||This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. (August 2010)|
|about 1 Million|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Sri Lanka, UAE & US|
Labbay, Labbai, Labba, Labbabeen (Tamil : லப்பய்), is an Islamic community in southern India. The region constitutes a trading community spread throughout the southern states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
Identity and origins
The community's name is derived from the Arabic phrase Labbay'k (Arabic: لبیک), which translates to "Here I am." The Labbay community is thought to be[vague] one of the first trading communities to arrive on the Coromandel and Malabar Coasts from abroad, consisting of fair-skinned, strongly-built Arabic traders from the Middle East who firmly established Islam here.
Labbays are said to have descended from traders who originated in the Persian Gulf, as well as many converts from the southern states of India. Since the late 13th century, Labbays specialized in the trade and manufacture of leather, tobacco, grains and spices from as far away as China and Southeast Asia.
Today, the Labbay community is based in towns including Kilakarai, Kayalpatnam, Adiramapattinam, Pazhaverkadu, Thondi, Nagore, and Erwadi. Labbays constitute a substantial percentage in the coastal villages and towns from the border of Andhra to Kanyakumari in Kerala, from Kanyakumari to the Karnataka border, and all over Sri Lanka. Tamil and Malayala Muslims share a common culture and words in a regard such as vappa (father), umma (mother), and ikkaka (elder brother).
There is a large Labbay community in Vellore district, with a large population of traders and leather manufacturers. They live in large numbers in Vellore, Melvisharam, Ambur, Vaniyambadi, Pernambut. These people have a distinct culture and earn a decent living. These community members may have migrated from Pondicherry, Cuddalore, Tirunelveli and from other coastal districts about 200 years ago. The majority of community members in Nagore and Erwadi are thought[vague] to be descendants of people from Cairo, Egypt, whereas those in Kilakarai are mostly descended from Arabia, Yemen and Iran.
Lebbay families settled more than 450 years ago in Kerala, Aleppuzha district, Chunakkara village, and old family houses still remain at "Theruvil Mukku" Chunakkara Panchayath,"Lebbedangu veedu."
- Religions and Communities of India -P. N. Chopra.