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Muslims of Bhatkal, Karnataka, India

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    Muslims of Bhatkal, Karnataka, India

    Bhatkal is a very small town located in North Karnataka, India near the Maharashtra border.

    Check out this site to know about this large Muslim community of Bhatkal. There are 38 large mosques in this small town. Most of these are proud of their Indian heritage.


    The mention of the name Bhatkal will invariably conjure before anyone the image of Navayaths. Yes, Navayaths are a decisive force in Bhatkal. As is natural in the case of all human beings, the Navayaths also have made a relentless search for their roots and have come up with a plausible answer.
    They are a small yet significant sect among the Muslims and are living mainly in and around Bhatkal. They have traced ancestry to the Arabs, the traders of the medieval.

    Settlements of Navayathis

    Their old settlements comprise clusters of old structures in compact areas and are called Saiys. Houses are seen constructed wall to wall on either side of the street. In every street. there is a mosque catering to the spiritual needs of the devout inhabitants. The new settlement consist of beautifully designed sprawling mansions with all amenities usually available in megacities.

    Mode of Life

    The traditional code of dress of Navayath men consists of kurta, lungi and topi. Their ladies have opted for the local Indian way of dressing. Not withstanding this, full purdah is a must for women. The Navayaths are generally light skinned and good looking. They are very religious-minded. The 38 mosques of Bhatkal bear eloquent testimony to their piety and so do the numerous religious schools established in this town. This is further substantiated by the fact that there is quite a large number of young Hafiz who have committed the entire Holy Quran to memory. Quite many of them belong to the age group 12-15. Jamia Islamia, the premier and prestigious college for Islamic learning for boys attracts students from far and wide. Similarly Jamiatus-Salihat is an institution meant for girls.

    Social Customs

    Navayaths of Bhatkal do not go in for intercaste marriages. There may be exceptions, but exceptions, it is said, only prove the rule. Marriages are conducted as laid down in the laws of Islam. It is gratifying to note that the obnoxious and much-hated dowry system has not raised its dirty head in the Navayath community and has been strictly prohibited. Wherever the Navayaths go, they settle in groups and make it point to live in close contacts with the other religious life. An intense fraternal feeling prevails amidst all Navayaths. They belong to the Shafi school of thought.

    Paradoxical though it may seem, the affluent Navayaths remained educationally backward for a deplorably long spell. The Anjuman-Hami-e-Muslimeen spear-headed the long drawn battle against illiteracy. A wide range of educational institutions ranging from the kindergarten schools to the professional college have come into being. At last these efforts have begun to pay dividends. Scores of Navayaths have emerged as engineers and doctors.

    Two periodicals are brought out by the Navayaths. One in English-"THE BHATKAL TIMES' which began its innings from August 1990. This fortnightly news magazine is edited by Aftab Hussein Kola. The script is called Navayathi. Another periodical called the 'Naksh-e-Navayath' (fortnightly) has been in this field since May, 1976. Mr. Syed Abdurrahim Irshad was its editor.

    The Navayath community can pride over the fact that it has produced quite a good number of distinguished sons of India who by their magnanimity and service-mindedness, raised the image of India notch by notch. While late I.H. Siddique was a top-ranking freedom fighter and a legislature of Bombay Assembly, M.M. Siddique was a social worker and front-line crusader who waged a relentless war against the many ills plaguing the society at large. A.K. Hafizka served India as her ambassador to Saudi Arabia in 1977. As the member of the Legislative Assembly of Bombay and BPCC (I) president he served the state to such an extent that he became the pride and envy of his counterparts. J.H. Shamsuddin rose to the position of a deputy minister for electricity and finance in the early sixties.

    The contemporary Navayath community too has not lagged behind in this respect. It has many outstanding personalities on various fronts. Thus, S.M. Yahya who has served the Govt. of Karnataka in various capacities as the Finance Minister, Minister of Industries and the Education Minister and is presently an M.L.A. and the senior vice president of KPCC(I) is a Navayth.

    Navayths show great affinity towards Urdu poetry and the community has produced eminent poets like Dr.Muhammad Husain Fitrath and Mr. Payam Sayeedi, who have acquired national fame.

    Majlis-e-Islah-o-Tanzeem, the official organ of the Navayaths, is making strides in the social and political fields. It is regarded as the most powerful Muslim organization in the entire Uttara Kannada district.

    If any single community can claim the credit for projecting Bhatkal on the map of India, it is the Navayaths. They have toiled untiringly to make Bhatkal a healthy and happy place to live in and have accelerated the developmental process of this palm tree-studded silvery shore. To put it in a nut-shell, it would suffice to say that they can look back to an excellent track record and look forward to a still more promising future.