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The Nawayath (also spelled Navayath and Nawayat) are an Indian Muslim community concentrated mostly in the state of Karnataka, and in southern Maharashtra and some parts of Tamil Nadu. Some live in Madhya Pradesh and many migrated to Pakistan after independence in 1947 and predominantly settled in Karachi.

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, while others argue that they were merchants that came from the Hadramowth region in Yemen, following the Sunni Shafi Madhab. 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[edit]

Jaffer Shariff (Qanoon-e-Islam),[full citation needed] translates Nawayath as newcomers (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. Some colloquial definitions deduce "Nawayath" as meaning the "Nine that came," possibly in reference to a folk story that nine Arab brothers settled in South Asia. These authors are unanimous in their opinion that the Nawayaths are either of Persian stock or of Arab descent but hold divergent opinions about their actual place of origin and the reasons for their exodus from the Persian Gulf. "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).[full citation needed]

S. K. Lal writes in the "Legacy of Arab Dynasty in India"[full citation needed] 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[full citation needed] 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.[1][2] With this a new caste system emerged.[3]

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[4]


  1. ^ "Don't hold a few bad apples against us, says Bhatkal". Business Standard. Retrieved 2017-12-27. 
  2. ^ "How prosperous Bhatkal town earned terror tag". The Times of India. 2013-08-30. Retrieved 2017-12-27. 
  3. ^ "'Indians rarely married outside after caste system came into being'". The New Indian Express. 2013-08-19. Retrieved 2017-12-27. 
  4. ^ Khalid, Omar (2006). Muslims in the Deccan: A Historical Survey. New Delhi: Global Media Publications. pp. 17–18. 

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