|Tajddin, Mumtaz Ali Sadik Ali: 101 Ismaili Heroes, Vol.1, Islamic Book Publisher, Karachi, January 2003, p 389|
Varas Sadruddin Hashwani traces his
descent from Mukhi Hashu Tharuani (1820-1915) of Lassi Jamatkhana, Karachi. It
must be known that Mukhi Hashu married twice and had four sons, viz. Baledina,
Jaffer, Ghulam Hussain, Muhammad and two daughters, Hira and Bhanari from his
first wife, called Ha’ansi. His other children from his second wife, called
Thari were Abdullah, Kassim, Bana, Hussain, Nazar Ali, Ali Muhammad and Ismail;
and four daughters, viz. Sharafi, Jena, Chhati and Marium. The community
services have always been a quintessential component of the family of Mukhi
Abdullah, the son of Mukhi Hashu was born in Uthal in 1847 and arrived in Karachi with the family at the age of 5 years. He joined his father’s business after formal education. After his father’s death, he retained the agency of the Ralli Bros. Ltd. In 1920, he took key role in raising the first religious night school in Lassi with Mukhi Itmadi Hoodbhoy Shaluani. He also awarded cash prizes to the students, who attended the Jamatkhana in the morning. He also took important part in the mission of the conversion with the Recreation Club Institute, and is reported to have converted more than 85 persons from the depressed class in Sind and Baluchistan, and adopted few boys at his residence. To appreciate his outstanding contribution in the Ismaili mission, the Imam awarded him a gold medal in 1927.
On Thursday, May 6, 1920, the Imam appointed Abdullah as the Kamadia with Hoodbhoy Shalu as the Mukhi for Lassi Jamatkhana and said (to the jamat), “I appoint Abdullah, the son of Mukhi Hashu as the Kamadia of the jamat.” (Then told to him that,) “Kamadia Abdullah, your late father Mukhi Hashu had served the Imam and the jamat exceedingly well, and you also must serve the Imam and the jamat whole heartedly. Presently, I do not appoint you as the member of the Council. Your service in the jamati affairs is more important at present. I bless you too much.” Later on, he was however appointed the member of the Supreme Council (1921-29).
It must be known that Mukhi Hoodbhoy Shaluani had declared a donation of Rs. 35,000/- in Imam’s presence on April 11, 1920 for a new Lassi Jamatkhana. Kamadia Abdullah shared his outstanding contribution in the construction work. The opening ceremony of the Jamatkhana was performed on December 25, 1924.
Kamadia Abdullah was a man of principle with strict leaning towards religion. He liked to host the poor and helped them with food and clothes. Sometimes, he would wash the utensils with others in the Jamatkhana. When asked, why he was doing so, he would answer, “Like my father, I am also the custodian (munjaver) of the house of Mawla Ali.” It is to be noted that he died on October 30, 1929 at the age of 82 years, and when his ruhani mehmani was presented before the Imam on January 24, 1938, the Imam graciously blessed the soul and said, “I know him and his father as well. Both were the custodians (munjaver) of my house.”
Kamadia Abdullah married to Zainab, the sister of Missionary Hussaini Pir Muhammad (1878-1951), who had no child; therefore, he adopted a converted boy, called Hyderali. He had however three sons from his second wife, viz. Mukhi Varas Hussain, Hussain Ali and Noor Muhammad.
Mukhi Varas Hussain was born in 1897 at Karachi. He also joined his father’s business soon after his formal education. He inherited the agency of the Ralli Bros. Ltd. in 1929, which he retained till 1968. It implies that the Hashwani family enjoyed the agency for about 90 years (1878-1968), dealing with hides and skins, bones and cotton. He was the Chairman of the Hashwani Hotels Ltd. incorporated in 1971 with a paid-up capital of Rs. 60 million. It was converted into a Public Limited Co. in 1974. He was also the Promoter of Holiday Inn Hotels at Karachi and Islamabad, the Director of M/S Hasanali & Co. Ltd., the Senior Director of Quetta Textile Mills Ltd., etc.
In order to stem the rapid growth of illiteracy in the community, the leaders embarked upon a plan in 1940 to start an organization, called the Khoja Ismailia Lassi Students Union when the monetary plight of the people was deplorable. On that juncture, Mukhi Varas Hussain helped the Students Union and donated handsome amount. He was also the member of the Executive Committee of Golden (1936) and Diamond (1946) Jubilee Celebration Committees. He also served as the Mukhi and Kamadia of various Brotherhoods of Lassi Jamatkhana. He served as the Nandi Incharge for several years. He was also appointed the member of the Supreme Council for Karachi (1930-46) and the Local Council.
Mukhi Varas Hussain was appointed the Kamadia for the Lassi Jamatkhana (1930-1937), and ultimately the Mukhi (1942-1946) in place of Mukhi Hoodbhoy Shaluani. He rendered meritorious services as a Mukhi and followed by Mukhi Jaffer Nur Mohammad. He passed a saintly life, and was crowned with the title of Alijah in 1938, Itmadi in 1956 and Wazir in 1960.
It must be known that a deputation from Pakistan comprised of 20 leaders visited Aswan including Mukhi Varas Hussain, where the mortal remains of Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah were laid to rest on Friday, July 20, 1957. Thousand of Ismailis from all over the world attended this ceremony. In addition, the Ismailis from 20 countries gathered once again at Aswan, including Mukhi Varas Hussain to pay last tribute to the 48th Imam, whose bier was lifted and carried from Nur al-Salam to the newly built mausoleum on Friday, February 20, 1959.
Mukhi Varas Hussain died at the age of 80 years due to cardiac failure on Saturday, May 14, 1977 at 8.45 p.m. The Imam sent the following telegraphic message on May 20, 1977 to his sons:-
Have received your cable and have learnt with greatest sorrow passing away of your beloved father Vazir Hussain Abdullah Hashwani. I send my most affectionate paternal maternal special loving blessings for the soul of late Vazir Hussain Abdullah Hashwani and I pray that his soul may rest in eternal peace. I send my most affectionate paternal maternal loving blessings for services with my most affectionate loving blessings to all the members of your family for courage and fortitude in your great loss, which is also a true loss to the jamat and the Imam.
Mukhi Varas Hussain married to Varasiani Zaverbai, the daughter of Kassim Shalu. She rendered her invaluable services as the Kamadiani (1929-1937) and Mukhiani (1937-1946) in the Lassi Jamatkhana. She extended her inestimable services to Janbai Maternity Home for over 25 years and the Aga Khan Health Board for several years. Varasiani Zaverbai was also the member of the Supreme Council, Kharadhar Local Council and the Regional Council (1960-63). She was also the member of the Ladies Committee and the Young Ladies Volunteer Corps in Lassi jamat. She genersouly helped the poor in their treatment, marriages, education, etc. The Imam visited the Janbai Maternity Home on November 14, 1985 to attend its 60th anniversary. On that occasion, the Imam graciously presented her a memento for her longest services. In his speech, the Imam said, “The role of our volunteers in keeping that spirit of service alive and in materially enabling our institutions to maintain their fabric and improve their facilities is beyond praise. Without their efforts, and the efforts of their predecessors, the institution would not be a thriving one it is today, nor would it be financially able to offer to families of the poor, facilities they could never otherwise afford.”
Varasiani Zaverbai expired on December 22, 1989 at the age of 72 years. The Imam sent following telex message to her sons:-
28th December, 1989
My dear spiritual children,
I have received your telex of 22nd December, and have learnt with very great pain and sorrow of the passing away of your beloved mother Vazir Saheba Zaverbai. I send my most affectionate paternal maternal loving blessings for the soul of the late Vazir Saheba Zaverbai, and I pray that her soul may rest in eternal peace.
The late Vazir Saheba Zaverbai’s long and devoted services to my jamat of Pakistan will always be remembered by my jamat and by me, and she will be greatly missed by all. In addition to her outstanding services, however, she will also be remembered for her personal example of leadership, and her complete integrity and rigour in every aspect of her life and family to which she addressed her attention.
I send my most affectionate paternal maternal loving blessings to the family of the late Vazir Hussain and the late Vazir Saheba Zaverbai Hashwani for courage and fortitude in their great loss. You are all constantly in my heart and thoughts and prayers in this painful time of bereavement.
In his another message addressed to the Ismaili Council for Pakistan on December 28, 1989, the Imam also said, “The late Vazir Saheba’s outstanding and long devoted services to my Pakistani jamat in numerous jamati institutions, and particularly in the field of health care will always be remembered by my jamat and by me and she will be greatly missed by all.”
In her loving memory, his son Varas Sadruddin incorporated a project after her name, viz. Zaver Patroleum Corp. Ltd. in 1994.
Mukhi Varas Hussain had three sons and four daughters, viz. Akbar Ali, Hasan Ali, Sadruddin; and Malek Shamsuddin M. Dhanani, Amina Alijah Noor Ali Itmadi Kassim Jaffer, Nurbanu Ghul Mohammad Lakhani and Nazali Sultan Habib Shalwani.
Akbar Ali, the elder son of Mukhi Varas Hussain was born on June 6, 1932. Soon after his matriculation in 1949 at St. Patrick’s School, he joined his father’s business for a long period. He also launched the Hashwani Group of Companies in 1984, which included Hasan Ali Cotton Export Ltd., Hasan Ali Rice Exports, Syndicate Trading Co., Syndicate Mining, Regent Textile Mill, Landmark Spinning Mill, etc. In sum, he is now the Chairman of the Hashwani Group of Companies.
The record of his community services reveals that he was appointed the member of the Ismailia Federal Council (1980-87). He served as the Convenor of the Economic Development of the Aga Khan Hospital & Medical College (1984-87), the Director the Aga Khan Rural Support Program. He was also a member of the Governing Body of the Aga Khan Hospital and Medical College Foundation and the President of Economic & Planning Board for Pakistan (1980-87).
Varas Akbar Ali is also noted for his generosity in different causes, one of which is graciously acknowledged by the Imam when he donated a massive amount for the social development programmes of the Aga Khan Education Services. The Imam’s message is quoted below:-
26th April, 1991
My dear spiritual child,
I was most happy to learn from the Chairman of the Aga Khan Education Service, Pakistan about your magnificent contribution towards the social development programmes of the Aga Khan Education Services.
You are aware that I attach the greatest importance to the improvement of the quality of life of members of the jamat and of the societies in which they live. Your generous support for this important cause is worthy of the greatest admiration and emulation, and I send you my warmest congratulations.
I give you and your family my most affectionate special paternal maternal loving blessings.
During the grand darbar on March 15, 1976, the Imam graciously announced the titles of five leaders, including Akbar Ali, who was granted the title of Itmadi. He was also invested the title of Varas in 1994. He virtually retired from the community services in 1987.
Varas Akbar Ali married on November 5, 1957 to Sultana, the daughter of Huzur Varas Dr. Ghulam Ali Allana (1906-1985). She is also a social worker and served as a member of the Aga Khan Health Board (1960-70) and the Aga Khan Education Board (1960-70). She is giving her valuable services as a member of the Education Unit of the Mohammadi Girls Academy since 1997. She is also a Board Member of the National Institute of Child Health of Jinnah Hospital for last five years, and the member of the Citizen Foundation for last four years. Varas Akbar Ali has three sons, Nizam, Abdullah, Amin and a daughter, Sherezad.
Hasan Ali, the second son of Mukhi Varas Hussain was born in 1933. After completing his Inter-Science, he joined the family brokerage firm. On December 29, 1960, he married to Dr. Laila. In 1961, he went to England with his wife and returned in 1963. On his return he established his firm, Hasan Ali & Co. Ltd. and went into cotton export business, where he earned the reputation of the “King of Cotton.” He also established the Pak-Sri Lanka Friendship Association and was its 1st President. He was also the Vice-President of North Korea-Pak Friendship Association, and an active member of the Pak-China Friendship Association. He travelled worldwide in connection with his business and social activities.
Unfortunately, he underwent three major operations in January, 1974 and recovered his health. He proceeded to London after few months for his medical check-up in Kings College Hospital. On November 19, 1974, he sent a telex message to the Imam through the Mukhi of London Jamatkhana, reporting reverently that he was progressing well and arrived at London for medical check-up. In the meantime, the doctors examined him twice and certified that he was in good health. On November 27, 1974, he developed severe pain below his spinal cod. The doctors beffled and failed to diagonise its cause. The fatal disease was pronounced as Retroperiotoneal Haematoma, and he expired on December 2, 1974 at the age of 41 years. His body was brought to Karachi for interment on December 5, 1974.
Three sons, Arif, Altaf, Hussain and a daughter, Muneera, survived Hasan Ali Hashwani. In his loving memory, his family raised a Hasan Ai Hashwani Charitable Dispensary and Laboratory at Kharadhar, Karachi. The Ismailia Association for Pakistan launched a Manpower Training Scheme in 1975. The Hashwani family generously donated Rs. four lacs for the period of two years for 30 students of the first batch in loving memory of his late son Hasan Ali Hashwani. In his reply, the Imam sent following message:
28th April, 1975
My dear President and Members,
I have received your letter of 5th April and am very happy to know that the family of late Hasanali Hashwani and Vazir Husain Abdullah Hashwani have given a generous donation to the Ismailia Association for Pakistan for the Waezeen Training Scheme.
I send my most affectionate paternal maternal loving blessings to Vazir Husain A. Hashwani and family for their wonderful gift with best loving blessings for the soul of late Hasanali Hashwani. I pray that his soul may rest in eternal peace.
The gift of the Hashwani family is in the true spirit of Islam and deserves applause and emunation.
The Imam performed the foundation stone laying ceremony of the Aga Khan Maternity Home at Karimabad on March 17, 1976. Its construction began in November, 1977. The Imam performed its opening ceremony on March 24, 1979. In his speech, the Imam complimented the Hashwani family, who donated one million rupees to the Aga Khan Maternity Home, Karimabad in loving memory of late Hasan Ali. The name of the Outpatient Wing had been named after “Late Hasan Ali Hashwani.”
It must be known that Laila, the wife of Hasan Ali Hashwani, is the daughter of A. Aziz Ghulam Hussain Reimoo of Sri Lanka. Mr. A. Aziz was a prominent person in Colombo, and was a member of Parliament. Dr. Laila is a peadtrician by profession and did her DCH from London in 1963. She worked at the Jinnah Hospital and with the Pakistan Medical Council. Dr. Laila was an active member of the Pakistan Medical Association and was on their Executive Committee at the Karachi, Sind and Centre level. She was the President of the International Soroptomist Organisation and a founder member of the SAARC Women’s Association. She served on various jamati institutions. She was appointed on the Health Board in 1968 as a Chairperson of the Day Nursery Committee and later on as a Chairperson of the Janbai Maternity Home. She also worked in the field of Education and was on the Garden Education Board. In 1987, she was appointed on the Admission Committee of the Aga Khan University for Medical Students. She rejoined the Aga Khan Health Services as a Chairperson on the Garden Maternity Home and was also appointed on the Board of Directors of AKHSP (1990-1999). She was appointed the Vice-Chairperson (1996-1999) of AKHSP. She also was an Ex-officio member on the Regional Council (1996-1999). On retirement from AKHSP, she initiated an Income Generation Project for the Afghan refugee women, which was very successful.
Sadruddin, the third son of Mukhi Varas Hussain was born in Karachi on February 19, 1940. He spent the whole of his childhood, boyhood and youth in Lassi at Lea Market, Karachi. He did his matric in 1956 from N.J.V. High School. A self-made man, he has built his business empire in the last 17 years, seemingly stepping from success to success. But it has been a rocky road to the top. He had no ready-made business to step into and no family fortune to fall back on. After failing his Inter Science exam, he joined his brother-in-law in a small grain transporting company in 1958, travelling to the Makran coast and Kalat, often in temperatures below freezing. In trading, he worked 18 hours a day without caring for his health.
His next venture was small-time steel trading with his elder brother Hasan Ali in 1960, who set up a firm called, Hasan Ali & Co. In 1965, he began his career in cotton trading with a small order of 2900 bales. The cotton kings in the market reacted to the newcomer with disgust. But in three years, he was the number one exporter in cotton. His business flourished and he surfaced as an important business magnate in 1970. In the same decade, the Hashwani family was acknowledged as the “Cotton Kings” for being front ranking exporter of cotton besides rice and other commodities. In 1973, came a setback: nationalization of the cotton trade in Pakistan. He turned to industry, and never looked back since. He made a bold decision to stay in Pakistan and bought a textile mill from the Fancys, but after five years, he sold it off in 1978. He diverted his resources towards other business avenues like the hotel industry, real estate, trading, property development and industrial ventures. In less than a decade, Sadruddin acquired the reputation of a highly successful hotelier and an eminent businessman. In 1973, he also ventured into the field of five-star hotel business with the beginning of Holiday Inn Hotel in Islamabad in 1978 and another at Karachi in 1981. In 1985, he made a successful bid for the majority shares of Pakistan Services Ltd., which at that time owned four Intercontinental Hotels in Pakistan. Soon after the takeover of the Company, Sadruddin changed the name of the Hotels to Pearl Continental Hotels. To upgrade the standards of Holiday Inn Hotels, his foresight and vision once again came into action, when he resolved to convert the Holiday Inns into Marriott Hotels – a wise decision that has procured sizable dividends. In 1995, he acquired 100% stocks of the US based Corporation, Occidental of Pakistan Inc. (now the Orient Petroleum Inc.), which is actively engaged in exploration and production of oil and gas in the country with a fleet of over 200 trained staff. This business is one of the major divisions of his business empire, called Hashoo Group. The Hashoo Group is a major shareholder of New Jubilee Insurance Co. Ltd, the fourth largest insurance company in Pakistan. Varas Sadruddin continues to be on the Board of Director of New Jubilee Insurance for many years. He also served as the Director of Al-Shifa Foundation. In sum, he is one of the most leading business magnates in Pakistan.
In recognition of his noble share in economic building of Pakistan, the Institute of Business Administration, Karachi honoured him an “Outstanding Professional Contribution Award” in 1988. He was also awarded a Gold Medal at the Tourism Convention in 1993 in view of his outstanding services to the tourism industry of Pakistan.
The Hashoo Group has also made its mark in property development, construction and real estate business, such as Nadia Square, Hashoo Apartments, Hashoo Garden, Prince Apartments, Hashoo Terrace, Hashoo Centre, Bagh-e-Malir Housing Project, Millat Garden, Gulshan-e-Millat, Highway Housing Project, Bagh-e-Landhi, etc.
Despite his preoccupation in monitoring his vast business empire, Varas Sadruddin has maintained his family tradition of keeping the welfare of the people irrespective of cast and creed. He is equally known for his generous philanthropic activities and ameliorating the living condition of the destitute, both inside and outside the community. He shared a colossal amount to the institutions outside the community, such as he donated Rs. 25 lacs to the Asif Nawaz Memorial Hospital, Islamabad, Rs. 10 lacs to the Al-Shifa Eye Hospital, Rawalpindi, Rs. 10 lacs to the Shaukat Khannam Cancer Hospital, Lahore, Rs. 10 lacs to the Ibrar al-Haq Sahara Foundation, Lahore, etc.
The Hashoo Group has also floated its own philanthropic institution in 1985, called the Hashoo Foundation. He is also funding the Hasan Ali Hashwani Charitable Dispensary, Kharadhar, Karachi. He is the director of the Aga Khan Foundation, Pakistan Chapter, and a highly reputed NGO with international recognition. He is also an Honorary Consul General of Belgium.
He has deep leaning towards Ismailism since childhood. He served in the Scout Group and Volunteer Corps in the Lassi Jamatkhana, Karachi for several years. He also rendered his services as a Mukhi for a Brotherhood in Darkhana Jamatkhana (1977-85). He also served as the founder Chairman of the Silver Jubilee Development Agency, the member of the Aga Khan Foundation, the member of the Aga Khan Gymkhana Managing Committee, etc. He also employed a galaxy of the Ismaili workers belonging to the northern areas and Afghanistan. He also sponsors the cricket and gold tournaments in loving memory of his late parents.
It may also be noted that the Imam established the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) in 1967 to promote social development, primarily in the low income countries of Asia and Africa by funding innovative programmes of broad value in health, education and rural development. To celebrate its silver jubilee, the Imam invited members of all nations committee to a dinner at Aiglemont on February 25, 1992. As a member of AKF, Varas Sadruddin Hashwani was also invited. On behalf of the Foundation units and Geneva staff, Wazir Ramzan Merchant, the Chairman of the AKF, Pakistan humbly presented a small clock as a gift to the Imam.
My dear Ramzan,
Since the 25th of February, work pressure has been unrelenting, and it is only after my return from visits to Uganda and Kenya, where important accords and protocols were signed between the Governments of Uganda and Kenya on the one hand, and the Aga Khan Development Network on the other, and thanks to the long weekend of the 1st of May, that I am now able to write to you to tell you, and through you everyone at AKF, how deeply touched I was by the words you spoke at the dinner I gave for AKF on Tuesday, the 25th February, and for this most magnificent gift which you offered me.
The time-piece and parchment are deeply happy memory of an occasion which celebrated the first twenty-five years of the life of the Aga Khan Foundation, and Apex Imamat Institution which has made an outstanding name for itself, and which is the first to have completed a quarter century of service to the benefit of the Ismaili community and others, in both Third World and industrialized countries.
As an institution, AKF has premiated attention to the quality of its work: this attention to style, taste and detail is strongly reflected in the choice that you made of your gift to me of an exceptionally beautiful clock. Its shape, colour and finish are sober and look at it. I was also most touched by the inscription and the wording on the parchment, and that the National Committee and staff of AKF should have taken such trouble to add their signatures.
I would be most grateful if you would share this letter with everyone at AKF who contributed to offering me such a unique memory of a particularly happy and meaningful event.
Varas Sadruddin Hashwani is a munificent donor for several causes, and his generosity is like an unfathomable ocean that cannot be measured in words. In view of his meritorious services, the Imam graciously invested him the title of Alijah in 1971, Itmadi in 1976 and Varas in 1994. While granting him the title of Varas, the Imam said in his message to the National Council for Pakistan on July 11, 1994 that, “I want my jamat to know that the conferment of a title is one of the many ways by which the unconditional service rendered by a murid is recognized by the Imam of the Time. Giving selflessly and volunteraily of one’s time, energy, intellect and material resources for the benefit of others, is in the finest tradition of our tariqah, and one which I would like to see always upheld in my jamat. I would like to emphasize that the Imam is always aware of the silent services of the innumerable murids who have served, and continuing to serve in various capacities, and I send them all my warmest and most affectionate loving blessings for their services to the jamat and the Imam of the Time.”
Varas Sadruddin married to Noor Sultan on July 7, 1968 and blessed with two sons, Murtaza, Hasan Ali and three daughters, Nadia, Shahzia and Sarah.
The family members of Sadruddin Hashwani are also devoted social workers. In 1996, his wife, Mrs. Noori Hashwani created a non-profit organization, called “Umeed-e-Noor” (Ray of Hope). It nurses the disabled and supportless children with their education, nourishment and treatment. Mrs. Noori Hashwani executes as the Chairperson of the “Umeed-e-Noor.” The readers can visit their website (www.umeed-e-noor.com.pk) for details of their invaluable social activities.
Sadruddin Hashwani also established a philanthropic organization, known as the “HOAP (Helping Oppressed and Powerless) Foundation” in 1999. It is a non-government and non-profitable organization to help develop human resources of the infirm community of the society, especially the war stricken Afghan refugees, and the youth from the Northern Areas and Chitral. HOAP Foundation is a registered NGO based in Rawalpindi. Sadruddin Hashwani is its Patron In-chief with Murtaza Hashwani as the Chairman Board of Directors, Mrs. Noori Hashwani, Miss Sarah Hashwani and Hasan Ali Hashwani as the members. HOAP Foundation has been also visited by distinguished visitors, viz. The United Nations Women Association led by Marianne De Mule, the American Women Club led by Mary, Yoko Kondo, the head of NGO from the embassy of Japan, Mohammad Manji and Salimah Samji of FOCUS International Humanitarian Assistance, Canada, Aziz Vellani and Sadruddin from the Aga Khan’s Secretariat, Aiglemont, France, etc.
His elder son, Murtaza was born on January 2, 1974. He joined the Karachi American School (1983-87) and proceeded to London at the age of 13 years and took his formal education in the Boarding School (1987-91). He went to the United States in 1992 for doing the Bachelor of Science. He returned to Pakistan and joined his father’s business in 1993. He is also an enthusiastic social worker and served as a member of the Regional Council (1993-94). He was also appointed the Kamadia (1994-5) and then the Mukhi (1995-97) of a Brotherhood in Aabpara Jamatkhana, Islamabad. Hasan Ali, another son of Varas Sadruddin Hashwani was born on October 5, 1977. He is also devoted and a promising social worker in United States.