Najm Tyabji

Bombay, India

Najmuddin S. Tyabji (1912-2001) belonged to the prominent Tyabji clan that was at the forefront of Bombay’s Sulaimani Bohra Muslim community.  His father, Salman Tyabji (1885-1962), was the fourth son (of five sons and thirteen daughters) of the renowned reformer, Badruddin Tyabji (1844-1906), and his wife, Bibi Rahat un-Nafs.  His mother, Saada, was the granddaughter of Badruddin’s brother, Najmuddin.  He studied civil engineering in Britain during which time he met his Scottish wife, Mona.  On the completion of his studies, they returned to India where he took up a post as Assistant Engineer on the Bengal Nagpur Railway, eventually rising to Chief Engineer on the Great Eastern Railways.  At the age of 62, he moved to Canada to be with his children and grandchildren.  Only at the age of 75 did he begin committing his ‘random reminiscences’ to paper, though the manuscript was not published by time the time of his death.  His decision to write must have been influenced by the long autobiographical tradition within the Tyabji family going back to the time of the clan’s founder, Tyab Ali.  Several years later, Najm’s grandson, Mark Devereux, began publishing extracts from his grandfather’s memoir on a ‘retroblog’ accompanied by relevant photographs.  These extracts are available at: ‘The Retroblog of Najm Tyabji’ []

Biography by Siobhan Lambert-Hurley


Further Reading

‘The Autobiography of Tyabji Bhoymeeah,’ edited and with introduction and notes by Asaf A.A. Ali, Journal of Asiatic Society of Bombay (New Series), vol. 36-37 1961-62, published by society in April 1964.

Lambert-Hurley, Siobhan and Sunil Sharma, Atiya’s Journeys: A Muslim Woman from Colonial Bombay to Edwardian Britain (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2010), esp. chapter 1.

Tyabji, Husain B., Badruddin Tyabji, a Biography (Bombay: Thacker, Spinck & co., 1952).

Tyabji, Salima, ‘Creating an Identity: The Family Journals of Tyabji Bhoymeeah of Bombay, 1877-1944’, unpublished manuscript.

Wright, Theodore P., ‘Muslim Kinship and Modernization: The Tyabji Clan of Bombay’, in Imtiaz Ahmad (ed.), Family, Kinship and Marriage among Muslims in India (Delhi: Manohar, 1976), pp. 217-38.