Dawudi Bohra’s History and Their Doctrine

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Nafisa
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Dawudi Bohra’s History and Their Doctrine

#1

Unread post by Nafisa » Tue Jul 08, 2014 12:16 pm

Submission by Ismail K. Poonawala
Bird’s Eye-view of Dawudi Bohra’s History and Their Doctrines

The Dawudi Bohras, technically known as the Shia Ismaili-Mustali-Tayyibis (hereafter, referred to as Bohras), are a group of Shia Ismaili Muslims. The current dispute over succession to the deceased 52nd Dai, Muhammad Burhanuddin, has its roots in both recent as well as remote past. Historically, arguments over the issue of succession are rooted in historical, political and theological discourses. The earliest of such discourses could be traced immediately after the
Prophet’s death in the election of the head of the nascent Muslim state in Medina in 632. To explicate this event from a holistic perspective the conventional Sunni view is that after the death of the Prophet political power passed to the new head of the proto-Islamic state established in Medina, the caliph. According to this Sunni view, religious authority came to an end because the Prophet’s prophetic function cannot be transmitted. In contrast, Shias disagree with this Sunni view of post-prophetic authority. They maintain that the Prophet had nominated his cousin and son-in-law Ali to succeed him. They further assert that the imam (the office itself is called imamate, a technical term used by the Shias versus the Sunni term caliph/ caliphate) inherits both the political and religious authority of the Prophet. In practice, however, all the imams (except, for a brief period of Ali) were deprived of their political power by rival Sunni caliphs. Hence they could only function as pure religious leaders and as the spiritual guides of their followers.

The doctrine of the imamate was fully elaborated during the tenth century. Consequently, the imam’s authority, in theory, is anchored in the theory of the imamate. The authority of the imam is derived not only from the fact that he is the divinely-designated successor to the Prophet; it is also based on his endowment with special virtues. Of all the virtues of the imam perhaps the most significant is his possession of knowledge (‘ilm). It is natural that a central
position is given to knowledge, as the preeminent task of the imam is the guidance not only of his followers only but also of mankind. The peerless position of the imam as possessor of knowledge is established through discussion of two main issues: the source of his knowledge, and its nature and scope. The sources are three: i) hereditary acquisition, ii) special books known only to the imams, and iii) direct contact with divine agency, transmitted by the angel and is often called inspiration (ilham).

A major problem encountered in discussing the theoretical and practical exercise of the authority of the Imam is the historicity of the sources from which the theory of the imamate is derived, and the historical continuity of the latter theory in practice. Modern scholars who have examined traditional views held by the Shia and compared them with the historical picture have come to the conclusion that the crystallization of the doctrine of the imamate occurred under the
imam Jafar Sadiq (d. 765) and then applied retrospectively to pre-Jafar period. This doctrine attributes a special quality to the position of the Imam, conferring upon him impeccable knowledge, infallible guide and leader of his community. He, therefore, assumes the ultimate authority for law, doctrine and practice. Furthermore, the doctrine of explicit nomination of the successor, called al-na.., was likewise crystalized during the time of Jafar Sadiq and projected
backwards. However, the doctrine had not yet taken hold firmly, so following the latter’s death his sons disputed for the imamate. In fact, it is the very dogma of succession that the Shia became splintered time and again.

The issues of temporal and spiritual authority in Islam gave rise to a diverse set of political and theological interpretations and discourses. The Bohras belong to the Shia Ismaili interpretation of Islam. The latter itself is a major branch of the Shia that branched off from the Twelver or Ithna Ashari Shias by tracing the imamate through Imam Jafar Sadiq’s son Ismail (d. ca. 775). They are therefore known as the Ismailis. The Ismaili political movement started as a
secret revolutionary organization during the second half of the ninth century. Although, the imams were hidden, and this period was called the period of concealment (dawr al-satr), they were guiding the movement named as the Dawa (mission) or Dawa Hadiya (the rightly guiding mission). The Dawa was a well-organized religio-political movement, with a hierarchy of ranks, at the top of which was the Imam himself. The Imam ran a network of Dais, who carried out
their missions across the Muslim world. The Dawa (or Ismaili) movement succeeded in establishing the Fatimid dynasty in North Africa in 909. They claimed Alid descent through the Imam Ismail, and their forename derives from Fatima, daughter of the Prophet. The Fatimids were thus Ismaili caliph-imams. They conquered Egypt in 969, built a new capital Cairo, and from there ruled various parts of the Islamic world until their collapse in 1171.

The question of succession was also a thorny issue within the Ismaili communities. As the early Fatimid rulers were powerful, succession was handled with care. It was given religious façade for the faithful, but politics was always involved and conducted by a close council of advisers. As the power of the ruler (Imam) weakened the succession could not be handled without difficulty. Following the death of the Fatimid caliph-imam Mustansir in 1094, the
military commander who was all powerful installed Mustali, the youngest son of Mustansir who was also his son-in-law to the throne as the next caliph-imam. The eldest son of the late caliph-imam, Nizar the crown prince, revolted but was defeated and killed. This internal strife greatly weakened the Fatimids. Thereafter, the Ismailis were divided into two branches: the Nizaris and the Mustalis. The present Imam Karim Aga Khan traces his descent through the former, while the Bohras trace their religious identity through the latter. Following the assassination of the Fatimid caliph-imam Aamir in 1130 by the Nizaris, the Mustali Ismailis were further divided into the Hafizis and the Tayyibis. The followers of Tayyib (also called Tayyibis), presently known as Bohras (meaning traders, from Gujarati vohorvu meaning to trade) established themselves in the Gujarat region of the Indian subcontinent. The Ismaili mission in Gujarat was
initiated by the Yemeni Dawa and the Ismaili community was well established there since the eleventh century. There was a constant exchange of communication between the two headquarters of the Dawa: Yemen and Gujarat. Finally, the headquarters of the Dawa was moved from Yemen to Gujarat around 1566. The Bohra community was further sub-divided on the very issue of succession into the Sulaymanis, Dawudis and Alavis which is beyond the scope of present submission.

The theory of the imamate, in which the concept of succession was an essential element, also influenced all other intellectual and theological dimensions of the Ismaili movement. The philosophical structure of theology and the cosmology were derived from Neoplatonism and Neo-Pythagoreanism. Eclectic in nature, their system draws on various sources, with a strong undercurrent of rationalism. Their scheme offered a new political program under the aegis of an
Alid imam that resembles Plato’s utopia to be governed by a philosopher-king, i.e., the Imam. Thus, it was a Messianic, a Millenarian movement, and a major reason of its success. The Shii-Ismaili doctrine of the imams’ occultation (satr) and reappearance of the Mahdi-imam (.uhur) to establish justice and equity on earth is not a purely Islamic doctrine supported by the Quran,

rather was derived from ancient religions and cultures. The Fatimid theologian-philosophers at the height of the Fatimid power did not anticipate that the imams will not be available for all times to come. Although, the imam may live temporarily (or for a long period) in occultation, they argued theoretically that the imam’s person will never be absent from the physical world. They believed in the cyclical theory of history. Accordingly, the cycle of occultation will be
followed by a period of reappearance of the imam.

However, the case of the Bohra community demonstrates that the community could be deprived of the presence of their imam for centuries and yet continues their temporal and religious affairs. In conclusion, the current Bohra religious doctrines have become fossilized and have no relevance to the present-day situation and the problems faced by men. Unless the religious establishment wakes up to these realities and adapt themselves they will become a museum piece to be preserved as relics of past memory.

How and when was the office of the Dai Mutlaq established?

The office of the Dai Mutlaq was created in Yemen in 1132 following the political turmoil that followed the assassination of the Fatimid-caliph Amir in 1130, and the subsequent disappearance of his infant son Taya from Cairo. One might ask: What is the relation between Yemen and the Fatimid Egypt? Without going into the details, it should be stated that before his death in 1126, the high ranking chief Dai in Yemen, Yahya b. Lamak, with the approval of the Sulayhid Queen Arwa (d. 1138), appointed his assistant Dhuayb b. Musa as his successor.2 It was during the earlier years of the latter’s leadership that the Mustalian Ismailis in Yemen were confronted with yet another Hafizi-Tayyibi schism as indicated above. Dhuayb, in line with the politico-religious position taken by the queen Arwa concerning the latest schism in Cairo, recognized the rights of Tayyib, the son of Aamir who had gone into occultation rather than of the Hafiz who claimed the imamate and caliphet for himself. Consequently, she severed her political and religious ties with Cairo. Dhuayb was thus declared by the queen (she held a higher rank in the Dawa hierarchy) as 2 The Yemeni medieval history is closely associated with the Ismaili history because the Ismailis ruled that country intermittently from about 883. The Sulayhid dynasty ruled over most of Yemen from 1047 to 1138 and it was the most vibrant period for the Ismaili community. They were followers of Ismaili faith and acknowledged the Fatimid caliphs in Cairo as their imams. Henceforward, they established close ties with the Fatimid Egypt. By the time the Fatimids were in decline in Egypt the Ismailis in Yemen were glowing with political success.

Dai Mutlaq, with full authority to conduct the Dawa affairs on behalf of the hidden imam. Subsequently, the chain of the Dai Mutlaqs continued uninterrupted in Yemen for four centuries before it was transferred to the west coast of India.

Thus, the question arises and was correctly raised by the Hon. Justice Gautam Patel on the last hearing of the case on Apr. 29, 2014: “What is the procedure followed for the selection of the Dai Mutlaq”?

What was the practice followed for the selection of a successor?

What is important to note, is that the position of the Dai Mutlaq was not monopolized by one family. Generally, the most learned, pious and with a vision of leadership was selected by the living Dai in consultation with the leading religious scholars (.ulama.) and elders of the tribes and community (masha.ikh) to succeed him. The qualifications of a Dai and his etiquette are defined and described.3 The major qualifications are based on three things: knowledge, God-
fearing piety, and governance.

3 The treatise entitled al-Risala al-mujaza al-kafiya fi adab al-du.at (A Code of Conduct: A treatise on the etiquette of the Fatimid Ismaili Missionaries) written by Ahmad b. [the son of] Ibrahim al-Naysaburi (Nishapuri), a high ranking Dai during the reign of the Fatimid caliph-imams al-Aziz (r. 975-996) and al-Hakim (r. 996-1021). It has been critically edited and translated into English by V. Klemm & P. Walker, A Code of Conduct: A Treaatise on the Etiquette of the Fatimid Ismaili Mission. A critical edition of the Arabic text and English tr. of A.mad b. Ibrahim al-Naysaburi’s al-Risala al-mujaza. London: I. B. Tauris, 2011.

Knowledge: It includes knowledge of the religious sciences, such as the Quran, traditions of the Prophet and the Imams (.adith), jurisprudence (fiqh) and its philosophy and intellectual sciences, such as physics, mathematics, philosophy, etc. It is emphasized that the Dai should also command adequate understanding of the various schools of jurisprudence and theology among the Muslims and the differences between them concerning significant issues of law and dogma. Thus, when he reads a book or listens to an argument, he would know what conforms to the truth and what contradicts it.

God-fearing Piety: God-fearing piety is a term that combines knowledge and action in conformity with the correct doctrine, upholding the stipulations of the Quran, doing what God has commanded and prohibiting what He has forbidden. God-fearing piety is further defined as the sum of all the virtues and the prohibition of all the vices. For that reason God states in the Quran: “The most noble of you in the sight of God is the most God-fearing of you.” (Quran
49:13)

Governance: Governance has three grades: i), governance of the individual; ii), governance of the household: and iii), governance of the community.

Most importantly, under the governance of individual, the Dai requires governance of his own self. Thereby he provides for the welfare of his own soul, governing and controlling it, preventing it from having any of the vices and any bad habits of character, keeping it from reprehensible desire for things that are illicit, bearing it in conformity with the virtuous, and fulfilling the required duties and established rules of conduct. He will censure himself sincerely
if he behaves badly.

Second, the Dai demands governance of his own household, his own family and retainers, controlling them, teaching and educating them, instilling virtue in them and preventing vice, rewarding those who are good and punishing those who are bad.

Third, the Dai must be adapt in good skills of governance which involves supporting the administration fostering the welfare of the members of his community for this life and the hereafter. He should educate his community in the discipline of communal laws, keeps them from reprehensible and illicit actions, and promotes virtues.

In a nutshell, a person who is not good in the governance of himself, his family, and the community is not fit for the Dawa and the position of the Dai Mutlaq.

The living Dai always selected his successor based on the above qualifications and made it public before his death. Not a single Dai, as far as can be ascertained during the Yemeni and early Indian period, did inject the “inspiration of the hidden imam” in the selection process as alleged by the plaintiff Khuzaima Qutbuddin. The reason was simple. During the Yemeni and most of the Indian period until 1840, there existed numerous learned and pious religious scholars and other elites of the community who would oversee, check and question the Dai’s conducts, specifically his manner of governance. These group of elite scholars also ensured that the Dai does not deviate from the right path. The Dais never claimed infallibility or assumed authoritarian posture.

Checking the Dai’s manner of conduct is an old established tradition. The third Dai Mutlaq Hatim b. Ibrahim al-Hamidi (d. 1199) was questioned by some members of the community to explain how he appointed various dignitaries of the Dawa. He did not behave in an authoritarian manner by declining to respond. Contrarily, he offered an intellectual response, in which he argued that the ranking of the Dawa officers was based on the criteria of knowledge,
piety, governance and service in the cause of the Dawa.4 In order to reiterate his point that he did it squarely and fairly he incorporated the whole previous treatise of Naysaburi (stated above) at the end of his book.

4 He composed a work entitled Tu.fat al-qulub wa-furjat al-makrub fi tartib al-hudat wa.l-du.at fi jazirat al-Yaman (Gift of the hearts and good cheer for those in distress concerning the ranks of the guides and Dais in the island of Yemen).It is critically edited with a long introduction in English by Abbas Hamdani, Tu.far al-qulub wa-furjat al-makrub of .atim b. Ibrahim al-.amidi. Beirut/London: Dar al-Saqi in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2012.

5 .atim al-.amidi, Tu.fat al-qulub, pp. 175-76.

6 Idris .Imad al-Din, Ibid., Nuzhat al-afkar (the Promenade of Reflection); see .amidi, Tu.fat al-qulub, pp. 178-90.

7 For Yusuf see Ismail K. Poonawala, Biobibliography of Isma.ili Literature, Malibu, CA.: Undena Publishers,
1977, p. 184. The details with a written document of succession duly signed by several witnesses are described by
Shaykh Fay. Allah Hamdani in his Risalat kayfiyyat tartib al-.udud (written in Gujarati), Surat: Ismaili Research Institute, 1963, pp. 28-29.

Hatim wrote the above work late in his life. He concludes the book by heaping so much praise on his colleague the Dai Ali b. Muhammad b. al-Walid (d. 1215) that it seems he was anointing him for succession.5 However, the Dai Idris Imaduddin (d. 1468) reports that Ali b. Muhammad b. al-Walid advised Hatim to nominate his own son Ali, who was his student, as the next Dai Mutlaq because he was well-qualified. Hatim, therefore, heeded to the advice of Ali b.
Muhammad and appointed his son to succeed him.6 The episode clearly indicates that there is no reference to the so-called “inspiration of the hidden imam.”

Another example was set by the twenty-third Dai Mutlaq Muhammad b. Hasan (or Husayn, d. 1539) in Yemen. He did not see any Yemeni worthy of that rank, hence he nominated the Indian Yusuf b. Sulayman to succeed him.7 Yusuf, a native of Sidhpur,8 was originally

Siddhpur is also known as Sri-sthal or a "pious place". It is mentioned in the Rig Veda to be existing at that time as the Dashu village. Siddhpur is also believed to be located at the junction of two rivers Ganges and Saraswati. Even in the Mahabharata, the great Indian epic, it is mentioned that the Pandavas had visited the place while they were in exile. Around the 10th century, under Solanki rulers, the city was at the zenith of fame and glory. The ruler
Siddhraj Jaisingh built his capital at Siddhpur, thus the name Siddhpur which literally means Siddhraj's town. I elaborated it a bit because the Bohra tradition states that the king Siddhraj and his minister Bharmal were converted to the Ismaili faith. S. T. Lokhandwalla, “The Bohras: A Muslim Community of Gujarat,” Studia Islamica, vol. 2, p. 119; Asghar Ali Engineer, The Bohras, Shahidabad, U.P., Vikas Publishing House, 1980, p. 103.

During the Sultanate time the place was under the rule of local dynasty ruling from Palanpur. Later on in 15th century the place was brought under the Mughal rule by Akbar. Under the Mughal rule the town developed and flourished.

9 Poonawala, Biobiliography, p. 178-83; idem, “al-Bharuchi,” Encyclopaedia of Islam, 3rd edn., pp. 71-72.

10 For details see Shaykh Fay. Allah Hamdani, Muqaddima: Risalat kayfiyyat tartib al-.udud, Surat: Ismaili
Research Institute, 1963.

11 Shaykh Mu.ammad .Ali, Mawsim-e bahar (in Bohra Gujarati written in Arabic script), Bombay: Safdari Press, n.d., vol. 3, p. 717; Engineer, The Bohras, pp. 134-35. It is said that he was poisoned because he was not likely to nominate a particular person to succeed him.

selected by the head of the Ismaili community in India to go to Yemen for higher religious education. After his arrival he first studied under an Indian named Hasan b. Nuh al-Bharuchi (who had also migrated to Yemen for religious studies)9 and distinguished himself as a student. He was nominated because of his distinctions, not on the so-called belief in the dogma of the “inspiration of the hidden imam.” His nomination also transferred the chain of Dai Mutlaqs from
Yemen to the west coast of India.

Events of 1840

The same procedure for the designation of a successor was followed until the sudden demise of the forty-sixth Dai Mutlaq Muhammad Badruddin in 1840.10 He died suddenly at the young age of thirty without explicitly and publically pronouncing his successor (known as al-na..).11 Therefore, the majority of the .ulama. and masha.ikh maintained that the na.. was cut off, since it was a cardinal principle of Shii dogma, and created a very delicate situation. The .ulama. and masha.ikh, however, kept it hidden from the community for its welfare and fear of dissension. After private deliberation they arrived at an agreement that Abd al-Qadir Najmuddin, the then holder of the rank of mukasir (the third major rank in the hierarchy following that of the Dai, and ma.dhun), be appointed as na.im, an adjuster, for administrative purposes only. It was agreed that he would abstain from claiming the spiritual position of the Dai and its title Dai Mutlaq.12 The agreement was faithfully carried out at first, but once securely established in his position and having overcome the opposition (especially winning the support of his teacher and enticing him by offering a high rank in the Dawa hierarchy and money), and isolating the remaining hostile elements, he assumed the title Dai Mutlaq. He pursued a policy of weakening the position of the .ulama. and masha.ikh and started filling the Dawa hierarchy with his immediate family members. He held that position for forty-five years and totally transformed the Dawa structure with monumental innovations.

12 Without dwelling on the details it should be indicated that Abd-e Ali, who was later given the title .Imad al-Din (the pillar of religion) and nominated to the rank of mukasir by Abd al-Qadir Najmuddin, played major role in this affair because the latter was his student. Both of them further cemented their family ties by giving their daughter and son in marriage. See Poonawala, Biobibliography, pp. 220-22; Engineer, The Bohras, pp. 135 ff.

13 Poonawala, Biobibliography, pp. 14, 227 (biography of Mu.ammad .Ali al-Hamdani, who was one of the .ulama. who left India in search of the hidden Imam). See also Engineer, The Bohras, pp. 135-36.

14 A copy of this document with Gujarati translation is published by Shaykh Fay. Allah Hamdani entitled Aqida-e Burhaniyya (in Gujarati), Surat, 1960. There are several such publications in Gujarati in my possession. For more following that of the da.i, and ma.dhun),details see Lokhandwalla, “The Bohras,” pp. 123-24; Urjuza (an Arabic poem in rajaz meter), published in Gujarati script with commentary in Bohra Gujarati. The poem was composed by Shaykh Husaynbhai, son of Shaykh Abd-e Ali, the son of Khanjibhai and was edited and published by Ismail Luqmani, Surat: The Ismaili Research Institute, 1964.

The question that na.. terminated with the death of Muhammad Badruddin was considered so grave that in 1876 five eminent .ulama. left India for Arabia on a search for the hidden imam. Two years later, i.e., in 1878 the leading .ulama. in Surat set up a consultative council known as .ilf al-fa.a.il (alliance for moral excellence) to guide the community in religious affairs and for safeguarding the shari.a (legal ethics described in the Quran), because religious education was discontinued in the official seminary college, known as Saifi Daras.13

The 49th Dai, Muhammad Burhanuddin, son of Abd al-Qadir Najmuddin, succumbed to the resurgent opposition and admitted in a letter addressed to his brother Abdullah Hakimuddin that his father (i.e., the 47th Dai) and his uncle Abdul Husayn Husamuddin, the 48th Dai, were merely caretakers of the community (na.ims) and not as the Dai Mutlaqs. The original document was destroyed before the opposition had made copies and these were introduced both in the Chandabhai Gulla Case of 1917, and the Burhanpur Durgah Case of 1925.14

In 1915, the 51st Dai, Tahir Saifuddin (son of the 49th Dai Muhammad Burhanuddin) succeeded his uncle Abdullah Badruddin. It is said that the latter nominated the former because his elder nephew Tayyib Zainuddin declined to accept the office. The first action he took was to disperse the opposition groups by appointing his own family members to all administrative posts and deputies to major towns and cities. His brother held authority over Bombay and his son
directed the seminary college in Surat and other institutions. Thereafter, he extracted written admissions from various elites of the community under the threats of excommunication that they accepted him and his three predecessors as duly designated Dai Mutlaqs. Thus, he claimed unquestioned leadership of the Dawudi Bohras. Those who refused to agree with him and his policies were expelled from the community. The weapon of excommunication proved to be very potent and he not only silenced the ranks and files of the .ulama. and masha.ikh but reduced them to poverty by refusing to even appoint them as amils (agents to conduct the religious rites) in various cities, towns, and villages where the Bohras live.15
15 Details are given by Engineer, The Bohras, pp. 142 ff.

16 For details see Lokhandwalla, “The Bohras,” pp. 124 ff.; Engineer, The Bohras, pp. 165 ff

The right of the Dai to excommunicate members of his community was immediately tested in court, in the famous Burhanpur Durgha case cited above. In 1923 the Bombay government acted on the statute book, the Waqf Act which required trustees to give an account of the trust properties annually. Tahir Saifuddin tried to be exempted from that provision. He claimed to be “the Lord of the wealth, the persons and the souls” of all his followers. The
Bombay government, however, did not yield. The reformists filed a suit in the Bombay High Court demanding that the Dai should submit an account of the offering made at the mausoleum of Chandabhai in Bombay. The suit became famous as the Chandabhai Gulla Case. The word Gulla in Gujarati means a wooden/metal chest kept at all mausoleums for collecting cash, or gold or silver offerings by the pious pilgrims. Chandabhai was a petty and pious Bohra trader who lived in Bombay during the 19th century. As the Bohra population of the city grew his tomb became a sanctuary.16

In short, the administration of the Bohras has become totally autocratic, despotic and in the hands of the last Dais and their family members. Injustices committed by the last two Dais are well documented in N. P. Nathwani Commission of 1979 and D. S. Tewatia and Kuldip Nayar’s Report of 1993.17

17 Nathwani Commission Report, an investigation conducted by the Commission appointed by the Citizens for Democracy into the alleged infringement of human right of reformist members of the Dawoodi Bohras in the name of the High Priest (Ahmedabad, 1979). Report on Violation of Human Rights of Dawoodi Bohras by D. S. Tewatia & Kuldip Nayar, submitted to the Human Rights Commission of India and the Citizens for Democracy (Delhi, 1993). Ghulam Muhammed’s column on Internet written on Sunday Dec. 26, 2010, concerning the Bohras and how they prospered under the 51st and 52nd Dais era concludes with the following remarks: “The Mumbai list itself is endless, so just think about the rest of the world. When these abdes [i.e., abde syednas, the slaves of the Dai] claim that Bohras of today have prospered more, then they are living in fantasyland and have only to study the graph and statistics of various communities worldwide and see for themselves as how rapidly others have prospered as compared to Bohra.”

The petition filed by the plaintiff Khuzaima Qubuddin reiterates his alleged claim that the successor is chosen by the living Dai through “the inspiration of the hidden imam.” This is nothing but abuse of power and taking advantage of the blind faith of the community for his personal and material gain. The claim is based on opaque and ambiguous arguments contradictory to historical evidence. He has failed to produce any explicit statement to support his alleged claim. His arguments are irrational and tendentious. They cannot be accepted as irreproachable evidence in a court of law. As indicated above the Dai acts as a Sole Trustee of all and numerous physical assets and huge funds estimated at many billions of rupees. All those amounts are spent on their lavish living styles rather than the welfare of the community.

Both parties to the suit are deeply involved in the unlawful administration of properties and finances, and exercise arbitrary and unlimited powers which are used nothing but to promote their own material interests, not community's welfare. The ulterior motive of the plaintiff in filing the suit is not only the religious claim to the office of the Dai, as it appears on the surface, but primarily in the control of vast properties and moneys that come as an added perquisites with that office. In order to secure this religious authority and material fortune, the plaintiff alleges that he was appointed by “the inspiration” of the hidden imam- a claim that lacks both historical and rational foundations.

However, it seems that the inspiration has gone awry, because the defendant (the plaintiff’s nephew) rejects such a claim and asserts that he is the rightful successor and was nominated by his father, the late Muhammad Burhanuddin. Thus, the very “inspiration” of the hidden imam is contradicted by the defendant. Certainly, it is obvious that something has gone astray like the “Satanic Verses” of Salman Rushdi.

On the other hand, the claim of the defendant Mufaddal Saifuddin that he is unanimously accepted by the community is equally fallacious. In fact, he has forcibly imposed himself on the community and coerced them through strong-arm tactics into acknowledging him as the successor. One should not forget that the defendant has cunningly maneuvered during the last two years of his father’s illness whereby he was impaired of speech. His takeover of the entire
administration resembles a classic example of coup de grâce. The plaintiff acknowledged that he and his family did not even dare to attend the funeral ceremony of the late Dai as they were afraid for their safety and feared physical assault from the defendant’s hired clique.18 Hence, the claims of both the plaintiff and the defendant should be rejected and the issue should revert back to the community, especially the religious council of impeccable scholars to decide.

18 Khuzemabhai was caricatured with abusive language and this material is available on internet and the YouTube.

19 See H. A. R. Gibb, “Some Considerations on the Sunni Theory of the Caliphate;” idem, “Al-Mawardi’s Theory of the Caliphate,” in Gibb, Studies on the Civilization of Islam, eds. S. Shaw and W. Polk, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1962.

20 There is a lot of literature on this issue; for reference see “Caliph,” in John Esposito (ed.), The Oxford Encylopedia of the Modern Islamic World, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995, vol. 1, pp. 239-43.

The absence of “supreme” political or spiritual leadership either for the Sunnis or Shi’a is not a unique thing in Islamic history. The vacuum for either of the two, or for both leaderships, was created a few times in the past. As indicated above, the spiritual character of the Daiship had ceased long since 1840. For the Sunnis, the office of the caliphate, although obligatory by revelation, not by reason, as formulated by the famous jurist al-Mawardi (d. 1058) was not immediately filled following the demise of several caliphs.19 The caliphate was finally abolished by the Turkish government in 1924.20 Since the occultation of the twelfth imam of the Twelver Shi’a (who form the majority of the Shi’a worldwide) in 874, they have, over the centuries, developed a system for providing spiritual guidance to the community and administering huge financial resources. The point is that the present situation of the Bohras is not unique. Let neither the plaintiff nor the defendant argue on the basis that the Bohra community cannot be left without a (spiritual) leader. Such an irrational argument does not wash with the spirit of time as expressed in the German term der Zeitgeist.

In conclusion, it should be stated that the Bohras find themselves in a crisis, but it is always full of new opportunities. It is, therefore, for the community how to make use of the new situation which they never dreamt of a few decades ago.

[Electronic copy signed and dated June 3, 2014, by]
Ismail K. Poonawala
Professor Emeritus of Arabic & Islamic Studies
Dept. of Near Eastern Languages & Cultures
University of California
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Liberalguy
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Re: Dawudi Bohra’s History and Their Doctrine

#2

Unread post by Liberalguy » Tue Jul 08, 2014 4:50 pm

Wow.. Excellent. My father is Amil and I am a disgruntled believer. Never had opportunity to read actual history of our sect. Can someone throw light on smb and Yusuf najmuddin's character. An analysis of how they control everything in kothar and general bohras. I am asking for something similar to this post and not just caricature them without proper argument.

ghulam muhammed
Posts: 11653
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2008 5:34 pm

Re: Dawudi Bohra’s History and Their Doctrine

#3

Unread post by ghulam muhammed » Tue Jul 08, 2014 5:52 pm

Liberalguy wrote:Wow.. Excellent. My father is Amil and I am a disgruntled believer. Never had opportunity to read actual history of our sect. Can someone throw light on smb and Yusuf najmuddin's character. An analysis of how they control everything in kothar and general bohras. I am asking for something similar to this post and not just caricature them without proper argument.
Go through these threads :-

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=9262

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=8319

New
Posts: 440
Joined: Fri Jan 24, 2014 9:49 pm

Re: Dawudi Bohra’s History and Their Doctrine

#4

Unread post by New » Tue Jul 08, 2014 6:56 pm

May I please ask, Nafisa Bahen, where is this letter going?

Dr Fatema
Posts: 78
Joined: Tue Feb 18, 2014 5:38 am

Re: Dawudi Bohra’s History and Their Doctrine

#5

Unread post by Dr Fatema » Wed Jul 09, 2014 4:39 am

Sister Nafisa I applaud your efforts for putting this superbly written article.
Long back I read about Fatimi dawat - history & doctrine- written by Mumtaz Tajuddin (An Aga Khani), very comprehensive document .
It is really sad to notice deteriorating condition of once so glorious and powerful Dawat.
After Syedna Mohammed Burhanuudin (RA) demise to heavenly abode things have gone bad to worse.
Both the claimant of successionship are selfish and are interested in their own welfare.
Ordinary bohras are spineless and are prawn in hands of their masters.
What happened in Roudhat Tahera last week is relly shameful for us. Both parties to be blamed equally for.

Bohra spring
Posts: 1354
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 8:37 am

Re: Dawudi Bohra’s History and Their Doctrine

#6

Unread post by Bohra spring » Wed Jul 09, 2014 7:32 am

I am intrigued by the comment
A major problem encountered in discussing the theoretical and practical exercise of the authority of the Imam is the historicity of the sources from which the theory of the imamate is derived, and the historical continuity of the latter theory in practice. Modern scholars who have examined traditional views held by the Shia and compared them with the historical picture have come to the conclusion that the crystallization of the doctrine of the imamate occurred under the
imam Jafar Sadiq (d. 765) and then applied retrospectively to pre-Jafar period. This doctrine attributes a special quality to the position of the Imam, conferring upon him impeccable knowledge, infallible guide and leader of his community. He, therefore, assumes the ultimate authority for law, doctrine and practice. Furthermore, the doctrine of explicit nomination of the successor, called al-na.., was likewise crystalized during the time of Jafar Sadiq and projected
The writers mention the Ismaili doctrine was crystallised during his era, but are they saying Imam Jafar Sadiq AS the grandson of AbuBakar AS , established the current Shia ideology. Where does it state that he created the Shia ideology that we now .

If a sect was seeded during his time that went off defiantly we cannot assume he permitted or promoted Shiaism.

Do Ismailis follow everything Imam Jafar prescribed or they have selectively picked some and added something more.

There are many articles in the public forums where the pioneering Imams of Islam the Ahlul Bayt never considered themselves as Shia or following current type Shia ideology. It is widely reported that Shia imposed their ideology and implied the ahlul bayt endorsed their ways.

Can someone explain how this deviation started.

Nafisa
Posts: 256
Joined: Wed Jun 03, 2009 4:19 pm

Re: Dawudi Bohra’s History and Their Doctrine

#7

Unread post by Nafisa » Wed Jul 09, 2014 10:02 am

Please spread it for awareness

ribbahs
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Feb 27, 2014 8:45 am

Re: Dawudi Bohra’s History and Their Doctrine

#8

Unread post by ribbahs » Wed Jul 09, 2014 10:24 am

DEAR BEN NAFISA,

I am intrigued by the mystery surrounding Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddins mom, .....i believe he has never mentioned about her + her tomb lies in one corner of the Kabrastan in surat without any roof etc...............would you or anybody be kind enough to share the reason behind????

Ribbahs

ghulam muhammed
Posts: 11653
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2008 5:34 pm

Re: Dawudi Bohra’s History and Their Doctrine

#9

Unread post by ghulam muhammed » Wed Jul 09, 2014 2:48 pm

ribbahs wrote:I am intrigued by the mystery surrounding Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddins mom, .....i believe he has never mentioned about her + her tomb lies in one corner of the Kabrastan in surat without any roof etc...............would you or anybody be kind enough to share the reason behind????
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1795&hilit=ziarat+of+dais+mother