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Ismaili Society Bombay


It was established on February 16, 1946 in place of the Islamic Research Association, Bombay, under the patronage of Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah. Its founder President was Ali Muhammad R. Macklai (1894-1971). The Russian scholar W. Ivanow (1886-1970) played a major role in its establishment. The aim of the Ismaili Society was the promotion of independent and critical study of all matters relating with Ismailism.

Ismaili Scouts:

The modern scouting movement was started in the world for the purpose of training the youths in the essentials of good citizenship and it arose in 1908 after the appearance of the book, Scouting for Boys written by the then inspector general of cavatry in the British army, Lieut. General R.S.S. Baden-Powell (1857-1941). Thus, the scouting movements spread in Britain and very quickly to other countries. Chile was the first to take up scouting after Britain, and Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa were the first in the commonwealth, but by 1910, it had spread to Sweden, France, Norway, Mexico, Argentina and the United States. During the first world war (1914-1919), its movements almost spread in the major countries of the world. In 1920, the first international scout meeting, or the first world Jamboree was held in Olympia, London, which was attended by 8000 scouts from 34 countries. It was on this occasion that Sir Baden-Powell was acclaimed Chief Scout of the world by virtue of his unique position as the acknowledged founder of the movement. In the same year, the Girl Guides were also founded.

In the Prophet's military organization due important was given to the scouts (tali'ah), for it discharged some functions of great value for the army. The tali'ah meant a small unit of young soldiers (usbah), employed for reconnoting purpose, and we call it the scouts today. In the Arabian peninsula where there were no pathways, therefore it was imperative to acquire the services of dalis (scouts or guides). For armies their appointments were more imperative. The dalis were experts (khirrit), having knowledge of the roads (sanah) and short-cuts (tankib), so that the enemy could not know of the approaching steps of the opponents.

It was this group whom the Prophet sent in the battle of Badr to capture three of the water-carriers of the Meccan army that had reached the vicinity of Badr. It is also related that Malik b. Khalaf and his brother, Noman were among the tali'ah of the Prophet sent just before the battle of Uhud, and eventually both were killed while performing their duties. Waqidi (p. 217) writes that Hasmah al-Harith acted as the guide in the battle of Uhud. Thus, we see that from the first expedition till the last, a number of guides were employed by the Prophet, out of these 14 guides are mentioned by name. Waqidi (p. 574) further writes that the tali'ah of the Muslim force in the expedition of Hudaibia consisted of 20 cavalrymen under the command of Abbad b. Bishr. He was the same Abbad who led the tali'ah in the Khaibar expedition. In the expedition of Tabuk, Usayd b. Huzayr, the head of the tali'ah was asked to find out a watering-place for the Muslims. Among other functions are included to herald the victory of the Muslims. Another type of duties was composed of those persons who performed miscellaneous works during an armed conflict. For instance, Abu Layla and Abdullah b. Sallam were assigned the task of cutting a particular kind of date trees.

The tradition of the tali'ah or scouting among the Ismailis as one of the important institutions is continued. In 1915, the Kandi Mola Scout Troop, Bombay came into existence for the first time under the patronage of Wali Nanji Hooda and Kanji Mitha. The first Scout Master was Abdul Hussain Rutab Ali. In 1922, the scouts group raised in Hasanabad, Bombay, in 1923 at Khadak, Bombay, in 1930 at Andheri, Bombay, and in 1932 at Mahim, whose scout master was Mukhi Daud Haji Datoo. In 1927, The H.H. The Aga Khan's Central Free School Boys Scouts Troop existed in Bombay. The Fidai Boarding Scouts Troop was founded in 1931 and Prince Aly Khan Bombay Scouts Troop was formed in 1932. The activities of the scouts also influenced the other parts of India. It was founded in Hyderabad, Sind in 1926, one in Madras in 1932 and five in Karachi in 1932. By the end of 1935, the Scouts Troops of boys and girls were formed in other parts of India, where the Ismailis resided, and it was also existed in East African countries.

With the foundation of scout groups among the boys, the Girl Guides Co. also came into existence for the first time in Bombay in 1928 at Khadak, whose first Captain was Miss Sakina Ali Bhai Shamji. The Kandi Mola Girl Guides was formed in Bombay on January 19, 1930, whose Captain was Miss Khairunissa Varas Ismaili Virji Madhani. In Hasnabad, Bombay another Girl Guides Co. was founded in 1932, whose Captain was Miss N.D. Fazal Mahim. On April 1, 1933, the Girl Guides Co. was formed at Bandra, Bombay with the Captain Nurbanu Ali Muhammad Rangoonwala.

By: Ibrahim Machiwala