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56. Jan Muhammad Hansraj, Varas - page 224

Jan Muhammad Hansraj was born in 1838 in Kutchh. Not much is known about his early life. He however made a trip of Zanzibar in 1852 and ventured in the business field. He started first a retail store with his brother, Kanji at Bagomoyo, and eventually expanded into wholesale trade. He is still remembered as industrious and generous, who helped the arriving Ismailis in Africa.
Jan Muhammad Hansraj owned at least five stone houses with plots in Bagomoyo, and was also the deputy of Sir Tharia Topan (1823-1891) in the town since 1860.

He helped build the town's Jamatkhana and was appointed its Mukhi. In 1896, the Imam especially sent a written message to him from Bombay, investing him the title of Varas.

He was a generous and helped the institutions of the Ismailis, notably he gave 50,000/- shillings for the poor Ismaili Widow's Home at Zanzibar in 1900. He also built a religious school and died on December 12, 1902 at the age of 65 years in Zanzibar. His Widow's Home was indeed a blessing for the destitute. His son Mukhi Muhammad completed the project, known as Jan Muhammad Hansraj Khoja Dharam Shala. F.H.O. Wilson opened it on August 14, 1904.

During his third East African journey, Imam Sultan Mohammed Shah told to the members of the Ismaili Council on July 19, 1914 in Zanzibar that late Varas Jan Muhammad Hansraj had purchased and presented the premises of the Jamatkhana, therefore, place a marble plate on the wall of the Jamatkhana, and engrave his name thereon.

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Jan Muhammad Hansraj, Varas


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