The Nawayath (also spelled Navayath and Nawayat) are a Muslim community concentrated mostly in Uttara Kannada, and Udupi in coastal Karnataka, India and some parts of Tamil Nadu India. It is an ethnic society, having its own unique traditions and distinct cultural identity. The Nawayathi community holds an important place among the other coastal Muslim communities, like Bearys of South Kanara district, Mappilas (Moplahs) of the Malabar coast and Labbay of the Coromandel coast. There are smaller distributed pockets of Nawayaths in Bhatkal, Murdeshwara, Manki, Honnavar, Kumta, Valki, Herangdi, Upponi, Gersoppa, Byndoor, Gangolli, Shiroor, Tonse, Malpe and Basrur in Karnataka and in Arcot district in Tamil Nadu. Meenambur, a small village close to Gingee south of Madras in Tamil Nadu, is the largest of these. Navyaths also found in Dewas District of Madhya Pradesh, also in Indore, Ujjain, Dhar District of Madhya Pradesh. Many have migrated to Pakistan after independence in 1947 and have predominantly settled in Karachi, Sindh. In Pakistan, Nawayath community speak Nawayathi as mother tongue. Majority of Nawayaths are involved in large & Medium businesses.
They trace their ancestry back to the Arab and Persian traders who arrived on the Western coast of South India during the medieval era.They are known to be one of the zoroastrians who migrated from Iran. They have several traditiona similar to that of the parsees of India. The Nawayaths are spread around India and the rest of the world. They maintain their strong sense of community and identity. There is a large Nawayath diaspora community of economic migrants working in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf.
The Nawayaths belong to the Sunni Shafi'i school of Islamic jurisprudence, unlike most Indian Muslims who generally adhere to the Sunni Hanafi school.
History of origin
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Jaffer Shariff (Qanoon-e-Islam), Colonel Wilkes (History of Mysore, vol 1), and the Imperial Gazetteer of India translate Nawayath as ‘New Comers’ (from Persian نوآید 'Nawāyad' which means newcomer). People from the Persia had established sustained trade relations with west coast of Arabian Sea since time immemorial. These authors are unanimous in their opinion that the Nawayaths are either of Persian stock but hold divergent opinions about their actual place of origin and the reasons for their exodus from the Persian Gulf. Colonel Wilkes states that the Nawayaths belong to the House of Hashem. In the early part of 8th century AD during the fearful reign of Hajaj bin Yusuf, the Governor of Iraq under the Caliph Abd-Al-Malik Marwan, many respectable and opulent persons fled Iraq fearing persecution. It is believed that they followed the route their fellow Arabs took for trade, anchoring on the west coast at several points. "While there may be some among the Nawayaths whose ancestry can be traced to those who fled Iraq during Hajaj bin Yusuf’s time not all ancestors are of that type", writes Victor D’ Souza in his book "Navayaths of Kanara"(1955).
SK Lal writes in the "Legacy of Arab Dynasty in India" that although Hajaj bin Yusuf was only the Governor of Iraq his influence and rule extended even to Persian speaking regions. Thus the Arabs and Persian traders carried on their commerce together, resulting in Persian influence in the coastal Indo-Muslim colonies.
Another theory relates Nawayaths to Iranians based on the influence of the Persian language on the language spoken by the Nawayaths and Persian elements in Navayaths culture, there is also the presence of an Iranian graveyard in bhatkal and most of the surname are Iranians which can be traced back to Iran even today.
Nawayats are migrants predominantly from Iran,who married into another trading community of India, the Jains who had been converted to Islam more than 1,000 years ago. With this a new caste system emerged.
The Mukri family for example settled in Musalman wadi, Ratnagiri . They trace their migration from Fez Morocco and Hadhramaut Yemen. The Mukris were Shafi Muslim scholars who fled Shia resistance in the 1400s after the fall of the Rasulid dynasty. The Mukri Koknanis speak a distinct Rajapuri dialect of Dakhani Hindustani.
The Indian historian Omar Khalidi says they are one of three groups of Indian Muslims who have used the Nawayarh name. These groups have common origins in the Arabian Peninsular and Persian Gulf regions, where they were mariners and merchants. and that they have also been called Nait, Naiti, Naita. groups is based mainly in the Bhatkal, Tonse, Malpe, Kandlur - Karnataka, while another is nowadays found in Chennai around Royapettah who have moved from Meenambur, a small village located between Gingee and Villupuram in the Villupuram District in the State of Tamil Nadu. A third group are generally known today as Konkani Muslims, after the region in which they live
The community speaks a dialect called ‘Nawayathi’. It is an amalgam of Persian, Arabic, Marathi and Urdu with Konkani as its base. The Nawayath language uses Persian script for writing, it is interesting to note that "Persian script" was being used to write by the Nawayathi's long before the language Urdu came into existence.
- Khalid, Omar (2006). Muslims in the Deccan: A Historical Survey. New Delhi: Global Media Publications. pp. 17–18.
- Pictures of Nawayathhs of Bhatkal
- Anjuman Institute of Technology and Management
- Famous News portal of Bhatkal
- Famous portal of Bhatkal