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53rd Syedna succession controversy (Dawoodi Bohra)

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The 52nd Da'i al-Mutlaq of the Dawoodi Bohras, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, died in January 2014.[1] As per the tenets of the sect[2] each predecessor is required to nominate his successor prior to his death.[3][4] His death sparked a succession crisis where two rival claimants emerged for the title of 53rd Dā'ī al-Mutlaq:[5] his son, Mufaddal Saifuddin, and his half-brother, Khuzaima Qutbuddin, who was previously Mazoon (first assistant to the Dā'ī)[6] of the Dawoodi Bohra.[7]

Prior to 2014, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin suffered a stroke in a London on 1 June 2011[8] and on 4 June 2011, Mufaddal Saifuddin was named his successor.[9] Following this, Mufaddal Saifuddin assumed this role as the successor and his appointment was welcomed by the Dawoodi Bohra community.[10] In the Dawoodi Bohra Mithaq (oath of allegiance), Mufaddal Saifuddin's name was taken alongside Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin's.[11] Together,[12][13] Mohammed Burhanuddin and Mufaddal Saifuddin travelled the globe[14][15] looking after the affairs[16] of the community[17][18] up until 2014.

Following the Syedna's death, Mufaddal took up the office of Da'i al-Mutlaq, as per the appointment by Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin.[19][20] Khuzaima Qutubuddin claiming to have been appointed heir 50 years earlier in secrecy,[5][21] challenged Mufaddal's right to be Dai in court.[22] He also took office as the 53rd Dā'ī of Dawoodi Bohras with two headquarters, the primary being in Darus Sakina in Thane and the other in Saifee Mahal where Mufaddal resides.[23]

The challenge created a divide in the community with the vast majority aligning with Mufaddal Saifuddin[24][25] whilst a small but not insignificant number aligned with Khuzaima Qutbuddin.[26] Mufaddal Saifuddin assumed control of the Dawoodi Bohra administration and infrastructure. He is largely accepted as the Bohras' leader[27] by government and other public bodies.[28] The UK Charity Commission has stated in writing, that "our view is that His Holiness Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin is the current incumbent of the office of Dai al-Mutlaq."[29]

Overview

Mufaddal Saifuddin's Position

Mufaddal Saifuddin states that he has been appointed a number of times in presence of multiple witnesses.[30] These incidences are:

  • On 27 January 1969 (corresponding to the night of 11th Zil Qa'dah 1388 H) – in the presence of Sh Ibrahim Yamani, Sh Abdulhusain Tambawala & Sh Abdulhusein Sh Ibrahim Abdul Qadir.[30][31] This appointment is noted in a diary entry that was shown to the public on 4 February 2014 (4 Rabi al Akhar 1435H) by Mufaddal Saifuddin.[32]
  • On 24 October 1994 (corresponding to 20 Jumada al Ula 1415H) in the presence of Sh Abdulhusain Yamani.[30]
  • In October/November 2005, during the month of Ramadan 1426H, in the presence of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin's eldest son Qaid Johar Ezzuddin and Malek al Ashtar Shujauddin.[30]
  • On 4 June 2011 (corresponding to 3 Rajab al-Asab 1432H) in Cromwell Hospital, London, in the presence of 6 witnesses.[30][33][34]
  • On 20 June 2011 (corresponding to 19th Rajab 1432H) in Raudat Tahera Mumbai, in the presence of the entire Dawoodi Bohra community.[35]

For three years from 2011 to 2014 Mufaddal Saifuddin assumed the role of Syedna's successor. In the Dawoodi Bohra Mithaq (oath of allegiance), Mufaddal Saifuddin's name was taken alongside Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin's as the successor.[11] Together,[12][13] Mohammed Burhanuddin and Mufaddal Saifuddin travelled the globe[14][15] looking after the affairs[16] of the community[17][18] up until Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin's death in 2014. Henceforth, he assumed the role of the 53rd Da'i al-Mutlaq.[36]

Khuzaima Qutbuddin's Claim

In 2011 upto 2014, Khuzaima Qutbuddin[37][38] and his family[39] had publicly declared and congratulated Mufaddal Saifuddin as the successor. On a few occasions, Khuzaima Qutbuddin was seen participating in public gatherings seated below[40][41] Mufaddal Saifuddin. Until the Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin's death, there wasn't any indication of objection from Khuzaima Qutbuddin.

Following the Syedna's death in January 2014, Khuzaima Qutbuddin, who was the second in command to Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, claimed the title of the 53rd Dā'ī l-Muṭlaq of the Dawoodi Bohras. Khuzaima Qutbuddin claims that Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin performed nass on him 49 years ago in 1965 a ritual during which he appointed him as his successor in private without any witneses.[42] Qutbuddin states that Syedna Burhanuddin told him that this was because otherwise, 'swords would be crossed'.

The rift between the two claimants started to appear even before the death of Burhanuddin, with followers of Khuzaima Qutbuddin rallying support for Khuzaima.[7] A group formed in 2013 in support of Burhanuddin's half-brother Khuzaima Qutbuddin, who was Mazoon, serving second under Dai al Mutlaq.[7] Khuzaima has denied formation of any separate sect by publishing a public affidavit.[citation needed]

Khuzaima Qutbuddin died on 30 March 2016. On 31 March 2016 the family of Khuzaima Qutbuddin released a statement that "Syedna Khuzaima Qutbuddin has conferred nass (announcement of successor) on his son Syedna Taher Fakhruddin".[43]

Chronological Account of Events From 2011–2014

The Events of 4 June 2011

On 4 June 2011 (corresponding to 3 Rajab al-Asab 1432H), His Holiness Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin gathered three of his sons (commonly referred to as Shehzadas), namely Qusai, Idris and Ammar; his daughter Husaina; son in law Dr Moiz, and grandson Abdul Qadir to his room at Cromwell Hospital. He made a declaration appointing his son Mufaddal Saifuddin as his successor, and instructed them to inform the Dawoodi Bohra community.[34][44] Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin then summoned Mufaddal Saifuddin and his eldest son Qaid Johar Ezzuddin to Cromwell Hospital,[44] where a short Majlis was held in Cromwell Hospital, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin was congratulated on his appointment, drank sherbet and everyone present performed salaam to Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin and Mufaddal Saifuddin.[34]

These sequence of events were cited in a Majlis[45] held by Qaid Johar Ezzuddin in in al Masjid ul Husseini[46] in Northolt; London on 5 June 2011. The video of this Majlis was recorded and was broadcast on the same day in Dawoodi Bohra community centers worldwide.[47][48] These events were also documented in an official report (Arabic: مثال) by the office of His Holiness,[34] Alvazaratus Saifiyah.[49] This document was published and distributed to entire Dawoodi Bohra community during the month of Radaman in 2011.

Khuzaima Qutbuddin denied these course of events, and claimed that Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin was too ill to have spoken coherently, and medically unfit to move or drink sherbet.[44][50]

In reply to these allegations, an audio recording of the appointment, and a video recording of the Majlis in Cromwell Hospital was shown to the entire Dawoodi Bohra community on 18 May 2014 (corresponding to 19 Rajab al Asab 1435H). This video confirmed Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin speaking coherently to his family, drinking sherbet and presiding over the Majlis,[51] therefore affirming the of events described by Qaid Johar Ezzuddin and the Alvazaratus Saifiyah document.[34] Qutbuddin has not responded to this video.[52]

Syedna's Medical Condition

At the time of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin's stroke his sons, attendant physician and son-in-law, Dr Moiz bhaisaheb and surviving daughter were present in London with him along with other close family members. Neither Qutbuddin nor his family were present before or subsequently.

The medical report presented by Khuzaima Qutbuddin[44] explicitly ruled out the possibility of the Syedna having any ability to coherently speak or move.[53][54][55] The review[54] was done by Dr Daniel Mankens,[56] chairman of Neurology Beaumont Hospital, Michigan. He writes, 'It is inconceivable that someone his age and with neurological deficits would have such a profound, yet transient recovery.' He goes on to say that 'family members usually report even the slightest improvement to medical staff. It surprises me that such an event would not be documented in the medical record, much less reported to the medical staff'. Based on this review report, Qutbuddin claimed that 'the succession was not done in London Hospital' as Mohammad Burhanuddin suffered from a 'full stroke at the age of 100 that made it difficult for him to write, speak, or move'.[54][57]

The doctors behind these reports had never met nor treated Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin at any time and gave their opinions based on medical reports and the explanations provided by Khuzaima Qutbuddin.

Meanwhile, the specialists who treated, attended to Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin and who actually wrote the medical reports do not agree with these opinions. Dr John Francis Costello;[58] Consultant in Respiratory Medicine, and Neurologist Dr Omar Malik,[59] both who had attended to Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin at Cromwell Hospital in London have stated, in writing, that His Holiness was capable of making the declaration and of conducting a ceremony, even though his speech was slurred.[60][61] Further, Dr Costello stated that he believes the report provided by the USA doctor Dr Daniel Menkes is incorrect.[60] He confirmed that his patient, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin indeed did communicate his wishes on a variety of issues during his admission.[60]

On 4 June, the day of the Nass in question, Dr Costello noted that there was evidence of continued improvement in Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin's health[60] He confirmed that although he did not witness the said Nass, there was no doubt that Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin was able to effectively communicate his wishes whilst at Cromwell Hospital, particularly in his mother toungue Lisan al-Dawat.[60]

In regards to His Holiness's intellective state, both Dr Costello and Dr Malik confirmed that he was of sound cognitive state, and that he was able to clearly communicate with his family and medical staff.[60][61] In regards to the reports by the USA doctors, Dr Omar denied there was any evidence of a receptive speech problem.[61] Dr Costello further expresses he felt a special connection with His Holiness as he often greet him with a smile of recognition, looked him in the eye, interacted in English, and even become lively at times.[60] A year later in 2012, Dr Costello was invited on stage to meet Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin. In his medical report[60] he notes that Syedna instantly smiled at him with recognition, and shook his hand for a lengthy time.[62][63]

These reports were submitted in court in the sworn affidavit submitted by Shehzada Qaidjohar Ezzuddin the eldest son of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin before the Bombay High Court.

The Raudat Tahera Ceremony

On 8 June 2011, Dr John Francis Costello noted improvements in His Holiness's health and there were discussions about his wishes to travel to Mumbai for to attend the death anniversary of his father Syedna Taher Saifuddin[60] which was to be held on 20 June 2011. By 15 June 2011, there was further improvement. Dr John Francis Costello approved of sending His Holiness to Mumbai in an air ambulance as it was deemed safe and appropriate.[60] On this day, Dr Costello recalls having a short coherent conversation in English with His Holiness about his journey to Mumbai.[60] On 17 June 2011, His Holiness was discharged from Cromwell Hospital and traveled to Mumbai, as planned, in an air ambulance.[60] These sequence of events, His Holiness's wishes to travel and the doctor's approval are of paramount significance because the group loyal to Qutbuddin allege that His Holiness was forced to travel against his own will despite suffering a stroke.[44] Dr Costello's letter proves otherwise.

A ceremony was arranged in Raudat Tahera Mumbai on 20 June 2011 (corresponding to 19th Rajab 1432H) to declare Mufaddal Saifuddin as the Dā'ī.[64] The entire ceremony was recorded and was broadcast on the same day to Dawoodi Bohra community centers worldwide. This video was posted by Qutbuddin's website and re-posted by another Youtube user.[35] Images of this ceremony are also available online.[65]

Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin after the appointment

In June 2012, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin travelled to London. In a public congregation on 14 July 2012, Dr Costello was invited on stage to meet Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin. In his medical report[60] he notes that Syedna instantly smiled at him with recognition, and shook his hand for a lengthy time.[62][63]

Mufaddal Saifuddin's Succession

Mufaddal Saifuddin assumed this role as the successor of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin and his appointment was welcomed by the Dawoodi Bohra community.[10] Together, Mohammed Burhanuddin and Mufaddal Saifuddin undertook the leadership after the affairs of the community.

On 9 June 2011, then Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi congratulated Mufaddal Saifuddin on his succession.[66] On 15 June 2011 the office of Syenda Mohammed Burhanuddin, The Alvazaratus Saifiyah[67] instructed Dawoodi Bohras to take Mufaddal Saifuddin's name alongside Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin's as the successor in their Mithaq (oath of allegiance).[11]

A month later, in Sha'ban, Mufaddal Saifuddin lead the examinations of Al Jamea tus Saifiyah on behalf of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin. During the month of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr, Saifuddin lead the community prayers[68] and Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin presided over the Eid al-Fitr Majlis with Mufaddal Saifuddin seated besides him.[68] Following the Ramadan of 2011 (1432H), Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin went on a pilgrimage to Karbala, Najaf[69][70] and Cairo.[71]

In the Hijri year of 1433H (November 2011), Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin held the Muharram gatherings in Mumbai. On 2 Muharram Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin conducted the first sermon[72] and instructed Mufaddal Saifuddin to conduct the remaining nine sermons until Ashura[73] seated besides him.[74]

On 4 January 2012, on Milad al-Nabi day in Pune, as his successor Mufaddal Saifuddin conducted the sermon on behalf of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin. Syedna Burhanuddin sat besides him for 3 hours listening to his Saifuddin's entire sermon.[75][76] On 12 March 2012, on the eve of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin's 101st birthday. Narendra Modi attended the birthday celebrations and procession besides Syedna Mohammed Burhanudin and Mufaddal Saifuddin.[77][78] The following day, as the successor, Mufaddal Saifuddin conducted the sermons with Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin seated on the stage besides him.[79][80][81] On 15 June 2012, Mufaddal Saifuddin traveled to Indore and was received with a rousing welcome as Syedna's successor.[82][83]

During the month of Ramadan 1433H (August 2012) and Eid al-Fitr, Saifuddin lead the community prayers[84] and Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin presided over the Eid al-Fitr Majlis with Mufaddal Saifuddin seated besides him.[85] Following that, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin appointed Mufaddal Saifuddin as the Amir al-hajj for the Hajj pilgrimage [86] on 14 October 2012 (29 Zil Qadah 1433H).

In the Hijri year of 1434H (November 2012), Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin[87] held the Muharram gatherings in Surat.[88][89] Mufaddal Saifuddin to conducted ten sermons until Ashura with Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin seated besides him.[90]

Mufaddal Saifuddin then traveled to many cities within India [91] [92] Yemen, Ethiopia,[93] South Africa,[93] Tanzania,[94][93] Kenya,[93] Pakistan,[95] Sri Lanka,[96] Kuwait, UAE[93][97] - where he was welcomed as the Syedna's successor by the community and Government officials. There he held numerous sermons, religious and community gatherings.

Mufaddal Saifuddin's first official correspondence as successor was in May 2013 during the celebration of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin's Golden Jubilee, in which he instructed the community to set out on religious pilgrimages.[98] In the month of Rajab of 2013, he conducted the annual examinations of Al Jamea tus Saifiyah on behalf of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin.[99]

Khuzaima Qutbuddin[37][38] and his family[39] had even publicly declared and congratulated Mufaddal Saifuddin as the successor. On a few occasions, Khuzaima Qutbuddin was seen participating in public gatherings seated below[40][41] Mufaddal Saifuddin. Until the Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin's death, there wasn't any indication of objection from Khuzaima Qutbuddin.

Events following Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin's death

Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin died on 17 January 2014 [1] (corresponding to 16 Rabi al Awwal 1435H) in Mumbai, India.

Mufaddal Saifuddin, who had already been publicly appointed and accepted as the successor, assumed the position of the 53rd Da'i al-Mutlaq of the Dawoodi Bohra community.[100] Saifuddin was in Colombo at the time and immediately traveled to Mumbai via Chennai. He conducted his first Jumu'ah Salah in Sri Lanka and arrived in Saify Mahal,[101] Mumbai that evening to conduct and lead the Janaza and funeral rites. Khuzaima Qutbuddin, who at the time was already in Saify Mahal,[101] Mumbai, left for his residence in Thane prior to Mufaddal Saifuddin's arrival.[102] Mufaddal Saifuddin lead the Janaza rites throughout the night.[102] and thousands of mourners attended the funeral on Saturday 18 January 2016 lead by Mufaddal Saifuddin.[103][104][105]

On the morning of Saturday 18 January, as the Janaza left Saify Mahal en route to Raudat Tahera for burial, Khuzaima Qutbuddin sent out an email campaign to Dawoodi Bohra Community members attaching a PDF letter addressed to Mufaddal Saifuddin stating his claim.[106] That evening, around 36 hours after Syedna's death, Qutbuddin posted a YouTube video of himself on his website claiming that he was the 53rd Da'i al-Mutlaq, having been appointed in total secrecy in 1965.[107]

On 20 January 2016, Khuzaima Qutbuddin's name was removed Dawoodi Bohra from all official community records as the Mazoon.[108] Following that, on 24 January 2016, Khuzaima Qutbuddin issued a Public Notice[109] claiming that he was the sole Trustee of all the Wakfs/Trusts of the Dawoodi Bohra Community.[109][110]

On 30 January 2016, thousands[111] of Dawoodi Bohras gathered at Azad Maidan, Mumbai in support of Mufaddal Saifuddin as the 53rd Da'i al-Mutlaq, pledged their allegiance to him and dissociated from the breakaway faction formed by Khuzaima Qutbuddin.[31][112][113] Similarly peace marches were organised in community centers worldwide where resolutions[110] were signed[114][115] and handed over to Government officials.[116] A number of prominent personalities offered their condolences to Mufaddal Saifuddin as Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin's son and successor.[117] These personalities include Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Narendra Modi,[118] Mahinda Rajapaksa, Nawaz Sharif, Uhuru Kenyatta, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Mohammad Hamid Ansari, Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi, Salman Khurshid, Ministers, Members of Parliament, Consulates, representatives of religious communities, prominent citizens, professionals and intellectuals.[117][119]

In April 2014, Khuzaima Qutbuddin filed action in the Mumbai High Court against the succession of Mufaddal Saifuddin.[120]

The former Chief Justice of India, AM Ahmadi, in his personal stand, also upheld the validity of Khuzaima Qutbuddin as the rightful successor.[12]

Qutbuddin's family had shared certain historical documents with me, some of which are written in Arabic, in which historical facts about the community and the events since the nass (choosing the successor) conferred by Syedna Burhanuddin on Qutbuddin in 1965 have been recorded. I examined the documents and believe that Qutbuddin's stand of the 53rd Dai is principled

Mufaddal's elder brother Qaid Johar has stated that "nass was performed on Mufaddal not once but a number of times".[121] As per court proceedings also, Qutbuddin's lawyer pointed out that Saifuddin's earlier pleading of succession was only referring the pronouncement done in year 2011 at London hospital, but after demise of late Syedna, now the case is put up in different way and now it refers that pronouncements were 'made in 1969, 1994 and 2005 and only reconfirmation was done in 2011'."[122][123]

Such a situation was initiated in 1591 when the 26th Syedna – Dawood Burhanuddin – died. A spat broke out between the two claimants and a case was filed at the Royal Court of Akbar by the claimant Dawood travelling all the way to Delhi from Gujarat while Sulaiman stayed put in Gujarat.[124] The Mughal court declared that Dawood bin Qutubshah as the new Syedna but the other claimant Sulaiman bin Hasan eventually split into what is now known as Sulaymani Bohra.[125] Later a deputy leader in Yemen and Grandson of a previous Dai discovered documents showing that Sulaiman bin Hasan was the official successor with the seal of the previous Dai on the document, this was later rejected by Dawoodis claiming forgery[124]

Support for the claimants

Saifuddin

  • The 52nd Syedna died in January 2014. Mufaddal Saifuddin led the last rituals in which hundreds of thousands of Bohras joined.[126] It is reported that when he made his first public appearance on a temporary bridge connecting Saifee Masjid and Raudat Tahera mausoleum after Syedna's demise, hundreds of thousands of Dawoodi Bohras' standing gave an "indication of who they have believed to be their 53rd Dā'ī al-Muṭlaq". Indian Express further reports that "Many" Bohras have accepted Burhanuddin's second son Syedi Mufaddal Saifuddin as Syedna".[42]
  • The Indian foreign minister, Salman Khurshid, on 28 Rabi' al-thani 1435 AH (28 February 2014 CE) arrived to offer condolences to Mufaddal Saifuddin at the late Syedna's residence Saifee Mahal, Mumbai. It is reported that he presented a letter of good wishes from Sonia Gandhi as Saifuddin left for his first trip abroad, after "accession to the.. Dā'ī office".[119]
  • Around 50,000 followers of Mufaddal Saifuddin gathered at a public ground in Mumbai to "endorse their solidarity and offer their condolences" to their "new spiritual leader". According to the official association handling the affairs of Dawoodi Bohras in Mumbai, Qutbuddin's "wrongful claim" has aggrieved community members, as they had witnessed "nass" in 2011 in Mumbai which "had [been] reaffirmed … on many occasions".[127]
  • Followers of Mufaddal Saifuddin staged peace marches and submitted a memos protesting his half brother's claim in Bhopal, Surat, and 'in various parts of the country'.[128][129]

Qutbuddin

  • As per report, the former Chief Justice of India, AM Ahmadi also said that he "examined the documents and believe that Syedna Qutbuddin's stand of the 53rd Dā'ī is principled" in his opinion.[130]
  • The journalist and editor Pritish Nandy described Saifuddin as a "self-declared leader" and that he asked members of the sect "to abuse his uncle who the Syedna had anointed as his spiritual heir 50 years back".[131]
  • Abdeali Qutbuddin, son of Khuzaima Qutbuddin, claimed that they have around 450,000 (450,000) followers.[132]

In the community

Many in the community are confused how it was possible for the deceased Syedna to have verbally pronounced his successor in a London hospital when he had been affected by a cerebral stroke that for all practical purposes robbed him of his speech. A number of Bohras point out, under condition of complete anonymity, that the Syedna's sudden 'improvement' in health even as he was in the London ICU has never been medically explained. Besides, when the Syedna was flown from London to Mumbai to preside over the formal anointment some time later, he was unable to utter a word in front of a large assembled gathering.[53]

Several[who?] community members interviewed welcomed the move to court on this issue saying "It is sad that we have to wash dirty linen in public, but the truth about the corruption in the community needs to come out", said a Bohra from Mumbai, on the condition of anonymity.[this quote needs a citation]

A Surat-based Bohra who wished to remain anonymous because he has not overtly pledged his support for Qutbuddin also welcomed the legal development.[133] "People are secretly happy about the High Court case because it will finally expose the corrupt practices that have been carried on by the late Syedna's sons since the time he had fallen ill", he noted [2]

The Times of India reported that "most Dawoodi Bohra back Syedna Burhanuddin's second son, Syedna Mufadda Saifuddin, and hold him as its 53rd spiritual leader".[134] There were reports that some Bohras who support Qutbuddin have been forced to swear allegiance to Saifuddin through social isolation and threats of divorce between married couples.[135]

Due to the succession controversy, the shared grandchildren of Mufaddal Saifuddin and Khuzaima Qutbuddin have been sent abroad as their mothers have backed their father Qutbuddin over their husbands' relation Saifuddin. Zara Qutbuddin, head of Qutbuddin's public relations team, said the children had been sent overseas to prevent Saifuddin's side from tracing them.[136]

The Progressive Dawoodi Bohra took a neutral stance in wake of the succession controversy, citing dubious claims of both the would-be successors and the wealth accumulated by the late Syedna's family. The Progressives' Central Board warned the claimants that they would be "consigned to the dustbins of history" if they do not adapt and act more fairly.[127][137]

Survey

An online survey among the Dawoodi Bohra community revealed that only one fifth of the Dawoodi Bohras support the succession of Mufaddal saifuddin and a little less than one fifth support the half brother Khuzaima as the rightful successor [3]. A cover story on the Bohra survey revealed that most Bohras (46%) support Khuzaima over Mufaddal and many are in the community due to fear and force [4]

Forced Allegiance

There are various reports that Mufaddal has taken over the administration using threat and intimidation.[138] Also the Bohras who support Khuzaima are being forced to swear allegiance to Muffadal using social boycott and threats of divorce between married couples.[138] It is alleged that Mufaddal Saifuddin and his representatives are resorting to threats and social pressure to maintain their control over the community[139]

Sakina's husband was okay with her belief in Qutbuddin, but the local jamaat insisted that she leave her marital home. Her in-laws and husband succumbed. The second woman, a professional, had just had her nikaah solemnised; now, her in-laws have told her to choose between her belief and her husband.

— Reported threats of divorce in Punemirror

It is reported that the fight between the two factions has become so bitter that rivals are being denied access to masjids and burial sites. The family of a 97-year-old man, who was perceived to be a follower of Khuzaima, was not allowed to bury him at the Bohra cemetery at Charni Road. The man was eventually buried in Mumbra. The family said his health had deteriorated rapidly after being denied entry to the Bohra masjid at Bhendi Bazaar in August. "He died ten days after he was prevented from praying at the Bhendi Bazaar masjid," said a relative. His son is now in the process of writing to the State Human Rights Commission and the Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria.[139]

A small but growing number of Bohras have been leaving Saifuddin's fold to join Qutbuddin. His supporters claim that at least 500 people openly attend events at his headquarters in Thane, with many more offering support without revealing their identities.

“People are afraid to support us openly because of the overwhelming pressure being exerted over them," said Aziz Qutbuddin. "However, we get a lot of calls from people who want to pledge their allegiance to my father but wish to remain anonymous.”

Those who openly switched loyalties claim to have faced severe social ostracism.[5]

The faction supporting Mufaddal Saifuddin as the Dā'ī,[140][better source needed] has excommunicated Qutbuddin and his followers.[141] However, there is no official confirmation from the community on the alleged ex-communication while the progressive members have called a ban on this practice citing it illegal.[142]

Court cases

In January 2014, Qutbuddin published a public affidavit on his website declaring his position and legal status of properties, claiming to be the sole trustee of all the trusts in the Dawoodi Bohra community.[143] Qutbuddin filed petitions against Saiffudin concerning the succession controversy in Bombay High court and Gujrat High Court.

Khuzaima published a public affidavit on his website declaring his position and legal status of properties[132][144] He said,

"I am the sole Trustee of all the Wakfs/Trusts of the Dawoodi Bohra Community including the Dawat-e-Hadiyah Trust, PTR No. B-729 in Mumbai. Let it be known to all not to deal with any of the Wakfs/Trusts of the Dawoodi Bohra Community in any manner whatsoever without my permission. Anyone dealing with the same shall do so at his/her own risk."

Bombay High Court case

The late Syedna's half-brother Qutbuddin went to the High Court claiming the position of 53rd and to restrict Saifuddin from discharging the duties as the 53rd Dā'ī. The prime contention of the 700-page petition to the High Court was to have Qutbuddin, the half-brother, legally declared as the 53rd Dā'ī al-Mutlaq of the 1.2-million-strong Bohra community, while simultaneously preventing his nephew, Mufaddal Saifuddin, from acting as the Dā'ī.[57]

Several community members interviewed welcomed the court action as they looked forward to corruption in the community being exposed.[145]

Justice SJ Kathawala of the Bombay High Court recused himself from hearing the suit filed by Qutbuddin as he had appeared for the late Syedna in the past, creating a conflict of interest. This delayed the suit before being placed before another judge at the High Court.[146]

The case began with the new judge asking Qutbuddin, what requirements had to be fulfilled for "pronouncing a Syedna's successor", and "what has [Qutbuddin] done to establish his right". This followed a reply from Saifuddin's attorney and the late Syedna's eldest son Qidjohar Ezzuddin, which contested Qutbuddin's claim. .[122][140] Qutbuddin was examined in Bombay high court on 27 April 2015 and he alleged that "[s]ince 1980, defendant (Saifuddin) and his brothers Qaid Joher, Malik-ul-Ashtar, Idris, and sons of Yusuf bhaisaheb Badrul Jamali, Kausar Ali, Saeedur Khair and daughters Jawharut Sharaf and Maria started implementing a devious scheme to malign me....This was 20-25 years after the beginning of the reign of the 52nd Dai."[147] Qutbuddin described what he claimed to be two attempts on his life while he was serving as Mazoon; he named no suspects, nor dates, in court.[148]

According to Indian law, upon the death of a plaintiff a suit will not abate immediately upon death but rather after 90 days if no action is taken by the legal heirs or representatives of the plaintiff.[149] As Fakhruddin intends to continue the case, it is likely that such an application would be made and the case would not abate. Accordingly, Justice Patel also said if Fakhruddin decides that he would like to be substituted as plaintiff he will have to file a chamber summons to set aside the abatement of the suit, and that "Nobody requires an order that that the suit has abated".[150] On 4 July 2016, Taher Fakhruddin reported that he has written a letter to Mufaddal Saifuddin in which he mentions that he has filed a Chamber Summons in the Bombay High Court as the plaintiff in place of his late father Khuzaima Qutbuddin.[151]

Gujarat High Court case

Gujarat High Court issued an interim order on 16 April 2014 prohibiting Saifuddin from acting as the 53rd Dā'ī and his supporters from dealing with the trust properties. Khuzaima filed eight writ petitions before Gujarat High Court pertaining to the succession controversy.[152][153]

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