His Holiness Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin
Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University
Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University
Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), a celebrated seat of learning, has been associated with the leadership of the Dawoodi Bohra community for nearly 70 years. Both the 51st and 52nd al-Dai al-Mutlaqs and leaders of the Dawoodi Bohra community, His Holiness Dr Syedna Taher Saifuddin and His Holiness Dr Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, have held the esteemed position of Chancellor from 1953 to 1965 and 1999-2002 respectively. Today, the Honourable Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University is the 53rd al-Dai al-Mutlaq, His Holiness Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin. His Holiness is currently in his second term as Chancellor, first elected to the position in April 2015 and then once again — unanimously — in December 2018.
His Holiness Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin is the second son of the 52nd al-Dai al-Mutlaq, His Holiness Dr Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, whom he succeeded as head of the one-million-strong global Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community in 2014. From a young age, he was personally tutored by both his grandfather and father and appeared for the examinations of the historic Dawoodi Bohra educational institute Aljamea-tus Saifiyah in Surat where he graduated with the highest honours. He completed his undergraduate education in India and Egypt where he had a custom-tailored study programme that involved distinguished professors and Muslim scholars from Cairo's leading universities including the historic Al-Azhar University and Cairo University.
His Holiness is a prolific writer and has authored an annual treatise over the last five years. He has also composed scores of poems in Arabic, Urdu and the community’s vernacular, Lisan al-Dawat. During his first visit to AMU as Chancellor on the occasion of the 63rd Annual Convocation in February 2016, he composed a poem to commemorate the event based on the Quranic verse which is also AMU’s motto, ‘He taught man that which he knew not’.
His Holiness has led a number of significant cultural, social and economic initiatives. In Historic Cairo, he was responsible for the restoration of a number of thousand year-old Islamic monuments from the Fatimid period. In Yemen, he has spearheaded several campaigns to improve socio-economic conditions of the inhabitants of the Haraaz region, introducing sustainable agricultural systems, improving local infrastructure and providing equal access to education for young girls and boys. Syedna Saifuddin has been instrumental in ridding the region of the narcotic plant Qat (Catha edulis) which had stifled its economic growth for decades.
A number of global programs overseen by His Holiness such as the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Project in Bhendi Bazaar, Turning the Tide, Project Rise and the FMB Community Kitchen work towards eradicating hunger, reducing food waste, protecting the environment and raising standards of living for society’s least fortunate. Syedna has equally emphasized the importance of spirituality and the development of honourable character and virtues alongside his numerous efforts for the material and temporal improvement of society. Leading by example, throughout his life, Syedna has stressed the importance of kindness, compassion and empathy.
In recognition of his contributions to society, His Holiness has been honoured with a number of accolades, awards and official proclamations. Since his ascension to the community leadership in 2014, Syedna has featured annually in the The 500 Most Influential Muslims list published by Jordan’s Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre. In 2015, the University of Karachi conferred upon His Holiness the degree of D.Litt, honoris causa. During his first visit to the United States as community leader in 2015, a number of proclamations and resolutions were made in honour of His Holiness by local and state governments and, in 2018, a citation was read in celebration of Syedna’s contributions to society in the US House of Representatives at the US Capitol.
Alongwith South Asia, Syedna enjoys a prominent standing in East Africa and the countries of the Indian ocean where he is received as a State Guest. The President of Madagascar presented Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin with the National Order of Grand-Croix de Deuxième Classe in 2014, and President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya presented him with The Elder of the Order of the Golden Heart in 2017. Syedna has received the keys to several cities, including Houston, USA, and Moshi, Tanzania, in 2015; Karachi, Pakistan, in 2017; and Colombo, Sri Lanka, in 2019.
During his visit to the campus, the Chancellor offered the following words of counsel and prayer for AMU’s students, faculty and alumni:
Meeting one another, forging mutual relationships, and being selfless and devoted to the betterment of others are key teachings of Islam, and it is towards these means of fostering unity that all faiths of the world truly call… I beseech Allah, the Almighty, and pray that He may raise this university to the highest of ranks. May He continue to inspire its professors, students and all those men and women who serve it with dedication, and protect them from all hardships and misfortunes. And from the precincts of this university, may the message of peace and goodwill not only continue to reverberate across India, but spread all over the world; and may the banner of unity and fraternity continue to be raised all throughout.