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Hyderabadi Muslims are an ethnoreligious community of Dakhini Urdu-speaking Muslims, part of a larger group of Dakhini Muslims, from the area that used to be the princely state of Hyderabad, India, including cities like Hyderabad, Aurangabad, Latur Gulbarga and Bidar. While the term "Hyderabadi" now only refers to residents in and around the city of Hyderabad, the term Hyderabadi Muslims can refer to those native Muslim residents of the erstwhile princely state. The native language of the Hyderabadi Muslims is Hyderabadi Urdu, which is a form of the Dakhini language. With their origins in the Muslim Bahmani Sultanate and then the Deccan sultanates, Hyderabadi Muslim culture became defined in the latter half of the reign of the Asif Jahi Dynasty in Hyderabad. The culture exists today mainly in the old city of Hyderabad, Aurangabad, and among the Hyderabadi Muslim diaspora around the world, in particular, Pakistan,[3] Saudi Arabia, the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, USA, Canada and the United Kingdom.[4]

Hyderabadi Muslims
Urdu: حیدرآبادی مسلمان‎, translit. (Hyderabadi Musalman)
Total population

925,929 (1881)[1]

Present Worldwide Figures Unknown, but about 1.71 million in Hyderabad district[2]
Regions with significant populations
 India Pakistan Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates United States United Kingdom
Urdu in the forms of Hyderabadi Urdu and the Dakhini sub-dialect as well as standard UrduHindiTeluguMarathiKannadaSindhiEnglish • The vernacular languages of other countries in the diaspora

Islam • Majority Sunni

• Minority Shia and Isma'ilism
Related ethnic groups
• Other Indian Muslim communities • Telugu peopleAndhra MuslimsMarathi MuslimsDakhini MuslimsMuhajir people



The Deccan plateau acted as a bulwark sheltering South India from the invasions and political turmoil that affected North India. This allowed the Muslim-ruled state of Hyderabad to develop a distinctive culture during the Qutb Shahi dynasty, Mughal Aurangzeb and later the Asaf Jahi dynasty of the Nizams.

According to Time, the seventh Nizam was the richest man in the world during the late 1940s, and fifth richest person of all time according to Forbes Magazine after adjustment for inflation and currency purchasing power parity.

The Nizam was the Muslim ruler of the vast princely Hyderabad State. The capital city of Hyderabad was primarily Urdu-speaking Muslim until the Incorporation of Hyderabad into India and the subsequent rise to dominance of Telugu-speaking people of Telangana State. The state's economy was agrarian, and Hyderabad was primarily a government and administrative hub, run mostly (but far from exclusively) by Muslims. The aristocracy, jagirdars and deshmukhs (wealthy landowners), and even minor government officials, could afford to hire servants, usually also Muslims, in a social order similar to the class system of Victorian England. The Nizam allied himself with the British early on, with ensuing political stability. The Muslim upper and middle classes were free to concentrate on a care-free and leisurely lifestyle involving clothes, jewelry, food, music, literary arts, and other indulgences, little of which trickled down to the servant class, known as naukar (a word originally used for the Mughal Emperor Babur's closest feudal retainers).

After Indian Independence from the British Raj, Hyderabad State, under the rule of the Seventh Nizam lasted for a year, until September 18, 1948, when the Indian Army, launched Operation Polo, and invaded Hyderabad state, annexing it into the Indian Union. The Invasion resulted in the massacre of thousands of Hyderabadi Muslims, and mass migration mainly to the west, and Pakistan.[5][6][7]

The Hyderabadi Muslim Identity After the IntegrationEdit

Hyderabad State Divided Amongst Three New Indian States

The Integration of Hyderabad, into the dominion of India, other than the shock of the controversial massacre of the integration,[8][9] took a turn of an identity crisis for the Hyderabadi Muslim people.[10] Thousands of Hyderabadi Muslims emigrated from the newly integrated Indian state of Hyderabad to Pakistan, the UK, the U.S. and Canada, creating a large diaspora of people.[11] The people who migrated to Pakistan were now placed under a new term called Muhajir, along with other Urdu speaking immigrants from present day India. The Muhajir people began to dominate politics and business mainly in the metropolitan city of Karachi but their unique Hyderabadi Muslim Identity was lost, and has now evolved into a result of Karachi's booming cosmopolitan scene.[12] The Hyderabadi Muslims who stayed in the integrated Hyderabad state were faced with new language issues, and a wave of immigration from other Indian states, especially after 1956.[13] After the Indian reorganization of 1956, with states being divided on linguistic lines, Hyderabadi Muslims, in Telangana, Marathwada, and Hyderabad-Karnataka were faced with the learning and emerging dominance of Telugu, Marathi, and Kannada respectively, and their native language Dakhini became a home language while Urdu in the forefront of Politics in these regions became comparatively less widespread.[14] The present day Hyderabadi Muslims know very little about their cultural heritage, especially those who aren't from Hyderabad city, or India. Hyderabadi Muslims are now seen as a result of Indian cosmopolitanism, and their history is being lost in Indian textbooks.[15]

The relative isolation of Hyderabad until annexation to India, its distinctive dialect of Urdu and the strong web of interconnecting family relationships that still characterizes Hyderabadi Muslims, sometimes leads to charges of parochialism from other Indian Muslim communities, but it also ensures a Hyderabadi Muslim identity endures among the Indian diaspora.

Demographics and distributionEdit

Muslims offer Ramzan Last Friday Prayers at Mecca Masjid
A replica of the Charminar built by Hyderabadi Muslims in Bahadurabad, Karachi, Pakistan

The largest concentration of Hyderabadi Muslims is in the old city of Hyderabad. After the Partition of India and the Incorporation of Hyderabad by India, the Muslims of the state lost their privileged status, so significant numbers chose to migrate to other countries such as Pakistan, the Arab States of the Persian Gulf, the United States, UK, Canada and Australia.[16][17]

Because of its status as the richest of the princely states in India and being ruled by a Muslim leader, Hyderabad State attracted Muslims from all around India and even other countries in search of work. Many Muslim poets, musicians, scholars, soldiers and administrators from far and wide sought employment in the Nizam's court, the Hyderabad Civil Service, army or educational institutions. Among those who spent a significant amount of time in Hyderabad were the famous poet Josh Malihabadi, Fani Badayuni, religious scholar Shibli Nomani and court photographer Lala Deen Dayal among others

A section of Hyderabadi Muslims are of Hadhrami Arab origin, who came to serve in the Nizam's military. They are known as Chaush and mostly reside in the Barkas neighbourhood of Hyderabad. There are also some Siddis who are of African descent.[18][19]

In Pakistan, most of the Hyderabadi migrants are settled in the southern port city of Karachi. Estimates of the Hyderabadi population in Karachi range between 20,000 and 200,000 today.[20] The main neighbourhoods where the Hyderabadi migrants in Karachi initially settled were Hyderabad Colony, Bahadurabad (named after the Hyderabadi Muslim leader Bahadur Yar Jang) & Laiqabad known as (Murghi Khana).[21] In 2007, a replica of the famous Charminar monument in Hyderabad was built at the main crossing of Bahadurabad.[22]


Hyderabadi Muslims today, refer to the Urdu speaking Muslim community, from the 1801 landlocked princely state of Hyderabad, who developed a distinct cultural identity from other Dakhini Muslims.[23] Even though the princely state of Hyderabad had once reached the southernmost points of India, it's the culture from the known landlocked territories of the Nizam, that constitutes Hyderabadi Muslim culture, while the Dakhini Muslims of the Carnatic, and the Circars, developed their own distinct culture, and culinary tradition.[24] The Chaush community, even though they speak Urdu, and live in the erstwhile Hyderabad State, are usually not considered Hyderabadi Muslims, since they came recently to the region. Even though they absorbed many Hyderabadi Muslim cultural features, namely language and cuisine (Chaush cuisine has more Arab influences), they're a more homogeneous group, of Hadhrami Arab ancestry, and reside in close knit Chaush communities such as the Barkas neighborhood of Hyderabad.[25][26] This is compared to most Hyderabadi Muslims, who have ancestries from various ethnic origins, and are less a homogeneous group.[27]

Hyderabad Deccan (Green in the South) extending all the way till the cape of Comorin.


Hyderabadi Muslims have organized themselves politically along religious lines.The most prominent example of this is the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, currently led by Asaduddin Owaisi. The party dominates the politics scene in Hyderabad's Old City, and consistently wins seats for the Lok Sabha (Lower House of Indian Parliament) and the Telangana Legislative Assembly. The party claims to represent the interests of Muslims by campaigning for greater protection of minority rights.[28] A rival breakaway faction of the AIMIM is the Majlis Bachao Tehreek that also claims to represent the interests of Muslims in Hyderabad.

Hyderabadi Muslims who have been strong supporters of secular progressive movements, such as Indian freedom fighters Maulvi Allauddin, Turrebaz Khan, Abid Hasan, Urdu poets Makhdoom Mohiuddin and Sulaiman Areeb, and Hassan Nasir who participated in the Telangana Rebellion against the rule of the Nizam. Hyderabadi Muslims were also at the forefront of the formation of the Comrades Association in 1939, one of the first communist organizations in Hyderabad which struggled against the Nizam. Other secular members of the Hyderabad Muslim community include Shoaibullah Khan, the editor of the Urdu daily Imroz that was critical of the Razakars and urged Hyderabad's integration with India (he was stabbed to death). The story of a poor Muslim peasant named Bandagi who was killed while struggling against the landlord was immortalised in the popular drama Ma Bhoomi about the Telangana Rebellion. In 1946, editor of Urdu daily Saltanat Sayyid Ahmedullah Qadri was the first journalist of Hyderabad state who wrote articles on the One nation Theory.


Mah Laqa Bhai
The legendary Taramati use to sing for travelers at the Taramati Baradari

Hyderabadi Muslims, are noted for their hospitable nature also known as Deccani Tehzeeb. While Hyderabadi Muslims take pride in their "Nawabi" language, literature, poetry, architecture, and cuisine. The performing arts are often overlooked, especially regarding Hyderabadi culture. In fact, the once, great culture of the Hyderabadi Muslims, and their Nizam is being lost.[29] Interestingly enough though, the founding of the city of Hyderabad, can be attributed to one of the wives of Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, Queen Bhagyamati, who was a dancer in the courts of the Golkonda kings, with whom the founder of Hyderabad had named the city in her honour, Bhagyanagar, and later Hyderabad. Tales of the legendary dancers Taramati, and Premamati, are still echoed in the halls of the Taramati Baradari, showing the rich culture of Hyderabad's glorious past. Mah Laqa Bhai, a prominent Hyderabadi Muslim poet of the 18th century, patronized the Kathak dance form in the courts of the Nizam, which is now being lost amongst Hyderabadi Muslims.[30] Though, the once great dance traditions among the Hyderabadi Muslims are almost lost, two distinct, cultural practices are still popular among Hyderabadi Muslims, namely Marfa, and Dholak ke Geet. Marfa was brought by the Siddi and Chaush peoples, of Africa and Yemen, who were deployed in the army of the Nizams. This music, is accompanied by the beating drums of a great tradition, which were once popular in national celebrations of the dissolved Hyderabad state, is still popular among Hyderabadi Muslims in marriages.[31] Dholak ke geet is also one such great tradition. Dholak ke geet are songs, that have been orally passed down from generation to generation since the time of the Nizams, and is sung at marriages, accompanied by a Dholak drum.[32] Dholak ke geet are sung by all members of a family, regardless of gender, and age, and have strange yet funny lyrics bringing up awkward situations, the most popular being, "Kaali Murghi," which talks about someone losing their black chicken. Other than Musical forms of art, Hyderabadi Muslims have taken great honour in the writing, and reading of poetry, and annual Mushairas and Mehfils take place around the world, which has become a symbol of unity for Hyderabadi Muslims, and Urdu poets alike, continuing an ancient tradition.[33]

Language and literatureEdit

A distant view of the Falaknuma Palace

One of the most identifiable markers of Hyderabadi Muslim culture is the local dialect of Urdu, called Hyderabadi Urdu which in itself is a form of Dakhini. It is distinct by its mixture of vocabulary from Turkish, Persian and Arabic, as well in some vocabulary from Telugu and Marathi that are not found in the standard dialect of Urdu. In terms of pronunciation, the easiest way to recognize a Hyderabadi Urdu is use of "nakko"(no) and "hau"(yes); whereas in standard Urdu its "nahi" for (no) and "haa" for (yes).

Though Hyderabadi Urdu or Dakhini are the native languages of the Hyderabadi Muslim people, most people can speak standard Urdu, and often put Urdu as their mother tongue on censuses, as Dakhini is not a recognized language as such. Along with the languages they learn from birth, Hyderabadi Muslims can speak Hindi, which is mutually inteligible with standard Urdu, and taught in most Indian schools. Hyderabadi Muslims can also speak the majority languages spoken in the regions they live, namely Telugu, Marathi, and Kannada. The other important characteristic of the natives is cultural refinement in terms of interpersonal communication, referred to as 'meethi boli' (or, sweet and civilised speech). 'Tameez', 'tahzeeb' and 'akhlaq' (etiquette, custom, and tradition) are considered very important and guests are treated well with lot of 'mahmaan nawaazi' (hospitality).

Among the famous Hyderabadi Urdu poets are Amjad Hyderabadi, Dagh Dehalvi, Molana Mufti Mir Ashraf Ali, Safi Aurangabadi Makhdoom Mohiuddin, Sulaiman Areeb and khawja Shouq. Others poets who made Hyderabad their home for a significant amount of time include Josh Malihabadi and Fani Badayuni. Although not a Muslim himself, Maharaja Sir Kishen Pershad was steeped in Hyderabadi Muslim culture and wrote Urdu poetry under the pen name of "Shad" (Urdu: شاد‎).


Some famous Hyderabadi cuisine (dishes) that are served at weddings are: Hyderabadi Biryani, Haleem, Khubani ka Mitha, Gil-e-Firdaus, Double Ka Meetha, Luqmi, Dum ka qimah, Marag, Kaddu ki Kheer (A type of Kheer), Mirchi ka Salan and Baghare Baigan.

Hyderabadi Biryani

Other popular food items are: Chakna, Tamate ka Kut, Khatti Dal, Dalcha, Shirmal, Rawghani Roti, Nahari, Pasande, Pathar Ka Ghosht, Naan, Dum Ka Murgh, Khagina, Katche Gosht Ki Biryani, Khichdi, Nargisi Kheema, Shaami, Kofte, Tala Hua Ghosht, Poori, Kheer, Sheer Khorma, Til ka Khatta, Til ki Chutney and Qubuli, Shikampur, Tahari, Khichdi, shawarma, Mandi.

Chai and Paan are served after a meal.

Clothing and jewelleryEdit

Khada DupattaEdit

The Khada Dupatta or Khara Dupatta(uncut veil) is an outfit composed of a kurta (tunic), chooridaar (ruched pair of pants), and 6 yard dupatta (veil) and is traditionally worn by Hyderabad brides. Sometimes the kurta is sleeveless and worn over a koti resembling a choli. The bride also wears a matching ghoonghat (veil) over her head. The accompanying jewellery is:

  • Tika (a medallion of uncut diamonds worn on the forehead and suspended by a string of pearls)
  • Jhoomar (a fan shaped ornament worn on the side of the head)
  • Nath (a nose ring with a large ruby bead flanked by two pearls)
  • Chintaak also known as Jadaoo Zevar (a choker studded with uncut diamonds and precious stones)
Hyderabadi gentleman wearing sherwani
  • Kan phool (earrings that match the Chintaak and consist of a flower motif covering the ear lobe and a bell shaped ornament that is suspended from the flower. The weight of precious stones and gold in the Karan phool is held up by sahare or supports made of strands of pearls that are fastened into the wearers hair.)
  • Satlada (neck ornament of seven strands of pearls set with emeralds, diamonds and rubies)
    Coat of Arms of Hyderabad State
    Ranihaar (neck ornament of pearls with a wide pendant)
  • Jugni (neck ornament of several strands of pearls with a central pendant)
  • Gote (Shellac bangles studded with rhinestones and worn with gold coloured glass bangles called sonabai)
  • Payal (ankle bracelets)
  • Gintiyan (toe rings)


The Sherwani is the traditional men's garb of Hyderabad. It is a coat-like tunic with a tight-fitting collar (hook & eyelet fastening), close-fitting in the upper torso and flaring somewhat in its lower half. It usually has six or seven buttons, often removable ones made from gold sovereigns for special occasions. The material is usually silk or wool. A groom may use gold brocade for his wedding sherwani, but otherwise good taste dictates understated colors, albeit with rich and textured fabrics. The sherwani is usually worn over a silk or cotton kurta (long shirt) and pyjamas (baggy pants with a drawstring at the waist).

The sherwani is closely associated with Hyderabad, although it has spread since to the rest of India and to Pakistan. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru adapted its design and turned it into his trademark Nehru Jacket, further popularizing the garment.


400-year-old Makkah Masjid, مسجد مكة Hyderabad, Photo: 1885

The majority of Hyderabadi Muslims are Sunni and the two largest minorities are Shia and Mahdavi.[34] Sunni Muslims mostly follow the Hanafi school of Islamic Jurisprudence, although the Chaush community follows the Shafi'i school of thought and mainly reside in areas close to Barkas, the former Military Barracks of the Nizam, an area where the residents are mainly of Hadhrami Arab descent from Yemen. Islam in Hyderabad, with historical patronizing by the rulers, has a strong Sufi influence, Tablighi Jamaat has also been active since late 50s, with its headquarters at Jama Masjid Mallepally. Salafis, Dawoodi Bohra and Ismai'li are also in some areas. Bismillah ceremony a Islam initiation ceremony, held for children between the ages of 3 – 5.

Religious knowledge and its propagation flourished under the Nizam with institutions like the world-famous Jamia Nizamia (Jami'ah Nizamiyyah) of Hyderabad. The largest Mosque of Hyderabad, the Makkah Masjid gathers congregations of two hundred thousand and more on special occasions of Eid prayers and especially of Jumu'at-al Wida' ( the last Friday of Ramadan )

Hyderabad has also produced many renowned religious scholars of representing different Islamic sects and trends, including Bahadur Yar Jung, Jamaat-e-Islami founder Abul Ala Maududi, Syed Ashraf Shamsi, Allama Moulana Mufti Mir Ashraf Ali, The Grand Mufti of the Sultanate of Nizam, Syed Shabuddin (Moulvi Sahab), Afzal-ul-Ulema Syed Najmuddin, Syed Nusrath Mujtehdi, Tablighi jamaat key player maulana abid khan sahab, Sunni Barelvi scholar Turab-ul-Haq Qadri, and Shia scholars Allamah Rasheed Turabi, Moulana Baquar Agha (Ex Mla MIM) . Currently professor and philosopher Dr. M. A. Muqtedar Khan, who lives and teaches in the U.S. is one of the most famous intellectuals from Hyderabad who frequently lectures in Europe, and the Middle East.

Notable peopleEdit

Writers and poetsEdit

Religious scholarsEdit





Military ServicesEdit




Football and hockeyEdit

Tennis and other sportsEdit


See alsoEdit


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  2. ^
  3. ^ "Hyderabadis in Pakistan still carry mohajir tag: Karen Leonard – Times Of India". The Times of India. 7 January 2012. Retrieved 2012-04-30. 
  4. ^ "The Muslim question". 11 November 2011. Retrieved 16 April 2012. 
  5. ^ Noorani, A. G. (2014-01-01). The Destruction of Hyderabad. Hurst. ISBN 9781849044394. 
  6. ^ Khalidi, Omar; Society, Hyderabad Historical (1988-01-01). Hyderabad, after the fall. Hyderabad Historical Society. 
  7. ^ Leonard, Karen Isaksen (2007-01-01). Locating Home: India's Hyderabadis Abroad. Stanford University Press. p. 32. ISBN 9780804754422. 
  8. ^ Khalidi, Omar; Society, Hyderabad Historical (1988-01-01). Hyderabad, after the fall. Hyderabad Historical Society. 
  9. ^ "Hyderabad 1948: India's hidden massacre - BBC News". BBC News. Retrieved 2016-03-20. 
  10. ^ Leonard, Karen Isaksen (2007-01-01). Locating Home: India's Hyderabadis Abroad. Stanford University Press. ISBN 9780804754422. 
  11. ^ "The Muslim question - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 2016-03-20. 
  12. ^ Murtaza, Dr Niaz (2014-01-23). "The Mohajir question". Retrieved 2016-03-20. 
  13. ^ Agricultural Development in Hyderabad State, 1900-1956: A Study in Economic History. Keshav Prakashan. 1882-01-01. 
  14. ^ Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. Published under the auspices of the Pakistan American Foundation. 2003-01-01. 
  15. ^ Paranjape, Makarand R. (2012-09-03). Making India: Colonialism, National Culture, and the Afterlife of Indian English Authority. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 9789400746619. 
  16. ^ Leonard 2007
  17. ^ Leonard 2009
  18. ^ Yimene 2004
  19. ^ Ali 1996: 193–202
  20. ^ Leonard2003: 232
  21. ^ Ansari 2005: 140
  22. ^ Zakaria, M. Rafique (22 April 2007). "Charminar in Karachi". Dawn. 
  23. ^ A Comprehensive History of India. Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd. 2003-12-01. ISBN 9788120725065. 
  24. ^ Ramaswami, N. S. (1984-01-01). Political History of Carnatic Under the Nawabs. Abhinav Publications. ISBN 9780836412628. 
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  31. ^ "'Marfa' band of the Siddis 'losing' its beat". The Hindu. 2011-07-10. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2016-03-18. 
  32. ^ Gupta, Harsh K. (2000-01-01). Deccan Heritage. Universities Press. ISBN 9788173712852. 
  33. ^ "4th Annual Mehfil-e-Hyderabad Celebrated in Mississauga |". Retrieved 2016-03-18. [permanent dead link]
  34. ^ "Muslim society demonstrates diversity in its beliefs and practices". Times of India. 14 August 2016. Retrieved 14 August 2016. 
  35. ^ "Shah Rukh Khan spoke Kannada as a child - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 2016-05-14. 
  36. ^ Welcome to the Integrated Institute Professional Studies (IIPS)[permanent dead link]. Retrieved on 2011-10-01.
  37. ^ Zakir Husain (president of India) – Britannica Online Encyclopedia. (3 May 1969). Retrieved on 2011-10-01.