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Preserving the Remarkable History of the Khojas: A Community Undertaking

We are a not-for-profit collaboration, dedicated to documenting the lived experiences and recollections of our people, including stories passed down from parents and other ancestors. Our aim is to harness the Internet's potential to safeguard the 700-year diasporic and mercantile journey of the Khojas, originating from the north-western Indian subcontinent and spanning across the world, preventing the loss of these irretrievable narratives as our elders pass on.

The Khojas stand out as a distinct socio-cultural community, distinguished by an unbroken tradition of naming that reinforces their syncretic identity from the subcontinent. They have exhibited unwavering determination in safeguarding a culturally diverse heritage, which includes a treasure trove of poetry and songs (ginans/geets, kâfi, ghazals), literature (manuscipts), and dance(dandiyas/raas), which they have proudly nurtured for generations. They have a rich history of preserving their spoken languages, Kutchi and Gujarati. Their heritage also includes a unique written script known as Khojki and for centuries, the Khojas families fervently safeguarded the handwritten manuscripts, containing their genealogical heritage.

Dating back from the 14th century, the Khojas have always cultivated a pacifist path of mercantilism and migration, mostly for entrepreneurial reasons but often due to social upheavals. Initially farmers and petty traders in Multan and Sindh, they accompanied their Hindu [1]rulers into Kutch when they were expelled by Muslim invaders and later, into Kathiawar in the late 1600s, where they became merchants, shopkeepers and traders. As Gujarat grew into a major exporter of cotton and the British expanded their hold, many Khojas ventured out as wholesale & retail traders of commodities and as regional merchants, through extended mercantile chains, across the breadth of the Indian Ocean. Later others evolved into entrepreneurs venturing into manufacturer and as industrialists, both within India and overseas. This laid the foundation for their current diaspora, where they thrive globally as successful businesspeople and professionals.

Khoja Migration Map oct 2022 Final.png

Within this long history lie hundreds of personal stories filled with courage, sacrifice, and strong family values, all interwoven with a fine tradition of public service or "sewa." These family biographies and generational histories collectively form The Khoja Story- a peoples history of the Khoja as an Indic community or 'jati'. This treasure trove not only holds immense value for our future generations but also for society, as it is part of the greater history of the Indian Ocean trading world, spanning thousands of years and multiple continents.

Sadly, repeated migrations have caused many families to lose their traditional methods of passing down ancestral information, resulting in 'broken' collective memories. As our elders pass away, they take with them crucial links to our complex identity, leaving important questions unanswered for our children and friends: Who are we? How did we get here? The Khojas often humorously claim that business is in their blood, but how did this powerful legacy come to be? These questions demand answers, and the urgency to preserve irretrievable family stories and the collective Khoja history grows stronger as time passes.

Inspired by the words of Dutch historian Gijsbert G. Oonk, who highlighted the need to write the history of East African Indians, as “a people without a history”, our volunteers have embarked on this mission since 2016. Through the Khoja Oral Family History Documentation Project and the Khojawiki.org web portal, we are committed to permanently recording and memorializing the rich history of our Khoja ancestors. By doing so, we hope to continue to celebrate a vibrant heritage and ensure that our unique journey is remembered and is a source of pride for generations to come.

To those who mourn the passing of their ancestors,the poet Rumi says “No one is truly dead until forgotten.”

Iqbal I. Dewji, Founder/Editor

References & Notes
  1. For instance, in 1921, the Census Commissioner lamented: The chief hindrance to the obtaining of accurate returns is the fact that the terms used to classify the religions are unfamiliar to the people of the country. No Indian is familiar with the term Hindu as applied to his religion. If asked what his religion is, he usually replies with the name of the sect (e.g., Saivite), to which he belongs.93 Here,2,400 years into the history of the term hindu, many Hindus still did not embrace this label, an intriguing, historically recurrent part of the journey of this polyphonic term.

    Truschke, Audrey. Hindu: A History. Rutgers University, Newark, NJ, USA Cambridge University Press- Comparative Studies in Society and History (2023) Kindle Location 551-556

Some statistics

It is Monday, April 15, 2024 and KhojaWiki.org currently has over 400 personal histories and 70,720 names on our community tree.

See full list here

Featured Content

Some interesting stories created by our contributors and carefully picked by our editors.

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Personal Histories

Consult the index of over 400 personal histories.

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Volunteers and Supporters

We Wish to Honour Some of Our Dedicated Volunteers & Supporters Every Week. You make Khoja Wiki possible!

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Write Your Story – Make Our History

Check your family member name in our 60,000 plus database. Register as a User and add your family histories!

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Some Remarkable Women in our History
Khoja migratory history has produced some strong women. Their life stories have been translated into Gujarati so you can share with your elders-ગુજરાતીમાં અનુવાદિત - તેથી તમે વડીલો સાથે શેર કરો

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Khojawiki News

Khojawiki is an Associate Producer "TUG OF WAR".

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Featured content

Featured Prominent Personality
Currimbhoy Photo 2.png

Sir Currimbhoy Ibrahim, 1st Baronet

Among those who contributed to India's present position as a formidable industrial power were the business titans of the nineteenth century, who despite the constraints of British colonial rule, managed to create huge commercial and industrial conglomerates that outdid those of their masters.

These days, we are familiar with the Tatas and Birlas but it was the early textile magnets with their 136 mills between 1856 and 1900, who gave India its export economy. There were at least seven Khoja mill owners among them, of whom the most successful entrepreneur and renowned philanthropist was Sir Currimbhoy Ebrahim, who went on to be made the first and only Khoja Baron (Lord) from India, (the only other being Lord Amir Bhatia of Hampton) with a grant of lands recognized by the British Crown and a hereditary title that has remained in his family since..

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From Our History

Earliest Indian Historical Reference To Khojas

1440's AD

Famous 15thc Indian poet/philosopher/historian Vidyapati refers to Khojas in one of his poems.

Check it out here.VIDYAPATI - Indian Poet


From Our History

Earliest Portuguese Historical Reference To Khoja Merchants

1543 AD

Check it out here!!! Khoja Shams-ud-din Gillani
Featured Essay
Quedagh Merchant vessel.jpg

The Quedagh Merchant

17th Century ships built by Indians in Surat"

A wealthy Khoja merchant from Surat whose ship, the "Quedagh Merchant" was captured by Captain William Kidd, the notorious British pirate and for which Capt. Kidd was hanged 300 years ago!

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Personal Histories

Index of over 350 personal histories.
Each is unique and most contain fascinating stories of migration and settlement of the Khojas.
Person
Abdul Aziz
Abdulali Esmail Somji
Abdulhussein Peera Dewjee
Abdulla Jetha
Abdulla Pirmohamed
Abdulla Shariff Kanji
Abdullah Hashim Gangji
Abdullah Ibrahim Rahimtoola
Abdullah Jaffer Lakhpati
Abdallah Ratansi
Abdulrasul Alibhai Kassim-Lakha
Abdulrasul Allidina Visram
Abdulrasul Fazal Moloo
Abdulrub Peera Dewjee
Abualy Alibhai Aziz
Adam Adu
Adam Akberali
AG Abdulhussein
Ahmed Devji
Ahmed Ibrahim Rahimtoola
Ahmedali Nizari
Akber Maherali Sorathia
Akberbhai Makhani
Akberali Fazal Ismail
Akberali Merali Jiwa
Akberali Merali Jiwa
Al Noor Kassum
Alarakhia Dossani
Alarakhia Kheraj
Alimohamed Chunara
Ali Sachoo
Ali Visram
Alibhai Gulamhusein Jiwani
Alibhai Hasham Jeraj
Alibhai Hasham Rawji
Alibhai Lalji Kara Abhwani
Alibhai Nanji
Alibhai Thawer
Alidina Asani
Alidina Kanji Ramji
Alidina Kanji Ramji
Alimohomed Jessa Bhaloo
Alladina Giga Patney
Allidina Visram
Allu Visram
Alnashir Hasham
Alnoor Hassanali Karim Abdulla
Alyque Padamsee
Ameerali R Jumabhoy
Amersi Manji Lakhani
Amil Issa Shivji
Amil Issa Shivji
Amin Kassam
Aminbhai Nazerali Abhwani
Amir Habib Jamal
Amir Husein Kheraj
Amirali Bhatia
Amirali Karmali Mukwano
Anverali Aziz Charania
Arif Virani
Assa Danidina
Azim Premji
Aziz Charania
Aziz Hashim
Aziz Khaki
Aziz Tejpar
Badru G. Moosa
Badrudin Hassam Satchu
Bud Sayany
Badrudin P.V. Rajani
Ben Kingsley
Bhanji Jiwa
Bhimji Hamir
Cassum J. Rahimtoola
Currimbhoy Ebrahim
Dahya Punja
Datardina Wandani
Datoo Meru
Dolly Bhanji
Dewjee Parpia
Dewji Jamal
Dhalla Walji
Dhanji Jadavji Bhatia
Dharamshi Hasham
Dharamsi Khatau
Dolatkhanu Alibhai Jiwani
Dossa Thawer
Eboo Pirbhai
Ebrahim HAJI
Ebrahim Jamal Pradhan
Ebrahim Pabaney
Esmail Jetha
Faisal Devji
Fakirmohamed Gaidher
Fatma Peera Dewjee
Fatmabai Kassamali Bhatia
Fazal Ibrahim Rahimtoola
Fazal Master
Fazal Khamis Valli Nathu
Fazalbhoy Currimbhoy Ebrahim
Firoz Goa
Firoz Shroff
Firoze Madatally Manji
GhulamHussain M. Dharas
GhulamHussain M. Jindani
Gulamali Jina Madhavji
Gulamhusein Khamis Valli
Gulamhusein Moloo Hirji
Gulamhusein Rajpar Ladak
Gulamhussein Abdulrasul Dhalla
Gulamhussein Bhaloo Kurji
Gulamhussein Mohamed Meghji
Gulamhussein Moledina Bhimani
Gulamhussein Dedhar
Gulamhussein Remtulla
Gulsaker Dewji
Gulu Ramji
Habib Adat Dewji
Habib Ibrahim Rahimtoola
Habib Mawji Nathani
Habib R.Lalani
Haider Hasham
Haider Pirbhai Jetha
Haji Dada
Haji Dharamsi Khatau
Haji Ladak
Haji Musa Alana
Hasanaly Currimbhoy Ibrahim
Hasham Jamal Pradhan
Hasham Jessa
Hashum J. Rahimtoola
Hassan Bhanji Jiwa
Hassan Kassim Lakha
Hassanali Abdulla Chagpar
Hassanali Gulamhusein Khaki
Hassanali Juma
Hassanali Moloo Alarkhia
Hassanali Nanji Balolia
Hassanali Nanji Giga
Hassanali Nasser Thaver
Hassanali Walji Kanji
Hoosenaly Rahimtoola
Husein Alarakhia Kheraj
Husein Mohamedally Nazarally
Hussein Alibhai Mullani
Hussein Jaffer Bhimji Colombowalla
Hussein Walji Nayani
Ibrahim Hasham
Ibrahim Ladha
Ibrahim Lila
Ibrahim Meru
Ibrahim Nathoo
Sir Ibrahim Rahimtoola
Ibrahim Suleman Haji
Iqbal Gilani
Ismail Bhallo
Ismail Gangji
Ismail H Ebrahim
Ismail Jaffer Somji
Ismail Kassmani
Ismail Mohamed Dewji
Ismail Rahimtulla Walji Hirji
Ismail Ranmal
Issa Gulamhussein Shivji
Issa Gulamhussein Shivji
Issa Kassam Abji
Jadavji Walji Bhatia
Jaffar Ahmed Nizari
Jaffer Bhimji
Jaffer Daya
Jaffer Padamsee
Jaffer Rahimtoola
Jaffer Remtalla
Jaffer Somji
Jaffer Thawer
Jafferali Ali Meghji
Jafferali Dhanji Suleman
Jafferbhoy Gangji
Jamal Bhanji Jiwa
Jamal Pradhan- Kisumu
Janmohamed Hansraj
Janmohammed Bhanji Jiwa
Jeraj Shariff
Jina Madhavji
Jivraj Khatau
Jiwan Lalji Velji
John Shamsudin Karmali
Juma Bhagat Ismail
Juma Haji
Juma Lalji Ladha
Kabir Jivraj
Kabir Merali Jiwa
Kaderbhoy Adam
Kamrudin Hasham Jessa
Kamrudin Jeraj Shariff
Kanji Jetha Lala
Kara Ruda
Kara Samji Abhwani
Karamali Dahya Walji
Karim Jamal
Karim Moledina Pirani
Kassam Abji
Kassam Dewji
Kassam Haji
Kassam Rawji Mullani
Kassamali Hirji Jessani
Kassamali Paroo
Khaki Shivji Karachiwalla
Khamisa Devraj
Khoja Shams-ud-din Gillani
Kulsum Abdulrasul Wazir
Kulsumbai Abdulla Hasham
Kurban Dewji of Kurban & Party
Labai Vellani
Ladha Mawji
Lalji Kara Abhwani|
Lalji Ladha Sumar
Lalji Ladha
Laljibhai Devraj
Madatali Rehmtulla Nanji
Madatally Manji
Madhavjee Jessani
Maherali Gokal Versi
Maheroon Mawji
Mamda Kassam
Manbai Rahimtoola
Manji Ghulamhussian Padamsee
Mansoor Ladha
Maqbool Habib Rahimtoola
Mehboob Dewji
Mehboob Madhavjee Jessani
Mehboob Madhavjee Jessani
Mehdi Bawa
Mithibai Habib Dewji
Mohamed Dewji Bhagat
Mohamed H. Ahamed Sumar
Mohamed Hamir
MohamedJaffer R. Hansraj
Mohamed Khalfan
Mohamed Manek
Mohamed Manji
Mohamed Nanji Nathani
Mohamed Suleman Zanzibar
Mohamed-Jaffer Habib Bhayani
Mohamedali Natha Hirji
Mohamedali Pirbhai
Mohamedali Rahemtulla
Mohamedali Suleman Meghji
Mohamedally Nazarally
Mohamedally Rattansi
MohamedHussein Karim Gaidher
Mohammad Rahimtoola
Mohammed Gulam Dewji
Moloobhai Alarakhia Dossani
Muhammad (Mohomedali) Jinnah
Muhammad Husayn Tharia Topan
Muhammad Muradali Juma
Muhammed Hashim Premji
Mumtaz Akberali
Murabbi Shariff Jiwa Surti
Murad Rajabali Velshi
Musa Mzuri Kanji
Mussa Jetha
Mussabhai Ismat
Naaz Bandali
Nadiya Mohemedali Mandani
Naheed Nenshi
Najarali Mohmedali Pattni
Najmudin Kassam Dewji
Nargis Ali Ashgar Hamadanee
Nargis Dhanji Bhatia
Nasser Lila
Nasser Noormohamed
Nasser Virji
Natha Hirji
Naushad Noorali Merali
Nazaralli Remtulla
Nazerali Dewji
Nazerali Lalji Abhwani
Nazir Nensi
Nensi Parpia
Nizar (Nizoo) Ismail Munjee
Noor Nagji
Nooruddin Mohammed Rahimtoola
Nurbanu Gulamhussein Moledina
Nurdin Merali Jiwa
Nurmohamed Jeraj Shariff
P Dossa
Padamsee Viru
Parvez Vira
Peera Dewjee
Pira Khimji
Rahemtulla Walji Virji
Rahim Ajmudin Samnani
Rahimtoola Kaderbhoy
Rahimtulla Walji Hirji
Rajabali Hasham Paroo
Rajabali Jumabhoy
Rajabali Meghji Visram
Mukhi Rajan Nanji
Mukhi Rajan Nanji
Ramji Ladha Mullani
Ramzan Hasham Jamal
Ramzanali Shariff Jamal
Rashid Adat Dewji
Rashid Kassam Nanji
Ratansi Alwani
Razia Gulmohamad
Razia Nathani Suleman
Rehmat Bai Ratansi
Rishad Azim Premji
Rosy Kassam
Rozina Visram
Sachedina Peermohammed Mawji
Sadru Kassam
Sadrudin Hasham Ramji
Sadrudin Rajabali Meghji
Safder Shariff Alladina
Sakar Kassamali Jessani
Saleem Kassum
Salim Bhanji
Samji Kanji Asani
Saukat Dhanani
Sewa Haji Paroo
Shamshu Alidina
Shamshu Bhanji Jiwa
Shariff Jiwa Surti
Sherali Bandali Jaffer
Sherali Jaffer Bhimani
Sherali Thaver
Sherbanu G.Jina Madhavji
Shiraz Sumar
Somji Chaggan
Somji Khakhuani Mawji Bhimani
Sugra Allidina Visram
Suleman J. Rahimtoola
Suleman Versi
Sultan Habib Kassam Dewji
Sultan Kamrudin Jessa
Sir Tharia Topan
U Kan Gyi
Valabhai M Nazarali
Walji Kanji
Yasmeen Azim Premji
Yasmin Ajijbai Mithwani
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown
Yasmin Ratansi
Yusuf A. Karim
Zainub Verjee
Zarina Mohamed Khimji Punjani
Zehra Jaffer Gulamali
Zerakhanu Dhanji Bhatia
Zerakhanu R.F.Alidina
Zubeida Sultan Chinoy
Zulfikar Amirali H.Juma

Volunteers and Supporters

We Wish to Honour Some of Our Dedicated Volunteers & Supporters Every Week.
  1. Aly Sunderji of Vancouver for his research into many hundreds of histories. Aly is a intrepid Community Historian;
  2. Karim Jivraj of London for research into UK colonial archives and Family history;
  3. Riyaz Adat of Sharon for helping with or always last-minute reviews & editing.
  4. Naren Valabh Kanji Varambhia of London, UK for his generous help with Gujarati;
  5. Dr. Hasnain Walji of MARC for his insights, knowledge of Khoja History and unbounded encouragement;
  6. Sultan Somjee of Vancouver for his timely encouragement and great contribution to the understanding of OUR culture;
  7. Mohammed Rahimtoola of Karachi for his standing offers of support;
  8. Raza Kara of Toronto for his contributions with East African Cricket Fraternity;
  9. Zahir Dhalla of Toronto (Community Historian and Author) for writing and sharing biographies of our seniors and conducting seminars on Writing Biographies;
  10. Shamshtabrez Dhirani of Edmonton for his help in sharing our message with his readers;
  11. Nazir Hirji of Calgary for his support with East African Cricket Fraternity.
  12. Mohamed Mullani of Toronto with his kind donation;
  13. Zeenat Shariff of Toronto for her effort as a Coordinator;
  14. Nizar Ramani of Bhuj, Kutch;
  15. Dr. Parvez Nathani of Porbandar,Kathiawar;
  16. Nizar Hemnani of Jivapur,Kathiawar;
  17. Late Anver Chatoor, formerly of Colombo;
  18. Nizar Bogha of Arusha;
  19. Jamil Ashaqali Nasser of Doha
  20. Zul Jiwani of Toronto;
  21. Mansurali Virani of Jamnagar;
  22. Shirin Walji of Edmonton;
Our Volunteers Need Your Encouragement

Contact Us Here

Write Your Story – Make Our History

Check Your Family Member Here

Please check various spelling etc. to avoid duplication.

Become a member

To prevent abuse, we request that you contact us if you wish to be registered as a user and to be able to add information about your family.

Request user account

Contribute

Once you receive your username and password and have logged in, please follow this instruction to add content.

How to add content?

Ask for help

Alternatively, just fill this simple Google form and we'll be happy to enter the information about your family to Khojawiki for you!

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Some Remarkable Women

Click on the photos to read the life stories of these remarkable women!

ગુજરાતીમાં અનુવાદિત - તેથી તમે વડીલો સાથે શેર કરો

Now translated into Gujarati so you can share with your elders!

In the News

Khojas and the English 1700's-1900's 'Pirates,City-Building and the Railways'

Mr. Iqbal I. Dewji was invited to make a Zoom presentation on the above subject on Sunday, January 30, 2022.

We are pleased to provide a video of his talk:

'TUG OF WAR'(Khojawiki-Associate Producers) wins more awards.

FESPACO - Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso - "the Oumarou Ganda award for best first or second feature film."

MASHARIKI AFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL, Kigali, Rwanda - “For the great achievement in a film adaptation of a historical novel that features little-known African heroes. For the particular artistic level through the mastery of all the components of cinematographic language: image, music, costumes, sets and acting.”

VUTA N’KUVUTE ZANZIBAR PREMIERE, A HOMECOMING - "The ripples of silence, laughter and joy throughout the night were an outcome of the efforts of a community that collectively contributed to giving back a piece of their own literature, forgotten history; in the hopes of giving new generations a glimpse into their past"

Political & social dignitaries, including Vice President, Zanzibar with the cast & crew on stage in front of 1200 people at the screening in December 2021
Political & social dignitaries, including Vice President, Zanzibar with the cast & crew on stage in front of 1200 people at the screening in December 2021
KHOJAWIKI SECURES A TREASURE – TROVE OF GERMAN COLONIAL RECORDS OF KHOJAS IN TANZANIA.

During a recent visit to the German National Archives in Koblenz, we discovered some recently digitized records from Tanzania - a couple of very detailed German Colonial Handbooks dated 1903-1904-and 1908.

From those, our volunteers have painstakingly extracted all recorded Khoja family names & details and added them on to the Khojawiki website database.

This is a valuable find - thousands of Khojas from Tanzania can now find confirmation of their family oral history...of their great-grandparents and trace them to various towns and villages of their first settlement, including the Dukas and other businesses they established. We have names and business details from centers like Morogoro, Kilosa, Bagamoyo, Dar es Salaam, Pangani, etc. and also from small “bush” settlements like Magalla, etc.

All the towns and names are listed underneath and the detailed information for each ancestor is up-loaded on the Khojawiki database. Please check your family name on the general search engine above to see if your ancestor has been recorded.

Once again, we at Khojawiki are very proud of our volunteers who are trying to preserve our family heritage so our grandchildren can know their real past.

Search here, and then insert name in the main search engine in the left column

Khojawiki At The Second Khoja Studies Conference, Mumbai University 2019

Mr. Iqbal I. Dewji, Director of the Khoja Oral Family History Documentation Project was invited to speak to a conference at Mumbai University that included, amongst many other scholars, the Directors of the two very prestigious academic institutions engaged in Khoja Studies-The School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS) of the University of Paris and the School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London.

Mr. Dewji's presentation was on the subject of "Crowd-sourcing And Wiki Initiatives In History Preservation."

We are pleased to provide a video of his talk:

Khojawiki Teams Up To Bring You A Useful Service.

A constant complaint in the West is that children do not understand grandparents when they speak Kutchi language. Valuable opportunities for transmitting knowledge, history or just family interaction are lost.

Whilst it may be hard to learn a whole new language, Alykhan Kaba has a solution - a web-based translator app that will help you with over several thousand words. It's free and run by a not-for-profit organization.

http://www.kutchilanguageonline.org is an open website where you can translate almost all words that we commonly encounter in Kutchi. It provides English to Kutchi and reverse.

Try it. Surprise Nanimaa. It will be fun and it will heartwarming.

KHOJAWIKI TORONTO DROP-IN CENTRE CLOSED DURING THE PANDEMIC:

Sadly, we wish to let you know that the Khojawiki Drop-In Centre is currently closed in order to reduce the risk to our seniors - we continue to receive mail. Please send your written materials at the following address:

Our complete contact:

KHOJAWIKI, c/o 6 Garamond Court, Suite 254, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3C 1Z5

email: contact@khojawiki.org

Or contact us here.

Past News