By: Mumtaz Ali Tajddin S. Ali
There are seven Ismaili fidais recorded during the Aga Khan period, whose services to the community were so incredible that the Imams visited their graves and offered fatiha. Cautiously take note that this does not mean that these instances boost the veneration of the graves in Ismaili tariqah. It shows that these great Ismaili fidais rendered selfless services and the Imams paid glowing tributes to them on their graves and offered fatiha. Their details in brief are given below:-
MUKHI RAI RAHIMTULLAH (d. 1868)
Piru Diwani was a devout Ismaili in Kutchh, India in the period of Imam Abul Hasan Ali (1730-1792). His son was Fadhu who followed the footprint of his father. His son Mukhi Rai Rahimtullah was a social worker in the period of Imam Khalilullah II (1792-1817) and Imam Hasan Ali Shah (1817-1881). The severe famine in Kutchh forced him to move towards Muscat in 1825, where he operated his business. He became an influential person and cemented a close tie with Sayed Sa'id (d. 1856), the Sultan of Muscat. In memory of his meritorious services, a marble plate in his name had been placed in the palace of the Sultan. He is said to have visited Mahallat in 1840, where he was invested the title of Rai. He came to India with the caravan of the Imam in 1841. Mukhi Rai Rahimtullah visited Kathiawar with the Imam, where he died in a village, called Darafa, near Ganod. The Ismailis desired his interment in Bombay, but Imam ordered to bury him in Ganod, near the shrine of Hasan Pir (1652-1715). Imam Hasan Ali Shah offered fatiha, burnt a lamp and put it on his grave.
MUKHI ALIDINA ASANI (1793-1881)
Mukhi Alidina Asani earned his fame as one of the famous warriors of Jerruk. He was appointed as the first Mukhi in Karachi, and also served as an estate agent of the Imam for Karachi, Sind and Lasbela. He retired in 1873 and died in 1881. Imam Aga Ali Shah visited Karachi at the end of 1882 and offered fatiha on his grave. The Imam enjoined upon the accompanying persons to do the same for forty days.
RAI JAN MUHAMMAD (d. 1810))
He was a famous rahi in the period of Imam Khalilullah II (1792-1817) and travelled from village to village in India to collect the tithe. It is related that he once faced onslaught of the local robbers in the village of Khirsara, near Rajkot, India. He was seriously injured and died in 1810. Imam Aga Ali Shah once launched a visiting program in Khambat, Gujrat, Sidhpur, Vadhvan, Navanagar and Rajkot. The Imam also arrived in Khirsara, where few Ismaili families resided. The Imam asked Mukhi Keshawji, "My Rai Jan Muhammad was martyred here. Show me his grave." The Mukhi directed the Imam towards the grave, where Imam remained silent for few minutes. The Imam offered fatiha and admired the services of Rai Jan Muhammad.
VARAS ISMAIL GANGJI (1788-1883)
He was an undisputed leader of Junagadh, India. It was through his own excertions that he rose from a very humble position in life to the summit of greatness. He united the poor Ismailis and knitted them together with his well-dressed personality with glorious manner and habit. He died in August, 1883. Imam Aga Ali Shah visited Junagadh at the end of 1883 and offered fatiha on his grave, and said, "Another hero like Varas Ismail would never be born." The Imam also granted him a posthumous title of a Pir.
VARAS DAYABHAI VELJI (1870-1937)
He was indeed a hero of Ahmednagar, India. He upbrought a large amount of people of ethnic groups, who lived like beasts in forests and rural areas. In 1918, he built a philanthropic institution in Ahmednagar, known as the Sultania Orphanage. He was also noted for giving invaluable services in the annual majalis in Poona for several years. He died in 1937 at the age of 67 years. Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah visited India in 1937 and came to Poona and Ahmadnagar, where he graced the jamat with His didar on January 10, 1938. The Imam also visited the grave of Varas Dayabhai Velji, who was buried in the compound of the Orphanage. The Imam walked towards the grave and stood for a few minutes in front of it with utmost serenity. The Imam offered fatiha and said, "Wazir Daya was a true believer. He executed the religious (mission) of Prophet Muhammad and converted a multitude of people as Muslims. Keep blossoming the rose flower on his grave. The rose was a favourite flower of Prophet Muhammad."
WAZIR GHULAM HUSSAIN WAZIR JIVABHAI BHANJI (d. 1959)
In Aswan the great Ismaili Burmese philanthropist, Wazir Ghulam Hussain, the son of Wazir Jivbhai Bhanji (1866-1938), also known as Wazir U Maung Gle, died of a heart attack during the funeral ceremony of Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah on February 19, 1959. He was buried in the Municipal Cemetery of Aswan. On next day, before departing from Aswan, Mawlana Hazar Imam and Prince Amyn Muhammad visited the cemetery and offered fatiha. The Imam also ordered to put a wooden umbrella on his grave, which was used for the coffin of Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah. Mata Salamat invested him the title of a Shahid in her message to his family.
WAZIR A.C. RAHIMTULLAH (1902-1963)
He rendered great services as the Hon. General Secretary of the Ismailia Association for India. He promoted waez activities and started its training centres and assemblies. In 1955, the Imam told him to go to Khulna, Bangladesh and take charge of the Crescent Jute Mill, where he worked as a Managing Director. He was also the President of the District Council in Khulna, and the President of the Area Committee of the Ismailia Association for Pakistan. He died on April 1, 1963 and was buried in the compound of the Mill. Mawlana Hazar Imam visited Pakistan on November 21, 1964 and arrived in Khulna on December 1, 1964. On the following day, the Imam made a visit to the Crescent Jute Mill, and offered fatiha on the grave of Wazir A.C. Rahimtullah. The Imam also paid tribute to his grave when He withdrew from the Mill.