Memon people

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The term Memon refers to a a commercial caste from the western part of the Indian subcontinent, including Memons historically associated with Kathiawar. It also can refer to Kutchi Memons and Sindhi Memons.[1] Their descendants-speakers of the Memon language.

History[edit]

Sindhi, Gujarati origins[edit]

Gujrat, India
Circa early 20th Century

Memon lineage traces back to Lohanas of Multan, Sindh. The origin of the name comes from Maumin, which means “believer” and later evolved to present name Memon.[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.[3]

Merchant Tradesman Years[edit]

Memon Men
Photographs of Western India Series 1855-1862

Due to the mercantile nature of the community, Memons began a significant migration in 18th and 19th century to well beyond the borders of India. The continued migration would lead to communities developing in the Middle East, South Africa, Sri Lanka and East Asia.[2][4] Memon traders setup up a network of joint stock companies acting in coordination with other members in an area ranging from Central Africa to China.[1][5][6] By late 19th century several thousand Memons had settled in Bombay due to trading. Memon representative leaders traded with British capitalists to develop their Indian monopolies.[1]

Branches[edit]

Subgroups of Memons from Kathiawar[edit]

Main article: Memons (Kathiawar)

Languages[edit]

Social structure[edit]

Hindu Traditions[edit]

Memon Women
Photographs of Western India Series 1855-1862

While Memons are generally Sunni Muslims, many continue to follow Hindu common law in matters regarding property inheritance, community leadership structure and mutual support for members. Some in Memon community even continue to follow caste hierarchy practices. Memon see themselves to be from the the Hindu Kashitriya lineage. Within Memons, Kutchis view themselves as the highest lineage and are more hesitant get married to member of the Halai subcaste. Following Hindu commercial caste model, Memons also offer support community members in financial matters by giving loans and offering business assistance.[1][7]

Memons worldwide[edit]

Katchi Memon Masjid
Katchi Memon Masjid

Today, Memons are scattered throughout the world. Major concentrations of memon are located in Karachi, Pakistan and Gujrat, India. 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.[8] Memons were also one of three classes living in South Africa when Gandhiji went there in 1893, Memons were basically traders serving the Indian diaspora in South Africa. Memons are known for their involvement in business and philanthropy, with Memons having played a major part in the building of Pakistani industry.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e 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. 
  2. ^ a b Goolam, Vahed (2006). "'Unhappily Torn by Dissensions and Litigations': Durban's 'Memon' Mosque, 1880-1930". Journal of Religion in Africa 36: 23–49. 
  3. ^ 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. ^ Moore, Mick (1997). "The Identity of Capitalists and the Legitimacy of Capitalism: Sri Lanka since Independence". Development and Change 28 (2): 331–366. doi:10.1111/1467-7660.00045. ISSN 0012-155X. 
  5. ^ Papanek, Hanna (1972). "Pakistan's Big Businessmen: Muslim Separatism, Entrepreneurship, and Partial Modernization". Economic Development and Cultural Change 21 (1): 11. 
  6. ^ Eisenlohr, Patrick (1972). "The Politics of Diaspora and the Morality of Secularism: Muslim Identities and Islamic Authority in Mauritius". The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 12 (2): 400. 
  7. ^ MALLAMPALLI, CHANDRA (2010). "Escaping the Grip of Personal Law in Colonial India: Proving Custom, Negotiating Hindu-ness". Law and History Review (American Society for Legal History) 28 (4): 1060. 
  8. ^ "City Nazim praises services of Memon community". Pakistan Press International (Asia Africa Intelligence Wire). October 13, 2003. Retrieved 20 January 2010.