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9. Alarakhia Sumar - page 21

Mukhi Alarakhia Sumar was originally of Mulla Katiar, Sind, but his family came to settle in Bombay. He was an eminent merchant of cloth and sugar. He became Mukhi of the Bombay Jamatkhana soon after the death of Mukhi Alibhai Padamsi in 1848.
The Ismailis possessed a graveyard near Dongri, Bombay since 1790, measuring 12706 sq. yards. He and Kamadia Khaki Padamsi extended the site by purchasing an adjoining plot of 6978 sq. yards from Nilaji Lakshamji for Rs. 11500/- in September 1856.

During the Aga Khan Case in 1866, when the dissenting group publicly joined the Sunni fold on October 20, 1861, Imam Hasan Ali Shah issued a decree, expressing his desire to bring the Ismailis to conform to the practices of the Shia Imami Ismaili creed of his ancestors, regarding marriage ceremonies, ablutions, funeral rites etc. The decree reads: 'He who may be willing to obey my orders shall write his name in this book that I may know him.' Its copies were kept in Bombay, Sind, Kathiawar and Zanzibar for signatures. Except for a handful of persons in Bombay and Kathiawar, an almost unanimous acceptance was received from the Ismailis. In the meantime, Mukhi Alarakhia Sumar and Kamadia Khaki Padamsi played a key role, and called a meeting in Bombay Jamatkhana on August 16, 1862. Habib Ibrahim, the head of the seceders and his son Ahmed Ibrahim and a few others were also summoned, but none of them responded. Thus, a notice of 21 days was delivered to them, effective from August 23, 1862 with no positive response in return. Consequently, they were forever ostracized from the Ismaili community. The seceders formed a group, called The Reformers' Society. Finally, they filed out a suit in April, 1866 against the Imam in the Bombay High Court, known as The Aga Khan Case. Mukhi Alarakhia Sumar and Kamadia Khaki Padamsi rendered meritorious services in prosecuting the Aga Khan Case.

After winning the case, Imam Aga Ali Shah is reported to have crowned the Mukhi's group with the titles of Ismaili fidais and Ismaili soldiers.

Let us pause here for a moment to examine an important event. Most of the seceders used to attend the Jamatkhana before their excommunication, and joined in the prayers but did not shake their hands during the utterance of shahjo didar. Mukhi Alarakhia Sumar however told the jamat not to take their refusal seriously. Conversely, the other members of the jamat continued the practice of shahjo didar as usual, and were called as the Panjibhai, (a brother shaking hand), a distinctive epithet of the loyal Ismailis. Later on, the term Panjibhai was used in contrast to the seceders, who were known as the Barbhahiya.

Few words must be added at this juncture for Kamadia Khaki Padamsi, who was also closely associated with Mukhi Alarakhia Sumar. He was originally from Mundra, Kutchh, and his family later on settled in Bombay. He was a leading trader of furniture and glassware. He became Kamadia of Bombay Jamatkhana, where he served for 22 years. He spent huge amounts during the Aga Khan Case as well as for the welfare programmes of the community, hence, being exempted from the payment of tithe. In 1875, he was a witness on behalf of the jamat during the case of Hirbai-Gorbai Case. He died on June 21, 1877, while his close associate, Mukhi Alarakhia Sumar died in 1880.

Alarakhia Sumar

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