Hooda Vali Mohammed Nanji was the son of Nanji Amarsi, a well-known
religious man. Nanji Amarsi passed most of his lifetime in Limadi and also went
to live in Pretoria. He had taken due care of the religious and secular
education of his son, Vali Mohammed. He died at the age of 73 years on August
28, 1933. His son, Vali Mohammad Nanji Hooda, known as V.N. Hooda was born in
Bombay in 1889. Nothing is known of his early life. He was however a
well-educated and a learned scholar, teacher and editor.
V.N. Hooda’s appearance in the arena of the community service began in
Mukhi Muhammad, surnamed Bhojani was famous for his piety and generosity in Kathiawar and was the head of the Vartej village, about 5 miles from Bhavnagar on behalf of the Bhavanagar State. He was also the Mukhi of Vartej Jamatkhana and played significant role in its construction. He and his family members are also known as the Bhojani family. Imam Hasan Ali Shah had visited Bhavnagar and was highly impressed with his devoted services. His son Jusab also served the Vartej jamat and donated a piece of land to extend the premises of the Jamatkhana.
Mukhi Ramzan Ismail (d. 1910) was a prominent leader. Imam Aga Ali Shah appointed him the Mukhi with Kamadia Hashim for the Kharadhar Jamatkhana, Karachi in 1882. Mukhi Ramzan was also an elected member of Karachi Municipality in 1854. He served the ailing persons in the community with his means and materials during the outbreak of plague in 1897. Mukhi Ramzan Ismail had eight sons, and the best known among them were Mukhi Rehmatullah, Mukhi Teja, Sabzali, Mukhi Nazar Ali or Mukhi Nanda, Ghulam Hussain or Gulu and Dr. Datoo.
Dhamu Chunara also known as Dharamsi Panjuani was an eminent trader in Bhuj, Kutchh. He visited Iran with his wife Mulibai to behold Imam Shah Khalilullah in Yazd in the beginning of 1817. The Imam granted him a sealed letter of patent in Khojki script and also bestowed upon him the title of Dharas. He had two sons, Sumar and Virji. The son of Virji was Rahimtullah, whose son was Ghulam Hussain. The son of Sumar was Premji, whose son was Jan Muhammad, the father of Ali Muhammad.
Lakhpat, an oldest port of Kutchh, lying near the Indus river was a native soil of his family tree. The population dropped from 15000 to 2500 persons in 1851 due to severe famine, and the area became almost desolated. His grandfather, Thavar walked down to Badin, Sind with some Ismaili families. Later on, Thavar is reported to have gone to Muscat, located on the Gulf of Oman coast and isolated by a hill range. Thavar is believed to have worked with Baledina Asani (1802-1896), the Estate Agent of Imam Hasan Ali Shah in Muscat. He made Gwadar as his next home, where he died.
Ramzan Ali (d. 1886), son of Sabzali Hansraj, a dedicated social worker and businessman in Mundra, Kutchh, had six children: three sons: Mahomed Jaffer (1874-1918), Rahim (1880-1929) and Pir Sabzali (1884-1938); and three daughters: Fatimabai, Jainabai and Sonbai.
Kanji Ramji originated from Samaghoga, about 14 miles from Mundra, Kutchh. He had a religious proclivity since childhood. His habits were very simple and he lived a saintly life till last breath, so much so that the Imam during his first visit to East Africa said, 'What should be the momin's qualities, habits and manners are seen in Kanji Ramji. Everyone must follow them accordingly.' (Zanzibar: July 5, 1899). He was also the Mukhi and became known as the 'Dini Darwish of Kutchh' due to his pious life.
He was born in Kera, Kutchh in 1851 and came to Zanzibar by a sailing vessel in 1863 at the age of 12 years. He proceeded to Bagamoyo to work as an assistant to Sewa Haji Paroo (1851-1897). After having earned enough money, he began to organize caravans for domestic travelling. His business expanded, at first slowly but later more quickly. He had extended his operations all along the caravan route, opening branches of operations of his firm in Dar-es-Salaam, Sadani, Tabora, Ujiji and of Kalima and Tindo in the Belgium Congo.
Alibhai Lalji is reported to have migrated from Junagadh, India to Mombasa, Kenya in 1880 to explore business opportunities. His son Hussain also came from India in 1912, and settled however in Mwanza. Later on, his son Hasan Ali and the rest of the family joined Hussain in 1920 in Mwanza. They jointly ran a general store, called Alibhai Lalji & Sons, and made steady progress.
Hasan Ali liked modernity in dressing and eating. He was meticulously dressed and was easily distinguished in a crowd of Asians. Due to his modern tastes, he was nick named as Hasan Ali Fancy.
Amir Ali Muhammad Ormadawala was born in 1917 in the house of Mohammad Hirji of Amerali. His father died in 1918 when he was hardly a year old. His mother, Sambai had a religious proclivity and rendered her services as the Mukhiani of the Ormada jamat.
Vali, the son of Rehmu Bhagat was a devoted person in Bhuj, Kutchh. He left Kutchh for Sind, and ultimately settled in Karachi. Soon after the retirement of Mukhi Alidina Asani (1793-1881) from the post of the Estate Agent in 1873, Imam Hasan Ali Shah appointed him the second Estate Agent for Karachi and Sind. The Imam also bestowed upon him the title of Varas. His descendant became known as the Valliani family in Karachi and Sind. Varas Vali rendered his services with devotion and died in 1878. The third Estate Agent after him was Varas Basaria, who died in 1918.
Soon after the Fatimid Khilafat in 1171, Saladin (d. 1193), the Ayyubid ruler massacred the Nizari Ismailis in and around Egypt. Most of the Ismailis migrated to Syria and settled in the surroundings of Khwabi and Kadmos. With them came the grandfathers of Amir Ismail bin Muhammad, who made Tanitah, a village near Kadmos as their abode.
Virji Kamadia, known as Vira Bhagat was Mukhi of the Junagadh Panjibhai Club. His family's profession was to cut the stones to be sold in the market. He sustained a close relationship with Wazir Ismail Gangji (1788-1883), from whom he acquired religious knowledge, and he gradually became a missionary. Jamal Megji, the son of Virji Kamadia was a brilliant orator. He delivered his first waez in Junagadh and won the hearts of the jamat, including Varas Ismaili Gangji, who said, 'Your status will become too high.'
He was known as Brigadier General Amir Ass'ad Shah Khalili, and was born in 1915. He took up a military career in Iran and became an officer in army of His Imperial Majesty the Shahanshah of Iran. He rose to his rank very soon and served as Adjutant in the Defence Ministry. As his services were required in the Police Force, he was seconded to the Police of the State and retired as a Chief Police. He had many medals and decorations to his credit.
Varas Amir Chand (1837-1911) sprang from a noble family of gupti Ismailis in Punjab. He was employed in a governmental department in Amritsar and retired in 1880. He inherited land from his forefathers, and became one of the most famous landlords in Punjab. In 1882, Imam Aga Ali Shah appointed him Kul Kamadia for Punjab, Frontiers and few regions near Afghanistan.
Vali, the grandfather of Varas Bandali Kassim was originally from Bhuj, Kutchh. He took up his abode at Karachi with his eight years old son, Kassim and resided in Kharadhar, Karachi. Kassim joined his father's firm, dealing in leather and made steady progress. Kassim had five sons, Merali, Bandali, Muhammad, Rashid and Karim.
Piredina was born in Hyderabad, Sind. He migrated near Muscat with his family. His son Ahmed Nizari was born in 1886 and became known as Ahmed Nizari or Nizari Piredina.
Aloobhai, the grandfather of Bandali Muhammad Ladha was a dedicated servant of the Imam in Kutchh. He visited Iran to see Imam Hasan Ali Shah. His son Muhammad Ladha migrated to Karachi with his family, and became the third Mukhi of Garden Jamatkhana in Karachi in 1905. In those days, the Ismailis from Kutchh flocked in Karachi, making the population of Garden area over 1500. The existing premises of the Jamatkhana became too small to accommodate the Ismailis; therefore, Mukhi Muhammad Ladha donated a piece of plot, adjoining the Jamatkhana, where a new Jamatkhana was built.
He was born in 1859 it Porebandar and came to Bombay at the age of 15 years. He worked in a furniture store and gained sufficient experience to become one of the leading furniture merchants. He maintained the quality and standards of his furniture so well that he received large orders several times from the Indian rulers. The Amir of Afghanistan once ordered for new furniture on February 1907, for the decoration of his newly built palace in Kabul. His firm was known as M/S Ahmed Devji Bros.