RAUDAT TAHERA

Raudat Tahera: The Mausoleum of two Dawoodi Bohra leaders in South Mumbai.
Raudat Tahera: The Mausoleum of two Dawoodi Bohra leaders in South Mumbai.

INTRODUCTION

‘The house is elevated by he who resides within.’

– Al-Daʿi al-Ajal Syedna Abde ʿAli Saifuddin

The history of the Muslim world is replete with monuments erected in commemoration of great personalities and their achievements. Spanning both continents and centuries, the various mausolea and masjids of the Islamic world complement each other in significance, grandeur and design. Yet even among these varied and magnificently constructed monuments, Raudat Tahera, the resting place of the 51st and 52nd leaders of the Dawoodi Bohra community, stands unique and unparalleled.

‘There is no record of any building during the last fourteen centuries which matches Raudat Tahera in its apparent simplicity and its subtle exuberance of meaning, whose marble walls are engraved in gold with the text of the Quran in its entirety.’

– Dr Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin
On the occasion of the inauguration of Raudat Tahera 19th April 1975

 

Built by the 52nd al-Daʿi al-Mutlaq (vicegerent of the Fatimi Imam during the period of seclusion) Dr Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin in memory of his predecessor and revered father, the 51st al-Daʿi al-Mutlaq Dr Syedna Taher Saifuddin, Raudat Tahera is a testament to various facets of Fatimi philosophy, the late Syedna’s personality and his unprecedented 53 years of service to Islam and to the betterment of the Muslim ummah.

‘Just as Raudat Tahera combines the essence of Fatimi teachings, tradition and architecture, so did the versatile personality of the late His Holiness embody the tenets of our faith and its continuity. Every brick, stone and engraving bears testimony to the loving labour of more than half a million people.’

– Dr Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin
On the occasion of the inauguration of Raudat Tahera 19th April 1975

It is befitting then that when Dr Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin passed away after 50 momentous years in the service of the community, his heir and successor Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin chose to lay him to rest in the very Raudat he had built for his esteemed father. Together, the two serene graves speak of a century of tireless dedication to the betterment of the community; a manifestation of the eternal meaning comprised in this statement by Dr Syedna Taher Saifuddin referring to his son, Dr Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin wherein he speaks of them being one in spirit despite being twain in form.

ABOUT RAUDAT TAHERA AND ITS HISTORIC LOCATION

Situated in Bhendi Bazaar in the heart of the city of Mumbai, Raudat Tahera is the locus for a thriving Dawoodi Bohra community living and working in harmony with its environs and neighbours. Each day, thousands of community members throng to Raudat Tahera from far and wide to pay their respects and perform ziyarat. Amid bowed heads and resolute faith, many a heart finds comfort in the presence of the two revered daʿis.

The current structure took ten years of loving labour to complete. Nearly every member of the Dawoodi Bohra community at the time contributed to the construction process and feels a sense of pride in having been part of this great undertaking. It is now also at the centre of an unprecedented urban redevelopment project, the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Project, which aims to turn this congested area into an ultra-modern ‘smart-city’ enclave.

The darihs (ornamental tombs) that adorn the graves of Amirul Mumineen ʿAli bin Abi Talib and Moulana al-Imam al-Husain were wrought and designed in al-Qasr al-Husaini, the place where Raudat Tahera stands today.

On the occasion of the ceremonial opening of Raudat Tahera, five guidelines were issued by Syedna Burhanuddin to community members worldwide with the aim of enriching and strengthening the following aspects of their lives: faith, education, honest trade and industry, striving for the benefit of all mankind, and a balanced approach to the betterment of both the spiritual as well as temporal spheres of life. These guidelines formed the basis of the continued rejuvenation and progress of the community that has been witnessed in the last few decades.

Raudat Tahera has been the venue for many historic movements and occasions in the history of the community. Most importantly, it is the venue chosen by Syedna Burhanuddin to publicly confer nass (investiture to the rank of al-daʿi al-mutlaq) upon his heir and successor Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin in the presence of thousands.

Raudat Tahera is situated in Bhendi Bazaar in the heart of the city of Mumbai. This image was taken before the commencement of the urban redevelopment Project by SBUT.
Raudat Tahera is situated in Bhendi Bazaar in the heart of the city of Mumbai. This image was taken before the commencement of the urban redevelopment Project by SBUT.

DESIGN PHILOSOPHY AND ARCHITECTURE

Conceived as a physical manifestation of philosophy, Fatimi art and architecture speaks volumes even as it remains silent. One of the hallmarks of Fatimi architecture, apart from its apparent simplicity, is the predominance of symmetry and balance in all its aspects.

Raudat Tahera is the very embodiment of Fatimi design and architecture, as it strikes a balance between simplicity and grandeur, tradition and modernity, while at the same time manifesting a profound symmetry between its dimensions and the life and times of Syedna Taher Saifuddin. The inner height of the mausoleum rises to 80 ft above the plinth, which signifies the age of Syedna at the time of his de- mise.

The inner dimensions of 51 ft by 51 ft are equally symbolic, as they denote his position as the 51st al-Daʿi al-Mutlaq.

What gives the monument a unique place of honour among other Islamic monuments is the inscription of the entire Holy Quran in gold-filled letters, on 772 marble slabs, each 3 ft by 2 ft in size, constituting the inner wall to a height of 32 ft.

113 bismillahs (in the name of Allah, an invocation used by Muslims in the beginning of any undertaking) are inlaid with precious stones.

Excerpts from the philosophical writings of the late His Holiness which expound on the meanings of Quranic verses are also inscribed on the walls.

The exterior rises to a total height of 108 ft, of which a 52 ft high dome is the crowning feature. From the base of the mausoleum to the base of the dome is an elevation of 92 ft in memory of the Prophet Mohammed SAW whose name bears the numeric value of 92.

The dome and the cornice are inspired by al-Jamiʿ al-Juyushi, whereas the four entrances match the entrance of al-Jamiʿ al-Aqmar. These are masjids in Cairo from the Fatimi era, and the inclusion of their elements in Raudat Tahera represents the continuity of Fatimi faith and culture in the Dawoodi Bohra community.

The pristine white marble used in Raudat Tahera is sourced from the Chosira and Ulodi quarries in Makrana, Rajasthan. It is the same marble used in the Taj Mahal which is arguably the most iconic expression of Indian architecture.

TESTIMONIALS

Following a visit to Raudat Tahera, guests are invariably left with a lasting impression.

‘The Dawoodi Bohra community came to India about four centuries ago. They chose to cast their lot with India in view of the religious tolerance prevailing in this country. I am happy to say that you have completely integrated yourselves with India’s body-politic, adopted the indigenous language as your mother tongue. It gives me great pleasure to visit this mausoleum and to pay my homage to His Holiness the late Dr Syedna Taher Saifuddin. This is a fitting memorial to Syedna Saifuddin saheb who, throughout his life served the cause of religion with devotion and dedication and strove hard to strengthen the bonds of friendship among the peoples of the world. I am deeply impressed by the architectural beauty of this edifice and the atmosphere of piety and purity that pervades the entire precincts. I am sure this mausoleum will become a place of pilgrimage’.

Mr Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, former President of India. 19th April 1975

‘I am very happy to visit the mausoleum of this Saint. The Bohra community lives in other parts of India also. Wherever they live, they sincerely worship God and live in harmony with others. It is one of their ways of life which, not only do I like but appreciate from the depths of my heart’.

Mr Giani Zail Singh, former President of India 29th September 1983

‘Raudat Tahera has been conceived as a haven of peace and meditation to remind people that there are some who give their love and service unilaterally to mankind’.

H.J. D’Penha

The inscription of the entire Holy Quran in gold-filled letters, a unique architectural feature in the Islamic world.
The inscription of the entire Holy Quran in gold-filled letters, a unique architectural feature in the Islamic world
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The inscription of the entire Holy Quran in gold-filled letters, a unique architectural feature in the Islamic world
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