By Salman Ashraf Bheriyani
What makes an individual a proud member of his community? One simply has to look around and observe the dedication of the very young, the youth and elderly alike towards the community through their honorary or voluntary services. This spirit of service to the jamat and the Imam of the Time has always been a source of strength for the Ismaili community.
I live in Mahuva, a small town on the outskirts of Bhavnagar District in the State of Gujarat, India. Known for its farming community, the town with lush green surroundings, includes many coconut tree plantations, and is famous for a nut-and-onion product that is exported to Punjab and other states. Among the one thousand members of the jamat who have made the town their home, there is one outstanding individual who merits special mention. His name is Gulamhusen Alibhai Jamani, a farmer since childhood, and a volunteer in the Jamat for much of his life.
Gulamhusen Alibhai Jamani was born on July 5th, 1936 in Mahuva. His father, Alibhai, was a farmer and Gulamhusen was the sixth of seven children. When Gulamhusen was in the fourth standard, his older brother was struck with a long bout of ill-health that left Gulamhusen with no choice but to drop out of school to help his father in farming. Gulamhusen grew up in an era of bullock-carts and rusty roads, and the enduring popularity of plays, folk dramas and black and white Indian movies. As a young child, he had formed the habit of attending jamatkhana every morning and evening for prayers and service.
The jamatkhana he used to attend was the first jamatkhana situated in the ‘Khoni Khacha’ area of the Mahuva town. The jamatbhai, the person who traditionally took regular care of jamatkhanas, was blind and for ‘wudu’ (ablution, the act of washing hands and feet before reciting prayers), he used to draw water from a nearby well. Gulamhusen made sure that he was there to help the jamatbhai in the daily ritual. Through acts such as this, Gulamhusen began to serve the jamat of the town. He then helped in the upkeep and maintenance of the jamatkhana, which he continues to do today.
His wife, Kulsambahen was inspired by her husband’s commitment and also became involved with jamati services. They have a daughter, Parin, who got married and has continued living with her husband and children in the same town. This has been a great blessing for her parents. They constantly utter ‘Shukhar Mawla’ as they rejoice in the company of their grandchildren.
With the passing of time, the size of the Mahuva jamat increased manifold, and there arose a need for new jamatkhana. Also, the old jamatkhana was in a derelict state. The tragic incident in which 118 murids died when the jamatkhana in Yeotmal collapsed was fresh in everyone’s thoughts, and there was therefore a very strong sense of urgency to build the new jamatkhana without delay. With the assistance of volunteers, Gulamhusenbhai played a major role in the construction of the new jamatkhana in the town’s ‘Parsilvar para’ area. He recalls that he used to supply buckets full of bricks for the construction. Located in the center of Mahuva town, the jamatkhana continues to stand as a proud achievement and reminder of the exemplary service of Gulamhusenbhai and the great team of volunteers.
When the state of Gujarat was affected by draught, farming in Mahuva was hit hard and seriously affected the well-being and livelihood of Gulamhusenbhai and his family. Undaunted and with strong faith, he turned to selling vegetables at a grocery market in Mahuva, which has continued till today. Ask any farmer and he will tell you that once a farmer, you are always a farmer. This applies to Gulamhusenbhai. He continues to farm on a piece of land he owns near his house and also sells the vegetables he grows in the plot. At age 77, he carries the freshly picked produce to the market regularly on his bicycle.
During the Golden Jubilee of Mawlana Hazar Imam, the World Volunteer Day was celebrated at Rajkot. As part of the commemoration, volunteers from all over Gujarat were invited and were honoured with medals presented by the Mukhi and Kamadiasahebs of the respective towns. The senior volunteers like Gulamhusenbhai were honoured by the National President at that time, Mr. Nizamuddin Ajani.
Today, Mahuva is a town inhabited by more than a thousand Ismailis all of whom know Gulamhusenbhai. All the volunteers serving today in the jamati institutions in Mahuva have been disciples of Gulamhusenbhai in one way or the other.
Gulamhusenbhai was a strict disciplinarian with the children and mothers turned to him to admonish their mischievous children in jamatkhana. I also recall his voice when he called out in Gujarati ‘Khamosh alamehara, Du’a padai che’ (be quiet, O followers, it is time to recite the Du’a), and we would all shut our eyes. He is loved and respected by everyone; his motto has always been to serve sincerely and have patience and tolerance for success and happiness in service.
Through his exemplary service and words of wisdom, he has provided immense strength to the Ismaili jamat in Mahuva. I salute him for his courage and humility. His enthusiasm for service hasn’t diminished – he recently celebrated his 77th birthday.
Date posted: Saturday, November 9, 2013.
Date updated: Monday, January 27, 2014 (typos).
Copyright. Salman Bheriyani/Simerg.
About the writer: Salman Ashraf Bheriyani was born and raised in the Indian Sub-continent. He has completed his graduation with a Degree in Computer Sciences and is now pursuing his Masters in Information Technology.
A keen writer, he blogs at salmanbheriyani.wordpress.com, and has a Facebook page at http://www.fb.com/armour16491.
To contribute to Simerg’s special volunteer and to read previous stories please click Stories of Ismaili Volunteers from Around the World.
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Very good and well-done!! Long Life to Gulamhusen Alibhai Jamani.
What an inspirational story of a very good human being who did so much to alleviate poverty, promote social justice and implement programs for the benefit of mankind. May Mawla bless him for his meritorious deeds.
Thousand salutes, million tributes and trillion homage to our volunteer sisters and the brothers…the brilliant and bright stars of the Imamat Galaxy.
What can one say? Well done, excellent, keep up the great work!!! Alas these are mere words. I am sure Gulamhusenbhai will be justly rewarded for his service by Hazar Imam. All I can say to Gulamhusenbhai is, “Thank you for your amazing seva and setting an example and for teaching others how to serve.” You are definitely leading by example. May Mowla grant you good health and fortune to continue to serve him till your last breath….Ameen.
Once again thank you from the bottom of my heart. It is funny my full name is Karim Gulamali Alibhai Savji and I have roots in Gujarat but so far have not been to India. Inshallah one day I would love to visit the place where my grandfather emigrated to Africa from. All my love to you and your entire family and jamat; they are very lucky to have you.
Gulamhuseinbhai keep up the good work and Mawla’s blessings will always be with you.
My grandparents are from Mohuva. We are known as the wadiwala family too. We had lots of wadi..
This is a very touching . The seva by Gulamhussein bhai and his wife is inspirational and shows their devotion towards our Imam. Thank you for sharing.
There is no match for our ISMAILI volunteers in this world.
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A beautiful story that pierces ones soul and places Din Vs Dunya in their correct perspective.
Gulamhusenbhai and Kulsambahen you make us proud! We love you and each one
of you in the Mahuva jamat. Mubarak! And to Salman, a very big thank you for sharing this piece. Alhamdullilah!!
We are all proud and pray for your long life.
These volunteers offering selfless services are an example to all of us, and motivate us to continue with this noble tradition of service to the Imam and the Jamat.
Remarkable voluntary services of Mr. Gulamhussainbhai Jamani. I remember my late Mom, Sakerkanu Bandali (Well known In Dar-re-Salaam, Tanzania as “MajorMaa”) of her long time voluntary services.
I pray for good health & long life of Mr. Jamani. AMEEN!
Beautiful. This is ultimate in voluntarism. May Mowla bless Gulamhussenbhai and Kulsmbahen with health and happiness.
A very touching and soul shaking story. Really, in this fast growing world, Gulamhusen saheb is a great example of serving time and caring about community. Hope and pray for him that Allah gives him a long fruitful life and he continues to serve his community. And that Allah may also sprinkle His blessings on us so that we also learn something from him. Thanks to the writer Salman for writing about Gulamhusen bhai and bringing to our attention a figure who is so much admired by everyone.
Thank you for sharing this remarkable service. Its an inspiration for every Ismaili who likes to contribute honorary and voluntary services. Truly it is an honur to have such a kind and noble volunteer in our tarika.
What a magnificent example for the worldwide Jamats, Mashallah! I feel we owe a debt of gratitude to the author. For me the example of the Jamatbhai comes through loudest – an asset, not a disability. The day that we lose this example would be a sunless day of despair, Nauzobillah.
Thank you! Salman for sharing wonderful story of Gulamhusen bhai. He is inspiration to many. He has served the jamat for years selflessly without expecting in return any recognition or award.
This is great example of honorary-voluntary service done by Gulamhussainbhai Jamani as per our Imam’s HIDAYAT (direction). Thank you Salman Bheriyani for providing information about Mr. Jamani to the global community.
Satish Andharia, Bhavnagar.