A letter to Syedna, by a Bohra woman

(Editor’s note – The courageous woman who shared this letter would like it to be known that sahiyo’s platform was the official outlet for her letter.)

By: Anonymous

Country of Residence: United States

To Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin,

We are the ones who showed up. We are the ones who wore the right thing, said the right thing, didn’t ask too many questions. When you became our 53rd leader, we changed our license plates and phone numbers to include the number 53 in your honor. We came to you in our moments of deep grief and our moments of sweet joy to ask for your permission to bury a loved one, get married, move to another country. We parted with our money in Dawoodi Bohra taxes to benefit you and our community. We put photos of you up on our walls. We traveled to Texas, Nairobi, Mumbai to hear your sermons. We prayed to you and for you. We did all of this in the name of the community, in the name of feeling supported by the ballast of history. We trusted your goodness, your wisdom. We believed that when we called to you for help, you would come.

Last year, on Syedna Taher Saifuddin’s death anniversary – a day when you knew that people around the world were watching – you spoke out about “keep[ing] our things strong, stay[ing[ firm. Even the big sovereign states [i.e. United States], whatever it is they say, if it makes any difference to our things, then we are not prepared to understand!…The act has to happen! If it is a man, then it is right, it can be openly done, but if it is a woman then it must be done discreetly, but then the act has to be done. Please understand what I am trying to talk about…”

We understood; we all knew what you were talking about. You were speaking about khatna, a globally reviled practice in which someone cuts part of a girl’s clitoris. You instructed us to carry out khatna on our young girls regardless of what the “big sovereign states” (read: US law) had to say. One month later, US-based jamaats published letters stating that community members should follow the law and not practice khatna in the US. These letters didn’t say that khatna was inherently wrong; they impliedly encouraged us to travel elsewhere for the procedure. We were confused – how could we not be? But we kept our heads down. We did not understand or agree with this practice, but we believed in you.

Khatna has gone global – The New York Times, the BBC, Al Jazeera, UK Parliament – are associating the Dawoodi Bohra community with this heinous act, accurately reporting on a procedure that has abused and denigrated our women. In encouraging this procedure, you sanctioned violence against young children.

And now here we are. April 2017. Dr. Jumana Nagarwala committed a crime in flagrant disobedience of her role as a healer and doctor. But we can’t place the blame entirely on Dr. Nagarwala. She didn’t come up with this idea. She did it for you, in your name, under your instruction. On April 26, 2017, a federal jury indicted Dr. Nagarwala, Fakhruddin Attar and Farida Attar. Your followers are in hot water now and what did you do? You washed your hands of them. Less than a year after your pronouncement that you were “not prepared to understand” what “big sovereign states” say, you swiftly worked to ally yourself with US law enforcement. You issued a statement saying it was “unfortunate” Dr. Nagarwala had not followed US law, that the Dawoodi Bohras do not support any violation of local, state or federal law.

So much for staying “staying firm.” You threw Dr. Nagarwala under the bus and bailed.

So now we know. We know that it doesn’t matter how much we gave and prayed and observed. We know that even if we show up and wear what you want, say what you want, do what you want, you won’t show up for us when it matters. You will not take responsibility for your actions. You will not stand by your followers.

I will continue to go to the jamaat and pray alongside my fellow Bohra women. I do this now only for the love of my family, for the peace that this brings them, for the Allah who sees everything we do – including you, Syedna. But I do not believe in your wisdom and power anymore. I have lost all faith in your goodness, your grace. I will not listen to your edicts about what I should wear, how I should educate my children, how I should live my life. You took no responsibility for your follower who carried out your instructions – a mother of four who is now facing jail time. You abandoned her when she needed you most. You would do the same to me and my family. I know that when the reckoning comes, you will not stand by me, and so I will not stand by you anymore.

15 thoughts on “A letter to Syedna, by a Bohra woman

  1. Saifuddin MUCKRA

    The nail is hit on the head that too very hard. I congratulate the writer and Sahiyo for coming out openly and exposing the double standard of Saiyadna. He is fair weather Saiyadna. His sole interest is to squeeze money and terrorise who oppose to him. But I fail to understand the modern educated Bohra women who follow blindly his dictates. It is we who give importance to this religious leader and his local tyrants. It is high time we oppose UN reasonable demands of Saiyadna and his henchmen. DO NOT EXPECT AMYTHING FROM SAIYADNA. YOU are asking for moon. Wish you all the best and be firm. Congratulations once again.

  2. Shamir

    This courageous woman represents the sentiments of the majority in the community. She has managed to put them into words! I want to say thank you.

  3. Abbas Unwala

    I agree n salute you. This person is not a responsible leader. They are just after our money. They don’t follow what they preach. We are not following true islam under his leadership. We have become a cult.

  4. Shamir

    As I mentioned this woman is courageous however what I do not understand is why obviously independent, educated women and men waited till this Detroit incident to realize that Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin is an authoritarian , corrupt thug. Today the DB is nothing like a community, it’s a cult. It has even less to do with Islam. Syedna is looked upon as someone even higher than god.
    To conclude if the Detroit case is what it took to stop this barbaric practice of FGM and hopefully take the DB to its original form of a true community, I’d say, great!

  5. Shamir

    Syedna should be held accountable. He should be charged for crimes against humanity for advocating FGM on innocent girls.

  6. This letter has poured my heart out, completely!

    Thank you for writing this.

    May Allah help us follow the two weighty things, Rasulullah (saww) left for us, the Quran and his Ahlulbayt (as).

  7. Zoher Bahrainwala

    A big salute to sahiyo group for exposing this barbaric procedure. This pseudo godman is just like any other man on this planet. He has no wisdom n speak lies n name of God n our prophet s n Imam. The Bohras are just following him with herd mentality.

  8. Batul fakhri

    Mutilating clitoris and circumcising the excess skin of males is not even remotely same. The males enjoy increase sexual pleasure and decrease in infections ,on other hand the women suffer from decreased sexual pleasure due to this. Islam is correct but sayedna is wrong and has looted our community for centuries.

  9. What he preaches has absolutely NOTHING to do with Islam.
    He teaches nothing but SHIRK.
    Will ALLAH really ask you in day of Quyamah where is this dai’s zarat, where is that dai’s zarat?
    A religion that asks you to pay money to be a follower is not a religion. Its a CULT.
    Hes Teachings are contradicting basic principals of Islam and the Holy Quran.
    May ALLAH save the Miskeen bohras.

  10. Tasneem Maimoon

    I feel the same about FGM and Syedna. He is just after the money and royalty. No accountability, or responsibility is present in the DB community’s so-called leader.

  11. s a jariwala

    unfortunately blind followers will not understand any of these. ..and will continue to support.
    only support from Indian government will make him see the light of the day.
    I salute you all for this courageous act..

  12. Rashid Dadla

    FGM is one of many weapons of tyrrany that Sayedna and his henchmen have unleashed on his well to do suckers.
    What is most disgusting is that these suckers worship this looter & demon who othetwise claims to be agent of ALLAH

  13. Huzaifa

    How many female relatives in Their family undergo this sort of Crucification n which doctor performs.Lots of Bhora r fed up but fear rather than respect is the sad truth n RTI should be strictly enforced as to stop this sort of rule…Mafiaism….,,,,

  14. Abdul Ali

    Wow… I am a Ismaili Muslim and sometimes I would feel we are also a cult… but hearing or reading this letter and all comments that followed. I CANNOT believe this is going on. When younger I had Bohra friends and assumed that they were just similar to Ismailis but I never imagined the extremism practiced and the extent how money is openly spent (given) to the Syedna. Makes our practises rather palatable now. Best wishes.

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