Welcome to F.I.E.L.D.- the First Ismaili Electronic Library and Database.

93. Sadruddin A.M., Rai - page 384

Bhagat Hira was a devoted Ismaili goldsmith in Punjab. His son, Ghulam Sadruddin had a strong proclivity towards Ismailism and conducted the religious school at his own residence in Multan. He translated 'Si-Harafi' of Sayed Ahmad Shah into Urdu. He and his forefathers were the gupti Ismailis, who subscribed to the Ismaili faith openly in 1912 in accordance with the instructions of the Imam. Ghulam Sadruddin served as a Mukhi of Multan Jamatkhana and a member of the district Council for Multan. He had four sons and three daughters. Hyder Ali who died young. Rehmat Ali and Mubarak Ali dwelt in Karachi as well known jewellers and bullion merchants. Mubarak Ali was the President of Ismaili Council, Multan Cantt, and was also the President of All Pakistan Shroff (bullion merchants) Association. The fourth son Aziz, known as Aziz Mukhi Sadruddin, or Rai A.M. Sadruddin was most famous among them. His two of three daughters were the first to qualify as trained teachers in the community.
Mukhiani Mariambai, the wife of Mukhi Ghulam Sadruddin (.d. 1926) died in Karachi on September 9, 1951 at the age of 71 years, who served as a Mukhiani in Multan Jamatkhana for over 25 years. The Imam in a cable message to Rai A.M. Sadruddin, conferred upon her a posthumous title of Lady Mariam.

Rai A.M. Sadruddin was born on June 19, 1906. He did his matriculation from the Government High School and joined the Government College, Multan. He was interested to study Ismailism since childhood.

Rai A.M. Sadruddin possessed poetical faculty. He versified his first poem at the age of 10 years, namely 'Haqq' without proper metres. It was meant to be published from Lahore, supporting the Allied cause in the First World War in 1916. He then compiled 'Shajra' (genealogy) of the Imam in Urdu in 200 pages in 1922 at the age of 16 years. He also compiled,'Gur'ki Pichhan' at the end of 1922. He also wrote several important articles, notably in the papers, 'Zamindar', 'Inkilab', 'Ismaili', etc.

On those days, Pir Sabzali had come from Karachi to Punjab in 1920 as a Special Commissioner of the Imam. His father took him to Pir Sabzali and asked to accept him as his pupil, and a small traditional ceremony was performed and sweetmeats distributed in the jamat. He acquired adequate religious education from Pir Sabzali, who was his real religious tutor. In 1921, he was invited in Bombay for a lecture. It was his first lecture when he was 15 years old before the grand gathering, presided by Pir Sabzali. Huzur Wazir Ali Muhammad Macklai awarded him a gold medal. He also lectured in the Recreation Club on December 28, 1922 on the 'Need of the Imamate' for two hours, which was advertised in the foremost Bombay daily 'Sanj Vartman.'

In Bombay, he gave a public lecture on July 21, 1923. On July 29, 1923, Huzur Wazir Ali Muhammad Macklai appointed him as a member of Recreation Club Institute by a special circular. In 1923, he also became an Hon. Secretary of Punjab Ismailia Mission Club in Multan, whose President was his maternal uncle, Karam Hussain. His booklet 'Qandil-i Rah-i Rast' Part I was written at the end of 1923, which he dedicated to Pir Sabzali. Its second volume appeared in 1924, which he dedicated to Manji Ghulam Hussain Padamsi.

The 'Shajra' was the first book he had compiled in Urdu, covering 200 pages of school copies. Pir Sabzali managed to show his book to the Imam at Bombay in 1922 with his father. He could not go to Bombay due to a matric examination. The Imam asked, 'Where is the boy who wrote this book? Will he translate the ginans in Urdu?' The Imam also told to get it printed at his own expenses. His father returned to Punjab. He overjoyed when heard the Imam's remarks on his book. So, he set on his writing career. He printed several books, including two ginans translated in Urdu with the help of his family members. His book 'Shajra' remained yet unpublished. Pir Sabzali told him in 1923 to see Huzur Wazir Ali Muhammad Macklai, while he himself proceeded on his tour of Central Asia. Huzur Wazir Ali Muhammad Macklai subsequently directed him to see A.J. Chunara, who was in Poona. He went to Poona and showed him his book. Later on, the Press and Publicity Department of the Recreation Club translated it into Gujrati. Meanwhile, he returned to Punjab and his historical book faded out. It however was well studied by Hasan Ali Rahim Nathani (d. 1962), who derived its materials for the 'Nurun Mubin' of A.J. Chunara. Rai A.M. Sadruddin justifiably has always proudly claimed that the 'Nurun Mubin' was born out of his unpublished 'Shajra.'

He was under-graduate when his father expired in 1926. He left his studies and joined the teaching line. He married to Rabia, the daughter of Mukhi Mubarak Ali.

On June 14, 1927, he gave a lecture on 'Ismailism and Historians' in the grand assembly of the Recreation Club, Bombay, presided by Missionary Mohammad Abdullah. He quoted rich historical evidences in his lecture. In course of which he read out a bibliography of over 250 books and articles of Arabic, Persian, English and Urdu. This probably was the first scholarly bibliography of Ismailism ever to be compiled. He scholarly examined the works published from Leiden, London and Paris. He spoke on the Ismailis and its origin, the need of the Imam, the Fatimid Imams, and the Nizari Imams down to the Aga Khan period. He also discussed the Fatimid genealogy and the peerless personality of Hasan bin Sabbah.

On the occasion of the unfurling ceremony of the Ismaili banner, My-Flag for the first time in the Thana Jamatkhana on June 19, 1927, he was fortunate to attend it.

In 1929, Rai Sadruddin came in East Africa, and became the Headmaster of the Tanga Ismailia School and the member of the Mombasa Religious School. In July, 1931, when he was on holiday from Africa, as a Chairman of the Punjab Ismailia Protest Committee, he addressed to the Viceroy of India and the Governor of Punjab, the resolutions passed by the jamats of Punjab against the Arya Samaj newspaper, defiling Ismailism in hyperbolic terms. In 1932, he became the Headmaster of Dar-es-Salaam Religious School, and also started the first religious periodical, known as Shafiq from Dar-es-Salaam in 1934. He sent its copy to the Imam in India and received a gracious message, ending with the words, 'Nothing can help more than writing.' Soon afterwards, he started the first bilingual weekly, namely Ismaili Voice from Dar-es-Salaam in 1936.

Rai Sadruddin then moved to Nairobi in 1937, where he published a quarterly periodical, Zahur in 1939. It was hailed in the community and continued for several years. He also attended as a delegate of Dar-es-Salaam Mission Society in the first Mission Conference held in Mombasa on December, 1945 and was elected its General Secretary. He was also appointed the Chairman of Nairobi Ismailia Mission Society (1941-1943). In 1946, he published The Diamond Jubilee Souvenir. The Imam sent him a personal message by his own hand-writing in 1946 that, 'Mr. Sadruddin is of particular interest to me as he is one whose family was converted by me personally. I am glad to see the good work he has done for our faith. I have followed his work and career with great interest. I give him my blessings and best wish for a life of success. '

He was the Chief Publicity Officer of the Grand Victory War Fete (1944), publicized the Prince Aly Khan War Fund and the Palestine Relief Fund, and also the Publicity Officer of the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations in Africa in 1946, also the Chief Publicity Officer of Victory War Fete. He also became the Chief Organizer of the Ismailia Education Week and Students' Rally. He was also appointed the Chairman of The Aga Khan's Public Affairs Committee in 1947.

He was a member and an officer-in-charge of libraries, mission, religious education and publicity at various times in the Ismailia Association for Kenya, first appointed in 1948 to 1950, re-appointed in 1951 to 1953 and 1968 to 1971.

In 1953, he was appointed Chairman of the Provincial Committee of the Ismailia Association for Kenya, and became the General Secretary of the Ismailia Political Committee for Kenya in the same year. He was also a member of H.H. The Aga Khan's Provincial Council (1954-1962). He was the founder Convenor of Nairobi Ismailia Study Group in 1955. He also became the Honorary Secretary of Platinum Jubilee Hospital Interim Management Board in 1957, and the Chairman of the Economic Committee in 1961.

Rai Sadruddin was also appointed by the colonial government as an Information Officer of the Indian Section of the Kenya Information Office and was responsible for two weekly wartime official News Bulletin in Urdu and Gujrati. As well, he founded the Hindustani Radio Programme Services of 7LO Nairobi after the end of War. Being an Information Officer, he was able to remain in touch with the editors of East African newspapers and journals, and gained rich experience. It must be known that the journalism had been his first love, it had never been his profession or means of livelihood.

He was a member of the Government India High School Committee (1943-1946), and also of the Advisory Council & Standing Committee of the Asian Education in Kenya. Her Majesty the Queen of England awarded him the Coronation Medal for his education services in 1953. He was also a member of the Government Nairobi Area Schools' Committee (1946-1951), and became Chairman of this committee (1951- 1955 & 1957-1959). He was also the Chairman of Government High School Committee, Eastleigh (1960- 1964), and the member of the Kenya Advisory Council on Asian Education (1945-1948 & 1951- 1963).

For 23 years he had been a member of the Important City Education Body, the Nairobi Evening Continuation Classes Management Committee (1947-1970). He also became the Chairman of the Government Indian School Scholarship Committee (1945-1950), the member of Asian Overseas Bursary Committee (1952-1956), Multi-Racial Bursary Selection Board (1957-1959), Central Bursary Committee (1960-1963). He was also a member of the Joint-Committee of the Legislative Asian Elected Members and the Asian Advisory Council on Education (1957-1958), Government Adult Education Committee (1952), University College Extra Mural Studies (1957-1958), Approved School Board (1958-1961), Joint-Committee on Religious Studies University of East African (1967-1970), University Departmental Committee of Philosophy and Religious Studies (1970), etc.

He also took keen interest in the field of libraries, and became the President of Asian Library in Kenya and of Desai Memorial (1951-1953 & 1963-1967). He also became a member of Government Central Reference Library Committee in 1952 and Development of the Public Libraries Committee (1959-1963).

He also got involved in political bodies. For instance, he became City Councilor and Member of the Building Control Board (1946), Senior Vice-President of the Anjuman Himayat Islam of East Africa (1949-1950), Vice-President of Sayed Abdullah Shah Memorial Fund (1950), President of the Muslim Parents' Association (1952), Honorary Secretary of the Kenya Muslim League (1954-1956), etc.

The Imam appointed him as a member of the Publicity and Research in the Advisory Board of the Ismailia Association for Kenya through a message on September 19, 1968. The Imam said, 'I give you my best paternal maternal loving blessings to the newly appointed members of the Advisory Board.' The inaugural meeting of the Research Section of the Ismailia Association was held on August, 1970, which came to be known as the Friday Forum.

Rai Sadruddin was invited to attend the 28th International Congress of Orientalists held in Canberra, Australia between 6th and 12 January, 1971.

He was appointed as an Estate Secretary with H.H. The Aga Khan Estate Department for Africa in 1952, and after serving for 20 years, he retired in 1972.

In 1972, he became the Honorary General Secretary of the Ismailia Association for Kenya and continued to serve as an honorary editor of the 'Africa Ismaili'

He proceeded to Canada in 1974 with his family and settled in Vancouver. The Imam appointed him the member of the Review Committee for the Ismaili Research Centre in London. He attended the meeting of the Review Committee in London, where his death occurred by heart failure on July 9, 1980 at the age of 74 years. The Imam sent a message to the family of Rai A.M. Sadruddin and bestowed blessings to the departed soul.

Raid Sadruddin had three sons, viz. Mumtaz Ali, Sarfraz Hussain and Ejaz Hussain; and three daughters, Mehrunissa, Firdaus Ara and Dr. Zubeda.

'The happiest week of my life was in 1957 when I travelled with the Aga Khan IV as his Secretary during his first tour as an Imam in East Africa' was an oft-repeated word of pride of Rai Sadruddin.

Sadruddin A.M., Rai

Back to top