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Mohammed Burhanuddin

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Mohammed Burhanuddin
52nd Da'i al-Mutlaq of the Dawoodi Bohra
Dawoodi Bohra 52 nd Dai Sayyedna Mohd. Burhanuddin.jpg
delivering Muharram Waaz
Born (1915-03-06)6 March 1915
Surat, Gujarat, British Raj
Died 17 January 2014(2014-01-17) (aged 98)
Malabar Hill, Mumbai, India
Cause of death Heart attack
Resting place Raudat Tahera, Mumbai
Style His Holiness
Term 1965–2014
Predecessor Syedna Taher Saifuddin
Successor Disputed between two claimants: Khuzaima Qutbuddin[1] and Mufaddal Saifuddin[2][3][3]
Religion Islam
Denomination Dawoodi Taiyabi Mustaali Ismaili Shia
Spouse(s) Aaisaheba Amatullah
Children Mufaddal (b. 1946)
Parent(s) Taher Saifuddin
Aaisaheba Husaina
Relatives Khuzaima (half-brother)
Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin Signature.jpg

Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (Arabic: سیدنا محمد برھان الدین‎; 6 March 1915 – 17 January 2014) was the 52nd Da'i al-Mutlaq of Dawoodi Bohras, a subgroup within the Mustaali, Ismaili Shia branch of Islam.[4] He was appointed as the 52nd Da'i al-Mutlaq at the age of 52 in 1967.[5] He was the longest living Da'i al Mutlaq of the Dawoodi Bohra community.[4][6] 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 Dai 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.[7]

Burhanuddin was presented the highest national civic honors by the presidents of Egypt and Jordan.[4][8] He was the first Dai al Mutlaq to visit Europe and America.[4]

Early life[edit]

Burhanuddin was born to Syedna Taher Saifuddin and Aaisaheba Husaina Aaisaheba in Surat in the Indian state of Gujarat.[6][9]:16[verification needed] At the age of twelve, he survived a car accident in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where his vehicle got hung on one wheel.[4] He was educated by his father, Syedna Tahir Saifuddin.[10]


Burhanuddin's reign as da'i 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.[7]

In October 1999, Burhanuddin was elected Chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University,[11] a 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.[10][12] He built "Burhaniyah Business Counselling Centre" in Mumbai to provide modern business solutions.[10] 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.[4][10]

Mohammed Burhanuddin is credited with the establishment of community kitchens for the Dawoodi Bohra.[13][14]


Burhanuddin died of cardiac attack at his home Saifee Mahal in Mumbai on 17 January 2014.[8] The Bohra community announced a 40-day mourning period in respect of the departed leader.[15] He was buried at Raudat Tahera Mausoleum in Bhendi Bazar, Mumbai beside his father Syedna Tahir Saifuddin.[16] His second son Mufaddal Saifuddin led the "Namaz-e-Janaza" (funeral procession) of his father at the Saifee Mosque.[16] Half mast of Flag and state honor was given by Indian Government during his funeral.[17]

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.[18] 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.[19]


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.[20]

After Burhanuddin suffered a stroke in June 2011 in London, Mufaddal Saifuddin was declared as his successor by Muffadal's brothers.[21] 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 speech[22][23] a group formed in 2013 in support of Burhanuddin's half-brother Khuzaima Qutbuddin, who was Mazoon, serving second under Dai al Mutlaq.[24]

After the Syedna's death in January 2014, Mufaddal took up the office,[8][24][25] Qutbuddin, claiming to have been appointed heir 50 years earlier in secrecy,[8][26][27] challenged Mufaddal's right to be Dai in court.[25] Khuzaima also took the office as he 53rd Dai 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 Dai,[28] and have excommunicated Qutbuddin and his faction.[29]


In 1988, Burhanuddin openly cursed Muslim caliphs and Aisha during Moharram, causing a riot in Mumbai, in which five Muslims lost their lives.[30][31][32]

It has been reported that Burhanuddin collects taxes with coercive ways as shown by the Justice Nathwani Commission appointed by Shri Jaiprakash Narain in 1978 consisting of lawyers and human rights activists like Tarkende and academics like Prof. Alam Khundmiri and Prof. Moin Shakir. The Commission concluded that “Our inquiry has shown that there is large scale infringement of civil liberties and human rights of reformists Bohras at the hands of the priestly class and that those who fail to obey the orders of the Syedna and his Amils (local priests), even in purely secular matters, are subjected to Bharat (ex-communication) resulting in complete social boycott, mental torture and frequent physical assaults [33][34]

The Nathwani commission estimate was that trusts the Syedna controlled in Maharashtra alone were worth Rs 50 crore way back in 1978.[35]

In July 2001, Charity Commission UK began investigating the public trust headed by Burhanuddin with an annual turnover of £2 million (approximately Rs 15 crore). The commission found that of six nominees appointed to administer the trust, four were Syedna’s sons. It ordered them to pay Rs 3 crore back to the trust because the Syedna and the nominees had made payments to themselves, violating their fiduciary responsibilities.[35]

Dawoodi Bohra localities resound with stories of being threatened, ostracized, beaten[33] and in some instances even being driven to suicide. “My siblings, my relatives, neighbours, everyone stopped talking to me. Some Bohras even tried to burn the house I lived in with my aged mother,” says Zehra Cyclewallah, who lived under police protection in Surat for 14 years after going to court against the Syedna[35]

On February 13, Asghar Ali Engineer — Islamic scholar was viciously attacked inside the Santa Cruz airport by Burhanuddin's followers. Over 60-years-old and a diabetic patient, Engineer had to be rushed to the Nanavati Hospital where he bled through the nose for over an hour.[36] A two-member inquiry committee set up at the behest of the National Minorities Commission to investigate the Syedna’s complaint that Asghar had misbehaved with the Syedna at Indore airport. Following investigations, the committee — composed of Indore’s district collector, Manoj Shrivastava and police superintendent, Devendra Singh Sengar — said in its report that the alleged incident of insulting or pushing out the Syedna had not taken place at all and that Burhanuddin is always surrounded by an impressive contingent of private bodyguards.[36] A mob of the Burhanuddin's followers attacked Asghar Ali's home and office vandalizing his private library books and household furniture.[36]

There are also reports that a full page advertisement of the Syedna at double the normal rate is published every year on his birthday in all Urdu newspapers thereby bribing them to prevent them to publish anything against Burhanuddin. [31]

In a press release the Central Board of Dawoodi Bohra Community – Mumbai has opposed the nomination of Burhanuddin for Padma awards alleging that Burhanuddin and his establishment collected and continue to collect crores of rupees every year from their followers and refuse to account for it. The Bohras are coerced into paying money to him. Refusal results into different forms of harassment and in much case excommunication and hence Burhanuddin should not be awarded.[37] The government later downgraded the award from the earlier reported Padma Bhushan to Padma Shri for Burhanuddin.[38]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • "Order of the Star of Jordan", a highest civic honor of Jordan by the President of Jordan.[8]
  • "Honorary Doctrates", by Al-Azhar University, Egypt, Aligarh Muslim University, India and University of Karachi, Pakistan.[16]
  • On 6 March 2011, Burhani Foundation, India made largest distribution of bird feeders (20,631) to celebrate Syedna Mohammed Buranuddin 100th birthday (according to the Islamic calendar). It was recorded in Guinness World Records.[39][40]
  • Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award of India, in 2015.[41]

See also[edit]

Family tree of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin


  1. ^ "Late Syedna`s kin file complaint against Mufaddal`s followers | Zee News". 2014-07-05. Retrieved 2015-01-17. 
  2. ^ The author has posted comments on this article (2014-10-27). "2.5 lakh Dawoodi Bohras' arrival boosts business in Surat - The Times of India". Retrieved 2015-01-17. 
  3. ^ a b "Syedna Aali Qadr Mufaddal Saifuddin | Free Press Journal". Retrieved 2015-01-17. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "incorrect ref". Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  5. ^ "Know 10 rare facts about Dawoodi Bohra leader Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin". Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  6. ^ a b "Know 10 rare facts about Dawoodi Bohra leader Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin". Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Jonah Blank (2001). Mullahs on the Mainframe: Islam and Modernity Among the Daudi Bohras. University of Chicago Press. pp. 184–185. 
  8. ^ a b c d e "18 killed in stampede in Mumbai ahead of spiritual leader Syedna's funeral". Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  9. ^ Hozefa Mohiyuddin, 'Tasbeeh al Mafakhir', Neelam Publication, 2011.
  10. ^ a b c d "Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin: A symbol of piety, peace for Dawoodi Bohras". Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  11. ^ "Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin elected chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University". Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  12. ^ "From Gurukul to IBO varsity". Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  13. ^ "Freedom from the kitchen smoke & heat". Retrieved 7 July 2015. 
  14. ^ "Bohra women get respite from cooking". Retrieved 7 July 2015. 
  15. ^ "Dawoodi Bohra community spiritual head, Dr Burhanuddin passes away". Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  16. ^ a b c "Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin laid to rest in Mumbai, 70,000+ mourners attend funeral". Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Funeral stampede kills 18 in Indian city of Mumbai". 2014-01-18. Retrieved 2014-06-12. 
  19. ^ "Dawoodi Bohras observe late Syedna's death anniversay". DNA India. 5 January 2015. 
  20. ^ "bohra-dissenters-challenge-oppressive-priesthood/". Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  21. ^ 'Mufaddal Saifuddin as designate-successor',
  22. ^, 'With prayers and quiet celebrations at home, the Dawoodi Bohra community had welcomed their community leader’s choice of Mufaddal Saifuddin as his successor'
  23. ^ "Dawoodi Bohras welcome nomination of successor". Hindustan Times. Mumbai: HT Media. 7 June 2011. 
  24. ^ a b "Talk of rift among Bohras over Syedna’s successor". Hindustan Times. 15 April 2013. 
  25. ^ a b "DNA India: Latest News Headlines, Breaking News & Live Updates on Politics, Business, Sports, Bollywood at Daily News & Analysis". dna. 
  26. ^ "Talk of rift among Bohras over Syedna’s successor". Retrieved 26 March 2014. 
  27. ^ 01/30/2014 12:37 pm EST (2014-01-30). "The Intricacies of Succession: Two Claimants Emerge for Dawoodi Bohra Leadership | Rizwan Mawani". Retrieved 2015-01-17. 
  28. ^ "How is Syedna chosen? HC wants to know". The Indian Express. April 30, 2014. 
  29. ^ "Bohras make anti-Syedna faction’s ex-communication official, stick by Mufaddal Saifuddin". Daily News and Analysis. 31 January 2014. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  30. ^ . Miligazzete Retrieved 5 December 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  31. ^ a b "golden calf". Retrieved 17 January 2015. 
  32. ^ The legacy of Sayedna Mohammed Burhanuddn]
  33. ^ a b "A lone woman's battle against Bohra priestly tyranny". Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  34. ^ "THE BOHRA HIGH PRIEST AND HIS HUNDRED YEARS". Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  35. ^ a b c "iron grasp". Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  36. ^ a b c "syedna on rampage". Retrieved 17 January 2015. 
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^ "Largest distribution of bird feeders". Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  40. ^ "Mohammed Dilawar’s ‘save sparrows’ campaign enters Guinness record". Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  41. ^ "Padma Awards 2015". Press Information Bureau. Archived from the original on 26 January 2015. Retrieved 25 January 2015. 

External links[edit]

Shia Islam titles
Preceded by
Taher Saifuddin
52nd Dai al-Mutlaq
Succeeded by
Succession is disputed between his son Mufaddal Saifuddin and his half-brother Khuzaima Qutbuddin