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Day 11, July 19 - Shaikh Muslims of India

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Day 11, July 19 - Shaikh Muslims of India

Shaikh Muslims of India

One-third of Shaikh Muslims live in India

There are over 200 million Shaikh Muslims in the world; more than a third of them live in India. Most of the others live in Pakistan and Bangladesh. The Shaikh Muslims form the major portion of the Sunni Muslim population in the Deccan plateau of Central India. Konkani is the official language of the Indian State of Goa, and from what research has shown, Konkani-speaking Shaikh Muslims live primarily along the coastal areas between Mumbai and Goa in western India. Their total population is around 2 million.

The term “Shaikh” once applied only to tribes of pure Arab descent. Now it is used for specific Islamic peoples in central and southern India who converted from low-caste Hinduism three or more generations ago and for those who converted from high Hindu castes in north India through the work of Islamic Sufi missionaries.

Sometimes Indian Shaikh communities are very distinct from the other Muslims around them, but more often they tend to intermix. Thus distinguishing between the different Shaikh subgroups has been complicated, but regional language differences have helped to categorise them.


Virtually all Shaikh are Sunni Muslims, though their practices may be far from orthodox. As a whole, Islam in India includes strong elements of mysticism. Veneration of local Muslim saints is very common and the extravagant decorations over their graves, where worship, playing devotional music and singing at saints’ graves is common, attract even Hindus. A sense of devotion is deeply felt. To a large extent, Sufi teachings have led to
universalism — a sense that all religious paths ultimately lead to Allah.

There is no Bible or related literature in the Shaikh version of the Konkani language, though a traditional Konkani language Bible is available. Some Shaikh also speak Urdu or Hindi, and Bibles and the Jesus film are available in those languages.

Prayer ideas:

* Pray that God would provide labourers to go among the fishing villages to proclaim Jesus among the Konkani-speaking Shaikh.

* Pray for the recent believers, that they may grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and that they would be bold to share
their faith despite harassment.

* Pray that the recent believers would be equipped to make new disciples from among their Konkani Shaikh communities.

* Pray that the existing traditional believers would welcome these new brothers and sisters in Christ with love and open arms.

Further Reading