86. Rahim Basaria, Wazir - page 344
Wazir Rahim Basaria traced his lineage from Basaria I, who was a devoted person in Bhuj, Kutchh. The son of Basaria I was Fadhu, who had travelled on foot to see Imam Khalilullah in Iran, where he died. Fadhu left behind three sons, Ghulam Ali, Basaria II and Jaffer. Basaria II (1848-1918) was the third Estate Agent of the Imam for Karachi and Sind and was invested the title of Varas. He married to Rani (d. 1927) in 1883, who gave a birth of a son, Rahim.
Wazir Rahim Basaria was born in Karachi in January, 1885. His parent reverently asked his name in a mehmani in Karachi before Imam Aga Ali Shah, who said, 'You both have served me with whole hearts, and as a reward, God has endowed you with a son, representing a symbol of the divine boon in your family. I give his name, Rahim.'
His father arranged all facilities in his education, but he studied upto 7th class. He joined his father's business as well as the services of the community. Upon the death of his father, Basaria II in 1918, the Imam appointed Varas Ibrahim Varas Vali (1869-1924) as the fourth Estate Agent.
Wazir Rahim Basaria was a leading importer of sugar in Karachi, and was known in the market as a 'Lion of Sugar.' He was also the director of the Karachi Khoja Ismaili Trading Co. in 1919.
The British India invested him the title of First Class Honorary Magistrate through a Gazette issued on March, 1919. In this year, he was also appointed as an Honorary Second Class Magistrate in Karachi. The Imam made a tour of Karachi for 27 days from April 10, 1920 and performed the opening ceremony of the musafarkhana, adjoining the old Kharadhar Jamatkhana, which was built by Varas Basaria Fadhu in 1918 and completed by his son, Wazir Rahim at the cost of Rs. 70,000/-
During the visit of the Imam, Varas Ibrahim Varas Vali retired from his post, the Imam appointed Rahim Basaria as his fifth Estate Agent for Karachi, Lasbela, Tando Muhammad Khan, Mirpur Sakaro and some other parts of Sind at Wadi, Bombay on March 3, 1920. Varas Ibrahim Varas Vali however expired in Karachi on April 23, 1924.
On March 31, 1920, the Khoja Panjibhai Club, Karachi, feted a princely reception to honour Wazir Rahim Basaria in Garden area. Merali Sachu and Alarakhia Abdullah gave him a warm welcome. It was attended by 200 guests, notably Mukhi Muhammad, Mukhi Pir Punja, Varas Bandali Kassim, Pir Sabzali, Alijah Alidina Ali Muhammad, Bandali Mukhi Muhammad Ladha, etc. On behalf of the Panjibhai Club, Bandali Mukhi Muhammad Ladha presented a welcome address and Wazir Rahim Basaria was gifted a diamond ring by the hands of Alijah Alidina Ali Muhammad.
The Honeymoon Lodge is situated on the eastern outskirts of the city of Karachi. It is an old fashioned, but spacious house, perilously perched on the top of a hillock. It is the birth place of Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah. Wazir Rahim Basaria renovated the Honeymoon Lodge with his own expenses of Rs. 50,000/= Its new furniture was prepared in Calcutta by Bana Bhula and Suleman Mukhi Ghulam Hussain Parpiya of Calcutta. The Imam visited for the first time after renovation on April 10, 1920 and named it as Highland. He also acted as the Private Secretary of the Imam during the Imam's visit for 27 days in Karachi from April 10, 1920.
On Sunday, April 11, 1920, the Imam said in Kharadhar Jamatkhana, Karachi that, 'Varas Rahim Basaria has constructed the bungalow of Tekari (Honeymoon Lodge) for the Imam, costing about Rs. 40,000/- to Rs. 50,000/- I give him much blessings.'
The Imam enjoined upon him in Karachi to make an extensive tour into the interior Sind and make a survey of the latest condition of education in the villages. The Imam also accorded him permission to open the schools wherever required and promote notion of education in the female circle. The Imam also told to open new Jamatkhanas in those villages where the Ismailis resided thickly. Wazir Rahim Basaria launched a tour of Sind, including Varas Fadhu Piru Khalikdina and Allana Khalfan on October, 1920. They visited different villages and assured the Ismailis that they would build new schools and Jamatkhanas with their own expenses. They also encouraged the students and awarded them prizes. They returned to Karachi after nine days and sent its report to the Imam in Europe through the Council. The Imam was delighted in their field report and sent a reply through a message from Paris on November 18, 1920 that, 'Give paternal blessings to all beloved spiritual children. Thank to the beloved children who agreed to build Jamatkhanas in other villages. Open the schools where are necessary in the villages.'
He also performed an opening ceremony of the new Jamatkhana in Amir Pir, near Jimpir in Sind on December 17, 1920.
He was accorded a befitting honour in a reception of the Panjibhai Club, Bombay on September 18, 1921, presided by Mukhi Megji Mulji for his valuable services.
He designed a master plan in 1921 to build the 'Aga Khan Market' in Karachi or Bombay for the benefit of the petty merchants, but the strain of the community works fastened him so tight that it could not be materialized.
He also rendered his valuable services as the President of the Supreme Council for Karachi between September 1, 1921 and February 28, 1922, and again between May 21, 1922 and August 31, 1922.
He was also made the Chief Estate Manager of the Imam in 1922 at Bombay after the death of Juma Kamu. Henceforward, he concentrated in the community affairs and traveled in different villages of India, and helped the needy Ismailis by his own resources. He is reputed to have built three Boardings in Kathiawar and one in Sind.
Wazir Rahim Basaria was one of the greatest commercial magnates, but took special pride in calling himself a servant of the Imam and the jamats. He was a millionaire, but his life was a saga of selfless service to the Imam, to the exclusion of any other thought, consideration or benefit. He passed his life in simplicity and dressed ordinarily. On February 10, 1923 in Rajkot, the Imam attended the mehmani in a specially pitched tent of khaddar. Wazir Rahim also accompanied, where the Imam said, 'I have put on khaddar (hand-woven cloth made of hand-spun yarn).' The Imam continued to say while looking at Wazir Rahim Basaria that, 'You see him. It's good to see such great person dressed in khaddar. It will be a frugally act provided the poor class also follow it.'
In April, 1924, Lady Ali Shah deputed him for Chitral as his Commissioner, where the local Ismailis were facing certain persecutions. He went to Chitral and discussed with H.H. Sir Shuja al-Mulk Bahadur K.C.I.E. (d. 1956), the Mehtar of Chitral and restored peace. Lady Ali Shah left Bombay for Iran and Iraq at the end of April, 1924 and returned after seven months on November 15, 1924. She was informed that the Mehtar of Chitral was also in Karachi, whom she sent a telegram, asking the condition of the Ismailis in Chitral. In his reply, the Mehtar also sent his telegram on November 16, 1924. The text of the telegram was published in the weekly 'Ismaili' (Bombay, Dec., 14, 1924, p. 7), which reads:-
Her Ladyship Lady Alishah,
Most hearty thanks for your kind telegram and I reciprocate your good wishes on your safe return from Iraq. Am sorry false reports have made your Ladyship express regret on so called trouble of followers of your most worthy son whose personal friendship I am proud to earn. I assure you of my sincere sympathy with them as my loyal subjects. I candidly request you to rely on my ever-ready help in rendering possible facilities to them. Will you kindly ask Vazir Saheb Rahim Basaria or yourself would kindly communicate to me in detail their actual grievances. Will leave no stone unturned in allowing them to enjoy every privilege they had hitherto enjoyed. Believe me to be your most dutiful son.
His Highness Mehtar Sahib
The schools of Kharadhar and Garden, Karachi established in 1908, and affiliated with the School Board. He was appointed a member of the School Board in Karachi on July 1, 1925.
He proceeded on a trip of East Africa during the visit of the Imam in 1925. He left Bombay on January 7, 1925 with Pir Sabzali, Hussaini Pir Muhammad and Hamir Lakha. The Imam landed at Zanzibar on February 9, 1925. During the period of his visit, the Imam made him as his Private Secretary, and the head of the African Estate Agents. He accompanied the Imam over a month and visited Mombasa, Moshi, Nairobi etc. He worked 18 hours per day as a Chief Wazir and the Private Secretary of the Imam. He was also made the head of the Ismaili Councils for East Africa, and all the reports of the Councils were sent through him.
It is related that the Imam asked him to purchase a precious gold ring. He wandered in the markets and purchased a precious gold ring embedded with diamonds, costing five hundred shillings, and handed over to the Imam. When the Imam concluded his tour in Africa, and left Mombasa for London by sea, he presented that gold ring to Wazir Rahim Basaria with best loving blessings. He prolonged his stay in East Africa and collected details of the jamats and prepared a report, and went to London to submit it to the Imam.
He travelled with the Imam on several occasions in Kutchh, Kathiawar, Sind, Burma, Africa, etc. and carried a retinue of servants and workers on his own expenses. His staff worked 12 hours in a day, while he worked 18 hours with no respite. Indeed, he was a shinning example of wise administration and hard working.
He was to stay in Bombay for four to six months to complete few important works consigned by the Imam. He stayed in the bungalow at the Aga Hall with his mother and family members. His health shattered by the heavy strain of works till late hour at night, and became a victim of malaria. He was confined to bed, but his work remained restless till he fell into an inflammation of the lungs, or pneumonia. The best medical aid was called in, thank to the maternal care of Lady Aly Shah. His illness increased and the famous doctors of Bombay were treating him, but appeared no sign of recovery. The doctors eventually left all hopes of his survival.
Wazir Rahim Basaria thus, died at the age of 42 years on Monday, February 15, 1927 at 12.30 a.m. at the Aga Hall, Nesbit Road, Bombay. The Ismailis in India, Burma and Africa closed their business on that day. He was buried at the underground chamber of the mausoleum of Imam Hasan Ali Shah at Hasanabad, where no Ismaili had been ever buried. The last to be buried here was Aga Majid Khan, who expired on October 7, 1956.
Wazir Rahim Basaria, also known as the Wealthy Dini Asectic of Karachi died like a shahid with no sign of fear of death. He embraced his death with smile, and the word 'Ya Hazar Imam' was constantly gushing out from his lips till last hours.
The Imam sent urgent telegraphic message in Bombay as under:-
Marseills: February 16, 1927 (3.25 pm.)
Very sorry my beloved and good minister gave his earthly life in my service. His memory nearest my heart. Convey condolence his family. Honor his memory all over India.
The Imam sent another message in Karachi as under:-
Marseills: February 16, 1927
Very sorry most unhappy my beloved good minister gave his life to me. His memory should be honored. Photos placed in all Karachi Sind Khanas. Convey my deepest sympathy all his family.
Imam visited Bombay on December 9, 1927. His mother, aged 85 years died two days after it on December 11, 1927. On December 15, 1927, the Imam said, 'Varas Basaria, Varas Rahim and the mother of Varas Rahim have served my house too much. Varas Rahim has served me with love, dedication and whole-heartedly, for which I give best blessings. These three will remain alive in my thought, and I remember (them) all the times. Although, they have left this undurable world, but are alive in my heart.'
In his memory, Imam proposed to build two Boardings in Karachi as well as in Vancaner, Kathiawar for the benefits of the orphans. Accordingly, the Supreme Council for Kathiawar passed a resolution on April 7, 1927 to build a Boarding. Alijah Ali Kunwarji proposed the name of the Boarding, 'Wazir Rahim Ismailia Boarding' which was unanimously accepted. Necessary funds were raised through out Kathiawar. Captain Amarshinh Bahadur, the head of the state offered free plot in Vancaner for the project. On March 13, 1927, the Supreme Council sent following telegraphic message to the Imam:-
The council regrets for the demise of Wazir Rahim. The Council has passed a resolution to start a boarding in Vancaner in loving memory of late Wazir. Please convey our condolence and this news to the family of the desceased.
The Council also sent another following message to the Karachi Council on March 13, 1927:-
This council declares its regret for the demise of Wazir Rahim and council passed a resolution to start a boarding in his loving memory. Amarshinh Bahadur, the ruler of Vancaner has generously offered a free plot for the boarding. We are anxious for His Highness's gracious blessings.
The similar resolution was also passed in Karachi for the Boarding as well as a garden with a bungalow, called Wazir Rahim Bagh. The Boarding in Karachi, called Wazir Rahim Boarding School, was built and inaugurated on Sunday, October 7, 1928 by Mukhi Megji Mulji of Darkhana Jamatkhana of Bombay, while Chief Wazir Kassim Ali Hasan Ali Javeri made an inauguration speech on that occasion.
It is to be noted that the whole jamats in Kathiawar recited a tasbih on the Chand Raat and prayed for the soul of Wazir Rahim Basaria on April 13, 1927 according to the farman of the Imam.
On May 8, 1927, a grand majalis was arranged in Kharadhar Jamatkhana, Karachi. Pir Sabzali and Missionary Abdul Hussain Bachal delivered waez. The majalis was followed by the unveiling of the photo of Wazir Rahim Basaria in the hall of the Jamatkhana. The Chief Mukhi Muhammad Rehmatullah Lutf Ali performed the ceremony. On the same day, the unveiling ceremony of the photo was also performed in Garden, Lassi and Ranchhorline Jamatkhanas in Karachi.
It is said that he left behind movable and immovable properties, amounting to sixty lacs rupees, which was presented to the Imam as per his will. His wife, Varasiani Gulshakar however received a monthly grant from the Imam till her death in November 4, 1991 at Karachi.
The Imam said in Bombay Jamatkhana on January 15, 1928 to the jamats of Mazgon Wadi and Chand Raat Panjibhai that, 'Keep the photograph of Wazir Rahim in the Jamatkhana.'
On January 26, 1938, the Imam said in Karachi during the marriages of the grandsons of Varas Muhammad Remu of Gwadar that, 'He (Varas Muhammad Remu) is like a member of Ahl al-Bayt just as Wazir Basaria and Wazir Rahim had become (the members of) Ahl al-Bayt.'
Wazir Rahim Basaria! what does picture the blessed name brings before the mind? A mighty landlord was he; born with a silver spoon in his mouth, we may say that he was rolling in a sea of money all his life, yet fortunately free from the evils that attend the possession of heaps of money generally. Pride he had none: he was a simple, unassuming, kind hearted man whom were embodied all the qualities of a prudent gentleman the type of whom it would be a luck to find now-a-days. It would require volumes to do full justice to analyse his qualities. In sum, he was the very model of a really selfless, hardworking hero who defied labour, flaunted fatigue, and worked zealously with a heart truly devoted to the noble office of his leadership.