Momin Ansari

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Ansari (Arabic: انصاری) is a Nesbat used in the Middle East and South Asia. It originates from Ansar (Arabic: انصار) the Medinan people that helped Islamic prophet Muhammad when he migrated from Mecca to Medina. The literal meaning of Ansar is "supporters".

Arabic Usage[edit]

The name itself is not used as a surname among Arabs, patronymics is used instead. The word is added as a title to the end of the name, if one has an ancestor who was an Ansar. This kind of use of a name is called "Nesbat" in Arabic, meaning "relation". In modern times, however, the surname Al-Ansari is widely used in many Persian Gulf and Arab nations.

Iranian Usage[edit]

In contrast, Iranians use surnames instead of Patronymics. In Iran, it has become a a Surname, since Iranian use surnames. This has also happened with the "Tabatabai", also originally a Nesbat.

Pakistani and Indian Usage[edit]

The Ansari surname goes as far as being used in Pakistan, northern India and Bangladesh, to show a lineage or ancestral link to the Ansar of Medina. Through the various waves of migration from the Arabian Peninsula, Iran, Central Asia, and Afghanistan, descendants of the Ansar tribes arrived in the Indian Subcontinent. These families, mainly came either as scholars, government administrators and functionaries, soldiers or officers. Ansaris in the Indian Subcontinent hail both from the Shi'a and Sunni Muslim schools of thought.

The main original settlements and concentrations of Ansaris on the Indian Subcontinent, were in Multan, Pakistan; the Sindh province, Pakistan; Lilla, in western Punjab, Pakistan; Panipat, India; Saharanpur, India; Gorakhpur, India; and Lucknow, India - see,Firangi Mahal.

It seems that over a period of time, others, and many of the new Muslim converts, in India also identified themselves as Ansari, to show reverence to their Islamic faith. Many of these in northern India and Pakistan were involved in fabric manufacturing i.e. weavers (Urdu: julahay). Often, but not necessarily, Ansari is used to identify a caste, as well. In the Indian Hindu Caste System and in the (Urdu: baradari) system traditionally, different cast were involved or associated with different trades or professions. See also, Islam in India.


Ali Asgher Razwy, a 20th century Shi'a Twelver Islamic scholar states:

Umar's attitude toward the Ansar is in sharp contrast to the attitude toward them of Muhammad, the Messenger of God. The latter loved the Ansar. He appointed many of them as governors of Medina, and he made many of them commanders of various expeditions. On one occasion he said that he would rather be with them (the Ansar) than with any other people. He also considered them capable of and qualified to rule the Muhajireen.

Montgomery Watt The remark of Muhammad about Sa'd bin Mu'adh when he was about to judge the case of Banu Qurayza, "Stand for your chief (Sayyid)," could be taken to justify the view that the Ansar were capable of ruling over Quraysh, and the story was therefore twisted in various ways to remove this implication. (Muhammad at Medina, Oxford, 1966)

The Apostle of God called Sa'd the Chief of the Quraysh. Sa'd was obviously capable of ruling the Quraysh, and why not? After all what was there in the "credentials" of the Quraysh that the Ansar didn't have? Nothing. But the Ansar lost their capability of ruling the Quraysh as soon as Muhammad, their master, died. During the caliphate of Abu Bakr and Umar, it was a "disqualification" to be an Ansari to hold any important position in the government.

Far from having a share in the election of the head of the state, not to speak of themselves becoming the head of the state, the inhabitants of Medina, did not have a share in anything. They might have given some "advice" to Abu Bakr and Umar. In Saqifa, Abu Bakr and Umar had told them that they would consult them (the Ansar) in all matters.

Few, if any, would challenge the general interpretation of this poignant fact that the most important and most indispensable single factor in the year 1 of Hijri, namely, the support of the Ansar, had become the most striking non-factor in the year 11 Hijri.

The Ansar fought in all the campaigns of Abu Bakr and Umar but only as other ranks and never as generals. The new wealth which came flooding into Medina after the conquest of Persia and the Fertile Crescent, also appears to have bypassed them with the exception of a few, who collaborated with the Saqifa government. Among the latter were the two spies from the tribe of Aus who had squealed on the Khazraj to Umar and Abu Bakr. Others were Muhammad bin Maslama, Bashir bin Saad, and Zayd bin Thabit. They had shown great zeal in taking the oath of loyalty to Abu Bakr in Saqifa.

Zayd bin Thabit was one of the few Ansaris who shared the bonanza in the times of Umar and Uthman. He was also one of the few Ansaris who did not take part in the campaigns of Ali in Basra, Siffin and Nehrwan. Most of the Ansaris fought on Ali's side against his enemies in these battles.

Present circumstances[edit]

The Ansaris of North India are mainly a landless community, but some of them are small and medium scale farmers, and have always been connected with the art of weaving. Some many members of the community have entered private or government service. Their relationship with the Sadh community of some importance, as they supply the Momins with the cotton cloth, used for printing.[2]:985

The Ansaris do not have any traditional social councils, but have an India-wide community organization, the All India Momin Conference. They are an endogamous community, only rarely marrying out of their group. There is no system of clans, and cross and parallel cousin marriages are common.

The Ansaris are Muslims of the Sunni Hanafi fiqh, and are fairly orthodox, but are divided along sectarian lines between the Barelwis and Deobandis. Historically, the community produced the sage and philosopher, Kabir, and some members of the community had been Kabirpanthi. The Ansari are an Urdu speaking community, although the Ansari clan of Gujarat have Gujarati as their mother tongue.[2]:984

In Bihar[edit]

The Ansari community is found throughout Bihar and Jharkhand. In Bihar, they are found in all the districts. They are active in politics. Their socio-economic condition has been improving constantly. They are playing active roles in all walks of life in Bihar. In Jharkhand, they are mainly found in Koderma, Hazaribagh, Gumla, Ranchi, Lohardaga and Singhbhum districts. They speak the Sadri dialect, which is distinctive to the community, although most have knowledge of Urdu. The community is endogamous, and marry within a close kin group. Like other Ansaris, they were historically weavers, although most of them are medium and small scale farmers. Many of them are market gardeners, and grow and sell potatoes, cabbages and other vegetables, and sell them in Calcuta and Patna. The Momin Conference was founded in Bihar, and the Bihar Ansaris have played a key role in the organization.[3]

Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz (Urdu: "Marginalised Muslim Front"‎) is an Indian Muslim social reform organization dedicated to the emancipation of the Dalit Muslims belonging to the Arzal community in the South Asian Muslim clan system. It was founded by Ali Anwar in Patna, Bihar.[4]

In Gujarat[edit]

In Gujarat, there are two distinct communities that are commonly known as Momin, the native Gujarati-speaking Garana Ansari, and the immigrant Shaikh Ansari community, originally from North India. The Garana Ansari community in Gujarat are found mainly in the districts of Junagarh, Ahmedabad, Surat and Kutch. They are also known as Turia and Tari. The Momin have eight clans, the Dhoralia, Mehetar, Mithwani, Rajbani, Kora, Chutani, Arbani and Dhorijiwala. They speak Gujarati with substantial Urdu loanwords. In addition to membership of the Momin Conference, the Gujarat Ansaris also have their own clan association, Garana Sayed Fari Jamaat. The traditional occupation of the Ansari is still weaving. Many of them are engaged in zari work, which involves sari embroidery. This is especially the case in the towns of Jamnagar and Dhoraji, each which have traditional quarters inhabited by the Ansaris. Most Surat and Ahmadabad Ansari are now employed in the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited clerk post, and local textile mills.[5]:972–976

The Shaikh Ansari are an Urdu-speaking community, and are said to have immigrated from Delhi, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh some three hundred years ago. In Baroda, they were invited by the ruling dynasty to help in the construction of public buildings from Rajasthan. The Shaikh Ansari are divided into four endogamous groups, the Bijnor Ansari, originating from the city of Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh, the Ganga Parvala, originating from the village of Gomtipur and its sarrounding in Uttar Pradesh, the Delhiwala, originally from Delhi and finally the Pratapgarh Ansari originating from the city of Pratapgarh and surrounding areas in eastern Uttar Pradesh. They are mainly distributed in the cities of Ahmedabad, Surat, Bharuch, Baroda, and Rajpipla.[5]:69–73

Weaving was the traditional occupation of the Ansari, and at present those in Ahmadabad are still engaged in this activity. Many Ahmadabad Ansari are now power loom owners. But many Shaikh Ansari have also diversified, and now own hotels and bakeries. They are among the more successful Muslim community in the state, having made the transition from their traditional occupation to becoming successful businessmen. The level of literacy is steadily increasing, and many Ansari are now graduates.

The Ansari have no traditional clan association, but are members of the All India Momin Conference. Historically, each of the four sub-divisions would have had their own informal clan association, headed by a chaudhary. These have all but disappeared.

In Rajasthan[edit]

The Ansari of Rajasthan claim that they were once warriors, who after a defeat in the past, took to the occupation of weaving. They also known as Deswali Shaikh, and speak the Madri dialect, which is a mixture of Urdu and Hindi. They are one of the larger Muslim communities in Rajasthan, and are found in the districts of Tonk, Jaipur and Sawai Madhopur. The Ansari are strictly endogamous and practice both parallel and cross cousin marriages. There main occupation is weaving, and they use both hand held and power looms. Quite a few are now involved in tailoring and the manufacture of bidis, a local cigarette. The Rajasthan Ansari are members of the Momin Conference, as well as having local informal clan councils, which deal with inter community disputes, while the Momin Conference acts as a pressure group dealing with the state government. The Ansari are Sunni and Deobandi, and have provided many of the Ulema in Rajasthan.[6]:459–462

Momin of Maharashtra[edit]

The Momin of Maharashtra are descended from immigrants from North India. They are split into two groupings, the giyara gaonwala and the bais goanwala, the former are found in Ahmadnagar, while the latter are found near Pune. The Momin were historically a community of weavers, found mainly in the towns and cities of western Maharashtra. They are found mainly in the districts of Pune, Nasik, Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Jaina, Osmanabad, Dhule, Nagpur, Thane and Raigarh. The community speak Urdu, but the Momin are bilingual, speaking Marathi as well. They are strictly endogamous, and tend to marry close kin. The Momin are Sunni, and are fairly orthodox community. There traditional occupation was weaving, and many Momin have set uop handlooms. Those Momin who have set up powerlooms tend to be more successful. Many Momin are employed by other Momin in these powerlooms, this especially the case in the towns of Bhiwandi and Nagpur. A significant number of Momin are also employed in the textile industries. The Momin are largely an urban community, with only small number found as agriculturists. Many Momin are now successful entrepreneurs and professionals such as teachers, engineers and doctors. Like other Ansari communities, the Momin are members of the All-India Momin Conference, one of the oldest Muslim communal organizations in India. This organization acts as a welfare organization, as well as lobbying on behalf of the community.[7]:1473–1478


Main article: Muhajir people

After the independence of Pakistan in 1947, many members of the Momin Ansari community migrated to Pakistan and settled mainly in the Sindh province. The Momin Ansari is mainly settled in Karachi and Hyderabad cities of the Sindh province. The Momin Ansari lost their distinct group identity as they assimilated and are now integral part of the Urdu speaking Muhajir community of Pakistan.

Notables Indian Ansari[edit]

Notables women[edit]

  • Bushra Ansari (Urdu: بشریٰ انصاری‎; PP), is a Pakistani television presenter, singer, actress, comedian, playwright, and author who started as a child performer in the 1960s and has remained a major TV personality for over four decades.

Notables Sufi[edit]

'* Pir Roshan (Pashto: بايزيد انصاري‎), also known as Pīr Roshān or Pīr Rokhān (Pashto: پیر روښان‎, "the enlightened Pir"; Persian: پیر روشن‎) (1525 – 1581/1585),[8] was a Pashtun warrior, poet, Sufi master and intellectual from the Ormur tribe. The Ormur tribe are known to feign Arab descent by claiming the title of Ansari.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b K. S. Singh, People of India Uttar Pradesh, Volume XLII Part Two. Manohar Publications
  3. ^ People of India Bihar Volume XVI Part One edited by S Gopal & Hetukar Jha pages 70 to 74 Seagull Books
  4. ^ For the minority and Muslim of the India, Mashhood Ahmad developed an organization i.e. Rashtriya Pasmanda Minority Muslim Party. The president of this is Dr. Shad Ahmad. Empowering Dalit Muslims, by Yoginder Sikand
  5. ^ a b R. B. Lal, P. B. S. V. Padmanabham, G. Krishnan & M. Azeez Mohideen (eds), People of India Gujarat Volume XXI Part Two
  6. ^ B. K. Lavania, D. K. Samanta, S. K. Mandal & N. N. Vyas (eds.), People of India Rajasthan Volume XXXVIII Part One, Popular Prakashan
  7. ^ B. V. Bhanu, B. R. Bhatnagar, D. K. Bose, V. S. Kulkarni and J. Sreenath (editors), People of India Maharshtra, Volume XXX Part Two
  8. ^ "Bayazid Ansari on Khyber.Org". 

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