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73. Master Hashim Bogha - page 290

Master Hashim Bogha was born in Porebandar, India in 1863. He was intelligent and thus eager to get educated, but his poverty fated a hitch in his life. He however continued by hook and crook. He studied till late hours at night. Sometimes he stood several hours below a street-light to study when he had not a single penny to purchase kerosene for the lamp. Despite his down-trodden condition, he had his schooling upto matriculation.
In 1881, his fortune brought him in Bombay at the age of 18 years and joined Khan Muhammad Habib School as an assistant teacher in the English section.

Master Hashim Bogha was one of the most well read persons of his period and acquired adequate knowledge of Arabic, Persian, English, Gujrati, Sanskrit, Marathi and Sindhi. He was well skilled in the allegorical interpretations of the Holy Koran and Hadiths.

He was a devoted Ismaili and cemented his close contact with Mukhi Laljibhai Devraj (1842-1930) and Nainsibhai Pirbhai Muhammad Ruwala (1852-1924). The Imam had formed an education committee of these three persons to propagate the importance of education within the community. In 1901, they established a school in the compound of the Darkhana Jamatkhana in Bombay, where the students were given secular and religious education. Master Hashim taught religious education in the mornings and evenings for two hours. Another school also started in Kandi Mola, Bombay on January 16, 1909, where Master Hashim exhorted religious education.

During the course of his presidential speech at the 15th annual session of the All India Muhammaden Educational Conference held in 1902 at Delhi, the Imam said that there was no hard and fast injunction in Holy Koran regarding the practice of veil in Muslim society. Unfortunately, the Imam's speech was criticized negatively in the orthodox arena through newspapers. As a response to this criticism, Master Hashim Bogha girded his loins and justified the Imam's views with trenchant arguments in the local newspapers. Justice Badruddin Tayyib (1844-1909) was much touched with his rational arguments, and discarded the system of veil in his family. Nay, he also visited the house of Master Hashim Bogha and tendered his special congratulations.

In 1903, the Ismaili Literature Society also came into existence to enhance the notion of religious education. Mukhi Laljibhai Devraj became President with Wazir Virji Premji Parpiya (1881-1946) as Honorary Secretary. Master Hashim Bogha was appointed Supervisor. This small institution played a vital role in publishing religious literature.

The derogatory propaganda, defiling Ismailism was in vogue in those days, and a heap of articles poured down in periodicals. On that juncture, Master Hashim was alone to encounter the diabolic propaganda. When the rival camp did not desist, he produced a bulk of books with his meagre resources as a true fidai. Once his opponents filed a suit against him when he had no support to oppose it. He was not disheartened and succeeded to overcome it.

He was deeply engaged in his religious services and heeded nothing to accelerate his economical condition. He formed an Ismaili Book Agency, the only mean provided him bread and butter.

He however continued his study of Arabic and Persian, and issued several leaflets on different topics. He compiled the 'Ismaili Darpan' in 1906. It was the first book ever written on Ismaili history by any author in India. Hence, he merited himself the title of the first pioneer to publish Ismaili literature. He had a good collection of the Imam's farmans which he published in 1906, namely 'Bahr-i Rehmat' containing the farmans from 1903 to 1905, and was updated in 1911.

It exhausted his 15 precious years to translate the commentary of the old prayers into Gujrati. During the Haji Bibi Case in 1908, the need of the translation of an old prayer arose in court. He forwarded its copy to Justice Louis Pitman Russell in the court through Missionary Juma Bhagat Ismail (1868-1935) on August 5, 1908. The scholars in Arabic examined it and declared it a genuine translation. Thus, he published it in 1908 entitled, 'Tafsir- Dua.'

With the help of his colleagues, he carried the torch of learning to distant parts of India, and when the Ismaili schools on the same pattern started everywhere in India, the need of a syllabus arose for religious education. Mukhi Laljibhai Devraj formed a Text Book Committee with the inclusion of Master Hashim and Manji Ghulam Hussain. Master Hashim had a broad knowledge, he was confided to prepare a syllabus into four volumes, entitled 'Sindhi Chopadi'.

Despite his several engagements, he always stood steadfast in the literary deliberations. In 1907, Edlji Dhanji Kaba published a book, 'Hasan bin Sabbah' against the Ismailis. Master Hashim was confined to bed due to illness, but he compiled his 'Qatelal Hasad' within four hours, refuting the charges branded against Hasan bin Sabbah.

In 1908, when Ibrahim Jusab Varteji had not yet espoused Ismailism, Ahmed Devji, a veteran Ismaili leader was awarded the title of J.P. by British India. The Khoja Panjibhai Club hosted a reception for Ahmed Devji. Varteji was also invited, who took a chance to meet Master Hashim Bogha, whose immense knowledge deeply impressed him.

It is to be noted that the first girls school in Kandi Mola, Bombay established on January 16, 1909 amidst a rousing function attended by 200 guests. Master Hashim Bogha delivered an impressive speech on the importance of education.

According to the report of May 21, 1909, which splashed in the daily 'Bombay Samachar', the Twelvers hosted a grand honour to Jaffer Haji Mohammad Sharif in Jamnagar on May 15, 1909 for the building of 'Makam-i Jafferi' for their community. On that occasion, Ibrahim Jusab Varteji (who did yet not embraced Ismailism) lyrically expressed few verses before the audience. Unfortunately, the Ismaili faith was discredited in their programme. When Master Hashim Bogha mastered the philosophy of the Ismaili faith, he took his pen and bodly refuted the irrational allegations charged against Ismailism through the local newspaper. His arguments were endowed with potent reasons.

In 1911, a member of the Ismaili Council for Bombay told him to publish the approved rules and regulations of the Council into English and Gujrati and offered him a remuneration of Rs. 25/- Master Hashim laughed at him and said, 'How much will you earn while submitting the published copy to the Imam?' To this, the member surprisingly said, 'It is not a matter to astonish. I am doing it voluntarily for the community beyond any doubt.' Master Hashim said, 'The work you intend to assign me will cost no less than a hundred rupees. Since you work voluntarily, I also wish to share you, and will not claim a single penny for it.'

Master Hashim Bogha always received cooperation from Mukhi Laljibhai Devraj in the literary field, whom he respected as a father. He remained indebted to him for getting encouragement.

He died at the end of 1912 in Bombay. He had no child, therefore, his wife sustained on a small grocery shop at home. Upon his death, the members of the Ismaili Religious Library called an urgent meeting to pay tribute to his inestimable services, and passed a resolution that his photo should be kept in the library. Dr. Rajab Ali Ramji Lakhdhir, the President was assigned to send a copy of the minutes of the meeting to the Imam. Below his photo in the library, it was written into Gujrati that: 'The first Ismaili religious author in Gujrati.'

While returning from Europe in 1912, the Imam himself visited the library to perform the unveiling ceremony of his photo, and said: 'He was a very nice person, and rendered services with a true sense of spirit in the promulgation of religious education.' After a short while, the Imam became serious and said, 'Had there been five (persons like) Hashim Bogha, the entire world would have been enlightened with Ismailism. Alas! He was alone.'

He was a prolific and trenchant writer and compiled many books under the registration with British India as per the 25th Act of 1867. He began to publish the following books under the 'Shia Imami Ismaili Dharam Vardhak Gujrati Book Agency.'

Ismaili Darpan' (1906), 'Ismaili Prakash' Part I & II (1906-1907), 'Tafsir-i Dua' (1908), 'Ninda-i Haq' (1908), 'Qatelul Hasad' (1908), 'Taleem-i Dua' (1909), 'Tarbiat-i Dua' (1909), 'Nur-i Vahedaniat' Part I, II, & III (1909)Bahr-i Rehmat' (1911), etc. Nay, he also wrote 'Maqsad-i Haqiqat', 'Haqiqi Aino', 'Bostan-i Ali', 'Hu'n Konn Chhu'n?' etc.

He also published the following books under the 'Ismaili Book Agency'.

Jauhar-i Haqiqat' (1910), 'Asliat-i Khoja' (1912),
etc. Besides, he also brought out 'Zahoor-i Ali', 'Didar-i Ali', 'Bostan-i Marifat', 'Daniya Bhagaya Ismaili tara', 'Mazhar-i Ali', 'Hukka', etc.

His book Asliat-i Khoja (Origin of the Khojas) published few months before his death in 1912. It was in response to the 'Khoja Kom'ni Tawarikh' (1912) by Edlji Dhanji Kaba.

Master Hashim Bogha

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