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Published On:20 February 2010
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Indian Muslim News - BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Gujarat built mosques to draw Arab ships

By Ashish Vashi & Harit Mehta

Can you imagine a non-Muslim building a mosque in 21st century India? May sound impossible today. But, two far-sighted Jains built one of the earliest mosques in Gujarat, a state that has seen some of the worst post-independence communal riots.

And, all this for the sake of business. Between 1178 and 1242, Vastupal and Sheth Jagdusha built mosques in Cambay and Bhadreshwar in Kutch to attract Arab and Turkish traders, who would bring in foreign exchange. While Vastupal was the commissioner of Cambay port, Jagdusha was a merchant of Bhadreshwar port in Kutch. Jains have been an important business community from the earliest time till today.

‘History of International Trade And Customs Duties In Gujarat’, a book by historian Makrand Mehta, says Vastupal encouraged Muslims to settle down in Cambay and Anhilwad Patan, the capital of the Solanki-Vaghela rulers of Gujarat.

The accounts of Arab travellers like Masudi Istakhari Ibn Hauqal and others, who visited Gujarat between the 9th and 12th centuries, amply testify to the settlements of Muslims in Cambay and other cities of Gujarat.

“But the Muslims settlements could hardly have developed without the support of the Solanki rulers. In fact, they attracted the Arabs and Persians to Cambay and Vastupal did it by constructing mosques for them,” says Mehta.

Jagdusha was not officially designated as a customs collector but he had cultivated excellent relations with ship captains and customs staff. Although a devout Jain, as a staunch businessman he understood the value of foreign exchange. “For this reason he also constructed a mosque in Bhadreshwar, his hometown,” according to the book.

(Courtesy: The Times of India)

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on February 20, 2010. Filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

By Indian Muslim Observer on February 20, 2010. Filed under , . Follow any responses to the RSS 2.0. Leave a response

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