The mention of the name Bhatkal will invariably conjure before anyone the image of Navayaths. Yes, Navayaths are a decisive force in Bhatkal. As is natural in the case of all human beings, the Navayaths also have made a relentless search for their roots and have come up with a plausible answer They are a small yet significant sect among the Muslims and are living mainly in and around Bhatkal in Karnataka India. They have traced ancestry to the Arabs,the traders of the medieval.
Settlements of Navayathis
Their old settlements comprise clusters of old structures in compact areas and are called Saiys. Houses are seen constructed wall to wall on either side of the street. In every street. there is a mosque catering to the spiritual needs of the devout inhabitants. The new settlement consist of beautifully designed sprawling mansions with all amenities usually available in mega cities.
Mode of Life
The traditional code of dress of Navayath men consists of kurta, lungi and topi. Their ladies have opted for the local Indian way of dressing. Not withstanding this, full purdah is a must for women. They are very religious-minded. The 80 mosques of Bhatkal bear eloquent testimony to their piety and so do the numerous religious schools established in this town. This is further substantiated by the fact that there is quite a large number of young Hafiz who have committed the entire Holy Quran to memory. Quite many of them belong to the age group 12-15. Jamia Islamia, the premier and prestigious college for Islamic learning for boys attracts students from far and wide. Similarly Jamiatus-Salihat is an institution meant for girls.
At a time when the whole community was writhing in the grip of ignorance, a few thinkers decided to awake the literally sleeping community by opening a maktab (elementary school) by the name "Islah-O-Tanzeem” in 1912. But the need to form a bigger institution cropped up and as a result the ” Anjuman Hami-e-Muslimeen” was founded on 2nd Aug, 1919 to intiate the process of bringing education to the door-steps of the common man. Almost all had favoured the idea. It was initiated as a result of the painstaking efforts of illustrious men like F.A. Hasan, I.H.Siddique, M.M.Siddique , Haji Hasan, S.M. Syed Muhammed , Syed Abubaker Moulana, Abu Abdurrahman among others. F.A. Muhammed Hasan became its first president while M.M. Siddique its first school on Sept. 1, 1919, with only 11 students on its roll. Primary section was added in 1929, and the same year also saw the recognition of the school by the Government.
Moving steadily and with the support from the community’s elite, the school was upgraded into a high school in June 1939. Thus was born the Islamia Anglo Urdu High school at Bhatkal The very first batch of this high school comprised of 8 students only. And from here onwards Anjuman never looked back, but progressed with all its might. At present, 740 students are on the rolls with 41 staff in this Islamia Anglo Urdu High School. Mr. Usman Hasan Jubapu’s tenure as the headmaster for 27 years is worth recalling. It was he who played a vital role in bringing quality to teaching. Mr. V.V. Nainan was the school’s first head master. The school administration under Mr. U.H.L. Bhat is also worth recalling.
Navayaths of Bhatkal do not go in for interacts marriages. There may be exceptions, but exceptions, it is said, only prove the rule. Marriages are conducted as laid down in the laws of Islam. It is gratifying to note that the obnoxious and much-hated dowry system has not raised its dirty head in the Navayath community and has been strictly prohibited. Wherever the Navayaths go, they settle in groups and make it point to live in close contacts with the other religious life.
An intense fraternal feeling prevails amidst all Navayaths. They belong to the Shafi school of thought. Paradoxical though it may seem, the affluent Navayaths remained educationally backward for a deplorably long spell. The Anjuman-Hami -e- Muslimeen spear-headed the long drawn battle against illiteracy. A wide range of educational institutions ranging from the kindergarten schools to the professional college have come into being. At last these efforts have begun to pay dividends. Scores of Navayaths have emerged as engineers and doctors.
The Navayath community can pride over the fact that it has produced quite a good number of distinguished sons of India who by their magnanimity and service-mindedness, raised the image of India notch by notch. While late I.H. Siddique was a top-ranking freedom fighter and a legislature of Bombay Assembly, M.M. Siddique was a social worker and front-line crusade who waged a relentless war against the many ills plaguing the society at large. A.K. Hafizka served India as her ambassador to Saudi Arabia in 1977. As the member of the Legislative Assembly of Bombay and BPCC (I) president he served the state to such an extent that he became the pride and envy of his counterparts. J.H.Shamsuddin rose to the position of a deputy minister for electricity and finance in the early sixties.
The contemporary Navayath community too has not lagged behind in this respect. It has many outstanding personalities on various fronts. Thus, S.M. Yahya who has served the Govt. of Karnataka in various capacities as the Finance Minister, Minister of Industries and the Education Minister was a Navayth. Navayths show great affinity towards Urdu poetry and the community has produced eminent poets like Dr.Muhammad Husain Fitrath , Mr. Payam Sayeedi, Mr. Hasrat Bhatkali, Syed Abubaker Maliki, Mohd Hasan Muallim, Mohd Ali Qamar,Kauser Jaferi, Haneef Shabab and Abdul Rahim Irshad who have acquired national fame.
Majlis-e-Islah-o-Tanzeem, the official organ of the Navayaths, is making strides in the social and political fields. It is regarded as the most powerful Muslim organization in the entire Uttara Kannada district. If any single community can claim the credit for projecting Bhatkal on the map of India, it is the Navayaths. They have toiled untiringly to make Bhatkal a healthy and happy place to live in and have accelerated the developmental process of this palm tree-studded silvery shore. To put it in a nut-shell, it would suffice to say that they can look back to an excellent track record and look forward to a still more promising future.