Reason # 50: The Principles of A Fatemi Heritage
Khuzaima Qutbuddin and his children suggest a vision for the future of their firqa and purport that it is in line of Fatemi principles and values. They say that one should gain the Ilm of Aale Mohammed SA and also have knowledge of a Fatemi heritage. For a true Mumin, however, the Ilm of Aale Mohammed SA and the knowledge of our Fatemi heritage is more than a token of the past – it is an ideal and principle which is sacrosanct and through which we choose to live our lives. Therefore, I believe that the truth about what Fatemi values and principles are should be clearly defined through actual examples from that period of time.
There are countless examples from Fatemi heritage and history which serve as examples for us to form principles on how to conduct our lives. I would like to point to one specific example which seems contradictory to the vision purported by Khuzaima Qutbuddin and his children for their followers. In the Fatemi era, despite the juridical permissibility for taqiyyat (hiding or dissimulating ones belief or religious practice in fear of persecution) within Fatemi jurisprudence, it appears that that the Fatemi Imams and their Dais did not practice taqiyyat when it came to the religious practice of ruʾyat al-hilāl (seeing the moon to start the fast of Ramadan and ending it).
For example, even with the large opposition of both Sunni and Shi‘a communities which both were steadfast in this practice, in the year 429 H./July 6th 1038, Moulana al-Mu’ayyad al-Shirazi, prepared iftar for Ramadan in the courtyard of his house. This preparation took place despite the fact that the local population of Shiraz had still not seen the new moon and were still fasting. The Sunni population became infuriated with the local Mumineen who were celebrating Eid, since they were still in their the 29th day. However, that evening the new moon appeared in the sky and the Sunni population realized that the Mumineen had been correct after all in their calculations which in turn infuriated them even more. Because of this incident, the vizier, Bahram ibn Mafanna, summoned Moulana al-Mu’ayyad the next day and told him that he must leave Shiraz in exile because Abu Kalijar was outraged with what had happened. Furthermore local qadis were called to claim that Moulana al-Mu’ayyad was spreading heresy. The incident indicates the importance and persistence of the Fatimiyyeen towards following the calculated dates of the calendar despite the fear of local opposition.
It seems that the wise and practical thing to do for Moulana al-Moiyyad RA for any reasonable person would have been
- to assimilate with the local trends
- to avoid practicing this component of Shariat and do what was more popular and politically correct
- to compromise the principles of the Fatemi heritage of seeing the moon to avoid feeling different or being alienated by Shiraz’s Muslim populace
On the other hand, Moulana al-Moiyyad chose to hold steadfast to his Fatemi heritage, to his principles, and to his beliefs. These are the true principles of a Fatemi hertiage.
Therefore, a Mumin’s source for the knowledge of Aale Mohammed SA is Dai Zaman. Moulana Mohammed Burhanuddin RA was our source of knowledge in his lifetime and today Aqa Moula Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS fulfills that role. Aqa Moula al-Hayy al-Muqaddas’s RA long-standing legacy and the establishments of madaris, asbaq, Jamea, seminars, publications, and countless other examples are bear witness to his commitment to education to both women and men, young and old, city and town dweller within our community. Along with providing us with true knowledge, Aqa Moula Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA also guided us while continuously challenging us to live our lives according to Fatemi ideals and principles rather than be confine ourselves to the limitations of the cultural trends of the world and the powers that govern it. He showed us the true essence of a Fatemi heritage. That although times can change and cosmography can alter the way we live our lives, there is no reason to abandon our principles and values. Taher Saifuddin Moula RA had done the same. People asked him to change the principles of shariat to be be in accordance with the time he was in. Despite the pressures of a post-colonial world – Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA boldly said,
يقولون لي بدّل ولست مبدلا❊ واني بما عاهدت ربي عامل
They say to me to change (my ways) but I am not going to change. Verily, I will do what I have promised my Lord to undertake.
Similarly was the ‘aml mubarak of Aqa Moula Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA. Moula al-Hayy al-Muqaddas witnessed so many momentous events in his lifetime. He was alive during both World War I and World War II. He saw the end of the Ottoman Empire, the birth of nationalism, the independence of India, the creation of Pakistan and Bangladesh. He saw man reach the moon and land vehicles on Mars. He witnessed the birth of the internet, the invention of cell phone technology. 102 years is certainly a long life span in which Aqa Moula Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA had the keen sense and wisdom of experience to lead us as a community to embrace modernity while still upholding our principles and our Fatemi heritage. Yes, this would include growing daaris, wearing ridas, the practice of business without riba – all things which might have seemed impossible when they were initially implemented. Each Dai gauges the situations of their time and teaches us to uphold the heritage of the Fatemi Dawat and its principles. This is why, despite witnessing the advancements of his time, when Aqa Moula al-Hayy Muqaddas RA upon the iftitah of al-Jami’ al-Anwar in 1400 said, “We have come as we have left.” In one way this can be interpreted as – ‘we have upheld the same principles and values left to us from the Fatemi era.’ The provisions Aqa Moula al-Hayy al-Muqaddas RA made were not to take us back in time to the Middle Ages. Rather his provisions gave mumineen a sense of identity in a post-colonial and eventually a post-modern world in which the alluring glamour of the foreignness of external cultures often might seem to be the right way to live our lives. However, throughout the ever-changing facets of time, we acknowledged his plethora of experience, knowledge, and wisdom that we placed our hands in his and also made many of our most important decisions of our lives through his approval and raza. He was our bawa shafiq, and because of him, although the cosmography of the world continued to change, our principles stayed the same.
Khuzaima Qutbuddin’s values therefore, are in sharp contrast from Burhanuddin Moula’s RA overall message. For instance, when Aqa Moula al-Hayy al-Muqaddas established the foundation of Qardan Hasana as the main source for our business practices, he writes, “Our mawali have said that Shariat is ‘samhaa’ and accommodating, not harsh or rigid. While keeping within Shariat laws at all times, mumineen should be encouraged to take advantage of modern-day financial institutions.” There is no mention of Qardan Hasana – an institution which Burhanuddin Moula RA, in every safr mubarak, implemented, grew, personally contributed to, and led to prosperitiy. In fact, the ideas and visions of Khuzaima Qutbuddin’s policies can be deduced from the dissertation of Abdeali, the son of Khuzaima Qutbuddin, who stated: “Combined with the distorted perception of Fatimi Tayyibi financial principles among members of the Dawoodi Bohra Community today these developments have resulted in a distorted implementation of Fatimi Tayyibi financial principles which has damaged the community financially, economically, and socially” (see reason # 22). They definitely have a different opinion and vision from the business practices implemented by Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA.
Furthermore, a video circulating of Khuzaima’s former secretary, Sk. Shabbir Bhai Yamani, son of Miyansaheb Sh. Ibrahim Yamani, had these following words to describe the compromising policies of Khuzaima Qutbuddin which were against Burhanuddin Moula’s RA policies and at times, against the principles of shariat. He served Aqa Moula Burhanuddin RA as Khuzaima Qutbuddin’s secretary for 45 years. This is his testimony to some of the contradictory policies of Khuzaima.
More and more in this respect is coming to light. Therefore, their vision, from its very inception during his fifty years of service, seems quite different from the visions and practices implemented by Aqa Moula Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA. And yet ironically, Khuzaima Qutbuddin and his children have tried to paint a false picture that they are continuing Moulana Burhanuddin’s RA principles. They also claim that the teachings of Aqa Moula Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS are contrary to those of Moula Burhanuddin RA. How is it possible that within less than a month after Aqa Moula’s RA demise that somehow Moulana Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS has drastically changed the norms and policies of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA? Why is it that only Khuzaima Qutbuddin, his children, and those who have adhered to their cause feel this way while no one in the almost one million followers of Moulana Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS feels the same?