(Surat al-Baqara: 253)
Of those messengers, some of whom We have caused to excel others…
This article was written by Shehzada Dr Aziz Qutbuddin in 2015.
During the course of his 53 years as Dai, the impact Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA had on our community is immeasurable. His contribution in the sphere of ‘ilm was unparalleled; he authored over 40 risalats, over ten-thousand verses of poetry in the Arabic language, thousands of sabaqs, sermons (waaz) and bayaans. He built hundreds of schools, not only for religious education but also for secular schooling. His dedication to mumineen’s wellbeing and welfare was incomparable; he regularly held bethaks and gave personal attention to each mumin, often sitting with them late into the night. His organization of the administration of Dawat and expansion of its infrastructure was remarkable; he established and organized departments and built masjids, mazaars, madrasas and zarihs. His efforts in the defense of Dawat were extraordinary; he fought and defended 28 court cases (reminiscent of the 28 battles Rasulullah SA fought). His dedication to prayer and ‘ibaadat was exemplary; he fasted every Ramadan without missing a single roza his entire life, he led Imaamat namaaz in the Masjid every morning and every night (his first year as Dai he prayed all five faraz in the Masjid), and prayed two rak’ats in the middle of every night for mumineen. His efforts in travelling to places where mumineen resided were tireless; he travelled all across India and all across the globe, even using bullock-carts where necessary, and spent many months in faraway towns. All of these efforts were for the community, for mumineen, and for Dawat. Throughout all of these efforts for Dawat, Syedna Taher Saifuddin also positively impacted the wider Muslim community and humanity at large.
We are pleased to feature an updated photo gallery of Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA on FatemiDawat.com that highlights some of these extraordinary facets of his life.
At the beginning of Syedna Taher Saifuddin’s reign, a Muslim leader in Delhi declared the Bohra faith and their leader as “un-Islamic.” Syedna Taher Saifuddin wrote to the leader and began a dialogue with him clarifying the misunderstandings that he had about the Bohra community and its teachings. Eventually, this Muslim leader invited Syedna Taher Saifuddin to Delhi and received him at the train station with over 10,000 Muslims.
When Syedna Taher Saifuddin was conferred the Chancellorship of Aligarh Muslim University, the Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Zakir Husain introduced him to the audience at the start of the day’s program. Dr. Zakir Husain said in his speech that, “until now, all those who had held the Chancellorship had their own seal or coin (sikka).” [He was referring to all the Nawabs and local rulers who had coins stamped in their name in their emirate or kingdom]. Dr. Zakir Husain went on to say that, “Syedna Taher Saifuddin has no such seal” (inka koi sikka nahi hein). As the hall was rendered silent, Dr. Zakir Husain concluded, “his seal is on the hearts of all Muslims” (inka sikka musalmaano ke dil pein hein). Soon after, Dr. Zakir Husain became the Vice-President and then President of India.
In the last years of his life, Syedna Taher Saifuddin travelled to the Far-East. In Singapore, he met with Sir Malcom Macdonald, the British High Commissioner in Singapore. Soon after, Sir Malcom became the Governor-General of Kenya. During this time, devoted mumineen from East Africa invited Syedna Taher Saifuddin to visit. A group that harbored jealousy and animosity towards Syedna Taher Saifuddin attempted to derail the visit. Their efforts were thwarted as Sir Malcom himself wrote to Syedna Taher Saifuddin inviting him and informing him that he would personally receive Syedna in Nairobi. This incident was a manifestation of the impact of Syedna’s single meeting with him in Singapore. Sir Malcom also held a function on 6 January 1964 to bid farewell to Syedna Taher Saifuddin after a four-month visit to East Africa. The following is an excerpt from his speech:
“His Holiness is back from a constant strenuous safari of four months from one place to another to meet his followers. It is amazing that at the age of eighty he seems as fresh as I saw him on his arrival in Kenya for the first time. India must be proud that this Man of God is born on her motherland. He has devoted his whole life to guide his community as well as mankind for the betterment of humanity. I think no other saint of his caliber is known in this century or will be born for some time to come.”
In his 53 years as Dai, Syedna Taher Saifuddin built a legacy that will have an impact for centuries to come. His most lasting legacy is that he prepared his great successor, the 52nd Dai Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA, but also his successor’s successor, the 53rd Dai Syedna Khuzaima Qutbuddin TUS. May Allah Ta’ala help us ensure that our identity as a community, as well as our own self-identities, always be grounded in the fact that we are fortunate and proud to be the followers of such noble leaders.