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Bohra succession row: As court battle rages, the rebel syedna ascends

25 January 2017

The rift in the Dawoodi Bohra community just became a gaping chasm. In a move that will definitely shake things up in the ongoing succession battle for the community’s leadership, the Fakhruddin faction has kicked off a three-day celebration in honour of their claimant, [Syedna] Taher Fakhruddin’s 50th birthday by formally coronating him ‘Syedna’.

Otherwise known as the Takht-e-Nashini, the ceremony will only concretise the gap between the two factions — [Syedna] Fakhruddin and Saifuddin — by officially challenging Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin’s ascension as the 53rd Da’i al-Mutlaq. For the last three years, the succession battle was being fought on paper and in courts.

'A confident move'
“This (move) sends a message of confidence and strength, and of the truth in our stand,” said [Syedna] Fakhruddin’s younger brother [Shezada] Abdeali Qutbuddin, acknowledging that this formal bestowing was in contrast to the way the succession row was being fought till now. “We approached the courts because we felt that the position of ‘Syedna’ has been wrongfully usurped. This will give a new sense of strength to the community members who believe in our side. Others might not be coming forward and showing their support as they are afraid of social boycott, but this event will give strength to that section of the community as well.”

According to [Shezada] Abdeali, he ([Syedna] Fakhruddin) had become the Syedna earlier itself, but this would be a ‘formal coronation’.

“There was a mourning period after my father [Syedna] Khuzaima Qutbuddin, the original claimant to the title of the 53rd Syedna, passed away last year. Now, since it is Syedna Fakhruddin’s 50th birthday, the community thinks of it as an opportunity to celebrate his taking to office.”

The three-day sabaq
Beginning Monday evening, the newly-anointed ‘Syedna’ will also be delivering a three-day sabaq (philosophical discourse) at Darus Sakina (the official residence) in Thane, where he will interact with the attendees as well as answer questions on education, religion, and tradition.

The other side
Meanwhile, speaking to mid-day, the Saifuddin faction’s spokesperson simply said, “We are not concerned with what they do, as we have no connection with them.”

Court breather
In November 2016, the Gujarat High Court had ruled that the now-deceased and original petitioner [Syedna] Khuzaima Qutbuddin’s eldest could be appointed as legal heir in all ongoing legal proceedings in the state. The next court hearing is scheduled to be sometime in the first half of February 2017.

2014
Year the feud erupted after the passing of the 52nd Dai, Syedna Burhanuddin

54th
Da’i al-Mutlaq title that [Syedna] Taher Fakhruddin is claiming. His father lay claim to the 53rd.