The Prophet Mohammed states: ‘The pursuit of knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim man and woman.’ He also states that: ‘There are four things obligated upon every intelligent and sensible person in my community; attentively listening to knowledge, retaining it, acting in accordance with it and disseminating it.’
In addition to being a source of enlightenment for the intellect and nourishment for the soul, the Prophetic tradition mandates that education must necessarily be coupled with action. In an address delivered during the centenary celebrations of Aligarh Muslim University, the Chancellor of the institute, His Holiness Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin stated: ‘The very purpose of education within the Islamic tradition is to put what one knows into practice and derive innovative solutions to local and global challenges, thereby benefiting the societies within which we live. An education which one does not put into practice and with which one does not benefit others is not an education at all.’
The Fatimi imams from the Prophet’s progeny and their representatives the duat mutlaqin, leaders of the Dawoodi Bohra community, have expended great effort to ensure that this Islamic legacy of learning and education continues to flourish throughout the ages. The educational institutes established by the Fatimi imams and their enduring philosophy of safeguarding the time tested old and embracing the beneficial new, are embodied in the numerous educational institutes of the Dawoodi Bohra community today. These institutes aspire not just to transfer knowledge but to transform students into intelligent, cultured, faithful, responsible and upstanding members of society. As a result, Dawoodi Bohras are generally well educated and accomplished in a wide variety of fields. They understand that the pursuit of knowledge is a lifelong journey and make the most of every opportunity to keep learning as a means of individual and collective growth, betterment and progress while inspiring and facilitating those who lack the means to do the same.
The community runs hundreds of educational institutes across the world catering to students from every age group. A shared ethos of effectively synthesising tradition with modernity binds these various institutions of learning in a cohesive approach defined by the guiding words of Imam Ahmed al-Mastur who states: ‘It befits our brethren, may Allah give them strength, to not despise any field of knowledge, or shun a particular book, or bear prejudice towards a certain faith. Indeed our philosophy and our faith encompass all faiths and all knowledge.’
Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah is the principal educational institute of the Dawoodi Bohra community. Its sole benefactor, His Holiness Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, oversees and guides it in all its endeavours. The academy has been functioning from its present campus in Surat, India for over two centuries with a sister campus inaugurated at Karachi, Pakistan in 1983. A third campus was established in Nairobi in 2011 with the official inauguration taking place in 2017. The latest campus in Mumbai, where classes commenced in 2013 in temporary settings, is under construction and awaits completion in the near future.
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MSB EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTE
MSB Educational Institute is a chain of private English Medium schools established by the late His Holiness Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin in 1984. The schools offer a K-12 educational program in a stimulating and nourishing environment, allowing students to excel in academics and become responsible and upstanding members of society while remaining firmly rooted in their faith. The schools are affiliated with either the ICSE or IGCSE boards depending on where they are located.
Over the years, MSB Educational Institute has expanded its presence around the globe with 23 branches across 7 countries: India, Pakistan, Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, Dubai and Kuwait.
The community’s Taleem (education) department also operates a number of schools across the world. 46 of these, which are located in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, are registered schools offering local board curriculums concurrent with religious studies. The rest are classified as madaris (religious schools) and offer only religious studies on select days of the week for those students who attend regular non community schools. These madaris number more than 587 the world over.