Separate sect - Separate community - Separate Anjumans
One man's greed for luxury and glory has wrecked a fine religious sect, a progressive community and a benevolent leadership.
That man was Sayedna Taher Saifuddin, the high and mighty!
Like his predecessor Dais, Sayedna Taher Saifuddin was also born and brought up in poverty in a narrow room of dilapidated devri at Surat. He grew up as an over-ambitious person who wanted to roll in luxury abandoning a simple and honest life.
When he assumed the office of Dai in 1915 he achieved his objective by asserted his absolute authority over the community and forcefully taking control of the community's property, trusts and wealth. He did everything against Islam and Ismaili traditions, still projecting himself as most pious and most wise of all.
Being Gujarati and Rajput converts the Bohras are religious minded, compromising, and enterprising. The Sayedna exploited their religious sentiments and their faith in Dai.
He gradually changed most of the religious beliefs and customs and traditions of the community, completely diverting from Islam and Ismailism. Sayedna Taher Saifuddin made following innovations in the religious faith and practices of the community thus creating a separate sect:-
Earlier the Dawoodi Bohras used to believe fully in deeds permitted and prohibited by Allah in Qur’an. But the Sayedna started a practice that Bohras should believe in him and obey him in all the religious and social matters. He made Dai's permission (Raza) compulsory for the act that a Bohra whishes to do, including Namaz, Mujlis, Haj, Nikah and burial. He made any act done without his prior permission a sin and punishable, nothing could be done in the community without his permission. Thus smashing the individual rights and throttling the independence of local Jamats.
Then he made the practice of sajda to Da'i an obligatory practice for Bohras.
Then he made a practice of praying two rakat namaz for Da'i obligatory, thus elevating himself to the position of God.
Then he claimed that Da'i is the master of the soul, mind and the property of his followers, thus enslaving the entire community and forming a separate sect.
The major innovations he introduced in order to suppress a progressive community are:-
First he added Dai with Imam in Misak text and made obedience to Dai essential part of faith and started imposing his superiority over all the affairs of the community.
Then he claimed that Da'i is "infallible (one who cannot make any mistake) like Imam,
He claimed that he is Sultan of Bohras and people of his house are Shahzadas and Shahzadis and his family a Royal family, who all enjoyed their livelihood, comfort and high lifestyle at the cost of the community.
During Sayedna Taher Saifuddin's tenor though the Amils were draged into the employment of Da'i most of them came from poor and average Bohra families, they were knowledgeable and sympathetic to poor and avage-income Bohras. But during Sayedna Burhanuddin's regime most of Amils came were Jamiyah brainwashed and had no knowledge of real principles of Islam but were tought to praise Da'i and extract by hook or crook as much wealth from Bohras as possible in the name of bogus renovation of masjids, Jamatkhanas, etc. They became arrogant, greedy and dominating, thus wrecked a benevolent leadership.
The Sayedna eliminated the community's participation in all the matters of the community and gave all the power to his family members, who soon became parasites and started dominating and dictating the Bohras in their religious, secular, educational and personal matters.
Then Sayedna eliminated the class of ulemas (learned scholars) and replaced them with bogus Mullas and Shaikhs made without merit and training based on the amount of money had offered. Sayedna also seized all the authentic books of knowledge from the community replacing them with books of their "kalemats" and fake achievements with colourful photographs. Thus converting a progressive community in to a group of baboons.
Sayedna's manipulation, usurpation and intimidation gave birth to the reform movement; which was started in the beginning of twentieth century when Sayedna Taher Saifuddin assumed the office of Dai. Certain well-wishers of the community and Dawat under the influence of British made efforts for spreading modern education in the Community.
As an intelligent man Syedna Taher Saifuddin knew that education and modern education will make his followers conscious of their individual rights and human dignity and he will not enslave them to his unquestionable diktats. He opposed the moernist Bohra with all the might at his command. Syedna Taher Saifuddin labeled them as "enemies of religion and Dawat. Thus the confrontation started between the Sayedna and the modernist Bohras, who were believers of the Fatimi Da'wah, and the Shi'ah-Must'alian-Tyebi line of the Fatimi D'awah and the chain of Da'is. They gave importance to the office of a Da'i but differed in obedience to Da'i. They considered that the obedience to Da'i was not unquestionable and absolute and that Da'i can make mistake his actions of Da'i can be questioned. They reject the very idea of blind, unquestioning or absolute obedience to any religious or worldly authority.
Sayedna Taher Saifuddin had made the Da'i's absolute obedience an integral part of Bohra faith and elevated him to the position of divinity through clever maneuverings.
The modernist Bohras oppose this and consider it as deviation from the basic Islamic principles and Isma'ili doctrines. They insisted on transparency and accountability and demanded reform in the matters of community. Thus these modernists came to be known as Reformist. The Bohra Reformists insisted on changes only in the mundane (worldly) matters of the community and never in the celestial (divine) sphere.
The Reformist Bohras' demand was quite appealing in the new industrial age and a threat to Sayedna's authority.
Hence to silence these new advocates of modern education Sayedna Taher Saifuddin tried to disconnect them from the community to safeguard his blind followers from their influence:-
First by a vicious false propaganda, that the Reformist Bohras want changes in religion and want to destroy Dawat system.
Then Sayedna resorted to intimidation and instigated his blind followers to mount mental and physical attacks on the reformists.
But that did not discourage the reformist Bohras.
Then ultimately he innovated "Salam bandh" and "Jamatkharij" and expelled the Bohras from the community who defied his dictates’, thus crushing human dignity.
After a long and painful period of violence in the community Sayedna realized that it is impossible to crush the voice of reform and he decided to form different Jamats in the name of Anjumans. Before his death in 1965 Sayedna organized a world-wise "Ali Day" in Bombay and first named the Bombay Dawoodi Bohra Jamat as "Anjuman-e-Shiat-e-Ali." Then all Dawoodi Bohra Jamats world over were named as "Anjumane-Saifee", "Anjumane-Burhani", "Anjumane-Qutbi", "Anjumane-Hatimi" etc and he shifted from original Dawoodi Bohra Jamat leaving them to the reformist Bohras. To safeguard these Anjumams from the influence of the reformists after mass revolt in Udaipur in 1972, Sayedna introduced and enforced compulsory Bohra cap, Talebani dress code a beard for men and colourful Rida for women to give them a separate identity. Even e-jamat cards were made compulsory for entry in their masjids, markaz, musafirkhanas and mazars.
The propaganda that the reformist Bohras are Dawoodi Bohras and they have formed a separate Jamaat is therefore totally unjustified as the reformist Bohras still follow the original religion and the original Dawoodi Bohra Jamaats are in their control. It is Sayednas who have formed a separate sect and have formed separate "Anjumans". They have even abolished the name "Dawoodi Bohras" and given a new name "Mumineen", meaning faithful of Da'i, not of Allah.
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It was difficult for Dawoodi Bohras as for others to travel to Mecca and stay there for Haj during early days. Sir Adamji Peerbhoy realized this difficulty when he went on Haj for the first time in June 1882 with 125 Bohras from Kathyawar and Jamnagar. The people were required to come to Bombay to take a steamer for Mecca. There was no arrangement for Bohras to stay in Bombay and at Mecca, Medina and Karbala. So on his return from Haj he constructed a Sanatorium at Charni Road in Bombay and Bohra Rubats at all three places. Then in 1897 Seth Alibhai Karimji Alvi and Esaji Adamji established a Trust and named it as “Faiz-e-Husaini Charitable Trust with initial amount of Rs. 1,52,650/- by them and got it registered.S. Insaf wrote:When he assumed the office of Dai in 1915 he achieved his objective by asserted his absolute authority over the community and forcefully taking control of the community's property, trusts and wealth.
A memorandum submitted to the Governor of Bombay, Sir Leslie Wilson in 1933 states about this trust among many other cases of forceful usurpation of Community’s properties by Sayedna Taher Saifuddin Saheb. The text in brief is as follows :-
A trust known as Faiz-e-Husaini was founded by some honest and sincere good Bohras of Karachi some 35 years back. Due to enormous amount of good work and benefit the value of the trust increased to 35 lacs rupees in a short time. All along the trustees carried out their affairs quietly and peacefully without any interference from any of the Mullaji Sahebs. About 6 months ago when the present Mullaji Sayedna Taher Saifuddin went to Karachi he sent his agents to the trustees asking them 1) first to include a clause in the Trust Deed that the trustees would not do any thing without first obtaining the permission of Mullaji. 2) On a vacancy the trustee would be appointed by Mullaji. With that The Sayedna Saheb started coercion but was advised by his lawyers that “his action would be illegal and he would be civilly and criminally liable for any interference in the trust matter as Trust Deed prohibited the interference of any one other than trustees.” He came back to Bombay and instructed his solicitors to draw up a deed transferring all properties and funds of Faiz-e-Husaini in Karach, Bombay, Basra and Karbala to the Mullaji’s name. He then sent his emissaries to trustees in Karach to sign the deed. The entire circumstances how trustees were compelled to sign the deed is most horrifying. Thus the biggest charitable institution was usurped by Sayedna Taher Saifuddin. The memorandum had asked the Governor of Bombay to inquire into the matter by reference to the collector of Karachi and said that “Your Excellency will be horrified to know the tricks and dangerous games played by the Mullaji with Faiz-e-Husaini knowing fully well the law of the country.”
The same Faiz-e-Husaini today under the absolute control of Sayedna Saheb has become an exclusive tour and travel agent for Dawoodi Bohras. Its original office in Bombay has been shifted from Moriswala Musafarkhana building to Mazgaon after the raid by the Enforcement Directorate and exposure of big Hawala Racket through 204 illegal Bank drafts worth Rs. 27 lacs in Oct. 1984. Today because of the very stakes involved Faiz-e-Husaini has been given so much importance that Bohras are made to believe as if there is no way to go to Haj, Umra and Ziyarat out side India except through Faiz and they ask “How do you organise Hajj?”