MOLUBHAI - MAN WITH A GOLDEN HEART.
 
By: Alhaj Hassan Ali M. Jaffer.
 
(Reproduced from the ‘Mombasa Jamaat Chronicle’ Vol.3. Issue No.1.April, 18, 2003)

For long it has been a tradition among Muslims for people to make donations or bequeath one of their properties in their life time to create ‘Waqf’ or a ‘Trust’ for charitable purpose. This has been in response to the Prophetic injunction of leaving behind “Sadaqatun Jaariya” that would help to perpetuate ensuing ‘thawaab’ for the donor even after his death.

During the past one and a quarter century, it is this spirit that has sustained the development and growth of our Community everywhere.
 
Of late, this spirit of creating ‘Waqf’ and bequeathing one’s property to the Jamaat for charitable purposes has acquired a new dimension with a healthy and pragmatic approach. With escalating market prices of real estate and the ever increasing maintenance and management costs, donors find it more prudent and economical to vest the management of their ‘Trust’ and ‘Waqf’ assets to the centralized local Jamaats. The Trust Boards of the respective Jamaats then manage such endowments. As a result the progeny of the donors are not burdened with the responsibility and the hassle of perpetual management.

There is also growing realization that under changing political circumstances, during the past few decades several ‘Trust’ and ‘Waqf’ properties held and managed privately by individuals or families have at times ended up being lost because of neglect, State acquisition or nationalization.
 
There are also instances where long after the demise of the original donors, certain ‘Trust’ and ‘Waqf’  have been  quashed or set aside on legal technicalities as a result of family disputes. Where Trusts are vested in Jamaats, they have survived the vagaries of time. As a result, the accruing benefits enshrined in the original bequeath are perpetuated.
 
What is given in the way of Allah and what is accepted by Allah in His Grace, is sustained. It is also blessed with increasing ‘barakah’. One such glowing example is that of the Molubhai Trust in Mombasa.
 
Around 1920’s, there lived in Mombasa an elderly person by the name of Molubhai Remtulla. His wife had passed away some years earlier and Molubhai lived with his only child - a daughter who was not married.
 
Molubhai owned a piece of land located at what was then known as Salim Road, opposite ‘Mackinon Market’. On that piece of land was a small Swahili type cottage. In 1927, Molubhai came over to see Haji Abdulla Kanji, Haji Kassamali Jivraj and other elders of the Community with an offer to bequeath his only property to the Jamaat for its income to be utilized for  making tea as ‘Nyaz’ after Thursday night Majalis.
 
The elders of the Community explained to Molubhai that while they appreciated this noble gesture, it was felt that since he owned only one property and had an unmarried daughter also, it would not be appropriate for him to give away his only asset in charity thereby depriving the surviving daughter of any inheritance.
 
As fate would have it, the only child of Molubhai passed away within a year. Molubhai once again called upon the leaders of the Jamaat to repeat his offer. This time round, elders of the Jamaat had no choice but to accept the offer. In a hand written note in Gujarati on a small piece of paper, the lifelong saving of Molubhai was bequeathed to the Jamaat. Thus the ‘Molubhai Trust’ came into being.
 
With the death of his daughter, Molubhai was left alone. He had no other relations in Mombasa. With advancing age, approaching 70, Molubhai moved to a small room near the Huseini Mosque, off Ndia Kuu Road, Mombasa.
 
In 1929, Molubhai passed away and is buried in the Mombasa Cemetery. His grave bears a tombstone written in Gujarati which shows the date of his death as 17th January, 1929.
 

 
It is stated that in the early days the property fetched a monthly rental of KShs. 10/- which was later increased to KShs. 30/- per month. In 1956 the rental income was KShs. 75/- per month.
 
Late Rajabali Suleman Khakoo, a Trustee of the Jamaat would send Mulla Anverali Valimohamed to collect rent from the tenant. Thereafter the rent was increased to KShs.300/- per month. Haji Ramazan Karim Haji Hirji, Jamat accountant, would personally go over to collect rent every month.
 
In 1974, Shell Company showed interest in the property. They wanted to acquire a portion of the land for the expansion of the Petrol Station which stands opposite the Mackinon Market. Haji Mohamedhusein Gulamhusein, then Chairman of the Mombasa Jamaat assisted by Haji Mohamedraza Abdulla Kanji, a Trustee of the Jamaat, negotiated a five year lease with Shell Company at the rate of KShs.1,500/- per month i.e.  KShs.18,000/- per annum plus a lump sum gratuity of KShs.150,000/- Trustees of the Jamaat further negotiated with Shell Company to pay the five years rental in advance. Accordingly Shell Company paid out KShs.90,000/ as five years rental in advance.
 
To this amount, the Jamaat Trust Board added an amount of KShs.45,000/- as loan from other Trust Accounts and invested the total amount in a property which was leased out at a monthly rental of KShs.1,600/- The income derived being proportionately credited to the respective Trust Accounts based on the proportionate capital amount invested.
 
After the lapse of 5 years lease with the Shell Company, revised lease was negotiated for KShs. 5,000/- per month.
 
After sub dividing and leasing a portion of the plot to Shell Company, there still remained a part of the plot fronting the main road which was lying dormant. The Trust Board of the Jamaat resolved to borrow money from other Trusts and at a total cost of KShs.2,887,349/- built a property on that small piece of land which was then leased out at a monthly rental of KShs. 30,000/-. As someone described it, this “wafer thin” double storey edifice stands on one of the main Mombasa thoroughfares and is a living tribute to the foresight, vision and administration of the Jamaat.
 
Initially, the rent received was being used to repay the loan obtained from the Trust Board. After the outstanding loans plus the proportionate income derived had been fully repaid, the building reverted fully to the ‘Molubhai Trust’, which now earns a monthly rental KShs.30,000/- The market value of the real estate is now estimated at around 4.5 million Kenya Shillings.
 
An interesting aspect of this Trust is that today Molubhai has no child or relation in Mombasa and to the best of our knowledge, anywhere else. Yet the property that was entrusted to Jamaat over 75 years ago continues to survive. Its capital value and the ensuing income continue to increase for utilization in the cause for which the property was bequeathed.
 
This is a fine example of what “barakah” is. What is given in the way of Allah and is accepted by Allah survives. The ensuing benefit of “sawabe jaari” (perpetual benefit) for the marhum continues unabated. Such are the divine ways.

 

 
Molubhai Trust Builing on the main Mombasa thoroughfare, now known as ‘Digo Road.’ The two floor building has been leased to ‘Pwani Forext Bureau’.
Note the “wafer thin” width of the building on one side.
 

We hope our community members in Africa will follow the legacy of this inspiring person, Marhum Molubhai – Today the building in Mombasa still stands tall and he continues to benefit from it while has transited from this world to eternal abode. Let us remember Marhum Molubhai, his family and all Marhumeens with Sura-e-Fateha.
 
 
Secretariat
Archives Section of Africa Federation
Dar es Salaam (March 13, 2015)

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