History Of Splits In Bohra Community Over Succession To Spiritual Throne

History Of Splits In Bohra Community Over Succession To Spiritual Throne

An internecine dispute over his successor, which had been talked about for years in hushed tones, came out in the open, with one group in the community opposing the ascension of Burhanuddin’s son Muffadal Saiffudin as their new spiritual head.

Manoj RamakrishnanUpdated: Monday, April 22, 2024, 10:46 PM IST
article-image
History Of Splits In Bohra Community Over Succession To Spiritual Throne |

Mumbai: The death of Syedna Mohammad Burhanuddin, the 52nd head of the one million-strong Dawoodi Bohra sect, in January 2014, cleaved the tightly-knit community. An internecine dispute over his successor, which had been talked about for years in hushed tones, came out in the open, with one group in the community opposing the ascension of Burhanuddin’s son Muffadal Saiffudin as their new spiritual head.

This group believed that the rightful heir to the post of the community’s Dai al Mutlaq, or Syedna, was Khuzaima Qutbuddin, the late Syedna’s half-brother and Muffadal’s uncle.

They claimed that Khuzaima Qutbuddin was administered the oath of succession by his brother. When their claims were disregarded they challenged the succession in the courts and walked out of the community to become a separate group – the Qutbi Bohras.

Khuzaima Qutbuddin died in March, 2016, and his son Taher Fakhruddin is the head of the new group. His followers call him the 1st Dai al Mutlaq of the Qutbi Bohras. They have their headquarters in Thane. The Dawoodi Bohras have their head office on Mumbai’s D N Road.

This is not the first time a fight over succession has cleaved the community apart. The ‘Gulzare Daudi’, a compilation by Mian Bhai Mulla Abdul Husain for the Ethnographic Survey, documents several schisms in the group. Splits have been recorded at the time of the 18th, 26th, 28th, 40th and 49th Dais. Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, the current head of the Dawoodi Bohra, is the 53rd in this line.

The Bohras, like other Shias, accept Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Mohammad, as his successor and their first Imam. During one dispute over succession, the 21st Imam is reported to have gone into seclusion. The Dai is believed to be the representative of the Imam in seclusion.

The community is believed to have originated in Yemen but the seat of office shifted to India during the Mughal period after religious missionaries found local converts. The sect came to be known as Bohras, deriving from the Gujarati word Vehvar which means trade. The complete name of the community is the Shia Ismaili Mustaili Tyebi Dawoodi Bohras.

One major split in the community was in the 15th century when brothers Dawood and Sulayman claimed the spiritual leadership. Emperor Akbar is said to have resolved the dispute by ruling that Dawood’s group formed a majority.

The other group, who called themselves Sulaymani Bohras, separated and also thrived, producing figures like painter M F Hussain, chief justice Badruddin Tyebji, and ornithologist Salim Ali.

There are also Jafari, Mahdi Baug, Alia, Heptiah Bohras, and also a group called Nagoshias who were vegetarian. Many of the groups are extinct, having being absorbed into larger sects.

In the late 1970s, a group of Dawoodi Bohras who wanted the community to have more say in their religious affairs and community finances broke away and formed the Progressive Dawoodi Bohras under the leadership of Asghar Ali Engineer. They have no Syedna and manage their community affairs through an elected body.

RECENT STORIES

Navi Mumbai: Man Booked For Raping, Blackmailing Woman

Navi Mumbai: Man Booked For Raping, Blackmailing Woman

Thane: Man Attacks Friends With Beer Bottle, Arrested

Thane: Man Attacks Friends With Beer Bottle, Arrested

Pune Porsche Accident: NCP MLA Sunil Tingre Alleged Of Trying To Pressurise Authorities, MVA...

Pune Porsche Accident: NCP MLA Sunil Tingre Alleged Of Trying To Pressurise Authorities, MVA...

Mumbai: Man Loses ₹1.3 Lakh To Scammers In Phishing Fraud

Mumbai: Man Loses ₹1.3 Lakh To Scammers In Phishing Fraud

Mumbai: HC Allows Temporary Bail To Man Convicted For Killing Shiv Sena Leader To Appear In MH CET...

Mumbai: HC Allows Temporary Bail To Man Convicted For Killing Shiv Sena Leader To Appear In MH CET...