Unique case: From Akbar’s court in 1591 to Bombay HC

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Kolkata
  • Updated: Jan 29, 2015 13:25 IST

In 1591 it was at the Royal Court of Emperor Akbar in Lahore. In 2014, the case moved to the high court in Mumbai to decide who would be the next Syedna (leader) of the Dawoodi Bhora community.

The high court has ordered the petitioners and the defendants to submit testimony and evidence supporting their claims on March 18 to 20 and the verdict is expected to be delivered soon after the trial.

“We have enough evidence to support our claims. For the last 50 years my father was the mazoon (deputy) of the community. The former Syedna has announced him as his successor since his first misaaq (oath of allegiance) but the former Syedna’s son is claiming he has been selected as the next Syedna,” said Aziz Qutbuddin, son of Syedna Khuzaima Qutubuddin.

The 34-year-old Aziz is in the city to convey message and prayer supporting his father’s claim among the 12,000-odd Dawoodi Bhora community people in the city. There are nearly 1 million Dawoodi Bhoras around the world of which 1.2 lakh reside in Mumbai and its suburbs. There are Dawoodi Bhohras even in Indian cities like Hyderabad, Udaipur and Baroda.

The former Syedna — Syedna Taher Saifuddin — died of cardiac arrest at Saifee Mahal, his residence at Malabar Hill, on January 17 2014. Soon after his death disputes started over who was the next Sydena. While his second son Mohammed Burhanuddin organised a missaq in February 2014 and declared him as the new Sydena, his half brother Khuzaima Qutubuddin also followed the same path and declared himself as the Syedna of the community.

“Syedna Taher Saifuddin became the spiritual leader of our community in 1965 at an age of 53. Me father was the youngest of 11 siblings of the Syedna and he was appointed as the mazoon - the deputy spiritual leader and was announced as his successors. But after the former Sydena suffered a stroke in 2011 his second son brought him in public and declared himself as the next Syedna. The former Syedna was not in a position to speak after the stroke,” said Aziz.

Presently, there are two Syednas of the Dawoodi Bohra community and the followers are in utter confusion whom to select. Syedna Khuzaima Qutubuddin decided to move to court in April 2014.

Such a situation was initiated in 1591 when the 26th Syedna – Dawood Burhanuddin – died. A spat broke out between the successors a case was filed at the Royal Court of Akbar. Although it was declared at the court that Syedna Dawood bin Qutubshah as the new Syedna, the group split into two Dawoodi Bohra abd Sulaymanis Bohra (the follower of another claimant Suleman bin Hasan).

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