Sayyids of Hadhramaut in Early Modern India O K Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, Mass. Ethnic Arab communities in medieval India originate mainly from the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf. Among these Arabs, the ones that gained widespread fame within India and abroad were the Sayyids of Hadhramaut, descendants of Prophet Muhammad, through his daughter Fatima. Many of these Hadhrami Sayyids achieved rapid upward social mobility in India through their ascribed status as the Prophet’s descendants, as exemplars of good Muslims, and as preachers and teachers of Islam in a non-Muslim environment. However, migration to India at the dawn of the modern era heralded changes in their traditional status and occupation. The sources of this article are primary works in Arabic, Persian and, Urdu, supplemented with interviews and ﬁ eld observations. Introduction Outside a small circle of scholars, archaeologists, and adventure travellers, the region of Hadhramaut, Yemen is virtually unknown. The people of Hadhramaut are called Hadhramis. They have often been described as the most cultured and enterprising people in the Arabian Peninsula for a num- ber of reasons. First, the material culture of the Hadhramis has histori- cally been more developed than that of
Asian Journal of Social Science – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2004
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