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27. Chagla Vali Muhammad. Wazir - page 84

Chagla Vali Muhammad's forefathers were originally from Mulla Katiar, Sind. They migrated to Lasbela and finally settled in Karachi. Amongst them, Vali Muhammad, known as Vali Bhagat came to live in Kharadhar, Karachi. He was a religious teacher, and a ginans reciter in Jamatkhana. The Imam paid a gracious visit to Karachi for 27 days on April 10, 1920. On that occasion, a large concourse of ten thousand Ismailis flocked in the city. The Council formed a Managing Committee to control its administration. Vali Muhammad extended his incredible services as a member, presided by Wazir Col. Ghulam Hussain Khalfan (1887-1967). He had three sons, Chagla, Jaffer and Kassim.
Chagla Vali Muhammad was born in Karachi in 1885. Religion was a deep and abiding place in his heart since childhood. Nothing is known of his early education, except that he got little formal education and started to work in a Hindu's leather shop, and then in his prime age, he ventured into the small business of hard thread for boats. He had been also in Burma and Sri Lanka, dealing the business of rubber and pearls with the partnership of Alijah Shahban Moim. He lived almost ten years in Rangoon. He then worked in a Karachi fish harbor, exporting fish in Colombo, also earning commission on the fish auctions.

His first debut in community service was when he became the head of the Nandi Committee in 1931 in the period of Chief Mukhi Hussain Mukhi Mamu (1928-1934) of Kharadhar Jamatkhana, Karachi. It gave him a scope and opportunity to display his skills. In 1945, he was appointed Mukhi of the Baitul Khayal Brotherhood for two years (1945-1947).

When Chief Mukhi Merali Alarakhia of Kharadhar Jamatkhana in Karachi died all of a sudden in 1945, the Imam appointed his Kamadia Khimji Lawji as the next Chief Mukhi, Kassim Ali Mehr Ali as the Kamadia and Shahban Datoo as the Naib Mukhi. On March 10, 1946, the Imam appointed Chagla Vali Muhammad as Chief Mukhi of the Kharadhar Jamatkhana during the Diamond jubilee at Bombay. It is said that he bewildered to hear his appointment and humbly requested that, 'I have to stay in Rangoon for business purposes.' To this, the Imam said, 'You quit it. I bless for your prosperity.' He returned to Karachi and took charge of his duty as Chief Mukhi on March 21, 1946 with Kamadia Varas Jan Muhammad and Naib Mukhi Itmadi Nazarali Nanji. With his appointment as Chief Mukhi of the Kharadhar Jamatkhana, Karachi, he also continued to serve as Mukhi of the Baitul Khayal Brotherhood for one year till 1947.

During his period, the Imam declared the Kharadhar Jamatkhana as the Darkhana of Karachi by a telegraphic message on December 6, 1946, which reads: 'Loving paternal maternal blessings spiritual children now in Dharkhana Karachi.'

Chief Mukhi Chagla was fondly known as 'Mukhi Chagla' and was dearly loved by young and old alike. He possessed a great gift of oratory and high sense of humor. He conquered the hearts of the jamats in Pakistan and of the Ismailis worldwide.

He extended invaluable services in the Diamond jubilee. He also became a member of Kharadhar Ismaili Council (1946-1950), the member of Ismaili Supreme Council (1950-1960) and the executive member of the Ismailia Association for Pakistan (1948-1960). He was also a director of the Platinum Finance Corporation. In order to commemorate the auspicious occasion of the Platinum Jubilee in Karachi, the H.R.H. Prince Aga Khan Platinum Jubilee Association was formed. It also aimed to float a Company under registration with Pakistan Companies Act. Wazir Ibrahim Manji was appointed its President with Dr. Pir Muhammad Hoodbhoy and Mukhi Chagla as the Vice-Presidents. He rendered exceptional services during the Platinum Jubilee and one can see the photo of the jubilee, showing him standing reverently near the Imam on the round moving stage.

The Imam arrived at the Karachi airport on January 31, 1954 on the occasion of Platinum Jubilee. It was announced for the jamat in the Jamatkhanas not to come at the airport except the leaders and title-holders. Unfortunately, over 5000 Ismailis flocked at the airport, resulting in a misadministration due to the lack of volunteers to control the influx of people. The rush could hardly be controlled, but the Imam was serious to behold the multitude. When the Imam reached the governor house, he told the leaders, 'Did you come to revolt at the airport? I am not happy to see the mismanagement. It was against my instructions.' Mukhi Chagla seriously noticed the displeasure of the Imam. He at once went to the camp and other Jamatkhanas and asked to recite a tasbih for forgiveness. He himself also wept very much, and then went to see the Imam and sought forgiveness on behalf of the jamat. The Imam said, 'I am happy with you. I give my best blessings to the jamats with merciful sight. Khanavadan.'

. In 1956, he suffered from hernia. He sent his medical report to the Imam in Paris. The Imam wrote him to get operated in Paris. He was worried as he had never been in Europe. In the meantime, the Imam sent another letter, informing him that Mukhi Pirbhai of the Paris Jamatkhana would look after him. Finaly, his problems were solved and he proceeded to Paris. He was well received by Mukhi Pirbhai at the airport, who took him to the Imam's residence. On the next day, the doctors examined him and recommended for an operation. Mukhi Pirbhai showed him the whole city as per Imam's instructions. He underwent an operation very soon. The Imam also came to see him several times in the hospital. Mukhi Chagla thus recovered. He went to the Imam's residence before leaving Paris. The Imam said, 'I have granted you ten more years.' When he reached Karachi, he related to the jamat the detail of his tour in his speech, and concluded with tears trickling down his cheek that, 'The Imam looked after me in the hospital more than my own mother.'

The deputation of Pakistan comprised 20 leaders, who visited Aswan, including Mukhi Chagla, where the burial of Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah took place on Friday, July 20, 1957. Thousand of Ismailis from all over the world attended this ceremony to have the last glimpse of the mortal remains of the 48th Imam. It was a tragic scene as the mourners were sobbing with eyes moisted with tears. Mukhi Chagla also wept profusely while looking the bier said, 'Did you grant me ten years to see this sad scene?'

On December 11, 1955, Huzur Wazir Ghulam Ali Allana (1906-1985), the President of the Supreme Council for Pakistan, performed the opening ceremony of the new Jamatkhana in Lahore. On those days, a meeting of the Supreme Council was also held in Lahore. Rai Hussain R. Goawala, the Hon. Secretary announced the names of the new title-holders, and Chief Mukhi Wazir Chagla was given an honour to garland them on behalf of the Supreme Council during the opening ceremony of the Lahore Jamatkhana.

He rendered meritorious services during the first visit of the Imam on August 4, 1957 after assuming the Imamate and also on the occasion of the Takhat Nashini of Hazar Imam in Karachi on January 23, 1958.

In his period, the scheme for building the new Jamatkhana in Kharadhar area was designed. The Imam appointed him as President of the Jamatkhana Construction Advisory Committee to raise donations, etc. This Committee was consigned the entire construction process of the Dharkhana Jamatkhana of Kharadhar as well as the new Jamatkhana of the Garden area.

He retired from the post of Mukhi on March 21, 1960 after serving as Chief Mukhi for 16 years. With his retirement, the title of Chief Mukhi granted especially to each Mukhi of the Kharadhar Jamatkhana came to an end. The title of Chief Mukhi was enjoyed by six Mukhis of the Kharadhar Jamatkhana, Karachi between 1902 and 1960, who are Mukhi Rehmatullah Lutf Ali (1902-1928), Mukhi Hussain Mukhi Mamu (1928-1934), Mukhi Ghulam Hussain Varu (1934-1937), Mukhi Merali Alarakhia (1937-1942), Mukhi Khimji Lawji (1942-1945) and lastly Mukhi Chagla Vali Muhammad. It implies that the title of Chief Mukhi remained in force for 58 years.

With his talent and invaluable services, he merited himself the title of Huzur Mukhi in 1939, Alijah in 1946, Itmadi in 1950 and Wazir in 1951.

Wazir Chief Mukhi Chagla Vali Muhammad died in Karachi on Wednesday, February 16, 1966 at 11.30 p.m. at the age of 81 years. According to the resolution of the Kharadhar Council, the bier was taken from the Jamatkhana compound on next day at 3.25 p.m. Thousands of mourners participated alongwith the cream of the community leadership in the bier procession. The members of Band, Volunteers, Rovers and Scouts were marching in front with full uniforms to escort the funeral cortege in a befitting honour to this great leader. In a hushed silence, the mourners traversed the distance. The Imam sent the following message through the City Council on March 7, 1966: -

I have received your letter of February 17th, and was much grieved to hear of the sad demise of Chief Mukhi Chaglabhai Valimohamed, after many years of devoted and selfless services to my jamats of Pakistan. I send my most affectionate paternal maternal loving blessings for the soul of late Vazir Chagglabhoy, and I pray that his soul may rest in eternal peace. Late Vazir Chaglabhai's long devoted services to my various institutions and jamats in Pakistan will be remembered by all my spiritual children of Pakistan.

His services were quite exceptional and he was dearly loved by all. His loss is a loss to the whole of my jamat and I have no longer a spiritual child whom I loved greatly. He is in my thoughts and my prayers.

The Imam also sent a message on March 7, 1966 to his wife, Varasiani Fatimabai Chagla as follows: -

I send you and your family my best paternal maternal loving blessings for your husband's services with best loving blessings for courage and fortitude in your great loss. The late Mukhi rendered unique services to my jamat and myself and he had and always will have a unique place in my heart and affection. He will always be in my thoughts and prayers.

Chagla Vali Muhammad. Wazir

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