01. Introduction

Soon after his return from the historical voyage in 1923, Pir Sabzali had well treasured in his memory the accounts of his journey and got it published into Gujrati, entitled "Alijah Missionary Sabzalibhai'ni Musafari" in the weekly "Ismaili" (Bombay) between February 17, 1924 and December 5, 1926. Rai Shamsuddin G. Tejpar, the then President of the Ismailia Association for India had assigned to Sultan Velji Nur Mohammad in 1965 to edit the accounts of the journey.

While examining the version of Sultan V. Nur Mohammad, it sharply appears that he changed the style of the original narrative of Pir Sabzali. The eye-catching feature of the alteration is that Pir Sabzali originally related in the first person, but Sultan V. Nur Mohammad hampered in the original narratives, and also omitted and incorporated irrelevant materials in his edition. His attempt unfortunately reduced the beauty of original accounts, making it a sort of hodgepodge and nothing else. In sum, he transformed the original mode of expression into the waez script for the purpose of the missionaries. Literally, his edition is not acceptable or genuine as it is difficult to isolate the original narrative from his bombastic edition.

Sultan V. Nur Mohammad got his edition published in the "Ismaili Crescent" (Dar-es-Salaam) between January 8, 1967 and April 21, 1968, which was reproduced in the fortnightly "Paigham" (Karachi) between February 15, 1967 and April 15, 1970. It is a curious that the weekly "Ismaili" once again published the journey's accounts between March 21, 1967 and October 6, 1967, which was not on the basis of the original account once it published over 40 years ago, but derived its source from the "Ismaili Crescent." The Ismailia Association for Tanzania published the same in a book, printed by Ismaili Printing Press, Bombay in 1968, entitled "Pir Sabzali'ni Madhaya Asia'ni Musafari."

Alijah Ramzan Ali Alibhai, the personal Secretary of Pir Sabzali had also prepared his version, but it remained unpublished till it appeared in the "Platinum Jubilee Bulletin" (Bombay) between July 15, 1953 and October 1, 1953, edited by Jafar Ali H. Lakhani. I had also recorded the accounts from Mr. Ghulam Ali Arab (1906-1983) of Gwadar in audio-cassette in 1977, who accompanied Pir Sabzali as a cook. His accounts almost resemble the version of Alijah Ramzan Ali.

In sum, the account of Pir Sabzali, which firstly appeared in the weekly "Ismaili" (Bombay, February 17, 1924 to December 5, 1926) is most authoritative version, which is too bulky. The version of Alijah Ramzan Ali Alibhai also is an interesting document, concisely sums up the accounts. I have therefore depended on the source of Alijah Ramzan Ali, and borrowed the missing and important materials from the accounts of Pir Sabzali and inserted in the footnotes wherever is required.

So, the English translation of the concise version of Alijah Ramzan Ali has been offered in this monograph, whose missing points are derived from the accounts of Pir Sabzali. The accounts of Pir Sabzali and Alijah Ramzan Ali are not merged in this monograph, but shown separately, making the whole story of the voyage almost complete.

The version of Alijah Ramzan Ali has been translated very cautiously, and not a single line has been added or dropped, but retained its original form as more as possible. His account is excellent and to the point, giving some important points which Pir Sabzali had omitted.


PS : Pir Sabzali WI : Weekly "Ismaili" Magazine, Bombay