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A subsect of Dawoodi Bohras is country's smallest community

Tuesday, 31 August 2010 - 2:15pm IST | Place: Nagpur | Agency: PTI

The community, with around 250 members in Nagpur, also has its presence in Ujjain, Vishakhapatnam and Hyderabad with a few families settled in these cities.

A subsect of Dawoodi Bohras known as 'Atba-e-Malak Badar', which parted ways from its parent group, way back in 1891, is perhaps the smallest community in the country with a head count of not more than 300 members.

The Mahdi Bagh Colony in the north eastern part on the city outskirts houses majority of this community members, who speak in Gujarati, recite Quran in Arabic and are well versed in Urdu, Hindi and English. They are quite familiar with local languages and are Muslims belonging to the Shia sect.

The community, with around 250 members in Nagpur, also has its presence in Ujjain, Vishakhapatnam and Hyderabad with a few families settled in these cities.

"Apart from this, some families are in Gulf region (Sharjah and UAE), United States, Australia and Europe. Its a close knit community. Mumbai and Pune too have a few families which takes the global count to 800-odd members," secretary of Managing Committee of Mahdi Bagh Institution (HQ), Mehmood Ali said.

In a nut shell, the colony is the finest example of unique and successful experiment of community living, earning it sobriquets like 'A Walled City', 'A Patch of Paradise' 'Shantiniketan of Nagpur' and 'Heaven on Earth', he said.

The Colony has independent homes for each family besides tombs of religious leaders, a mosque, a library and office of its spiritual head and a small museum displaying the memorabilia connected to former heads and preachers.

The dwelling resembles a bird sanctuary where green trees rise above buildings and chirping birds ring against the calm atmosphere, where residents look forward to a peaceful co-existence with fellow community members.

Syed Ameeruddin Malak Saheb is the spiritual leader of the community. Only strange and new thing about the community is unlike Christians and Hindus, they are not baptised on birth. But on attaining the puberty, the kids are administered an oath in which they accept the philosophy and concept of the community to become its members.

Also, many features associated with the community make it unique. There is no crime in the community and no dowry is either given or taken in any marriage.

"Another interesting part is that there is no practice of inter-faith or inter-religion marriages in this community," former journalist and HoD, Mass Communication at Nagpur University, Moiz Haque said.

Barring four or five boys, who married girls from outside the community (but only to Muslims) all have tied the knot within their sect, Haque, who also belongs to this sect, said.

Many dignitaries including BJP President Nitin Gadkari, Annie Beasant, former Vice-President M Hidayatullah, Swami Chinmayananda besides Bollywood celebrities likem Saira Banu, Dilip Kumar, Mohammad Rafi, Talat Mehmood, Hemant Kumar and Dr Jamshed Irani have visited the colony.

Cricket skippers Mushtaque Ali, Sunil Gavaskar and Mohammad Azharhuddin were also among other distinguished visitors to the place.

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