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81. Muhammad Remu, Varas - page 320

His forefathers hailed from Lakhpat, Kutchh, and hence they migrated towards Gwadar. His father Bhagat Remu Mawji was a trader of cotton, wool, fish, rice and ghee, and also dealt the business of shark fins and fish maws with the Chinese merchants. Remu Mawji sprang from a family well known for their piety. He visited Bombay several times. He was the Kamadia of Gwadar Jamatkhana since 1892. He and Merali, the father of Alijah Datoo Meru laboured in the construction of the Jamatkhana. When the next stage of the construction was completed in 1894, his name was engraved on the wall as a Kamadia. In the period of Mukhi Muhammad Pirwani and Kamadia Remu Mawji, the Imam made his first visit to Gwadar on December 10, 1894.
Gwadar is an open-roadstead and port in Makran, about 290 nautical miles west of Karachi. It was ruled by the Khans of Kalat and was handed over by Nasir Khan I to Sultan Saeed, the brother of the ruler of Muscat. It had since remained with about 300 square miles of the adjoining region, in the hands of Muscat. The only industry in Gwadar was fishing, on which the bulk of population subsisted.

Remu Mawji had seven sons, but none survived. He reverently requested to Imam Hasan Ali Shah in Bombay for having a son in his house. The Imam gave him a sacred thread to tie on the hand of his wife and said, 'You will be endowed with a son, whom you name Muhammad. He will be talent and enough fortunate.' He was certainly blessed with a son in 1860, who was named Muhammad, and became known as Muhammad Rehamtullah or Muhammad Remu. Remu Mawji had a daughter, who died before her puberty. In the meantime, his wife expired. He married second time with a woman, named Daulat, who begot a daughter, Kaisar and a son, Khimji. When Daulat expired, Remu Mawji married for a third time to Ratan, who begot two sons, viz. Ali and Ibrahim.

It implies that Varas Muhammad Remu had three foster-brothers and a foster-sister, whose marriage was solemnized with Alijah Datoo Meru (1868-1939), the right hand of Varas Muhammad Remu in all affairs.

lang=EN-US style='font-family:'Bookman Old Style''>He played a key role in the building of Gwadar Jamatkhana. On January 6, 1912, the Imam graciously presented the shawls in Karachi to those persons who assisted in the construction of the Gwadar Jamatkhana, viz. Varas Muhammad Remu, Kamadia Datoo Meru, Mukhi Muhammad Abdullah and Bandali Hamirani.

He had intimate terms with Mahomed Jaffer (1874-1918), the elder brother of Pir Sabzali (1884-1938). Mahomed Jaffer sent Pir Sabzali in Gwadar for his necessary training. Gwadar was the actual nursery for Pir Sabzali, where he learnt religious education and proficiency in business in the company of Varas Muhammad Remu. Later on, he made Pir Sabzali his agent in Pasani, then in Ormada to supervise his business. Pir Sabzali passed 20 years in Gwadar, Pasani and Ormada, where he served the jamats and conducted the business of Varas Muhammad Remu. The credit to make him a great missionary, social and devoted worker undoubtedly goes to Varas Muhammad Remu.

When the Imam visited the Panjibhai Club in Karachi on February 17, 1912, he showered his compliments with blessings to Varas Muhammad Remu and other donors, who donated in the construction of the new premises of the Baitul Khiyal for Kharadhar Jamatkhana, Karachi.

He also took prominent role in his father's business and accelerated it to a steady progress. He was first the trader in Gwadar to export tin packed dried fish on large scale to Colombo, which became a leading market of Gwadar.

In those days, the British India Steam Navigation (BISN) dominated the marine lines from Persian Gulf to Colombo via Muscat, Gwadar, Pasani, Ormada, Karachi and Bombay. Its agent in Gwadar was a certain Dwat. Varas Muhammad Remu merited the agency of BISN after Dwat. On the other hand, Taymur bin Sayed Faisal (1913-1932), the Sultan of Muscat and Oman appointed him as a Custom Collector in Gwadar in place of a certain Bashu and Rehmat Ali, who were hired on contract basis. The British empire put pressure on Varas Muhammad Remu to withdraw his mercantile terms with the Sultan of Muscat and Oman. It was not possible for him to take a haste decision since he had lent three lac rupees to the Sultan of Muscat and Oman.

It is to be noted that after the death of Sultan Turki of Muscat and Oman in 1883, his son, Taymur, succeeded his son Sayed Faisal, who died in October 3, 1913. He inherited the indebtedness that his father had let accrue. The economical condition of his government marred due to the loans of the merchants of Oman, Muscat, Gwadar and Pasani.

In 1916, Varas Muhammad Remu enjoyed the control of the custom of Muscat, and became a Director General Customs, where he employed many Ismailis.

His Highness Taymur bin Sayed Faisal, the Sultan of Muscat and Oman presented him a gold crescent on Friday, the 1st March, 1918 in a special function to appreciate his valuable services at the B.I. Office in Gwadar.

When the British pressure thickened, he came to Bombay in 1919 and submissively referred to the matter to the Imam for guidance. The Imam told him to follow the British, because he held British citizenship. Soon afterwards, he requested to the Sultan of Muscat to relieve him from his services due to the strain of works. Thus, he quitted his mercantile transactions with Muscat and also retired from the post of Custom Collector of Gwadar in 1920, and obtained the British agency.

In the meantime, the Sultan Taymur realized that it would be appropriate to negotiate one major loan to enable him to liquidate the old debts of the merchants. The only body able to respond to his request was the British India, which agreed to lend him the required amount to free himself from his debts provided it would be repaid in 10 years. Taymur received a colossal loan and refunded the debts of all the merchants in 1920, including Varas Muhammad Remu.

Varas Muhammad Remu retained the agency of British India Steam Navigation Company and British India Dominance Insurance Company. He also extended his mercantile influence in Iranian coast, Pasani and Ormada.

Varas Muhammad Remu had great proclivity towards Ismailism since childhood. He daily spread carpets in Gwadar Jamatkhana and burnt the loban (benzoin). He also became the Mukhi of Khoja Panjibhai Club in Gwadar.

Varas Muhammad Remu led a pious and saintly life and was regular in his nocturnal worship since 1893. In 1894, the Imam is said to have told him to promote the notion of midnight worship in Gwadar jamat. In pursuit, he introduced 15-16 members in 1898, and the first Brotherhood of Baitual Khiyal started in Gwadar, and he was appointed its first Mukhi (1898-1920).

He raised a fund of Rs. 3000/- for the first school in Gwadar in 1904. He visited Bombay with some leaders and revealed his plan to the Imam, who said that it was insufficient for a school and assured that he would approve necessary grant on next year. In 1905, the Imam sent a telegraphic message to Gwadar jamat not to come in Bombay from Gwadar. Varas Muhammad Remu sent the telegram to Pir Sabzali in Pasani, requesting him to visit Bombay on behalf of Pasani jamat and make a humble request for a didar. Pir Sabzali travelled for Bombay, where the Imam told him at Valkesar Palace that, 'Sabzali, you inform the Gwadar jamat of my arrival.' The Imam visited Gwadar on April 1, 1905 and formed a School Board with Varas Muhammad Remu as President, Mukhi Mohammad Piru as Vice-President, Kamadia Datoo Meru as Hon. Secretary and Danidina Vali as a member. The services of Ali Mohammad Ladha of Bombay had been acquired as a teacher. The Imam also sanctioned a handsome grant for the school.

Varas Muhammad Remu destined to be the first President of the Ismaili Council for Gwadar in January, 1905, where he served for 19 years.

During the visit of Gwadar on April 1, 1905, the Imam said in the mehmani of Varas Muhammad Remu on April 15, 1905 that, 'God shall grant you benedictions. You have been serving me at all times. You must always serve in this manner. One who is deceived by the shaitan in the jamat, you must redeem him from deception.' The Imam also blessed him and graciously gifted him a shawl and a gold-watch in double case and said, 'Keep it in the pocket and remember me when you looked it.'

'The Imperial Gazetteer of India' (Calcutta, 1908, p. 186) writes that Gwadar was an open roadstead and port in Makran, about 290 miles from Karachi, with a population of 4350 persons in 1903. It is also learnt from the Ismaili journals of Bombay that the population of the Ismailis in Gwadar was about 500 around 1905.

In 1909, a certain Abdullah Paroo, resided in Garden, Karachi arrived in Gwadar, pretending to be a missionary. He procured considerable confidence in the jamat and formed his own group. Later on, he claimed to have been enlightened and elevated to a high spiritual stage. He eventually equated his status with Pir Sadruddin. It resulted two groups in the jamat. It was soon reported to the Imam in Bombay, who displeased with Abdullah Paroo and sent message through Varas Muhammad Remu in unequivocal words to hold not a little intercourse with him. Varas convinced the group of Abdullah Paroo, who sought forgiveness from the Mukhi. Abdullah Paroo fled from Gwadar, and nothing was heard of him.

On January 4, 1912, the Imam said to the Muscat jamat in Karachi that, 'I have appointed Muhammad Remu of Gwadar as a high leader. You follow what he commands.'

Soon afterwards, the Imam declared him as his Varas for Gwadar, Makran coast and Muscat on January 18, 1912 in Karachi.

He visited Chahbar with Alijah Datoo Meru in August, 1918 from Karachi, and then returned to Gwadar on camels. He suffered with diabetes, and a pain on his back-side caused him to reach Gwadar after two days. Dr. Sharif Hussain of Punjab diagnosed a tumor in his upper backside. The doctor advised for an operation. Unfortunately, its surgery was not possible due to the shortage of chloroform in the clinic. He forced the doctor to perform his operation without chloroform. He also told his brother, Khimji to inform him two minutes before the operation. When informed, he engrossed in deep meditation, and the doctor operated in such state. The doctor marvelled beyond measure and said that he found not a little movement of his body as he was quite immovable like a stone. 'He was like an angel', said the doctor.

The inflation was at its worst during the first world war. He opened for the first time in Gwadar a department on September 2, 1918 to supply the grains, domestic and other commodities in the Jamatkhana at reasonable rates. Mukhi Tajar, Mukhi Muhammad Peru and Missionary Abdul Hussain Talib were consigned its control. This scheme aimed to provide the necessary items to the Ismailis on no profit motive. On October 21, 1918, the epidemic of influenza raged with greater violence in Gwadar, resulting 13 casualties in the jamat within 15 days. It badly shook the economy of the Ismailis. To stem the tide of this dreadful scourge, Varas Muhammad Remu hurled into the field as a warrior to the rescue of the stricken humanity with no distinction of cast and creed. He once again restarted the supply of the necessities of life for six months on non-profit motive for giving some relief to the down-trodden people. He entrusted the work to Mukhi Tajar Mukhi Muhammad Peru. He also imported large quantity of medicines and other items from Karachi with the co-operation of Wazir Col. Ghulam Hussain Khalfan (1887-1967).

His business also extended in Karachi, where he had to stay several times, therefore, he built his building in 1917 at Rampart Raw, Karachi, known as Mohamedbai Reimoo Mawji Building on plot no. J.T. 1/21/1. He was also the director of the newly formed The Khoja Ismaili Trading Co., Karachi in 1918.

Varas Muhammad Remu was a munificent donor for numerous causes. When the first Ismaili Religious Library was established in Bombay, he contributed a handsome donation, which was spoken in the speech of the President, Ali Muhammad Nassurbhoy in presence of the Imam on March 24, 1905. On October, 1918, he donated Rs. 15,000/- for the construction of the Jamatkhana in Chahbar, a seaport on the coast of Gulf of Oman, on the south-east of Iran; but the Imam did not permit for any Jamatkhana in the region of Iran, where Murad Mirza had rebelled against the Ismailis.

In the Persian Gulf, the oldest Jamatkhana situated in Makran was worn out. Varas Muhammad Remu renovated it at the cost of Rs. 10,000/-. He also made a donation to the newly formed The Young Ismaili Vidhiya Vinod Club, Bombay on April 1, 1918. On April 21, 1919, he donated a handsome amount to the newly formed The Young Khoja Ismailia Kathiawadi Mitr Mandal, Kharadhar, Karachi.

The religious night school was closed for over three months in Gwadar due to influenza. Varas Muhammad Remu propagated in the jamat and re-started it on February 16, 1919. Mukhi Tajar conducted the class.

In the meantime, his younger daughter, Manni expired in Gwadar on April 14, 1919, who was 14 years old.

During his visit, the Imam said on May 6, 1920 in Kharadhar Jamatkhana, Karachi that, 'Wazir Muhammad Remu has served me exceedingly well. Wazir Muhammad, I am much happy with you, and give you more and more blessings.'

Varas Muhammad Remu presided several functions in Karachi and Bombay and made impressive speeches. He was not a missionary; but is reported to have performed a waez in the newly built Jamatkhana at Amir Pir, Sind on December 17, 1920. With his efforts, the Panjibhai Club of Gwadar gained a new lease of life, and was named as the H.H. The Ismailia Volunteer Corps in 1920, whose first President was Mukhi Tajar. He also started a library in Gwadar in 1921, which also issued a hand-written journal, called Gohar-i Gwadar and a Gwadar Pani Company in 1922.

In the end of 1921, the cholera raged with greater violence in Gwadar, whose population at that time was hardly 12,000 persons. Four Ismaili children became the victims of a catastrophe. Varas Muhammad Remu arranged specific medicines from Karachi and Bombay and distributed free of cost to the stricken humanity irrespective of cast and creed.

On March 27, 1922, the Imam said in the gathering of the Recreation Club at Bombay to Varas Muhammad Remu, 'You work among the Zikris (in Baluchistan). You have nothing to do there, no other work. The Zikris, who are perfect, you may give them secret solemn word. If you (the Varas or Wazir) are absent, vest its authority in other.'

On April 15, 1922, Varas Muhammad Remu presented 75 new converted Zikris before the Imam on the upper floor of the Garden Jamatkhana, Karachi. The Imam said, 'Mashallah! I am much happy to see you and bless you. I am delighted that you had surmounted the hurdles and embraced. You remain steadfast on the faith and become like angels. Alhamdulillah! Keep up high courage. Ismailism is a reality in Islam. Islam is a foundation and Ismailism stands seventh in rank of its reality.' The Imam graciously gave sugar to five to six persons among them. The Imam also blessed Varas Muhammad Remu and Ghulam Hussain Datoo for their noble mission.

In April, 1923, he was in Bombay when his two close associates, Pir Sabzali and Alijah Datoo Meru were on the eve of the departure for their special missions. This was certainly a matter of pride for him. Pir Sabzali departed on April 7, 1923 for Central Asia and Alijah Datoo Meru left for Iran on April 19, 1923 by sea. On both occasions, Varas Muhammad Remu was present to see them off. He also sent urgent telegrams to Karachi and Gwadar Councils to accord befitting honour to Alijah Datoo Meru.

The health of Varas Muhammad Remu Mawji was impaired in October, 1924. He was taken to Karachi for treatment with Alijah Datoo Meru on November 2, 1924, where he expired on November 5, 1924 at the age of 65 years. The Ismailis in Gwadar closed their business when heard the news of his sad demise.

The news of his sad demise was urgently routed to the Imam in Paris, who also sent following telegraphic message on November 6, 1924:-

;Paternal blessing Sind Coast good spiritual children. Very sorry Coast President after life of service gone heaven. All honor his memory and family.

In another message, the Imam said:- 'Regret Mohomed Remoo expired. Ask Karachi and Coast give full honors his memory. Appoint after full consultation Karachi Council and Coast new President in his place till I come India.'

Lady Ali Shah in those days had been in Iran for seven months and returned to Karachi on November 15, 1924. When she was reported the sad demise of Varas Mohammad Remu, she was highly shocked and blessed his soul for eternal peace. She then proceeded to Bombay on February 6, 1925.

On January 26, 1938, the Imam said in Karachi during the marriage ceremonies of Rahim and Issa, the grandsons of Varas Muhammad Remu that, 'I am much delightful to attend the marriages of the children of late Wazir Muhammad Remu. Varas Muhammad Remu had served me too much. He is like a member of Ahl al-Bayt just as Wazir Basaria and Wazir Rahim had become (members of) Ahl al-Bayt. If their children will follow the religion and truth, they will lead good (prosperity) in their lives, and will be prosperous in the world.'

Varas Muhammad Remu left behind two sons, Hussain and Karim; and five daughters. Hussain was the father of Ruknuddin and Nuruddin, while Karim had three sons, Rahim, Issa and Tajuddin. Varasiani Mukhiani Tharabai, the wife of Varas Muhammad Remu expired on July 3, 1934 at the age of 55 years due to paralyse. She served as a Mukhiani for 4 years.

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Muhammad Remu, Varas


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