Sajjadanashin: right and honour

The Right Honourable Syed Ameer Ali in his “Mahommedan Law,” Vol. 1, pages 443, 444, states:

Such superiors in India are called Sajjadanashins. (Sqjjada is the carpet on which prayers are offered). The Sajjadanashin is not only a Mutawalli but also a spiritual preceptor. He is the curator of the Dharga where his ancestor lies buried, and in him is supposed to continue the spiritual line (Silsila). These Dhargas are the tombs of celebrated dervishes, who, in their lifetime, were regarded as saints. Some of these men had established Khankahs where they lived, and their disciples congregated. Many of them never rose to the importance of a Khankah, and when they died their mausoleum become shrines or Dhargas. These dervishes professed esoteric doctrines and distinct systems of initiation. They were either Sufis or the disciples of Mian Roushan Bayezid, who flourished about the time of Akbar and who had founded an ‘ independent esoteric brotherhood,’ in which the chief occupied a peculiarly distinctive position. They called themselves Fakirs on the hypothesis that they had abjured the world, and were humble servitors, of God; but their followers were honoured with the title of Shah or king. Herklot gives a detailed account of the different brotherhoods and the rules of initiation in force among them. The preceptor is called the Pir–the disciple, the Murid. On the death of the Pir his successor assumes the privilege of initiating the disciples into the mysteries of Dervishism or Sufism. The relationship which exists between a Pir and his Murids, as I understand the theory and practice of Dervishim, was a spiritual and personal one.

Mulla in his Principles of “Mohomedan Law” (13th Edition) at page 204, after giving a similar description as that of Ameer AH proceeds to state:

The status of Sajjadanashin is higher than that of a mutawalli. He is the head of the institution and has a right to exercise supervision over the mutawalli’s management. But the Sajjadanashin may also be a mutawalli and in that case, with reference to the wakf property he is in no better position than a mutawalli. He has no power to borrow money for the purpose of carrying out the objects of the trust but he may like a mutawalli borrow money and incur debt, with the sanction of the Court, for the preservation of the wakf property. The Court may remove a Sajjadanashin for misconduct and when framing a scheme may separate the offices of Sajjadanashin and mutawalli

19. Tyabji in his “Muhammadan Law” (3rd Edition) at page 535 has the following instructive note on the pretensions of persons who seek to describe themselves as Sajjadanashins and about their removal:

Sahib-E Sajjada, Gaddinishin, are variants. See sections 11-B. 458 (7-A) n., Secretary of State v. Mohiuddin Ahmed I.L.R.(1900) Cal. 674, Piran v. Abdool Karim I.L.R.(1891) Cal. 203, Zoolekha Bi v. Syed Zunul Abedin (1904) 6 Bom. L.R. 1058, Munnavaru B. Section v. Mir Mahapalli I.L.R.(1918) Mad. 1033, Syed Sha Md. Kazitn v. Syed Abi Saghir I.L.R.(1931) Pat. 288. Removal of Sajjadanashin, ib. 347. Sajjada Shah v. Shaw Habit 53 Ind. Cas. 677, section 491. Illus. 3. (So called Sajjadanashin, without any disciples (680); ‘ceremonies to secure homage of ignorant Muslims of neighbourhood (679); judgment of Abdur Rahim, J., very instructive ; as report not easily available, full statement given ; grant in 1776 of two villages to holy man, Hazrat Khaja Rahmatulla for feeding poor ; eight other villages transferred for nominal price, to be dedicated for poor and mosque ; tomb of grantee (founder) gained considerable sanctity, so as to overshadow mosque. There could be little doubt that pious founder himself would have been much surprised at the way his original objects were getting transformed; no doubt main intention by endowment to maintain mosque built by founder, in efficient condition, as house of prayer, so that religion of Islam might spread. Extent to which original objects which Khaja Sahib had in view, obscured in sixties appeared from prominence acquired by performance of urs and fatihas at tomb as feature of institution’.’That, it is needless to point out, could not have been within the contemplation of the founder himself. When we come to more recent times, we find that the so-called sajjadanashin for the time being began to treat the wakf properties as if they were his private properties. Only some of the religious ceremonies were kept up, which no doubt served to secure the homage of the ignorant Muslims of the neighbourhood for the holder of the office and his family… The mismanagement and misappropriation became more and more flagrantcoming to a head…’ Consequently appellant’s removal directed by High Court ‘from the headship of the institution to which office the designation of sajjadanashin or rather sajjada was erroneously attached.’ The High Court sent down issues whether functions of sajjadanashin in any way of a spiritual nature and distinct from those of ordinary mutawalli and found that functions of the so-called sajjadanashin’s office were not of spiritual or religious nature in any sense and that they had no disciples and no doctrines of Sufism or anything else to teach. AH that they had to do was to conduct the annual urs and to offer fatihas at tombs and none of these could be said to be functions incapable of being performed by other Mohamadans. Cf. Mahomed Oosman v. Essacq ILR (1938) Bom. 184 Rahim, J., concludes: ‘Wholly superfluous to retain the office of the so called sajjadanashin in addition to that of of a trustee or mutawalli. The term sajjadanashin is an absolute misnomer in connection with this institution, though this is not the only instance in which I have found the word wholly misapplied in this presidency; see for instance Dost Muhammmad Khan v. Nazir Ali Sahib 42 Ind.Cas. 474. The attempt made by the defendant who has been guilty of every conceivable act of mismanagement in connection with the trust, to bolster up his position on the strength of the designation of sajjadanashin is utterly wanting in bona fides. His evidence in support of his pretensions is transparently false.

20. Babu Ram Verma in his “Mahomedan Law” (Second Edition) at pages 469 to 471, states:

The head of a Khangah is known as Sajjadanashin (literally meaning, a person who sits on the Sajjada or prayermat) : AIR 1938 202 (Privy Council) ” Shah Najihuddin Ahmad Vs. Amir Hasan Khan and Others, “. The first Sajjadanashin is generally the founder and after his death the spiritual line is continued by the succession of Sajjadanashins by virtue of the directions of the founder or by a valid custom and in some places by election Batuk Prasad Singh Vs. Ambica Prasad Singh, Ghulam Rasul v. Qutabuddin AIR 1942 Lah.142, Ghulam Muhammad v. Abdul Rashid AIR 1933 Lah. 905, Ali Shah v. Fateh Muhammad AIR 1935 Lah. 657, Ismailmiya v. Wahdani I.L.R.(1911) 36 Bom. 308 Ali Muhammad v. Ali Akbar AIR 1924 L. 382 and AIR 1938 202 (Privy Council) . Where practice shows a rule of nomination by the incumbent of his successor, succession by the law of primogeniture is not presumed solely from the fact that the previous Sajjadanashin were usually the eldest sons: Muhammad v. Muhammad Hamid 38 Ind. Cas. 387. A person does not become a Sajjadanashin by earning a livelihood from offerings at a tomb by Pir Muridi : Zinnat Bivi v. Emna 40 Ind. Cas. 240. A Court should, in appointing a Sajjadanashin, take account of the spiritual tradition and appoint, if possible a descendant of the founder : Shah Najihuddin Ahmad Vs. Amir Hasan Khan and Others, . The Sajjadanashin and the Ahadims (Servitors) of a Dharga may be entitled to share in the offerings made at the tomb. The right to offerings cannot be so transferred by a Sajjadanashin as to bind his successors. The right is attached to his office and can last only as long as he holds the office : AIR 1938 71 (Privy Council) .

21. Fyzee in his “Outlines of Mahomedan Law” 2nd Edn., at page 276, states:

The religious head of a khanMah is called a Sajjadanashin (literally, one who sits at the head of prayer-carpet). He is essentially a spiritual preceptor; he may – and generally is – the mutawalli of wakf property, thus, the secular office of a mutawalli must be distinguished from the spiritual status of Sajjadanashin.

The special feature of the office of a Sajjadanashin is that the original founder has the right to nominate his successor, who, in turn, enjoys the same right. Thus a chain of preceptors (called a silsila comes into being, and the followers, known as murids pay homage not only to the founder butalso to the whole line, including the present link, called Pir murshid. Theoretically the most illustrious disciple is to be installed as heir-apparent, but, according to custom, in the majority of cases the office becomes hereditary. In one case the Sajjadanashin was found to be so worthless that he was removed from the mutawalliship, but was allowed to retain the spiritual office (Sajjadanashin) which was considered to be hereditary.” see Syed Shah Muhammad Kazim v. Syed Abi Saghir I.L.R.(1931) Pat. 288 ; Ghulam Mohammad v. Abdul Rashid I.L.R.(1933) Lah. 558 and Mohamed Oosman v. Essaq Salemahomed ILR (1938) Bom. 184.

22. Saksena in his “Muslim Law as Administered in India and Pakistan” (Third Edition) defines the rights and powers of a Sajjadanashin, at page 545, as follow:

A person may hold both the offices of a mutawalli and a Sajjadanashin, but the Court in framing the scheme u/s 92 of the CPC may separate the two offices. He should give all facilities to the devotees to peform their spiritual rites at the shrine at all reasonable hours. An new Sajjadanashin cannot be appointed by the Court, nor can he be ordered to furnish accounts. An injunction cannot be issued restraining him from alienating the property. He has full power of disposition over the income of the waqf property, unless he spends money in Wicked living or on objects alien to his office. But it does not mean that the whole usufruct of a hhankah is at his disposal. The costs of religious ceremonies, etc., must be defrayed first. At some shrines, the members of the founder’s family also, other than the Sajjadanashin, can share the surplus offerings which remain after payment of expenses. It is the duty of a Sajjadanashin to maintain accounts to show that he was rightly and properly spending money of the way/property upon expenses in connection with the object of the waqf. It is the duty of the Sajjadanashin to apply the income of the waqf properties for the purposes of endowment. He has ordinarily full powers of disposition over anysurplus income. In the exercise of that power he may, and no doubt it is very desirable thathc should, provide for the needs of indigent members of the family. It may even be said that he is under amoral obligation to do so. But legally the disposition of the money is in his hands, subject to the terms of grants under which the property is held and to any proved custom of the institution. Mohammed Noor, J., of the Patna High Court has held that provision for a Sajjadanashin is not a provision for the man but for the institution. A khankah cannot exist and continue without a Sajjadanashin. In other systems, the personal expenditure of the head of such an institution has been curtailed to almost nothing by enjoining celibacy, as for instance, in the case of Christian monasteries or Hindu mutts or sangats. But Islam prohibits celibacy, and a saint with family is the rule rather than an exception. In these circumstances, devotees and adherents of hhankahs have always made provisions for maintenance of the Sajjadanashin and his family, so that he may devote all his time to imparting religious and spiritual instructions to his disciples and be free from secular cares. A Sajjadanashin is an integral part of the institution and the central figure so to speak therein. Its existence depends on his personality.. In him is supposed to continue the spiritual line. Therefore, provision for his maintenance and that of his descendants is a provision for him as the head of the institution. It is a trust and not a personal grant. “Khawja Muhammad v. Hamid A.I,R, 1928 Lah. 778; Vidya Varuthi v. Baluswam (1922) 41 M.L.J. 346 : ILR Mad. 831 : 48 I.A. 302 : AIR 1922 P.C. 123 ; AIR 1922 384 (Privy Council) ; Zooleka Bibi v. Abdein 6 Bom. L.R. 1058 ; Saiyad Jaffar El Edroos Vs. Saiyad Mahomed El Edroos, .