ORIGIN OF KHOJA COMMUNITY
The people world over are trying to trace their own roots. Given below is the brief history of Khoja Community which will provide useful information for self identification.
Mr. Sachedina Nanjiani, Assistant Revenue Commissioner, Kutch has written a book titled as “KHOJA VARTANT” (Khoja description or Khoja history). According to this book :
“The origin of Khoja community can be classified into two sections – one part comprising of Kashmiri Hindus while the second portion includes the “Lohanas” (a community belonging to Kashmir, Lahore & Sindh)”.
In the year 1400 A.D. Pir Sadruddin converted some members of Lohana community into Khojas from among those who had spread over the Sindh, Gujrat and other parts of the India and were engaged in trading. Originally the persian word “Khawaja” got converted into the word “Khoja” and became an identification for the Ismaili Khoja traders in India and overseas. In the year 1845 A.D., the then Aga Khan visited Sindh and in the same year his followers reached Bombay through Gujrat. The then Agha Khan at that time had large accumulated reserves, which had been collected by him at 20% from the community. He issued a number of Farmans (decrees), which created unrest and opposition in the community and litigation followed. The result of this controversy came out in formation of Khoja Shia Isna Asheri Jamaats the worldover. These Jamaats are now present in Karachi, Hyderabad, Badin, Bombay, throughout Gujrat and Kutch, Australia, Newzealand, Hongkong and Singapore. In the Middle East, there is a sizeable community in the Gulf and scattered families in Iran and Saudi Arabia. The presence of this community in Africa is extensive and all are united under the banner of the Africa Federation, comprising the Jamaats of Kenya, Tanzania, Mainland, Zanzibar, Mozambique, Somalia, Zaire, Burundi, the Island of Mauritius, Madagascar and Reunion. We have few families in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana.
In the United Kingdom, the Khoja Isna Asheri settlers date back to the 1940s but major migration took place after the dislocation of our community from Uganda in 1972. Today in U.K. almost all major towns have well established Jamaats. In other parts of the Europe, we have Jamaats in Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, France and Portugal.
On the other side of the Atlantic, we have Jamaats in New York, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Toronto, Edmonton, Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal. In almost all major cities of USA and Canada, you will find some Khoja families settled. It will be interesting to note that out of total Shia population of about 90 Millions around the world, we the Khoja Shia Isna Asheries are less than 1,50,000 men, women and children.