EducationAljameaCommunity Service at Core of Bohras' Jamea in Marol

Community Service at Core of Bohras’ Jamea in Marol

This story was published in The Times of India on February 12, 2023.

A less reported feature from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the sprawling, state-of-the-art new campus of Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah at Marol on Friday was the Jamea’s anthem a group of students recited before the Prime Minister spoke. 

Attired in the traditional outfit called Libas al-Anwar (white and gold cap and white saya kurta), the boys presented the group song which beautifully underscores values of the Jamea. A premier institute of the Dawoodi Bohras, Mumbai can justifiably take pride in this institution enjoying the blessings of the community’s head Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin.

Nestled on an ancient hill in Marol near the ‘Bohra colony’ Saifee Park, the 4th campus of Jamea (others are in Surat, Karachi and Nairobi) is a seat of learning that blends tradition and modernity.

Tracing its roots to the rich Fatimid legacy of learning (the Fatimid imams in 970 established the Al Azhar University in Cairo), culture and knowledge, the Jamea trains men and women of stellar character.”This is a value-based university which aims to produce individuals who can serve the community as teachers, officials in local community centres and community service leaders,” said Mustafa Feeroze, a teacher. But not all students (currently there are 500 though the full intake is 700 at Marol and over 3000 cumulatively at four centres) take up community service as a career. “The Jamea is affiliated to international boards such as International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) or the South Asian Secondary School Certificate (SSC). Many go on to join the general courses of studies and become doctors, engineers, architects and management graduates,” added Feeroze. And while they are at the Jamea, they learn several subjects, including Arabic, Fatimid jurisprudence, history and literature, social sciences like economics and sociology. 

Since the Holy Quran is the fountainhead of Islamic knowledge, a separate section is dedicated to the Quran studies where many students not just commit the entire Quran to memory becoming a hafiz but also study Quranic exegesis and interpretation of the verses. In fact, the Prime Minister, in his address, mentioned the few old copies of the Quran he was shown at the campus and even advised that these texts be “digitalised.” 

“The overall impression one gets after visiting the Jamea is that everyone here strictly follows the discipline. Other Muslims and communities should learn from the Bohras how efficiently they run their institutions,” said Asif Farooqui, court member, Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi.

Established in 1810 at Surat by 43rd Dai (spiritual head) Syedna Abdeali Saifuddin, the first Academy called ‘Darse Saifee’ underwent massive transformation in the 20th century under the 51st Dai His Holiness Syedna Taher Saifuddin who renamed it as Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah. He invited then PM Jawaharlal Nehru to the Jamea in 1960 and, in a letter to him, Nehru hoped that “Jamea would continue not only to teach the wisdom and culture of the past, but also the wisdom and achievements of the present age.”

Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin followed a rich tradition set by his grandfather when he invited PM Narendra Modi to the new campus of Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah.

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