``There are scores of Dawoodi Bohra women who say they have been ill-treated and abused but have not been to muster up the courage to speak out. They call me up and express solidarity over the telephone but are afraid that they might be ostracized,'' she says. However, after 13 years of struggle, she still hasn't received much open support from fellow Bohras
SURAT, Nov 19: Secretary of the Surat district Mahila Sangh Zehra Cyclewala, who along with other members of the Sangh, staged a dharna in front of the residence of Dawoodi Bohra's religious head Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin protesting against the alleged ill-treatment she and her supporters have been subjected to, was arrested by the city police on Thursday. She was, however, released after two hours.
Accusing community leaders of double standards, Cyclewala has questioned why the Saifee building, owned by the Saif Cooperative Thrift and Supply Society Limited which had been launched with the blessings of the Syedna had been rented out to a bank.
She also alleged, in the memorandum, that the community members did not allow her mother's body to be buried in the community's cemetery and it was only after she had sought police intervention that the burial was allowed.
Stating that the Koran did not recognise ex-communication, Cyclewala questioned the basis on which local community leaders had ex-communicated her and her family. She has requested Syedna to intervene and resolve the issue. http://www.indianexpress.com/res/web/pIe/ie/daily/19981120/32451094.html
Reformist Dawoodi Bohras from all over the world gathered in Canada from 3 to 6 August 2001 for a world conference to express solidarity and reaffirm their commitment to the reform movement. A strong and determined section of Bohras are fighting for reforms in their community for more than three decades. They claim that the Bohra priesthood has distorted the teachings of their faith and is exploiting the community in the name of religion.
Dr. Engineer revealed how the Bohra priesthood has distorted religious doctrines and introduced such innovations as Razaa (permission) and Misaaq (oath of allegiance) to exercise tighter control over the community. He emphasized that these innovations have no religious sanction. In recounting the history of the movement, he pointed out that it's natural for a reformist struggle to go through different phases of success and failure.
He highlighted how common Bohras all over the world have made sacrifices in the cause of reforms. Dr. Engineer himself has been assaulted five times by the goons of Bohra priesthood for his role in exposing the corruption and cruelty of the clergy.
In 1992 the Bohra high priest, Sayedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, petitioned the Canadian Senate to pass an Act (Bill S-13) to make him a corporate sole in Canada. The petition, among other things, asserted:
"That, for the continuing and better control and guidance of the administration and management of those assets, funds, properties, investments and other affairs in Canada, it is desirable that the Dai al-Mutlaq be incorporated in Canada as a 'Corporate sole' with perpetual succession."
The Bohra priesthood is not only eager to control community's properties but also its memory, history and heritage, as pointed out by Dr. Abbas Hamdani. A professor at the University of Wisconsin, USA, Dr Hamdani in his inaugural address spoke on the history of Fatimid literature and revealed how the Bohra priesthood has been suppressing old scriptures and depriving the community of valuable knowledge contained in them. He urged the audience to work for the release of this literature from the clutches of the priesthood, otherwise, he warned, their glorious Fatimid heritage will remain buried forever.
A provocative debate on the topic "The Bohra reform movement has no future" made for a lively, albeit redundant, discussion as the majority of the audience was staunchly committed to continuing the reformist struggle. But what's to be noted, as one delegate pointed out, is that one cannot even dream of such a debate taking place in the orthodox Bohra circles where the priesthood frowns upon any sign of freedom and suppresses violently any sign of dissent. http://www.apdbo.org/index.php?page=conference