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Cutchi Memon Jamath, Kochi (Cochin), Kerala, India

In 1815, a large number of   Cutchi Memons migrated from their homeland, Cutch to places such as Bombay (now Mumbai), Calcutta (now Kolkata), Madras (now Chennai), Alleppey (now Alappuzha) and Cochin (now Kochi).  Those days, these places were considered important ports and commercial centers.  The Cutchi Memons desired to expand their businesses by settling in these cities.  Having learnt that Cutchi Memons were honest, hardworking and trustworthy businessmen, gave permission to them to settle down in Cochin.  He wanted them to live permanently in his kingdom so that it would become prosperous y means of foreign trace and commerce.

By the end of the 19th century, Cutchi Memons had accumulated great wealth through their trading in goods, and were considered among the leading commercial communities of Cochin.  They became well established.  Honesty was their basic principle in life. They had good character and good habits. They were generous, kind-hearted, humble, and tolerant.  They loved and helped each other. Their unity made them powerful and praiseworthy.  Above all, their were strict followers of Islam, and maintained the religion’s high principles.  Their simplicity and ideal life made a good impression on other communities of cosmopolitan Cochin.  These achievements were the result of heir inherited business qualities, experience, industry, labor, magnanimity, courage and determination.

Wherever Cutchi Memons settled, they united among themselves and organized their Jamaths (Association).  Thus, Cutchi Memons of Cochin also organized the Cutchi Memon Jamath.  It must be proudly mentioned there that the Cutchi Memon Jamath at Cochin was conducting its affairs creditably from the time Cutchi Memons settled down in Cochin. Though the Jamath laws were unwritten, all members scrupulously followed certain rules, norms, customs and practices.  Also, those days, the Jamath’s President, who was known as Jamath Sait, was the lone office bearer, H was respected much, and his rulings were obeyed by all.  His office was hereditary, and the incumbent held it for life. 

It is well said that men who make history have no time to write it.  Our Jamath’s elders did not care to leave any records, and so, no records exist regarding the identities of past Presidents in the early and middle 19th century.  Janab Joonus Haji Kummeesa Sait was the Jamath Sait as well as the Muthavally (Managing Trustee) of the Cutchi Memon Jamath’s masjid known as the Cutchi Memon Hanafi Juma Masjid until the end of the 19th century.

[The Cutchi Memon Hanafi Juma Masjid at Bazar Road, Cochin, known as Cutchi Memon Hanafi Masjid and also popularly known as Old Juma Masjid was constructed by Janab Haji Dhossal Khadwani Sait in the middle of the 19th century and handed over to the Cutchi Memon Jamath per the Will Document No. 2 of 1927 M.E.  Thus, the President of the Jamath became the Muthavally of the Masjid as well].

His eldest son, Janab Haji Ismail Joonus Sait (also known as Haji Abba Sait) succeeded him as the President of the Jamath and Muthavally of the Masjid.  After his demise, his on, when Haji Abdul Rehman Haji Ismail Sait refused the positions of the Jamath Sait and Muthavally of the Masjid, the Jamath members decided to divide the positions among the two brothers of the late Janab Haji Ismail:  the Presidency went to Haji Salary Mohammed Joonus Sait, and the Muthavallyship to his younger brother, Janab Abdulla Joonus Sait.  On the demise of Janab Haji Salay Mohammed Joonus Sait, his son, Janab Haji Yousef Haji Salay Mohammed Sait succeeded him as the President and remained in office until 1932.

With the demise of Muthavally Janab Abdulla Joonus sit, his son, Janab Haji Thayab Abdulla Sait took office.  On his departure, his eldest son, Janab Mohammed Haji Thayab Sait succeeded him. After his death, his younger brother, Janab Haji Abdulla Haji Thayab Sait became Muthavally.

1932 was a terrible year for the Cutchi Memons of Cochin.  During the presidency of Janab Haji Yousef Haji Salay Mohamed Sait, the Jamath disintegrated on account of the growing rift between the conservative “pure” Cutchi Memons and the so-called “Besser Memons”.  The latter, the Besser Memons were not permitted to attend Jamath meetings, and some progressive Cutchi Memons, siding with them revolted against this policy.  The result was an aggravation of the differences of opinion, and increased hostilities.  The twp groups separated; the Jamath became like a ship without a rudder.  This, the Cutchi Memons of Cochin has the misfortune to be without a Jamath for nearly four decades.

In 1943, Khan Saheb Haji Essa Sait, the then Chairman of the Mattancherry Municipal Council, tried to restart the Jamath but was not successful.  In 1954, Janab Mohamed Ebrahim Wadiwala, the President of the Cutchi Memon Jamat of Bombay, visited Cochin in the company of Janab A.R. Sulaiman Sait, the then Vice President of the Cutchi Memon Jamath of Alleppey.  They made an earnest effort to restart the Jamath with the assistance of eminent Cutchi Memons of Cochin such as Haji Usman Mohamed Hasham Sit, Haji Ismail Abdul Rahiman Sait, Mohammed Jacob Sait, Ayoob Adam Changhali, Mohammed Kassam Abdul Sathar Sait, Abdul Rahiman Haji Mohamed Elyas Sait, Haji Joonus Ommer Sait, Ebrahim Sulaiman Sait, etc. Their efforts were also not successful due to the rigid attitude of a few.

It is nearly at this time that Janab Haji Ebrahim Sulaiman Sait, MP, a respected leader of all-India fame, took part in the All India Cutchi Memon Conference held at Bombay on April 26 and 27 of 1971.  The Conference was noteworthy in that it had representatives from far away places where Cutchi Memons are sparsely populated.  There was none to represent Cochin’s Cutchi Memons, despite the fact that Cochin boasted the third largest Cutchi Memon population in India.  This fact distressed Janab Ebrahim Sulaiman Sait a lot. Therefore, when he returned to Cochin, he convened a meeting of prominent Cutchi Memons, and impressed upon the need for unity and reconstruction of the Jamath.  This resulted in a circular signed by Haji Ebrahim Sulaiman Sait, MP, Haji Essa Haji Abdul Sathar Sait, Haji Salay Mohammed Ebrahim Sait, ex-MP, Haji Joonas Sait, Haji Abdulla Haji Ahmed Sait, Haji Essack Siddick Sait, H.E. Abdul Karim Sait, Abdul Rahiman Haji Joonus Sait, Jan Mohammed Jaffer Sait for convening a conference.  This was held on June 11, 1971, and an ad-hoc committee was formed with Haji Joonus Ommer Sait as Chairman and Haji Abdulla Haji Ahmed sait as convener.  The ad-hoc committee framed the byelaws, passed them in a meeting and formed an eleven-member committee.  However, a few people believed this committee had shortcomings, and under the leadership of Janab M.A. Kareem Sait presented a mass memorandum.  An urgent meeting of the Jamath was convened on February 25, 1972 when the existing committee was dissolved and a new committee formed.  Haji Usman Mohamed Hasham Sait became President, Janab Haji Mohamed Usman Haji Hussain Sait the Vice President, Janab Essa Ahmed Sait, B.A.B.L. the Secretary and Janab Oosman Ahmed Sait as the Joint Secretary.  This marked the rebirth of the Jamath.

It is said that the golden age is before us, not behind us.  The Jamath hosted the seventh Managing Council meeting of the All India Cutchi Memon Federation on February 8 and 9, 1988, Janab Haroon S. Kably, President of the Federation, also visited Cochin on June 15, 1978, and addressed our Jamath.  It also hosted the Second All India Cutchi Memon Trustees’ Conference on December 10, 1983, which was convened by the All India Cutchi Memon Federation.   The Jamath provides a means of unity for Cutchi Memons of Cochin and keeps in touch with Cutchi Memon brethren all over India. The Jamath has taken up a scheme for rendering financial assistance for marriages of the community’s needy and deserving women.  A Medical Aid Fund has been set apart each year for providing free medical aid to the financially weaker sections of the community.  A Cutchi Memon Zakath Fund was also established with a view to providing aid and relief to poor members of the Jamath. With the help and cooperation of members of the community, the Jamath hopes to implement many new schemes to benefit Cutchi Memons of Cochin.  May Allah bless our Jamath to continue its good work.  Let us pray to the Almighty to help and guide us in the right path enabling us to bring back the glory and prosperity of pour past days. Aa-meen!

History of Cutchi Memon Jamath, Kochi....Page under construction...Estimated completion end August 2009.

Information courtesy: Arif G. Kadwani, Cutchi Memon Jamat of North America

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