The spiritual leader of Dawoodi Bohra community, Dr Syedna Mohammad Burhanuddin, passed away at Saifee Mahal, his Mumbai residence, following a cardiac arrest Friday morning. He was 102. Burhanuddin was the 52nd Dai al-Mutlaq (head) of Dawoodi Bohras worldwide.
The burial is scheduled for Saturday morning at Rahudat Tahera mausoleum, next to his father’s grave. The final rites will be led by Dr Burhanuddin’s son Syedi Mufaddal Bhaisaheb Saifuddin (70), who has succeeded him. “The new Syedna was in Colombo at the time of his father’s death. He has left immediately. As soon as he reaches Mumbai, the final rites will be carried out,” a spokesperson said.
Community members from India and 40 other countries were expected to gather in large numbers in south Mumbai Friday night to pay their last respect to their revered leader.
“Sixteen members from my family immediately left for Mumbai after we were informed about his demise. They wanted to take one last look at him,” said Huzefa Dewaswala, a resident of Indore.
“We are coordinating with the Mumbai police, the traffic police and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to ensure the final rites proceed smoothly.
Over a thousand Burhani guards (Bohri youths deployed for crowd management) are overseeing the arrangements for the funeral. Thousands will join the procession from Saifee Mahal in Malabar Hill where the body is kept, to Saifee Masjid in Bhendi Bazaar where we will hold prayers, after which we will have the burial at Rahudat Tahera Mosque,” a spokesperson for the religious head said.
Sources said the spiritual leader last made his public appearance on January 13 to mark the celebration of Milad-ul-nabi (birthday of Prophet Mohammad).
Born in Surat, Burhanuddin was the leader of the Dawoodi Bohra community for 49 years after succeeding his father Syedna Taher Saifuddin in 1965. During his tenure, the Syedna has been credited with ushering in a renewal of faith and vibrancy among Bohras. Through his various endeavours in the fields of education and construction, he has overseen the restoration and construction of various mosques, mausoleums and educational institutions. The reconstruction of Saifee Hospital, one of the premier medical centres in Mumbai, was also carried out under the Syedna in 2005.
He received a number of awards and honorary doctorates from various countries and universities, including Aligarh Muslim University, Al Azhar University in Cairo, and University of Karachi.
In October 1999, he was elected chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University.
More recently, in 2008, he initiated the ongoing Bhendi Bazaar Redevelopment Project which is being executed by Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust, a charitable trust. The Syedna, through this cluster redevelopment project, desired the “upliftment” of the Bazaar’s 20,000-odd residents, mostly from the Bohra community. He had laid the foundation stone for the project on his 100th birthday in 2011.