The Ismailis of Sheikh Raj, a village between Bela and Uthal in Baluchistan migrated towards Karachi in 1852. The Ismaili caravan travelled on camels mostly comprised of the famous families of Shalu and Hashu. The sons of Shalu were Hood, Kassim, Khatau, Vali, etc. The name Shalu is the corrupt form of Saleh, who professed the business of wool and goat-hairs and his flourishing business was continued by his elder son, Hood or Hoodbhoy.
Itmadi Hoodbhoy Shaluani was appointed Kamadia for the Lassi Jamatkhana, Karachi on January 16, 1912 with Mukhi Hussain. In 1920, the Imam appointed him the Mukhi. Itmadi Mukhi Hoodbhoy was also made the member of the Karachi Council on April 28, 1920. During his mehmani, the Imam said on April 28, 1920 in Karachi that, 'I give much blessings to all of your family members. You have been consigned recently the post of the Mukhi, which you carry on excellently with care; and when you go to the Council (as a member), you do not favour anybody. Do not favour even your own brother and serve the Imam, the jamat and act justifiably. You may favour the verdict faithfully in the way of God and do not commit partiality, Khanavadan. I give you much blessings. The office of the Mukhi is vested in you, therefore, you attend the Jamatkhana daily and serve excellently, Khanavadan.'
The Imam also said on May 6, 1920 that, 'You Mukhi Hood Shalu have served beyond measure, and keep serving the Imam excellently. I give you much blessings.'
Mukhi Itmadi Hoodbhoy is also noted for constructing the new Jamatkhana in Lassi, Karachi and donated a sum of Rs. 35000/- Its official declaration was made before the Imam on April 11, 1920. The new Jamatkhana was opened on December 25, 1924, when he was still on the post of the Mukhi with Abdullah Mukhi Hashu as the Kamadia. He also served as the President of the Supreme Council for Karachi between September 1, 1926 and August 31, 1927.
Mukhi Itmadi Hoodbhoy died on January 13, 1937 and left behind seven sons, Mukhi Hussain, Wazir Suleman, Hasan, Kamadia Hashim, Ismail, Amir Ali, Pir Muhammad, and two daughters, Kulsoom and Khatu. The most prominent among them was Pir Muhammad Hoodbhoy.
Pir Muhammad Hoodbhoy was born in Karachi in 1905. He acquired his religious education at Lassi, Karachi from Itmadi Karam Ali Bachal and Alijah Taki Muhammad Pirdina, where he also acted as honorary teacher. He was admitted in Sind Madressa-tul-Islam for secular education. He joined the Ferguson College in Poona after matriculation and graduated from Grant Medical College, Bombay. He practiced in Sir Jamshedji Jeejibhoy Hospital, Bombay.
He continued his social activities in Bombay. In 1930, he became the Captain of the cricket team of the Aga Khan Gymkhana, Bombay. He returned to Karachi after becoming M.B.B.S. and started his own clinic in Kharadhar, Karachi.
He married to Mariam, the daughter of Dr. Rajab Ali Ramji Lakhdhir, the President of the Ismaili Council for Bombay on December 25, 1932. His marriage was performed in Lassi Jamatkhana, Karachi in presence of Prince Aly Khan in the period of Mukhi Hoodbhoy Shaluani and Kamadia Murad Ali. Prince Aly Khan said through Pir Sabzali that, 'I know Dr. Lakhdhir since childhood. I am well known to him. My father would admire him several times. He discharged his duty justifiably as a President in Bombay. I pray that a son akin to Dr. Lakhdhir may take birth in the new union. I also pray for their long lives and prosperity.' Sayed Mustaq Ali Didar Ali recited the nikah.
He was appointed a member of the Aga Khan School Board, where he served between 1935 and 1937.
His services in Karachi Health Board and Health Center since 1938 are written in letters of gold and will remain unique in the history of child welfare. The infant mortality rate in the community was 179 per 1000 live births in 1936, which was reduced to 40 per 1000 live births in 1955 with his untiring efforts. The upkeep and working in these institutions, whose President he remained for 18 years, had impressed the delegations of U.N. and W.H.O., which in their remarks in the visitors' book, have admired the Child Welfare Center and Maternity Home in glowing terms. Thus, a separate 'Dr. Hoodbhoy Children Ward' was erected in Janbai Maternity Home as per Imam's advice. In appreciation of his best services in the medical field, the Imam appointed him the President of the Central Health Board, which he served from 1932 to 1956. He was an architect of introducing nursing profession and mother-craft training among the Ismaili girls. It was his significant labour that the Ismaili nurses could go abroad for higher training. During his period as the President of the Health Board, he introduced First-Aid, Home Nursing and Domestic Science.
Once Rehmatullah Alidad Sayani of Karachi, the patient of depression, humbly asked the Imam the remedy of his disease. The Imam recommended him for Dr. Pir Muhammad Hoodbhoy or Dr. Alidina. He came in the clinic of Dr. Hoodbhoy, where he revealed to have been sent by the Imam. He took his medicine, but it proved incurable. He once again asked the Imam for treatment. The Imam once again recommended him for these two doctors. Hence, he continued his treatment with Dr. Hoodbhoy, but in vain once again. Dr. Hoodbhoy asked him, 'Do you perform nocturnal worship?' To this, he said, 'Not at all.' Dr. Hoodbhoy said, 'How my medicine will bring effectual result when you do not perform midnight worship?'
He was not only an eminent physician, but also the helper of the destitute and infirm. Sometimes, his patients could not afford the prescribed foods or fruits, therefore, he not only gave free medicines but also helped them with funds till recovery of health. Once he recommended his patient to take orange juice. The patient said, 'How can I afford buying fruit when I have hardly some money to pay your fees?' He was so much moved that he gave him free medicine and some cash to buy fruits.
He had a distinction of being the first Indian to be appointed as Chief Medical Officer in Karachi Port Trust, including Tatta Airlines and Mackinon Mackenzie & Co. He was also the consulting physician to the government of Kenya, Railways and Harbors and Niyasiland Railways Ltd., Africa. He was also a member of the Sind University Senate. The British India also granted him the title of J.P. His talent for social welfare work was recognized by the Government of Pakistan, and was made an honorary physician of Government Remand Homes. He was also a Government's nominated member of All Pakistan Maternity and Child Welfare Committee. He was also a member of the Karachi University Syndicate.
In 1939, he was appointed the Vice-President of the Scouts Association. The Aga Khan Gymkhana came into existence at Karachi in 1940, and he was appointed its first Convenor. The Imam also appointed him the Vice-President of the Diamond Jubilee Celebration Committee in 1946. During the campaign of the Diamond Jubilee, he strained every nerve and travelled in India on horseback, in bullock carts and by air to make this momentous occasion successful, and procured the donation of 5,25000 rupees. It was indeed his outstanding services that he sent many poor Ismailis from Karachi to Bombay to witness the Diamond Jubilee of the Imam in 1946. In appreciation of his invaluable services, he merited the title of Wazir in 1946.
The Ismailia Association for India existed in 1944 in place of the Recreation Club Institute. Huzur Wazir Ali Muhammad Macklai (1894-1971) was appointed its President with Alijah Rajab Ali Mohammad Dandawala as the Vice-President and Itmadi Rehmatullah Virji as Hon. Secretary. The Ismailia Association for India inaugurated a Mission Training Class at Karachi in 1944 to train the new missionaries for one year. Wazir Dr. Pir Muhammad Hoodbhoy was appointed as its Chairman, and Missionary Ghulam Ali Shah was deputed from Bombay to conduct the class. In its formative stage, the class was arranged in the musafarkhana in Kharadhar, Karachi.
lang=EN-US style='font-family:'Bookman Old Style''>During the grand didar at Dar-es-Salaam on August 25, 1948, the Imam announced an introduction of the Constitution of the Ismailia Association for Africa, and emphasized to enforce it in India, Pakistan and other parts of the world. The Imam also vested in Huzur Wazir Ali Muhammad Macklai the office of the World Head of all the Ismailia Associations. The Imam is reported to have asked him whether he found an efficient President for the new Ismailia Association for Pakistan. He said that he failed to find a capable person for the post. The Imam proposed him the name of Dr. Pir Muhammad Hoodbhoy. To this, Huzur Wazir Macklai said, 'He is a busy physician and will hardly spare time for it.' The Imam said, 'Well, you offer him, and if he does not accept, you ask him to recommend, whom he finds capable.' When Dr. Pir Muhammad was afforded its offer, he willingly accepted it. Hence, the Imam sent a telegraphic message through the Council on March 21, 1948 that, 'I appoint Vazir Dr. Peermahomed Hoodbhoy first President Ismailia Association Pakistan with blessings.'
Soon after above announcement, he appointed Wazir Sher Ali Alidina as the Honorary Secretary, Wazir Kassim Jinnah as the Treasurer, with Chief Mukhi Chagla Vali Muhammad, Wazir Ali Muhammad Jan Muhammad Chunara, Wazir Rajab Ali Rehmani, Hussaini Piru and Itmadi Nazar Ali Abdullah as the executive members.
It must be known that after being sprung of the Ismailia Association for India from the Recreation Club Institute in 1944, the All Africa Ismailia Association came into existence as one unit in 1946 with Count Mohammad Ali Dhalla as a President and Wazir Ramzan Ali H.M. Dossa as Hon. Secretary. With its headquarters at Nairobi, the All Africa Ismailia Association supervised the Boards and Advisory Committees originated in Kenya, Tanganyika and Uganda. For carrying out the activities of the Association efficiently with maximum benefit to the African jamat, the Imam decentralized the All Africa Ismailia Association in 1951 and established separate and independent Associations in Kenya, Tanganyika and Uganda. It implies that the Ismailia Association for Pakistan was the second independent Association founded in 1948.
He was not only appointed the first President of Ismailia Association for Pakistan, but also the President of the Pakistan Grant Committee. On February 18, 1950, the Imam declared him not only an Ex-Officio of the Supreme Council for Pakistan, but also for all other Councils and Institutions in Pakistan. This is a unique example for a leader, having such a grand status.
On January 20, 1951, the Imam told him in the Garden Jamatkhana, Karachi that his works were more important than all others, and that he must watch the canteen as a supervisor and guide the jamat and workers the method of cooking the food hygienically and that the vitamins should not be wasted while cooking.
In 1951, the Imam consigned him to transform the Honeymoon Lodge into the Mahdi Convalescent Home in loving memory of the meritorious services of Mukhi Mahdi, the son of Alijah Hasan Ali Mukhi Laljibhai Devraj of Bombay. It was a mammoth project, asking princely amount in its construction. He faced many odds and travelled far and wide to generate fund for this project. He raised funds from door to door and deputed his wife, Varasiani Mariambai in different cities of Pakistan and succeeded in this noble cause. This time the building of Honeymoon Lodge underwent major changes. The gabled roof was replaced by a R.C.C. slab, retaining the load bearing stone walls. On its rear side, rooms were added including two kitchens, bathrooms and extension of the veranda. A porch was added on the front side. Dr. Pir Muhammad Hoodbhoy operated its supervision on behalf of the Aga Khan Health Board. It was a unique health centre in Pakistan and a boon for the patients.
The Imam gave an audience to the donors of Mahdi Convalescent Home at the bungalow of Wazir Ibrahim Manji on January 26, 1951, and blessed the donors. On that occasion, Dr. Pir Muhammad Hoodbhoy submitted a brief report of the progress, especially the facility of water supply and electricity. The Imam told him to complete the project before the Platinum Jubilee. The project of Mahdi Convalescent Home at length completed and inaugurated on September 14, 1953 by Muhammad Ali Bogra, the Prime Minister of Pakistan. In his welcome speech, Dr. Pir Muhammad said, 'This Convalescent Home is an additional gift of Aga Khan, which provides the recovery and energy to the patients of old diseases, or who have undergone major operations, on important location far from the dense population of the city.'
He also organized the Waez Assemblies in Sind and Punjab. In November, 1950, referring to his great work for the Association, the Imam was pleased to remark, 'Excellent work, Dr. Hoodbhoy, in same ways best of Ismailia Associations.' It procured steady progress rapidly because of constant efforts, personal attention and long hours that he spent in the Ismailia Association at the cost of his medical practice. He brought a sizable books and manuscripts from the University of Cairo, published in Europe, libraries of Paris and from the villages of Syria. In order to boost the activities of the Ismailia Association for Pakistan, the Imam having seated himself in the Kharadhar pendol for didar on February 9, 1951, wrote a unique message for the jamat that, 'Ismailia Association is the chief successor today of former Ismaili dais and missions. It is the duty of every Ismaili to help by goodwill and respect. If criticism is made, it should to help and not oppose.'
The Imam summoned a conference of the Ismaili delegates in Cairo to review the momentous occasion of the Platinum Jubilee upon the completion of 70 years of his Imamate. Dr. Pir Muhammad Hoodbhoy represented the jamats of Pakistan with Wazir Ibrahim Manji, Rai Rajab Ali Hirji, Wazir Ghulam Hussain Khalfan and Varas Ghulam Hyder Bandali. The delegates discussed mutually in the morning and met the Imam at evening on March 15, 1951 in Hotel Semiramese. The Imam emphasized that the programme should be worked out on the pattern of Golden and Diamond Jubilees to improve the social and economical conditions of the Ismailis. The Imam, Mata Salamat and Prince Aly Khan invited them on next day for a lunch at Mohamedali Club and graced them with a photograph.
When Missionary Sultan Ali Nazarali Walji of East Africa wished to proceed to Cairo for having Islamic studies in Al-Azhar University, the Imam directed him at Ritz Hotel, London on September 13, 1949 to proceed to Karachi, and wrote a letter to Wazir Dr. Hoodbhoy. Missionary Sultan Ali stayed in his house during studies at the Ismailia Association for Pakistan with other African students. The Executive Board of Ismailia Association and Karachi Mission Teaching Staff gave a reception to the African Students on the eve of their departure on July 2, 1952.
He worked veritably like a hero in the community. So much so, even the Imam himself became anxious about his health and even cautioned him to go slow, lest he suffer a breakdown. But he continued to work ceaselessly and ungrudgingly. Ultimately the foreseen happened. He left for Europe with his wife for two months' rest and the treatment of heart trouble on June 2, 1955. Prince Aly Khan, who took his suitcase on the instructions of the Imam, received him at the airport. The Imam was close to him in referring to well-known physicians. He returned to Karachi in August 5, 1955.
Let us pause for a moment to cite a momentous event. When he was about to return from Europe with his wife, Prince Aly Khan promised to see them at the airport of Nice. Wazir Dr. Hoodbhoy waited for a long time, but Prince Aly Khan was too late. There were few minutes in taking off of the plane, he issued the boarding cards and started to move into the lounge. He saw at once the arrival of Prince Aly Khan, who regretted for his late coming, and presented a perfume bottle to Varasiani Mariambai and a small box to Wazir Dr. Hoodbhoy. Both of them thanked and quickly got into the plane. Wazir Dr. Hoodbhoy opened the small box in the plane and found his favorite cufflink in it, for which he wandered in Europe but could not get it.
He played a key role during the celebration of the Platinum Jubilee in Karachi on 3rd February, 1954. He was the Vice-President of the Platinum Jubilee Association in Pakistan, and had a unique opportunity to read the welcome address of 2000 words.
He cemented intimate terms with African Associations in the field of mission and its training. On those days, the Ismailia Association for Kenya deputed four waezeens for Mission Teacher Training in Karachi, viz. Shams Tabriz G. Dhirani (Dar-es-Salaam), Amir Ali G. Jinnah (Dar-es-Salaam), Hasan Ali H. Nazar Ali (Nairobi) and Ismail H.J. Khan (Nairobi). The Imam sent the following message to Wazir Dr. Hoodbhoy on January 3, 1956:-
My dear Dr. Hoodbhoy,
Regarding the four mission students from Africa recently arrived in Karachi, will you please convey to them my blessings and my wishes for their great success.
It is to be noted that Ali Mahomed Mukhi Alidina Khoja Ismailia Girls School in Kharadhar, Karachi was built and inaugurated on May 11, 1926. It was taken over by the British Government in 1941. With the efforts of H.R.H. Prince Karim Aga Khan's City Education Board, it was recovered in 1956 from the Government of Sind. This school was renovated once again. Its opening ceremony was performed on January 8, 1956 with the hands of Wazir Dr. Pir Muhammad Hoodbhoy, who presided the function.
To paint his epic life, the brush must dip deeper as his picture becomes rosier. He rendered magnitude of the services for 40 years, from the Lassi Religious Night School as a teacher to the President of the Ismailia Association for Pakistan. The progress of the Ismailia Association in a short span of 7 years was an eloquent testimony of his genius and great working capacity. He organized the gathering of the missionaries and other social workers on every Wednesday and lectured them on the farmans of the Imam, relating to health. It may be known that in his clinic at Kharadhar, Karachi, he was often seen going through the books on lives of great Ismaili missionaries of the Fatimid period during leisure time. Whenever the patients entered his room, he begged them to allow him to complete that page or chapter. He was also careful in the jamati activities. Once on an important occasion, both Kharadhar and Garden jamats requested to have a waez of a same senior missionary. He deemed it fit to make suitable arrangement and wrote a note to that senior missionary, saying, 'After your waez at Garden, my car will be waiting to take you to Kharadhar, where you also deliver waez.'
It was his oft-repeated words that, ' Serve him and for him. Do not expect any reward. Work selflessly. No one can give you reward, but he alone. Look to your Imam only' and once he said, 'We are void of wealth of our forebears to make charities. We have only our personal aptitude, which we must not delay to offer in life.'
His health shattered few days before the shadows of death closed him. He was recommended to take complete rest, but he said, 'The world is not a place to take rest. Still much has to be done and there is rest only after death.' He worked and worked without respite or relaxation till the very last. Even with the last-flicker of life, on Wednesday, February 1, 1956, he worked upto 10.00 pm. in the premises of Ismailia Association, giving a final shape to the programme of the second anniversary of Platinum Jubilee to be celebrated at the Aga Khan Ghymkhana on February 3, 1956. He drafted the complimentary telegrams on behalf of the Ismailia Association to the Imam to be dispatched on next day.
Wazir Dr. Pir Muhammad Hoodbhoy unfortunately expired on Thursday, February 2, 1956 at 9.30 a.m. due to severe attack of heart in Karachi. Thus ended the valiant devotee's missionary life full of honors hacked out of years.
An important incident stands to his credit that Wazir Muhammad Ali Fazalbhoy (1916-1981), the President of the Ismailia Association for India had left Bombay on January 31, 1956 for Cairo to see the Imam in Aswan. He returned to India via Karachi and visited the Hoodbhoy Villa to condole Varasiani Mariambai. On that occasion, he told that he had been with the Imam in Aswan when the news of the death of Wazir Dr. Hoodbhoy reached. The Imam became very serious and shut his eyes for ten minutes. Then, the Imam told to Mata Salamat (1906-2000) with regret that Wazir Hoodbhoy was expired. When the Imam sent his telegraphic reply to the Ismailia Association for Pakistan on February 2, 1956, he was boating in the Nile river with tears bursting out of his eyes.
The Radio Pakistan reported his death on that night at 8.00 p.m. in the News Bulletin. The multitude of crowd flocked to his funeral, notably Habib Rahimtullah, Government officers, the Chairman of Karachi Port Trust, Presidents of the Supreme, Kharadhar and Garden Councils, Estate Agent of the Imam, title holders, Mukhis and Kamadias, doctors and nurses, etc.
On the sad and untimely demise of Dr. Pir Muhammad Hoodbhoy, the Imam paid him tribute in the following message to his family:-
Aswan: February 2, 1956:
Deepest sympathies and condolence in your great loss. My most loving paternal maternal blessings for the peace of the soul of doctor Hoodbhoy who meritoriously rendered great service all his life for the cause of Ismaili faith.
The Imam also sent the following telegraphic messages from Aswan:-
Aswan: February 2, 1956
I hope the community at this moment will show due honor to the memory and service of the beloved Vazir Hoodbhoy. I sincerely hope men will rise soon to offer their services in the same unselfish and single desire of services, which the beloved Vazir Hoodbhoy showed to me. First of all we want a man to come forward to take up service for health of Ismailis all along the line. Name of volunteers should come to me for that and for Ismailia Association and religious education. I will remember him always with the same love and affection, which he gave to me.
The Imam also routed another following message for him: Shahali, Karachi
Aswan: February 3, 1956
In beloved memory President Hoodbhoy, I abolish name missionary throughout Pakistan and replaced by vaezin. I approve Vazir Ghulam Hyder as President All Pakistan Ismailia Association. For health affairs, you will send me names for Health Board, Maternity and Tekri convalescent Home. Consult all Ismaili doctors, nurses practicing in Karachi and then send full report (of) new board administrators for me to choose beloved Vazir's successors on different boards. Important not too much weight on one man. Avoid overwork as I warned late beloved Hoodbhoy. In his beloved memory photo of Vazir Hoodbhoy be kept with other photos (in) Supreme and Garden jamats and one in all institutions of which he was supervisor.
He was known all over the Ismaili world for his devotion and sacrifice. The Ismailis of East Africa, India, South East Asia, Middle East, Europe and South America, etc. will also remember him for his meritorious services.
Col. Jalal M. Shah, the Director General of Government of Pakistan, while addressing a condolence meeting on February 5, 1956 in Karachi, said that, 'Though Dr. Hoodbhoy was my pupil, I am not ashamed to say that I learnt from him how to treat poor patients.'
When Prince Aly Khan took a visit of the Ismailia Association, he had very kindly consented to accede to the request of the Association on performing the unveiling ceremony of the photograph of late Dr. Wazir Hoodbhoy in the hall of the Ismailia Association on February 28, 1956 at 6.15 p.m. Wazir Ghulam Hyder Bandali, the President summed up the services of late Wazir Dr. Hoodbhoy to pay glowing and well-deserved tribute. Prince Aly Khan remarked that he had turned night into day and worked very hard for the Association, and added in the remarks that the good library and important Ismaili manuscripts possessed by the Association were due to the efforts of late Wazir, who personally amassed this wealth of books from the university of Cairo, bookstalls of London, libraries of Paris and villages of Syria.
Prince Aly Khan lastly said, 'By profession, he was a doctor of human body, but in fact he was a doctor of human spirit, soul and mind.'
After the ceremony of unveiling the photo, Prince Aly Khan stood silent for two minutes before it. When he returned, he observed the photos on the notice board and demanded one for his records.
Prince Aly Khan also visited his house on Tuesday, February 28, 1956, where he stayed for 45 minutes. He also told to cover his grave with a chadar on his behalf. Prince Aly Khan also said that late doctor was an exceptional soul who sought no reward for his great services, and that he looked upon the departed leader always as one of the intimates and inmates of his royal house. With his departure has ended an epoch.
Prince Aly Khan visited the Ismailia Association for Kenya, and in its headquarters in Mombasa on April 8, 1956, where he remembered Dr. Pir Muhammad Hoodbhoy and said, 'The death of Dr. Hoodbhoy is a great loss for the Ismailis of Pakistan, and the Ismaili world and generally for the Ismailism too. I wished that he would live longer. This is irreparable loss.'
It may be noted that when the health of Rai A.M. Sadruddin (1906-1980) marred in March, 1956, he asked the Imam to recommend for any European doctor. The Imam said, 'I have no faith yet in European doctors, who could not save Dr. Hoodbhoy.'
He was also a writer and published some interesting articles, viz. 'Advancement of Learning under Fatimid Khalifs' ('Ismaili', Bombay, 16/3/1931), 'Ismailis of the Pamirs' and 'Ismaili Cultural Advancement under the Fatimids' in The Diamond Jubilee Souvenir of 1946 in Nairobi. His another article, 'Nursery Schools' appeared in Al-Islah (Bombay, March 10, 1946). In the monthly Aina (Bombay), his one article, 'Development of the Child' also appeared in January, 1950. In weekly Ismaili, Bombay, his write-up, 'Physical Exercises As a Means of Preserving Health' covered on January 31, 1935.
He was survived by his wife, three sons, Noor Ali, Abdullah, Abdur Rehman and three daughters, Shah Sultan, Farida and Malekzadi.