Daya Walji Family & Suleman Daya
Daya Walji Family History
The history of the Daya Walji family, traced from the few available archives and from verbal narrations by his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren dates back to the 1900s. Marhum Daya bhai Walji, one of the oldest pioneers and pillars of the community and his son Marhum Murrabi Suleman bhai Daya arrived in Tanzania when the son was very young. Suleman bhai was in business with his father and while being involved in a prospering family business, Suleman bhai gave voluntary services to Dar es Salaam Jamaat by serving as secretary and trustee for some years during which he physically, whole-heartedly and financially struggled for the betterment of the Jamaat. His tireless efforts and financial contribution led to the success of the Jamaat in many spheres.
In 1936, Suleman Daya was a member of the committee that was appointed to draft the constitution of the Jamaat and he also served as Secretary of the Indian School and was the Chairman of the Indian Education Board for a number of years. He also served on the management committee of the Indian Association for many years.
Suleman Daya was a strong believer in educating future generations. He donated to the Jamaat prime real estate during his life including the plot across the Aga Khan Hospital where the rental income once financed an annual meal at the mosque. This plot and the adjacent plot were subsequently donated by his descendants to Dar es Salaam Jamaat for education purpose. This is where the Al Muntazir Boys Primary School now stands. Up to the fourth generation of the Marhum Daya Walji family lived in a house on this Sea View plot.
In 1937, both Daya Walji and Suleman Daya donated a building described by archives as ‘magnificent’ to be used as a Madressah. This is well known as the Daya Walji Madressah where Husseini Madressah conducted its classes. In addition to the Madressah building, they donated the adjoining two-storey flats to generate rental income to finance the administrative and operating costs of the Madressah.
The Jamaat gave a miniature engraved treasure chest to Daya Walji as a token of appreciation. This is presently with his great grandson Munir Daya.
The construction of the proposed Madressah began at a slow pace. It is reported that, to expedite work, Daya Walji started a hunger strike that led to a quick implementation of the project. Daya bhai passed away and was buried in Dar es Salaam in 1950 while his son Suleman passed away when on a Ziyarat trip on 21st June, 1945 (15th Rajab, 1364) and was buried in Jamnagar.
The surviving fourth generation of family members of the Daya Walji family today are Yakub Suleman, Hussein and Inayat Daya, Sakina Virjee, Shafiq, Mustafa and Fauzia Kara, Fatma Sumar, Zakiya Jivraj, Shabnam Dhalla, Ali, Raza, Mohsin and Hasnain Virjee, Mehboob and Iqbal Rattansi, Shamim Asaria, Shenaz Manji, Shabnees Ally, Shiraz and Naushad Suleman, Munir Daya and Shagufta Damji (their parents were the children of Suleman Daya).
Among the earliest teachers of the Daya Walji Madressah were Mulla Gulamhussein, Manji Dhirani (father of Marhum Mohamed Dhirani), Maulvi Alimohamed Jaffer Dewji, Alihussein Munshi, Murad Kanji and Mohamedali Ratansi formerly of Tanga. Teachers Alihussein Munshi and his wife lived in the rear portion of the Madressah building.
During the 1960s, the rear portion of the Madressah was occupied by Maulana Aqa Haider Saheb. In the 1980s, it was used as the Principal’s office of the newly established Al Muntazir School which started in this building. In the evenings it served as the office of the Principal of Husseini Society later renamed Husseini Madressah.
During the Presidency of Marhum Nurmohamed Nasser (1952-60), Dar es Salaam Jamaat had a small office room located in Kanji Damani Trust Building opposite the mosque. This room was then allocated for use by Mukhi Gulamhusein Manek who helped members of the Jamaat in complying with new statutory requirements for registration of Tanzanian citizenship. The Jamaat office was moved to the Daya Walji Madressah building and occupied almost half of the Madressah building while the other half continued to be used as a Madressah for boys.
In the 1960s, Allama Sayyid Saeed Akhtar Rizvi was in charge of the overall Madressah classes which were held in three different premises: for boys, at Daya Walji building, girls and younger boys at the now Ebrahim Haji Dispensary premises and the building opposite the dispensary (known as Esmail Alibhai Trust Building - which later housed the Jamat office. The Union Nursery also had its first classes at this premises.
The earlier Daya Walji Madressah teachers were Maalim Rajab Ali Hassanali, Zainab bai A.K. Shivji, Masumabai Versi and Mulyani Fatmabai (Mrs. Hussein Mohamed Walji) who also taught the Qur’an at home. Qur’an teachers who taught at home in earlier days included two sisters Fatmabai Premji and Khairunbai Haji. When the Dar es Salaam Jamaat opened a Madressah branch in Upanga in the 1970s, the Qur’an teacher was Kassamali Abdulla, formerly of Zanzibar.
When Sayyid Allama S Akhtar Rizvi was in charge, the Madressah was held every afternoon. He followed the syllabus prepared by the Supreme Council. The students sat for common central examinations prepared by the Africa Federation. Apart from afternoon Madressah, the Husseini Society provided training for boys in Namaaz and Dinyat during Maghribain. Boys therefore had two religious classes to attend daily.
In the 1960s, the government introduced once a week religious classes in primary and secondary Schools. Allama Rizvi prepared Dinyat books in English - called “Elements of Islamic Studies' ' to be used at schools. The books gradually replaced the former Gujarati Dinyat books by Marhum Mohammedjaffer Sheriff Dewji, parts 1-3 which were common in all our madaris in the 1950s.
During the 1970s, the number of students attending the Daya Walji Madressah diminished as Qur’an teaching was done at homes. The boys also attended the Husseini Society in the evenings so the usage of Daya Walji Madressah was only for senior classes called Section A and B. The remaining Husseini Society boys occupied the two Imambaras. The Tabligh Subcommittee of the Jamaat, under the chairmanship of Roshanali Fazal came up with a proposal to add three floors to the Daya Walji Madressah building and move the Husseini Society classes from the two Imambaras to the Madressah building. The new 3 storey Madressah building was opened in 1980 by the then AFED Chairman, Marhum Abdulrasul Lakha. The Husseini Society operated from this new building six days a week, and on Sundays at the Imambara where namaaz sessions were held.
The reconstruction of the Haji Daya Walji Madressah from a ground floor structure to a four-storey Tabligh Center was done when Marhum Mohamed Dhirani was the President of Dar es Salaam Jamaat. Thus, the land on which the Daya Walji Madressah was first built by the Daya Walji family continues to serve the purpose that the family had defined and the new building also continues to generate finances from tenants renting the ground floor.
- Let us remember the Marhumeen of Daya Walji family, the Madressah teachers who are no longer amongst us and all the Marhumeen with Sura Al Fateha.
Source: With contributions from Mustafa Pirmohamed, Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi (Toronto), Gulamabbas Walji (Dar es Salaam), Mustafa Fazal (Dar es Salaam), Mohamed Khalfan (Dar es Salaam) and Munir Hassanali Suleman Daya (Dar es Salaam), and the Africa Federation Trade Directory published in Gujarati in Arusha on 30th December, 1960.
ARCHIVES SECTION OF THE AFRICA FEDERATION
15th October 2021 / 8th Rabiul Awwal 1443 A.H