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Dawoodi Bohra

File:Bohra in uniform.jpg
Dawoodi Bohra in their customary attire

Dawoodi Bohra ( Urdu: داؤدی بوہرہ‎, also spelled Daudi Bohra) are a sub-sect of Shia Islam. The Dawoodi Bohra trace their belief system back to Yemen, where it evolved from the Fatimid Caliphate and where they were persecuted due to their differences from mainstream Sunni Islam and Zaydi Shia Islam. Around 1530 CE, the Dawat[clarification needed] was relocated to India. The word Bohra itself comes from the Gujarati word vehru ("trade") in reference to their traditional profession,[1] while the term Dawoodi refers to their support for Dawood Bin Qutubshah in the 1592 leadership dispute which divided the Tayyibi sect, creating the Dawoodi Bohra.

Evolution of Dawoodi Bohra from other Shia sects

The Dawoodi Bohra sect is a Shia sect also referred to as the Tayyabī Musta'lī Ismā'īlī sect. The Isma'ilis were split from the now mainstream Ithna Ashari Shias over the succession issue of Imam Jafar Al-Sadiq. The Isma'ilis took Isma'il bin Jafar as their Imam whereas the Twelvers (Ithna Ashari Shia) took Musa Kazim bin Jafar Al-Sadiq as their Imam. The Ismailis split into Druze and mainstream Isma'ilis due to a succession issue and further down the line they again split into Nizari and Musta'ali branches. the Musta'ali branch to which Dawoodi Bohra trace their legacy continues until the 21st Imam Al-Tayyab, who went into occultation(hiding). His direct descendent is considered as the current Imam and remains in seclusion. In that period the governance of the sect has been entrusted to the Da'i al-Mutlaq (Unrestricted Missionary). Splinter groups of the Bohras have subsequently emerged over the succession dispute of the preceding Dai.

Doctrinal differences between the mainstream Ithna Ashari Shias and Bohras are that the Bohras believe in an esoteric interpretation of Quran and Islam, wherein individual verses and words of the Quran can be given any meaning by the Dai claiming inspiration from the allegedly hidden Imam under their scheme of Taweel.[2] Many prominent mainstream scholars and Islamic Organizations have declared both the leader and their followers to be disbelievers[3][4][5][6] due to what they perceive as the ardent worship of their leader without being instructed in the completed Sharia to do so. The practice of Sajda (Prostration) was started by 51st Dai Taher Saifuddin and went to the extent of claiming that he is “Elahul-Ard” (God on earth) [7] that he is accountable to no one and that he is master of the soul, mind, body and properties of his followers. He made it compulsory that every Bohra should call him/herself as "Slave of Sayedna" (Abd-e Sayedna / Amat-e Syedna) and perform "Sajda-e 'Ubudiyat"(Prostration of Obedience) in front of him. The following poem is recited addressing the leader:

[9] Translated:

Following are some typical activities that differentiate them from other Islamic sects:[4]

  • Prostrating other than Allah,
  • Women kissing their leader's hands and feet and those of his family
  • The leader of Bohras claims to be the overall controller of the soul and faith
  • The leader of Bohras claiming he exclusively owns all Waqf properties
  • The leader of Bohras claiming he has the right to socially boycott those who object to him

In an article entitled "The Wizard of Gujarat" in The Milli Gazette, a widely read Muslim news source; the writer has said that "Bohras do not represent the mainstream Muslim community".[10] Others too question the Islamic identity of the Dawoodi Bohras in much the same way as they question the Islamic credentials of Shias in general.[6] The fact remains that Bohras pray 5 times a day, fast in the month of Ramadan, perform Hajj and Umrah and give zakah as all Muslims do. The Bohras do stand out from other Islamic sects in some ways such as their outlook on the status of women. Prof Zainab Bano a Bohra Professor quoted that "Dawoodi Bohras are out of the Muslim mainstream, but part of the national mainstream. There is gender equality and women's empowerment."[11] The Dawoodi Bohras, being Ismailis and thus Jafaris, were included as Muslims in the Amman Message [12] There are group leaders who opposed and criticized the Amman message being completely contradictory to the Islamic teachings and that the signatures were copy pasted from unsuspecting scholars [13]

Spiritual leader

The spiritual leader of the Dawoodi Bohra community is called Da'i al-Mutlaq (Arabic: داعي المطلق‎), who serves as the representative of the purported hidden Imam, who supposedly lives on in seclusion. The role of Da'i was created by Queen Arwa bint Ahmed (also known as Al-Hurra Al-Malika) of Yemen. It should not be confused with other offices that exist in the Imamate such as Dai-ad-Du'at and Dai al-Balagh. Zoeb bin Moosa is the first Dai-al-Mutlaq.[14][15]


Main article: Shia

As Shi'a Muslims, Bohras believe that their Imāms are descendants of the Islamic prophet Muhammad by way of his daughter Fatimah and her husband Ali. They believe that Muhammad chose Ali as his successor and publicly declared this while he was returning from his first and last Haj in 632 CE. Dawoodi Bohras, in keeping with all Shi'a believe that after Muhammad, Ali had been the rightful wasi, Imam and caliph, but the actual Caliphate was usurped by Ẓāhirī ("literalist") caliphs. Ali was the final Rashidun Caliph from 656-661 CE; the Imamate and caliphate were united in this period.

After Ali, his son Hasan ibn Ali, the first Ismāʿīlī Imam, was challenged for the Caliphate, ultimately resulting in a truce with the Umayyad Caliphate to recognise the claimant in power, Muawiyah I, as Caliph and avoid bloodshed, while Hasan retained the Imamate. After Hasan, Husain and his family and companions were killed at the Battle of Karbala and Husain's body was buried near the site of his death. Dawoodi Bohras believe that Husain's head was buried first, in the courtyard of Yazid (the Umayyad Mosque), then transferred from Damascus to Ashkelon,[16] and then to Cairo.[17]

Shia schisms and the Fatimid Dynasty

Main article: Ismailism

The first through the fifth Ismāʿīlī Imams - until Ja'far al-Sadiq - are commonly accepted by all the Shi'a, although numbered differently. Bohras and Nizari Ismāʿīlīs treat Ali as Vasi (successor to Mohammad) and Imam Hasan as first Imam whereas Twelvers number Ali as the first. The followers of Ja'far's son, Isma'il ibn Jafar, became Ismailis, to whom the Bohras belong. Twelvers believe that Musa al-Kadhim was heir to Ja'far instead; their Imams diverged at that point.

During the period of Ja'far, the Abbasid Caliphate replaced the Umayyads and began to aggressively oppose belief in an Imamate. Due to strong suppression by the Abbasids, the seventh Ismāʿīlī Imam, Muhammad ibn Ismail, went into a period of Occultation. During this period his representative, the Dāʿī, maintained the community.

The names of the eighth, ninth, and tenth Imams are considered by some traditions to be "hidden", known only by their nicknames due to threats from the Abbasids. However, the Dawoodi Bohra, claim to have the true names of all the known Imams in sequence, including the "hidden" Imams, namely: the eighth Ahmad al-Wafi (Abadullah), the ninth Muhammad at-Taqi (Ahmed ibn Abadullah), and the tenth, Rabi Abdullah (Husain ibn Ahmed).[18]

The 11th Imam, Abdullah al-Mahdi Billah, founded the Fatimid Caliphate in 909 CE in Ifriqiya (present Tunisia), ending the occultation. In Ismāʿīlī eyes this act again united the Imamate and the Caliphate in one person. The Fatimids then extended up to the central Maghreb (now Morocco, Algeria, Libya). They entered and conquered Egypt in 969 CE during the reign of the fourteenth Imam, al-Mu'izz li-Din Allah, and made Cairo their capital. After the eighteenth Imam, al-Mustansir Billah, the Nizari sect believed that his son Nizar was his successor, while another Ismāʿīlī branch known as the Mustaali (from whom the Dawoodi Bohra would eventually form), supported his other son, al-Musta'li. The Fatimid dynasty continued with al-Musta'li as both Imam and Caliph, and that joint position held until the 20th Imam, al-Amir bi-Ahkami l-Lah (1132 CE).

Tayyibi-Hafizi schism

Main articles: Mustaali, Taiyabi and Hafizi

At the death of Imam Amir, one branch of the Mustaali faith claimed that he had transferred the imamate to his son at-Tayyib Abi l-Qasim, who was then two years old. Another faction claimed Amir died without producing an heir, and supported Amir's cousin al-Hafiz as both the rightful Caliph and Imam. The al-Hafiz faction became the Hafizi Ismailis, who later converted during the rule of Sultan Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūbi. The supporters of Tayyeb became the Tayyibi Ismāʿīlī.

Tayyeb's claim to the imamate was endorsed by the Hurrah al-Malika ("the Noble Queen") Arwa al-Sulayhi, the Queen of Yemen. Arwa was designated a hujjah, the highest rank in the Yemeni Dawat, by al-Mustansir in 1084 CE. Under Queen Arwa, the Dai al-Balagh (intermediary between the Imam in Cairo and local headquarters) Lamak ibn Malik and then Yahya ibn Lamak worked for the cause of the Fatimids.
File:Zarih of Arwa al-Sulayhi,yemen.jpg
Zarih of Arwa al-Sulayhi,Yemen

Tayyibis (which include the modern Dawoodi Bohra) believe the second and current period of satr began after Imam Tayyeb went into seclusion, and Queen Arwa created the office of the Dai al-Mutlaq to administer the community in the Imam's absence. Zoeb bin Moosa (d.546 AH/1151 AD) was the first Dai-ul-Mutlaq, and lived and died in Haus, Yemen. His ma'dhūn (assistant) was Khattab bin Hasan. The 3rd Dai Sayedna Hatim (d. 1191 AD) was prominent among the Du'at of Yemen and wrote many books, both exoteric and esoteric in philosophy on the Ismaili sect.

Transfer of Dawat to India

Moulai Abdullah was the first Walī al-Hind in the era of Imam Mustansir (427–487 AH). Moulai Abdullah and Moulai Nuruddin were originally from Gujarat and went to Cairo, Egypt, to learn. They came to India in 467 AH as missionaries of the Imam. Moulai Ahmed was also their companion.

Dā'ī Zoeb appointed Maulai Yaqoob (after the death of Maulai Abdullah), who was the second Walī al-Hind of the Fatimid dawat. Moulai Yaqoob was the first person of Indian origin to receive this honour under the Dā'ī. He was the son of Moulai Bharmal, minister of Hindu Solanki King Siddhraja Jaya Singha (Anhalwara,Patan). With Minister Moulai Tarmal, they had honoured the Fatimid dawat along with their fellow citizens on the call of Moulai Abdullah. Moulai Fakhruddin, son of Moulai Tarmal, was sent to western Rajasthan, India, and Moulai Nuruddin went to the Deccan (death: Jumadi al-Ula 11 at Don Gaum, Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India).

One Dā'ī after another continued until the 23rd Dā'ī in Yemen whilst in Hind the Waliship continued in the descendents of Moulai Yaqoob; Moulai Ishaq, Moulai Ali, Moulai Hasan Fir. Moulai Hasan Fir was the fifth Wali in the era of the 16th Dai Syedna Abdullah (d.809 AH/1406 AD) of Yemen. The Awliya al-Hind were champions of the Fatimid dawat in India, who were instrumental in maintaining & propagating it on instructions of the Dā'ī at Yemen, and it is because of them that the Fatimid dawat was able to survive the persecutions of Cairo and Yemen.

The wali Moulai Jafer, Moulai Abdul Wahab, Moulai Qasim Khan bin Hasan (d.950AH, Ahmedabad) and last Jalal Shamshuddin (1567 AD) (12th wali-ul Hind and also became 25th Dai) were of great help in the era of the 21st to 24th Dai. It was during this time when the Dawat was transferred to India from Yemen, that the 23rd Dai-al-Mutlaq Mohammed Ezzuddin performed nass (transfer of authority) on Yusuf Najmuddin ibn Sulaiman of Sidhpur, Gujrat, India.

The 24th Dai, Yusuf Najmuddin bin Sulayman (d.1567 AD), shifted the whole administration of the Dawat (mission) to India, in part due to their persecution by the Zaydi Imams. However, Yusuf Najmuddin continued to live in Yemen and died there. The last Wali-ul-Hind and 25th Dai Jalal Shamshuddin (d.1567 AD) was the first Dai to die in India; his mausoleum is in Ahmedabad, India. Dai Jalal's tenure as Dai was very short, only a few months, however, before his nass, he was Wali-ul Hind (after Moulai Qasim) for about 20 years under the 24th Dai Syedna Yusuf while the Dai was in Yemen.

Intra-Bohra Schisms

Following the death of the 26th Dai in 1591 CE, Suleman bin Hasan, the grandson of the 24th Dai, was wali in Yemen and claimed the succession, supported by a few Bohras from Yemen and India. However, most Bohras denied his claim of nass, declaring that the supporting document evidence was forged. The two factions separated, with the followers of Suleman Bin Hasan becoming the Sulaymanis, and the followers of Syedna Dawood Bin Qutubshah becoming the Dawoodi Bohra.

Again in the period of the 29th Dai Abduttayyeb Zakiuddin, a small group of Aliya Bohra separated under Ali bin Ibrahim (1034 AH/1634 AD), the grandson of the 28th Dai Syedna Sheikhadam Safiyuddin. A further branch broke from the Dawoodi in 1754, with the Hebtiahs Bohra splicing in a dispute following the death of the 39th Dai.

Move to India

The 34th Dai Syedna Ismail Badruddin (A.Q)(son of Moulai Raj, 1657 AD onward) was the first Dai of Indian Gujrati origin. He shifted the Dawat from Ahmedabad to Jamnagar.[19] During this period the Da'is also moved to Mandvi and later to Burhanpur. In the era of the 42nd Dai Syedna Yusuf Najmuddin (A.Q) (1787 AD onward) the Dawat office shifted to Surat. The educational institute Al-Dars-al-Saifee (later renamed Al Jamea tus Saifiyah) was built in that era by the 43rd Dai Syedna Abdeali Saifuddin (A.Q), who was an extremely renowned scholar in the literary field. During the period of the 51st Da'i Syedna Taher Saifuddin (A.Q) (1915-1965 AD), the Dawoodi Bohra Dawat administration has been located to Mumbai and continues there to the present day. The 51st and 52nd Da'is both had their residence at Saifee Mahal in Mumbai's Malabar Hill as does the current, 53rd, Da'i[20] Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin.

Dr.Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (6 March 1915 – 17 January 2014) was the 52nd Dā‘ī l-Muṭlaq. The title of Syedna is not formally hereditary, and succession disputes have occurred multiple times over the history of the sect.[21]:153

Imams and Dais

File:Dawoodi Bohra 52 nd Dai Sayyedna Mohd. Burhanuddin.jpg
Dawoodi Bohra 52 nd Dai Sayyedna Mohd. Burhanuddin,1965 AD onward
Main article: List of Ismaili Imams

Dawoodi Bohras believe that the 21st Mustaali Imam, Taiyab abi al-Qasim, is a direct descendant of the Islamic prophet Muhammad through his daughter Fatima Zahra. According to this belief, Ṭayyib Abī l-Qāṣim went into occultation and established the office of the Dā‘ī l-Muṭlaq as the Imām's vicegerent, with full authority to govern the believing community in all matters spiritual and temporal, as well as those of his assistants, the Ma'dhūn (Arabic: مأذون‎) and Mukāsir (Arabic: مكاسر‎). During the Imām's seclusion, a Dā‘ī l-Muṭlaq is appointed by his predecessor. The maʾzūn and mukasir are in turn appointed by the Dā‘ī l-Muṭlaq. A fundamental belief held by the Dawoodi Bohra is that the presence of the secluded Imām is guaranteed by the presence of the Dāʿī al-Muṭlaq.

The 52nd Dai Al Mutlaq, Syedna Mohammed BurhanuddinRA served the dawat for 50 years. Since the death of the 52nd Dāʿī, Mohammed Burhanuddin, in 2014, two claimants for the post of Dai emerged Mufaddal Saifuddin and Khuzaima Qutbuddinleading to several court cases being filed in Mumbai High Court to decide the position of Dai owing to the 53rd Syedna succession controversy (Dawoodi Bohra).

Office and administration

Dawat–e-Hadiyah is the central body of the Dawoodi bohra organization. The present office is in Badri Mahal, Mumbai and Darus Sakina Thane[22] corresponding to the two claimants to the post of Dai. They are represented by Jamaat Committee in all the cities with significant Dawoodi Bohra members. The Aamil is the president of the Jamaat committee, at their respective city. He is appointed by the Dawat–e-Hadiyah with permission of Dai al Mutlaq.

There are several sub committee and trusts under the Jamaat committee, who looks after different aspects of Dawoodi bohras administration.

Nathwani Commission Report and alleged human rights violation by Bohra priesthood

Based on various court cases filed by members of the Reformist Dawoodi Bohra, the Indian government set up a fact finding committee under the name of "Nathwani Commission" to verify the allegations put on the Bohra priesthood. The Nathwani Commission Report was published in 1979 highlighting violation of human rights of Bohras. Hundreds of people deposed before the commission and gave testimony to the behaviour of the Bohra priesthood;[23] most of them were dissidents within the community, as the clergy had decided to boycott the commission and "dissuaded" community members from giving testimony. The commission's work lead to many protests from Dawoodi Bohras, including a clash with police forces in 1978.[24]:245

The report found that millions of rupees are collected every year from Bohras in India and abroad as customary taxes and nazranas by the Sayedna and his nominees, but the Syedna is not accountable to anyone for them. The Syedna also claims to be the owner of all the Bohra mosques and the sole trustee of all Bohras trusts, and where the account of any of these trusts are audited, the work is done by a firm composed of some members of the Bohra community who are also bound by the mithaq (also spelled misaq) to the Syedna. The following is an excerpt from the report:[full citation needed]

Our enquiry has shown that there is large-scale infringement of civil liberties and human rights of reformist Bohras at the hands of the priestly class and that those who fail to obey the orders of the Sayedna and his 'amils, even in purely secular matters, are subjected to baraat resulting in complete social boycott, mental torture and frequent physical assaults. The misaaq (the oath of unquestioning obedience to the head priest) which every Bohra is required to give before he or she attains the age of majority, is used as the main instrument for keeping the entire community under the subjugation of the Sayedna and his nominees.

As to the source of the mithaq, the Commission conceded to the orthodox view: reformers had claimed the oath's source to be a recent (19th or 20th century) invention, but the Commission concluded that it was an authentic document, even though it was held to be "virtually a charter of slavery". The Commission suggested making baraat (social boycott) a criminal offence.[24]:246

Demographics and culture

File:Coffee Plantation 1.jpg
Yemeni Dawoodi Bohra at his coffee plantation

Dawoodi Bohras have a blend of ethnic cultures, including Yemeni, Egyptians, Africans and Indians. In addition to the local languages, the Dawoodi Bohras have their own language called Lisan al-Dawat.[25][26] which is written in Perso-Arabic script and is derived from Arabic, Persian, and Gujarati.

There are up to a million Dawoodi Bohra community adherents worldwide. The majority of adherents reside in India as well Pakistan (mostly in Karachi). There are also significant diaspora populations in Europe, North America, the Far East and East Africa.

The centralized, hierarchical organization of the Dawoodi Bohras is maintained largely using (the threat of) excommunication of those who do not conform to the rules laid down by the Syedna and other members of the clergy.[24][page needed] Excommunication dissolves marriage and bars burial in Dawoodi burial sites.[21]

The Dawoodi Bohra maintain a distinct form of attire; the Dawoodi Bohra men wear a white three piece outfit, plus a white and gold cap (called a topi), and women wear the rida, a distinctive form of the commonly known burqa which is distinguished from other forms of the veil due to it often being in color and decorated with patterns and lace. The rida additionally differs from the burqa in that the rida does not call for covering of women's faces like the traditional veil.[27] It has a flap called the pardi that is usually folded to one side to facilitate visibility, but can also be worn over the face if so desired. This way of dressing was not always the norm; it was only established (in fact, mandated) as part of an Islamization program by the da'i Mohammed Burhanuddin, starting in the late 1970s. Prior to this, especially under the modernizing Taher Saifuddin, Dawoodi Bohra dress and culture were "considerably more assilimated to mainstream Indian culture" (says journalist Jonah Blank). Traditional dress existed in several regional variants before standardization was decreed in 1981.[24]:184–187

The Dawoodi Bohra retain the Fatimid-era Tabular Islamic calendar,[28] which they believe matches perfectly with the lunar cycle, not requiring any correction. In this calendar, the lunar year has 354 days. Their odd-numbered months have 29 days and the even-numbered months have 30 days, except in a leap year when the 12th and final month has 30 days. This is in contrast with other Muslim communities, which base the beginnings of specific Islamic months on sightings of the moon, with the naked eye, by religious authorities, which often result in differing opinions as to the occurrence of religiously significant dates, such as the start of Ramadan.

Status of women

Female genital mutilation, known as khatna, is considered a religious obligation in the Bohra community, in most cases performed on girls around age 7.[29][30] The practice may originate in North Africa, where the Dawoodi Bohras trace their origins, and is now considered "intrinsic to their identity". The Dawoodi Bohras are the only Muslim sect in India to practice it;[31][32] it is mostly kept alive by women, with men "[seeming] unaware that their own daughters and sisters are undergoing the cut".[33] A 2011 Internet petition, to be delivered to Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, was the first public protest against female genital mutilation to emerge from the Bohra community.[29]

In 2012, the community leadership under Mohammed Burhanuddin instituted community kitchens in Mumbai that deliver Bohra families two meals per day; the goal of this system is to free women from the task of preparing food, providing them with time to pursue education or economic activities.[34][35]


Dawoodi Bohras have their own jamaats (local communities) which will be focussed around a Masjid or a markaz (community centre) where an "Amil" (leader appointed by the Syedna (TUS) leads namaaz and gives discourses.
File:Masjid e Moazzam.jpg
Masjid e Moazzam,Surat

Dawoodi Bohras have a unique system of communal eating with groups of 8 or 9 people seated around a thaal (particularly large metal tray). Each course of the meal is served for the people around the thaal to share. The place where meals are served is called the Jamaat Khaana. The Jamaat Khaana is usually adjoined to the masjid complex.

Education and educational institutes

During the 20th century, the Syednas have established colleges, schools and madrasas in villages, towns and cities all around the world.[vague] The focus on literacy and education has meant that the community has a high percentage of degree holders and professionals both male and female with a high number of doctors, lawyers, architects, engineers, teachers and IT professionals in the community in addition to the large number[quantify] of businessmen and industrialists.[citation needed]

Al Jamea tus Saifiyah is the Dawoodi Bohra theological university, which was founded in Surat, India[36] in 1814 AD(1224AH)by the 43rd Dai Syedna Abdeali Saifuddin who named it ‘Dars-e-Saifee".[citation needed] A second campus was founded in 1983 located in the northern foothills of Karachi, Pakistan. A third campus was established in Nairobi, Kenya in 2011, and in 2013 a fourth campus was established in Marol (Mumbai), Maharashtra.

The 51st Dai Syedna Taher Saifuddin introduced modern subjects including sciences and arts to the curriculum in 1961 and renamed the academy Al Jamea tus Saifiyah. This process of modernization continued with his son and successor Syedna Mohammad Burhanuddin who introduced 'state-of-the-art' facilities such as the 'Mahad al-Zahra' Quran training Institute. He also made it an International Baccalaureate Office.[36] The academies are administered by a central office located in Badri Mahal, Fort, Mumbai.

The 51st Dai Syedna Taher Saifuddin was a prolific scholar who wrote more than 40 volumes or 'Risalas' and has penned more than 10,000 verses in tribute to the Shia saints.[citation needed] Many of his works are part of the syllabus in the different fields of Arabic study in Al Jamea tus Saifiyah.[citation needed]

The Aligarh Muslim University conferred a Doctorate of Theology on the 51st Dai Taher Saifuddin[37] and offered its Chancellorship after a series of "strategic donations" by the Syedna.[38] He remained as Chancellor for three consecutive terms until his death in 1965.[39] In October 1999, the 52nd Dai Syedna Mohammad Burhanuddin was also elected Chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University.[40]


Thousands of Dawoodi Bohra visit every year Mausoleums of Ahl al-Bayt especially Medina, Karbala,Shaam and Cairo.

File:Grave Dai Taher Saifuddin.JPG
Interior of Raudat Taherah showing the grave of Taher Saifuddin

The Dai al MutlaqRA and Wali of Past have been laid to rest in Rauza's, where thousands of community members visit every year, in Yemen and India.

Raudat Tahera (Arabic: روضة طاهرةRawḍatu Ṭāḥiratu), is the Rauza of Syedna Taher Saifuddin.[41] Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin was buried by his son, Mufaddal Saifuddin in the same mausoleum.[42]


For an overview of the Mustaali Shi'a faith, see Mustaali.

Seven pillars

The Dawoodi Bohras follow the Seven pillars of Ismaili Islam in the tradition of Fatimid Dawat: Walayah (guardianship of the faith), Taharah (purity), salat (prayer), Zakat (tithing), Sawm (fasting), Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca), and Jihad (struggle).

  • Dawoodi Bohras believe Walayah to be the most important of the seven pillars of Islam. It is the love and devotion for God, through their Dai, Imam, Wasi (Wali) Ali and Nabi Muhammad. There is an incident famous amongst Bohra which confirm how they mean and weigh ‘walayat’ principle. There was an order from 19th Dai Syedna Idris in Yemen to the 6th Wali-ul-Hind, Moulai Adam, to perform prayer behind a water-carrier called Sakka. Moulai Adam along with his associates were willing to perform prayer under Sakka, although this order was later revoked. As a result, the Da'wat was shifted to India.[43]
  • Their interpretations of the pillars Sawm, Hajj, and Jihad are akin to those in other forms of Islam, but the Dawoodi forms of salat and Zakat differ from other groups:
  • Salat (prayer) as per tradition to be performed five time intervals specified as Fazr, Zohr, Ashr, Magrib and Ishah. Zohr and Ashr are having overlapping period, same is Magrib and Ishah. Hence they are combined together and Bohra perform these five Salat in three intervals. Fazr in morning, Zohr & Ashr in afternoon, and Maghrib and Ishah in the evening, making convenient to perform.
  • Zakah is done during Month of Ramzaan (Ramadan). This is organized and collected by central authority Dawat–e-Hadiyah from every member of the community.

As is the case with the majority of Shi'a Muslims, the Bohra append Aliyun waliallah to their profession of faith (kalema‐tut‐ sahadat). The Dawoodi Bohra utilise the versions of the azaan (call to prayer) and shahada common to other Mustaali, which incorporate mention of Ali.

Qardhan Hasana

Islam prohibits Riba; Dawoodi Bohra follow principle of Qardhan hasana, an interest free loan. Special arrangements are made under Aamil [44] in their respective cities to facilitate Qardhan Hasana. The fund is generated from contributions of members and bulk amount comes from Dai-al-Mutlaq office. (In 2014, Mufaddal Saifuddin donated more than Rs. 103.50 crore (Rs. 1.035 billion).)[45]

Muharram and Ashura

Main article: Mourning of Muharram

Muharram is a month of remembrance that is often considered synonymous with the event of Ashura. Ashura, which literally means the "Tenth" in Arabic, refers to the tenth day of Muharram. It is well-known because of historical significance and mourning for the martyrdom of Hussein ibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad.[46]

Dawoodi Bohra begin mourning from the first night of Muharram and continue for ten nights with discourse and Matam(beating chest), climaxing on the 10th of Muharram, known as the Day of Ashura. The last few days up until and including the Day of Ashura are the most important because these were the days in which Hussein and his family and followers (consisting of 72 people, including women, children and elderly people) were killed by the army of Yazid I at the Battle of Karbala on his orders. Surviving members of Hussein's family and those of his followers were taken captive, marched to Damascus, and imprisoned there.

Thousands of Dawoodi Bohra flock from around the world to hear discourse offered by Da'i al-Mutlaq at different places, for ten days and on the tenth day of Muharrum, they pray for Hussein till the magrib, which ends with breaking of fast.

Dawoodi Bohras in the West

The first Dawoodi Bohra mosque in the West was built in Farmington Hills, Michigan in 1988. Immediately thereafter, the first Canadian masjid was inaugurated by Dr.Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin in Toronto. Mohammed Burhanuddin inaugurated the Houston masjid in 1996, which is now being reconstructed into a larger masjid that is four times the size of the original.

In June 2001 Masjid-ul-Badri in Chicago was inaugurated. In July 2004 new mosques in New Jersey (Masjiduz-Zainy), Washington DC and Boston were inaugurated.[47]

The following year, August 2005, the Dā‘ī l-Mutlaq inaugurated another new masjid in Fremont, California (metropolitan San Francisco) and was congratulated by various officials and dignitaries from local, state and federal US governments. President George W. Bush also sent a letter from the White House.[48] On 8 July 2007, Mohammad Burhanuddin inaugurated a new masjid in Paris, France.[49]


See also


  1. Kumar Suresh Singh; Rajendra Behari Lal; Anthropological Survey of India (2003). Gujarat. Popular Prakashan. pp. 248–. ISBN 978-81-7991-104-4. Retrieved 22 March 2012. 
  2. Qazi Noman. "Taweel ud Daim". Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  3. "Deoband Fatwa". Darul Uloom Deoband. Retrieved 15 December 2014. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Abdul-`Aziz ibn `Abdullah ibn Baz. "Permanent Committe Fatwas KSA". Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Retrieved 15 December 2014. 
  5. "Ask Imam". Retrieved 15 December 2014. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Fatwas of Mainstream Scholars". Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Ministry of Fatawas, Permanent Committe. Retrieved 13 February 2014. 
  7. "oppressive". Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 "shayeri". Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  9. "Sajda tuje wajeb hai". Retrieved 17 March 2015. 
  10. "Socially Segregated". Retrieved 16 February 2015. 
  11. Singh, Ajmer (23 December 2015). "Sangh's 'Ghar Wapsi' event in full swing in Gujarat". The Economic Times (New Delhi, India). Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
  14.[1].pdf, Sayyida Hurra: The Isma'ili Sulayhid Queen of Yemen,Farhad Daftary, page 7 ,8
  15. "IIS". 
  16. Sacred Surprise behind Israel Hospital, Batsheva Sobelmn, special Los Angeles Times
  17. Qazi Dr. Shaikh Abbas Borhany PhD. Brief History of Transfer of the Sacred Head of Hussain ibn Ali, From Damascus to Ashkelon to Qahera. Daily News (Karachi), 1 March 2009.
  18. The Hidden Imams of the Ismailis, Quarterly Journal of the American University of Beirut, Vol. XXI. Nos. 1 2, Edited by Mahmud Ghul.Sami N. Makarem, At
  19. The Ismaili, their history and doctrine by Farhad Daftary. Chapter -Mustalian Ismailism-p.300-310
  20. Modi Meets Syedna
  21. 21.0 21.1 Hellen E. Ulrich, ed. (1975). Competition and Modernization in South Asia. Abhinav Publications. p. 175. 
  23. Dawoodi Bohra Commission (Nathwani Commission): Report of Investigation Conducted by the Commission Appointed by the Citizens for Democracy Into the Alleged Infringment of Human Rights of Reformist Members of the Dawoodi Bohras in the Name of the High Priest. Retrieved 4 December 2014. 
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 Blank, Jonah (2001). Mullahs on the Mainframe: Islam and Modernity Among the Daudi Bohras. University of Chicago Press. 
  25. language of the Dā‘wat
  26. Michel Adam (2009). L'Afrique indienne: les minorités d'origine indo-pakistanaise en Afrique orientale. KARTHALA Editions. pp. 272–. ISBN 978-2-8111-0273-9. Retrieved 22 March 2012. 
  27. Himadri Banerjee (10 July 2009). Calcutta Mosaic: Essays and Interviews on the Minority Communities of Calcutta. Anthem Press. pp. 200–. ISBN 978-81-905835-5-8. Retrieved 22 March 2012. 
  28. Ismāʻı̄lı̄s: Their History and Doctrines - Farhad Daftary - Google Books. Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  29. 29.0 29.1 [1] Bohra women go online to fight circumcision trauma. Hindustan Times, 9 December 2011.
  30. "Female Genital Mutilation: Many Pakistani women's painful secret". The Express Tribune. 6 February 2013. 
  31. [2] The Yin, Wounded. Outlook, 5 December 2011.
  32. [3] Female genital mutilation (FGM). FORWARD.
  33. "A Pinch of Skin: A documentary that attempts to lift the silence on female genital mutilation". DNA India. 11 May 2014. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  34. Bhattacharyya, Sourish (30 March 2013). "Faith & food in the Bohra way". Mail Today. New Delhi. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  35. Parmar, Vijaysinh (15 February 2012). "'Community kitchen' gives Bohra women freedom from cooking". The Times of India. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  36. 36.0 36.1 "From Gurukul to IBO varsity", Times of India, 6 November 2009
  37. Hozefa Mohiyuddin, Tasbeeh al Mafakhir, Neelam Publication, 2012, Section Timeline pg. 24
  38. Hellen E. Ulrich, ed. (1975). Competition and Modernization in South Asia. Abhinav Publications. p. 158. 
  40. "Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin elected chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University". Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  41. "Syedna laid to rest". Business Standard. Retrieved 18 January 2014. 
  42. Mustafa Abdulhussein (27 September 2001). Al-Dai Al-Fatimi, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin: an illustrated biography. Al-Jamea-Tus-Saifiyah. p. 56. ISBN 978-0-9536256-0-4. 
  43. 'Vali-e-Hind Maulai Adam bin Suleman [a.q.] By- Mu. Saifuddin Surka NKD'
  44. Person appointed by the Dai al Mutlaq as president of Jamaat Committee
  45. [4] Times of India
  46. "Muharram". 2010-12-08. Retrieved 2010-12-08. 
  47. "Masjid History". Anjuman-E-Burhani. Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  48. [5][dead link]
  49. [6][dead link]

Further reading

  • The Dawoodi Bohras: an anthropological perspective, by Shibani Roy. Published by B.R. Publishing, 1984.
  • Bin Hasan, Idris, Uyun al-akhbar (Bin Hasan was the 19th Da'i of the Dawoodi Bohra. This volume is a history of the Ismaili community from its origins up to the 12th century CE., the period of the Fatimid caliphs al-Mustansir (d. 487/1094), the time of Musta‘lian rulers including al-Musta‘li (d. 495/1101) and al-Amir (d. 524/1130), and then the Tayyibi Ismaili community in Yemen.)
  • A Short History of the Ismailis, By Farhad Daftary
  • The Ismaili,their history & Doctrine, By Farhad Daftary
  • Medieval Islamic Civilisation,By Joseph W. Meri, Jere l.Bacharach
  • Sayyida Hurra: The Isma‘ili Sulayhid Queen of Yemen,By Dr Farhad Daftary
  • Cosmology and authority in medieval Ismailism,By Simonetta Calderini
  • Religion, learning, and science in the ʻAbbasid period,By M. J. L. Young, John Derek Latham, Robert Bertram Serjeant

External links