Borhras and reform

Karbala and its relevance to Dawoodi Bohras: 3


This is the third part in a series discussing the relevance of Karbala to our community. Saifuddin Insaf argues that our present-day priesthood is completely out of step with the principles for which Imam Hussain sacrificed his life.

Islam stands for truth, justice and peace for all. Thus Allah in Quran is described as Rabul-Aalemin and Allah's messenger, Hazrat Mohammad is described as "Rehmatul-lil-Aalemeen." Islam condemns and rejects any kind of oppression and any form of injustice to any creature of Allah. The holy Prophet has commanded:

"When one sees a tyrant ruler committing forbidden acts, and going against the Book of God and the traditions of the Holy Prophet and yet he/she does nothing to try and stop him by actions or words, then this man deserves to go into the fires of hell."

Thus as we commemorate the sacrifices of the martyrs of Karbala for the truth and justice we are required to resolve to continuously struggle against the evil forces which oppress and do injustices. We must stand up firm and solid against tyranny and injustice of the rulers of our time and against any arrogant individual or power that is bent upon encroaching upon the rights of others.

Most historians are of the view that Hazrat Usman was corrupt. The huge wealth which came in as war booty created political conflicts among those who were purists and those who were aspiring to have their share in power and prosperity and not committed to Islamic ideals.

We see a parallel in our Dawoodi Bohra community. Sayedna Taher Saifuddin occupied the seat of Dawat at a time when wealth and prosperity came in our community and he tried to have his lion's share in it.

Hazrat Usman was resented by general Muslims as he appointed on governorship and other plum position his own kinsmen and distributed money most generously from the public treasury to them disregarding the welfare of the Umma. Hazrat Usman was warned by many upright companions of holy Prophet like Hazrat Ali, Hazrat Abu-Zar Gaffari, Abdur-Rehman bin Auf, Ammar bin Yasir, Malik bin Haris Ashtar, Zaid bin Sohan Abadi, Ka'ab bin Abda, Amir bin Qais etc.

Similarly Sayedna Taher Saifuddin Saheb also usurped forcefully trusts and properties of the community excluding all original trustees and replaced them by his own kinsmen. The governorships (Amalat) and presidentships of jamats and various organizations of the community were given to inexperienced and power-hungry close relatives who were not committed to Fatemi Dawat and welfare of the community. Sayedna Taher Saifuddin was also warned by his own brother-in-law Sayedi Ismail Bhaisaheb Luqmani, sons of Adamjee Peerbhoy, Shaikh Faizullabhoy, the Hamdanis, the Kajijis, the Maskatis, the Jivanjees etc.

The general resentment against Hazrat Usman ultimately resulted in open defiance and then to his murder.

The resentment against Sayedna Taher Saifuddin resulted in number of violent clashes, court cases and ultimately in divisions in the community.

Hazrat Usman left his governor Muawia unchecked who totally deviated from Islamic principles killing the Islamic revolution and paving the way for monarchy and dictatorship in Islam and to assert the Umayyads' right to rule on dynastic principle.

Sayedna Taher Saifuddin also deviated from Islamic ideals and Bohra Faith and turned Fatemi Dawat into monarchy and established his family's rights to rule on dynastic principle by appointing his son Mohammad Burhanuddin his successor going against the norms of Dawat.

Some people argue that when community prospers why should not its benefits be enjoyed by its leader? Agreed. But Islam prohibits absolute power and concentration of wealth and that too when they are acquired by forceful means. Islam also prohibits a life of utter luxury. One of the 100 qualifications for a true Dai states:-

"Dai should not be desirous of worldly rule, because that will carry him to falsehood. And falsehood is the root of all the reproaches (discredits), which results in transmitting enmity, malice, separation, quarrel etc."

All falsehood, enmity, malice, separation and quarrels started in Dawoodi Bohra community with Sayedna Taher Saifuddin who desired worldly rule. The repressive and divisive policies of Sayedna Taher Saifuddin resulted in open violent clashes in the community which were unheard of in the history of this community, court cases against the Dai, divisions in the community, enmity against the great well-wishers of the community like the Peerbhoys, the Kinkhabwalas, the Mamujis, the Jeevanjis, the Alvis, the Moriswalas and thousands of others. To compel Bohras to submit to his dictates he imposed Misaq and Sajda for Dai, and Raza and a practice of Baraat.

Prior to Sayedna Taher Saifuddin the subordinate Amils were well educated and free from corruption and because of them the community maintained its ethical superiority in the Islamic world.

Now coming to the regime of present Dai, Sayedna Burhanuddin Saheb. When he was Mazoon Bohras in general thought that he is humble, kind and well-wisher of the community. But moment he occupied the seat of Dawat he too pusued the repressive policies of his father and further deviated from Islam and Bohra faith worsening the situation.

The revolt in Udaipur was in fact a test for Sayedna Burhanuddin because in one of the qualifications of a true Dai it is said that "A Dai should accomplish the demands of believers, do them justice and protect them from oppressors. Dai should immediately intervene whenever a quarrel takes place among the believers." The entire history of Udaipur in recent time is a testimony to the failure of the present Dai and how he acted contrary to this qualification.

Sayedna Taher Saifuddin took the trusts and properties of the community under his absolute control and used them to build his financial empire and then Sayedna Burhanuddin slowly disposed them off and filled his own coffer.

First he destroyed Qasre-Husaini Jamatkhana and Noor Masjid and built his father's mausoleum on its land. Then he destroyed Daud Baugh and sold off its valuable land. He converted Kapadwanj ni wadi and Moriswala Musafirkhana into commercial ventures. He destroyed Sir Adamji Peerbhoy Sanatorium and built "Saifee Hospital" in his father's name. Now he is trying to convert Saifee High school and Burhani College in to a Shopping Mall. Similar activities are going on in Burhanpur, Ujjain, Jamnagar, Rajkot, Karachi and elsewhere.

Today mumineen from various places are complaining to Dai regarding the high-handedness of his Amils (just like the way people did in the time of Hazrat Usman about Muawia, governor of Syria) but there is no response from him. Like Muawia every Amil today has become arrogant and exploitative.

Further more it is said that: "A Dai should not look around in self-admiration." But we hear a Madeh often recited in praise of the present Dai:

Sajda tujhe wajib hai, too masjide-Azam hai,
Haj hai teri pabosi, too kaba-e-Alam hai.

There is a warning after describing the qualifications of a true Dai:-

"If a Dai does not posses the above mentioned qualities in reality and is called, he will not benefit the community. It is useless to hope for any Spiritual profit from such a Dai. The assumption of the name of Dai for such a Dai is a sin and he is a sort of burden on believers. Mere name does not benefit. There also be quality and action combined with it."

The present Dai, Sayedna Burhanuddin has imposed more taxes, Arz, Ikram, Tashrif Aawri, Talaqqi, Vadhavni, Kadambosi, Ziyafats, Nawazishat of titles etc. Two rakat namaz for him and his late father. matam after every prayer. Celebration on grand scale on his birthday and on the solemn occasion of Moharram in far away places.

Only difference is that the Bani Umayyads openly ridiculed Islamic principles and cursed Ahle-bay'te. The 51st and 52nd Dais have established their rule on the lifestyle of Bani Umayyads degrading Allah (claiming Ilahul-Ard), Qura'an (claiming Quran-e-Natiq), Hazrat Mohammad (claiming equal rights of Rasool), Ahlul-Bait (celebrating Ashra Mubarak and 'shahadats with hi tech tamashas and thereafter immediately organizing mass-marriages function, Tafrih programs and hunting of wild animals) at the same time claiming that these two Dais are the true followers of Islam, Qur’an and Ahlul-Bait.

Inspite of the investigative reports of two inquiry commissions, a case in the Supreme Court of India against "Baraat" (excommunication) and open revolts in Udaipur, Banswada, Dahod, Chennai, and Calcutta etc. there is absolutely no difference in the repressive policies of Sayedna Burhanuddin Saheb. He and his establishment have become as arrogant as Bani Umayyads were. By claiming Dai of Allah, Dai of Ali and Dai of Husain they want to create an impression that they are the true inheritors of Ahlul-Bait. But in fact they are successors of the oppressors of yesterday.

Commemorating Moharram is meaningless until we realize the essential massage of Imam Husain that “Fighting unto death is more honorable than submitting to tyranny and injustice.” After a day long vaiz and hours of matam we go home to our comfortable beds and have a restful night’s sleep while thousands of co-religionists starve to death and suffer oppression. Is this what Imam Husain scarified his blessed blood for?