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HISTORY OF THE KHOJA SHIA ITHNA ASHERI COMMUNITY A series of talks on the origins, yearning of faith, current state and future challenges of the Khoja.

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Presentation on theme: "HISTORY OF THE KHOJA SHIA ITHNA ASHERI COMMUNITY A series of talks on the origins, yearning of faith, current state and future challenges of the Khoja."— Presentation transcript:

1 HISTORY OF THE KHOJA SHIA ITHNA ASHERI COMMUNITY A series of talks on the origins, yearning of faith, current state and future challenges of the Khoja Shia Ithna Asheri Community. Part 1 of 2 By: Shan E Abbas Hassam 1

2 Background Why does it help to understand our Khoja Shia Ithna Asheri Community? What sacrifices were made for us to get to where we are today? Can we survive as a Khoja Community? What are our challenges today? What could we do to help face some of these challenges? 2

3 Khoja Population World Population: 6.9 billion Muslim Population: 1.6 billion Shia Population (lowest figure): 200 million Khoja Population (approx): 120,000 % of Shia Community = 0.06%. 3

4 Khoja Population (A Snapshot) Pakistan: 40,000 (Karachi and Sindh) India: 21,000 (Kathiawar, Gujarat, Cutch and Mumbai) Africa: 14,000 (Tanzania, Zanzibar, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, Mozambique, South Africa, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe). Indian Ocean Islands: 6,500 (Madagascar, Re-Union, Mauritius) United Kingdom: 10,000 Canada: 8,000 USA: 3,000 Middle East: 2,000 (UAE, Iran, Oman) Rest of Europe: 1,000 Australia: 1,000 Yemen North and South: 700 Misc:

5 Khoja Origins Islam came to India in 12 th Century. Main Religions: Hindu, Buddhism and later Islam. Indian Class System: Brahmins (Priest Class) Kshatriya (Ruling Class or Warriors) Vaisya (Commoners / Business Class) Sudra (Lower Class – workers). Lohanas – from Vaisya. 5

6 Khoja Origins Armenia – co-incidence or some truth? Cutch, Kathiawar and Sindh Languages: Cuthci, Gujarati and Sindhi (Kojiki). Khojas now are either: Ismaili (follow Agha Khan – approx. 270,000) Sunni (approx. 20,000) Shia Ithna Asheri (approx. 120,000) History in brief: Hindus Satpanth Nizari Ismaili Shia Ithna Asheri Jafferi Future: could be any religion! Once a Khoja always a Khoja! 6

7 Initial Khoja Faith Various Pir came to India and taught faith to the masses. The most famous – Pir Sadruddin Descendent of Imam Jaffer AS Sadiq (AS) 14 th Century Ismaili Da’I (teacher) Founded Khoja Ismaili Sect Satpanth (Blend of Hinduism with Islam). Developed Khojki. Named his followed Khwaja Budh Avatar -9 th Incarnation of Vishnu. Das Avatar (most famous book) – 10 Re-incarnations of Vishnu 7

8 Signs of Discord in the Khoja Community…. 18 th Century – beliefs more inclined to Nizari Ismaili Faith – 1 st lot expelled – 1 st lot re-admitted – Aghan Khan 1 – arrives from Iran – 2 nd lot expelled – ‘Bhar Bhayya’ form their Jamatkhana. 8

9 Reasons for Discord Confused practices in Jamat Khana. Dispute over Dasond (10%) All community assets transferred to Ismaili Imam Court ruling in favour of Agha Khan. 9

10 Bhar Bhayya First Khojas who left the Ismaili faith joined the Ahlul Sunnah Faith Known as the Bar Bhayya Till today known as the Bar Bhayya Khoja Sunni Community Small number worldwide. 10

11 Affinity Towards Karbala Dewji Jamal and others on way to Hajj. Re-arrange to Karbala after hearing 70 times more Thawab to do Ziyarat. Arrange Meeting with Ayatullah Mazandarani Tableegh under Mulla Qadir Hussain of Madras. Persuade Mulla to travel to Bombay or Zanzibar. Note: Only due to Marjae did this change occur. Double affinity towards Karbala. 11

12 Mulla Qader Hussain Khoja owe their faith to this man. Persuaded to go back to Bombay by Ayatullah Mazandarani Marginalised and isolated. Shia Ithna Asheri practices Taqqiya. Threats – bribe – poison – assasniation. Mulla ejected from his house and attendance decline. Major concern: Burial / Social / Economic Boycott. 12

13 Pressure on the Ithna Asheris Social Boycott Economic Boycott Excommunication from Khoja Jamaat Public Announcement – Humiliation. Refusal to bury in Khoja Qabrasatan Physical threats – Murders Opposition to Build Mosque – India + Zanzibar. 13

14 Mulla Qader Hussain’s Students (Left): Haji Gulamali Haji Ismail ( ) (Right): Dewji Jamal ( ) 14

15 Burial Ground Saga Disgrace not to be buried in Khoja Cemetery 1876 Khalfan Rattansi daughter died – refusal to bury her. Khalfan Rattansi and Dewji Jamal offered transport to bury in Karbala. Mulla Obtains consent to bury in Irani Qabrastan. 15

16 Bombay, Zanzibar and Karachi Three main places where the early Khoja Population settled. Zanzibar – lot of trading with India. Some pioneers settled there such as Dewji Jamal. Karachi – sizeable Shia Ithna Asheri Population mixed around a larger Shia Ithna Asheir Populaiton. Karachi - Main preacher was Lalan Alidina. He had 4 sons and all 4 followed the footsteops of their father. 16

17 Assassinations 1876 – Karachi – Ithna Asheri Lalan Alidina attacked and in 1878 shot and killed. Khojas shocked/gripped with fear – Bombay – Hassan Mukhi (Ismaili Killed) 1878 – Killi Kathau – convicted / hanged – Hirki Alarakhia and Lalji Sajan killed – Abdulla Lalji and Alibhai Nanaji injured. Tension – huge! 17

18 Assassinations 18 Lalji SajanHirji AlarakhiaAbdulla Lalji Kassam Alibhai Lalji Miyani

19 Lalji Alidina (Photo of son) 19 Regrettably photograph of Lalan Alidina is not available. Body later transferred to Karbala for permanent burial. Reproduced here is the photograph of his son Nurmohamed Lalan, who is believed to have the likeness of his father Lalan Alidina. Lalan Alidina had four sons and all of them followed the footsteps of their father in serving the community and enthusiastically promoting tabligh work.

20 Agha Khan Prediction 13 th July 1899 Late Aghan Kan III (Sir Sultan Mohammed Shah) issued Farman Issue in Zanzibar predicted: Within ten, twenty or thirty years the Ithna Asheri will be worn out. After 100 years the Ithna Asheri religion will not exist at all. It will not exist in Iran either because the religion’s base is not on Aql. Our religion is based on Aql. 20

21 Khoja Early Migration Phase 1: Within Cutch, Gujarat, Sindh Phase 2: (1750) Bombay to Karachi Phase 3: ( ) – Iran Coast, Yemen, Oman, Burma. Phase 4: (1820 – 1860) – Zanzibar Phase 5: (1860) – Mozambique, Madagascar Phase 6: (1860) – East Africa 21

22 Zanzibar (Early Days) 1820 – 450 Khojas sending ‘Dasond’ 1838 – Khoja Jamatkhana Built 1840 – Sultan shifts from Muscat to Zanzibar invites Indians – Matam Bahraini 22

23 Early Khoja Shia Ithna Asheri Mosques Nossibe – Kuwwatul Islam Bagamoyo – 1889 Karachi – 1892 Marube Hujjatul Bombay Mosque – 1901 Majunga – 1906 Then spread across Cutch, Kathiawar, Sindh, East Africa and Indian Ocean Islands. 23

24 Mumbai Mosque External View of the Khoja Shia Ithna Asheri Mosque – Palagali 1901 Internal View of the Mosque from the Sahan 24

25 Part 1 Bibliography ‘The Endangered Species’ by Hassan M Jaffer Special thanks to Hassan M Jaffer for leading this area, his advise and continual support. ‘The Agha Khans’ by Mihir Bose Khoja Vrtant: 1892 History of the Khojas: 1905 Khoja Kaum ni Tarikh: 1912 (Adelji Dhanji Kaba) John Hollister and Farhad Daftary 25


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