Khoja Naming Customs

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Since their emergence as a distinct syncretic community between 600-700 years ago, Khojas of Western Gujarat have used a unique personal identification protocol.

Firstly, most have always had at least three or sometimes even four individual names as part of their full name. e.g Abdul Jaffer Kanji Manji

Secondly, the second name is the first name of the father, whilst the third name (if used) is the first name of the grandfather. Abdul would use his fathers's first name, Jaffer.

Thirdly, in keeping with the Gujarati tradition of always retaining one's "attak", the surname or family name of a person has remained the same throughout the generations. Hence, most Khojas continue to have ancient Sindhi Lohana surnames ending in "ani" such as Lalani, Kanani or Sayani or Kutchi Kathiawari names such as Kanji, Manji or Dhanji etc. A few have followed other Indo-Pak Muslim communities and do not use "attak" but use only the father's first name as a surname eg Abdul Jaffer.

And finally, the first or given name of a Khoja person has either been an Arabic, Persian or Indian word for a desirable attribute or a popular name taken from the local society where they live.

Between the 16th and 19th centuries, during the period of the European disruption and colonization of the Indian Ocean littoral area, local merchants were often identified by their caste in the first part of their name so that Ismail Mohamed Dewji would often be recorded simply as Khoja Ismail Mohamed.

A typical Khoja in Gujarat would be called "Geeta Karim Hussein Kanji" and in Africa, "Greeta Karim Kanji".

However, in the Western countries, where names of locals are generally limited to two words, most Khojas have dropped their father's and grandfather's first names, so a typical name would be "Adam Kanji".

The advantage in the traditional Khoja naming protocol is that the surname retains links with ancestry (which is important to avoid rootlessness), the fathers/grandfathers name (or mothers, if so inclined) would give social recognition. The first name of course, allows for easy local integration.

In migration, these benefits were not immediately apparent but once a community is established in a city or state, name recognition and familiarity could lead to access to opportunities, friendships and avoid social isolation. With the Web creating a global village, connections due to recognition and familiarity are bound to generate economic benefits as well.


"Suffix ‘ji ‘ in Indian tradition, is used to address an individual respectfully. Thus name such as Rama is addressed Ramji. Names Kan, Lal, Shyam , Keshav, (affection names of Krishna) are Kanji, Lalji, Samji, Keshavji . Shiva as Shivaji. Similarly names such as Dewji, Premji etc". Credit: Chandoo Jadav


During the last two centuries, Khojas have used Arabic names or nouns as their first names. Obviously, earlier generations preferred retaining their Indian heritage through their family names.

Compiled from Salim Vellani’s “Special Edition” ISMEX 1980


ABDALLAH: slave or servant of Allah; an epithet of Prophet Mohammed

ABDUL: devotee, religious person

ABID: adorer, worshipper

ABIDAH: worshipper, adorer

ADIL: just, equitable, dispenser of justice. Al-Adil, an attribute of Allah

AFROZA: igniting, kindling, enlightening

AFTABUDDIN: the sun of religion

AFZAL: most excellent, prominent

AHAD: one, unit, singular, unique

AHMED: more and most recommendable, name of Prophet Mohammed

AISHA/ AYSHA: way of life, mode of living

AKBAR: great, greatest, opposite of Asghar, Al-Akber an attribute to Allah

AKHTAR: star, constellation, good luck

ALI: the most high, exalted, lofty, sublime. Al-Ali, an attribute of Allah

ALIM: learned, erudite. Singular of Ulema

ALIYA: loftiness, exaltedness, sublimity

ALMAS: diamond

ALNOOR: pronounced An-noor, light, divine light. Singular of Anwar

ALTAF: kindness, grace, plural of Latif

AL-Nar: pronounced An-nar, fire, hell fire

AMAN: safety, peace, safeguard

AMIN: faithful, constant, trustworthy, safe

AMIR: nobleman, singular of UMAR

AMJAD: more glorious, more distinguished

ANAB: grapes

ANAR: pomegranate

ANIL: air, wind

ANJUM: stars

ANWAR: light, rays, brightness, gleam, shine, plural of Nur

ARIF: wise, holy, discerning

ASAD: lion, a man of courage

ASA- DULLAH: Lion of God, one of the epithets Hazrat Aii

ASGHAR: very little, lesser, smallest, opposite of Akber

ASHIQ: Lover

ASHRAF: noblest, most distinguished, most eminent Plural of Sharif

ASIFA: violent wind, gale, tempest, storm, hurricane

ASLAM: safer, freer, sounder, healthier

ASMAT: chastity, honour

AZAD: free, independent, ease, liberated

AZIM: large, tremendous, mighty, great, Ai-Azim, an attribute of

AZIZ: dear, beloved, darling, respected,

AZMINA: time, duration, fortune,


BABU: Respectable sir

BABUL-BABOOL: term for father indicating a daughter's affection

BADRU: full moon

BAHADUR: brave, bold, courageous

BAKSHI: paymaster, commander, in chief

BARAKAT/BARKAT: blessing, benediction, charisma

BASHARAT: humanity, mankind

BASHIR: bringer of glad tidings, messenger,

BEGUM: lady, queen, title of royal ladies

BHIMJI: Lord Krishn

BUSHARA: breaking good news


DARVESH: Persian for Faquir, poor in a sufi

DAULAT: wealth, riches, fortune, felicity

DAYA: Kindness; mercy; pity.


FAHMIDA: intelligent, understood

FAIROUZ: turquoise

FAISAL: arbitrator, decisive criterion

FAIZ: outpouring, emanation, divine grace

FANI: transitory, perishable

FAQUIR: poor in spirit, a person who has renounced the world, darvesh

FARAH: joy, cheerful, glad, happy

FARID: alone, lone, solitary, lonely, unique matchless

FARIDA: precious pearl, gem

FAROOQ: brightness, splendor, glory, fame, honour

FARZANA: wise, intelligent, distinguished, blest

FARZAND: child, son

FATEH: conqueror

FATEHALI: the great conqueror

FATIMA: to wean a child or an animal, a dyer

FAYYAZ: munificent, bountiful, liberal, generous

FAZAL: confer benefit, kindness, favour, obliged, bestow, grant, award

FIDA: ransom, consecration, sacrifice

FIRDAUS: paradise


GITA: song of God

GHAFOOR: forgiver. attribute of Allah

GHULAM: boy, youth, lad, slave, servant

GHUL-AFROZ: sunflower

GOKAL/GOKAR Village where Lord Krishna was born

GULBANU: lady of rose, rose-checked lady

GULNAR: scarlet, the flower of the pomegranate

GUL.SHAN: a rose garden

GULZAR: well-populated town


HABIB: favorite, friend, lover, dear one

HABIBAH: beloved, sweetheart

HADI: one who guides. Al-Hadi, an attribute of Allah

HAFIZ: keeper, protective, guardian, preserver, one who has memorized the whole Quran

HAFIZA: one with a good memory

HAKIM: philosopher, sage, physician, wise man

HALIM: mild, gentle, humane

HAUAM: mild, humane, humble

HANIF: true, believer, follower of religion

HASINA: comely, beautiful,

HASSAN: handsome, handsome

HATIM: generous, from a generous king called HATIMTAI

HIKMAT: wisdom, sagacity, rationale, philosophy

HUSSEIN: virtuous


IMTIYAZ: distinction, mark of honour, special right

INAYAT: favor, kindness, bounty, support, aid

IQBAL: drawing near, advance, approach, arrival, advent, response

IZZAT: honour, respect


JAMAL: most beautiful

JAMEEL: more and most beautiful

JAMI one who gathers, Al-Jami, an attribute of Allah

JAUHAR: jewel, gem, skill, merit, virtue

JAVID: eternal, everlasting

JEHAN: world, universe


JIVRAJ: Lord of life

JUMA: gathering, congregation, collecting, Friday


KABIR: great, large, opposite of Saghir

KAMAL: perfect, complete, and excellent

KARIM: generous, magnanimous. At-Karim, an attribute of Allah

KAUSAR: a stream of nectar in paradise

KHALIQ: creator, Al-Khaliq, an attribute

KHANOOM: wife of a Khan, a lady, a woman of rank

KHATOON: lady, matron

KULSUM: to kiss, strike or wound


LATIF: kindness, grace, singular of Altaf

LEILA: night

LUTFU- LLAH: grace of God


MAHABANU: moon-faced lady, beloved, beautiful

MAHBOOB: friend, beloved, sweetheart

MAHMUD: praiseworthy, recommendable qualities, virtues

MAIMUNA: made secure or safe

MAJID: honorable, the glorious, Ai-Majid, an attribute of Allah

MANSOOR: aided, supported (by God), victorious triumphant

MANZOOR: seen, visible, foreseen

MAQSOOD: intent, design, object, aim, view

MEHBOOBA: sweetheart, beloved

MEHDI: guide, one who is ted in the right way messiah

MEHRUN: kindness, favour affection, prosperity

MIRZA: son of a nobleman, title used by the Persians

MOHAMMED: praiseworthy

MUBARAK: blessed

MUBEEN: manifest, evident, dear

MUJIB: cause, reason, motive, one who accepts prayers, an epithet of God

MUKHTAR: chosen, selected, invested with authority autonomous

MUMTAZ: distinguished, exceptional, top-notch, superior, rare

MANAWAR: brilliant, illuminated, enlightened,

MUNAZAR: similar, like, equal, rival

MUNIR: luminous, radiant, brilliant, illuminative

MUNIRA: luminous, radiant

MURAD: desire, will, inclination, end, purport

MURTAZA: chosen, approved, one of the epithets of Hadhrat

MUSHTAQ: longing, yearning, craving

MUSTAPHA: the chosen one, an epithet of Prophet Mohammed

MUZAFFAR: victorious, successful, triumphant


NAAZ: blandishment, coquetry, whims

NABAT: vegetation, plant, grass, vegetable

NADIA: moist, damp, tender, delicate

NADIM: friend, intimate, confident

NADIR: rare, wonderful, uncommon, precious

NAFISA: pure, delicate, precious, refined,

NAHID: active, rising or getting up, energetic

NAIMA: pleasures, benefits

NAIMET: favour, blessings, gracious, delight, ease, comfort, delicacy

NAJMA: star, constellation

NAJMUDDIN: star of the religion

NARGIS: narcissus

NARMIN: softness, mildness, delicacy, fluency

NASEEM: breeze, gate, fragrant. Zephyr

NASEH: sincere, friend, sympathizer

NASHILA: inebriant, intoxicating

NASIR: friend, assistant, helper, defender, Ai-Nasir- an attribute of Allah

NASRIN: wild rose

NAUSHAD: to seek, took or search for, implore, adjure

NAVAZ: cherisher, musician

NAVROZ: New Years Day March 21st

NAZAHAT: exemption from anything bad, purity (Of life)

NAZIM: governor, poet, composer

NAZIR: example, inspector, supervisor, precedent

NAZIRA: eye, sight, vision, headmistress, matron

NAZMA: order, arrangement, institution, organization, verse, string of pearls, poetry

NAZNIN: a delicate woman, sweetheart

NIGAR: painting, picture, portrait, idol, belle

NILUFAR: lotus, water, lily

NISARA: helper, aider, assistant

NIYAZ: petition, prayer, an offering, a thing dedicate

NIZAM: order, custom, governor, string of pearls

NIZAR: lookers on, gift, an offering

NOORBAND: lady of light

NURJEHAN: light of the world


OMAR: to live long, longevous


PARVEEN: duster of stars, the Pleiades


QADIR: powerful, al-Qadir... an attribute of Allah

QAMAR: UDDIN: the moon of religion

QASSIM: distributor...AI-Qassim, an attribute of Ai

QAYYUM: self-subsisting, ever-living, eternal Al-Qayyum, an attribute of Allah

QUTBUDDIN: pole/pivot of religion


RABIA: summer, spring harvest

RAFI: high-ranking, lofty, exquisite, subtle, artistic

RAFIQ: companion, escort, friend buddy

RAHEMAN: beneficent, merciful, forgiving, Al-Ri an attribute of Allah

RAHEMAT: divine, compassion, mercy, favour

RAHIM: merciful, compassionate, AI-Rahim., an attribute of Allah

RAJAB: 7th month of the Muslim calendar

RAJANI/RAJNI: of the night(born at night-dark skinned

RAMZAN: also Ramadhan, 9th month of the Muslim calendar, the month of fasting

RASHID: Follower of the right path, one who directs. At Rashid, an attribute of Allah

RAZIA: to be satisfied, be content, to consent, approve

REZA contentment, satisfaction, content, assent

RIAZ: practice, exercise, spiritual exercise, relaxation, meadow, garden

RIFAT: high ranking, elevation, height

RIZWAN: consent, assent, sanction, approve, delight angel at die gate of Paradise

ROSEMIN flower

RUKHNUDDIN: the face of religion

RUKHSANA: good-cheeked face

RUSTAM: brave man,one of the heros of Persia.


SABIR: patience

SADIQ: just, true, sincere, faithful

SADRUDDIN: leader, commander of religion

SAFINA: ship

SAGHIR: small, petty, tiny, opposite of Kabir

SAHIR: magician, conjurer

SADIQ: just, true, sincere, faithful

SADRUDDIN: leader, commander of religion

SAFINA: ship

SAGHIR: small, petty, tiny, opposite of Kabir

SAHIR: magician, conjurer

SAHRA: a sandy desert

SAIDA: happy, blissful

SAIFUDDIN: sword of religion

SAIFULLAH: sword of Allah

SAJJAD: one who bows, prostrates in pray

SAKAR: sugar, sweet

SALIM: safe, sound, perfect, whole, peace

SALIMA: peaceful, sound, serene

SALMA: safe, secure, peaceful

SHABNAM: dew, dewdrop

SHAFIQ: affectionate, kind

SHAHBANU: royal lady, wife of a shah

SHAHBAZ: a royal falcon

SHAHIN: falcon

SHAHZADA: prince

SHAHZADI: princess

SHAIDA: madly in love

SHAKEEL: handsome, comely, well formed

SHAMIL: comprising, including, blended (with) united (to), confederated

SHAMIM: to smell, sniff, snuff, to emanate


SHAMSUDDIN: the sun of religion

SHAREEF: noblest, distinguished

SHAUKAT: dignity, magnificence, grandeur,

SHIKOH: grandeur, pomp, majesty

SHIRAZ: place where books are bound

SHIRIN: sweet, pleasant

SIRAJUDDIN: lamp, light of religion

SUHAIL: Canopus (astronomy)

SULTAN: king, emperor, monarch

SURAYA: light


TAHER: pure, chaste

TAJ: crown, plume, crest, cap

TAJDIN: crown of religion

TAUB: searcher, questor, wisher

TAMER: building, construction, structure

TANVEER: flowering, bloom, blossoming, enlightening, efflorescence

TAQI: pious, devout, righteous, virtuous

TARIQ: path, way, road, manner, observances

TASUM: salutations, homage, greeting, turning over, presentation

TAUFIQ: divine guidance, grace, resources

TAZIM: aggrandisement, exaltation, glorification


YASMIN: Jasmin


ZAFAR: to be triumphant, victorious

ZAHID: monk, recluse, devotee

ZAHIR: apparent, ascendant over all.AI-Zahirl attribute of Allah

ZAHRA: glare, glow, shine, radiant, light, brightness, an epithet of Bibi Fatiml

ZAHID: increasing, growing, excessive, extra, additional

ZAIN: beautiful, pretty, nice

ZAINAB: beauty, beautiful, nice, pretty

ZAITOON: olive, olive tree

ZAKI: acute, sharp, clever, ingenious

ZAKIR: a grateful person, one who praises God

ZAMAN: time, period, era, age, world

ZAMURAD: emerald

ZARIN: golden

ZEBA: becoming, befitting, proper, graceful

ZOHRA: the planet Venus

ZUBEIDA: butter, cream, essence, elite