69. Ladakbhai Haji - page 273
Ladakbhai Haji came from the Haji Bhalu family, and was born in Kera, Kutchh in 1827. He came to Bombay with his father due to a terrible famine in Kutchh at the age of 6 years in 1833. His father was a wood-cutter. In 1835, his father returned to Kutchh, where he died in the beginning of 1836.
Soon after the death of his father, Ladakbhai Haji led a destitute life. He came to Bombay at the age of nine years. He lived and worked with his maternal uncle for 12 years free of charge. In 1840, he returned to his native land and got married.
When Imam Hasan Ali Shah visited Kera in 1845, Ladakbhai Haji came from Bombay and took active part to honour the Imam. He served the Imam with dedication and earned blessings. He returned to Bombay very soon. This time his uncle hired him and agreed to pay him a meager salary. When his uncle died, he inherited his business. This marked a turning phase of his life.
He opened a godown for storing coals. He worked hard and purchased few parts of the jungles in Kosta and Ali Bagh. Within a short period, he became one of the leading wood merchants in Bombay.
In order to expand his business, he purchased lands in Wadi in 1848, where he built big godowns. In 1868, he bought another piece of land, measuring 2000 square yards to build his bungalow. He also sought permission from Imam Hasan Ali Shah to construct a compound at Kandi Mola in Bombay. The Imam said, 'Today is a very good day.' Since it was a Saturday, an auspicious, so he also asked permission to build his own bungalow. The Imam said, 'Today is a very nice day. I pray for it.' Ladakbhai Haji started construction of his bungalow on that day and upon its completion, he implored the Imam for its opening ceremony. The Imam graciously accepted and performed the ceremony, and blessed him and rested for ten minutes in the bungalow.
In 1864, Ladakbhai Haji purchased another useful plot of land in Hasanabad, measuring 16000 square yards. The Imam summoned him in Wadi and said, 'Did you purchase a plot in Mazgon?' To this, he replied affirmatively. The Imam said, 'Well, your plot is mine.' He presented it to the Imam, who visited it every evening. Once the Imam came in Hasanabad after noon and made a mark in one spot with his stick. When Imam Hasan Ali Shah passed away in 1881, he was buried on that spot.
Ladakbhai Haji was also a life member and then Vice Patron of The Khoja Panjibhai Club, Bombay.
A fanatic killed Mukhi Hasan Ali of Darkhana, Bombay on June 22, 1878, therefore, the Imam appointed Ladakbhai Haji as the Mukhi.
In 1882, Imam Aga Ali Shah visited Karachi. Mukhi Ladak came from Bombay and visited Honeymoon Lodge and submitted a request for the didar program in Bombay. The Imam declined the invitation. He said, 'Mawla, I have given a word to the jamat, who trust upon me and they have sent me to Karachi. It is a matter of my prestige. If you will not come, I cannot show my face to the jamat.' But, the Imam continued to decline the invitation. Ladakbhai Haji continued to say, 'I have promised to the jamat that I would surely bring the Imam for didar. If you will not come, which face may I present to the jamat?' The Imam still declined. When he found no sign of hope, he came to the Garden Jamatkhana on foot and started his solemn supplication. His nocturnal petition continued till morning. Finally, his petition was answered. The Imam on the other side, told to his attendant, called Gulu (d. 1895),'Go and bring Mukhi Ladak.' Gulu searched for him in the town and found him in the Garden Jamatkhana and brought him at Honeymoon Lodge. The Imam said, 'I am restless since you left the bungalow. What do you want?' Mukhi Ladak requested to make a programme of didar. The Imam said, 'Well, don't lament. Inform the jamat that I am coming.' The jamat was blessed with the Imam's didar.
He helped the Ismailis of Kutchh with his own means and resources during the terrible famine in 1901.
The group of the elders, known as the justi was working in the Jamatkhana before the existence of the Ismaili Council, to solve the problems of the individuals. Mukhi Ladak served as the head of the justi till the existence of the first Council in Bombay on April 9, 1906.
Mukhi Ladak Haji, was also known as the Great Saint of Bombay, and he served devotedly as a Mukhi till death for 30 years. He died on May 5, 1907 at the age of 80 years.
Imam Sultan Mohammed Shah said in Bombay Jamatkhana on November 28, 1907 that, 'Mukhi Ladak has taken much exertions and served the jamat; and I will give its rewards to the soul of Mukhi Ladak in batin.'
The Imam also said in the majalis of Poona on January 9, 1910 that, 'Late Mukhi Ladak Haji and late Kamadia Ismail Kassim have served the jamats excellently, resulting their association with the 33 crores emancipated souls.'