Shri Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, inaugurated Al Jamea-tus-Saifiyah Arabic Academy, a premier educational institution of the Dawoodi Bohra community at Mumbai today. This centre, the fourth in series, has been established at Marol in Andheri a suburb of Mumbai. The other three predecessors of this academy are located in Surat, Karachi and Nairobi.
The Prime Minister and His Holiness proceeded towards the main entrance, which is modelled after ‘Baab Zuwayla’—a gateway to the old city of Cairo built by the Fatimid imams—from where he entered the campus. They planted a fig tree, which serves as a symbol of growth, renewal, and the flourishing of knowledge. Two young members of the community presented Prime Minister Modi with doves, which were released as a gesture of peace and goodwill.
The Honourable Prime Minister then unveiled the inaugural plaque and officially inaugurated the Arabic Academy with a ceremonial untying of the ribbon.
The inauguration ceremony started with the recitation of the Holy Quran by Hussain Bhaisahab, who is Hafiz ul Quran. Welcoming the Prime Minister, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, the head priest of the one million strong Dawoodi Bohra community worldwide, said that the affinity of the community to Narendra Modi has been strong for decades. Syedna also welcomed the other dignitaries, including the Chief Minister of Maharashtra Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis. The Syedna thanked all present for joining him on this auspicious day.
His Holiness Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin spoke of the decades-old friendship and bond between the Honourable Prime Minister and his respected father Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin. He thanked the Prime Minister for his numerous initiatives for the betterment of the nation, remarking specifically on his presidency of the G20. “India has been our home for centuries, and we are at peace here,” said His Holiness. He prayed that every child in the nation and across the world receives a beneficial education and the opportunity to grow and flourish.
The Prime Minister was given a tour of the campus to take him through the history, heritage and educational values of the Bohra community. Around 100 students and faculty members were situated at various locations along the Prime Minister’s route throughout the campus to greet and exchange conversations with him.
The Prime Minister then visited the Ceremonial Hall of the campus where dignitaries and members of the Dawoodi Bohra community from India and abroad were seated.
Addressing the gathering at the Jamea, the Prime Minister expressed his appreciation on the establishment and said that being among the members of the Bohra community is like being amidst family. Narendra Modi’s association goes back to more than three decades, when he was a BJP worker at Gujarat and subsequently the Chief Minister of Gujarat. The western state of Gujarat is densely populated by Dawoodi Bohras as it was in Gujarat that the predecessors of the community arrived from Yemen and Egypt nearly 450 years ago. The members of the Bohra community had warmed up to Modi when he was CM of Gujarat as a result of his ease of doing business policy in the state. Narendra Modi, in his address praised the leadership of the Dawoodi Bohras for their vision for the future of students. Modi said that the relationship of his familty with that of the Syedna runs down to four generations. He also highlighted how the then Syedna hosted Mahatm Gandhi when he was on slt styagrah in Dandi and many years later the sea facing bungalow of the Syedna at Dandi was gifted to the Gujarat government. He also spoke of how nearly 200 universities have opened in the last 8 years.
The Prime Minister was felicitated and presented with a traditional shawl as a symbol of His Holiness' gratitude and appreciation. He was then accompanied by His Holiness to the Western Gate of the campus and bid farewell.
Dawoodi Bohras, a sub sect of the Shia’a muslims, are predominantly in the business of trade, manufacturing and services and many in the current generation are pursuing professions outside of business. The community members are believers of welfare activities are not politically inclined.
Narendra Modi’s visit to Mumbai also included inauguration of two Vande Bharat trains from Mumbai and launch of two road projects, viz. Santacruz Chembur Link Road and Kurar underpass project. The Modi government has also classified the ongoing 16.5 acre redevelopment project at Bhendi Bazar in Mumbai under the National Best Practice Project for urban rejuvenation.
Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah Arabic Academy (also known as Jamea) is the principal educational institute of the Dawoodi Bohra community. His Holiness Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, is the institute’s sole benefactor, and gives it its direction and its inspiration. The Academy has been functioning from its campus in Surat, India for over two centuries. In 1983, a sister campus was inaugurated in Karachi. Two subsequent campuses were initiated in Nairobi in 2011 and in Mumbai in 2013 respectively.
The establishment of the Mumbai campus of Jamea was announced by the 52nd leader of the Dawoodi Bohra community, the late His Holiness Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin in celebration of his Golden Jubilee as head of the Dawoodi Bohra Community in 2013. For almost a decade now, the Academy has been functioning from temporary premises while construction was underway on a new, monumental structure nearby.
There are currently over 600 students at the Mumbai campus, but it has the capacity of up to 700 students. There are approximately 220 female students and a little under 300 male students. Across Jamea’s four campuses globally, there are approximately 3,000 students.
There are approximately 160 faculty members and staff at the Mumbai campus.
The Mumbai campus, located in the hills of Marol, is a multi-structure complex covering 850,000 sq ft and can accommodate 700 students and 100 faculty. The campus consists of boys and girls hostels, faculty residences, administration and classroom buildings, a library, a dining hall, a prayer hall, and a building dedicated to teaching the Holy Quran.
The prayer area is inspired by the al-Jami al-Azhar in Cairo, which was the original location of the Al Azhar University, one of the oldest extant universities in the world. Paying tribute to the Community’s Gujarati heritage, the interiors of the dining halls are a tribute to the ornate Gujarati residential havelis of His Holiness’ predecessors.
The ceremonial hall is embellished with designs from the mausoleum of the 47th leader Syedna Abdulqadir Najmuddin (d. 1885) who was the first to express a desire to establish a campus of Jamea in Mumbai 150 years ago. The multi-level courtyard houses a minaret surrounded by a series of fountains and water bodies.
The Mumbai campus of Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah is a testament to the educational legacy of the Dawoodi Bohra community in India. Alongside modern infrastructure, the new campus houses richly ornate spaces of worship and learning that celebrate the Dawoodi Bohra community’s history in South Asia where this knowledge has been preserved for centuries.