Zehra Cyclewala - One against All

The one and only free public forum for Bohras. The focus of this forum is the reform movement, the Dawoodi Bohra faith and, of course, the corrupt priesthood. But the discussion is in no way restricted to the Bohras alone.
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Zehra Cyclewala - One against All


Unread post by Aftab » Thu Mar 20, 2008 5:39 pm

This is an mazing book. In its introduction from Prof Babubhai D. Desai, I quote

Too aik tha, mere ashaar se hazar huwa,
Ujala aik diye se katar-dar katar huwa.

You were a lone fighter,
my writtings have opened the battles,
One small candle has lighen,
the rows and rows of candles.

Amen! May God protect you!

I met Zehrabai cyclewala in Surat recently. She is a lone reformists surrounded by othordox bohris. But, the tides have changed. No more is Zehrabai afraid or threatened by the Kothar, but the reverse is true. Zehrabai has a lot of following and police respect for her outstanding work for battered women in Gujarat. Kothar have tried every thing in their power to put her in her place, nothing doing -they are now trying to buy her.

One single Zehra can do all that. All you fencers, may god bless you where you are now - every one of you will have to answer. Why did you take all this bull? For what? For your convinience and your skin!

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Unread post by Safiuddin » Fri Mar 21, 2008 1:28 am

A great deal of psychological manipulation and forced control by the bohri priests goes into the makeup of an average bohra - or even an above average bohra.
Loosening one's self from this is very difficult due to the enmeshed and codependent culture that many of us have had to endure and survive.

My hat goes off to you: Ms. Zehra Cyclewala! Well done! and Thank You.

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Unread post by Danish » Fri Mar 21, 2008 5:50 am

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1041008/a ... 856814.asp

``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.
http://www.indianexpress.com/res/web/pI ... 50914.html

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/pI ... 51094.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.

S. Insaf
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Unread post by S. Insaf » Fri Mar 21, 2008 6:44 am

One More Victory for Zehra Cyclewala
By Prof. Babu Bhai Desai.
If you can not believe that the timid, weak and coward looking Dawoodi Bohra women can drive crazy the scheming and powerful arrogants of Kothar and Jamat, then you must meet an ordinary Bohra girl, Zehra Cyclewala in Surat city. She has become a symbol of courage and commitment in her community.

Born and brought up in the lower-middle-class family of Taherbhai Cyclewala living in the narrow by-lane of Saifee Mohalla in Surat's Zapa Bazar, Zehra graduated in commerce with fine marks in 1978. She could achieve this because of her own and her mother Fulibai's efforts. Like many others she also did not get any help from her community. In 1989 she joined 'Saif Co-op. Credit Society' run by the permission and blessing of Sayedna, as a clerk.
Soon because of her hard work, honesty and sincerity she promoted first to the post of a senior clerk and then to a Manager in 1985. Her job was to keep the account of various bank's interest-bearing transactions. Because of her job she had became an earning member and a source of happiness for her poor family.
Till then she was an loyal Dawoodi Bohra like any other community member. Then in 1985 a sudden 'Farman' of Sayedna Burhanuddin came to stop all interest-bearing transactions. The directors, share-holders, staff of the Society were all Dawoodi Bohras who were asked to submit their resignations forthwith. Most obeyed but Zehra refused to fall in line. So a devote follower was declared as rebel. And her Jihad against the oppressors started. To suppress her to their dictates the Kothar went on devising different method to harass her
In one of the methods they engaged one Sunni Muslim, Abdul Latif Surti, the editor of 'Khatoon' magazine and he was made to write an article defaming Zehra Cyclewala and her Surat Mahila Sangh organisation in the August 1995 issue of his magazine 'Khatoon' on page no. 26. As a non-Bohra, the editor had no business to malice but he played in Kothar's hands. Knowing this Zehra Ben went to Abdul Latif Surti and told him that the contents of his said article are false and baseless, written with definite intention to damage her image. The Editor, Abdul Latif Surti apologised and promised to publish the contradiction in the coming her magazine. But when Zehra saw the September and October issues she did not find any regret note. So she again went to the editor and gave him a signed clarification to be published in Khatoon.
Kothari thugs again played a game thinking they would fool Zehra. Abdul Latif Surti himself came to Zehra ben and gave her two copies of the November issue of magazine in which Zehra's signed statement was published. She got satisfied.
But later on careful reading she found an advertisement of 'La-fare Ladies Dress Makers' on two separate pages in the same Nov. issue. She felt some thing fishy. She investigated the matter and confirmed that her signed statement was published only in two copies given to her and not in all issues. To keep as a proof she bought from Bazar more than 100 copies of that November issue of 'Khatoon'. When contacted Abdul Latif Surti accepted the fraud committed by him and apologised again.
Thereafter Zehra filed a complaint in police and a criminal case against the editor/publisher Abdul Latif Surti for breach of promise, deception, fraud and violation of 'Press Registration Act'.
After her filing the case investigation was carried out as per criminal procedure code no. 15/96. When editor/publisher Abdul Latif Surti was found guilty of the fraud he was arrested by the police. An attempt was made to get him out on bail but his bail application was refused by the court.
Through money power Kothar managed to close down Zehra's case. Then Judicial Magistrate gave the excuse that the summons were not served to the witnesses. Aware of Kothar's dirty game Zehra again went for Revision Petition in the higher court. The case was reopened by Revision Petition no. 307/02.
As she could not afford hiring a lawyer she argued the entire case herself and came out victorious.
The Surat Session Court gave her full opportunity for putting the proofs supporting her case and then instructed the lower court to take up her case strictly as per court's rulings. The case then was again taken up by the lower court.
The lawyer of defendant argued that since Zehra Cyclewala had been excommunicated she had developed a 'Negative Mind' and filed various court cases against the Members of the Surat Jamat.
The Session Court judge laughed at this argument. Zehra being a woman has not bowed down against powerful wind of injustices, successfully collected all the evidences, made the defender apologise for the breach of promise, deception, fraud and violation of 'Press Registration Act', filed her complaints with police and courts and in spite of her case being dismissed again went for revision and now she herself was arguing her case in the court of law. The Gujurat government has given her police protection to fight for her rights. She has not bribed any one nor had she taken law in her own hands. How can such a person be charged having 'Negative Mind'?
In fact she had been tortured physically, mentally and financially because this act of the defender.
The court confirmed that Zehra is a victim of the fraud played by the editor/publisher of Khatoon, Abdul Latif Surti. If he had published Zehra's clarification in all the November issue we could assume that what he had published earlier was unintentional.
According to final judgement of Judicial Magistrate Shri Justice A.N. Vijoda delivered on 30-1-2008 in the open court:-
"The editor/publisher of Khatoon magazine, Abdul Latif Surti has committed crime as per clause no. 248 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Code, and clause no. 417 of Indian Panel Code and clause no. 6 of Press Registration of Books Act 1961."
Thus Zehra Ben Cyclewala ultimately got justice after 12 years-long struggle.
Most important to note is the fact that she did not loose heart and never got disappointed at any time.
Zehra being a lone Dawoodi Bohra fighter and Abdul Latif Surti being a Sunni Muslim playing in the hands of Kothar have become the subject matter of the great discussion both in Bohra community and among the general Muslims in Surat city.
After this clear court judgement no Bohra would like to become a tool in Kothar's hands in future.

Sajid Zafar
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Unread post by Sajid Zafar » Fri Mar 21, 2008 2:14 pm

The following is probably the best fit for a person of Ben Zehrah Cyclewala's caliber:

"May Akela He Chala Tha Janabe Manzil Meger
Log Milte Gai Aor Karwan Benta Gaya"


I started my crusader all alone
People found me and joined the ranks.

(Mohsin Bhopalvi)

Truth forever on the scaffold,
Wrong for ever on the throne,
Yet the scaffold sways the future,
And behind the dim unknown,
Standish the God within the shadow,
Keeping watch above his own.

(James Russell Lowell)

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Unread post by Aftab » Sat Mar 22, 2008 11:48 am

Allama Iqbal said

"Islam zinda hota hai har Karbala ke bad"

Islam revives itself after every Karbala.

Hussein sacrificed his family to fight against injustice, tyranny and oppression. For the average bohra, sacrifice is not in their dictionary and the only way they can support Hussein and claim to be his follower is by mataam. Mataam then becomes nothing but a meaningless ritual, as your whole religion and belief system is based on rituals. Ashara is a big tamasha and a ritual.

It is the acts of Zehra Cyclewala that emboss the true spirit of Hussein.

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Unread post by JC » Sat Mar 22, 2008 1:30 pm

I fully agree with Aftab.

Kothar is turning the religion into a bunch of rituals. They want sheep to forget the main religion, the soul of religion and indulge in rituals only. Matam was a symbolic things years back for Shias, putting hand on chest and taking Hussain's name (though that was a ritual too), Kothar has turned into Purjosh Matam which will take you to Janat (as if there is one ..!!!)

Bohraism is full of useless rituals and traditions - most of them glorify the Unholy Bohra Pope ..!! This cult revolves around the personality of a mortal being called dai (read GOD).

The religion of the world should be Humanity. Faith should be research and education. Welfare should be given prime importance. The religions today tends to make you weak as you are required to turn into religion, praying, crying and duas only. This is what religion MAY not have sought, but it has become a fact these days.

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Unread post by like_minded » Mon Mar 24, 2008 4:43 am

The religions today tends to make you weak as you are required to turn into religion, praying, crying and duas only.

Bro JC..

The purpose of Islam was simply to educate people, make them aware of the ground reality, instil virtues and liberate people from superstisions. Islam was never a religion, It was simply education, but people made it a religion and started enforcing it on others. By doing this, the whole purpose of Islam was lost..

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Unread post by like_minded » Mon Mar 24, 2008 4:50 am

Bohraism is full of useless rituals and traditions

Bohraism is ONLY useless rituals and traditions. Believe me, in years to come, we might have more rituals added in the present list, to keep us involved and one-tracked.

Day is not far, when every bohra is required to seek "raza" for breathing!!! LOL

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Unread post by like_minded » Mon Mar 24, 2008 5:04 am

They want sheep to forget the main religion

Bro JC

Bohras never knew the main religion, no question of forgetting it.

They have never made an attempt to understand Islam and its history on an individual level, perhaps because they do not have the time and inclination to do so.

Life of an average young bohra is loaded with responsibilities, early marraige, kids and business... where is the time for free thinking?? I've seen most youngsters, who follow the bohra rituals, simply because they have no other option, they just cannot think out of the box. They are more like remote-controlled zombies.

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Unread post by JC » Mon Mar 24, 2008 1:46 pm

I fully agree with you Bro Like Minded.

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Unread post by Danish » Mon Mar 24, 2008 11:22 pm

Originally posted by JC:
I fully agree with you Bro Like Minded.
Me too, they are well thought out. Way to go Like-Minded. :)

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Unread post by accountability » Tue Mar 25, 2008 1:12 am

The purpose of Islam was simply to educate people, make them aware of the ground reality, instil virtues and liberate people from superstisions. Islam was never a religion, It was simply education, but people made it a religion and started enforcing it on others. By doing this, the whole purpose of Islam was lost..
very intresting, But then the divine book, laqad akmaltu deenukum, code of life etc. these are all signs of a religion. Was it enforced, may be, religions can only be enforced. There is a confusion in history. while it is said, that before islam, arab society was ignorant and wild. But history does not suggest it. RA himself was brought up by very eloquent nannies, Halima, his grand father was an established leader. Trade was flourishing, he was the beneficiary of aspiring trade, he worked for a jewish lady, and traded on her behalf.

it is said, that arabs used to burry their daughters alive, but RA (SAW)'s aunt safia was very active lady and very infulential. So was his would be wife, and his trading partner. Arabs were very secular and tolerant, among them was christian and jewish communities thriving. so to say, that islam came to educate an already civil society is an overstatment.