31 August, 2011

The Hadhrami influence in Hyderabad

In India, after Kerala, the Hadharem have been very influential in Hyderabad. Ever heard of Major General Sayyid Al Aidroos of Hyderabad? He was the commander-in-chief of the Hyderabad State army in 1948; that is the same year that India, annexed Hyderabad. After India became independent in 1947, Hyderabad, which is right in the middle of India,  and long ruled by Muslims princes - wanted to remain independent. The Union of India, would have none of that; and so, India invaded and annexed Hyderabad. On the 18th of September, 1948, General Aidroos surrendered to the Indian army. Of the surrender, General Aidroos said: “The men under my command were called to perform a superhuman task… there was no alternative for me left but to surrender.”  Al Aidroos's brothers and relatives, had important posts, too, in Hyderbad before the annexation. Sayyid Al Aidroos, is the author of one of the most popular books about historical Hyderabad - his autobiography: 'Hyderabad of the Seven Loaves'. Al Aidroos, was of Hadhrami descent.

Major General Al Aidroos, on the right
Sayyid Al Aidroos was also involved in the 1940s - in the training of soldiers in Aden, and the British handling of the very destructive famine in Wadi Hadhramaut. After India's annexation of Hyderabad, the Hadharem there and their descendants, experienced years of marginalization and were in a way segregated. It was not until the 1970s when Saudi Arabia's oil boom started and many Hadharem from Hadhramout and other parts of the world, including from Hyderabad, migrated to Saudi Arabia - that, the fortunes of the Hadhramis in Hyderabad changed; in Saudi Arabia, many Hadramis are citizens and are very wealthy. The Hyderabad Hadharem easily found jobs in Saudi Arabia and many became wealthy back home. With wealth, the Hadharem could again assert  themselves  in Hyderabad.

Hydreabad is very important to the history of Hadhramaut. It is through the military involvement and influence of the Hadharem in India, that events back at home in Hadhramaut were very much influenced. The two dominant sultanates in Hadhramout: the Al Qu'aity in Mukalla; and the Al Kathiri in Seiyoun, both, had connections and links to influential Hadhramis in Hyderabad. The rulers of these two leading and competing sultanates, received lots of financial and military assistance from the Hadhrem of Hyderbad. That Indian influence extended to even the architecture of Mukalla and, of especially the sultan's palace. Central to the story and lives of both the Hadharem in Hyderabad and the sultanates in Hadhramout, is the influential and later diminishing military careers of the Hadharem in India. The story of the Hadharem and Muslims in Hyderabad, is also central to the history of that state; a state which was ruled by Muslims for long, but had a majority Hindu population. Hindus who were eventually the main driving force for the annexation of Hyderabad and its subjugation.

Hyderabad still has a large Muslim population making about 40% of the whole; of whom, many are Hadrami Arabs. After the independence of India and the annexation of Hyderabad, the not well educated, semi-skilled, Hadhramis who were only used to military posts, found themselves lost; and economically and socially weak. Thanks to the opportunities in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, today, many of the Hadharem families in Hyderabad have at least one of their own who has migrated to Saudi Arabia or the Gulf countries - to seek economic improvement; a few have migrated to Hadhramaut. Back in Hyderabad, many are now involved in small scale businesses and a few are farmers.

The Hadharem and their descendants, like in many other parts of the world where people of Hadhramaut have migrated, maintain their identities through: marriage, and the staging of traditional practices during and on religious occasions; and during births, weddings and funerals; and also through music and cuisines. At the same time, Hadhramis are very good at integrating; and they have assimilated well with the local people and culture of Hyderabad. Today - although some Hadhramis from Hadhramaut still go to Hyderabad to marry, most of the Hadahrem in India have lost touch or contact with their ancestral homeland of Hadhramaut; and it is very rare to find a Hadrami in Hyderabad, especially one of their descendants, speaking Arabic - they, like their fellow citizens, speak Telugu or Urdu; or Hindi or English.

More reading:

+ Go  here
+ On the war and annexation of Hyderabad, TIME Magazine
+ Major General Al Aidroos's photo, form Life
+ Wikitravel