Surti Muslims

Surti Muslims

Surti Muslims (Surtees) adhere to Hanafi Sunni Islam. They originated from the districts of Surat and Ankleshwar in the state of Gujarat, India. Outside of India, Gujarati-speaking Sunni Muslims are also regarded as Surti or Surtees. A large number of Gujarati-speaking Muslims have immigrated throughout the world, especially to Pakistan, United Kingdom, South Africa, United States of America and Canada. The majority follow Darul Uloom Deoband for their religious guidance. They have established many mosques and Islamic schools throughout the world and have produced a large number of well-respected Ālim and Hifz. They are a Gujarati Muslim community.

Surti around the World

Many Surti Muslims live in Mumbai , especially in the Northern and Western suburbs such as Andheri , Jogeshwari , Goregaon , Malad , Kandivali and Nala Sopara where the Muslim population is quite high. They share the living space in Mumbai with Gujarati Hindus and Jains , especially along the busy SV Road. Most of them are Gujarati-speaking and are characterized by writing in the Gujarati script rather than in the Arabic script. They are mostly engaged in medium-sized businesses, and some of them are very prominent industrialists while some are very poor people. They still retain the traditional dress - the men wear a white skullcap known as topi and wear a white cotton full-sleeved shirt flowing and reaching down to the knees and sometimes to above the ankles, cut across to the upper thighs. The women still wear the all-enveloping Burqa sometimes referred to as the oonghat or ghoomto. This usually covers the head and hair, but not the face. Affluent women sometimes wear "designer" Burqas embroidered and sequinned. Many Surti Muslims live in the middle-class residential areas such as Sunder Nagar, Madinah Manzil and Rani Sati Nagar on SV Road. Many Surti Muslims can be found , usually engaged in the Dairy-business, such as owning Milk and Dairy products' stores , owning large Milking Centres and Cow and Buffalo sheds. Many of them are also professionally qualified Doctors and Engineers , and some have diversified into other business, like the Meat-Processing industry in Mumbai, and the Pharmaceutical Retail business. Surti Muslims are divided on the lines of Caste and Class like most other Gujarati Muslim communities. The Vohra (merchant) Caste is at the top of the social ladder, while the Backward Castes such as Khalipha (musician), Hajjam (barber) and Dhobi are much lower in the socio-economic ladder.fact|date=February 2008

Further it has been suggested that the Vohra merchant caste are largely descended from the union of Arab merchants with Hindu women, who settled in Gujarat in medieval times.

In Gujarat the Surati Muslims reside mainly in the Valsad, Navsari, Surat, Ankleshwar and Bharuch districts, and also in the major cities of Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Rajkot and Surat.fact|date=February 2008

Many Surati Muslims have immigrated to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya,Myanmar,Britain and America.fact|date=February 2008

Some famous Surti Muslims - Hashim Amla, Mufti Ebrahim Desai.fact|date=February 2008

urti Muslim Vohras in BURMA (Myanmar)

A large community of Surti Muslims especially Vohras(Sunny) are settled in Burma (now Myanmar). Majority in Rangoon (now Yangon). Mandalay and Molmein - three big cities of Burma but pockets of them can be found all over Burma. Their existence can be traced back to 18 century A.D. to Burmese monarchy period. During the rule of Mindon King in 19th.Century, his financial Minister was Ismail Mulla - a Surti Vohra. It is believed some other Surti Vohras were also King's advisers. On their suggestions, particularly of his minister Mulla, Burmese king Mindon made first ever contact with Hijaz (now Saudi Arabia). Sent a delegation with gifts for the ruler and built a BURMESE RABAT (meaning a free guest house)in Mecca to facilitate Burmese Muslim pilgrims. The seat of Government was then in Mandalay.

After the occupation of Burma by British in 19th. Century (1886~1948) more Surtis migrated from SURAT, Gujarat, India - their place of origin - to Burma and settled at Rangoon which developed into a city & capital of Burma during British Rule. Among them prominent were migrants from Rander, Variav, Kathore, Waracha, Barbodhan, Bharuch etc. - the villages of Surat District in India. They were religious minded business class of people. They built Madressas (elementary religious schools), Schools, Clinics, Hospitals, Markets and residential cum business buildings throughout Burma, especially at Rangoon & Mandalay. Surti Bara Bazar Company is notable as this company built Bazars at many big cities and town in early 20th. century. The Surti Bara Bazar at Rangoon & Mandaly were huge consisting of many blocks of the cities. These bazars are still existent though the company was Nationalised immediately after achieving independece in January 1948. These Surti Sunni Vohra though a small community in Burma were in fact the back bone of Burmese economy till 1962 when the military Dictator General Ne Win, took over the country & Nationalised all businesses & industries.

The Nationalisation rendered joblessness and some of the Surti Muslim Vohras migrated to India- their origin, Pakistan and U.K., U.S.A. etc. in search of lively hood.


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