Khoja in India

Photo Source:  Anonymous 
Map Source:  People Group Location: Omid. Other geography / data: GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project
People Name: Khoja
Country: India
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 505,000
World Population: 1,472,000
Primary Language: Gujarati
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: Yes
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South Asia Muslim - other
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Khoja are a Muslim community who live in west and north India. They originally were a group of Hindu traders who converted to Islam in the 14th century. The word Khoja comes from a Persian word meaning pious or respected one. The branch of
Shia Islam that the Khoja converted to is called Ismaili. They believe that the Aga Khan is the successor to the prophet Muhammad. Some Sunnis, the largest branch in Islam, see the Ismaili as heretics.

Some of the wealthiest entrepreneurs in India are Khoja. They believe in higher education for their children, especially for their sons. Khoja have migrated all over the globe including North America, Europe, Africa and East Asia. When a Khoja person travels to a new place, he instantly has friendly Ismailis there to offer him or her hospitality and business contacts.

The founder of nation of Pakistan was a Khoja, Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

The primary language of the Khoja is Gujarati. They speak also other regional languages. University educated Khoja speak English.

Where Are they Located?

The large majority of the Indian Khoja lives in the Indian states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. Smaller groups live throughout the nation of India. Many Khoja also live in Pakistan.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The lives of the Khoja vary. Some are wealthy, college graduates and hold positions at the highest levels of Indian society. Others are small businessmen who their own shops.

Khoja families arrange marriages with the consent of the young people. They desire to marry within their own sect of Shia Islam. Sons inherit property with the eldest son becoming responsible for the welfare of his mother and younger siblings. Ismaili priests officiate at important life events like births, weddings and funerals. Their ceremonies are unlike any other Muslim group. They have been influenced by Hindu and Neo-platonic thought.

The Khoja eat meat except for pork.

Caste associations promote their interests and settle legal matters.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Most Khoja are members of the Ismaili sect, the second largest group in Shia Islam.

Like all Shia they believe that the successors of Muhammad should be his direct descendants. The larger group of Islam, the Sunni, does not believe that Muhammad successors have to be in the physical lineage of Muhammad.

Ismaili Shia believe that the Aga Khan IV, a British businessman, is Allah's living imam and representative on earth. He is able to interpret the Qur 'an for his followers.

Like all Muslims, the Khoja Ismaili pray five times a day towards Mecca, fast during the month of Ramadan and attend Mosque services on Friday.

A tiny group of Khoja is Sunni Muslims.

What Are Their Needs?

The Khoja need to hear and understand the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ. They must be humble enough to accept themselves as sinners in need of a Savior.

The Khoja would benefit by seeing God's love shown to them by Christians.

Prayer Points

Ask the Lord to raise up and send out a new generation of fruitful, multiplying witnesses from among the Khoja people.
Ask God to deliver families and communities within the Khoja people from fears that hinder them from embracing His blessings
Pray for movements to Jesus to sweep through Khoja families, permeating
the group from within.

Text Source:   David Kugel