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91. Saboor Chatoor, Wazir - page 360

Kanji, a certain Ismaili was an origin of Limadi, Kathiawar. His son, Visram was a prominent person. Punja, the son of Visram was a famous merchant in Limadi, and his son Amarsi had three sons, Nur Muhammad, Pirbhai, Saboor and two daughters, Mannibai and Satbai. Among them, Saboor or Saboor Chatoor was most prominent in the Ismaili world.
Wazir Saboor Chatoor, also known as Chabur Chatoor was born on March 13, 1899 in Limadi, Kathiawar. His family moved towards Bombay in 1908, where he acquired his formal education. Accompanied by his elder brother, Nur Muhammad, he proceeded to Java in search of green pasture, but failed. The sudden illness of his elder brother forced him to return to Bombay. In 1915, he betrothed with Fatima and left Bombay alone and proceeded to Colombo, Sri Lanka. He started his labour work in a shop to procure his bread and butter. After being well settled, he called for his wife from Bombay.

Wazir Saboor Chatoor gained much experience in local business and ventured into the field. He established an export house in 1918 under the name of Saboor Chatoor & Co. at 72, Old Moor Street, Colombo, which was incorporated in 1957 and exists today. He was a leading exporter of rubber and sole crepe rubber, tea, cinnamon, copra, coconut oil, desiccated coconuts, citronella oil, kapok, cardamoms, cardamom seeds, cincona bark, mattress fibre, cocobeans, agecanuts, black pepper and other products of Sri Lanka He also was an importer of all kinds of manure, bone meal, oilcakes, blood manure. Besides, he also supervised dry fish consignments on commission basis.

In Colombo, no adequate facility subsisted for the Jamatkhana. He parted a big portion of his residence voluntarily for the purpose of the Jamatkhana from 1933 to 1952. In 1934, he came in Bombay for Imam's didar and got the first chance in the mehmani. The Imam asked much about his business activities. Then, the Imam attended the next mehmani. His wife was much anxious to invite the Imam in Colombo, but she forgot. When the Imam turned to the third mehmani, his wife recollected and uttered loudly, saying, 'Please make a holy visit of Colombo.' The Imam said, 'Colombo is too far. Khanavadan.' Soon after 15 days, they returned to Colombo, where they surprisingly received a telegram of the Imam that he would visit Colombo very soon. The Imam arrived in Colombo on March 20, 1934. Looking the wife of Wazir Saboor Chatoor at a little distance, the Imam said, 'You invited me with heart and I came.' The Imam graced them an audience on next day at his residence, and said to his wife, 'Did you bring kanak?' She didn't understand it. The Imam said, 'Did you bring wheat?' She replied affirmatively and brought wheat in a plate. The Imam took the plate and gave it to Wazir Saboor Chatoor, and said, 'I appoint you the Mukhi for my Colombo jamat.' The Imam also said, 'Today is a Navroz. I give you the rozi for world and religion. You will be prosperous in both worlds. Khanavadan.' The Imam also graced them with a group photograph. Hence, he was appointed the Mukhi with Ibrahim Ismail Virji Madhani as a Kamadia.

During the visit of the Imam in Colombo, he asked the Imam in a mehmani on March 21, 1934 whether the Indian Ismailis should be encouraged to arrive in Colombo for business purpose. The Imam acceded to his plan and said that he would also guide the incoming Ismailis in the business field. Mukhi Saboor Chatoor, therefore, published an advertisement in the weekly 'Ismaili' on April 29, 1934, inviting the interested Ismailis to venture into the business of tea, rubber and coconut in Colombo.

He was also included as a member on behalf of Colombo in the H.H. The Aga Khan Golden Jubilee All India Committee. He attended its first meeting at Bombay on October 12, 1935.

In view of his outstanding services and princely donations, he was awarded a gold medal during the Diamond Jubilee occasion in 1946.

When the influx of the Ismailis drifted towards Colombo, a colossal amount was raised for the new Jamatkhana, in which he contributed handsome amount. He humbly submitted a report of the construction to the Imam in May 27, 1952. The Imam graciously sent his message on June 1, 1952 and blessed all the donors. The Imam also stated that Prince Aly Khan would visit a week in Colombo to attend the opening ceremony of the Jamatkhana. Sir Oliver Gontal, the Minister of Foods & Agriculture, performed the opening ceremony of the new Jamatkhana on November 30, 1952. On that occasion, Kamadia Ibrahim Datoo Meru (1901-1982) delivered a touching speech. The jamat was repasted on that day by Mukhi and Kamadia.

Wazir Mukhi Saboor Chatoor was a zealous worker and devoted his life in the services of the Ismailis in Colombo. The Imam had given him a general power of attorney, authorizing him to deal all the legal matters of the jamat in Sri Lanka. He was invested the title of Alijah in 1940, Rai in 1950 and Wazir in 1953.

He also made a tour of Europe with his wife Varasiani Fatimabai and had an audience of the Imam and Mata Salamat. He returned from Europe and arrived in Karachi before reaching to Colombo. On November 11, 1953, Varas Abdul Aziz Ramzan Vali hosted him a warm reception in Hotel Metropole, Karachi in presence of the galaxy of the leaders. His inestimable and meritorious services were splashed before the audience.

In response to his letter of November 11, 1959, the Imam mailed him a reply on November 14, 1959 at 128, Old Moor Street, Colombo, advising him to continue his work in the way he had performed in past. The Imam also graced him with best loving blessings on October 22, 1959 and November 13, 1959.

The last few years of his life were marred by physical affliction, which he bore with tranquility and peace of mind. He submitted his humble services to the Imam for his retirement from the post of the Mukhi on March 1, 1966. The Imam sent following message on April 16, 1966 that:-

My dear spiritual child,

I have received your letter of 1st March, and I give you my most affectionate paternal maternal loving blessings for service with best loving blessings for the recovery of your health.

You may submit new names for the appointment of Mukhi, Kamadia, Mukhiani and Kamadiani of Colombo jamat.

I would like you to write to Vazir Amirali Currim in Karachi and you should submit your recommendation to me jointly.

After receiving your recommendations, I will make the new appointment on the occasion of Imamate Day.

I am very sad that it has become necessary for you to resign after 32 years of uninterrupted and exceptional service. You have my warmest and most very loving blessings and I pray for your continued happiness and good health.

In sum, he retired on July 11, 1966 after serving for 32 years as a Mukhi.

He made his business trips twice in Japan, thrice in Europe and once in United States. He was noted for his piety and philanthropy and donated princely funds to the Indian Ismailis on many occasions in different fields.

Wazir Mukhi Saboor Chatoor expired in Colombo on July 11, 1967 at the age of 68 years. In the Ruhani Mehmani in Bombay in 1967, Hazar Imam told to his son, Alijah Ghulam Hussain that, 'Your late father was like the rock of Gibraltar, and I now expect you to carry on his good work.' The Imam also prayed for eternal peace to the soul of Wazir Mukhi Saboor Chatoor.

Benignity in manner and speech, a bent of kindness and compassion, which made him a person worthy of utmost respect, characterized Wazir Mukhi Saboor Chatoor. The Ismailis were able to scale the height of progress in Colombo under his mercantile guidance. His fame loomed large inside and outside the community. His personality was clothed in his transparent sincerity. He had a rare ability to keep his mind fixed steadily on the distance horizon and at the same time concentrated his whole effort on what was practically possible. He was firm as a mountain in his faith. Force of character, prodigious gift for hard work and firm and patient adherence to the religion distinguished him from his contemporaries. He was a man of quiet and unassuming disposition. In short, he was a generous, humane and charitable to the destitute.

Wazir Mukhi Saboor Chatoor left behind his wife, two sons and three daughters. His son Alijah Ali Muhammad Saboor Chatoor (1920-1971) had served as the Kamadia of the Jamatkhana (1966-1971). His another son, Alijah Ghulam Hussain was the Kamadia of Colombo Jamatkhana (1971-1980). It is to be noted that Anwar Ali, the son of Alijah Ali Muhammd also served as the Mukhi (1987-1993). Tasneem Akbar Musa, the daughter of Alijah Ghulam Hussain was the Kamadiani of Baitul Khiyal Brotherhod in Toronto, the member of the religious education management team and also served as the principle of Baitul Ilm (1997-1999).

Shireen, the daughter of Wazir Saboor Chatoor married to Rajab Ali Jinnah, who died on December 30, 1994. Shireenbhai also served in different fields, notably in the Aga Khan Hospital, Karachi for 7 years. She also served as the Kamadiani for Life Dedication Brotherhood, then the Kamadiani and Mukhiani for Chand Raat Brotherhood. She also gave services to the Mohammadi Girls Academy and the Aga Khan Health Board. She drove car and brought the ladies in Jamatkhana at morning. Her daughter, Kamadinani Anar continued the tradition of service in different field. She joined the Garden East Girl Guides in 1964, and was one of the founding members and the first Captain of Garden West Girl Guides (1972-1977). Kamadiani Anar was a member of the Libraries & Co-ordinating Department of the Ismailia Association for Pakistan (1974) and also its Hon. Secretary (1975). She was also a volunteer in Socio-Economic Survey (1983-84) and in the Aga Khan Hospital (1988-1994). She also served as a worker in the Life Dedication Brotherhood (1972-74), and the Mukhiani for the Chand Raat Brotherhood in Clifton Jamatkhana (1992). She was also a member of the Kharadhar Local Health Board (1992), the member of the Kharadhar Education Board (1993), worker of the Saf Safai Committee in Clifton Jamatkhana (2000-01), where she also rendered her services in the Nandi-Reza Committee, etc. She is the Kamadiani for Baitul Khiyal Brotherhood for Clifton Jamatkhana (2001-2002). She also worked as a volunteer during the Convocation programme in 2000.

His second daughter, Malekbai Noor Ali Jaffer was also the Kamadiani in Islamabad Jamatkhana in 1980. His third daughter, Noorbanubai Faizullah Hooda resides in Dallas, Texas. She has served as the Mukhiani of Andheri Jamatkhana in Bombay (1966-1970).

Saboor Chatoor, Wazir

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