78. Muhammad Ibrahim M. Rawjee, Dewan - page 312
Muhammad Rawjee, the grandfather of Muhammad Ibrahim Muhammad Rawjee was born in Bombay on 1830. He got married at the age of 16 years in 1846. It is said that he was the first amongst the Indian Ismailis to have visited China at an early age in 1853, where he opened his branch. Initially, his business ran on partnership, but he alone conducted it after some time. He was noted for initiating many welfare institutions in 1883 and donated free houses to over fifty Ismaili families without charging rent, which was named after his father-in-law, Dhanji Karmali. In 1890, he established the first Khoja Orphanage, known as the 'Khoja Ashram', and on September 27, 1894 he established a sanitarium at Poona, where clothes and foods were provided to the poor Ismailis, which was opened by the Imam. He also funded the needy couples in their marriages. The Ismailis accorded him warm honor in view of his invaluable services in 1893. When his father-in-law expired, the Imam presented him a khilat and a title of Varas to his son, Ibrahim. Muhammad Rawjee died on May 20, 1898.
Varas Ibrahim, the son of Muhammad Rawjee was born in 1862. Soon after his education, he continued to tread on the footprints of his father. He served many years in the justi, the traditional council as a member under Mukhi Ladakbhai Haji (1827-1907). He was credited to become the first President of the first Ismaili Council in Bombay with Alijah Ahmed Devji (1859-1925) as an Honorary Secretary on April 9, 1906. Varas Ibrahim Muhammad Rawjee had an honour to ordain the Constitution of the Council for the first time on March 4, 1910, whose draft was a splendid testimonial to his scholarly mind. He had also served as Honorary Secretary of Panjibhai Club. He also continued to nourish the benevolent works instituted by his father. He merited the title of Varas and died in 1911. His son, Muhammad, known as Muhammad Ibrahim Muhammad Rawjee continued to serve the jamat with great deal of enthusiasm and zeal.
Muhammad Ibrahim Muhammad Rawjee was born in Bombay in 1900 and was hardly 11 years during the death of his father. He faced many hitches ahead in childhood, therefore, the Imam said, 'He is my son.' Since then his problems melted away. The Imam also looked after his education personally.
Muhammad Ibrahim Muhammad Rawjee began his services in the community in the year 1921 at the age of 21 years when he became the member of the Ismaili Council, its Hon. Secretary and then the Vice-President. The Imam appointed him as the President of the Supreme Council of Bombay Presidency. Soon afterwards, he was appointed the President of the newly formed H.H. The Aga Khan's Federal Council for India in 1934. The Imam said to him, 'You are the true pillar of Ismaili faith.' He remained on the office till 1958.
On December 29, 1933, the Imam graciously visited his bungalow, Manohar Mahel at Band Garden, Poona; where about 50 other Ismaili leaders were invited. The Imam inspected every room in the bungalow and remarked that it was the first class bungalow in Poona. The Imam graced him compliments and said, 'You are serving me too much. Bravo! you are a true pillar. Your father had also served me too much. You are the second Muhammadbhai. You have been serving me since childhood.'
The Imam appointed him as the Legal Advisor of all the existing Ismaili Councils in India with the honorable title of Wazir on January 31, 1935. In his one telegraphic message on the occasions of Eid al-Azha and Navroz, the Imam called him his Chief Minister. The message reads:-
I ask you as my Chief Minister. Convey my blessings to all jamats India two feasts.
He was a keen and enthusiastic worker and munificent. He built a sanitarium in Poona and Matehran for the Ismailis, where he also erected a small Jamatkhana for the Ismaili tourists.
He was also elected as a Corporator in 1932 for Bombay Municipal Corporation and served till 1948. During his association of 16 years in the Municipal Corporation, he also gave his services for 11 years in its Standing Committee. The British India also made him J.P. in 1934. The Bombay government made him the Sheriff of Bombay in 1937. He became as well a Mayor of Bombay in 1946, and remained on the office for one year. He was also the Managing Trustee of the Dhanji Karamali Boarding, Bombay for several years. Being an architect, he had made the design of the Sanitarium of Panchgani.
The worth of his meritorious services in the community can be measured from the fact that the Imam invested him the grand title of Dewan in 1946 and became the first Ismaili to be graced with this unique title.
He retired from the office of H.H. The Aga Khan's Federal Council for India with his Chief Secretary, Itmadi Hussain Ali M. Visram on March 21, 1958. The Imam sent the following message on May 6, 1958 for him:-
My dear Dewan Saheb,
I send you my best paternal maternal blessings for your life long devoted services. I am sure you will continue to do your utmost for the uplift of the community.
The Federal Council for India honored him with his Chief Secretary in a princely reception on April 19, 1958 in Taj Mahal Hotel, Bombay.
Dewan Muhammad Varas Ibrahim Muhammad Rawjee died on July 1, 1965. He left behind two sons and three daughters. The Imam sent the following message on July 20, 1965: -
My dear President and Members,
I have received your letter of 8th of July, and I was much grieved to hear of the sad demise of Dewan Muhammadbhai I.M. Rawjee.
I send my best paternal maternal loving blessings for the soul of late Dewan Muhammadbhai Rawjee, and I pray that his soul may rest in eternal peace. Late Dewan Muhammadbhai's services will always be remembered by my jamats of India and myself.
I send my best loving blessings to the family of late Dewan Muhammadbhai Rawjee, for courage and fortitude in their great loss.