Arabs in India
|Regions with significant populations|
|Gujarat • Eastern Uttar Pradesh • Hyderabad|
|• Gujarati • Urdu • Arabic|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Arabs (Hadhrami people) • Chaush • Siddi • Iraqi|
A small but recognizable people with Arab origins have over time settled in the India.Many who arrived in Gujarat were later recruited to the army. Most Gujarati Arabs were traders, and business men who sold or traded silk, diamonds and other valuables resulting in wealthy business men. The city of Surat and villages within the city are notorious for Arab settlements. Variav and Randev are the few villages that Arabs started their lives in. In Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Iraqis arrived in 15th and 16th century from Sindh, Pakistan. These people claim ancestry from Arab tribe of Bani Tamim.In Hyderabad, Chaush are Arab community of Hadhrami descent whose ancestors were recruited as soldier by Nizam of Hyderabad. In Kerala, Syed Thangals of Hadhrami descent settled around 17th century as missionaries to propagate Islam. There are also Shia Sayyids in Northern region of country who claim descent from Wasit, Iraq like Zaidis. Sunni Sayyid of the country also claim Arab descent from Sufi missionaries but it is hard to say that every Sufi really belonged to Arab. Most of the Sufis migrated from Persia. Sunni Sayyid also include converts from higher Hindu castes like Brahmin and Kshatriya. Sunni Sheikhs also claim Arab descent from Sufis or migrants but it remains hoax. They don't know their tribe but trace lineage from Umar, Abu Bakr and Uthman, the Rashidun Caliphate. Many of present Sheikhs converted from Hindu castes such as Kayasth and Rajput.
A small but recognizable people with Arab origins have over time settled in the state of Gujarat in India, primarily due to the proximity of Arabia to India. They now form one of the large Muslim communities in that state. They are also known as Chavuse, especially in Saurashtra. In Gujarat the term Arab strictly refers to families that came in the 17th, 18th and 19th Century from the Arabian Peninsula. The Arabs of Surat, Gujarat traveled from the Hejaz region of Saudi Arabia and the Hadhramaut region of Yemen, while many others claim to be from other countries of the Gulf. During the 18th Century, when Gujarat was divided into a number of states, many Arabs were recruited by the various rajahs for yet their armed forces. Arabs soldiers made a large part of the armies of Bhavnagar and Jamnagar states. During the early twentieth century, the Arabs abandoned Arabic for Urdu.
- Iraqi biradri in Eastern part of the state and in Kanpur claim descent from Arab tribe of Bani Tamim. During 15th or 16th century Sindh in Pakistan was hit by a major drought due to which some people of Thaheem tribe left their homeland with their families and migrated to Ghazipur and Ballia districts in the state. Thaheem of Pakistan claim to be descendants of Tamimi soldiers who arrived Sindh during Arab Invasion by Muhammed bin Qasim in 711 AD.
- Banu Israil-The exact circumstances of their settlement in India is unclear, but their traditions make clear that they were Muslims at the time of their settlement. They are largely an urban community, occupying distinct quarters in a number of towns and cities in western Uttar Pradesh, such as Banu Israilyan in Aligarh. Quite a few of them occupied important administrative positions under both the Sultanate of Delhi and its successor, the Mughal Empire. This was especially true of the Banu Israil of Aligarh, where the community were the heredity kotwals, a post which entailed being both the head of police and garrison commander
- Fareedi- Descendants of Hazrat Bābā Farīduddīn Mas'ūd Ganjshakar, the Sufi Saint of Pak Patan in Pakistan. Most Fareedis live in Pakistan while some have moved to what is India now, mostly in the province of Uttar Pradesh, basically Badayun region. From there some moved forward to Bangladesh.Most Fareedis carry the name Farooqi but some carry the name Fareedi or Faridi. Some even carry the name Masudi or Masoodi. Those in charge of Baba Farid's carry the title Diwan in addition to the name Farooqi.
- Mukeri-The name Muker is said to have derived from the Arabic makeri, meaning those who helped in the construction of Makkah. They were initially called Makkai, which meant the resident of Makkah, which was later corrupted to makeri. They are divided into two endogamous groups, the Mukeri and Shaikh Banjara. They rank themselves as Shaikh. The Shaikh Banjara are further divided into the Makrani, Muqri, Barmaki, Siddiqui and Shaikh. Different groups have different traditions to their origin, with the Makrani claiming Baluch ancestry.The Muker in Bihar claim to be descendants of early Arab settlers, whose initial area of settlement in South Asia was the Makran region. According to their tradition they arrived in Bihar during the period of Khilji ruler, and were initially known as Makrani, which was eventually shortened to Muker.
- Mujavir-The word mujavir literally means caretakers, and the Mujavir are the caretakers of the shrine of the famous Sufi, Saiyid Salar Masood in Bahraich. They claim that their ancestors came from Iraq, and were appointed custodians of the shrine. The Mujavir speak Urdu among themselves and Hindi with outsiders.
The Arabs are now found in the districts of Junagadh, Bhavnagar, Panchmahal and Surat. They are divided in 169 clans, but generally divided into groups, the Hejazi, originating from Saudi Arabia, and the Hadhramis from Yemen. Their main clans are the Akvon, Acari, Ansari, Anuj, Kathiri, and Qureshi. Each clan is of equal status, but the Qureshis are accorded seniority on account of the fact that they were the tribe of the Prophet Mohammad.
The Arab community is mainly landless. Military and security services in the armies of the states of Jamnagar, Junagadh and Bhavnagar was their traditional occupation. They are now mainly in urban community, and have taken up a number of professional occupations such as the law and medicine. A significant numbers have also emigrated to the Arab Persian Gulf states such as the Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The community have a caste association, the Akhil Gujarat Arab Samaj, which is active in community affairs. Another community that is active in community affairs is the Surati Sunni Vohra Community, which keeps lists of the Surati people and marriages within the community, and well as all Surati affairs. They are Sunni Muslims, with a few belonging to the Wahhabi sect. The community have remained strictly endogenous, with virtually no cases of intermarriage with neighboring Gujarati Muslim communities.
Arabs are found in Barkas, Hyderabad.
The Assadis are Arabs who were immigrants from Karbala, Iraq. They claim that they are a part of the Banu Asad tribe. The are found in Tokur, Shirva, Bolar, Udupi, Mangalore. Although they come from a prominent Shiite tribe, they are Sunni. They claim that their ancenstors arrived in India during the reign of Tipu Sultan.
- People of India Gujarat Volume XXII Part One Editors R. B Lal, P.B.S.V Padmanabham, G Krishnan and M Azeez Mohideen pages 74 to 77