Edifice of Faith

In the year 1385 Hijri (1965), 52nd al-Dai al-Fatimi His Holiness Dr. Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (TUS) succeeded his illustrious father Syedna Taher Saifuddiin (AQ) to the exalted office of al-Dai al-Mutlaq. He first undertook to travel to Cairo for the opening ceremony of the Zarih of Ras al-Imam al-Husain (SA) thus beginning a new chapter in the lives of the faithful.

“Ya Husain”, is the call that has summoned the Dawoodi bohra Community, drawing it together from all corners of the world. “Ya Husain”, is the call to which the community has responded, reaping barakaat manifold, in the process. And it is to hear the heart rending cry of “Ya Husain” from their Dai, Dr. Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (TUS) that the Community has gathered internationally, time and again, to express it’s loyalty for Ahl ul-Bayt (AS) and its commitment to Islam.

The expression of grief and sorrow over the martyrdom of Imam Husain (SA) grandson of Prophet Mohammed (SAW) is the foundation of the Dawoodi Bohra faith. It was in Karbala Moalla, that Imam Husain (SA) chose to lay down his sword and acept martyrdom in accordance with the will of Allah. It was hid “Doa” in his last “Sajdah” that has provided succour and salvation for generations of Mumineen to come. For Rasulullah (SAW) has attested that verily, the heavens are for those who cry, make others cry or even for those who manifest their grief on my beloved Husain. And, so, it is the cry of “Ya Husain”, that resounds from every heat, in every majlis, be it of sorrow or celebration that has opened the floodgates of barakaat for the Dawoodi Bohra Community.

Starting with the inauguration of the Zarih of Ras al-Imam al-Husain (SA) in 1385 Hijri, and culminating in the restoration of jawame in Cairo in 1416 Hijri, the years have seen the community undertake massive building and restoration works. This has been possible solely because of the community’s unflinching devotion for Syedna (TUS) whose wisdom and benign counsel has led and guided it to unprecedented heights.

Syedna Taher Saifuddin (AQ) was the first al-Dai al-Mutlaq to visit Cairo. Heir to the glorious Fatimi heritage, he was naturally grieved by the state of al-Jame al-Anwar built by Imam Hakim be-Amrillah (AS). The ravages of time, gross neglect and disregard had reduced this Jame to a madrasa, playground and even a dump-yard. He expressed the hope that the Jame would be restored.

Years later, it was destined that his illustrious son and successor Dr. Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (TUS) should fulfill his aspirations, for as the revered father has stated in one of his ‘Qasidahs’.

This young man is none other
than myself.

The massive restoration project of al-Jame al-Anwar was undertaken and completed in 1401 Hijri. Spanning an area of 13,560 sq. mts., it is the fourth largest masjid in the world. The formal opening ceremony was attended by His Excellency President Anwar Saadaat. Thousands of mumineen from all over the world gathered to participate in the iftetah ceremony and to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Husain (SA) with their Dai, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (TUS). This set the precedent for other similar gatherings under the banner of “Ya Husain” and in ever increasing numbers. Barakaat and prosperity followed — masjids were built, houses and businesses flourished. This affluence served only to fuel the community’s desire to serve their Dai and Dawat.

Several projects were undertaken by Syedna (TUS) to maintain and foster the historic sites associated with Rasulullah (SAW) and the Fatimi Imams (SA).

A maqsoorah fabricated in silver and gold was dedicated to Moulatona Zaynab (AS), the sister of Imam Husain (SA) as a tribute to her sacrifice, suffering and supreme strength at Karbala. The Bab-el-Mukhallafat el-Nabawiyah-el-Sharifah, a door moulded in silver and gold was installed at the chamber adjacent to Ras al-Imam al-Husain (SA).

Zarihs were also dedicated to Imam Husain (SA) and Ruoos-Es-Shohada in the Shaam (Syria). This is where the noble heads of the martyrs of Karbala were brought and buried.

This year a Zarih was dedicated to Maulatona Ruqaiyah (AS) the daughter of Amirul-Mumineen (SA). Resplendent in silver and gold this ornate maqsoorah is adorned with Kufi Calligraphy and traditional Fatimi designs gleaned from the jawame.

On the night of Milad of Imam uz-Zaman (SA), the 4th of Rai ul-Akhar 1416 Hijri, 52nd al-Dai al-Fatimi, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (TUS) performed the iftetah ceremony of Jame Lulua. This unique three storied masjid with a qibla on every floor, is located at a height with a commanding view of its milieu. This is where Imam Hakim (SA) retreated for solitude. For several hundred years this masjid lay derelict, ravaged by weather and time, and has now been restored to its former splendour. The world “Lulua” which literally means ‘pearl’ is reflected by this pristine structure, impressive in its simplicity, as it towers about the shanity dwellings around it.

The same auspicious night His Holiness (TUS) proceeded to Jame Juyushi for the iftetah ceremony. This masjid was built by Syedna Badrul Jamali by the command of Imam Mustansir (SA), atop Jabale-Muqattam. The area designated as a military cantonment was formerly restricted but it was destined that that Fatimi Dai Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (TUS) should undertake and complete its restoration. Silhouetted against the Egyptian sky, this Jame is a fitting reminder of the glory of the Fatimi period in Misr.

Al-Jame al-Aqmar, the masjid built by Imam Aamir (SA), located in Share Moiz le-Dinillah lay desolate and decadent for centuries. The last phase of its restoration was completed and the opening ceremony was performed by Syedna by Syedna (TUS). This Jame although small is distinguished by its Kufi script and designs.

His Holiness (TUS) also expressed his desire to complete the 4000 meters of ayats inscribed on the walls at al-jame al-Awnwar, which have been obliterated by the ages.

While in Cairo, His Holiness (TUS) announced his intention to proceed to Yemen for the ziyarat of Syedna Hatim (AQ), the third al-Dai al-Mutlaq. The mausoleum of Syedna Hatim (AQ) is located in mountainous al-Hutaib al-Mubarak and was built by Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (TUS) despite adversity. A zarih was also dedicated to Maulatona al-Hurrah al-Malekah (RA) at Zi Jibla.

In Yemen the 84th Salgirah of His Holiness (TUS) was celebrated amidst great rejoicing. A procession led by a military band and Yemeni brethren, brandishing swords and reciting in traditional Yemeni folk style, preceded His Holiness’s (TUS) “Miyanah”. In Salgirah majlis, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (TUS) delivered a khutba in Arabic drawing mumineen even closer by his chaste and erudite rendering.

In Sanaa the Faiz-e-Hatimi building was inaugurated to provide comfort for Mumineen visiting Yemen for ziyarat. Having performed ziyarat of al-Duat al-Mutlaqeen (AQ) in Yemen, His Holiness (TUS) returned to Bombay, leaving a blaze of triumphs and blessings behind. This momentous visit of a Fatimi Dai to Cairo and Yemen the early seats of Dawat, seemed to assert the contention that the Dawoodi Bohras had returned home, unscathed by time. Undoubtedly the renovation of al-Jame al-Anwar has marked the crux of change for them. This rare privilege of serving a Fatimi Imam, has brought them prosperity untold. Numberous masjid projects have been undertaken and completed by Mumineen in their respective countries. In Surat for instance, the re-construction of the 100 years old masjid built by 43rd al-Dai al-Mutlaq Syedna Abdeali Saifuddin (AQ), is fast nearing completion. In London too, mumineen are awaiting the completion of the masjid complex in which al-Muqaddasah Amatullah Aaisaheba lies buried.

The homes of the Dawoodi Bohras have been built, but more importantly the edifice of faith has been strengthened. Syedna Taher Saifuddin (AQ) with his ceaseless vigilance and timeless teaching and training, had sown the seeds of faith and devotion that is now manifest in this era.

The last thirty years have seen the Dawoodi Bohra Community flourish and prosper as never before. Guided in every aspect of life, be it temporal or spiritual, by their beloved Dai Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (TUS), they have earned for themselves a position of respect in their countries of domicile.

These historic sites, renewed and renovated, will bear testimony to the noble efforts of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (TUS) and cherish him as the custodian of Fatimi culture and heritage. In his endeavor to serve Islam, he has transcended international boundaries, fortifying the faith and preserving the Fatimi identity in all its purity.

This memoir has been published on the auspicious occasion of the 31st death anniversary of Syedna Taher Saifuddin 9AQ), who bequeathed the Golden Saifee Era to the Community. Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (TUS) built a unique mausoleum in memory of his revered father, which is the only one of its kind in the world with the entire al-Quran al-Majid inscribed in gold on its inner marble walls.

Published by the Information and Statistics Department,Dawat-e-Hadiyah, (Administration of 52nd al-Dai-al-Mutlaq, His Holiness Dr. Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin), Badri Mahal, Dr. D. N. Road, Fort, Bombay 400 001.
December 1995 (19th Rajab 1416 Hijri).