Memon people

Memon
Total population
667,000[1]
Regions with significant populations
 India Pakistan Sri Lanka South Africa
Languages

• Memoni • GujaratiSindhi • Hindi • Urdu • KutchiEnglish

Religion

Allah-green.svg Islam

Related ethnic groups

Gujarati MuslimsLohanaKhojaBohra

Memons (Gujarati: મેમણ; Sindhi: ميمڻ; Urdu: میمن; Hindi: मेमन) are an ethnic group who trace their roots largely to Sindh, Kutch and Kathiawar in South Asia, and are sometimes seen as transitional between the three regions.[2] Memons predominantly adhere to Sunni Islam . Historically Memons are a mercantile community (and are generally referred to as a business community in Pakistan and India).

Contents

History

Traditionally, the name Memon is an adaptation of Momin (Arabic: مومن‎) meaning faithful. This was used when this community converted to Islam.

Sindhi, Gujarati origins

More than one hypothesis has been forwarded about the origins of the Memon community. One of the main schools of thought is that they are Jats of lohana caste. These hypotheses, although similar, differ in their details. This could be because Memons have had to rely on oral history in order to determine their origins.[2]

According to Anthovan, those Lohanas of Thatta who converted to Islam became Memons and were invited by Jarejho Roa Khanghar, ruler of Bhuj (1548–1584) to settle in Bhuj. It is from there that Kutchi Memons migrated to Kathiawar and Gujarat. Surat in Gujarat was an important trading center from 1580 to 1680 and Memons made their bounty there. Later, the Memons reached Bombay.[3] Diwan Bherumal M. Advani writes that all the Memons of Bombay, Gujarat and Kutch are Lohanas from Sindh. (A volume written by Mr. Anthovan, part 2, pages 52 and 53).[3]

Another theory states that Memons originated in 1422 CE from Thatta in Sindh. The converts were first called Momins or Mumins and the term, with the march of time, changed to Memons.[4] The story related therein states that some 700 Lohana families, (inclusive, perhaps of some earlier convert and neo-Muslim converts) comprising some 6178 individuals, converted to Islam at the hands of one Yusuffuddin Qadri and finding themselves forced to migrate.[2] This was also stated by Hussain Kassim Dada from his Presidential Chail at the first ever All India Memon Conference in Rajkot in the year 1931.

Branches

Main groups

Memon community may be divided into three main groups. Those who traced their ancestors from Kutch region are identified as Cutchi Memon and they speak Kutchi dialects. Those who traced their ancestry to Kathiawar are identified as simply Memon or Dhoraji[citation needed] memons, Kathiawadi Memons or Halai[citation needed] Memons and they speak the Memon language. Those Memon who remained in Sindh (their ancestor never migrated to neighboring regions such as Kutch and Kathiawar) are identified as Sindhi Memon and speak the Sindhi language.

Subgroups of Memons from Kathiawar

Many Memons, especially Kathiawadi Memons, further distinguished themselves into various sub-groups which generally refer to their ancestral villages or towns such as Kutyana Memons, originated from Kutyana in Junahgarh (now India).Bantva Memons, Jutpur Memons, Dhoraji Memons, Rajkot Memons with other 18 jamats are now collectively called Halari Memon which is the largest jamat in Pakistan, Bombaywala Memon (whose ancestors used to live in the main city of Bombay and its suburbs)[5] and Deeplai Memon. It is estimated that the number of Kathiawadi Memon, other than Cutchi and Sindhi Memon, worldwide are over one million.[6]

Generally‎ a Memon is a Muslim person born within a Memon family which traces its ancestry back to the descendants of the ‎community originating from Sindh whose members first embraced Islam, including Halai Memon, Okhai Memon, Sindhi ‎Memon, Kutchi Memon, Kathri, Tharati, Nasarpuria and others‎[7]

Languages

Kathiawadi Memons speak an unwritten language called Memon, a mixture of Sindhi and Kutchi[citation needed] which belongs to the Indic North-Western Zone family of languages. While the Sindhi and Kutchi languages are spoken by both Muslims and non-Muslims, Memoni refers exclusively to the vernacular of the Kathiawadi Memons who are predominately Sunni Muslims that migrated from Sindh to the neighbouring regions of Kutch and Kathiawar in Gujarat several centuries ago.[8] In stress, intonation, and everyday speech, Memoni is very similar to Sindhi, but it borrows vocabulary extensively from Gujarati, Urdu and lately English[citation needed]. Like most languages of the Indian subcontinent the sentence structure of Memoni generally follows subject–object–verb order.

Sindhi Memons speak Sindhi, while Kutchi Memons speak Kutchi.

Social structure

Role of the Jamaat

Memons generally tie to their respective locally societies called "Jamat", literally means congregation, which are generally established for the betterment and social welfare of its members which may include issuance of marriage license, matrimonial dispute resolution, adaptation and enforcement of the rules and guidelines against certain undesirable customs, establish healthcare and education centres, provide various facilities for the community need‎ and also financial support and housing‎ for the poor and needy members and sometime non-members.

The following are some common well organized societies or welfare associations called Jamaat (Gujarāti script: જમાત) of the Memons community which generally refer to their ancestral village or town.

Memon Jamats

  • Bhavnagar (also known as, Bhaonagar)
  • Upleta
  • Kutiyana
  • ganjari
  • Amreli
  • Bantva,Bagasra
  • Ladhubhai
  • Bombay
  • Dhoraji
  • Gondal
  • Halari Memon general jamat
  • Jamnagar Wehvaria Memon Jamat
  • Jetpur
  • Karachi Tharadri Gujrati Memon jamat
  • Manavadar Sardargadh Memon Jamat
  • Morbi-Tankara Memon Association also called M.T.M.A
  • Nasserpuria Memon Jamat - Kenya
  • Okhai
  • Porbandar
  • Rajkot
  • Sourashtra
  • Tharti
  • Vanthli
  • Veraval Patan
  • Vasawad
  • Kathiawar Nasarpurmemon Jamat
  • Jamnagar Memon Jamat
  • deeplai
  • Walakh
  • Ranvave Memon Jamat
  • Cutchi Memon Jamaat

Memon associations

Memons worldwide

Memons migrated from Sindh to Kutch, and later to Kathiawar (Kathiawad) and other part of Gujarat. Memons spread throughout the Indian Ocean basin in the 19th century, but most Memons lived in Kathiawar, prior to the independence of Pakistan. Many later settled in Pakistan. Today, they are scattered throughout India but majority of them live in the port city of Karachi in Pakistan, with significant communities in the United Kingdom, Canada, USA, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Malawi, Kenya, Mauritius, Singapore, Australia and Burma. In Karachi today there is a community of Memon people from Bantva and their descendants known as Bantva Memons. Also another prominent category is Halari Memon who works under the banner of Halari Memon General Jama'at. Halari Memon is a group of several subcategories and are also the follower of Hanfi Muslim.[9]

Memons are known for their involvement in business and philanthropy, with Memons having played a major part in the building of Pakistani industry, an increasing number of Memons are turning to professional occupations.[10]

Owing to their tradition of management and attention to detail, Memons are a prosperous community. They have built vast business legacies and a high percentage of Memons around the world belong to the upper-middle class.[11]

Sri Lanka

Memons first arrived in Sri Lanka during the 1870s as traders. Initially the Memon traders resided in Sri Lanka temporarily for business purposes, however after independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, many settled in Sri Lanka along with their families. In the 1980s they numbered to the tune of 7,000.

South Africa

An estimated 16 000 people of Kathiawadi Memon descent live in South Africa.

Religious practices

Memons mostly follow the Hanafi school of Sunni Islam although some are known to follow other Sunni schools such as the Maliki and Shafi`i schools.[12]

Notable Memons

Some Memons have achieved notability in activities ranging from business and philanthropy to terrorism, as follows:

Arts

  • Amean J Pakistani photographer
  • Ismail Merchant India born Hollywood film director and producer
  • Liaquat Soldier Pakistani born stage and television comedy actor, writer and director

Community leaders

  • Sir Iqbal Sacranie, leader of the Muslim Council of Great Britain award for social services from the Queen of England

Criminals

Education

  • Mushtaq Chhapra - Entrepreneur and one of the founding members and directors for The Citizens Foundation, the Pakistani charity school chain that has set up over 500 schools in Pakistan.
  • Educator Hajiani Khatijabai, a semi-literate widow who founded a chain of schools and colleges for girls in Pakistan

Entrepreneurs

Industrialists

Law

  • Ismail Mahomed First Chief Justice of a democratic South Africa formerly Chief Justice of a democratic Namibia.

Military

  • Major General Abu Bakr Osman Mitha

Philanthropy

Politics

  • G.M. Banatwalla - an Indian politician Member of the House of the People (Lok Sabha), the lower house of the Parliament of India
  • Hussain Bhaila M.P.- Former deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sri Lanka [2]
  • Abdul Rashid Godil MNA of Pakistan. Member finance & rev standing committee and member of textile standing com.Supreme council member of APMF and board member of WMO, law & order of K.C.C.I. and others [3]
  • Farooq Sattar, MNA, MPA, Mayor of Karachi, MQM. Currently, he is the Federal Minister for Overseas Pakistanis.He has also been the Chairperson, Foreign Affairs Standing Committee in the National Assembly of Pakistan.

Sporting figures

  • Iqbal Qasim, Pakistani cricketer in the 1980s - a left arm spinner most notable for his performance against India in the final test of 1987 in Bangalore.

Terrorists

See also

External links

India

Pakistan

Sri Lanka

Western Countries

Others

References

  1. ^ http://www.joshuaproject.net/peoples.php
  2. ^ a b c Origin of Memons - three versions. Memon.com. http://www.memon.com/community/history. Retrieved 2010-01-20. 
  3. ^ a b Islamic Perspective, a Biannual Journal. A special issue on Bohras, Khojas and Memons. Ed. by Asghar Ali Engineer, Bombay, Institute of Islamic Studies. vol.1, Jan 1988, pp. 41-48 [1]
  4. ^ 'Abraazul Hq' by Sayed Ameeruddin Nuzat, under the guidance of one Peer Buzrug Alli, published in Bombay in 1873
  5. ^ "Pakistan Memon Jammat". Pmjamaat.org. http://pmjamaat.org/eng/index.htm. Retrieved 2010-01-20. [dead link]
  6. ^ Estimate of Memon Population by Mr. Ali Mohammad Tabba
  7. ^ The world memon Organisation constitutio http://www.city-deal.co.uk/wmo/statutory/WMO_Constitution.pdf
  8. ^ "Memoni Language Project". As-sidq.org. http://www.as-sidq.org/memoni/. Retrieved 2010-01-20. 
  9. ^ "City Nazim praises services of Memon community". Pakistan Press International (Asia Africa Intelligence Wire). October 13, 2003. http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-24718975_ITM. Retrieved 20 January 2010. 
  10. ^ Levin, Sergey (1974). "The Upper Bourgeoisie from the Muslim Commercial Community of Memons in Pakistan, 1947 to 1971". Asian Survey 14 (3): 231. doi:10.1525/as.1974.14.3.01p04292. ISSN 0004-4687. JSTOR 2643012. 
  11. ^ The Upper Bourgeoisie from the Muslim Commercial Community of Memons in Pakistan, 1947 to 1971, Sergey Levin, Asian Survey, Vol. 14, No. 3, Soviet Scholars View South Asia (Mar., 1974), pp. 231
  12. ^ "Memons". Richpaki.tripod.com. http://richpaki.tripod.com/memons.htm. Retrieved 2010-01-20. 
  13. ^ "Personalities". Memon.com. http://www.memon.com/community/personalities. Retrieved 2010-01-20. 
  14. ^ "Web Design | News Sites". Adamjee-engg.com. http://www.adamjee-engg.com/history.htm. Retrieved 2010-01-20. [dead link]
  15. ^ Tiger Memon wanted by Interpol Delhi

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