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THE KHOJAS A PEOPLES HISTORY The People, Their Powers, Privilege, Pride and Prejudice. Hasnain Walji.

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Presentation on theme: "THE KHOJAS A PEOPLES HISTORY The People, Their Powers, Privilege, Pride and Prejudice. Hasnain Walji."— Presentation transcript:

1 THE KHOJAS A PEOPLES HISTORY The People, Their Powers, Privilege, Pride and Prejudice.
Hasnain Walji

2 Life must be lived forward, but understood backward” - Kierkegaard
People live in the present. They plan for and worry about the future. History, however, is the study of the past. Given all the demands that press in from living in the present and anticipating what is yet to come why bother with what has been? The answer is because we virtually must, to gain access to the laboratory of human experience

3 Why study history? History Helps Us Understand People and Societies
Helps Us Understand Change and How the Society We Live in Came to Be Contributes to Moral Understanding History Provides Identity Develops skills The Ability to Assess Evidence. The Ability to Assess Conflicting Interpretations Experience in Assessing Past Examples of Change

4 Unique Trait !! Masters of the Understatement
'When there is one Englishman, you have a gentleman. When there are two, you have a Club. When there are three Englishmen, you have an empire.' When you have one Khoja, you have a lonely individual. When there are two Khoja, you have a Jamat. And when there three Khoja, there is a 'Federation.'

5 Who Cares? Why, when and where did we come into existence
Why, should we concern ourselves to perpetuate the existence and development of the Community in its present form as we have done so far? What, if we cease to exist as a Community as such? Are we succeeding in our current endeavours? What are our ideals in life and what is our vision for the type of society we wish to evolve for our progeny?

6 History of History Khoja Vrattant History of the Khojas
Sachedin Nanjiamni – 1892 History of the Khojas Jafferi Rehmtukllah Khoja Kawm ni Taarikh Adelji Dhanji Kaaba 1912 Mulla Qadra Husain nu Jiwan Charitray Mulla Qadir Husein

7 Bibliography Hollister, J.N. (1953). The Shi'a of India. Luzac & Company, London:England. Jaffer, A.M.M. (1989). An Outline History of Khoja. Shia Ithna'asheri In Eastern Africa. (World Federation) London:England. Rizvi, S.S.A. (date unknown). The Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheriya Community in East Africa ( ). (publisher unknown). Salvadori, C. (1989). Through Open Doors:A view of Asian Cultures in Kenya. Kenway Publications, Nairobi: Kenya.

8 Our Conversion Circa 14th Century CE
From Hindus to: Ismaili ? Ithna'ashari ? Ahle Sunnat ? Three divisions of Khojas Ismailiya Khojas Ithnaasheri Khojas Sunni Khojas

9 Who are the Ismailis Split occurred over the recognition of the Seventh Imam. Shiites Twelvers, those who accept the first Twelve Imams, maintain that the Sixth Imam, passed over his eldest son, Ismail, in favor of Ismail's brother Musa al Kazim (AS) . Ismailis, however, believe that Imam Jafar Sadiq (as) appointed Ismail to be the Seventh Imam - hence Ismailis are often called Seveners. Second division took place after the death of Mustanser, the commander of the troops deposed Nizar, the successor of Imam Mustanser and replaced him by his brother Al-Musta'li.

10 Aga Khanis and Bohra Nizar escaped by the help of his followers in Cairo, and went to Syria and then to Iran. Those Ismailis who followed al-musta'li became known first as Musta'lians,- Bohra. Those who followed Nizar up to present, Karim Agha Khan, were known as Ismaili Nizari

11 History of Pirs 6-9 Centuries ago – Pirs Converted many Hindus
Pir Satgur Nur d 1094 – or 1242 in Gujarat Pir Shams d 1356 in Punjab Pir Sadr Din – (Sahdeva) arrived in Sindh 1276 (?) most likely person responsible for the conversion of our fore fathers Was he a Ismaili, Ithnaasheri or Sunni?

12 The Beginning Some 600 years ago a missionary by the name of Pir Sadruddin arrived in Sind in India. Number of myths about his origins. The most common consensus among historians is that he was Dai (emissary) of the Nizari branch of the Ismaili sect. That he was a sufi teacher from Iran. There is even a story that he was a Hindu priest by the name Sahdev who had been caught stealing in the temple and hence disgraced and defrocked. He then left the temple, changed his appearance and took on the name of Sadr Din

13 Mode of Conversion Aware of the belief of the Lohanas
Established Common ground in Faith Concept of Das Awtar – Ali (AS) 10th reincarnation of Vishnu ??? A case of end Justifying the means

14 Das Avtar Pir Sadr-din lived for some time amongst the rich Hindu landowners called Thakkers. studied their way of life and of worship. The Thakkers believed that the god Vishnu had lived through nine incarnations on this earth. They were waiting for the tenth. Pir Sadruddin managed to convince them that Hazrat Ali (AS.) was the Dasmo Awtaar of Vishnu (The Tenth Incarnation). He converted quite a number of the Thakkers into a faith called Satpanth (True Path) - a peculiar admixture of Sufic/Hindu ideas. (The main book called Das Awtar was considered a primary text for the followers of the Aga Khan until very recently.)

15 Over a period of time, several pirs came after Sadrudin and gradually, the beliefs crystallised to those of the Ismaili Nizari faith; particularly after the arrival of the Aga Khan 1 from Iran to India in the first half of the 19th Century. By this time the Khojas had spread all over over Kutch and Gujarat. Some had also moved to Bombay and Muscat. They paid their dues to the Ismaili Jamaat Khaana and lived quite harmoniously within their society. The main place of worship was the Jamaat Khaana and the (Jamaat) community was organised round the Jamaat Khaana - which served as a religious as well as a social centre

16 The KSI Today With the arrival of the Aga Khan 1 in India, greater control was exercised by the Aga Khan in the affairs of the community. This led to certain groups dissenting and being ousted from the Jamaat Khaana. KSI are the decedents of that dissenting group

17 KHOJA Describes cast not faith
Phonetic Corruption of Word Khwaja Original Sanskrit – Khoj – to seek? Kho’ja – Absorbed in remembrance ? Or Lost? Inherited the caste ideas from their Hindu ancestors. Khoja label has no connection in Islam. A Khoja is a Khoja by birth. Remains one even when he adopts a new faith You can be a Christian Khoja or a Jewish Khoja !!! ???

18 Sadr Din to Aga Khan 1276 – 1840 CE Few accounts of Connection between Nizari Imams and the Aga Khan Death of 44th Ismaili Imam Abul Hasan – passed to his son Khalilullah 1817 Khalilullah killed in Yezd by a mulla jealous of his popularity Shah of Iran Fateh Ali Shahawards Khalilulla’s son Hasan Ali Sha with governorship of Kerman Fateh Ali Sha dies 1834 Hasan Ali Shah flees to Afghanistan and then to India in 1840

19 The First Crack Era of Khoja - Jagruti
1829 Habib Ibrahim + 50 Families refused to pay Dasondh – All ousted 1845 to 1860 turmoil in the Community 1861 declaration that Sunni Mullas will not conduct nikah and burial rites Aga Khan asks his followers to put their signatures declaring their Shia Affiliation

20 Barbhaya In 1829, a rich merchant - Habib Ibrahim refused to pay the religious tax known as Dasond (the tenth) to the administrators of the Jamaat Khana The dissenting groups, because of its long contact with Sunni Mullas, was inclined towards the Sunni school of thought in its religious practices. In 1830 all those families were ousted from the Jamaat Khana

21 Turmoil The period between 1845 and 1861 marked a socio-religious turmoil in the Khoja Community. 1850 four members of the Habib Ibrahim's group were killed by the followers of Agha Khan in Mahim Jamaat Khana following which nineteen followers of Agha Khan were arrested. Four of them were sentenced to death.

22 Not an Easy Entry The Khojas did not immediately accept him as their religious leader. The first Agha Khan established his religious authority in India after some difficulties,” records Dr. Daftary In 1845, Aga Khan I had issued a “Circular” to the Khojas of India, asking them to change their religious ceremonies to Shi'ah ritual, to be performed by Shi'ah Maulvis and Sayyids instead of Sunni Mullahs.   Khojas of Kera opposed the Circular. Aga 'Ali Shah came to Kutchh in 1858 to settle the dispute Residents of Kera was very strong and did not come to terms. Khojas of Mahuwa opposed the Circular. They too refused to obey the order.

23 1851 – Declaration of Rights
As soon as the Aga Khan moved his headquarters he aspired to take over the properties belonging to the Khoja community of Bombay. These properties were built long before the arrival of the Aga Khan, by the Khoja community with their own resources,. The Khojas had from time to time subscribed money for the Jamat's purposes In 1851, a Declaration of Rights was pronounced by Justice Sir Erskine Perry, “...the property belonged exclusively to the Jamat, and that the Jamat and not the Aga Khan, could dispose it off as it liked.” Sir Erskine Perry also pronounced that: “Every Khojah be he a Soonee, or a Sheeah, had a right to go to the Jamatkhana for worship, and to use the utensils and other properties therein.”

24 1866 A.D. — Khoja case  In 1866 complaint against Aga Khan in the High Court of Bombay. - known as the “Khoja Case.” In the judgement document, it is recorded: The plaintiffs contend that Pir Sadr-ud-din, was a Suni; that the Khoja community has ever since its first conversion been and now is, Sunni; and that no persons calling themselves Khojas who are not Sunis, are entitled to be considered members of the Khoja community, or to have any share or interest in the public property of the Khoja community or any voice in the management thereof. The plaintiffs lost the court battle.

25 Turning Point in Khoja History
This landmark court decision by Justice Sir Joseph Arnould in favour of the Aga Khan was a turning point in the history of the Khoja community, Years of exile for the political refugee from Iran were over. At the time of the judgment all the properties of the Khoja Jama'at, including the Jama'at khanas, burial grounds, etc., stood in the name of the Jama`at and after that date the properties were transferred into the name of Aga Khan. The judgment sealed the fate of the Khoja community. Aga Khan got a Raj (regime) of his own to dictate and steer the Khoja Muslims the way he and his descendants would decide.

26 In the words of an Ismaili Academic
Diamond Rattansi an Ismaili scholar Islamization and the Khojah Isma'ili Community in Pakistan (Ph.D. dissertation, Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University, Canada, 1987) “The Nizari Ismailis of Pakistan: Ismailism, Islam and Westernism viewed through the Firmans: ” On the subject of Justice Arnould's verdict Rattansi writes The British not only confirmed the Agha Khan's absolute and divine authority but had earlier recognized Isma'ili loyalty to the British by granting the Agha Khan the title of “His Highness,” and a life pension of Rs. 3,000 per annum. In this gesture the British probably sought an advantage by rallying support against those Muslims who resented the British rule.

27 The Aga Khans Aga 1 – Hasan Ali Shah – 1817 - 1881
Aga 2 – Aga Ali Shah Aga 3 – Sultan Mohamed Shah – Aga 4 – Karim Al Husaini – 1957 to Present

28 1905 Haji Bibi case In 1905, a suit was brought against Aga Khan III by Haji Bibi –. The widow was a daughter of Jungi Shah, an uncle of Aga Khan III. The petition was filed in the High Court of Bombay Justice Russell The mother of defendant 1 [Aga Khan III] and some of his relatives are ‘Asnasharis.’ He himself admitted that he had been present on an occasion when the Ziarat to the 3rd, 8th and the 12th Imams [of the Asnasharis] was said but he did not repeat it....

29 Shariff Noormohamed questions:
“in Savant 1952 (1901) during the month of Ramadhan, on the nights of 19th, 21st, and 23rd Ramadhan there were gatherings in the main Jamatkhana. At these gatherings you had placed Qur'an upon your head, asked the others to do so and did the Amal of Sabe-Qad'r. During these ritual the names of each of the Ithna'ashri Imams were taken ten times and thereafter Magfarat (forgiveness) was sought from Allah in the name of “Fourteen Ma'sums.” At that time you did not remember the Ismaili Imams. Please explain your reasons for this. The Aga Khan answers: Imam Jaffar Sadiq had two sons. One was Musa and the other was Ismail. Now please tell me, what is the relationship between the sons of Musa and Ismail? Shariff Noormohamed : Cousins The Aga Khan rejoins: They are our cousins Evidently, we should remember them. Why should we not remember them? Because of you!

30 1906 – End of Democracy Immediately after the Haji Bibi Case of 1905, Aga Khan dismissed the jurisprudent committees of the Khoja Community. These committees were operative in India from olden days and were known as “Khoja Joostis.” The elected members of the Khojah Joostis were generally elderly members of the community, including Mukhi and Kamadia, and were selected by the Jama'at on the merits of their experience to resolve Jama'ati problems The democratic process of electing community leadership was abolished from the Khoja Jama'at. Aga Khan replaced these Joostis with “Shi'ah Imami Ismaili Councils.”. The office-holders of the Ismailia Councils were now appointed by the Aga Khan. The democratic process was thus abolished. Since 1906, appointments for the posts of Local, Regional, Provincial, National, and World Councils have been nominated by the Aga Khan

31 1910 A.D. – Shia Imami Ismaili Constitution
In 1910, Aga Khan III promulgated the Shi'ah Imami Ismaili Constitution ordained under his seal. He made a strict Farman to his Jama'at, commanding them to abide by the promulgated laws. The opening article of this Constitution is entitled “Power and Authority of Mawalana Hazar Imam.” The opening clause reads: 1.1 Mawlana Hazar Imam has inherent right and absolute and unfettered power and authority over and in respect of all religious and Jamati matters of the Ismailis.

32 Era of Tabligh 1856 Mulla Qader Husain Opens madrasa in Mumbai
1872 Dewji Jamal brings Mulla Qader Husain Back 1901; Major Conflict and split Lalaji Sajan and Hirji Alarakhia Killed 1901 Mumbai Jamaat established

33 Mulla Qadir Husain Mulla , Qadir Husayn, an Ithna'ashri Alim , settled in Bombay. opened a Madrasa in 1862 Mullah Qadir returned to Kerbala. Dewji Jamal visits Karbala 1872 Ayatullah Mazandarani in Iraq sent Mullah Qadir Husayn to Bombay. His efforts resulted in more and more Khoja families leaving the Ismaili sect and accepting the Shia Ithnaasheri faith .

34 Shaikh Abul Qasim Najafi
In 1307 Hijri CE another well known Aalim Ayatullah Shaikh Abul Qasim Najafi came to Bombay from Najaf. Khoja Ithna'asharis who were associating themselves with other Ithna'asharis started coming to him for religious dialogues and discussions. He commenced Namaz-e-Juma, which was so far never offered by Shias in Bombay, on Friday 26th Jamaadiul Aakhar 1315 Hijri at Shustri Imambara, Bhendi Bazaar, in which Khojas who were ostensibly in the other Jamaat and had formed secret organisation also participated.

35 Haji Ghulam Ali Haji Ismail
Another prominent student of Mulla Qadir Husain, namely Haji Ghulam Ali Haji Ismail (Haji Naji) began to preach the Ithnsnaashari faith launched his monthly journal 'Rahe Najat' (path of Salvation) which is now one of the most widely read Shi'ite religious monthly in Gujarati language, whose first number was published in Zilqad of 1310 A.H. (1892.). The invaluable service that was rendered by Haji Naji was the most critical time in the History of the Khoja Shia Isnaashari Community in India and elsewhere.

36 Ismaili Leaders react Ismaili leaders started to impose restrictions on them. The dissenting group of the Khojas had made up their minds. They met Mulla Qadar Sahab and swore on Quran that if any one of their group is ‘outcasted’ every other member following this path would join that person. Haji Dewji Jamal and Haji Khalfan Ratansi were two of the most prominent who persons provided the moral as well as financial support for this new group, namely.

37 Establishment of Jamat in Mumbai
In 1901, the splinter group made an announcement in the newspapers and established a Khojah Ithna'ashri Jama`at in Mumbai. The group became known as Nani Jama`at, and the mainstream was called Moti Jama`at. When the splinter group decided to build their separate Mosque it was rumored that Aga Khan, offered to contribute financially. The group members rejected this offer when they learned that Aga Khan wanted to have administrative control over the Mosque, similar to the one he had over the Jama`at khanas.

38 Shaheeds Hirji Alarkhya and Lalji Sajan
Two ‘Fidayeen's’ within the Ismaili community, took upon themselves, the recourse to murder Haji Allarakia, Laljee Sajjan and Abdullah Laljee, This murderous attack was instrumental in creating a permanent division Hirji Allarakia and Laljee Sajjan succumbed to their injuries. The third victim, Abdullah Laljee, survived the attack because the assailant was prevented from making a second stab by Noormohamed Dossal. Abdullah Laljee was of the founding members of the Ithna'ashri Jamat and played a leading role in the building of the Pala Gali

39 Shahid Killu Khatau Nagarpurwala
Mullah's favourite student, Killu, was taunted and in anger he stabbed the chief Mukhi Mukhi Hasan died. Killu admitted to the killing and was sentenced to death by hanging. The court trials of Killu, as well as his subsequent funeral procession and burial, brought the dissident Khojas out in the open. Prominent among them were Haji Dewji Jamal, Haji Gulam Ali Haji Ismail, and Haji Khalfan Rattansi.

40 Khalfan Ratansi’s Daughter dies
In the meantime Haji Ratansi's daughter died. The Ismaili community required the abandoning of the Isnaashari faith as pre-condition for Haji Ratansi to attend his daughters funeral but he refused to give in and his daughter had to be buried in the Iranian cemetery. What helped the ‘nani Jamaat' was the support of many non-Khoja Ithnasshari Shi'ites in Bombay.

41 Jamat Fever Spreads around the Khoja world
The success of the Khojas in Bombay to form their own group spread throughout the Khoja world at that time. Everywhere a new Jamaat was formed and the movement of spreading the Isnaashari teachings was symbolized by the construction of mosques instead of 'Jamaat Khanas' and the performance of regular salat as practiced by all other Shias.

42 Trials & Tribulation A major schism within the Khoja community
In its wake, came many trials and tribulations for the seceding community resulting in severing of family ties and even loss of lives. Amongst other reasons, like severe economic hardships, this split in the Community, encouraged many young members of the Community to set sail, during the North Eastern Monsoons from the ports of Mandvi and Porbandar to venture towards East African shores in their dhows.

43 On to new lands boundless opportunities,
Daunting prospect of exploring a vast unexplored tract of land within the milieu of African and Arab cultures. To challenge them further, these Khoja pioneers were subjected to a variety of European influences as they learned to deal with German rule in Tanganyika, British rule in other parts of East Africa, French rule in Madagascar, Italian rule in Somalia, Belgian rule in the Congo and Portuguese rule in Mozambique.

44 Dispersal of the KSI Community form India
The initial stage was the movement from Kutch, Kathiawad and Gujarat to Bombay and Karachi. Phase two was further movement towards the latter half of the last century to East Africa, Burma and Aden. After the second World War, and the independence of the Indo -Pak sub Continent in 1947, in the aftermath of the partition of India, a further wave of migration of Khojas took place from Cutch, Kathiawad, Gujarat and Bombay to Karachi in Pakistan,

45 From Africa to the world
In the wake of the subsequent liberation of the African Colonies in 1960's and arising out of the ensuing political upheavels, especially in Zanzibar, (1964) Uganda,(1972) Mozambique, Madagaskar and Congo, another wave of movement from the Continent of Africa, and later on, also from Aden, took place. This resulted in further dispersal of the Community to the Four Corners of the Globe. The latest exhodus took place in 1990, when an entire community of 1,100 living in Somalia was evacuated in a daring seaborne evacuation excersise organised by the Community members settled in Kenya, while Mogadishu, the capital city of Somalia was rocked with civil war and nter tribal strife.

46 The Federations In 1945, the Community in Africa resolved to unite and organise themselves collectively by forming the Federation of the K.S.I.Jamaats of Africa. In the aftermath of the Uganda exodus, they took a further step to form the World Federation. It was only after the formation of the World Federation in 1976, when some positive links with the Indo-Pak sub Continent were revived. The World Federation under the spirited leadership of Mulla Asgher played a vital role in the formation of the Gujrat Federation and in bringing the world community closer to each other. In 198? NASIMCO was formed

47 All Over the World Within a space of four years after 1972, many Khoja Shia Ithna'ashries of Africa found their new homes in England, the U.S.A., Canada, other European countries, the Middle East - with a section of them back home in India or Pakistan. Today, members of the Khoja Community are to be found in Newzealand, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Eastern and Central Africa, the Middle East, Scandinavia, Europe and North America. Of late, there has also been some movement towards South America and Russia.

48 Under 125,000 Despite this widespread dispersal of the Community and the organized manner in which they endeavor to conduct their affairs, the number of Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslims world wide today is estimated at around 110,000 only. The highest figure bandied around is 125,000.

49 The nuances of our history
Is it any wonder therefore, that this bewildering array of influences may well have engendered a fear in the minds of the Khoja of losing their identity? Would this explain the persistent perseverance by the Khojas to remain within a well-knit framework of the Jamaats and Federations, guarded so jealously, resisting any intrusion?

50 Where do we go form here? Understandably, the new generation is questioning the modus operandi and the insularity of the community whilst the old guard insists upon retaining what has worked well for the community for almost a century. So, where do we go form here?

51 Who Cares? Now that we have some insight as to why, when and where did we come into existence Should we concern ourselves to perpetuate the existence and development of the Community in its present form as we have done so far? What, if we cease to exist as a Community as such? Are we succeeding in our current endeavours? What are our ideals in life and what is our vision for the type of society we wish to evolve for our progeny?

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