|Regions with significant populations|
|• India • Pakistan|
|• Gujarati • Hindi • Urdu|
|Related ethnic groups|
|• Sindhi Shaikh • Shaikh of Rajasthan • Shaikh|
The Shaikh are a Muslim community found in the state of Gujarat in India. They are part of the larger Shaikh community of South Asia. Included within the Shaikh community are the Shaikhda of Bharuch district and the Sodagar of Patan.
The word Shaikh in Arabic means a tribal elder or headman.
The term Shaikh can cover a community of no definite origin, since the name has been used by any individuals of wide background. On occasion, they may be of influential people or poor farmers converted by Sufi saints who used to adopt Shaikh title.
They played a key role in the early Islamic history of gujarat, serving as courtiers and administrators for the Sultans of Gujarat and later Mughal rulers. After the breakup of the Mughal Empire, they became rulers of a number of states in the Kathiawar region, with Mangrol being the most important.
The community is found mainly in Ahmedabad, Bharuch, Godhra, Vadodara, Rajkot, Junagadh, Bhavnagar and the Kutch District. They are essentially an urban community, except the Shaikh of Kutch. The Kutchi Shaikh have three groups of equal status, the Shaikh Dada, Shaikh Sayed and Shaikh Fakeer. The first two are found in Kanyabee village and the last group in Shaikh Sumrasar village of the Bhuj taluka.
The Shaikh of Bharuch District include the Hansotis, a unique community, who initially arose from the Hansot taluka of Gujarat. The Hansoti dialect, which has often been assigned to a broader language known as "Bombay Urdu" has an archaic proto-Urdu character; it has retained Arabic and Turkic words which other Urdu dialects do not. Some may ascribe it to the geographical middle zone, popularly entitled Bombay Urdu. Their language borrows many grammatical aspects from Indo Aryan languages such as Punjabi, Archaic Turkish Bombay/Dakhni Urdu and Gujarati. Many Hansoti’s also migrated to Pakistan as well during the Partition of India, therefore being a huge community in Pakistan.
The ethnic mix of Hansotis, on the precursor stock, includes a dizzying variety of additions e.g. phenotypic features, covering the range from Yemen, Iraq & Syria to Khorasanian(Central Asian Turco-Persian), native Indic nationalities to Ethiopic Habshis which are a rarity now. One often sees their men being barrel-chested, broad-shouldered with Turkic eyes & noses, children with brown hair, & even the odd example of blue or green eyes & red hair. There are tall men possessed of a Punjabi, or Rajput cast of features . Although a lot of Hansoti’s can speak Gujarati due to its geographical location, however they are not ethnically Gujarati and are somewhat a clannish and independent group. Their Last names consist of Shaikh, Malek(Malik), Chauhan(Rajputs), and Pathan(Pathans).
Genotype The Hansotis are divergent to the broader mass of Indian Muslim data to date, (which is insufficient in breadth & depth for such a numerous community). Surprisingly and in stark contrast, Hansoti female MtDNA is of greater foreign origins than the male genetics Y-DNA. MtDNA H Haplotypes and U haplotype are present.
Many Hansotis have settled in several parts of the world. Predominantly the US (E.g. California especially, San Francisco(Bay Area)and several other states), countries in Europe E.g. the United Kingdom, & in the continent of Africa, etc.
Prominent people from Hansot include:
The Shaikh of Gujarat are largely an urban community, with the exception being the Shaikh of Kutch, who are largely farmers. In Kutch, the Shaikh undertake rain fed agriculture, and grow mainly wheat, sorghum and groundnuts. A few rear goat, sheep and cattle. Those in the urban area engage in a number of occupation, and have traditions similar to other Gujarati Muslims community. The majority of the Shaikh are Sunni, the only exception being the Shaikh families of the town of Khambhat, who are Shia. Like other Gujarati Muslims, and in opposition to Islamic precepts, some have a statewide caste association, the Shaikh Samyukh Mowath Jamat. The Shaikh of Gujarat have differing native languages depending on their particular ethnogenesis. Some speak Gujarati with large number of Urdu loanwords, while those of Kutch speak Kutchi. ., & yet others speak archaic proto-Urdu e.g. Hansotis.
The Sodagar or "Arab Shaikh" are a small sub-group within the larger Shaikh community. They originate from the Hadhramaut region of Yemen, and settled in the city of Patan, during the period of Mughal rule, and intermarried with the Sunni Bohra community. The community were involved the buying and selling of silk, and exporting it to the Middle East. They still maintain links with the Middle East, being fluent in Arabic. But the Sodagar mohalla in Patan has declined, with many of their houses becoming crumbling ruins. They have their own caste association, the Jamat Shams Sodagaran, which is involved in the up keep of their jamat khana, in the town of Patan. They are strictly endogamous, and do not marry with other Shaikh groups. There are still cases of intermarriage with Arab communities in the Middle East.