Histroy Of Cutchi Memon Jamath

Remembering Our Roots - A Brief History

Past President

  • 1905 Hajee Abdul Rehman Allarakhia Sajjan 1905 – 1919 Hajee Essa Abba Sait 1925 – 1938 Hajee Ebrahim Ayoob Sait 1938 - 1950 Hajee Joonus Abba sait 1950 - 1951 Khan Bahadur Haji Mohd Moosa sait 1951 - 1953 Khan Bahadur Yusuf Joonus Sait 1982 - 1985 Mohamed Adam Sait 1985 - 1988 Mohamed Adam Sait (Cutch) 1990 - 1993 Moosa Sattar Sait 1993 - 1995 Moosa Sattar Sait 1995 - 2000 Moosa Sattar Sait 2000 – 2008 Muhammed Iqbal Essa Sait 2009 – 2013 Mohamed Hussain A.K Galaria 2013 – 2015 Mohammed Zaid Ebrahim Sait 111

Past Secretaries

1950 – 1951 Mohamed Hashim Cassim Sait
1951 – 1953 Abdul Khadir Mohamed Sait
1953 – 1958 Mohamed Sulaiman Zackria Sait
1958 – 1966 Abdul Kbdul Khader Sait
1966 – 1969 Abdul Khader Sait
1969 – 1974 Yunus Zackria Sait
1974 – 1982 Yunus Zackria Sait
1982 – 1985 Ebrahim Hajee Oosman Sait
1985 – 1988 Mohamed Ismail Sulaiman Sait
1988 – 1990 Mohamed Ismail Sulaiman Sait
1990 – 1993 Moosa Sulaiman Sait
1993 – 1995 Moosa Sulaiman Sait
1995 – 2000 Moosa Sulaiman Sait
2000 – 2009 Mohamed Ismail Sait
2009 – 2013 Usman Ebrahim Sait

Memon Community Came into existence in 824 A.H. When 700 familes comprising of 6178 persons belonging to the old and famous Lohana community of sindh accepted Islam. After having accepted Islam these people naturally differed from their fore-fathers (i.e.Lohana community) in their mode of Living. However, the customs, usages and the feeling of unity, inherited by them from the Lohanas, remained at work all the time and it is on account of these things that this community distinguished itself from other Muslim communities. One main purpose of narrating the history and describing the religion, culture, life and community feeling of Memos is that the present members of the community after getting inspiratiion from the unity and character of their ancestors may work together for a bright future. Here two questions arise (a) What were the reasons for Lohanas to accept Islam? (b) What are the qualities which Memons have inherited from their ancestors i.e. Old Lohana community?

The ancient historical books of sindh refer to members of Lohana community living there around the year 300 B.C When the ruler of Sindh was a king named Ind. This takes us to the period when Alexander the Great came to India about 327 B.C. King Ind had divided Sindh into four parts and one of these parts was made up of Lohana and Nadma. Nagar Tatta and regions all around were included in this sector of Sindh. After the death of king Ind, the country of sindh was ruled by severel kings belonging to Nabih, Tak, Momaid, Rai and Brahmin dynasties. Raja chach, the first king of Brahmin Dynasty ruled during the Seventh century A.D. (i.e about the year 1 A.H.) and it is from the days of this king that the historical period Sindh begins. The Arab historians and travellers of those days have given beautiful description of sindh and Raja Chach in their books and Safer Names (accounts of their travels). It is described that the Hindu community of Sindh was divided into four castes. The Lohana community, because of being a business community , belonged to the Vaishya Caste. Lohanas were divided into 108 tribed and each tribe carried a different name which in sindhi language is called a Nukh (Meaning Title).

After Raja Chach his son Daber came to the throne. It was during the reign of the king that Muhammed Bin Qassim, By an order from Hajjaj Bin yusuf , the Governor of Iraq, raided Sindh in the Year 92 A.H. and after conquering Sindh laid foundations of a stong Muslim kingdom. Muhammed Bin Qussim ruled over Sindh with the law of justice and during his very much. The Arab conquerors ruled over Sindh for about 300 years during which the feeling of brotherhood, calture, morality and spiritualism of Islam produced serious effects on other communities of Sindh. Ultimately 700 families of Lohana community living in Thatta accepted Islam under the auspicious hands of pir yusufuddin Saheb (May the mercy of God be on bim) and followed the Hanafi path.

During those days Sindh was under the king of Kabul who had appointed AyubKhan as its Governor and Murakkab Khan as the Deputy Governor.These two people welcomed pir yusufuddin and made him their guest. At that time three leading persons of the Lohana community were acting as special advisers to Murakkab Khan in the State Ministry. Murakkab Khan who had great faith in pir yusufuddin, visited the saint frequently. This revealed Murakkab Khan's faithfulness and obedience to the Saint. These frequent visits of Murakkab Khan's faithfulness and obedience to the Saint. These frequent visits of Murakkab khan attracted people of the other communities towards pir Yusuffuddin and the three leaders of Lohana community, who were impressed by the Saint's absorption, humility, purity of soul, and high virtues, accepted Islam. Manekji was the first to adopt Islam and he was followed by his son Ravji whom the pir Saheb gave new name of Ahmed. Later on two out of Ravji's three sons whose names were Sunderji and Hansraj followed their father's footsteps and they were named Adam and Taj Mohamed respectively. After these influential places followed the footsteps of their leader.

Pir Yusufuddin when he saw the determination , Courage and strong faith of these people called them "Momins, ' and appointed Adam (previously Sunderji) as their leader and guide. Pir Sahed also gave Adam a special dress consisting of a long shirt, trouser, the waist coat, a jacket and a turbon which members of the Memon community used as their traditional dress for centuries. The pir Saheb in his address said: "Dear Brethen, from today onwards you are Muslims , you have one God , one prophet, one Holy Book (Quran) and you are all brothers. Believe in God, follow His path and act according to the orders given in Quran. You will be honored in religion as well as in the world and you and your off springs will prosper for long time."

When the people of Sindh saw Islam spreading rapidly, they severed all their social, economic , and religious connections with those who had accepted Islam. This made them approach pir Saheb for their guidance. They said: " As we have accepted Islam our people are displeased with us. They have broken all social relations with us and have stopped all types of transactions with a view to make us revert to our old faith. What shall we do now? We are prepared to follow your orders. "The pir replied: "I advise you to migrate from here so that you can easily perform your duties to Islam after reaching another place. Our great prophet (May the blessings and mercy of God be on him) had also advised Muslims to migrate during the early years of Islam. You also now migrate and go to another place".

At this stage a question arises. Why is it that Muslims were compelled to migrate from Sindh though sindh though Sindh was under the rule of an Islamic Government of kabul. The reason beind this is that Muslim conquerors never interfered in the spread of religion and during their rule everybody had freedom of religion besides the rulers never participated in preaching Ialam. The work of preaching Islam was left to the saints like pir Yusufuddin and others. There have been a number of saints and men of religion in the entire plain of sind and particularly in the city of Thatta.

Following the orders received from the pir Saheb, 100 to 150 families of migrated from Thatta and settled down along a near by river named Variya.

The Memon community did not have peace even after leaving their homeland. Between 859 and 866 Hijri when jam sanjar was the ruler of sind, the Govt. Became so week that there was complete chaos and disorder. In the border areas berween southern sindh and Gujarat, the Baloochis became so powerful that they looted caravans of businessmen. This resulted in complete stoppage of traffic. Between Sindh and Gujarat which made it very difficult for the Memon community (Majority of them being business people) to stay in variya, therefore, they decided to migrate from Variya also. But this time the main reason for their migration was the search of livelihood which had become difficult due to the stopped of trade between sing and Gujarat as described above. This time they migrated in smail groups and in different directiions. It is the result of the group –migration that today we have Memons, divided into different sections.

One group of Memons , under the leadership of Ladha went to the state of Halar in Kathiawar and they are known as Halai Memons. Another group proceeded along the west coast and settled down in Surat, a commercial centre in those days and are now known as surti Memons. One group proceeded towards Karachi, a port of sind, and they are known as Sindhi Memons. A group of fifty young men proceeded towards punjab and settled in Lahore. However , their decendants are now divided in various groups but are not know as Momons today. Upto the year 947 A.H Memons stayed at variya. Their first leader was Adam seth who was appointed by pir Yusufuddin Saheb. Markun (Whose Islamic name was Rakunudin) was the son of Adam Seth also lived in variya. But Rukunddins son whose name was kana seth, along with the remaining families of Memons came to Bhuj (capital of cutch) and settled down. These people who settled down in cutch are called cutchi Memons.

When Kana Seth came to Bhuj, Raja  Rakhengarji was the ruler of cutch. The king when he came to know of Kana Seth (who was a well known businessman) desired that kana seth and his colleagues should make a permanent stay in Cutch. This was because he felt that their stay in cutch would bring prosperity to his country. The king also bestwed titles on Kana Seth and gave him a special dress. Kana Seth was highly respected in Bhuj and he constructed a grand Mosque there. Kana seth's son Maman also constructed a mosque. In short several Cutchi Memon families constructed mosques and musafarkhanas (free guest houses) and did other public welfare works in cutch and other places.

After leaving Nagar Thatta, the economic conditions of the Cutchi Memon community had worsened. They had no proper means of livelihood and they had to live from hand to mouth, In spite of this they were firm in their faith and honesty was their basic principle of life. They possessed good character and had good habits & virtues. Their unity made them powerful and praiseworthy. They helped each other. It was on account of these qualities that even during their critical period of sufferings they followed Islam strictly by maintaining high principles of Islam and refraining themselves from forbidden things. the righteous and lawful earnings, with truth in their daily life, wear part of their good nature. This was all because they were great lovers of religion. They were so generous and kind-hearted that even during the period of suffering with their earnings, they not only maintained them selves but shared it with religious men, needy,helpless and poor people, and beggars. They were kindhearted, humble, tolerant, for bearing and were not proud of themselves. Their domestic life was quite and simple. Their simplicity , good character and ideal life had great effects on other communities who were much impressed by them.m.

At last the Almighty God took mercy on the community and rewarded their patience and endurance by showering upon them the generous clouds of magnanimity. Fortune favored them and the gates of prosperity were thrown open. Thus after 400 years of wandering in search of settlements Cutchi Memons settled down permanently in different parts of india, as businessman. In course of time the prosperity of their business made them go to other parts of the world.

Accordingly during the early years of the nineteenth century, Cutchi Memons with a desire to expand their business started to settle down in Bombay, Culctta, Madras and Malabar Which in those days were important ports and commercial centers of British settlements in India.

Muslims ruled over India for a number of centuries and the period of Moghul Rule is described as the Golden Age of Muslim rule in India. During the reign of Emperor Jehangir, British East India Company acquired permission to construct a business colony in surat. At the request of sir Thomas Roe, the British Ambassad or, Emprror jehangir exempted from duties the goods of british origin. On account of this the British East India co. Made rapaid progress in business. After the death of Aurangzab his successors, who were lovers of pleasure, could not rule of the country well and all the government became weak. Due to the inability of the last Moghul ruler the Matathas became  so powerful that the Moghul king Shah Alam was a ruler for name's sake and reins of the government were in the hands of Marathas. When British conquered Delhi they fixed a pension for the Moghul ruler. Thus , British who came to india as traders took advantage of the pervailing disunity among indians and ultimately became the rulers of india. In 1857 after suppressing the war of Independence they arrested the Moghul king Bahadur shah Zafar on a charge of mutiny and sent him to Burma. Within a few months India became a part of the British Empire. The commercial policy of the British in India had indirect effects on the prosperity of business of cutchi Memons and hence the history of the British Government in India is intimately connected with the community's history.

In the year 1175 A.H. (I.e. 1761 AD) after defeating the portuguese, British acquired full control over Indian trade and started large scale trade in India. Later on they purchased lands around Bombay, Calcutta and Madras and established their commercial settlements. The East India company was given monopoly of Indian trade by the British Monarch who ruled over a large territory of India.

In the year 1238 A.H. (I.e 1813 AD) the British parliament passed an act by which the monopoly of Indian thade given to the East India Company came to an end and the Indian trade was made free for all the British people. This law proved a signal of prosperity for the Cutchi Memon community and a new opportunity came to them for rapid progress in business. With in a few months after the passing of the above Act, a number of British traders ans representatives of small companies came to India with commercial motives and estabilshed their offices particularly in Bombay , Calcutta and Madras.

Two years after the enforcement of the Act of 1813, British established their control over Cutch and a large number of Cutchi Memons (a community of businessmen) at the advice of the pir Saheb left Cutch to settle down in British territories because a number of opportunities were now available to them.

This timely movement from Cutch and settlement In british territories procured for them unlimited success In trade. This was because a large number of British traders and representatives of small British companies who came to India did not have adequate knowledge of the Indian business. These traders and the representatives of companies did not belong to business. These traders and the representatives of companies did not belong to business community but they were rich and respectable persons of Britain who desired to take advantage from the withdrawal of trade monopoly after 1813. Thus besides being unaware of the commercial conditions In India, they were also inexperienced businessmen. As a result of this they became dependent on the local business communities and had to establish contacts with them. The position of East India company was different from the traders and trade representatives . The company had a number of settlements in India through which it could purchase Indian goods and sell foreign imported goods. These facilities were not available to private British traders and, therefore, they were dependent on the local business  men in commercial matters. As a result of this a large share of foreign trade which was the monopoly of the East India company passed into the hands of Indians through the newcomers ans so also a large share of profits from foreign trade was acquired by the Indians.

The greed of British people to rule over other people was not confined to India alone. They conquered many other countries and became rulers. British traders established their commercial offices in various parts of the Empire and Cutchi Memon businessmen followed them lile a shadow thus sperading over different parts of Asia and Africa including China ans Japan. By the end of the 19th century Cutchi Memons were the reward of their honesty, industy, labor, inherited business qualities , experience, magnanimity and determination. A part from these characteristics they achieved great success in business on account of honest and truthfulness in business dealings with others. They were well established more than a hundred charitable trust, worth crores of rupees, during the last quarter of the nineteenth century gives us an idea of their large income and profits earned from their business. Even today a great number of their memorials such as mosques, musafarkhanas, schools hospitals etc, are found not only in Cutch and India but in various leading cities of Asia and Africa.

By the close of the nineteenth century the Indian public became tired of the British rule in India and a desire for political freedom arose leading to freedom movement in India. The Catchi Memon community also took active part in this movement both physically as well as financially. Many of them went to jails and rich people gave large donations for the movement. One such example is that of Late Mr. Umer Sobani who associated himself with Mr. Annie Besant's Home Rule League right from the beginning and himself paid a large share of Home Rule League's expenses. He also participated vigorously in the Khilafat Movement and contributed Rs. One Lac to the Khilafat Fund. In 1918 when Ghandhiji, the Father of the Nation , asked him to contribute to the Tilak Swarajya Fund he gave a blank chaque and Gandhiji wrote an amount of Rs. One Lac with his own hands.

During the First world war, Cutch became a commercial centre because it was declared a free port. Hence large quantities of foreign imported goods collected there and people from different parts of the country went there to purchase foreign goods at low prices. A big foreign exchange market developed in Cutch. Cutchi Memon traders also dealt in foreign exchange. However , this trade of foreign goods proved a gamble and after the end of the world war when the rates of exchange fell repidly most of the traders suffered losses and many of them became bankrupt.

Cutchi Memons had invested their wealth and profits earned during the war in imported goods, shares of new industries and landed properties. No sooner the war was over the prices of improted goods fell down and traders had to suffer heavy looses. Now industries of India, which had prospered on account of the shortage and high prices of foreign goods had to be closed down suddenly. Prices of their shares went down with the result that there were no buyers for shares. These togerher with a fall in the prices of landed properties due to depression added to the losses. This period was an unlucky period for all the Indian traders and a large number of them became bankrupt. However , most of the Cutchi Memon businessmen in order to maintain their credit in the commercial world met their liabilities by selling all their properties and other assets including gold and arnaments of their female folks. It was also because they did not want to give up their commercial inheritance and, there fore, in spite of suffering heavy losses they did not become nervous and continued in trade as usual. Immediately, thereafter another incident took place and this along with further monetary losses also discouraged Cutchi Memon businessmen. This was the post –war fall in the exchange value of the rupee. On account of this Indian merchants had to pay double prices for the imported goods and were forced by circumstances to suffer heavy losses.

Before these losses could be recovered, further losses had to be borne on account of the momentum gained by Khilafat Movement, Non Co-operation Movement and Swadeshi Movement. After Swadeshi Movement was launched people started boycott of foreign manufactured goods. Within a short time British goods worth crores of rupees piled up in the godowns since no one was prepared to buy even at throwaway prices and later on these goods were burnt down to ashes in support of the demand made b the Indian public. Cutchim Memons,  who were mostly dealers in British goods, overwhelmed with their love for the motherland did not hesitate to co-operate with the founders of the movement and bear huge monetary losses.

As a result of the heavy losses suffered on account of the war, fall in the value of rupee, and the Swadeshi Movement most of the Cutchi memons sepatared themselves from trade and invested all their remaining wealth in landed properties which fetched them low and fixed returns in the form of rent. In the past since trade gave them high incomes were limited they had to face difficulties because their incomes went down and expenses rose high . The obvious result of this was the downfall of the community because within a few years a community of traders, which for many centuries prospered due to increased returns from trade, turned into a community of people who had entered service . When the second world war broke out the number of Catchi Memon businessmen was very low and, therefore , they could not reap the benefits of increasing profits that came to the traders after the end of the second world war.

Sines the Cutchi Memons were converts, in many matters they followed the hereditary laws of their forefather I.e Lohanas. In order to enable Cutchi Memons to be governed by Muhammadan Law , special Acts were passed in 1920 (Act No.XLVI of 20) and in 1938 (Act X of 1938) and were know as the Cutchi Memon Acts. Sir Ebrahim Haroon jaffer and Seth Abdul Razzak A. Sattar lakhani both of whom were members of the central Council of states were responsible for getting these Acts passed by the Government.

On 15th August 1947, after a long struggle for freedom, India become independent. During this period of struggle all the communities took active part. Cutchi Memon Community also did not lag behind, and took active participation giving its contribution in all possible manners, for achievement of national freedom.

Nineteenth century proved to be a period of prosperity for Cutchi Memons. Many businessmen made large profits from their business and accumulated large amount of wealth. But as they were lovers and strict followers of religion, these people did not use their wealth for themselves alone. They used it for others too. They gave a large amount of charities because charity is one of the five main principles of Islam. It was this nature of Cutchi Memons of the nineteenth century that the community as produced great philanthropists who have set aside large share of their wealth for welfare of Cutchi Memons as well as others by establishing charitable Trusts. As present there are more than 300 charitable Trusts established by Cutchi Memons in different parts of India.

Histroy Of Cutchi Memon Jamath - Chennai

There is no authentic record of the first known migration of Cutchi Memons to Madras. It is, however , known that a Cutchi memon, Mr. Abdul Rahim patel was deputed from Karachi as the "Patel of Madras" sometime before 1870. He is known to have conducted business in Madras after his arrival. Records show that his son, Mr. Zakaria Abdul Rahim sait, "Mateen", Who was a prolific writer was born in Madras in 1884 . Early records also show that, in 1880 , the corporation of Madras allotted land for Cutchi Memons to use as their cemetery.

During the period many Cutchi Memon families settled in Madras and for reasons of convenience resided in Anderson street and Chinnathambi street of George Town area. By the turn of the 20th century, it is on record that the First president of The Cutchi Memon janab Hajee Ebrahim Sait followed by janab Hajee Jonus Abba Sait.

Hajee Essa Abba Sait was a businessman and a philanthropist. During 1917 he gifted a property in chinnathambi street to be used as a Jamath Khana and also gifted a few other properties to meet the social needs of the poorer of our members. He created a Trust in 1919 to impart religious teachings and to donate books to all deserving Cutchi Memon children. He also established a Musafir Khana for all muslim visitors and took an active interest in the construction of a Masjid in Andersoon street: this Masjid is now known as Memon Masjid.

A few illustrious Cutchi Memons of Yesteryears are as follows : Adam Hajee Mohammed sait who came to Madras in 1902 and was the first Cutch Memon to be conferred the title of Khan Bahadur by the British. Already a president of the south India Chamber of Commerce, he became the sheriff of Madras. He also held the position of director , Reserve Bank of India Madras. He also held the position of Director, Reserve Bank of India Madras Province.

Two Other Cutchi Memons of Madras were honoured with the title of Khan Bahadur by the British: Mr. Moosa Hajee Ebrahim sait and Mr. Hajee Yousuff Hajee joonus sait.

Mr .Joonus Abba Sait (Brother in law of Hajee Essa Abba Sait) from Bellary in 1904 taking to the textiles business. Another family name in the same line of business was that of Hajee Aboobacker & sons.

Mr.Hameed Hassan migrated to Madras in 1920 or so and practiced Law in the Madras High Court. He was responsible for framing the Rules and Regulations of Hajee Essa Abba sait Trust. His eldest son Mr. Mohamood Hassan was instrumental in calling Mr.Marmaduke pickthall an Englishman and a revert to Islam is well Known for his academic work in particular to his translation of The Holy Quran.

Mr. Yacoob Hassan sait was another noteworthy Cutchi Memon in the Political arena and was a member of the Madras Legislative Council in 1916. He was later a member of the Rajaji Cabinet in 1941.

The list is long and endless but for the purposes of a peep into history it world be well within bounds to conclude that today there are about 350 or more members pursuing various interests and Alhamdu Lillah living and thriving as a Jamath.

Acknowledgements : (a) Excerpts taken from the Mumbai Memon Ditectory 1975.

(b) Abridged version of Mr.Moosa sattar sait. M.A., as appeared in the 1993 souvenir of The All India Cutchi Memon Federation's World Conference.

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