Haji Qayoom Hussain Paliwala, a senior and respected member of the Dawoodi Bohra community in Udaipur, passed away on 5 February 2023 at the fulfilling age of 88 years. Born into an illustrious Dawoodi Bohra family of Udaipur in 1934, the late Qayoom Hussainji was a Lawyer by profession and an entrepreneur, substantiating the legacy of majority of families from this community.
Unique Bohra surnames
Udaipur city has a substantial population of the Dawoodi Bohra community ever since this community has spread itself in India. Its very nomenclature (Bohra) reveals that their main profession for lively hood has been and still is business, be it manufacturing, trading or services, big or small. In Rajasthan, they have been predominant in Udaipur city as well as other far flung towns and villages. Since their origin has been from Gujarat, they carry with them many Gujarati traditions and customs. One of them is their family surname, which is based on their well-known ancestors, type of business or the town or village in which they had or have their business establishment. They suffix their surname with Wala. For example in Udaipur there are well known families with surnames like Paliwala, Kurabadwala, Hitawala, Bhalamwala (based on town or village of origin), Qadar ji Rasya ji wala, Sheikh lad ji wala (based on ancestors), Lohawala, Kathawala Bandookwala (based on trade or business), etc.
Legacy of the Paliwala family
The surname of late Qayoom Hussain is thus Paliwala as his forefathers originally had their means of livelihood based in the then town (now a city) in Pali in Marwar. Paliwala family has been one of the prominent families of Udaipur Bohras and carry with their tag many a firsts. Their joint original residence has been in the shape of a Haveli (big mansion) and style of living, like durbaris (people of the Royal Court). Likewise their male members were educated when education was in the domain of wealthy people. They were the firsts in Bohras to acquire an estate immediately outside Hathipole and build a farm house (or Baadi in local parlance) with a beautiful bungalow in the centre.
This family had a tradition of remaining in forefront in philanthropy. They were also at the forefront in building mosques and Jama’at khana (place of gathering) for the community use, a bodybuilding institute (called Akhara) for male members and dug a stepwell (Baori) of sweet potable water for public use. With Mughal style architecture, this Baori was in use till a few years back. Moreover, by way of prodiving financial help to poor students and donations in other charity causes they kept their tradition alive till date. Intellectually their members have been showing a progressive inclination as against orthodoxy in the Dawoodi Bohra community.
It was in such an illustrious family, that the late Qayoom Hussain Paliwala was born, on 14 October 1934 to Seth Abid Hussain Paliwala and Sethani Ruqqaiya Bai Paliwala. The literal meaning of the word Qayoom is “one who lasts for a long period” (for instance Allah is hayy al qayoom, meaning Ever Lasting).
And, as if to grant the wishes of his parents, Allah did bestow him with an age of 89 years. Qayoom Hussain Paliwala bid farewell to this world and to his proud family and friends and left for his heavenly abode on 5 February 2023 after a long but spirited struggle with illness.
About Qayoom Hussain Paliwala
His popularity and services to his family and society deserve homage from those who know him and were obliged by him. I, the author of this obituary, being one of them, would like to submit few lines as a mark of respect to him.
Qayoom Hussain’s father, Seth Abid Hussain was a majestic personality with an over powering gait, which were passed on to his children, three sons and seven daughters. He kept himself engaged in business and real estate.
Qayoom Hussain did his primary schooling at the progressive Bohra seminaries and thereafter joined Vidhya Bhavan School to complete his matriculation. Thereafter, he did his graduation in Commerce followed by LLB at the Maharana Bhopal College, Udaipur.
As a grown up man, he resembled his father in his gait and personality. As regards other manners and activities he was a true Paliwala, majestic, intelligent, well read, aware of current affairs, good at heart, a perfect listener, never aggressive, having positive utterances and a great sense of humour. He also continued the family’s traditions of doing community and charity activities.
Matching his dignity and personality he married a lady from another prominent family of Bohras namely Kathawala family. The name of his bride was Batool, who herself was a figure of elegance possessing pleasant manners. They have two daughters inheriting every bit of their departed parents characteristics and personality. The elder daughter Sakina Dawood periodically conducts camps for distributing clothing and alms to those below the poverty line apart from being an active member of the society and her place or work, in various forums that demand an aptitude for social service.
My parents and parents of the late Qayoom Hussain were friends and belonged to a progressive section of our community and as such I used to go to his house very often as a child. My eldest brother late Mushtaq Hussain was almost a contemporary of Qayoom Husain in age and also started pursuing law after graduation for which he needed books from Qayoom Hussain. I used to do ferry duties for this purpose. This also gave me the opportunity to understand his manners and dealings. One may call it luck or a coincidence or divine design, when in the later years his youngest sister Sayeeda was wedded to me and I we have been married for the last fifty one years now. I had the privilege of knowing Qayoom Hussain from child hood till date, around 70 years now.
Although a graduate in Law, he did not pursue a legal career and instead started a small scale industry by the name of Venus Stove Company, involved in the manufacturing and assembling of kerosene stoves under the brand name Gemini Stoves. Simultaneously he looked after his father’s legacy.
Being the eldest of the children, he performed the duties of his father after his death with full responsibility and sincerity. His commitment to his community too was equally matching. In his death the reformist section of the Bohra community has lost pillar.
Qayoom Hussain, being a member of a progressive family and himself a reformist by heart, he joined the progressive section of the Bohra Youth movement right from its inception, in the year 1970 and remained one of the pillars of this movement till he breathed his last. The Bohra Youth (reformist section of the Dawoodi Bohra Community of Udaipur) were fully engaged in conducting parallel activities in Mumbai and hence their interaction with Udaipur leaders used to be very frequent. Moreover, a number of times I had come to Udaipur for consultation and found Qayoom Hussain in the inner circle of advisors and stake holders, despite not holding any official post. Further on, his legacy in the social and political circles in Udaipur is substantiated by a letter of condolence from the speaker of the Lok Sabha, Om Birla... addressed to his family.
Finally when I hung my boots after retirement from active service, he insisted on me to take up the coordination of the Legal cell in the community, which was a very sensitive section, during that time, circa 2002. When I agreed, I found him preparing briefs and arranging case papers and files in the late hours of the night for days together. This was because that period was the crucial period for the Reform Movement after the Prima Dona of the movement deserted it with few other prominent members. It was this sincerity and integrity of people like him that the movement survived. There never was a day when Qayoom Hussain will not monitor the health of the Bohra youth movement.
Having said all of the above, a Giant has gone to his heavenly abode creating an unfathomable vacuum in his family and community. May Allah, The Almighty, Bless His Soul with peace. Amen! Mountains do not fall.