‘Dawoodi’ Bohra name coined after 1597 verdict in Akbar’s court
Mumbai: How did the majority Bohra community the world over come to be known as ‘Dawoodi’ Bohras? The incident dates back to 1597 when the court of Mughal emperor Akbar rejected a person who laid claim to the post of the 27th Dai al Mutlaq of the Bohra community three years after the demise of the previous Dai
Mumbai: How did the majority Bohra community the world over come to be known as ‘Dawoodi’ Bohras? The incident dates back to 1597 when the court of Mughal emperor Akbar rejected a person who laid claim to the post of the 27th Dai al Mutlaq of the Bohra community three years after the demise of the previous Dai. The rebuffed claimant was Sulaiman bin Hassan, the grandson of the 24th Dai of the Bohra faith, while the person who was accepted by the community as its 27th spiritual leader was Dawood Qutubshah.
The Bohras, who were then known as the Ismaili Mosta’ali Tayyibi Bohras, thereafter split into two factions. Those who followed Dawood Qutubshah were identified as Ismaili Mosta’ali Tayyibi Dawoodi Bohras, later shortened to Dawoodi Bohras, while those who followed Sulaiman were known as Sulaimani Bohras.
The incident was recently placed before the Bombay high court during the final hearing of the Syedna succession case to prove the doctrinal requirement of having witnesses for a valid nass. The bench of Justice Gautam Patel was informed by senior advocate Fredun Di’Vitre representing defendant Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin that after the demise of the 26th Dai and ascension of Syedna Qutubshah as the 27th Dai, Syedna Sulaiman had accepted his succession. Three years later, however, he had come up with a letter purportedly written by the 26th Dai, and claimed that a nass of succession had been conferred on him by the predecessor during his lifetime.
Based on this, Syedna Sulaiman demanded that the Daiship of Syedna Qutubshah be revoked and he be declared the 27th Dai. However, as Syedna Sulaiman was unable to get the veracity of the letter corroborated by witnesses, Akbar’s ministers rejected his claim.
After his rejection, Syedna Sulaiman, who had the support of community members in Yemen, was accepted as the 27th Dai by them, but the majority of community members in India continued with Syedna Dawood Qutubshah.
Syedna Sulaiman, the grandson of the 24th Dai, was born in 1554 CE. At the time the community, which had its roots in Yemen and Egypt, was known as the Tayyibi Bohras, a name assigned to them after Imam Tayyib, the 21st Imam of the community. The Imam went into seclusion due to a threat to his life after his father, the 20th Imam, was assassinated. The system of Daiship in the community was started by Hurratul Malika, a ruler of a vassal kingdom under the Fatimid dynasty in Yemen after the 21st Imam went into seclusion during his childhood.
Syedna Sulaiman died at the age of 44 allegedly due to poisoning and was buried in Ahmedabad, which was the centre of the Bohra community during that period. His followers accepted the Daiship of his son Ali, and the Daiship of the Sulaimani Bohras continued through his lineage. The Daiship was later handed over to the Makrami family which is currently located in Saudi Arabia.