Spiritual Leader of Dawoodi Bohras Passes Away

MUMBAI- Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, spiritual head of the Dawoodi Bohra community, died following cardiac arrest here Friday, an official said. He was 102.

The end came at Saifee Mahal, his residence in Malabar Hill in south Mumbai, his media associate Shaikh Qureish Raghib said Friday.

He is succeeded by his second son, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin.

Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin had proclaimed Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin as his successor at a Nass (investiture) in London in 2011.

The new Syedna, who was on a visit to Sri Lanka, is expected to reach Mumbai and finalise the funeral and other arrangements.

“The Syedna passed away this (Friday) morning and was to celebrate his 103rd birthday next month. The Dawoodi Bohra community will observe a 10-day mourning for the departed spiritual leader. As a mark of respect for the Syedna, all shops and businesses run by the community members shall remain closed for the next three days,” Raghib said.

As soon as the news spread through an official announcement, thousands of grieving Dawoodi Bohra community people rushed towards south Mumbai from different parts of India.

Apprehending an unmanageable situation arising at Malabar Hill which also houses the governor, chief minister, deputy chief minister, home minister, top businessmen, diplomats, the community appealed to all Dawoodi Bohras to go and pray in mosques in their respective localities.

Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin had succeeded his father, the late Syedna Taher Saifuddin in 1965 and led the community for nearly five decades.

He will be buried beside his father at Rauzat Tahera Mausoleum in Bhendi Bazar, south Mumbai. The funeral will likely be held Saturday.

Prior to that, the new Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin shall lead the ‘Namaz-e-Janaza’ (funeral procession) of his father at the Saifee Mosque nearby.

A marble building, the Rauzat Tahera Mausoleum is renowned for the entire Holy Quran inscribed in gold letters and bejewelled precious stones — a landmark in the city.

The new Syedna has worked closely with his father and received spiritual guidance from him.

Highly respected in the community, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin travelled widely with the late Syedna, interacted with world political and religious leaders.

Under his father’s directions, he also worked on several national and international projects, including the restoration of the famous Fatemi Mosques in Egypt and other important edifices in the Arab world.

The spokesperson said that thousands of community people from Mumbai, rest of India and around 40 countries worldwide are expected to converge for the funeral to pay last respects to the departed spiritual leader.

Hundreds of weeping Dawoodi Bohra members, including women and children went to around three dozen community mosques in Mumbai to offer prayers.

A symbol of unity for Dawoodi Bohras

Among his major contributions was to supervise and support the community’s literacy efforts through 400 educational institutions in the world to impart religious, spiritual and secular education.

The pride of place belongs to the Al-Jamiah Al-Saifiah Arabic Academy in Surat — an over two-century-old Arabic university — and its new campus built by the Syedna in Karachi in 1983.

The Syedna exhorted his followers to conduct businesses combining mercantile and Islamic principles.

With a view to foster healthy businesses, he institutionalized the Quranic concept of interest-free loans.

A few years ago, the Syedna established the Burhaniyah Business Counselling Centre in Mumbai to provide modern business solutions.

The Syedna strongly believed in giving back to nature through ecological conservation programmes and preventing environmental degradation.

The Syedna undertook the mammoth task of construction, renovation or restoration of several ancient and world heritage mosques, mausoleums and other buildings of historical significance worldwide.

Chief among these were the Kufa mosque in Iraq, mosque of Imam Hakim, Al-Jame Al-Anwar in Cairo, and ancient buildings in Yemen, Syria and India. Agencies

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