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Tag Archives: Dawoodi Bohra

I visited Planet Bohra today, for the first time in a long time, and I feel obliged to put a few words out there about my sense of disappointment.

Planet Bohra has gone wrong.

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Rajab al Asab has reminded me of the nature of time and history. An odd thing for a month to bring to mind; there is a reason it did.

There are two major markers in the month of Rajab. The first is the birth of Amir ul Mumineen and the second is the urus of Syedna Taher Saifuddin. Between these two elapses a brief 6 days, and it is that sacred temporal journey that we are now travelling.

What it bought to mind was a book I read a while back.

That book sought to trace what it called the first major crisis of Islam –  the death of the Prophet – and sought to identify what caused the solution found at Saqeefa in the words, correspondence and khutbas that were given by the major persons involved and tried to piece together what and why from those accounts.

In the end the author offers a thesis for why the crisis of Saqeefa happened when it did.

He argues that the death of the Prophet represented the first true crisis of Islam, because that death bought an end to the sacred phase in Islamic history, the phase where there was clear and absolute authority that determined the right direction for the ummah. Before the ummah had the Prophet to resolve all of its disputes. Now it had been left orphaned.

This transition gave birth to the dark world of realpolitik in Islamic political history, where religious authority was simply another factor to be assessed in the quest for temporal power.

Once that calculus was opened, and those who sought worldly power saw that religion could be manipulated to that end, there was no possibility of returning to the Sacred Phrase of history.

My immediate thought on reading this thesis was to reject its assumptions.

It is, even of its surface, a very sunni reading of history and one that makes assumptions about the way the ummah was to be organised and governed, assumptions that the author’s own book makes clear were only developed many years later.

My second thought, one I consider more valuable, was to realise that this analysis could be flipped around and be equally valid.

In a very real sense, and one I have never appreciated before, through the succession of the Aimmat Tahereen and Duat Mutlaqeen, we, like the first Muslims, live in sacred history. We  have a clear and absolute authority that determines the right direction. We  have the decision making system that is necessary  to resolve disputes. We have not been left orphaned.

Those things that created the sacredness of that early history have not departed the world, and so we have not found ourselves alone in the dark without a guide.

Rajab offers the understanding that from the successor of Rasullulah to the successor of Syedna Taher Saifuddin, we continue to inhabit an unbroken sacred history.