The term Dā'ī al-Mutlaq or ad-Da'i ul-Mutlaq (Arabic: الداعي المطلق) (pl. Du'at Mutlaqeen دعاة مطلقين) literally means "the absolute or unrestricted missionary" pl. Du'aat-دعاۃ. The office of Da'i al-Mutlaq is a spiritual rank in the Isma'ili Da'wah which became more explicit and operational after the seclusion of the 21st Fatimid Imam of Cairo, At-Tayyib Abu'l-Qasim in 528 AH/1134 AD. According to Tayyibi-Ismaili tradition, the Da'i al-Mutlaq is the highest authority in the faith in the absence of the imam; in other words, the Da'i al-Mutlaq has the same authority as the imam (for example a dean could be a professor and professor could be a dean). Before the seclusion of the 21st Imam, the Da’i al-Mutlaq operated under the direct orders of the Imam and his trusted associates in regions where faithful were present, either living openly propounding their faith, or secretly due to fear of persecution.
In Yemen, after the seclusion of the Imam, the Da’i was given the authority of Itlaaq (إطلاق), or free conduct and absolute religious and social authority, under the governing principles of the Isma’ili Taiyebi faith. His command is regarded as a final decree guided by the divine support of the Imam. Unlike the Imam, who appoints his successor only from his sons (with one exception), the Da’i can appoint anyone as his successor who he deems trustworthy, pious and capable of carrying Da’wah affairs with wisdom and proficiency.
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According to Ismā'īlī [Musta'ali Tayyabī] tradition, before the 21st Fatimid [Musta'ali] Imam, Taiyab abi al-Qasim went into state of occultation from Cairo in 528 AH/1134 AD, his father, the 20th Imām al-Amīr had instructed Queen Arwa al-Sulayhi/Al-Hurra Al-Malika in Yemen to anoint a vicegerent after the occultation of his son al-Tayyib Abu'l-Qasim. Queen Arwa trained and appointed Syedna Zoeb bin Moosa  as the first Da'i in the modern office.
Tradition of Nass governing the Appointment of Saheb-i-Amar
Nass-نص is the basis of Shia beliefs, it ensures the succession (Silsila). It is a declaration and designation through Divine Indication and Spiritual Intervention-تأئید إلھي for the appointment of a successor-منصوص, be it an Imam or his deputy-داعي during Imam's concealment by his predecessor-ناص amongst his subjects, publicly-نص جلي or privately نص خفي and at times supported by written documentary orders-سجل شریف. This tradition and practice-سنۃ اللہ is related to the Isma’ili Taiyebi succession to the seat of Imaamat, whereby each Imam under hidden heavenly commands designates his successor, when he witnesses the Light of Imaamat-نور الإمامۃ has got transferred to one of his batini (in essence) sons not necessarily in the Jismani (blood) relations whom he selects for Nass. The one who appoints is called Naas and the one appointed is called Mansoos, here Mansoos is batini (in essence) son and Naass is batini father, irrespective of their Jismani (blood) relationships, which is evident in many examples (beginning with appointment of Ali ibne Abi Taalib in Ghadire Khumm by Mohammad). The succession (Silsila) continued from Imam to Imam to Da'i to Da'i and will continue so on and on.
The tradition stems from the events of Ghadir Khum where Mohammad appointed his son-in-law, cousin and his heir 'Ali bin Abi Taalib as his Vicegerent, legatee and Wali of the Faithful. This tradition continued through all the Tayyibi-Ismaili Imams and Du'aat; according to Tayyibi-Ismaili belief, neither Imam nor Da'i al-Mutlaq can pass away without appointing his successor.
The Da'i al-Mutlaq has the authority to appoint, at his discretion, a trusted individual to each of two proscribed ranks: Mazoon al-Da'wat and Mukasir al-Da'wat.
- المأذون الدعوة - al-Mazoon al-Da'wat, Mazoon e Dawat: The Licentiate, Authoritative Rank, the most trusted associate in Da’wah ranks whose traditional role includes taking Bay'at from his subjects by the orders of Da’i al-Mutlaq. He is on a Spiritual Rank in the Isma’ili Taiyebi Da’wah hierarchy immediately below the authority of Da’i and sits to his right, and who carries out the religious activities as per the regulations of Da’wah organization. At any cost he always assists and obeys his superior and his Master, the Da’i al-Mutlaq. In the absence of the Da’i he acts as his legatee. The Da'i al-Mutlaq's successor is often appointed to the rank of Mazoon; however, this is not the rule and the Da'i's successor has often been someone other than the Mazoon. Upon the death of the Mazoon, the Da'i selects a new trusted associate to fill the position.
- المکاسر الدعوة - al-Mukaasir al-Da'wat, Mukaasir e Dawat - The second deputy rank to the Da'i proscribed in Isma’ili Taiyebism. He sits to the right of the Mazoon during religious gatherings (Majalis). In the absence of both the Da'i and Mazoon, the Mukaasir acts as their legatee. Upon the death of the Mazoon, the Da'i selects a new trusted associate to fill the position.
Since the establishment of the office of Da'i al-Mutlaq following the death of the Fatimid Caliph-Imam Mansur al-Amir Bi-Ahkamillah, there have been several disputes over the succession to the office, leading to a number of extant sects, each with their own incumbent to the office.
Within the Dawoodi Bohras, the current Da'i is Mufaddal Saifuddin. The last Da'i was Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, who died in 2014. The vast majority of Dawoodi Bohras recognize Saifuddin as the 53rd incumbent.
The current seat of the Dawoodi Bohra Da'i is in Mumbai, India.
The current seat of the Alavi Bohra Da'i is in Vadodara, India.
Starting from 1677, Sulayman's successors almost always came from the Makrami family. The Sulaymani Du'at made Najran their headquarters and ruled the area, supported by the Banu Yam, until their power waned under the successive rules of the Ottomans and Saudis.
The current seat of the Sulaymani Da'i is in Najran, Saudi Arabia.
The current incumbent is Mohsin bin Ali al-Makrami.
The Atba-i-Malak community are a branch of Musta'ali Isma'ili Shi'a Islam that broke off from the mainstream Dawoodi Bohra after the death of the 46th Da'i al-Mutlaq, under the leadership of Abdul Hussain Jivaji in 1840. They have further split into two more branches. The Atba-e-Malak Badar is a branch of Atba-e-Malak Mustaali Ismaili Shi'a Islam. They follow the preachings of both Abdul Hussein Jivaji and Badruddin Ghulam Hussain Miya Khan Saheb who was appointed as Hijab (Veil) of Moulana Malak (Abdul Hussein Jivaji) Saheb. The current leader or Dai al Mutlaq is Maulana Muhammad Amiruddin Malak Saheb. The Atba-i-Malak Badar community is based in Mahdibagh, Nagpur in India. The Mahdibagh Atba-i-Malak Badar community, is a unique community of peaceful and progressive Muslims, an elitist sect, known as Atba-e-Malak Badar (followers of Maulana Malak and Maulana Badar) founded in 1899 AD in Nagpur, India.
Atba-e-Malak Vakil (Muslim-Shia-Ismaili-Tayyebi-Dawoodi-Malak-Vakil Bohra)
The Atba-e-Malak Vakil continues the tradition of Nass after the untimely demise of the 46th Da'i al-Mutlaq Syedna Mohammad Badruddin saheb. The Amar passes on to four Mumalikin saheb (hidden successors - the seclusion was necessary to guard the Amar in then difficult times), last one being Moulana Adamji Tayyebji saheb in Mumbai followed by Moulana Malak (Abdul Hussein Jivaji) saheb who appointed Moulana Abdul Qadir Ebrahimji saheb as his Mansoos (successor) or Vakil (the one who advocates his succession or roots / acts for his principal) that identifies his followers as Atba-e-Malak Vakil. Their current spiritual lord / Imam is Moulana Tayyeb saheb bin Moulana Razzak saheb. This is a very small and peaceful community with high moral and ethical values, the majority of its population is in Nagpur in India with the second largest population is in Mumbai. Qur'an and Nasihat (Scriptures written by Syedi Sadiqali during the period of 42nd Da'i al-Mutlaq Syedna Yusuf Najmuddin saheb and 44th Da'i al-Mutlaq Syedna Mohammed Ezzuddin saheb) are main religious scriptures of Atba-e-Malak Vakil sect.
Taher Fakhruddin is a claimant to the title of 54th Da'i al-Mutlaq of the Dawoodi Bohras, a sect within Shia Islam. He is the oldest son of Khuzaima Qutbuddin, claimant to the position of 53rd Da'i al-Mutlaq. After the death of the 52nd Da'i al-Mutlaq, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin. Khuzaima Qutbuddin died on 30 March 2016. On 31 March 2016 the family of Qutbuddin released a statement that "Syedna Khuzaima Qutbuddin has conferred nass (announcement of successor) on his son Taher Fakhruddin". Followers of Qutbuddin regard Fakhruddin as a rightly appointed Da'i al-Mutlaq whereas followers of Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin do not recognise him as the Da'i al-Mutlaq.
One of Taher Fakhruddin's first major decision was regarding the burial arrangements of his father and predecessor in office, Khuzaima Qutbuddin, who died on 30 March 2016. It was decided to bring Qutbuddin's body to India for burial. Qutbuddin was buried at his residence Darus Sakina in Thane on 10 April 2016, after it was arranged for his body to make an overflight circumambulating Raudat Tahera by helicopter in order to pay respects at the mausoleum of his father, the 51st Dai Syedna Taher Saifuddin and the 52nd Dai Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin his predecessor and his half-brother.
Khuzaima Qutbuddin had filed a case at the Bombay High Court against Mufaddal Saifuddin in 2014 alleging that only Qutbuddin had received a valid appointment of succession from Syedna Burhanuddin. Taher Fakhruddin has continued his father's efforts against Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin at the Bombay High Court.
- 'Aqeedat ul-Muwahhedeen wa Muzehato Maraatib Ahl id-Deen: 8th Da’i-e-Mutlaq Saiyedna Husain bin Saiyedna Ali bin Mohammad al-Waleed (d. 667 AH/1269 AD)
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- Dawat-e-Hadiyah Act 1993 (c. x) at Legislation.gov.uk
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- Taaj ul-‘Aqaa’id wa Ma’dan ul-Fawaa’id: 5th Da’i-e-Mutlaq Saiyedna Ali bin Mohammad al-Waleed (d. 612 AH/1215 AD)
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