With prayers and quiet celebrations at home, the Dawoodi Bohra community has welcomed their community leader’s choice of Shahzada Aali Qadr Mufaddal Saifuddin as his successor.
Saifuddin, 66, is the second son of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, and was named the 53rd ‘Dai-al-Mutlaq’, the post of the community’s spiritual leader, early on Sunday.
The community is concerned about the health of the 100-year-old Syedna, who was in a London hospital recuperating from a stroke when he made the announcement.
“The declaration took us by surprise, but I am very happy because he (Saifuddin) is someone we have always looked up to,” said Nafisa Petiwala, convener of non-profit organisation I Love Mumbai, who has met the Syedna’s son several times. “He is always by the Syedna’s side and is very concerned about the people of the community.”
For Bhendi Bazar businessman Shabbir Qamari, whose family celebrated the news by sharing traditional sweets at home, Saifuddin is deserving of the leadership post in every way.
“He has never been involved with the community’s administrative work and is known for his religious scholarship,” said Qamari, who heard of the declaration through text messages from various community sources.
Bohras say that the tradition of the Dai-al-Mutlaq has existed for more than 1,000 years, and though every Syedna declares his own heir, it is not always passed down from father to son. Saifuddin, however, will be the third generation Dai from the same family, and shares his title with his grandfather Syedna Taher Saifuddin, the 51st Dai who died in 1965.
In March, the Bohra community held grand celebrations for the current Syedna’s 100th birthday. “We are relieved to know that he is doing better, but amidst the happiness for his successor, we are also worried about his health,” said Juhu businessman Saifee Harianawala.