Our Identity: Khojas or Muslims?

Discuss general religious issues that affect all of us in our daily lives.

Do you think it is more important to be recognized as 'Khoja' than as 'Muslim'?

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Total votes: 8
Fatimah Zahra Karim
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Our Identity: Khojas or Muslims?

Postby Fatimah Zahra Karim » 30 Aug 2007, 13:28

I recently wrote this article. It appeared in the Rajab issue of Federation Samachar.

If you voted in the poll above please tell me why you think so. Thanks.

:arrow: Khoja. The word has become ubiquitous. It is part of the names of almost all our institutions. What does it mean? What is its origin? ‘Khoja’ is a derivation of the Gujarati word meaning to search. It implies a search for the Truth, for that which is right, a search ultimately for God. Indian Ithna’asharis call themselves Khojas because their forefathers searched for the truth as they moved from Hinduism, to Shi’a Ismailism, and finally to Shi’a Ithna’asharism.

Sadly, the word Khoja has not retained its original meaning and has taken on a negative connotation. It has come to imply a person descended from Ithna’asharis of Indian origin, regardless of whether he himself has searched for the truth or defiantly opposed it. In addition to that, the term explicitly excludes any non-Indian revert to Islam, even though he qualifies to be called a Khoja by the definition of the word.

As such, the word has become a factor that divides the Muslim community that Allah (swt) has commanded to be united. He has said in the Qur’an, a guide by which we are supposed to live our lives, ‘Surely, believers are brethren…’ (49:10) and ‘…surely, the most honoured among you with Allah is the best in Taqwa…’ (49:13) Is it then not necessary to treat all Muslims equally, discriminating only on the basis of Taqwa, which is the only factor The Almighty himself uses? Should we not honour him whom Allah (swt) honours?

The Prophet (saw) thought brotherhood an issue so important that he emphasized it in his last sermon at Ghadeer. He said, ‘All mankind is from Adam and Eve. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab, a white has no superiority over black nor does a black have any superiority over white, except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood.’ Is it not important to give these words the importance the Prophet gave them and at least try to implement them?

I have heard many people say ‘Our identity as Khojas…’ We may be Khojas, that is true. But the fact still stands: we are Muslims first, everything else later. If ‘Khoja-ism’ is a barrier to Islam as a whole, should it not be abolished? It is not wrong to feel proud of our parents for the discoveries which they passed on to us. But we need to ask ourselves, Is it enough? Is it enough to be proud to be children of people who found the truth, if we do not practice what Islam preaches? If our Khoja pride gets in the way of Muslim Brotherhood, divides the Muslim community, and indeed violates the very foundation upon which the Prophet (saw) built Islam, is it not time we rethink our attitude towards other ethnic groups?

Let us work to prepare ground for Reappearance of the Promised Guide (atfs), who shall fill the earth with justice, just as much as it will be filled with injustice before him. Let us pray to Allah (swt) to give us the strength and motivation to be of his followers and not of those who shall reject him. Let us pray that we do not reject him only because he is not a Khoja.
If Allah assists you, there is none that can overcome you; and if He forsakes you, then who is there that can assist you after Him? And on Allah should the believers rely (Qur'an 3:160)
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Re: Our Identity: Khojas or Muslims?

Postby abuali » 16 Aug 2011, 06:54


Marhaba for this insightful article.

This is a topic worth pondering upon and discussing further.

What sort of responses did you receive on this?

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