QUERIES AS TO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF ZANZIBAR’S KUWWAT JAMAAT/KABRASTAN
When was the Kuwwat Jamaat formed in Zanzibar?
I have limited knowledge and I’m deducing from whatever little I have heard or read.
I came across this document in the Zanzibar Archives:-
‘1881 (Jamadil Akher 1294 Hijri), mosque registered waqf, signed by:-
1. Khoja Dewji Jamal
2. Wali Nazerali (hw of Sheriff Dewji)
3. Nanji Gulamhussein (hw of Kassam Nanji)
4. Daya Punja
5. Jafferbhai Kassamali
6. Peera Walli
7. Saleh Sachedina
8. Versi Advani (hw of G.Gangji)
9. Rhemtulla Nurmohamed
10. Janmohamed Rawji
11. Saleh Mohamed Hassan
12. Harjibhai Jamal
This was the period that dominated the Khoja migration by dhow from Kutch/Kathiawad to Zanzibar and the shores of East Africa. Hence Zanzibar was in the forefront of the Khoja dissident movement, and eventually the venue for the first ever Khoja Shia Ithnashri Jamaat. In the subcontinent H.H.the Agakhan’s influence with the British Colonialists hindered the progress of the faithful who could neither form a jamaat of their own nor put up a mosque. On the other hand Zanzibar despite its Ibazi Sultanate paved the way for the Kuwwat Jamaat in 1881. The likes of Kalbe Aly Khan (of Bahrani descent) had a role to play amidst fierce opposition. The Bombay and Karachi Jamaats were formed later in the 1890s.
Apart from Bustani when were the Jamaat kabrastan created in Zanzibar?
Kuwwat Jamaat kabrastan was created around 1881/82 after Janmohamed Rawji had succeeded in procuring the Rahaleo plot. Nai kabrastan must have been created in the 1890s after the formation of the Hujjat Jamaat. If you remember there was also Chunga Khan where the 'Aghas' and Bahrenis' were being buried. That also must have been very old, for Kalbe Aly Khan is said to be buried there.
Prior to Bustani and the two jamaat kabrastan is it true that our Ithnashri Khoja were being buried in Ismaili kabrastan on the sea front?
Yes, they were buried in the Khoja Ismaili kabrastan that was opposite Mnazimoja, near Coopers ground (the Kizingo cemetery that you had been referring to must be this one). The Khoja Ithnashri kabrastaan plot could be acquired after the British Resident consented to the formation of the Kuwwat Jamaat in 1881. Therefore all those who had died before the formation of the Kuwwat Jamaat must have been buried in the Khoja Ismaili kabrastan.
Is it true that at least four of our early Khoja Ithnashris are buried in the Ismaili kabrastan?
Technically before the formation of the Khoja Ithnashri Jamaat (1881) there could have been no Khoja Ithnashris (officially) and therefore the figure of 4 holds no good. All those who had died (much more than 4) earlier, that is before 1881, were Ismailis (irrespective of their belief) and definitely buried in the Khoja Ismaili kabrastan. In regard to their names, it is obvious that all of our (Khoja Ithnashris) ancestors (mine, yours, others), who happened to be in Zanzibar and had died before 1881.
There is one grave inside the Kuwwat mosque sahan at Kiponda. Would you know his name and year of burial?
It is said to be the grave of Mohamedjaffer Ravji, even Maalim Najaf whom I’d interviewed had agreed on that. But i doubt if there is any epitaph. The revolutionary Mohammedjaffer’s head was at stake but the then British Resident stood by him. Mohamedjaffer’s was the major contribution in the building of the mosque. The grave that lies downstairs in the imambara is said to be his. The imambara adjacent to the mosque was built later. Mohamedjaffer must have died before the eventual jamaat was formed and hence his name does not appear among the signatories on the document mentioned above. Also he could not be buried in the Ismaili kabrastan. That led to the eventual procurement of the Chungani plot (Junni kabrastan) at Rahaleo by his younger brother Janmohamed Ravji.
As regards your query if at all there was any restriction on burial at the Ismaili cemetery, it must have been prior to the creation of Khoja Ithnashri cemetery. The question of Khoja Ithnashries getting buried in the Ismaili cemetery later on when they had their own cemetery does not arise. No doubt, there must have been a lot of confusion at that time (around 1880), visualize one brother changes his faith and another does not, or the in laws not seceding. Imagine the mix up in maternal and paternal factors. How treacherous and what mental stress!
Your query makes sense if the ‘farman’ had been applied before the official Khoja Ithnashri Jamaat was formed (ie before 1881) and those hardliners (dissidents) victimized. Zanzibar Khoja Ismaili history may have recorded certain events/names, if at all there is one. I very much doubt it.
|Last updated November 2007
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