Pakistan Memon Benefactors
Page from Memon History"
published in "The News"
January 13, 2010
By: Dr. A Q
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
By Dr A Q Khan
|This column is
about the Memon Community who wholeheartedly supported newly-born
Pakistan, firstly by bringing in badly needed hard cash and then by
putting up a variety of large industrial concerns in both Wings of
Pakistan. They are, as a community, one of the greatest benefactors of
When my mother and younger sister came to Pakistan, my elder brother,
who was with the Karachi Police, hired a flat in a neat and clean
building near Jubilee Cinema opposite the Police Hospital. There was a
covered market at Ranchor Lines, near where a large Memon community
Most of our younger generation is not aware of the sacrifices made by
so many people and of their contribution towards sustaining its very
existence and creating viable circumstances for the newborn country.
From Bengal to the Frontier and from Kashmir to Malabar, people
supported the establishment of Pakistan with their wealth and blood.
Some of these benefactors were Maulana Hasrat Mohani, Nawab Ismail
Khan, Sir Abdur Rehman, H S Suhrawardy, Fazlul Haq, Sir Aga Khan, Raja
Sahib Mahmoodabad, Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan, Sardar Abdul Rab
Nishtar, Qazi Isa, Sir Abdullah Haroon, Pir Sahab Manki Sharif, Dr
Abdul Rahim Bangash, the Nawab of Bhopal, and many more. The
undisputed leader of this struggle was, of course, Quaid-e-Azam
Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
Many of the refugees coming from UP and Hyderabad were well educated
and experienced, and they provided the manpower for the
administration. People used to bring pencils and pens, and even babool
thorns were used as pins.
Mr Maratab Ali had also given generous financial support to the
newly-born Pakistan. The building of the new country was undertaken
with missionary zeal by all – including Parsis and Christians and
other communities. They set up many welfare projects, educational
institutions, etc. The Valikas set up industrial units to provide a
Now more about the Memons. During our stay near Jubilee Cinema I came
into close contact with many of them. Most of the inhabitants of the
area were middle-class. In the evenings they sat outside teashops
drinking innumerable cups of tea, chewing pan and chatting. More often
than not, they would be dressed in suits but with no tie, with shirt
collar over their jacket collar and, surprisingly, complimented with
open sandals, or chappals. The well-to-do gave financial assistance to
cash-strapped Pakistan and established important large industrial
units, enabling the country to grow economically.
After completing my BSc. from DJ Sindh Government Science College, I
joined the Karachi administration as inspector of weights and
measures. At one time the whole industrial area was under my
jurisdiction and I regularly visited the factories and mills located
there. It was here that I realised just how much the Memon community
was doing for Pakistan.
When I returned to Pakistan from abroad and was appointed head of the
uranium enrichment plant at Kahuta, this business/friendship circle
widened and deepened. I became fond of many Memon dishes. Their food,
though hot and spicy, is very delicious, especially their memni pulao.
After knowing them at close quarters, I became interested in their
history, culture, etc. I first read what the Quaid-e-Azam had said
about them in 1937: "The Memon community, being hardworking and
courageous, have started taking an active interest in politics, which
is very encouraging, and this is the key to success in the world. I
wish you all success in your noble endeavours."
There are various stories about the community's conversion to Islam.
Some say that in the 15th century about 700 families from the Lohana
caste converted to Islam at Nagar Thatha at the hands of Pir
Yusufuddin. Some say that they converted to Islam at Mansura during
the reign of Hazrat Umar bin Abdul Aziz (RA). British historian
Richard Burton wrote that they embraced Islam in Kutch. Some say that
they did so during the period of Muhamad bin Qasim and that the "me"
in the word "memon" stands for business and "mon" for diamonds. Some
historians claim that the people belonging to the Banu Tamim tribe in
Memna later settled in Thatta and were known as Memons. Most members
of the Memon community in undivided India lived in Sindh, Gujarat and
Kathiawar. They were known as Sindhi Memon, Gujarati Memon and
Kathiawari Memon, respectively. Those living in Kenya are known as
Upon getting to know them better, one soon realises that they are
soft-spoken, amicable, kind and very patriotic. It would take a thick
volume to describe all their services to the people and our country.
Suffice it to say that whatever they have done for the economic,
social, etc., welfare of Pakistan since its creation is highly
praiseworthy and to be proud of. Ordinary people connect the word
"Memon" only with trade, but their services in other fields have been
exemplary. After Partition they set up a number of important
industrial units in East Pakistan: Bawa Jute Mills, Adamji Jute Mills,
Adamji Tea Gardens, Karnaphuli Paper Mills, Karnaphuli Jute Mills,
Dawood Rayon Mills and Chemical Factories, to name but a few.
After the independence of Bangladesh many of them lost everything.
However, they did not give up and concentrated all their efforts in
building up the industrial infrastructure in (West) Pakistan. We are
all familiar with names like Adamji, Pakola, Dawood, Fecto, Al-Noor,
Dada, Hussain, Dadabhoy, Abdullah, Jaffer, Bawany, Machiara, Tabani,
and many more. That is not to forget the many small and medium-sized
industries set up by others. They are very active in social welfare
and have set up many colleges, hospitals, schools, mosques, etc. – a
list too long to mention. According to available data, there are about
1-1/2 million Memons outside Pakistan. There are about 600,000 in the
country, about 700,000 in India, about 13,000 in America and about
25,000 in England. I am thankful to my friend, Merchant Navy Captain
Kamal Mahmoodi, for the information about the Memon community.
Some famous Memons, past and present, are Haji Sir Abdullah Haroon,
Haji Abdul Sattar Seth Adamji, Haji Dawood, Haji Abdul Ghani Beg
Mohammad Bawani, Usman Isa Bhai Vakil, Haji Dada Wali Mohammad Modi,
Ahmad E H Jafar, Yusuf Haroon, Mahmood Haroon, Ashraf Wali Mohammad
Tabani, Zain Noorani, Abdul Sattar Edhi, Alhaj Zakaria Kamdar, Haji
Hanif Tayyab, Dr Farooq Sattar, Nisar Memon, Kassim Parekh, Abdullah J
Memon, Ghulam Ali Memon, Ahmad Dawood, Hussain Dawood, Abdul Qadir
Lakhani, Aqil Karim Dedi, Razzaq Balwani, Aziz Tabba, Abdul Razzaq
Thalpawala, Hussain Lawai, Amin Ghaziani, Justice A Hafeez Memon,
Justice Rahim Bux Memon, Justice M Bachal Memon, Justice Rahim Bux
Munshi, Ghulam Mohammad. Adamji Fecto, Ahmad Ibrahim Wali Mohammad
Bawani, Haji Ilyas Memon, Hussain Ibrahim, Latif Ibrahim Jamal, M
Ibrahim Tabani, Yaqub Tabani, Usman Salman, Haji Abdul Razzaq, Amin
Lakhani, and many more.
Most people are not aware that the father of Urdu poet Wali Dakani
(born in Gujarat 300 years ago), whose real name was Shah Mohammad
Waliullah, belonged to the Memon community.
I am proud to be and have been a friend of the late Mr Ghulam M Fecto,
Mr Aziz A Munshi, Mr Hussain Dawood, Mr Yaqub Tabani, Haji Hanif
Tayyab, Mr Hussain Lawai and Haji Abdul Razzaq. In the nineties, when
Pakistan was in great financial crisis, Haji Razzaq, the "Golden Boy"
of Dubai, lent $185 million to the country. While many people have
done much for Pakistan, the Memon community stands out in its
prominence as a benefactor of the country.