Sheikh Ahmed Ali Raj

A true Bohra scholar

by Saifuddin Insaf

Sheikh Ahmed Ali was born on the 1st January 1914 and died on 21 June 2008 at the age of 98. He married Sugrabai in 1926 at the age of 12 on the insistence of the late Sayedna Taher Saifuddin Saheb who also performed their nikah. He is survived by four sons, Yusuf, Abbas and Luqman and four daughters, Shirin, Sakina, Shaher Banoo and Nafeesa.

He joined the Jamiyah Saifiah, Surat at an early age where he studied and reached to the final degree of “Alfaqihul- Jayyed” after which he became well versed in Tafseer, Hikmat, Taweel Haqiqat and the history of Fatemi Imams.

Thereafter he was awarded the title of “Sheikh” by Sayedna Taher Saifuddin Saheb and given the title of NKD by Sayedna Burhanuddin Saheb. He wrote 102 books and Rasails and wrote the tafseer of the Quran in lisane-dawaat.

After the outrageous assault on innocent Bohra women of Udaipur in Galiakot in the presence of Sayedna Burhanuddin Saheb resulting in mass revolt in Udaipur in 1973 an undercurrent discontent began to develop amongst the teachers of Jamiyah Saifiah and Amils in general. They were especially perturbed by the high handedness of Jamiyah’s rector, Yusuf Najmuddin.

Before it could become a serious challenge to the religious establishment, Yusuf Najmuddin thought it fit to curb the dissidents by force and threat. He went to Surat in November 1974 and incited the students of Jamiyah to violently attack four eminent teachers of the Jamiyah, Sheikhs Hasan Ali, Sajjad Husain, Ali Hassan and Ahmed Ali by alleging that these teachers did not believe in the authority of the Prophet and Sayedna.

A large crowd of Jamiyah students, with the help of local goons, went on rampage in the streets of Surat for two days and severely attacked these Sheikhs’ houses and assaulted them and their family members. Sheikh Sajjad Husain died in the hospital the next day as a result of these attacks.

Sheikh Ahmed Ali Saheb was one of those teachers of Jamiyah who were harassed and humiliated. They were called to Bombay and were made to stand with their hands folded for several hours on the doorsteps of Saifee Masjid and then they were compelled to kneel down and walk up to the Sayedna putting their shoes on their heads. Even then they were not pardoned. Sheikh Ahmed Ali Saheb was the brought to Udaipur by Bohra reformists to save him from further humiliation.

Sheikh Saheb participated in the First World Dawoodi Bohra Conference held in Udaipur in February 1977 where he made a great impression. He also performed several nikahs in mass marriages held on 16th March 1975.

He delivered Moharram vaizes in Udaipur and gave his religious guidance on the occasion of several Jamat activities. His death is a great loss for the reformists of Udaipur.