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46. Ibrahim Suleman Haji, Wazir - page 190

Ibrahim Suleman's ancestors came from Kutchh, and a certain Rahim among his forefathers took his abode in Jerruk, Sind. Rahim had two sons, Haji and Merali. The son of the latter was Alidino, known as Aloo, who was present during the ascension ceremony of Imam Sultan Mohammed Shah at Bombay in 1885. The former Haji had a son, called Ghulam Hussain, also known as Ghulu or Wazir Ghulu. Since he was the breeder of the hawks, the people also called him Ghulu Ba'azwala in Jerruk. He was well-versed in Persian, therefore, Imam Hasan Ali Shah took him to Bombay in 1844 as an interpreter. He also used to translate the Persian farmans of the Imams in Indian languages. He served three Imams in India, and notably as a religious tutor of Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah. Imam Hasan Ali Shah also vested him the title of Wazir. He also attended the ascension ceremony of Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah in 1885, and died in 1895 at Bombay. In his letter dated 23rd May, 1953 addressed to Wazir Dr. I.S. Haji, the grandson of Wazir Ghulam Hussain Haji, Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah said, 'Your grand-father was one of our greatest servants and he played a great part in the early years of my Imamate. It can also be said of your father that he was a great and most devoted servant.'
It will be interesting to learn that Wazir Suleman Haji presented the following historical photograph before Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah in 1954 at Karachi, and humbly asked to recognize his forefathers from it:-

The Imam took the pen at once, marked and wrote the names of Aloo and Goloo (Ghulu) on the photograph with his own handwriting.

Wazir Ghulam Hussain Haji was married twice. He had two sons from his first wife, i.e., Dawood and Suleman; and one son and three daughters from his second wife, i.e., Ashiq Ali, Dariakuli, Fiji and Shireen.

The most prominent among them was Suleman, known as Dr. S.G. Haji (d. 1924). He had four sons from his first wife, - Col. H.S. Haji, Dr. C.S. Haji, Wazir I.S. Haji and Dawood. The second wife of Dr. S.G. Haji was Shireen, the daughter of Walji Punja and the cousin of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and she was the mother of Akbar, Asghar, Saleem, Khatija, Zainab, Fatima, Sher Banu, Dawlat and Mariam.

Wazir I.S. Haji or Ibrahim Suleman Haji was a well-known figure among the Ismailis of Pakistan, India, Africa and Burma as the Honorary Private Secretary of Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah. He was born in Karachi in 1889 and was educated in Sind Madressah-tul-Islam. He organized the Muslim students of different Indian colleges as a kind of association when they presented an address in a silver casket to Imam Sultan Mohammed Shah in Bombay as their humble token of appreciation of the most indefatigable services in the cause of Muslim University at Aligarh.

Soon after graduation, Wazir I.S. Haji went to England in 1914 for higher studies as a special student of the Imam. He was called to the Bar (Grays Inn) in 1917. He passed B.Sc. (Economics) in 1918 from the London University, and was the first Muslim to achieve this distinguished academic degree. He arrived in Karachi, where the Panjibhai Club accorded him a warm reception on May 3, 1919. On his return to Bombay, he started his practice as a Barrister. He was also elected as a member of the Bombay Municipal Corporation.

Before his appointment as a Presidency Magistrate in 1934, he was a joint Hon. Secretary of the Bombay Presidency Muslim League with Muhammad Ali Jinnah as a President. Both at the Bar and also on the Bench, Ibrahim Suleman Haji had several famous cases to deal with. He had shown considerable forensic acumen and judicial ability in his legal career. After he retired in 1944, he resumed his practice, and became the Chief Justice of Janjira State (1945-1948).

Wazir I.S. Haji was appointed the member of the Ismaili Council in Bombay in 1921. Not only during the period of the Diamond jubilee, but also subsequently worked as the Honorary Secretary of the Imam. He also acted as the Honorary Private Secretary of Prince Aly Khan during his visit to India in 1952. He was also the member of the Ismaili Federal Council for India and the Vice-President of the Ismailia Association for India. He was finally appointed the President of the Federal Council for India (1958-1963).

Col. Jamal Nasr, the President of Egypt visited India in April, 1960. During a function held in Bombay on April 9, 1960 by the ten organizations, including the Ismailia Federal Council for India, presented an honour to the Egyptian President. Wazir I.S. Haji represented the Ismailis and presented a silver casket to him. Wazir Akbar H. Merchant, the President of Bombay Council garlanded him. When Col. Jamal Nasr departed for Cairo, he sent a message of goodwill to the Federal Council through his Consul in India and admired the Ismaili community. He also sent his photo framed with silver along with an autograph in it. Wazir I.S. Haji sent its report to the Imam on May 6, 1960. Hazar Imam sent following message on May 12, 1960:-

My dear Haji,

I have received your letter of 6th May and am pleased to know that the presentation of the Casket to President Nasser was a success.

During the war between India and China at the end of 1962, Wazir I. S. Haji called an urgent meeting of the Federal Council for India and resolved to make an appeal to the Indian jamats to contribute to the Prime Minister National Defence Fund. The copies of the appeal were read in all Jamatkhanas in India, and it was also endorsed to Zakir Hussain (1897-1969), the President of India on November 8, 1962. The President sent following message on November 12, 1962 that:-

Dear Haji Saheb,

Thank you for your letter of the 8th November.

I am happy to know that an Appeal has been issued by H.R.H. Prince Aga Khan's Federal Council for India for contributions to the National Defence Fund. I am deeply touched by the patriotic determination that I know lies behind these efforts. As you know we have difficult times ahead, but with the cooperation of all citizens, we shall, God willing, see through them.

On the other hand, the Imam also sent a telegraphic message to the Indian Ismailis through Federal Council on November 12, 1962 that:-

I am glad my spiritual children in India are solidly supporting Prime Minister's call to nation. I am happy to read your timely and practical Appeal to jamats jointly with local Councils. I expect my spiritual children to do their duty loyally and contribute generously. I give my best loving paternal maternal blessings to them for their sacrifice during National Emergency. Please convey to jamats they are always in my thoughts and near my heart in my prayers for early peace with success. Affectionately Aga Khan.

In response to his call, the Ismailis alone in Bombay contributed Rs. 88,000/- in a day for the Prime Minister Defence Fund. The Ismaili delegation led by Wazir I.S. Haji met Shri Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister of India at Delhi on December 17, 1962. The delegation presented a letter of the Imam to the Prime Minister, declaring the donation of two lac rupees.

Wazir I. S. Haji retired from Federal Council for India as a President on March 21, 1963. He was invested the title of Alijah, Itmadi and then as a Wazir on March 21, 1960.

He was also a good writer and compiled few articles, such as 'He Lives in Our Grateful Hearts' ('Ismaili', Bombay, August 4, 1957), 'His Highness Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah The Aga Khan III' (Ibid. July 13, 1958), 'My First Political Speech' (Ibid. August 10, 1963)

He died on Sunday, October 23, 1966 at Bombay. The Imam sent following telegraphic message:-

28th October, 1966

Was much grieved to hear of sad demise of Vazir Haji. I send my most affectionate paternal maternal loving blessings for the soul of late Vazir Haji and I pray that his soul rest in eternal peace. Vazir Haji's long devoted services to my jamats of all India as President of my Federal Council for many years and as a member of many institutions in India will always be remembered by my spiritual children and myself. Kindly convey my most affectionate loving blessings to Varasiani Izzatkhanu and family for courage and fortitude in their great loss.

Few words must be added for his wife, Varasiani Izzat Khanum (1899-1984). She was well educated and a keen worker in social welfare field. In 1935, when the Imam established the Health Board Centre Committee in Bombay, she was appointed its member and subsequently became its Hon. Secretary. She was one of the two first lady members of the Ismaili Council in Bombay. In 1939, Imam Sultan Mohammed Shah appointed her as a member of the Governing Body of Kathiawar Health Centre, and she became its Chairperson between 1940 and 1953. In 1946, she worked in several committees during the Diamond jubilee. She organized ladies volunteer in the camps to look after the small children, and was awarded the Gold Medal by the Imam. In 1952, she was summoned at Calcutta, then at Delhi to discuss with the Imam and Mata Salamat on Health Centres and Child Welfare in India. She was vested the title of Huzur Mukhiani, Alijiani and then most coveted title of Varasiani in 1951. Upon the death of her husband, she donated a sum of Rs. 10,000/- to The Ismaili General Hospital, Bombay for a permanent bed in the name of her husband and herself. She died at Bombay on August 18, 1984 at the age of 85 years.

Ibrahim Suleman Haji, Wazir

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