What we know about Indian Dawoodi Bohra community and their Egyptian roots

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Last week, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi received the Indian leader of Dawoodi Bohra sect, Sultan Mufaddal Saifuddin. He was accompanied by his brothers Prince Qusay and Fathi al-Din and Prince Ja’far al-Sadiq, Prince Taha Saif al-Din and Hassan al-Buhara.

He also donated EGP 10 million to the Tahya Misr (Long Live Egypt) fund, a statement from el-Sisi’s office said. According to an al-Ahram report, he had donated the same amount in 2014.

El-Sisi stressed the historic ties between Egypt and the Bohra community and hailed the sect’s constant openness to all religions and sects and the firm belief in the importance of dialogue among different communities around the world.

The Dawoodi Bohra community has funded the restoration of the famous Fatimid al-Hakim Mosque, as well as the Juyushi Mosque, Aqmar Mosque and al-Lolola Mosque in Cairo.

A sect within

The Dawoodi Bohras are a sect within the Ismaili Shiite branch of Islam. While their population is concentrated in India and Pakistan, Egypt has been home to a Dawoodi Bohra community since the 1970s.

Al-Buhara is an Ismaili Shiite sect but differs from the well-known Nizari sect known as Hashashin in the identity of the Imam. It believes in the primacy of Imam Ahmad al-Musta’li Billah Al Fatimi.

Al-Buhara believes that al-Musta’li, who ruled Egypt in the name of the Fatimids for over seven years and died in 1101 AD, has greater place than his brother.

The brothers were the sons of the Caliph al-Mustansir Billah al-Fatimi and there was a dispute between the two, which led to the split of the sect into two, after the takeover of al-Mustali in Cairo.

Conversion to Islam

However, the Buhara, who were known for their trade and commercial activities since time immemorial, have spread in India, where many Hindus converted to Islam. India has become the center of the Bora Sultans after Egypt.

The current Sultan of Bohra is Sultan Saif al-Din, the 53rd in the order of the Fatimid “absolute preachers”, and there is great correlation between the family and the doctrine of the Bohra.

The current Sultan is the son of the former Sultan. The Sultans of the Buhara are the leaders of the sect and the Sultan is called the absolute da’I (Preacher), and they are below the imams in rank, but they believe in the stalemate of the imams and the deputies of the imam who are the sultans.

Al-Buhra holds some of their rites in al-Hakim mosque in Al-Mu’izz Street in Cairo. They are noted for their discipline and commitment to a specific system, and a specific dress code for both men and women.