After receiving the extremely sad news today of the demise of the Dawoodi Bohra community leader, the 52nd Dai, Syedna Mohammad Burhanuddin, it was revealed by his brother Syedna Khuzaima Qutbuddin that Syedna Burhanuddin had appointed him as his successor fifty years ago on 12 December 1965, when he publicly appointed him his second-in-command or “Mazoon” (an exalted rank in the Bohra spiritual hierarchy immediately following the rank of Dai). Syedna Burhanuddin had instructed Syedna Qutbuddin not to reveal the appointment at that time. Syedna Khuzaima Qutbuddin is Syedna Mohammad Burhanuddin’s rightful successor (“Mansoos”) and now the 53rd Dai l-Mutlaq and leader of the Dawoodi Bohra community.
Syedna Qutbuddin stated that Syedna Burhanuddin had privately appointed him as his successor, at the same time that he publicly appointed him to the rank of Mazoon. A private appointment is valid according to Bohra doctrine, and there are several historical precedents recorded in Bohra texts: for example, the 7th Dai, Syedna Ahmad bin Mubarak, appointed his successor in just such a manner. Moreover, according to the Mazoon’s exalted position in Bohra doctrine, his veracity is indisputable.
The reason Syedna Burhanuddin did not make the appointment public was to ensure the safety of his successor and to preserve harmony in his community. As Syedna Burhanuddin confided to his uncle, the late Syedi Saleh bhaisaheb Safiyuddin, he knew that the anti-Qutbuddin lobby would violently oppose his wishes.
Yet, at various occasions over the years, Syedna Burhanuddin gave clear intimation to the community of his choice of Syedna Qutbuddin for the succession. He made public statements that indicate Nass in Bohra doctrine, referring to him in the sermon in which he appointed him Mazoon, for example, as “my most beloved son” (referring to spiritual lineage of a Dai and his successor).
The previous Dai, Syedna Taher Saifuddin (father of Syedna Burhanuddin and Syedna Qutbuddin), had on many occasions also indicated his own choice of Syedna Qutbuddin as his successor’s successor. A letter he wrote to Syedna Qutbuddin in his own hand in 1960 clearly indicates this choice.
Two years ago, the current Dai, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, suffered a major stroke. Since then until the end, he was unable to communicate.
Immediately after Syedna Burhanuddin’s stroke, his son, Shehzada Mufaddal bhaisaheb Saifuddin, announced his claim to the successorship.
Syedna Qutbuddin refutes Mufaddal bhaisaheb’s claim. He states that Syedna Burhanuddin had already appointed himself, Syedna Qutbuddin, as his successor, and according to Bohra doctrine, the appointment once made cannot be changed. He is saddened that Syedna Burhanuddin’s sons took advantage of their venerable father’s ill health to promote their own agenda, and brought him out to public events time and again risking his life and abusing his person. He is grieved that the new regime of the “Mufaddali Bohra” group is exploiting the community for worldly gain.
Syedna Qutbuddin is also saddened at this internal matter becoming a matter of public debate, realizing that his statement brings unwanted attention to the Bohra community. He waited for two years hoping that Syedna’s health would improve, so that Syedna Burhanuddin himself would put things in order. At this time, Syedna Qutbuddin feels it is his duty to Syedna Burhanuddin to make his appointment public for the greater good of the community, and to give a statement to the press in order to prevent the spread of rumor and false information.
Syedna Qutbuddin wishes his message to reach all Dawoodi Bohras, so that that they may rise up to protect the memory of their revered leader Syedna Burhanuddin, and ensure that his stated wishes are fulfilled.
Syedna Qutbuddin’s videotaped statement, several supporting documents (including the texts referred to here), and other relevant material, has been posted to the website FatemiDawat.com