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History of Parajiya Muslim Sonis

Mr. NoorMohamed Haji Elias, born in Zanzibar nicknamed by the locals as “Budha Sonara” meaning (indirectly) “the wise goldsmith”, inherited his skills from his father, Mr. Haji Elias, a merchant, who first stepped his foot to East Africa during the late 19th century from India.

This was the time when dhows were used for transportation of goods by the merchants and transportation of labourers by the British to build the Kenya-Uganda Railway line, which itself has its own history.

Photo of Aman Haji Elias (Muslim Soni) with Parajiya Pattnis click
 Parajiya Pioneers 

Muslim Parajiya Soni

Pattni Connection spreading its wings across all Parajiya’s.

As mentioned in our history section, Hakamibandha was the first person to become a Parajiya Soni. Many joined him and this group later became known as a Parajiya Soni. This Parajiya Soni Samaj stayed united for the next 1000 years. It then split into three Communities: Parajiya Pattni, Parajiya Girnaras and Parajiya Kutchi Sonis. There was also a fourth split. This breakaway section converted themselves to Muslims. The internet website technology is now again bringing back together Parajiya Community that got split 800 to 900 years ago.

We are pleased to be contacted by a fellow Muslim Parajiya – Mohammed Zakariya.

Several e-mails were exchanged. Following are the excerpts from these mails ---- Editor

From Mohammed Zakariya:-


I was searching the web for our history and came across this site and was really happy to find a link to my origins. I did not know that I too was a Parajiya until I came across this site especially the "History" section.


Noor Mohamed Haji Elias

I am glad to see my forefather's name Mr Elias mentioned in the Zanzibar paragraph. I am the great grandson of Mr. Noor Mohamed Haji Elias (brother of Haji Ahmed Haji Elias, whose name is mentioned in your site).

I was very well aware there is some kind of a historic link between the Pattnis of Mombasa and us but I don't know how and where. I will be very pleased to provide any information you need about our community in Mombasa and of what I know in the rest of the world.

Mohammed Zakariya

Please find my profile with a photograph of myself taken at the Nairobi National museum with my great grandfather's Mr. Noor Mohamed Haji Elias photo (wearing a cap) and some of the early settlers of East Africa in the background (God knows how the photos got to the National museum)

Best Regards
Mohammed Zakariya,
Mombasa. Kenya

From Editor-

Hi Mohammed
It was nice to know our fellow Muslim Parajiya!

Do you know your ancestral family name?  Parajiya community was our origin. Many of those who changed their religion have still kept their original surnames - Sagar, Dhanak, etc.

I shall be glad to receive whatever history you have from your roots. Since I also study history of Parajiya, we can combine both to get a comprehensive Parajiya history and the circumstances as to how when many of our ancestors changed their religion. 

How is Mombasa now days?


From Mohammed

Hi Pranbhai,

Mombasa is safer; you are right and better business wise but is becoming too congested day by day. You need to be very patient if you are driving along Digo road, because of the ignorance of traffic rules by the matatus. It's now almost 10 matatus after every small car and they are all a nuisance. Nairobians and people from upcountry are flocking in search of jobs and petty business opportunities.


We are still in jewellery business by the name Sonara Budha Jewellers, if you've heard of it. I have a family tree which was prepared by a relative from Karachi beginning with the last Hindu in our ancestral root. I'll get back to you on that once I have it in my hand.


 I use the surname 'Jafferani' which is derived from 'Jaffer' (obviously a Muslim) and have no clue about the Hindu surname. As a matter of fact, I heard the word 'Parajiya' for the first time as I was discussing about this website with my dad yesterday! He said, we too are Parajiyas, and I'm sure most of my age mates in our community are still not aware of that.

The 'Cutchi Muslim Sonara Jamat', as we know of ourselves, consists about 5,000 members worldwide, out of which over 3,000 are in Karachi, about 200 in Mombasa, about 200-300 are in Dares salaam, Tanzania, a family or two are in the U.K. and the U.S.A each, a handful are in Moroni in the Comoros islands, and a few are still in Cutch.


I hope those facts were helpful.


Best Regards to you and your family


From Editor
Hi Mohammed

If I am right, Digo used to be called Salim Road. The main posh high street of Mombasa! So it seems all is now changed.

Yes Sonara Budha sounds a familiar name. Are you at the corner of Digo and Old Kilindini Road? There used to few Muslims shops around that area.

As for the history, if you know the last Hindu Parajiya in your family, then I have the history of the last Parajiya Hindu who became Muslim. Since your family names have been changed over the last 800 years, it’s a question of finding your family's ancestral Hindu name and we can then have the full Parajiya history.

From Mohammed
Hi Pranbhai,

I have the chart here with me. I am the eight generation down from Jaffer (descendants of whom are so known as the Jafferanis). Jaffer was the son of Malut; Malut was the son of Somji and Somji, the son of Virji. That’s all I have. Now I leave the steering with you to continue.


Malut, an Ismaili Khoja, had three sons who converted to be Sunni Muslims: Jaffer (Jafferani), Kasam (Kassmani), and Isa (Issani).


 The corner shop on Salim Rd. (now Digo Rd.), you are talking about is A.H. Elyas Jewellers and has some links to the Haji Ahmed Haji Elyas which used to be in Zanzibar. Our main shop is behind the Mackinon market, somewhere to the left of the entrance to the Jain temple. It's been there since 1945. We say that we've been established since 1906 because the business has changed from 3 to 4 locations within Mombasa before that and Originated from Zanzibar.


Best regards,


Dear Mohammed

Eight generation is around 150 - 160 years of history. You need to go at least 30 generations to meet in the Parajiya family tree.

If you can let me know the last Hindu in your family then we may be able to link. Ask you family elders who may be able to give you more info  - Pranbhai

Dear Pranbhai,
Virji Somji WAS the last Hindu in the family tree


Dear Mohammed

To get your full family tree and roots, you need to find more info. May be your relatives in Karachi can help you trace back to your actual Hindu family name.  Somji seems to be the father of the Virji. That’s not the family name


Dear Pranbhai,


I'll try to do some research on that. I'm sure there must be someone who might know. I'll get back to you as soon as I find something.

Anyone who can add further to this history are welcome to join in this discussion -



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