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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, Hoode, 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 Small & 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. 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), 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 Persian Gulf 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 Arab or 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; another theory postulates that the Nawayath community traces its lineage to Yemen from a noble group called Na’at in Hadramawt, Yemen. They sailed through the Arabian Sea with the intention of trade with India. Both Hadramawt and Bhatkal are at 15 degrees of latitude.

It is also claimed that integration of Arabs with the locals led to the Navayath community. D’ Souza writes, "The Arab sailors and traders who came to India have generated Muslim communities in different parts of India. Among them at least three different communities are known by the generic name of ‘Navayath’. It has been found that Navayaths are scattered in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Hyderabad, Tamil Nadu, Nellore, Arcot, Kolar, Hassan, Goa, Daman,Diu and Ratnagiri. These Navayaths unlike the Navayaths of Bhatkal (about whom this article deals with) have totally adopted the local culture and speak Urdu Or the local language.

Nawayats are migrants predominantly from Saudi Arabia,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 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]

While some colonial accounts proposed an origin in Iraq or Yemen, these are generally rejected today. D'Souza believes that only a few may have such a background.[5]


See also: Goan Konkani

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.[citation needed]

Family Names[edit]

Nawayathi family Names including those that are settled from other places are:

Some of common Navayathi family names are: Amberkhani, Agle, Ajaib, Ali Akbara, Alikku, Askeri, Akrami, Armar, Aydaroos, Baandeh, Barmawar, Bengre, Bhatti, Bota, Bidchol, Chadkhan, Chamundi, Chida, Choudari, Chumkar, Dabapu, Damda, Damdemanna, Damudi (Amoudi),Data, Dawalji, Dhinda, Durga, Esufji, Ekkery, Fakerde, Faqqi Bhao, Fakhroo, Gaima, Gangawali, Gawai, Ghias, Goltey, Guda Manna, Hajeeb, Hagalwadi, Harda, Hattulbe, Hejib,Hussaini, Ismailji (Keppa), Ishaqui, Jakti, Jeddy, Jiddah, Jushiddi, Kokan, Kadli, Kak Mohiddina (KM), Kasargod, Kakde, Kattingeri, Kazi, Kazia, Kelair, Khalifa, Kobatte,Kochebapu,Karani, Koteshwar, Kashimji, Khateeb, Khattal, Khazi, Lowna, Nouda, Mekkery, Maddas, Mahammdu Jaupa (MJ), Manna, Mani, Manegar, Maved, Muhajir, Mawda, Mohammada, Mohtesham, Mohtheshum, Mohtesham Rodda, Motiya, Moulavi, Muallim, Mohammed Hussaina (MH), Muhammad Habibi (MH), Mohammed Siddiqua, Mulla, Muniri, Musba, Naitey, Nakhuda, Nilawar, Peshmam, Patel, Phulare, Papa, Qazi, Quazi, Ruknuddin, Ruknuddin Saifulla, Shekrey (RS), Ruknuddin Shipai (RS), Sada, Sawda, Patel (SP), Sakardey, Sakarde, Suhakir, Shingeri, Shingati, Shakir, Sayeed, Showpa, Siddi Ahmada, KG, Siddiqua, Siddique, Sukri, Syed Jamaluddina (SJ), Syed Moheddina (SM), Syed Kazmi (SK), Taher, Tamburi, Wagh, Udyawar, Vazeer, Zangi,paula (sharif) , haderubber, Shaikh, Kadpadi, etc.

Some of the most well known surnames are:

Kashimji ,Sayeed,Shakir, Shabandari, Saifulla, Barmawar, Hussaini, Bhalli Shamoun, Syed, Mani,Manna,Mohtisham, Damudi, Ruknuddin, Siddi Bapa, Kola, Molana, Lowna, Askeri, etc.


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  4. ^ Khalid, Omar (2006). Muslims in the Deccan: A Historical Survey. New Delhi: Global Media Publications. pp. 17–18. 
  5. ^ D'Souza, Victor S. (1955). The Nawayaths of Kanara- study in culture contacts. Dharwar: Kannada Research Institute. pp. 12–20. 

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