Borhras and reform
Dawoodi Bohras - Borhras and reform

Challenge to sole-trusteeship is most hurting

Prior to late Syedna Taher Saifuddin the Bohra Dais were humble and poor. But he was different. As soon as he occupied the official seat of the Dai he started scheming to take absolute control over the trust properties and the trust funds of the Bohra Community.

The religion was a handy tool for him to build his own financial empire. He went on devising various ways to make the entire community to submit to his dictates.

He introduced authoritarian conditions in misaq (which he accepted in the Chandabhoy Galla Case). He then made misaq compulsory and advanced a strange theory that no one is born a Bohra but becomes one only after giving misaq to Sayedna. Then to enforce the conditions in misaq he imposed two most effective tools, Raza and Baraat (excommunication). He made his Raza compulsory even for Namaaz and Haj which are Quranic ordinances. Thus he became an absolute master dictating his followers to write and declare themselves as 'Slaves of Sayedna'

Soon after his becoming Dai he grabbed the trust fund of Chandabhoy Galla and purchased the Badri Mahal building and shifted the seat of Daawat from Surat to Bombay. And when he was questioned about the misuse of trust fund he claimed that he was the master of mind, body, soul and the properties of Dawoodi Bohras. His intentions were quite clear. He came out with a masterstroke and claimed that as the head of the community he is the sole trustee of the trust properties of the community. Then he claimed that there is no concept of trust in the Bohra faith and everything vests unto Dai.

With three deadly tools of Misaq, Raza and Baraat he then compelled all the trustees of various valuable trust funds and the properties to legally declare him as the owner or sole trustee of their properties. The Bombay High Court outright rejected his claim of sole-trusteeship and made him accountable but he went ahead with his scheme. Thus almost all the properties of the community came to his absolute disposal.

The late Sayedna used all the force at his command for getting exemption from Musalman Wakf Act. That was one more indication of his initial designs.

In spite of opposition from the community he very soon gathered tons of wealth. The reformists of the community tried to curb his growing powers by bringing an act known as the Prevention of Excommunication Act 1948.

Again though this Act was applicable to all the communities but our late Sayedna was the only exception who did not accept it. It hurt him most because it came as blow to his absolute dictatorship. But by this time he had all the resources at his command and no one to oppose. So he managed to get it void.

Here it is important to note the basis on which he could manage to get the right to excommunicate. The Judgment says "... it interferes in the rights of the Dai as the trustee of the properties of the denominator." The Judgment further says "... so far as the present case is concerned, the management of the property and the right and duty to ensure the proper application of the property is admittedly vested in the Dai as the religious head of the community."

Such clauses in the Supreme Court Judgment of 1960 support the Dai's claim of sole-trusteeship. He is not a sole-trustee that has been proved in number of other court cases including Udaipur Masjid case. But Supreme Court Judgment of 1960 is the biggest tool in their hands.

That is why the review petition filed by the Central Board of Dawoodi Bohra Community is most hurting them. It is primarily because this challenge to his claim of sole trusteeship that the Kothar is trying all its best to see that this case is dismissed. The case is filed on the basis of findings of two inquiry commissions, the Justice Nathwani Commission and the Justice Tewatia Commission. Therefore the efforts are on to woo and get all those witnesses on their side who presented their cases in front of these commissions.

The Kothar's attitude has quite softened down. No more incidents of harassment, no more stoppage of burials and marriages. Devils have become angles overnight. But once they succeed in wining in this case (which is next to impossible) they would again resort to their repressive policies. So it is absolutely essential for the community to win this case. History perhaps will not repeat itself. Inshallah.