14 February, 2018 (29 Jamada-al-Awwal, 1439AH), Mumbai
Shahzada Abbas bhaisaheb Fakhruddin, son of the 51st da’i al-mutlaq Syedna Taher SaifuddinRA and brother of the late Syedna Mohammed BurhanuddinRA, passed away Wednesday 14th February at Saifee Hospital, Mumbai.
Syedna Mufaddal SaifuddinTUS led the funeral prayers and burial rites late on Wednesday night after urgently returning from Bhavnagar, Gujarat. The funeral prayer was held in Fatemi Masjid next to Raudat Tahera and the burial took place in Nariyal Wadi at Mazgaon.
Shahzada Abbas bhaisaheb was one of nine children to Amena Aaisaheba. He was born on the 5th of April 1938 (15th Safar 1357AH).
Describing his qualities during the funeral prayer His HolinessTUS spoke of his service to the previous two dais, his scrupulous attention to detail and in particular his remarkable grasp over accounts and figures. He spoke of him as a pillar of the Dawat and someone whose loss would be greatly felt.
Physically of modest height, Shahzada Abbas bhaisaheb was a giant of the Dawat, as upright in his stance as he was in his character. He was a stalwart servant for three dais and peerless in his application to service. His administrative and managerial instincts and prowess meant he was entrusted with the financial and legal affairs of the Dawat and its various trusts. He was exacting in his personal schedule, even in hospital he assured his office bearers that they could continue to turn to him and shouldn’t imagine that he wasn’t able to conduct his duties. Barely had he come out of the operating theater and his first and only question was, “Is the list of payments ready?” This rigorousness was also demanded of all those who worked for him or with him, they had to have an unimpeachable integrity and, as required, an absolute dedication to office.
Whilst unwavering and matter-of-fact in his work life he was still personally affable, with a dry and ever-present sense of humour. As he entered the operation theater he was asked by the head nurse, “Sir, are you alright?” to which he replied, with a broad smile, “If I was alright I would not be here!”
He had a genuine care for those who worked for him and those for whom he was tirelessly striving. He oversaw the running of trusts including the SBUT and administration of the Dawat from Badri Mahal in Mumbai. Among the many philanthropic initiatives of the Dawat he was charged with was Marafiq Burhaniyah; designed to uplift social, economic, health, religious and educational standards in small town areas. In Karachi he set up the Shareka Fakhriyah, a rent-sharing investment scheme that has since been replicated in India as Shareka Burhaniyah Saifiyah. He was joint Vice-Chairman of the Bhendi Bazaar development project trust – the SBUT – which aims to turn this neglected area into a model of urban smart-city design.
He was deeply involved in the administration of Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah during the stewardship of his elder brother Dr Syedi Yusuf Najmuddin. He was charged with imparting Sciences and Humanities to the students of Aljamea in Surat when the new campus construction was completed in 1380AH (circa 1960). He was later appointed Amirul Jamea (rector) following the death of Syedi Najmuddin saheb in 1986. He looked into all of Aljamea’s minor and major affairs and personally oversaw the written exam everyday during the exam for many years. He never settled for anything but the best possible for the students of these academies.
Shahzada Abbas bhaisaheb accompanied the then Mazoon al-Dawat, Syedna Mohammed BurhanuddinRA on the first visit by any Dawat official to London in 1959. He was also with him on the tour of North Africa to ancient Fatemi sites and relics in 1969. In 1980, with the inauguration of Aljamea Al-Anwar in Cairo his managerial prowess became more widely known when he organized the catering for the 10,000 Bohras who converged on the city in the Moharram of 1401AH. It was no small feat in a place where the Bohras had no established infrastructure and the majority of its workers were Gujarati speakers in an Arab speaking country which itself has no previous exposure to Indian culture.
Shahzada saheb was an avid photographer and is said to have a vast collection of historical photographs of the Dawat over the decades. He was also responsible for the audio recordings from Syedna Taher Saifuddin’s era which are extant.
Shahzada Abbas bhaisaheb’s loss is a great one for the Dawat and a personal loss for Syedna and other family members. Although his was not a voice heard often in public, it was a staple of the mid-day takbira in prayers lead by Syedna as well as on both the Eid morning prayers. The only time the voice heard would not be his on these occasions would be if someone had taken permission from him and it would have to be a special case to be allowed to do so.
As the throngs of people who attended his funeral attest, both Bohras and large numbers of non-Bohras whom he worked with, Shahzada Abbas bhaisaheb is a man who will be greatly missed for the immensity of his work, and of his grandeur as a human being.
From a speech by Professor Uthman al-Kaak at Hotel Ziralda in Algeria during the visit of His Holiness Dr Syedna Mohammed BurhanuddinRA in 1969.
And we would ask, embarrassed, at the door of the hotel as we moved from one to the next, how are we being called for transport and we see no-one making the payments or fulfilling the dues? Are we to leave the hotel destitute without payment? Or are we to leave with the hotel’s payment in our pockets?
Absolutely not! For here was Azamat ul Sultan, o’ thee! And for this matter was one of the outstanding people in his entourage, Al-Syed Abbas Fakhruddin, the manager of financial affairs. Yet this was a financial manager who did not stride the earth brazenly nor one who went around announcing to all the figures and payments within his mind. He did not let it be known to the guests that their payments for food and drink were being met. Indeed he was a man of humility and secrecy of the best meaning in his actions. Along with being in utter control of the accounts and finances and not of those that say, “Let the accounting be left until the Day of Account!”