University of Kashmir A group photo of the participants

Language plays an unprecedented role in identifying the cultural and moral values of a community.  It is the foremost tool with which a community makes its presence in the society for its education and learning.  Our language i.e. Lisaan ud Da’wat or the language of Islaamic Mission has a unique and interesting account of its phase-wise development which began since 10 centuries.  The journey of our language began with the purity of Classical Arabic which is well preserved in Qur’an-e-Hakeem, Sayings of Rasoolullaah (saws), admonitions of Maulaana Ali (as) and lectures of A’immat and Du’aat (sa).  Around 468 AH, it was the time of the 18th Faatemi Imaam Maulaana al-Mustansir Billaah (as) in Egypt when our missionaries came to India to preach our faith to the people who were totally unaware of Arabic.  Thus there rose a need to learn local Indian language for the missionaries and mix it with Arabic terminology to teach the people more effectively.

This marked the commencement of the new phase of Da’wat language which our missionaries or Du’aat handled with great care and distinctiveness.  During the Da’wat in Yaman, our representatives (Maulaayis) in India used to go to Yaman and attend the lectures of Du’aat to learn the language in its original sense and soul.  Thus the language got treated by our Maulaayis in two ways, the language for higher-ups and the language for the beginners or commonalty.  Those who were very close to the affairs of Da’wat were well-versed with Arabic and the rest knew it mixed with different dialects and phrases.  Whenever necessary, Maulaayis used to preach either in Arabic in special classes or in other tongue among masses as per their grasping power and intellectuality.

Today the same trend is prevalent, when a person having utmost knowledge of Da’wat principles and ethos bears the privilege to know the intricacies of the language.  But, we as an Alavi Bohras enjoy the favor from our Da’wat-e-Haadiyah that our Maulaa constantly emphasizes us to learn Lisaan ud Da’wat and untiring efforts have been undertaken to make it the language of every Alavi household. 

A part of this effort got a fruitful result when Sister Asma Barodawala (Attarwala) was invited for a 3 day seminar on LINGUISTIC AND LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT IN JAMMU AND KASHMIR WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO TRIBAL LANGUAGES jointly organized by Dept. of Linguistics (University of Kashmir), Central Institute of Indian Languages (Mysore) & Urdu Teaching and Research Centre (Lucknow) on 14-16 November 2011. She presented a paper on “ALAVI BOHRA LANGUAGE: LANGUAGES IN CONTACT”.  There people appreciated the paper and many of the them came to know about Alavi Bohras and their language “Lisaan ud-Da’wat”. They came to know that Alavi Bohras is a different community and independent entity existing in Baroda, Gujarat having its 44th Spiritual Head in the line of Succession from Yaman. They also awarded the paper as one of the best paper of the Seminar.

Read the paper in full length:

Alavi Bohra Language: Languages in Contact OR A PowerPoint presentation