Mohammed Burhanuddin

19 Apr 2019
17 Jan 2014
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Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (Arabic: سیدنا محمد برھان الدین‎; 6 March 1915 – 17 January 2014) was the 52nd Dā’ī al-Mutlaq of Dawoodi Bohras, a subgroup within the Mustaali, Ismaili Shia branch of Islam. He was appointed as the 52nd Dā’ī al-Mutlaq at the age of 52 in 1967.He was the longest living Dā’ī al-Mutlaq of the Dawoodi Bohra community.Upon the death of Burhanuddin the yet unresolved succession crisis owing to the 53rd Syedna succession controversy (Dawoodi Bohra) lead to two claimants vying for the post of Dā’ī of Dawoodi Bohra leading to various cases filed in Bombay High Court on the succession issue of Dawoodi Bohras. Compared to those of his predecessor, Burhanuddin’s policies were aimed at Islamization of his sect.

Burhanuddin was presented the highest national civic honors by the presidents of Egypt and Jordan. He was the first Dā’ī al-Mutlaq to visit Europe and America.

Burhanuddin was born to Syedna Taher Saifuddin and Aaisaheba Husaina Aaisaheba in Surat in the Indian state of Gujarat.16 At the age of twelve, he survived a car accident in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where his vehicle got hung on one wheel. He was educated by his father, Syedna Tahir Saifuddin.

Burhanuddin’s reign as Dā’ī saw increased Islamization of the Bohras in the 1970s and 1980s. Among other things, he issued a dress code, calling for male Bohras to grow a beard and wear a white topi and kurta, and for females to wear a burqa. This Islamization countered a trend toward assimilation into the larger (Hindu-oriented) culture of their neighbors that was prevalent under his predecessor, Syedna Taher Saifuddin.

In October 1999, Burhanuddin was elected Chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim Universitya position that his father also held. He is credited with expanding the two century old Arabic university Al Jamea tus Saifiyah. In 1983, a new campus of “Al Jamea tus Saifiyah” was built in Karachi by him.He built “Burhaniyah Business Counselling Centre” in Mumbai to provide modern business solutions. He built Raudat Tahera, a mausoleum of his father Syedna Taher Saifuddin in Mumbai, India. It is unique for its kind, having the entire Quran inscribed on its inner white walls in letters of gold and with precious stones.

Mohammed Burhanuddin is credited with the establishment of community kitchens to provide meals twice a day to the Dawoodi Bohra families, thus providing free time for women to pursue economic, educational or religious activities. The community kitchens don’t discriminate between the privileged and the underprivileged sections, both getting the same “good quality and hygienically-prepared” food, while the community members have the provision of paying for their own family, and for sponsoring those who cannot afford it.

Burhanuddin died of cardiac attack at his home Saifee Mahal in Mumbai on 17 January 2014.The Bohra community announced a 40-day mourning period in respect of the departed leader. He was buried at Raudat Tahera Mausoleum in Bhendi Bazar, Mumbai beside his father Syedna Tahir Saifuddin. His second son Mufaddal Saifuddin led the “Namaz-e-Janaza” (funeral procession) of his father at the Saifee Mosque.Half mast of Flag and state honor was given by Indian Government during his funeral.

The day after his death, a crowd of supporters assembled outside his residence to pay their respects; when the gates were opened to let them in, a human stampede ensued, killing eighteen people. A commemoration service held one year after the Syedna’s death drew an estimated three lakh people to Mumbai; two townships were built specially to accommodate them.

Burhanuddin did not publicly declare any successor as late as 2011 and there were fights between rival factions among Burhanuddin’s several brothers and sons to succeed him as head of the vast empire he controls.

After Burhanuddin suffered a stroke in June 2011 in London, Mufaddal Saifuddin was declared as his successor by Muffadal’s brothers.The Dawoodi Bohra community was informed of succession by the faction led by Mufaddal Saifuddin after Burhanuddin suffered a debilitating stroke which robbed him of speecha group formed in 2013 in support of Burhanuddin’s half-brother Khuzaima Qutbuddin, who was Mazoon, serving second under Dā’ī al-Mutlaq.

After the Syedna’s death in January 2014, Mufaddal took up the office Qutbuddin, claiming to have been appointed heir 50 years earlier in secrecy,challenged Mufaddal’s right to be Dā’ī in court.Khuzaima also took the office as he 53rd Dā’ī of Dawoodi Bohras having two headquarters one in Thane and primary being in the ancestral headquarter Saify Mahal where Mufaddal also resides.

The faction of Dawoodi Bohras led by Qaid Johar Ezzuddin the brother of Mufaddal who follow Mufaddal Saifuddin supports Mufaddal Saifuddin as Dā’ī,and have excommunicated Qutbuddin and his faction.

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