About MSA Marhumeen

In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful


"Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return" (Sura 2: 156)

"It is one of the rights of a Muslim over another Muslim that he should visit his grave."
-Imam Ja'fer As-Sadiq (A.S.)


Visiting the graves of faithful believers brings about a great reward from the Almighty, as it gives lessons in religiousness and arouses the remembrance of the temporary nature of this world. When we lose those near and dear to us, we deal with this separation in different ways. Islam tells us that when it comes to the living and the dead, the living can still do things to improve the spriritual status of the dead during the barzakh, the purgatory.


It is recommended to visit the graves of the family members since, in words of the Sixth Imam (a.s.), “they recognize you [when you visit them] and feel lonely when you leave them.” Bibi Fatima (a.s.) used to visit the graves of Hazrat Hamza in Uhud on a weekly baiss. So to visit the graves of the marhumeen and reciting Surah al-Fatiha and Surah Qadr for them is a way of comforting them. However, you can also send them gifts of thawab by giving charity on their behalf to the poor and the needy.


In order to fulfill this tradition of our faith, it is important to know the graves of our family-members and, at the least, once in a while visit the graves to give them comfort on a spiritual level. 


History of our Mombasa Qabrastan

In the evolution of the Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Community, acquisition of grave yard or cemetery as a burial place has been of prime importance. Wherever they settled, members of the Khoja community have paid special attention to the acquisition of burial place before building a Mosque or Imambara. There is historical background to this outlook. When the Ithna-Asheri Khoja separated from the larger Khoja community in order to openly practice their faith as Shia Ithna-Asheri, they were denied right of burial in the ancestral Khoja cemetery.


Until then, all Khoja functioned as a united Khoja community with their tripartite set of beliefs overlapping with each other. Regardless of their leanings towards the Ismaili, Sunni or Ithna-Asheri sects, they would all be buried in the common Khoja cemetery.


In 1862 when the first group branched out to be known as Sunni Khoja and the second group followed suit, a decade later, to be known as Shia Ithna-Asheri Khoja, the separating groups were barred from being buried in the ancestral common cemetery.


In 1873, when a group of Ithna-Asheri Zuwwar visiting Karbala was persuading Mulla Qadir Husein to return with them to India to help provide spiritual guidance to the Community, Mulla Qadir Husein expressed his reservations on two counts.


Mulla Qadir Husein feared that if the larger Khoja community denied them permission to bury their dead in the ancestral Khoja cemetery, the enthusiastic group of Khoja wishing to openly practice the Shia Ithna-Asheri faith would succumb to such pressure and revert to the original combined Khoja community. To be denied right of burial in the ancestral communal cemetery was viewed as a stigma in those days.


The second question posed by Mulla Qadir Husein was: Who would they marry their children if the larger Khoja community would not permit their sons and daughters to marry their sons and daughter?


Even after the return of Mulla Qadir Husein to India in 1873, this question of burial kept recurring. Mulla Qadir Husein raised this question once more.


Khalfan Rattansi and Dewji Jamal pledged that if the larger Khoja community refused them burial in the ancestral Khoja cemetery, they undertook to transport corpses of such individuals to Karbala for permanent burial. Khalfan Rattansi pledged Rs.10,000/- (a large sum in those days ) for this purpose. In the meanwhile, Dewji Jamal also acquired a piece of land in Karbala as a burial ground.


There was concern that until such time when the corpses are transported to Karbala, where could they be interned even on a temporary basis. Mulla Qadir Husein obtained permission to this effect from the Trustees of the Irani cemetery.


Lalan Alidina was assassinated in Karachi in 1876. His remains were later transferred to Karbala for permanent burial. In the same year, in Mumbai, Killu Khataw had to be buried in the Iranian Cemetery.


Before the Zanzibar Jamat was established and the emerging Jamaat could acquire graveyard of its own, a child died in the family of Dewji Jamal died in 1880. Dewji Jamal recognized that as it happened earlier in Mumbai in 1876, when the daughter of Khalfan Rattansi and Killu Khataw were denied right of burial in the common Khoja cemetery, same fate would befall on him in Zanzibar. Following the death of the child in the family, overnight, Dewji Jamal bought a private garden/rest house located in the center of the Zanzibar Island. In keeping with the local Arab tradition, this private garden, known as ‘Bustani’ was then registered as a family burial place. This small burial place in Zanzibar has withstood the subsequent acquisition of the larger Muslim graveyards in Zanzibar for housing development projects.


With this background in mind, it will be easy to understand why members of the Khoja community have always given so much importance to the acquisition of a burial place.


The first Khoja Jamaat to be established in Africa was in Zanzibar in 1880, followed by Bagamayo in 1889. In Kenya, Lamu, then a major Port in Kenya, had a larger settlement of community members numbering around 250. The community population in Mombasa towards the turn fo the century was almost half that of Lamu. Mombasa acquired importance and the focus of trade and commerce shifted from Lamu to Mombasa after the commencement of the Railway line from Mombasa to Nairobi, Kisumu in 1901 and and the opening of the Kilindini Harbour.


As Mombasa Jamaat was growing, towards the end of the nineteenth century, the following plots of land were acquired on Mombasa Island that now form part of the spacious Mombasa cemetery.


Decedents of Dewji Jamal, Nazerali Dewji, Sheriff Dewji and Jaffer Dewji made waqf a piece of land in 1897 on which the present Qabrastan stands.


Jivraj Khataw, Dharamsi Khataw and Jivraj Meghji donated three pieces of land adjoining the above Qabrastan in 1901, 1902 and 1904.


All four pieces of land combined now constitute the current spacious Qabrastan in Mombasa.


In 1990 the Mombasa Jamaat embarked upon an exercise of numbering the graves and demarcated the Qabrastan in sections for easy reference and produced the first Directory of Marhumeen. We have endeavored to update our records and this website is an attempt to database all the marhumeen of the Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Jamaat of Mombasa. While we have strived to produce the website to the best of our abilities, and at times dealing with undocumented information, we realize errors are bound to occur. We sincerely apologize in advance for any inaccuracies, errors or omissions that you might come across. We would be grateful to be kept informed of them so that we can keep our database up-to-date. We are planning to produce a new Directory of Marhumeen once most of the data has been updated. We are therefore seeking the co-operation of the members of the Mombasa Jamaat and those who now reside overseas to please review the data of their marhumeen and kindly give their input so that we have the correct information 


If you notice any errors or omissions, please click here.


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