Who are Bohras? Why did the Prime Minister them? Is this Vote Bank politics?

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The Dawoodi Bohras are a sect within the Ismā'īlī branch of Shia Islam. The largest populations of Dawoodi Bohras reside in India, Pakistan, Yemen and East Africa.
The Dawoodi Bohras are a sect within the Ismā'īlī branch of Shia Islam. The largest populations of Dawoodi Bohras reside in India, Pakistan, Yemen and East Africa.

Applauding the Bohra community for their contribution in the country’s development, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that it is India’s power of co-existence that makes world aware if its power.

Addressing a religious congregation of the Dawoodi Bohra community in Indore, PM Modi recalled an encounter with sect head Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin at an airport.I met Syedna sahib at an airport and had a small conversation with him regarding the shortage of water in Gujarat and spoke to him about building check dams. Just after this brief discussion, he went back and made several check dams and helped many villages fight water scarcity,” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi became the first prime minister to address a religious congregation of the Dawoodi Bohras. He shared the stage with the sect head on Ashara Mubaraka, which is a gathering organised every year to commemorate Prophet Mohammad and the martyrdom of his grandson Imam Hussain.

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, MP Governor Anandiben Patel and Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan also attended the event at Saifi Nagar Mosque. PM Modi’s address was accompanied by a religious sermon or ‘viaz’.

For the event, the state government had beefed up security by installing CCTV cameras at the venue. The city was made a no-fly zone for a day and 3,500 police personnel were deployed.

DIG Police Harinarayanchari Mishra had told News18 that the venue is under tight vigil and a four-layered security cover had been devised for the PM’s visit. “Anyone visiting the venue were only allowed inside after passing through these layers,” he said.

Who are Bohra

The Dawoodi Bohras are a sect within the Ismā’īlī branch of Shia Islam. The largest populations of Dawoodi Bohras reside in India, Pakistan, Yemen and East Africa. There are also significant numbers living in Europe, North America, South East Asia and Australia. Most sources put the worldwide population to be one million.

The Dawoodi Bohra follow a sort of Shia Islam as propagated by the Fatimid Imamate in medieval Egypt. They pray three times a day, joining both afternoon prayers Zuhr and Asr, and both evening prayers Maghreb and Isha. They fast in the month of Ramadan, perform Haj and Umrah and give Zakat. The Dawoodi Bohras, being Ismailis and thus Jafaris, were included as Muslims in the Amman Message. There are some criticisms of the Amman message.

In all matters of prayer, dress, physical comportment and even avoidance of financial interest, they are highly conservative. At the same time, they eagerly adopt any and every aspect of modern or Western culture that is not specifically forbidden. Far from displaying the anti-Western attitudes sometimes found among other revivalist groups, Bohras proudly send their children to Britain or the United States for education, exhibit greater gender equality than most communities of the subcontinent and have become Internet pioneers uniting members of their far flung denomination into a worldwide cyber congregation.

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