Volume 14-12 No:180
SYEDNA MOHAMMED BURHANUDDIN
An Illustrated biography
First published in 2001 by
Al-Jameah al Saifiyah Trust
21 Gatehill Court, 166 Notting Hill Gate, London W 11, 3QT
To understand the visionary is tantamount to having a vision oneself. A man of vision often acts beyond, or contrary to common expectation. He perceives and acts according to his vision even when none can see its value. As the results of his foresight becomes noticeable over time and the truth of his intuition gradually becomes clearer, the observer begins to fathom the depth of understanding that had been required to perceive the original vision with such clarity. So when Al-Jamea-tus-Saifiyah decided to render aspects of the life of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin to record, they were faced with the task of having to order the achievements of his lifetime without forcing a fragmentation on the holism of the endeavour. This might not have been possible at all if Syedna had not himself spoken of the movements he had initiated during the 35 years of leadership of his community that provided a definition of his life’s work.
Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin heads a community of about a million Muslims settled throughout the world. He is the 52nd incumbent to the office of al-Dai al-Mutlaq established by Fatimi imams who ruled over a large part of the Islamic empire in the 10th to 12th centuries CE. He functions as the vicegerent to the imam, the supreme head of the Shia Fatimi Ismaili Tayyibi school of thought of Islam. Much of the imam’s reverential position and authority have been instituted into the office of al-Dai al-Mutlaq, so that during the seclusion of the imam, as has occurred since the 12th century, the al-Dai al-Mutlaq heads the imam’s mission and acts for the imam in leading his followers, the Dawoodi Bohras.
Al-Dai Al-Fatimi, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin-An illustrated biography, attempts to highlight some of the accomplishments and rare qualities of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin as the 52nd al Dai al Mutlaq. It gives a glimpse of the stature and authority of the office held by him.
Packed with excellent photographs, the book takes the readers through the achievements of the Syedna in a chronological order, and the series of institutions set up under his leadership. One should not miss to read about Al-Jamea-tus-Saifiyah Academy in Surat where students are taught the intricacies of Islamic lore, classical Arabic literature and contemporary subjects in an integrated Islamic educational approach. While the research that has gone into the making of the book is tremendous, it is worthwhile to ponder on the fact that biographies like these are rare to find these days, and this illustrated biography is one book which is a collector’s item and something one would never wish to part with.
“In the heavens and the earth there are certainly signs for the believers. And in your creation and all the creatures He has scattered about there are signs For people with certainty” Surah Al-Jathiyah: 3-4
Man must think on how he came into being, what is the purpose of his life, why he will die and what awaits him after death. By thinking, while isolating his conscience from all social, ideological and psychological obligations, the person should eventually perceive that the entire universe, including himself is created by a superior power. Even when he examines his own body or any other thing in nature, he will see an impressive harmony, plan and wisdom within its design. In the Quran, people are summoned to contemplate numerous events and objects that clearly testify to the existence and uniqueness of Allah and His attributes. In the Quran, all these beings that bear witness are designated as “signs” meaning “tested evidence, absolute knowledge and expression of truth.”
The Signs in the Heavens and the Earth-For Men of Understanding by Harun Yahya draws attention to some of the subjects we are advised to ponder in the Quran. Harun Yahya is the pen name used by Adnan Oktar who is a prominent Turkish intellectual, born in Ankara in 1956. In all his books, faith -related issues are explained in the light of the Quran and leave no room for doubt in the reader’s mind. Packaged creatively with colour photographs, it serves as an eye opener persuading the reader to contemplate on the signs of Allah. The chapter on the “Four Animals Emphasised in the Quran” comprises a detailed explanation on the gnat, the honey bee, the camel and the fly. Considered as an insignificant living being, even the gnat is worthy of being examined and pondered over since it bears the signs of Allah. While relishing the spoonful of honey, have we ever thought of how hard the honey bee slogs. All those time management, organization, team work theories scripted by experts fall flat as one learns the amazing facts about the way the bees produce honey-” Your Lord inspired the bees. From their bellies comes a drink of varying colours containing healing for mankind. There is certainly a sign in that for people who reflect (Surah an-Nahl: 68-69).
Bees know better than humans on how to manage their time-the honeybee can understand that another bee has earlier consumed the nectar of a flower and leaves the flower-how does this happen? This is made possible because the bees which visited the flower earlier marked it by leaving a drop on it with a special scent and when a new bee looks in on the same flower, it smells the scent and understands that the flower is of no use and so goes on towards another flower. So bees do not waste time on the same flower. It is not just this. The book also explains the creation in the uterus, the defence system in our bodies, mysteries in the reproduction of animals, the migration of birds, the amazing journey of butterflies nature and technology. Yahya’s fluent style of writing ensures that everyone of every age and from every social group can read the book. With effective and lucid narratives, The Signs in the Heavens and the Earth is a must-read for all, as in the Quran, Allah invites men of understanding to think about the issues which other people overlook or just dismiss using such barren terms as “evolution,” “coincidence” or a “miracle of nature.”
“Information is power and prosperity lies in being informed”, is the message the authors of the book intend to communicate. An in-depth analysis has been made about the applicability of Information Technology for the benefit of rural multitudes in India. The book IT Landscape in India by Prof. A. Thaha and Prof. Vijayadharan aims to suggest ways and means to take the available useful information to less privileged people. IT is a tool, not just for the elite society, but the benefits of IT should percolate to the farmers and artisans by providing them information regarding farming, healthcare, education, marketing and government schemes.
The authors have highlighted how IT diffusion has been done in Norway, China, USA and Australia. Dissemination of IT is carried out through Community Technology Centers in USA. These centers collect and share the agricultural and related information with those who need it. The book provides guidelines to the planning managers and the implementing agencies for sharing useful information with rural India. IT Landscape in India is available with Centre for Rural and Urban Studies and Training (CREST), Rajendranagar, Hyderabad-500030 at a price of Rs. 415.
Dr. M. F. Ingalgi