Welcome to F.I.E.L.D.- the First Ismaili Electronic Library and Database. Guests are not required to login during this beta-testing phase

39. Ghulam Hussain Mohammad Jindani, Dewan - page 160

Naser was from Jamnagar, Kutchh and he came from a noble family. He migrated towards Zanzibar in 1851 to find a better life for his family. He had only a son, called Mohammad, who was born in Zanzibar in 1864. Mohammad Naser served the jamat devotedly in different fields. He was also noted for his generosity. When the first Ismaili Council established in 1905 at Nairobi with Varas Mohammad Rehmatullah Hemani as its President, Mohammad Naser was also appointed as one of its founder members (1905-1914).
On January 15, 1912, the Imam sent him a letter from Karachi and appointed him as his Estate Manager to take care of the Imam's estates in Zanzibar in place of Varas Saleh. He took over its charges also from Kamadia Pradhan.

Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah made his third visit to Africa in 1914. The Imam arrived at the port of Zanzibar by a French mail steamer, Oxes on July 15, 1914 at 3.00 a.m., and graced the didar in the Jamatkhana at 8.00 a.m. On that occasion, the Imam said, 'The bungalow which Mohammad Naser has arranged for my stay is very excellent. I give him best blessings.'

Mohammad Naser spent handsomely on travelling and entertaining the guests, and gave all expenses of Imam's visit to Zanzibar in 1914. On August 2, 1914, Imam Sultan Muhammed Shah said in view of his generous services that, 'Since my arrival, you have been serving me day and night. It is not enough when I say Khanavadan for you, even if I keep saying Khanavadan day and night. Your entertainment (mehmani) does not confine to it, but continued since my arrival over here, because the bungalow with foods, including for the staff - all have been provided by you. Besides, you discharge your duty feasibly and help the Council and jamat all the times, and participate in all occasions. You also render my other services excellently, for which I give you much blessings.'

Imam Sultan Muhammed Shah also invested him the title of Wazir on August 6, 1914 and said, 'You are Varas means Wazir from today. When the African jamat was small, there were three Wazirs, but now it is a big jamat. I have sent thousand of people during ten years in the villages of Kampala, Uganda, Majunga, etc. Thus, there must be at least four Wazirs in Africa. Wazir Mohammad Rehmatullah and Varas Alidina Visram are (Wazirs) at present, and I also vest in Mohammad Naser the office of Wazir.' The Imam also presented him the robe, ring and a pin with best blessings.

When the Khoja Panjibhai Club came into existence in Zanzibar, Lyoid William Mathew, the British Counsel General inaugurated its room on September 9, 1899. Initially, there were about a hundred members, each paying the membership fee of Rs. 4/- per year. When its members took no interest, the Imam ordered to exempt its fees, and himself started an annual grant of Rs. 3500/- for its upkeep. On that juncture, Mohamed Naser worked hard in the progress of the Khoja Panjibhai Club. He introduced many recreation activities and gave a new life to the Club. On March 21, 1926, Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah said to Ghulam Hussain, the son of Mohamed Naser in a mehmani that, 'Earlier, your father, Mohamed Naser organized the Panjibhai Club in an order in 1899, rather he gave new life to the dormant members. He also helped too much in past, and served the community financially. You too serve with full heart like your father.'

Wazir Mohammad Naser died at the age of 60 years on September 29, 1924. His son, Ghulam Hussain maintained the tradition of the illustrious services of his father.

Ghulam Hussain Wazir Mohammad Naser Jindani was born in Zanzibar on August 8, 1891. He took his education in Zanzibar and became one of the business magnates, and owned many valuable estates.

He took important parts in the community services. He sailed for London on December, 1924, and reached Marseilles via Genoa, and finally arrived to Villa Yakimour in Cannes. Imam Sultan Muhammed Shah graced him an audience in the Ritz Hotel, and prayed for the soul of late Wazir Mohammad Naser Jindani. On that juncture, the Imam conferred upon him the title of Wazir.

Imam Sultan Muhammed Shah arrived in Zanzibar on February 17, 1925, where he declared new members for the Council. Varas Mohammad Rehmatullah Hemani was appointed the President with Ghulam Hussain Mohammad Jindani as its member. The Imam also declared 9 members for the School Committee, including Ghulam Hussain Jindani as its Chairman with Abdul Hussain Jaffer Rahim as Hon. Secretary. The Imam also told to them, 'You must form the sub-committees, three for secular and three for religion educations, and three for the girls. You should avail full benefit of my grant and send me your report directly, and endorse its copy to the Council. Have much courage for it.' In the Ladies Committee, twelve members were appointed, including his sister, Kamadiani Kulsumbai. The Imam also vested him the title of Wazir, and said, 'I have conferred the title of Wazir to you in Europe. Now I award the title in public and also appoint you the member of the Council.'

The Sultan of Zanzibar hosted a standing ovation to the Imam in a princely reception on February 21, 1925. It was attended by distinguished persons, notably Shaikh Suleman bin Naser, Shaikh Hammad bin Hamid, Shaikh Saeed bin Hamid, Wazir Ghulam Hussain Mohammad Jindani, Varas Mohammad Rehmatullah Hemani and other 22 special guests of honour.

Wazir Rahim Basaria (1885-1927) died on February 15, 1927 in Bombay. The Supreme Council held an urgent meeting in Zanzibar to pay him a well-deserved tribute. It was also resolved to close the businesses on February 16, 1927. The Council and jamat performed the religious ceremony for late Wazir Rahim Basaria at the residence of Wazir Ghulam Hussain Mohammad Jindani, where Missionary Alidina Mukhi Mamu delivered waez.

In 1934, one African delegation visited London to discuss with the Imam to promote education system in the villages of East Africa. The delegation comprised of Ghulam Hussain Jindani (Zanzibar), Alijah Kassim Sunderji (Dar-es-Salaam) and Mukhi Rajab Ali Kassim Suleman Virji (Mombasa). Soon after the meeting, he and his wife took an opportunity of visiting Cairo and returned to Zanzibar on October 8, 1934.

On February 7, 1937 during the occasion of Golden Jubilee, Mr. and Mrs. Jindani hosted a dinner to the Imam and Mata Salamat at the Aga Khan Club. It was attended by 1000 guests, including the Resident (Governor) Sir Richard Renkins and Lady Renkins, Sultan Sayed Khalifa bin Haroon, the ruler of Zanzibar, etc.

On March 1, 1937, the Golden Jubilee was celebrated in Nairobi, making the hearts of the Ismailis full of happiness and excitement. The Supreme Council for Africa formed the All Africa Golden Jubilee Celebration Committee comprised of 18 members, in which Wazir Ghulam Hussain Mohammad Jindani was selected as a member from Zanzibar. The All Africa Golden Jubilee Celebration Committee held a meeting and launched an Executive Committee of six members to control the entire supervision, in which Wazir Ghulam Hussain Jindani was also selected as its member. The ceremony of Golden Jubilee was performed at the ground of The Aga Khan Club, where a mammoth concourse of 70,000 Ismailis assembled. It took about 40,000 shillings to decorate the pendol. In the middle, a platform of 100 square yards was erected for weighing ceremony. On that occasion, Wazir Ghulam Hussain Jindani had a privilege to read the welcome address. In his speech, the Imam graciously accepted the gift of gold and declared it's use for the upliftment of his spiritual children, thus formed a Gold Grant Committee to devise the best means of applying the money for different social and welfare projects. The Imam also declared nine members of the Gold Grant Committee, such as Wazir Ghulam Hussain Mohammad Jindani, Varas Abdullah Sharif, Alijah Ismail Jivraj Pirani, Varas Kassim Sunderji Shamji, Wazir Fateh Ali Dhalla, Wazir Hassan Kassim Lakha, Dhanji Jadawji Bhatia, Alijah Hashim Ismail Lakhani, and Sir Eboo Pirbhai. Later on, the charge of the Gold Grant Committee was taken over by the Central Committee in 1946 with a fund of 10,000 pounds.

On that occasion, Imam Sultan Muhammed vested an hereditary title of Count to Ghulam Hussain Jindani and Abdullah Sharif Kanji. The Imam also resented him a Gold Medal of Chevron Bar. This was the first occasion where the conferment of the title of Count was introduced specifically in East Africa. This had never been done anywhere in the Ismaili world.

Imam Sultan Muhammed Shah emphasized to the Ismaili leaders to establish an Insurance Company, and summoned a meeting of the leaders and experts on February 20, 1937 at Dar-es-Salaam and said, 'I will insure my estates and houses and provided you to establish an Insurance Company. I will give you a business of over 40,000 shillings, and then you procure the insurance business from rich class, and then start life insurance policy, which will be more profitable to you.' The Imam gave 30 minutes to the participants to finalize the project. After an end of 30 minutes, the Imam summoned them and asked, 'Who will take responsibility of the Directors for Insurance Company? If you are ready, I shall give insurance of my all houses. I am now an old, and no company will take risk of my life policy, but will give you life policies of Prince Aly Khan and Prince Sadruddin. You start life policy after some time, and make its head office in Mombasa.' The Imam also declared the names of the Directors, such as Count Ghulam Hussain Jindani, Varas Mohammad Varas Saleh Kassim, Count Hassan Kassim Lakha (1892-1982), Varas Zaver Karshan, Varas Kassim Sunderji Shamji, Alijah Dhanji Jadawji Bhatia and Kassim Ali R. Paroo (1906-1998). The Jubilee Insurance Co. finally came into existence on August 3, 1937. The fledgling company began its small office in Mombasa with a staff of six and assets of only 500,000/- shillings. Its Directors served for 30 years without fees or travelling expenses. Few years later, the promoters were privileged to see the benefits of the insurance project. It is to be recorded that after the Imam's family, the family of Count Ghulam Hussain Jindani were the largest shareholders of the Insurance Company. Public in nature, the Jubilee Insurance Company provided a productive spur to the economy of the African Ismailis.

Ghulam Hussain Jindani was also appointed the Chairman of the Aga Khan's Executive Council for Africa (1937-1946). He and his wife, Fatimabai were also appointed the ex-officios of the Ismailia Supreme Council for Africa. The Imam enjoined upon him the authority to ordain the rules of the Ismaili Councils for Africa. He shaped the Constitution and published it for the first time in 1937.

The Jindani family had proud privilege of serving the Imam and the jamat. Varasiani Sonbai, the mother of Count Ghulam Hussain Mohammad Jindani worked in different fields, In recognition of her outstanding services, Imam Sultan Muhammed Shah, graciously presented her a gold medal in Zanzibar on January 31, 1937.

Pir Sabzali (1884-1938) had started his third and last visit of Africa on January 5, 1937 as a Special Commissioner of the Imam, where he stayed for 23 months. On February 10, 1938, a son was born in the Jindani family. Pir Sabzali received a letter from the Imam, who told him to see Count Ghulam Hussain Jindani in Zanzibar on his behalf and congratulate for the birth of a son. The Imam also told Pir Sabzali to present him two rupees with loving kisses and named the son. When Pir Sabzali came to Zanzibar during the course of his tour, he met the Count and Countess and presented congratulations to them on behalf of the Imam and named the son as Mahomed. He was the second son, the first was Abdul Mahomed, who died at the age of 10 years on June 2, 1924. A daughter was also born on April 24, 1927. The husband and wife were longing reverently for a son till the birth of Mahomed.

Prince Aly Khan arrived in Mombasa on February 19, 1939. Wazir Ghulam Hussain Mohammad Jindani accorded him a warm ovation at airport. He acted as a Private Secretary of Prince Aly Khan during the tour. Prince Aly Khan was an exceptional hunter and took him in his hunting expedition in the forest of South Masai.

He was also appointed the President of the H.H. The Aga Khan Legion for Africa (1942-46)

On May 26, 1946, Imam Sultan Muhammed Shah convened at Nairobi, a Territorial Conference for the Diamond Jubilee. Eminent leaders representing the African jamats participated in the conference. It was officially resolved after a long discussion with the Imam that the venue of the Diamond Jubilee would be Dar-es-Salaam. Count Ghulam Hussain Mohammad Jindani and Alijah Karam Ali Mahomed managed the arrangement of the Territorial Conference, and won the best blessing of the Imam.

The Diamond Jubilee of the Imam was celebrated in Dar-es-Salaam on August 9, 1946. Wearing a robe of white and silver brocade, studded with five-pointed stars and a headwear woven of gold thread, Imam Sultan Muhammed Shah was warmly welcomed at the Sports Ground of the Aga Khan Club by seventy thousand people, including the governor of Kenya, Tanganyika and Uganda. On that unique occasion, Count Ghulam Hussain Jindani was credited to read the welcome address on behalf of the African jamats.

He was appointed the first Chairman of the Jubilee Insurance Co. Ltd. with 19 directors in 1940. Its head office was situated at Kilindini Road, Mombasa with a branch in Kampala.

Count Ghulam Hussain Jindani was generous donor for several causes. In 1949, the Imam said to him, 'Would it not be nice if I had a Jamatkhana in Paris?' On that juncture, he humbly presented five thousand British pounds for the construction of the Jamatkhana at 36, Rue de Prony, Paris.

Count Ghulam Hussain Jindani rendered his services with such marked distinction that the Imam vested him the coveted title of Dewan through a telegraphic message on December 29, 1948. It reads:- 'Occasion Imamate record I confer on you for all your great services title Dewan for first time given in Africa.' It is to be noted that Count Ghulam Hussain Jindani was the first recipient of title of Dewan among the African leaders - an honorific conferment forceful unparalleled for 35 years till his death in 1983.
Prince Aly Khan passed away on May 12, 1960 in a tragic motor car accident near Paris. It was Prince Aly Khan's wish, that he should be buried in Salamia, Syria. His burial ceremony took place on July 10, 1972 in Salamia. With respect to the desire and wishes of the Imam, only 36 delegates of India, Pakistan, Africa, Europe, United States and South East Asia attended the ceremony. Only four special guests were also invited, viz. Dewan Ghulam Hussain Mohammad Jindani (Mombasa), Varas Chhotubhai (Nairobi), Tutti Hussain (London) and Varasiani Gulzar Muller. The delegates and guests first gathered at Nice. Air France Chartered Boeing transported the embalmed body of Prince Aly Khan to Damascus on July 10, 1972. The coffin committee transferred the coffin by a helicopter from Damascus to Salamia escorted by Prince Amyn Muhammad alongwith six delegates and four guests. Prince Sadruddin with other delegates travelled in another helicopter. The coffin was lowered into the last resting place on the same day.

The Imam arrived in Mombasa on February 15, 1976 with Begum Salimah when Dewan Ghulam Hussain Mohammad Jindani was about 85 years old. While looking him in the airport, the Imam said, 'Dewan you look 92 years.' Since then, he implanted a conclusive thought in his mind that the span of his life would be 92 years.

His life certainly bridged a long span of 92 years, and expired on May 26, 1983. The Imam sent following message to his wife, Countess Fatimabai on June 27, 1983:-

Her Highness the Begum and I have learnt with great pain and sorrow about the passing away of your beloved husband Dewan Count Jindani in Mombasa. I send my most affectionate paternal maternal loving blessings for the soul of the late Dewan Count Jindani and I pray that his soul may rest in eternal peace. I send you and all the members of your family my most affectionate paternal maternal special loving blessings for strength and courage in your great loss. The late Dewan Count Jindani's devoted services to my late grandfather, to my late father and to my jamat of all Africa will always be remembered by my jamat and me, and he will be greatly missed by all. In this painful time of bereavement, my dear Countess, you and your family are particularly in my heart and thoughts and prayers.

Countess Fatimabai was also devoted in her community services. She died in June, 1989. The Imam sent following message from London to her son, Mahomed on July 21, 1989:

I was deeply grieved to learn of the passing away of your mother Countess Fatma Jindani in Nairobi.

From my very young days when I was in Kenya, I well remember the late Count and Countess Jindani and how their services to the Imam and the jamat had continued for many many years. Ultimately to be recognized by the late Count being given the title of Dewan for the first time in the jamat. The late Dewan and Countess Jindani had rendered truly exceptional services and I give my special paternal maternal loving blessings for the eternal peace and rest of their souls. I very much hope that their wonderful tradition of service will be continued by you and other members of your family.
I send you and all the members of the Jindani family my most affectionate loving blessings for courage and fortitude in your great loss. You are all particularly in my heart and thoughts and prayers in this difficult time.
Dewan Ghulam Hussain Jindani was a kind, honest, sincere and served the community through thick and thin for an eventful period of over 40 years. He left behind an enviable record of services. His kindness, humility, and desire to shoulder the burden of others, distinguished him from the formative stage of his career from the rest of the community. He would never let a poor man feel that he was destitute. Indeed, the lowly would be given extra consideration. Kindness to others was like a mission of life to him. His philanthropic disposition blossomed into charities and donations even when his business was still struggling to find stability. His hospitality was famous not only in African countries, but applauded as far as India and Burma. It was a day of happiness when he hosted guests at his residence. Suffice to write his invaluable services that the Imam merited him as the Power behind Throne and The Executive in Parliament in his one private letter. As for the Supreme Council for Africa, the Imam said, 'You must humour them.'

Dewan Ghulam Hussain left behind seven daughters, Samira, Amina, Munira, Zainab, Gulzar, Shireen, Mira and a daughter, Mahomed.

Back to top