The late Gulamhusein Mohamed Valli Dharsi who later became famous by the use of the pen-name of “SALSABIL” was the eldest son of Mohamed Valli Dharsi and was born in Zanzibar in 1887. He was brought up by Janab Saleh Hassan, his maternal grandfather. After finishing his studies, he joined his father’s booming textile business, together with his two younger brothers Habib and Kassamali.

Mohamedbhai Valli Dharsi passed away in Zanzibar in 1923 after returning to Zanzibar from Ziyarat in Iraq, Gulamhuseinbhai and his two younger brothers managed their father’s business until 1930 when it was wound up.

Gulamhuseinbhai received his early education at Sir Euan Smith Madressa, (a famous Gujarati and English educational institution in Zanzibar, renamed Haile Selassie School after the Zanzibar Revolution in 1964). With his vast studies he could speak Urdu, English, Farsi, Gujarati, Arabic and Kiswahili. His fondness for reading and writing was remarkable. He soon built up his own private library which, at the time of his demise consisted of some 2000 (two thousand) books which included some rare and valuable collections in English, Gujarati, Urdu, and Arabic. His private Library also contained several important literary and classical works which he had won as prizes in school competitions.

He married the daughter of Noormohamed Dedher and by this alliance had eleven children. When he passed away in 1961, he left behind four sons and three daughters.

Religion was Gulamhuseinbhai's  favourite subject. As early as 1910 he began contributing articles to Indian Journals and monthlies like “Rahe-Najat”, “Noore-Iman”, “Chaudmi Sadi”, “Muslim Review”, etc.  which even today make an interesting and instructive reading. Often he used the pen-name of “MUNTAZIR” and “SALSABIL” for his articles. 
In 1938 the “Muslim Sahitya Karyalay” was started by Mohamedbhai E. Jivraj, Hassanali Rajabali (Hakir), Janab Salsabil among others. The society published many useful booklets on socio-religious subjects. It was in 1943 when Karyalay decided to publish a monthly journal under the editorship of Mohamedbhai E. Jivraj and under the partronship of Janab Salsabil. Coincidentally, the name of the Journal chosen by its founder members was “Salsabil” which in fact was the pen-name of Gulamhuseinbhai who was also chosen as the Journal’s Patron (Sar-Parast).  The monthly Journal continued to be published regularly and gained immense popularity, both in Africa and India. After the death of Gulamhuseinbhai, the publication was discontinued unfortunately. In all, 19 annual volumes of articles on religious and diverse subjects were published. 

From 1938 until his last moment, Janab Salsabil was also the Gujarati editor of the Zanzibar “Samachar”, the bi-lingual weekly newspaper of Zanzibar.

Gulamhuseinbhai could be seen in Zanzibar Imambara and Mehfils regularly attending the majalises and on Shahadat nights from the outset of Matam (chest-beating) joining children and grown-ups upto the end. He made himself available to everyone seeking his advice and/or pecuniary help.  He was the author of the following books, all in Gujarati language:-

  1. “Life history of Allama Qantoori”
  2. “Fascinating History of the Holy Mausoleums in Kerbala”
  3. “Islam and the Caliphs of Divine Kingdom”
  4. “The Worldwide Memorials of Ahlul-Bayt”
  5. “The Martyr of Kerbala”
  6. “Life of Imam Sadiq A.S.” (part I)

Due to his many interesting and religious and social activities as stated above (dating back to 1910), Allama Haji Gulamali Saheb the Editor of “Rahe Najat” in India, in appreciation of his valuable publications, recommended Gulamhuseinbhai to the then Grand Mujtahid of Lucknow Janab Seyyed Aqa Hasan Saheb Damadhillihul Aali who recognized his religious services and conferred on him the title of “HAMIYUL ISLAM” (The Defender of Islam).

Janab Salsabil used to correspond with many religious and literary luminaries. Some of his best friends were Allama Qantoori, Haji Gulamali, and Muinul Islam Valimohamed C. Momin. To enable the publication of “Hadees-e-Halila” translated by Mr. Momin into English, Gulamhuseinbhai gave him a pecuniary help. Later when Jafferali Aseer appeared on literary horizon and started publishing religious literature he came into contact with Gulamhuseinbhai who contributed to Aseer’s Journal “Chaudmi Sadi” under the pen-names of Al Muntadhir and Salsabil.

Gulamhuseinbhai died in Zanzibar on 23rd Mahe Mubarak Ramadhan 1380 A.H.  corresponding to 11th March 1961 leaving behind four sons, three daughters and grand-children. May Almighty Allah  S.W.T.  bless his soul and place him in the proximity of 14 Masumeen (A.S.) whom he so much loved! - Ameen.
Source: Youth Magazine 2 bulletin volume 2 of June 1992, Dar es Salaam

Published by: Ithnasheri Union Literary Section

Profile written by: Marhum Alhaj Akberali G. Dharsee

Reference provided by: Mohammedraza Akberali Dharsee
Let us remember all the Marhumeens who are mentioned in the above article and who played important roles and contributions in the publications of various religious articles and on other subjects during their times, and all the Marhumeeens with Sura e Fatiha for the maghferat of their souls, Ameen. 

Murtaza R. Jivraj (Kerbala)
Sectional Secretary 
Archives Section of Africa Federation

21st April 2017 (23rd Rajab 1438 AH)

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