74. Megji Mulji, Mukhi - page 294
He was born in Badresar, Kutchh, in 1861. His father died when he was 3 years old. Dressed in rags, he arrived in Bombay in 1878 at the age of 17 years. He started to work in a shop, where the grams were baked in the oven, thus earning two rupees per month. He was honest and a hard worker, therefore, his monthly pay was raised to five rupees.
He was regular in attendance to the Jamatkhana with an unwavering faith in Ismailism. In those days, he purchased eight mangoes for one rupee and presented them in a mehmani to Imam Hasan Ali Shah in Bandra. The Imam accepted his humble offering and told a certain Sonbai, 'Give him one of the eight mangoes, and also one bread with sweet rice.' Sonbai gave him these three items, which he ate with his boss outside the premises. Both went to Dandi to have a didar of the Imam with the jamat.
He worked hard for three years. He passed his whole day working with others and baked grams at night to sell for buying bread. His will of iron and determination helped him in surmounting the hurdles and put his petty business on the line of steady progress. In 1880, he erected his own shop at old Hammam Street, Bombay, and made further progress very soon.
He got married at the end of 1881 and got all favours from his wife. In 1900, he opened his office of estate agency and became a broker of houses, buildings and plots in Bombay. In sum, he was able to earn Rs. 50,000/- during the last 20 years.
In 1901, he also purchased the Master Flour Mill in a partnership. His partner severed from him after six months. He was now a sole owner of the mill, named, Prince Flour Mill. Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah visited the mill and graced him much blessings for more progress.
In 1913, he was appointed the Mukhi of Bombay Darkhana Jamatkhana. He is also reputed to have constructed the new building of the Jamatkhana and generated a fund of Rs. 89,500/- including his own contribution of forty thousands rupees. The Imam took a visit of the new premises on Friday, January 22, 1915 in the presence of 6000 Ismailis and performed its opening ceremony, and returned after 20 minutes.
The Imam also visited the Jamatkhana on Saturday, February 13, 1915 at 10.30 a.m., and had a group photograph with the members of the Bombay Council. He then graciously presented a shawl to Mukhi Megji and others by saying, 'You have performed the best services to great extent for the Jamatkhana.' Dr. Rajab Ali Ramji Lakhdhir, the Hon. Secretary of the Council read the account of the new Jamatkhana, and showed that the income of the donation was Rs. 89,500/- in which Mukhi Megji contributed Rs. 40,000/-
On behalf of the Bombay jamat, he routed an urgent telegram with services on February 5, 1918 to Europe to the Imam as under:-
His Highness Aga Khan
Remitted pounds 700 to King through National Bank with telegram and earnestly pray for accepting humble mehmani from young and old, males and females of Bombay jamat.
We all are unsurmountably thirsty for holy didar, and anxiously solicit Your August Highness mercy and favour to place holy feet in Bombay and bestow Your August Highness holy didar most anxiously awaited since last three years; soliciting Your gracious Highness benedictions.
The Imam sent the following reply on February 12, 1918 from Nice:-
Many thank your telegram. I too most anxious to see all dear children but you know travelling long and difficult. Still will come soon. Now all thoughts with you.
He was never close-fisted, but open-handed. He donated Rs. 10,000/- for the building of Jamatkhana in Bandra. He also shared a handsome amount for the new Jamatkhana and musafarkhana of Ahmedabad, whose opening ceremony was performed by his hands on June 10, 1919. The Jamatkhana of Kurala was built under his supervision, and he also contributed a massive amount for the Jamatkhanas of Mahim and Badresar, Kutchh. He built a sanatorium at Lonowali, near Poona, known as Ajbai Sanatorium. He is also said to have laid the foundation of the Karimabad Jamatkhana in Bombay. He generously donated huge amounts to the boardings of Rajkot, Poona, Botad, Vancaner and Andheri. He also built a Marriage Hall for Rs. 5,000/- in Nigar, Kutchh.
In 1922, he unfortunately submitted his resignation from the office of Mukhi to the Imam, because he found certain obstacles. The Imam said, 'Do you have troubles from those persons? You must tolerate it while serving me.' To this, he spoke not a single word. The Imam said, 'All come to me with their complaints, but there was only one to realize my pain and problem, and he was Wazir Ismail Gangji of Junagadh. Listen, I considered the potential affinity of Wazir Ismail in you, but not....' Before the Imam completed his last sentence, the tears streamed in the eyes of Mukhi Megji, and said submissively to the Imam, 'Mawla, forgive me as I forgot. Forgive me as I committed an error. I will never complain, never about anybody.' He withdrew his resignation and bore the hurdles and hitches till his last breath without uttering a word.
On April 29, 1913, the Bombay Council excommunicated Rahmatullah Ismail Tijoriwala due to his violating the rules of the community and harassing the jamat. He continued his malicious activities publicly. Dr. Rajab Ali Ramji Lakhdhir, the President of the Council filed a suit against him, known as the 'Lakhdhir Defamation Case' (case no. 450/B, dated Sep. 13, 1924). Justice Frank Olivera examined the hearings and gave his verdict in favour of the Ismailis on September 27, 1924. Mukhi Megji Mulji played a prominent role in the case as a witness and remained in touch till the ruling of the court.
Wazir Mukhi Megji had 4 sons and 8 daughters, but all died except one son. When his fourth son, Hasan Ali died on April 15, 1925 he was aggrieved beyond measure. The Imam sent the following telegraphic message: -
Nice: April 29, 1925
Paternal love and blessings feast occasion and thanks message from self and son. Convey my deep sympathy blessings Mukhi on his loss. Hope work for good will makes him forget this very sad loss.
In the loving memory of his son, Hasan Ali, he built the H.H. The Aga Khan's Maternity Home at Sandhurst Road, Bombay, at the cost of two lacs of rupees.
He cherished a desire to decorate the new Jamatkhana with a clock tower. He did not decipher his plan to anyone, even to the Imam, and built it in 1925 at the cost of Rs. 26,000/-. The Imam visited the Jamatkhana on January 25, 1928 and said, 'You have been serving heartily and loyally ever since you came to the office of the Mukhi. You have excellently served with your heart and body. The Jamatkhana is built under your supervision and you contributed a handsome amount. Without indication or suggestion of others, you have built this tower and offered it to me with love and dedication. You did not inform me till the tower became ready. I am much delighted and give you my best blessings.' The Imam also said to the jamat, 'The photo of Mukhi Megji must be placed in the tower and if the Mukhiani consents, her photo will also be placed, and I will be highly happy. This is the first occasion that I place the photo of a woman.'
On November 2, 1926, the Bombay jamat celebrated the birthday of the Imam during the didar programme. While looking at the cheerful Ismailis in jubilation, the eyes of Mukhi Megji moisted with tears. So choked was he with the smoke of anguish and pain that his throat could not fetch so much as a sigh. To this, the Imam asked for a reason, and he said, 'Mawla, I remember my late son on this auspicious occasion. I am thinking that who will be with me when confined to bed during last hour of my life.' The Imam soothed and quieted him and assured, 'Mukhi, don't you be worried. My son Prince Aly Khan will be present at your bed at that moment.'
In view of his meritorious services, he merited the title of Wazir in 1932.
Prince Aly Khan came in India from Europe on December 5, 1932 and Mukhi Megji accompanied him during his tour in India.
He arrived in Karachi on December 23, 1932 when Prince Aly Khan was on a flying visit of Karachi. He was present in all the Jamatkhanas wherever Prince Aly Khan visited. In the Garden Jamatkhana, he sat on a chair due to his impairing health, therefore, Prince Aly Khan advised him for rest. His condition seriously shattered on the next day and was hospitalized. Prince Aly Khan went to see him and put strips of cologne water with his hands on his forehead and remained 15 minutes at his bed. No recovery was gained and at last he died on the third day.
His dead body was brought to Bombay in a grand procession, and buried with great honor on December 31, 1932. The Ismailis closed their businesses on that day. His photographs were placed in the halls of the Jamatkhanas in Bombay and Karachi according to the guidance of the Imam, who also sent the following message during his sad demise:-
'My thought and paternal loving memory are with beloved Wazir Mukhi, whose picture remains before my eyes at all moments.'
Prince Aly Khan also sent a message to his wife, Mukhiani Ajbai that, 'Late Mukhi Megji was a great person and his loss will be felt amongst the Ismailis.'
Prince Aly Khan visited the H.H. The Aga Khan's Maternity Home, lying at Sandhurst Road, Bombay on December 15, 1933 at 10.35 a.m. Alijah Ghulam Hussain Bandali Somji, the Managing Trustee, Ghulam Ali G. Merchant, the Trustee of late Mukhi Megji and Huzur Wazir Ali Muhammad R. Macklai warmly welcomed him. He inspected the overall work and supervision. He entered into the main hall, where Mukhiani Ajbai and her two daughters submitted their humble presents to him.
The Imam had also taken a flying visit of the H.H. The Aga Khan's Maternity Home on January 10, 1934 and blessed Mukhiani Ajbai and her two daughters.
The Imam visited Khadak Jamatkhana, Bombay on January 15, 1934 and said in the mehmani presented by Mukhiani Ajbai, that, 'Late Wazir had served me too much, and offered me his life with his whole heart. His photograph must be kept in the Jamatkhana, so that the believers look at it and learn the exhortations of his services. I have also made the same farman in Karachi.'
The Imam presented the pachhedi to Mukhiani Ajbai and her two daughters. The Imam also blessed the trustees and the staff of late Mukhi.
Prince Aly S. Khan was also present on that occasion paid glowing tribute to late Mukhi. He also recollected his last meeting with the late Mukhi in Karachi.
Mukhi Megji Mulji left behind 8 daughters and 4 sons. Six of his daughters predeceased him. His first son, Rahim was born, in 1884, who died at the age of 12 years in 1896. His another son, Somji was born in 1886, who also died at the age of 2 years in 1888. In 1891, his third son, Abdullah was born, who also unfortunately died at the age of 25 years in 1916. His fourth son, Hasan Ali also died in 1925.