Introduction / History
The term Shaikh is used here for a sociocultural group that originated with Arab settlers in South Asia which now includes many subgroups, some of which intermarry in Bangladesh with non-Shaikh Bengali Muslims and some of which don't. Islam arrived in the area now known as Pakistan in 711 AD when a Muslim Arab army conquered the northwestern part of the Indus Valley from Jammu and Kashmir to the Arabian Sea. Technocrats, bureaucrats, soldiers, traders, scientists, architects, teachers, theologians, and sufis flocked from the rest of the Arab and Muslim world to the Islamic Sultanate in South Asia and settled permanently. The descendants of these Arabs usually go by the title of Shaikh and are also known in Pakistan as Muslim Khatri. The Shaikhs of Pakistan, however, claim pre-islamic ancestry. They are a sub-group of the Zamindar group or qoum, traditionally associated with farming, which is one of the two groups making up the Pakistani Punjabis (the other group is the Moeens group or quom, who are traditionally artisans). Shaikh is also a term that is usually attributed to the leaders or elders of Arabian social groups. Other variants of this term are Sheik, Shaykh, Shaikh, Cheikh, Šeih, Šejh, Seyh. The Shaikh can be broadly grouped into five communities. The Chistis and Kuraishis communities who tend to be mainly converts to Islam. The other three communities, the Farukis, the Abbasi and Saddiqis are descendants of Arab immigrants. The Siddiqis claim that their distinction is that they are descendants of Abu Bakr Siddiq, the first Muslim caliph and a companion of the prophet Mohammed. He was also the father-in-law of the Islamic prophet. This gives them very high status among Muslim communities, tying them in with the Islamic religion. The Siddiqi subgroup is found mainly in India, but there are small numbers of them in Bangladesh and Nepal. Like other Shaikh groups, the Siddiqi can speak a number of languages depending on where they live.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Siddiqi Shaikh community is solidly Muslim. They are among the more orthodox Muslims, and their identity is strongly tied in with the Islamic religion.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Shaikhs are not bound by one particular profession. Consequently, the Shaikhs profess Islam and have both Sunni and Shia traditions among them. In Nepal they speak Nepali and either Urdu, Bhojpuri or Maithili in their communities. They are not vegetarian, and their common foods are rice, mutton and vegetables. Common surnames are Mondal, Siddiqui, Usmani, Faroqui and Sheikh.
What Are Their Needs?
There has been much ministry activity among the Shaikh in India. Pray that this group of Muslims will find the truth of the Prophet Isa! There is a lot of potential for gospel growth within the Shaikh community because of relatively few social divisions.
Ask the Lord to open the hearts of the Siddiqi Shaikhs so they will receive the good news. Pray for a Disciple Making Movement that will bless the Siddiqi Shaikhs this decade. Pray for the Lord to send workers to the Shaikhs to tell them about Jesus or Isa.
Scripture Prayers for the Shaikh Siddiqi in India.