Unlike every event of importance, it was not a matter of the most opulent ridas for women and deeply embroidered saaya, kurtas, and pajamas for men of the Dawoodi Bohra community of Karachi, it was a matter of rushing to the mosque at top speed.
Syedi Mufaddal Bhaisaheb Saifuddin, designated successor to the 52nd Dai-el-Mutlaq, His Holiness Syedna Mohammad Burhanuddin, is visiting Karachi and it was the blessed fortune of the Clifton mosque that he led the Magrib and Isha prayers at Hassani Masjid.
For security reasons, the Bohra community was informed less than two hours before Magrib. I was expecting a Fort Knox – like situation before reaching the mosque, given the high-profile nature of the visiting dignitary, and though security had been tightened with the ubiquitous heavily armed police commandos, it was no where near the kind of security one would expect in such a situation, given how easy it was for anyone dressed like a Dawoodi Bohra to just walk in.
The attendance at the mosque was not limited to people from the neighbourhood, but from all over Pakistan, who have been staying in Karachi to be near his august presence. The minute the word was received that evening prayers were to be led my him, they came over in record time to enjoy the blessings of the event. Some people from Rawalpindi even came with charts and banners, requesting his presence in their city.
Syedi Mufaddal Bhaisaheb is the second son of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin and was proclaimed as the successor to the office of Da’i al-Mutlaq of the Dawoodi Bohras last year. This is the first time that the designated successor has visited Pakistan, home to the world’s second largest Dawoodi Bohra population, after India.
“We are all extremely excited to be here. Especially the children for whom this is the first deedar (get to see him in person),” said Insia Juzer, the mother of two young daughters who were hanging over the railings to catch a glimpse of the syedna. “It has been so long since our dai has visited us. We all want to see him and meet him, especially the children for whom he has just been a name on an adult’s lips or a face in the photos.”
Some members of the community were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of their religious leader earlier in the day as he drove out of his home slowly in an open jeep while Dawoodi Bohras lined the road on both sides to receive his blessings.
Syedi Mufaddal Bhaisaheb was driven into the mosque with a protocol of four police jeeps behind three motorcyclists who drove in a triangle formation, accompanied by an ambulance. The sheer ardour of the devotees was vented in a matam strong enough and loud to echo though out the masjid complex.
Syedi Mufaddal Bhaisaheb left soon after Isha and will be leading Fajr prayers on Friday (today) in another mosque in Karachi.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 14th, 2012.