MOLUBHAI - MAN WITH A GOLDEN HEART By Hassan Ali M. Jaffer
Death Date: January 17, 1929
For long it has been a tradition among Muslims for people to make donations or bequeath one of their properties in their life time and create a Waqf or a Trust for a charitable cause. This has been in response to the Prophetic injunction of leaving behind “Sadaqatun Jaariya” that would help to perpetuate ensuing ‘thawaab’ for the donor even after his death. During the past one and a quarter century, it is this spirit that has sustained the development and growth of our Communite everywhere.
Of late, this spirit of creating Waqf and bequeathing one’s property to the Jamaat for charitable purposes has acquired a new dimension with a healthy and pragmatic approach. With escalating market prices of real estate and the ever increasing maintenance and management costs, donors find it more prudent and economical to vest the management of private Trusts and Waqf to the centralized management of the local Jamaats. The Trust Boards of the respective Jamaats then manage such endowments. Thus the progeny of the donors are not burdened with the hassle of perpetual management. There is also growing realization that under changing political circumstances, during the past few decades several Trusts and Waqf properties held and managed privately by individuals or families have at times ended up being lost because of neglect, State acquisition or nationalization. There are also instances where long after the demise of the original donors, a number of Trust and Waqf have been quashed or set aside on legal technicalities as a result of family disputes. Where Trusts are vested in Jamaats, they have survived the vagaries of time and the accruing benefits enshrined in the original bequeath perpetuated.
Man with A Golden Heart
What is given in the way of Allah and what is accepted by Allah in His Grace, is sustained. It is also blessed with increasing ‘barakah’. One such glowing example is that of the Molubhai Trust in Mombasa. Around 1920’s, there lived in Mombasa an elderly person by the name of Molubhai Remtulla. His wife had passed away some years earlier and Molubhai lived with his only child - a daughter who was not married. Molubhai owned a piece of land located at what was then known as Salim Road, opposite ‘Mackinon Market’. On that piece of land was a small Swahili type cottage. In 1927, Molubhai came over to see Haji Abdulla Kanji, Haji Kassamali Jivraj and other elders of the Community with an offer to bequeath his only property to the Jamaat for its income to be utilized for making tea as Nyaz after Thursday night Majalis.
The elders of the Community explained to Molubhai that while they appreciated this noble gesture, it was felt that since he owned only one property and had an unmarried daughter also, it would not be appropriate for him to give away his only property in charity thereby depriving the surviving daughter of any inheritance. As fate would have it, the only child of Molubhai passed away within a year. Molubhai once again called upon the leaders of the Jamaat to repeat his offer. This time round, elders of the Jamaat had no choice but to accept the offer. In a hand written note in Gujarati on a small piece of paper, the life long saving of Molubhai was bequeathed to the Jamaat. Thus the ‘Molubhai Trust’ came into being. With the death of his daughter, Molubhai was left alone. He had no other relations in Mombasa. With advancing age, approaching 70, Molubhai moved to a small room near the Huseini Mosque, off Ndia Kuu Road, Mombasa.
Barakah of 'Sawabe Jaari'
In 1929, Molubhai passed away and is buried in the Mombasa Cemetery. His grave bears a tombstone written in Gujarati which shows the date of his death as 17th January, 1929.It is stated that in the early days the property fetched a monthly rental of Sh. 10/- which was later increased to Shs. 30/- per month. In 1956 the rental income was Shs. 75/- per month.
Late Rajabali Suleman Khakoo, a Trustee of the Jamaat would send Mulla Anverali Valimohamed to collect rent from the tenant. Thereafter the rent was increased to Shs.300/- per month. Haji Ramazan Karim Haji Hirji, Jamat accountant, would personally go over to collect the rent every month. In 1974, Shell Company showed interest in the property. They wanted to acquire a portion of the land for the expansion of the Petrol Station which stands opposite the Mackinon Market. Haji Mohamedhusein Gulamhusein, then Chairman of the Mombasa Jamaat assisted by Haji Mohamedraza Abdulla Kanji, a Trustee of the Jamaat negotiated a five year lease with Shell Company at the rate of Shs.1,500/- per month i.e. Shs.18,000/- per annum plus a lump sum gratuity of Shs.150,000/- Trustees of the Jamaat further negotiated with Shell Company to pay the five years rental in advance. Accordingly shell paid out KShs.90,000/ as five years rental in advance. To this amount, the Jamaat Trust Board added an amount of Sh.45,000/- as loan front other Trust Accounts and invested the total amount in a property which was leased out at a monthly rental of Shs.1,600/- The income derived being proportionately credited to the respective Trust Accounts based on the respective capital amount invested.
After the lapse of 5 years lease with the Shell Company, revised lease was negotiated for Shs. 5,000/- per month. After sub dividing and leasing a portion of the plot to Shell Company, there still remained a part of the plot fronting the main road which was lying dormant. The Trust Board of the Jamaat resolved to borrow money from other Trusts and at a total cost of Shs.2,887,349/- built a property on that small piece of land which was then leased out at a monthly rental of Shs. 30,000/=. As some one described it, this “wafer thin” double storey edifice stands on one of the main Mombasa thoroughfares and is a living tribute to the foresight, vision and administration of the Jamaat.
Initially, the rent received was being used to repay the loan obtained from the Trust Board. After the outstanding loans plus the proportionate income derived had been fully repaid, the building reverted fully to the ‘Molubhai Trust’, which now earns a monthly rental of Shs.30,000/- The market value of the real estate is now estimated at around 4.5 million Kenya Shillings. An interesting aspect of this Trust is that today Molubhai has no child or relation in Mombasa and to the best of our knowledge, any where else. Yet the property that was entrusted to Jamaat over 75 years ago continues to survive. Its capital value and the ensuing income continue to increase for utilization in the cause for which the property was bequeathed. This is a fine example of what “barakah” is. What is given in the way of Allah and is accepted by Allah survives. The ensuing benefit of “sawabe jaari” (perpetual benefit) for the marhum continues unabated. Such are the divine ways.
Article By: Hassan Ali M Jaffer.
Reproduced from: The ‘Mombasa Jamaat Chronicle’ Vol.3. Issue No.1.
Date: April, 18, 2003