakhpat in Kutch District
Khaskheli

 

Meta Qureshi

 

Mutwa

 

Node

 

Raysipotra

 

Royma found in Sukhpar village in Bhuj taluka, as well as other parts of Bhuj, Mandvi, Anjan and Lakhpat talukas of Kutch District. Concentrated in the Kanthi region of Kutch.
Samma four sub-divisions, the Gha Samma distributed in the Banni region, the Saheb Samma who are found in other areas of Kutch, the Chudasama, who are still Hindu, and distributed in Junagadh District and finally the Dangar Samma, who are found in Ahmedabad.
Sanghar found in twelve villages, namely Vandh, Bidada, Pipri, Ratodia, Bhojay, Undot, Khojachora, Asani and Serdi, all along the coast. In addition to these settlements, they are also found in the village of Mota Jakh in Nakhatrana Taluka as well as in Abdasa Taluka
Soomra

 

Theba Jadura village in Bhuj taluka, and other parts of the Bhuj taluka.

Artisans

Community Sect Traditional Occupation Distribution
Abdal Sunni Sufi singing and begging at Sufi shrines Ahmedabad
Ansari Sunni weavers Junagarh, Surat, Ahmedabad and Bharuch
Attarwala

 

Shia perfumers Ahmedabad
Bhadala

 

Sunni fishermen and sailors Kutch District
Bharbhunja

 

Sunni grain parchers Ahmedabad and Surat
Bhishti

 

Sunni water carriers Ahmadabad
Chhipa

 

Sunni Barelvi/Deobandi) calico printers throughout Gujarat
Chundrigar Sunni silk knot printing, and manufacture of a piece of cloth known as the chunri or dupata mainly in Surat
Chunara

 

Sunni manufacturers of lime mainly in Vadodara.
Dhobi Sunni washermen mainly in Baroda, Ahmedabad, Banaskantha and Kaira districts
Dhuldhoya Sunni straining dust and separating gold particles. mainly in Baroda and Sabarkantha districts.
Faqir Sunni mendicants and shrine keepers throughout Gujarat
Galiara Sunni engaged in the extraction of indigo and dyeing Bhavnagar, Rajkot and Junagadh districts
Ghanchi Sunni oil pressers Panchmahal, Sabarkantha and Banaskantha and North Gujarat.
Ghanchi-Pinjara Sunni oil pressers mainly in the districts of Junagadh, Amreli, Rajkot, Surendranagar, and Bhavnagar.
Kadia Sunni masons and brick layers Dhaboji town and the nearby city of Vadodara.
Kagzi Sunni paper manufacturers Shahpur area of Ahmedabad,
Khalipha Sunni Barbers, also musicians Central Gujarat
Khateek Sunni goat meat butchers Central Gujarat
Langha Sunni musicians and entertainers in Kutch District
Machiyar Sunni fishermen Saurasthra

 

Manihar

 

Sunni bangle makers throughout Gujarat
Mir Sunni musicians  
Mansoori Sunni cotton carders throughout Gujarat
Mirasi Sunni genealogist throughout Gujarat
Multani

 

Sunni cotton carders  
Multani Lohar Sunni blacksmiths the Zhalmed from Ahmadabad, the Gohilvad from Surat, the Chorasi from Rajkot and the Kathiawari from Kathiawar
Muslim Rangrez

 

Sunni dyers throughout Gujarat
Nagori Sunni blacksmiths throughout Gujarat
Panar Sunni weavers Dholka in Ahmedabad District
Salaat

 

Sunni stonemasons Palanpur District
Soni Sunni goldsmiths throughout Gujarat
Turk Jamat

 

Sunni soldiers Kathiawar
Tai Mahdawi weavers Viramgam, Dharangadhra and Ahmadabad

 

       

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Muslim Communities of Gujarat

  1. Hello, the information here is very interesting.
    Any chance you’d have more news about the mentioned Khatri people, and also if you have information about Surti people and Majothi.
    Thank you

      1. Thank you very much.
        I’m of Gujarati ancestry and considered a Khatri, part of a wider Gujarati community (speacially from Khatiawar) in Mozambique (and now in Portugal too since the 1970’s after the Mozambican independence from Portugal), who immigrated through the Indian Ocean to East Africa and present Karachi (and maybe even to Oman/Yemen) from around mid 1800’s to mid 1900’s where the major groups are Sunni Muslims (who speak mainly Memoni/Kutchi, apart from Portuguese), Ismaili Muslims (or Agha-Khanis or Khojas, who speak either Gujarati or Memoni/Kutchi) and Hindu Muslims (who speak mainly Gujarati). There was a small Parsi community during the 1960’s in Mozambique (who spoke also Gujarati) and I know not much more.
        Within the Sunni Muslims, there’s a huge Memon group, Surti, Khatri, Kutchi-Khatri, Damania, Kanamia, Majothi and probably some others. There’s a new wave of non-Gujarati Sunni Muslims coming from Pakistan (as far as I know, the Sayed) to Mozambique, and from there, to Portugal.
        The Gujarati diaspora in Mozambique and Portugal (and South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, etc.) still share a bond with the Gujarati diaspora in Pakistan (mainly Karachi) and India (now throughout the whole country, besides Khatiawar). These bonds mean marriages, migrations, keeping in touch with relatives, etc.
        I know that there’s a Khatri Hindu woman, but not much more info about their subdivisions.
        Within us Khatris, there are “nookhs”, like family surnames: Karatela, Girach, Dharaa, Bhoot, Makhan, etc. It just surprises me how I’m the only interested in this. The rest of the family just knows what they are through their parents, but there’s no documentation about it, nor is this a subject of conversation unless I insist upon it.
        Bright side, people don’t really care that much about caste/clan/etc. which allows better human relationships. My desire to seek more information is pure curiosity and maybe understand a bit better the family history. I know that “labeling” may lead to some fundamentals preach hatred and segregate people more. In no way would I want that to happen with the use of the “new” info.
        Information is power, and it can be used to promote positive stuff (peace, fraternity, dialogue, tolerance) or negative stuff (war, segregation, intolerance, etc.).
        Thanks again and good luck with the articles!

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