America-based scholar likely to become 53rd Dai-Ul-Mutlaq, head of Dawoodi Bohra community

Mumbai: To resolve the dispute over who should be the 53rd Dai-Ul-Mutlaq, the religious head of the Dawoodi Bohra community, the Bombay High Court is presently examining an America-based Islamic scholar and a professor, who is an expert of Islam.

The dispute arose after the death of the community’s spiritual head and 52nd Dai-al-Mutlaq Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin. His elder son Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, had taken over as the spiritual head or Dai-al-Mutlaq of the community, against the claim made by his uncle Syedna Qutbuddin, who claimed himself to be the spiritual head by virtue of being the brother and ‘mazoon’ (deputy) of the deceased Syedna Burhanuddin, for around 50 years. He also claimed that his slain brother had conferred a “nass” upon him, i.e. declaring him the his successor, in a secret ceremony.

However, now Syedna Qutbuddin too has died and his son Syedna Taher Fakhruddin has become the religious head of the sect.

To substantiate his claims, Syedna Taher Fakhruddin had contacted the expert - Devin Stewart, who is a Professor of Arabic and Islamic studies in Emory University. He had submitted his opinion over the issue, in July this year. Now, Prof. Stewart is being examined by the legal team led by senior counsel Iqbal Chagla, who represents Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin. The expert would be examined for three more days by advocate Chagla, who has till now asked over 100 questions to him.