The Bombay High Court Tuesday sought to know the procedure involved in choosing the Dai-al-Mutlaq or the spiritual head of the over a million-strong Dawoodi Bohra community.
Justice Gautam Patel, who posed the question, was hearing a suit filed by late Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin’s half-brother Khuzaima Qutbuddin (73), who is contesting the appointment of the Syedna’s son as his successor.
“How do you establish only by a doctrine or custom that the Mazoon (the second in command in the community) becomes the successor? What are the requirements?…witnesses…?” asked Justice Patel. The court also pointed out “acceptance by the community” as one of the factors in anointing the spiritual head.
Qutbuddin, who also sought entry to Saifi Manzil, the house of Syedna, has filed a suit asking the court to restrain late Syedna’s son Mufaddal Saifuddin (70) from acting as the Dai-al-Mutlaq. Qutbuddin has also claimed that Burhanuddin became the new Syedna, he had publicly appointed him as his Mazoon and privately anointed him as his successor.
The court asked him what he had done to establish the reign following the announcement of Saifuddin as the 53rd Dai in 2011. In reply to the suit, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin filed a detailed affidavit on April 23. After Qutbuddin’s lawyer Ravi Kadam told the court that the affidavit in reply required a detailed rejoinder, Justice Patel posted the matter for final hearing and disposal on June 16.
In his suit, the half-brother has said he is the successor as he was the Mazoon. The late Syedna too was once the Mazoon and became the head of the community after his predecessor’s death, he has stated.
While for majority of the community members, there is no doubt over the succession of Saifuddin’s succession as the next Syedna, the followers of Qutbuddin consider him the rightful successor. They said he has been the late Syedna’s closest aide over the years. A statement released by the faction that officially calls itself the “Qutbi Bohras stated the late Syedna had instructed the Mazoon not to reveal the nass (nomination) at the time and so he continued to keep it under wraps at the time of the late Syedna’s illness two years ago, in hope that he would recover.
Qutbuddin had claimed the late Syedna could not have pronounced his son his heir in 2011, as he had suffered a debilitating stroke and was unfit to speak.
The son and half-brother of the late Syedna have been locked in a battle of succession after the leader passed away on January 17 this year at the age of 102.