Shaikh Dr Thaika Shuaib’s primary research focus was history of Islam and Muslims in the Arwi region (modern day South India and Sri Lanka). It was a labour of love that spanned over 30 years of extensive travel in South Asia, Far East, East Africa and Middle East. The findings were the bedrock for his master’s thesis and research doctorate which culminated in the publishing of the 880-page monumental work, “Arabic, Arwi and Persian in Sarandib and Tamil Nadu — A study of the Contributions of Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu to Arabic, Arwi, Persian and Urdu Languages, Literature and Education”.
The book brought to the academic forefront the hitherto unexplored and forgotten history and contributions of Arwi (Tamil-speaking) Muslims to Islamic literature, education, propagation and spirituality through Arabic, Arwi, Persian and Urdu. In addition, it shed light on their cultural, political and social activities and achievements in their respective countries and abroad. It also features a critical commentary of the famous Mawlid composition by Imam al-‘Arus Sayyid Muhammad b. Ahmad Lebbai entitled, “Minhat al-Sarandīb fī Madh al-Habīb”.
The acclaimed tome has the distinction of being released by the Presidents of 3 SAARC countries in their respective official residences viz. India, Sri Lanka and Maldives. The seminal nature of the publication drew ready acceptance and admiration from his peers and contemporaries. His motivation for this long-running, labour-intensive research can be understood from the dedication that he penned at the beginning of the work:
“Dedicated to the revered memory of Arwi savants, scholars and devoted men of Sarandib and Tamil Nadu, whose works of literary lustre and spiritual splendour have revealed their nobility and greatness, inspite of their efforts to conceal themselves from publicity due to their intellectual modesty and spiritual humility.”
High Profile Release
Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma, the 9th President of India, officially released the work at the Rashtrapathi Bhavan in New Delhi on 18 Jun 1993 by receiving the first copy. The event was attended by distinguished guests including the High Commissioner for Sri Lanka, Dr Neville Kanakaratne, amongst others.
This was followed by an official Tamil Nadu launch in Madras on 28 Jul 1993 by the state Governor, Dr Marri Channa Reddy. Those in attendance included Dr V. K. Valson, Deputy High Commissioner for Sri Lanka; B. S. Abdur Rahman, renowned business magnate; and others. Other regional launches were held throughout Tamil Nadu.
Overseas, the President of Sri Lanka, Sri D. B. Wijetunge, held a release function at the Janadipathy Manthralaya in Colombo on 11 Feb 1994. The President of the Maldive Islands, Dr Abdul Qayyum Mamoon, received and honoured Shaikh Dr Thaika Shuaib in Malé on 20 Jun 1994 for his work. In addition, release functions were held in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and Hong Kong
Book Release Functions
- Cultural Centre, Abu Dhabi
Released by Dr Izzeddin Ibrahim, Cultural Advisor to the President of the UAE and ruler of Abu Dhabi.
- Al-Ghurair Centre, Dubai
Released in the presence of foreign diplomats, prominent scholars and business magnates.
- International Book Fair, Sharjah
Released by His Highness Dr Sultan al-Qasimi, Executive member of the Supreme Council and ruler of Sharjah.
- Hong Kong
Released by Malcolm Idris Peak, President of the Islamic Union of Hong Kong.
The following are some of the praise and commendation received for the work:
“The most important feature of this book is that it focuses attention for the first time on the role played in the Arwi area by spiritual personalities. The learned author, who is well known in the Islamic circle, deserves due recognition and credit for this original contribution in this field.”
—M. A. M. Azeezur Rahman M.A., B.L.
Advocate, High Court, Madras
“This unusual research is unique and to my knowledge not undertaken by anybody else. The publication of the book will be of immense value and a noteworthy contribution to the academic and literary world.”
—Alhaj A. H. M. Azwer, M.P.
Hon. Minister of State, Sri Lanka
“The wealth of information that he has collected and collated in this volume will prove to be a valuable reference material to the coming generations of Muslims on both sides of the Palk Strait.”
Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.
“The role of the Sufi scholars in Tamilnadu in inspiring the Muslims and their contributions through their literary works are discussed in detail which is laudable.”
—Qadi Mufti Salahuddin Muhammad Ayyub M.A
Chief Qadi and Mufti, Tamilnadu, India
“An eclectic work on a neglected subject. The author is not from the Urdu region. Yet he has extensively dealt with the learning of Urdu and Persian. The appendices alone, from ten to thirty, make a highly informative and enlightening book within a book.”
—Dr. Fahmida Begum M.A., Ph.D.
Director, Ministry of Human Resource and Edu., New Delhi
“After going through the book, we come across the invaluable, original and rare contributions of the Arwi Muslims to the promotion and spread of Arabic, Arwi and Persian languages in the Arwi land … it requires an outstanding calibre, patience, foresight and critical mind to write books on the culture and civilisation of the people. The eminent author, Dr. Thaika Shuaib, has all these sterling qualities and more in abundance.”
—Prof. Rafiuddin Naqvi (Mumbai)
Principal, Madrasatul Hilal, Dubai, U.A.E.
“This work is a monumental one and deserves serious study to know more and more about the great souls of Islam who during the course of history, kept alive the flame of Islam in this region against all kinds of odds.”
—Dr. P. Nisar Ahmad M.A., Ph.D.
Head, Dept. of Arabic, University of Madras
“Many books describing the contributions of the Indian Muslims to Arabic, Persian, and Urdu have come out. But they do not contain any account of the contributions of the Arwi Muslims in this regard. This book is the first of such an effort.”
—Prof. N. A. Faruqi
Head, Dept. of Arabic, Delhi University
“The Arwi Muslim community is bound to be grateful to the author who has sacrificed his valuable time to conduct research and bring out the rare and hidden treasures of the contributions of the Arwi Muslim scholars, savants, etc. in the form of this important book.”
—Dr. M. A. M. Shukri Ph.D.
Chief Director, Jamiah Naleemiah Islamiah, Sri Lanka