In a fresh incident related to the ongoing succession issue in the Dawoodi Bohra community between Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, the son of late Syedna Burhanuddin, and his uncle Khuzaima Qutbuddin, the latter has received support from the former chief justice of India, AM Ahmadi.
Ahmadi, a Dawoodi Bohra who was the chief justice of the Supreme Court between 1994 and 1997, wrote to Qutbuddin’s family, even before the late Syedna’s demise this month, expressing his opinion and support, he told HT over the phone. The former chief justice resides in Delhi and is currently in Ahmedabad.
"Syedna Qutbuddin’s family had shared certain historical documents with me, some of which are written in Arabic, in which historical facts about the community and the events since the nass (choosing the successor) conferred by Syedna Burhanuddin on Syedna Qutbuddin in 1965 have been recorded. I examined the documents and believe that Syedna Qutbuddin’s stand of the 53rd Dai is principled," said Ahmadi.
Justice Ahmadi, who is 81 years old, has also served two terms as the chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University.
Asked about the repercussions of his declaration, in the light of the public announcement by Syedna Saifuddin’s family on Thursday of ex-communication of Qutbuddin and all his supporters, Ahmadi said he was not concerned.
"This is my personal stand. I do not care of the consequences," he said.
Syedna Qutbuddin’s family, which has been living in a heavily-guarded bungalow in Thane ever since his declaration over succession, said that they have received support from "tens and thousands of people" from across the world.
"People are scared to openly declare their support. We have called for a misaaq (a religious ceremony organised during a mourning period) on February 4, but we are not sure how many people will attend. I am very concerned about the safety of my supporters," said Qutbuddin, 73. The announcement of ex-communication by Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin’s family implies that community members who pledge support to Qutbuddin will not be allowed to access community places of worship or burial grounds and will have to face a social boycott.
Qutbuddin however maintained that they are still Dawoodi Bohras and they have not formed a separate sect.
The family of Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, the second son of the late Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, says that he had been named as the heir apparent by the late Syedna after he suffered a stroke and was hospitalised in London in 2011.
Family members also said that nass was conferred upon him several times in the presence of witnesses.
However, Khuzaima Qutbuddin, who had the title of the Mazoon (second most important religious leader) of the community for fifty years, said that the late Syedna, who was his half-brother, had conferred nass on him at the time of appointing him the Mazoon fifty years ago in private and had asked that the news be kept a secret.
Khuzaima Qutbuddin’s family said that there have been precedents in the community’s history of private nass not done in the presence of witnesses which have been accepted by the community.