President: Dr. Rehana Shakur
Secretary General: Arif G. Kadwani
CUTCHI MEMON JAMATH, CHENNAI (FORMERLY KNOWN AS MADRAS),
TAMIL NADU, INDIA
The history of Cutchi Memons of Chennai (formerly known as Madras) is more than 150 years old. [We will intermittently use both names, Chennai and Madras – Editor] There is no authentic record of the first migration of Cutchi Memons to Madras. It is, however, known that a Cutchi Memon, Mr. Abdul Rahim Patel was deputed from Karachi as the “Patel of Madras” sometime before 1870. He is known to have conducted business in Madras after his arrival. Records show that his son, Mr. Zackaria Abdul Rahim Sait “Mateen”, who became a prolific writer, was born in 1884 in Madras. Early records also show that, in 1880, the Corporation of Madras allotted land for Cutchi Memons to use as their cemetery.
During this period, many Cutchi Memon families settled in Madras. For reasons of convenience, they resided in Anderson Street and Chinna Thambi Street of Georgetown area. By the turn of the 20th century, it is on record that the first President of the Cutchi Memon Jamath was Janab Hajee Ebrahim Sait followed by Janab Hajee Jounus Abba Sait. Both had their hearts and souls for the betterment and welfare of the community. To safeguard the interests of the community, the Cutchi Memon Jamath was registered under the Society Act, and included in it a clause (numbered 4) defining a Cutchi Memon as one whose father and mother were both Cutchi Memons. Twenty five years ago, this clause was challenged in a court of law. Our Jamath’s lawyer offered, in support of his arguments, a well known legal treatise written by the famous jurist, Mr. Justice Mulla of the Bombay High Court; the treatise contains a reference to Cutchi Memons as being one of many Muslim communities. [It is believed that this treatise was Mulla's "Mohamedan Law", which contains references to Cutchi Memons, and the two Acts concerning their identity as Muslims to be governed by the Mohamedan Law in India - Editor] Our Jamath won the case on the ground that Cutchi Memons are not a religious body or representatives of any particular religious group but a community with full faith in Islam and having an identity of its own, promoting the education, economical and social interest of its members. There has been smooth sailing ever since, as we have followed our legal counsel’s advice, “Maintain your identity or get lost”.
The grandeur of our community with flourishing textile trade continued, and by the turn of the century, the new generation began taking up higher studies with diversification of interests. Following are the names of a few illustrious names of Cutchi Memons of yesteryears who are remembered and revered to this day:
It would not be out of place to list the names of the following Cutchi Memons who have done our community proud in several fields:
Today, there are about 250 Cutchi Memon families in Madras, pursuing various interests. The Jamath is functioning well and serving its members in all spheres: looking after the needy and the ailing, extending interest-free loans to deserving young men who wish to be employed abroad and become self-reliant and giving scholarships to male and female students for pursing their education.
Our Jamath has also constructed a beautiful Masjid at our Kabrastan. This Masjid is well maintained. Our dedicated team of young Cutchi Memons collects funds in the holy month of Ramadan for distribution to the needy and deserving.