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01. Introduction

Mukhi Kassim Musa (d. 1896) was the Huzur Amaldari (officer in presence) and an estate agent of Imam Hasan Ali Shah. He was also a close attendant of Imam Aga Ali Shah and Lady Aly Shah. He was also once sent by Imam Hasan Ali Shah in Iraq. When Imam Aga Ali Shah expired in Poona in 1885, his holy body was shifted to Bombay, and then shipped for interment in Najaf according to the will of the Imam. Mukhi Kassim Musa was consigned the responsibility of transporting the bier in Najaf. He wrote the account of his brief journey of 25 days between October 28, 1885 and November 11, 1885. The ship first anchored at Karachi harbour, then Gwadar, Port Abbas, Linga, Bushire and Basra. The caravan then proceeded from Basra to Kazamin by a steamboat, and moved on foot from Kazamin to Karbala, and finally to Najaf in the form of a procession. The whole account is very interesting. He also provides valuable information of Karachi, Port Abbas, Linga, Bushire, Basra, Karbala and Najaf.

His written narration or the Safar-Nama is in Gujrati. Its few pages were published by Aladina Ghulam Hussain in Rippon Printing Press, Kalbadevi, Bombay in 1886 without any heading. The pamphlet reads, “The special report received from Mukhi Kassim Musa regarding the carrying of the bier of His Highness late Agha Ali Shah.” The original text is not accessible. Chief Wazir Kassim Ali Hasan Ali Javeri (1877-1968) had unearthed it in decaying condition. He copied it word by word by his own writing. In 1967, he visited Karachi and allowed Rai Abdul Aziz Rai Abdullah (d. 2006) to copy it on July 17, 1967. I got its copy in 1990 and translated into English in 1992. Since I was much engaged in compiling my books, I could not continue to work on it. After the publication of my book, “Encyclopaedia of Ismailism” in 2006, I started to work on it.

The Gujrati manuscript is 7”x6½” in size in 47 folios. It appears that the narrator (Mukhi Kassim Musa) wrote the account at the end of 1885 or in the beginning of 1886. Sometimes he gives long and unnecessary accounts, and repeats the different sentences in other style. He however seems accurate in giving the dates and times. He constantly used the term “Mughal” for the Persians residing in Hasanabad, Bombay as well as for the Shi’ites of Port Abbas, Basra, Karbala and Najaf. In sum, it will be perhaps safe to believe that the narration of Mukhi Kassim Musa mostly resembles the contemporary Persian work, “Safar-Nama Nasiruddin Shah Qajar” by an anonymous writer - a diary of the pilgrimage of Nasiruddin Shah Qajar of Iran from Iran to Najaf in the year 1880.

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