The honourable Chief Minister of the State of Gujarat, Shri Vijay Rupani called on His Holiness Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS, head of the Dawoodi Bohra community, at Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah Arabic Academy on Friday April the 13th in Surat. The Chief Minister visited the 200 year-old Academy to observe and participate in Aljamea’s imtihān shafahī (viva voce examinations).
Shri Rupani was cordially welcomed to the proceedings and seated in the ceremonial hall from where he observed the viva voce exams being conducted by the four rectors of Aljamea.
The viva voce is an integral element of the examination process at Aljamea. Students from years seven to eleven (secondary to post-graduate) appear before His Holiness and the four rectors, and are asked to recite excerpts from various literary texts. Rectors then pose questions to the students based upon the content of the excerpt, usually asking them to contextualise classical discourse with contemporary issues facing the community and humanity at large. The oral examinations at Aljamea are unique in that they are not exclusive to students and members of faculty but are open to the entire community. All members of society, regardless of their training in religious lore and literature, can benefit from the academic discourse and discussion that take place.
The excerpt under discussion when the Chief Minister arrived focused on the social responsibilities and character traits of an individual. Imam’s exhortation, ‘Draw people towards us with love, not hatred,’ was discussed. The power of a smile in making a positive mark on strangers as well as Imam Ali bin Abi Talib’s AS saying, ‘Do good unto those who have done you wrong’, were also dwelt upon.
Shri Rupani then addressed the gathering acknowledging first the distinctive educational philosophy at the 200 year-old Arabic academy, which nurtures both the spiritual as well as temporal spheres of a student’s life. He mentioned how the Dawoodi Bohra community has forged an identity for itself all over the world and commended the community’s resolve in safeguarding its tradition and customs. The Chief Minister praised the community’s honesty, loyalty and ability to contribute to society’s wherever they live, like ‘sugar in milk’. Gujarat, Shri Rupani mentioned, was a special place for the Dawoodi Bohra community, remarking that this was his second visit to Surat. The CM recounted his previous meetings with Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS and his respected father, the late Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA.
He also lauded His Holiness’ many efforts for environmental awareness such as the tree planting drive and cleanliness movement initiated by him the world over and especially in India. These efforts reflect the government’s own ‘Swachh Bharat’ (clean India) initiative. In this context, he mentioned the importance of saving water and how the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, has made this a very important issue for his government.
Chief Minister Rupani then met with His Holiness where Syedna and other community members praised the CM’s numerous initiatives for the state’s welfare and development. He thanked the CM for taking time out of his busy schedule to visit the Academy and address the thousands of individuals attending the Academy’s examinations. Syedna presented the Honorable Chief Minister with a few tokens of appreciation before they bid farewell and the CM departed from the campus.