MULLA HAJI JANMOHAMED KERMALLI MURJI RAWJI - MADAGASCAR
Mulla Haji Janmohamed Kermalli Murji Rawji was born in Hadiyana, Gujarat in 1893. He completed Gujarati medium primary education upto Class 7. He abandoned his studies in English language after one month due to some difficult circumstances.
An incident in 1904 led Janmohamedbhai and his family an opportunity to accept the Shia Ithnaasheri faith. Murabbi Bahadurali Mawji (formerly Bhanji) of Mombasa was known to have changed his name after converting to Ithnaasheri faith. He had arrived at Hadiyana on the occasion of wedding of his son Kassamali to the daughter of Murji Rawji who was an Ismaili.
The Mukhi of Ismaili Jamat had threatened Murjibhai and his family with ex-communication should the marriage go ahead. Murjibhai considered this threat as improper and this led to a discussion among the families which had close connections with Murjibhai. A total of 96 families from the towns of Hadiyana, Jamburo, Jodia, Jamnagar, Lalpur, Nanduri, Memana, Khadba, and Haripar resolved that should Murjibhai be ex-communicated then all of them will stop paying their dues. The Kamadia Br Nazarali, ignored the letter signed by these families and declared the heads of these 96 families as ex-communicated from the community.
This news reached a prominent community worker and preacher Haji Noormohamed Meghji Dawood Nanji (nephew of Haji Dewji Jamal Nanji). He decided to move from Bhavnagar to Hadiyana and stay there for two years to inculcate among the new converts the tenets of the Ithnaasheri faith. Mulla Janmohamed was able to benefit from this great opportunity and obtain religious training.
When Br Dawood Lalji of Majunga visited Hadiyana for the wedding of his son, Haji Noormohamed Meghji advised him to arrange an assembly in honour of the 96 families from 11 towns who had converted.
This historic Khoja Shia Ithnaasheri Assembly was also attended by Haji Sheriff Dewji Jamal and Murabbi Fazal Master of Zanzibar. The Assembly attracted interest and was enthused with dynamism by the presence of Allama Haji Gulamali Haji Esmail from Ahmedabad, Haji Noormohamed Meghji from Bhavnagar and Haji Alladin Gulamhussein from Palitana.
During this period of intense opposition to our tenets there were a few dedicated leaders and preachers who kept the torch of our faith shining high. These include great thinkers like Allamah Gulamali Haji Esmail, Haji Ain Ghain Alladin, Br Gulamhussein and Haji Noormohamed Meghji. All four of them had obtained their primary religious education from Mulla Qadirhussein in Mumbai. They obtained further religious education from Molvi Gulamhussein of Hyderabad. After obtaining the religious training, they in turn published magazines for further propagation of our faith. These publications include “Rahe Najat”, “Noore Imaan” and Baghe Najaat” by Allama Gulamali and “Rafeequl Moomineen” by Haji Ain Ghain. These publications were instrumental in information, communication and in proclaiming our belief amidst strongly opposing forces at the time.
The father of Mulla Janmohamed, Kermalli Murji - a hero during this tumultuous historic period in our community travelled from Zanzibar to Morondava in 1895. He joined in the employment of Haji Walli Thawer as a book-keeper. In 1906, he decided to open his own shop in Tulear. In 1911, Janmohamed travelled from India to Tulear and joined his father’s business. At that time there were ten Ithnaasheri families in Tulear. Having a background in religious training, Janmohamed started reciting majalis which greatly benefited the community. In 1938, he started business in Morondava. In 1943, he closed his business and concentrated in providing religious training. In 1947 he opened his business again and this continued for many years.
Mulla Janmohamed had 7 daughters and 3 sons. Even in his old age, he was fully cognizant of his secular and religious obligations. He was deeply religious and would not tolerate the violation of any religious principles. He got concerned when he learnt that Africa Federation was sending girls to foreign countries to acquire education. After having discussions with the Chairman Haji Ebrahim Sheriff Dewji he was convinced on this subject. He admired and was very supportive of the Federation.
Source: AF Trade Directory (1960)
As we recognize these great achievements by these devout and dedicated elders of our community, and for the sacrifices and difficulties they endured in the early years of our history, let us remember them with Sura-e-Fateha for the maghferat of their souls – Ameen.
ARCHIVES SECTION OF THE AFRICA FEDERATION
20th March 2017 (21st Jamadi ul Aakhar1438 AH)