His Holiness Dr Syedna Taher Saifuddin

His Holiness Syedna Taher Saifuddin was born in Surat on August 5th, 1888. He is the 51st al-daʿi al-mutlaq and leader of the Dawoodi Bohra community, predecessor and father of the 52nd daʿi the late his Holiness Dr Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin and grandfather of the current His Holiness Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, the present and 53rd incumbent of the office of al-daʿi al-mutlaq.

Early Life and Work

From his very childhood, he received an excellent education in the holy books of Islam, history and Arabic literature. Heir to a heritage of spiritual thought and practice, philosophic inquiry, scholarship, and administrative skills going back centuries, in 1915 His Holiness assumed charge of the pontifical office of the Dawoodi Bohra community, known as Dawat-e-Hadiyah,  at the age of 28. Although young in years, he was rich in attainments like his illustrious predecessors.

At the time of His Holiness’ ascension, the general condition of affairs among the community was fraught with challenges and its coherence was being undermined by a discordant faction within the larger majority. His Holiness assiduously set himself to the task of bringing about unity and advancement of his community by a constructive approach to the problems.

It required the intermingling of some of the greatest qualities of human nature—talent, imagination, tact, sympathy, tenacity, – to rehabilitate a divided community. He was subjected to a number of lawsuits, a few of which had even gone to the Privy Council. Regardless, His Holiness’ leadership and unifying agenda kept the community together and led to it becoming more prosperous under his guidance.


His Holiness was essentially a scholar and a teacher, born as well as made by dint of diligence and perseverance. Among a plethora of tasks and affairs that he looked into for managing his community, his dedication to education was exemplary. In a speech at Kurnool College, he stated:

‘As I have spent most of my life in the pursuit of knowledge and its dissemination amongst those of understanding – strengthening its foundations, and beautifying its gatherings – I have found nothing more important, pleasant or agreeable than the hours and days that have passed in this noble and exalted endeavour.’

A major portion of his day’s routine was devoted to teaching and expounding the tenets of the faith. Added to his duties pertaining to the community, His Holiness also served as the Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University for four consecutive terms. His extraordinary command over the Arabic language and excellence in its literature is evident by the 49 epistles he authored and more than 10,000 verses that he composed throughout his tenure. He is credited with the establishment of 350 co-educational institutes in various parts of the world where his community resided and the renovation of Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah, the community’s premier seat of learning in Surat.

In accordance with the Prophetic tradition which makes the pursuit of knowledge obligatory upon every Muslim man and woman, he encouraged members of his community to pursue a well-rounded education and even to go abroad for higher educational pursuits.

The Dawoodi Bohras are a community devoted to trade and business and for generations have diversified themselves in both scope and geography. His Holiness being the spiritual head of his community was also a Bohra; and thus possessed all those qualities which were inherent in his community. Merchants, traders and industrialists sought his counsel because they recognised in him a native genius, enriched by long years of varied experiences from around the world. Being a spiritual man, His Holiness never neglected the material and mundane aspect of human life. He was very solicitous about his followers being happy and prosperous whilst also upholding the tenets of their faith.

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