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26. Budhwani, Kassim Mitha - page 78

Kassim Mitha Budhwani's father Mithabhai Ratansi Budhwani was born in Dhoraji, India in 1844. He was the Kamadia of Dhoraji Jamatkhana till his last breath. Kamadia Mithabhai, who was also lovingly called as Ad or Bata, was the President of the Dhoraji Local Council and the Khoja Panjibhai Club. He was a devoted and dedicated social worker. Truth, love and honesty all the times sprouted in his speech. His oft-spoken words were, 'One who works is a Kamadia.' He prepared tea at daily at midnight in the Jamatkhana. He always felt proud when the known or unknown persons visited his house. He was the first to come forward in Dhoraji jamat to dig a grave by his own hands for the burial of a dead Ismaili.
Being a Kamadia, Mithabhai never felt wrong while serving and often he himself cleaned the Jamatkhana till late hours in night. One incident may be cited here to indicate how he took pride in calling himself a servant of the jamat. Once an unknown Ismaili passenger came to Dhoraji Jamatkhana at 1.00 a.m. when Kamadia Mithabhai was sweeping its floor. He exclaimed loudly, 'Oh jamatbhai, Oh jamatbhai.' When Kamadia opened the front door, the passenger asked the address of Varas Devasi of Bhayavadar. Kamadia told him that he resided near the Jamatkhana premises. The passenger thought that he was a servant, he told him to take the luggage and to escort him. Kamadia Mithabhai lifted his luggage and went with him at the house of that person. When the door opened, the residents became greatly surprised and asked the reason of his coming. He said that he brought their guest. When the passenger found that the person carrying his luggage was the Kamadia; he became ashamed and apologized. Kamadia said, 'Don't worry. I am a mere servant of the jamat. I think that there is much honour in becoming a jamatbhai, and no service is more accreditable than it '

Once Kamadia Mithabhai is said to have told to his elder son, Kassim that, 'We should surrender one member of our family, who may devote his whole life in the service of the Imam.' To this, Kassim said, 'I propose Nuruddin for it since he has a talent. I will look after his family.' During the Imam's visit to Bombay, when they divulged their noble decision, the Imam was exceedingly pleased and said to Nuruddin, 'Well, you serve my jamat. I will take care of your family.'

Kamadia Mithabhai died on May 1, 1928 at 3.15 a.m. in Dhoraji. During the mehmani of the Dhoraji jamat on January 16, 1934 in Bombay, the Imam said, 'He was a very nice person' for three times. The Imam also appointed his elder son, Kassim Budhwani as the next Kamadia for the Dhoraji Jamatkhana with the title of Alijah.

Kamadia Mithabhai had three sons, Karamali, Kassim and Nuruddin, each of them were nicknamed Budhwani.

Kassim Budhwani was born in 1890 in Dhoraji, studied up to 5th grade and joined his father's business in the prime of life. He showed dedication since childhood. The Imam visited Rajkot for didar on February 20, 1910. He took a pot of flowers at the main gate of pendol to be presented. The Imam accepted it smilingly. Once, he was late and the Imam asked, 'Where is the flower boy?' But as soon as the Imam spoke his words, Kassim Budhwani appeared, which implies the boy's deep love for the Imam since childhood.

His business was to toast grams, but then decided to open later on a grocery shop. The daily sale was Rs. 10/- only, but due to his hard work and honesty, the sale increased from Rs. 1500/- to Rs. 2000/-

He was fair with all of his customers, whether he sold them an item worth a penny or a thousand rupees. He never claimed excess profit on any item, and the influx of the customers was so high that the six weighing scales in his shop became insufficient.

He was noted in his city for his generosity and helped the destitute secretly. His treatment in any matter was alike with the Muslims and Hindus. He dispelled their social problems and there was not a single week passed without being becoming their mediator. He worked in arranging marriages of Muslims and Hindus and helped them financially. His behaviour with people was commonly fraternal and sweet, and he became so popular in the state that the renowned Maharajas called him, Khandwala Kassimbhai recognizing sweetness in his speech.

In March 7, 1924, the Supreme Council for Kathiawar began to supervise 19 local councils, in which 29 villages fell into the jurisdiction of the Dhoraji local council. Kassim Budhwani was appointed as a member of Dhoraji Council. He dispelled the family disputes and the divisions in the Supreme Council for Kathiawar. His personality was so attractive that there was not a single case unsolved in his presence. He played a key role in the internal disputes of the jamats of Veraval, Rajkot, Gondal, Kotada, Sangani and Porebander. He was included many times in the committee for solving disputes by the Supreme Council for Kathiawar.

When a flood devastated Dhoraji, the merchandise of the Ismaili and non-Ismaili merchants washed away in the flood. In the catastrophe, he gave them goods on credit without profit motive and got their business flourished. He himself bore the loss of five thousand rupees, which could not be recovered. He also exempted another five thousand rupees to the shopkeepers who were unable to refund him. The local Hindus were so struck with his selfless services that they called him their Saviour. Sir Bhagatsingh Bahadur, the head of the Gondal State himself came to his shop with his family when he was helping the stricken people, and celebrated his valuable services.

He devoted his whole life to jamati services. He was dedicated with unwavering faith in Ismailism and remained in the company of Mukhi Ibrahim of the Dhoraji jamat. Like a lion of Sorath, he was also valiant in venturing any work, and was as well an obedient son.

His hospitality much like his father was highly admirable. He was in the front rank in Kathiawar in the matter of donations, and made a handsome contribution to the Golden Jubilee Fund Committee.

On January 19, 1936, N.M. Budhwani went to Valkesar, Bombay with his elder brother Kassim Budhwani to see the Imam along with few members of the Panjibhai Club. He introduced his brother before the Imam, saying, 'He is my elder brother.' The Imam summoned Kassim Budhwani near his chair and said, 'You deal with the business, while (N.M.) Budhwani is my servant.' The Imam also said, 'You conduct the business. (N.M.) while Budhwani serves me excellently.'

In the will of Mithabhai Ratansi (d. 1928) it was mentioned the following, 'The Imam is happy with the publication of the Ismaili Aftab, therefore, you continue to let Nuruddin to serve whatever he likes. The Imam will prosper your business.' In summary, Kassim Budhwani supervised the business to sustain the family of his younger brother, who was not working but serving in different fields. He was so watchful that he commanded his younger brother to travel in 2nd class instead of 3rd class in the train, and himself traveled in 3rd class at all times. He would say, ' The Imam's representative must create a good image in public.'

On April 20, 1919, the Dhoraji Religious Library held a special meeting. N.M. Budhwani, the Honorary Secretary put a proposal for the publication of a periodical in Dhoraji, which met an approval of all members. It was resolved that its first issue, known as the 'Ismaili Aftab', should be published during the 42nd Salgirah of the Imam, and N.M. Budhwani was appointed its editor. This periodical played an important role in the awareness of the Dhoraji jamat.

The first issue of Ismaili Aftab came out on July 2, 1919, wherein V.N. Hooda wrote an article on the Imam. According to the report of 'Ismaili Satpanth Prakash' (Bombay, September 25, 1919), 'In the accounts of our Hazar Imam in the first issue of the Ismaili Aftab, some local Muslims in Dhoraji misunderstood it, but N.M. Budhwani expertly dispelled it.' It simply suggests that the publication of the Ismaili Aftab was an early brick of the hatred the local people had since 1919, and cost the life of Kassim Budhwani after about 20 years.

The Imam is reported to have said to Kassim Budhwani in 1918 that, 'You quit Dhoraji and select another place for business if possible.' To this comment, he responded, 'My business procures me immense profits, so I want to live here.' The Imam said, 'Well, you live in Dhoraji, but be careful.' It was a prediction of an incident that was to take place after 20 years.

On January 19, 1939, the Ismaili Aftab published a Birth Number when its editor N.M. Budhwani was out of station, and Kassim Budhwani looked after the press. He merely watched the press, and nothing else. It covered certain poetic verses to glorify the Imam. The non-Ismailis grossly misinterpreted it and a band from a Muslim community gathered near the river. The average people in the gang had not read or seen the Ismaili Aftab, but poured down on the streets what was stimulated in their ears. They set the Ismaili shops and houses on fire and caused damages. Most of the fearful Ismailis harbored at the residence of Kassim Budhwani, because their lives were threatened. When Kassim Budhwani realized the gravity of the situation, he thought it advisable to discuss with their leaders for a peaceful solution. His family members advised him not to go, but he told them that, 'The jamat is in intensive trouble and it is improper to care only for me.'

Accompanied by his intimate friend, Kanji Nanji, he came to the residence of Haji Umar Ahmed Machiswala (1938-1942), the President of Memon jamat. They came at the office of the Memon jamat, which very soon became surrounded by the excited gang. He tried his best to redress the situation. It seems that the discussion yielded a peaceful negotiation. Kassim Budhwani came out of the office with Abdul Sattar Haji Abdullah and other persons under the protection of the police. Before he got into the car, an assailant dashed him, attacked him with a dagger and stabbed him. Kassim Budhwani reclined and fell to the ground. Kanji Nanji took him to the State Hospital with his bloodstained clothes, but he expired before having any treatment administered to him.

A.S. Naviwala and A. Karim Panwala wrote in the 'Dhoraji-na Memon'no Itihas'ni Arsi'ma' (Karachi, 1990, p. 144) that, 'The great tragedy in the entire case was that Kassim Mitha (Budhwani) had nothing to do directly or indirectly with anything being printed in the periodical (Ismaili Aftab). He was not even associated with the press. The negotiations whatever he executed were to maintain the discipline of the community and to avoid harming the unity of the Muslims, which victimized his life.'

About 22 accused persons were arrested, and for their release, the opponents began to threat the imperturbable Ismailis in Dhoraji. On the other hand, the rivals played another card diplomatically and offered Muhammad Ali Jinnah to become a pleader, which he refused. Hence, they hired I.I. Chundrigar and a Hindu barrister, who managed to release the accused in 23 days. The other accused were however sentenced for 6 years, but they escaped from jail on October 24, 1940, when the jail was being washed during the birth anniversary of Sir Thakur Bhagvadsingh (1884-1944).

On February 9, 1939 in the pendol of Rajkot Boarding, the Imam said while looking at Alijah N.M. Budhwani that, 'Your elder brother is martyred. He is in my presence. Do not lament for him. He merited the status of a Shahid like the persons in the time of Imam Hussain. You lament for yourselves and for the jamat, but not for him.'

The Imam said to Alijah N.M. Budhwani at the bungalow of Rai Kassim Ali Manji Nathu that, 'I have claimed that your elder brother has become a Shahid, a martyred one. Now you put off the mourning clothes.'

In Junagadh, the Imam said on February 10, 1939 that, 'Whatever occurred for Alijah Kassim Budhwani is that he merited the status of a Shahid. He laid down his life alike what happened in the time of Imam Hussain. Inform his family and his brother that he was very fortunate to lay his life to the cause of religion and joined in with the Shahids. By forgiving the person who murdered Alijah Kassim Budhwani, you and the family will be rewarded twice for your gesture. He sought an opportunity that he sacrificed his life for the cause of his religion and became martyred.'

In the ruhani mehmani of Alijah Kassim Budhwani, the Imam said at Junagadh on February 11, 1939 that, 'Call him Shahid Kassim. I give him a status of a Shahid. Both (Nuruddin and Shamsuddin, his sons) are my sons. I have given their names. The companions in the time of Imam Hussain sacrificed their lives for the Imam, (and likewise) Alijah Kassim Budhwani sacrificed his life for his religion. He was courageous and valiant.'

In Junagadh, the Imam sent a written talika on February 13, 1939 and said, 'I order to place the photo of Alijah Shahid Kassim Budhwani in the Dhoraji Jamatkhana and in the hall of Supreme Council for Kathiawar, and I give the title of Alijah to Nuruddin, the son of Shahid Kassim.'

In 1939, N.M. Budhwani designed to publish 'Sir Aga Khan's Africa Golden Jubilee Granth' into Anglo-Gujrati. He cherished a desire to dedicate it in loving memory of his elder brother Shahid Kassim Budhwani. He wrote a letter to Imam in London on June 6, 1939, imploring for a kind permission. F. Blain, the Private Secretary of the Imam replied him from Ritz Hotel, Picadely, London on June 30, 1939 that, 'In reply to your letter of 6th June, His Highness says you may dedicate the book to Alijah Shahid Kasambhai.' Thus, the above book was published in loving memory of Shahid Kassim Budhwani.

Kassim Budhwani had three sons, who later on came to live in Dacca and Barisal in Bangladesh, Itmadi Nuruddin, Alijah Shamsuddin, Alijah Bahadur Ali and a daughter, Khatija.

Itmadi Nuruddin, the elder son of Shahid Kassim Budhwani served as Mukhi of the Hyderabad, Deccan Jamatkhana as well as President of the Council. His other son, Shamsuddin built the Jamatkhana of Barisal, Bangladesh and presented it to the Imam. His son, Huzur Mukhi Bahadur served for three years as a Chairman of the Regional Tariqah Board for Frontier and Pakistan and also served as Kamadia and Mukhi of the Barisal Jamatkhana.

Few words must be added for Nuruddin Mitha Budhwani, better known as N.M. Budhwani, whose meritorious services in Dhoraji in the field of journalism and education were inestimable. N.M. Budhwani worked as an editor of the 'Ismaili Aftab' for 25 years and earned appreciation from the Imam, Lady Ali Shah, Prince Aly Khan, Mata Salamat and Princess Tajudawla. He was famous as an educationalist and journalist. Only a socio-economic survey of the progress of the community shows what he had done to eradicate customs of the old school of thought in the community. He also followed the footsteps of the Imam and strived hard for the unity between the Muslims and Hindus.

He established the first Girls School in Dhoraji and supervised the Dhoraji Night School. He also started Religious Night Schools in certain centres of Junagadh and Jam Kadorana. With his untiring efforts and propaganda, the first Khoja Volunteer Corps came into existence in Dhoraji, Kathiawar in 1920.

He published the Ismaili Aftab on July 2, 1919. On August 27, 1919, the Ismaili Sahitiya Utejak Mandal, Bombay hosted him in a banquet for marking the bright beginning of the Ismaili Aftab. On September 8, 1919, The Kandi Mola Ismaili Students Library arranged a similar function in his honour, presided by Hashim of M/S Thavar Pir Muhammad & Sons. It was participated by Mukhi Laljibhai Devraj (1882-1930) and over 500 Ismailis. Missionary Varteji (1878-1953) made a speech and appreciated his valuable services for the Dhoraji jamat. The President gifted him a silver casket and a Silver Moon fabricated by the hands of Ali Muhammad Merali. On September 13, 1919, the Vidhiya Vinod Club also honored him in a gathering, presided by Ismail Lalji. The Hon. Secretary Major A.J. Lakhpati (1884-1947) presented him a Silver Moon. Ghulam Ali Lalji, on behalf of The Shia Imami Ismailia Mitr Mandal at Thana, Bombay honored him on September 15, 1919. The Ismailis of Dhoraji in Bombay gave him a warm ovation. He also raised a separate printing press for the Ismaili Aftab, whose opening ceremony was performed by Mr. Ghulam Hussain Basaria on April 25, 1924.

In May 1924, the 7th Gujrati Literary Conference was held, in which all journalists, writers, poets and scholars of Gujrat and Kathiawar attended. An Ismaili deputation also participated under N.M. Budhwani's along with V.N. Gheewala's, G.D. Anil's and V.N. Hooda's supervision. Hundred-year-old Ismaili books as well as two-hundred-year-old ginans manuscripts were exhibited. Budhwani spoke of the Ismaili contribution in promotion of the Gujrati language by the Ismaili Pirs.

The Imam arrived in Bombay from Europe on December 14, 1933. In the mehmani of the Dhoraji jamat at Aga Hall on January 16, 1934, the Imam celebrated the achievements of 'Ismaili Aftab' and its editor, N.M. Budhwani, and bestowed him the title of Huzur Mukhi. The Imam said that, 'Aftab is serving very well. Paper is the tongue. Devoid of paper (means) devoid of tongue. It is the duty of all to support it. It is best for the Ismaili jamat. Give the news, religious articles, trade, finance and quotations to the whole world; it is the duty of a journalist. It benefits the Mazhab (religion). Expand the Paper, at least by one page more. It is the duty of the Ismaili jamat to submit advertisements.'

The Ismailia Students' Library, Kandi Mola, Bombay therefore, gave him the honour on January 19, 1934 in the hall of the Recreation Club. The speakers like A.J. Chunara (1881-1966), Pir Sabzali (1884-1938) and V.N. Hooda (1889-1959) admired his literary skills. He left Bombay on January 23, 1934 for Dhoraji, where he was also given a warm welcome in a function on February 5, 1934.

N.M. Budhwani continued his services and completed 25 years of the Ismaili Aftab in 1944. It was the first Indian Ismaili journal to have completed 25 years. On January 19, 1936, he and his elder brother visited the Valkesar bungalow, Bombay to attend the mehmani of the Panjibhais. The Imam blessed them and said, 'Budhwani, you come here.' When he came near, the Imam said, 'I have received a telegram of your Maharaja.' He said, 'Yesterday, I was in Ganod for the function of the Viceroy, where the Maharaja collected the telegraphic address from me, and also gave me a letter.' Then, he delivered the letter to the Imam, who told him, 'Did you get my medal?' He said that he would get it as his name was included on the list. He then introduced his elder brother. The Imam said, 'You deal the business, while (N.M.) Budhwani is my servant.' The Imam also said, 'You conduct the business. (N.M.) Budhwani serves me excellently.'

The Imam appreciated his invaluable services, and became the recipient of the title Alijah in 1936 during the Golden Jubilee. He was also awarded a Gold Medal, a high distinction honour. He died in September 1944. His son took over the charge of the Ismaili Aftab as a next editor till 1946.

Budhwani, Kassim Mitha

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