Bohra - History and Cultural Relations



AU Bohras can be traced to converts made by Shiite Missionaries of the Ismaili sect in the eleventh century. Some of them claim to come from Egyptian-Arab and Yemen-Arab ancestors. Others maintain they are entirely of Hindu blood; according to the Sunni Bohras they were converted from many castes. The Alia Bohras take their name from Ali, who founded the sect in A . D . 624. The Alias strongly resemble the Sulaimani Bohras in their appearance and customs; the Daudi Bohras are the wealthiest, most organized, and most ubiquitous sect of Bohras. The main difference between them and the other Muslims is that they pay special veneration to Ali, to his sons, Hassan and Hussain, and to their high priest, the mullah sahib of Surat. The Jaafari Bohras trace their name to Jaafar Sherazi who converted them to the Sunni faith (they are also known as Patanis after their headquarters in that city). Jaafari Bohras are the descendants of those Daudi Bohras who changed to the orthodox (Sunni) faith during the reign of Muzaffar I, governor of Gujarat in A . D . 1391. Nagoshis or "nonfleshites" are a very small schism founded around A . D . 1789. The founder was excommunicated because he proposed a peculiar doctrine, the most noteworthy feature being that to eat animal flesh was sin. The Nagoshis have now almost disappeared. The Sulaimani Bohras are the descendants of the converts made in Arabia in the sixteenth century by a missionary sent by a Surat Bohra. They received their name due to a dispute surrounding the succession of the high priest of the Gujarat Bohras in A . D . 1588: based on the merits of a letter from the high priest sent to Sulaiman of the Yaman priesthood, he claimed to be the successor to the high priest; however, only a very small minority accepted his claim and so Sulaiman went back to Arabia. This small Minority who upheld his claims were thus called Sulaimanis. The Sunni Bohras are the descendants of Hindu converts of the unarmed castes who converted at the close of the fourteenth and during the fifteenth centuries. Throughout the twentieth century the Daudi Bohras have been split by factional strife, the orthodox followers of the high priest frequently rioting against reformists, attacking them in their homes or even in the mosque, divorcing them by fiat, refusing to permit burial of the dead, throwing acid on individuals, etc. The police have commonly been powerless to stop such behavior.

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