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Naqshe-Navayath, organ of the Navayaths
Aftab H Kola

Bhatkal, a thriving palm-studded town on the west coast in Karnataka, has its own identity and exclusiveness. The Navayath community, living in and around Bhatkal, is known for its rich culture and unique traditions. Tracing their lineage to the Arabs, this small but significant mercantile community, has made Bhatkal a prosperous town with a string of reputed institutions including professional ones. Bhatkal, thanks to these enterprising people, is a canvas of peace and prosperity.

From this soil has emerged the Naqshe-Navayath, a community newspaper in Navayathi language, which forms an essential component of Navayathi identity. This fortnightly tabloid completed 25 years of publication on 18 April 2001. No mean achievement considering its nature of a spokesman of a small community. Launched on 18 April 1976 by the celebrated scholar Maulana Shah Abrarul Haq at Bombay, the Naqshe-Navayath has become a sort of heritage for the Navayaths. Since then this periodical has been a vehicle of communication and a cultural link for a community that has witnessed a diaspora. The tabloid is looked forward by the scattered readers to get the first hand news about the on-goings in Bhatkal as well as within the community.

When Naqshe-Navayath was started there were many who apprehended that the periodical might die a premature death. Of course the going was never smooth. Odds were formidable. The periodical, managed by the determined trio, late Syed Abdurrahim Irshad, late Muhammed Ali Qamar and Moulvi Abdul Aleem Quasimi, had several rough patches. Still belying the fears of all and sundry, Naqshe-Navayath withstood many an acid test and passed through many an ordeal and emerged as a popular media for the Navayaths.

Before the advent of Naqshe-Navayath, another journal Al-Navayath had, for a brief period, served as the mouthpiece of Navayaths. However between 1976 and 1980 both flourished simultaneously. In 1980 Al-Navayath ceased publication due to some technical hurdles while Naqshe-Navayath (or NN as it became known) marched unabated. Naqshe-Navayath, in conformity with its avowed objectives, provides ample coverage to the news and events relating to the Navayath community settled along the Navayath villages like Basrur, Byndoor, Shirur, Bhatkal, Shirali, Murdeshwar, Manki, Gersoppa, Honnavar etc. Coverage is given to important events of these towns in this neatly brought out newsmagazine. It spares no effort to bring an awareness of Navayaths ’ rich art and architecture, heritage and culture, religion and tradition, history and future and all other issues pertaining to the community.

Little wonder its old issues are a repository of knowledge on Navayath heritage and serve as a chronicle of Navayath milestones.

Widely acclaimed columns like Gudgadi Meera (hubble bubble Meera) and Aikage Sayyanu (listen O friends!) have become the distinguishing features of this popular periodical. Its satirical presentation of the follies, shortcomings and the wrong-doings of the organizations and the people has been fairly acclaimed. Its obituary column informs people of deaths in the community. Its editorials, though at times tend to be pompous, are nevertheless timely and effective. Write-ups on Islam as also on current affairs that feature regularly help the readers refresh their knowledge and update it. Similarly the column Awami Adalat provides a forum for the readers to air their grievances and express their views on matters of current interest. The Navayaths settled in different cities, particularly in Mangalore, Bangalore, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Madras, Calcutta, Mumbai and abroad, particularly in the Gulf, the USA, the UK consider the tiny journal a boon in keeping a touch with the community. Eager to know about happenings in Bhatkal and the news relating to their community, these Navayaths relish every bit of the NN. Writes Dr Usman Siddiqua, a Navayath doctor settled in the UK, “NN helps maintain the bond between me and my community as it is the only source for us to keep ourselves informed about our own people and town”. Navayaths like Mr Kazia Zubair, a business tycoon in the US and Mr S. M. Syed Khaleel, an enterprising corporate executive in Dubai echo the same views.

Naqshe-Navayath, now published from Bhatkal, had its office in Mumbai’s Bhindi Bazaar, home to the trading Navayath community from Bhatkal. It was started by late Syed Abdurrahim Irshad, a creative writer and Maulvi Abdul Aleem Quasimi, a prominent member of the community. Irshad, who expired in 1996, carried the paper with financial support from Maulvi Aleem and editorial co-operation from writer Muhammed Ali Qamar, who died last year. Although the deaths of two literary figures have had its effect on the language and style of the paper, it compensates by hitting the stands on dot every month. With Maulvi Abdul Aleem at the helm of its affairs with support from Mr Majid Firdausi, this community newspaper continues to deliver the goods to its ever-increasing readership. After 25 years of meritorious service to the cause of the Navayaths, the Naqshe-Navayath has come to be regarded as a part and parcel of Navayath culture.

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