Wa laa tazero Waazeratun Wizra Ukhraa: And no Bearer shall bear another’s Burden

  A Research Paper on Alavi Bohra Language : Lisaan ud-Da'wat il-'Alaviyah

Alavi Bohras read, write and speak an Arabicized form (blended with Arabic vocabulary) of Gujarati language, called Lisaan ud-Da'wat il-'Alaviyah i.e. the language of the mission, which is an amalgamation of Arabic, Urdu and Persian words and written in Arabic script. All the Da'wat correspondence, orders and documentary affairs are exclusively carried out in Lisaan ud-Da'wat il-'Alaviyah and the sectarian education system is completely based on it.  Religious discourses and congregational lectures during the prayers are held in it.  The language of Allaah, His angels, His Prophets and His book is Arabic, so is the language of Da’wat.  The missionaries who came to India (Gujarat) from Egypt and Yemen to promulgate and preach Isma’ili faith, mainly during the reign of the 18th Faatemi imaam, Mustansir billah (as) (427-487 AH/1036-1094 AD), spoke Arabic language as it was their mother tongue.

The first rank of preachers (wulaat) in Indiawere Ahmad, Abdullaah and Nooruddin who learnt local language (Sanskrit) and blended it with Arabic to make people understand their message and mission.  Hence Sanskrit was blended with Arabic.  This language then remained unchanged until the beginning of Muslim rule in India, when it got influenced with Persian and Urdu.  Gradually the Arabic-Sanskrit language underwent drastic transformation with the addition of Persian and Urdu terms and it resulted in the birth of a new language exclusively spoken by the Bohras –Lisaan ud-Da'wat il-'AlaviyahThis language got changed into Gujarati syntax but retaining majority of Arabic terminology along with the writing pattern.  Thus like Arabic, Lisaan ud-Da'wat is written from right to left and it is the sum-up of variety of idioms-phrases and multiple dialects which makes it distinctive and comprehensive.   Alavi Bohras residing globally speak this only language and its birth place which is now the centre of Da’wat; Vadodara places a pivotal role to make everyone adhere to their roots i.e. their mother tongue.  Every Alavi has to come to Vadodara to fulfill his religious as well as social obligations by keeping Lisaan ud-Da'wat il-'Alaviyah alive in his heart and tongue.

Being Faatimi, Alavi Bohras use Hijri Lunar calendar which was established and published during the Faatimid rule in Egypt in the second half of 4th century AH/10th century AD.  Before that the Imaam used to announce months and festivals verbally among his followers.  The system of calculating months and days began right from the first prophet of Islaam, Aadam (as) and that knowledge continued from one prophet to another till the last prophet of Islaam, Mohammad ul-Mustafaa (saws) who came with the final message which also included how to calculate months and days.  This thing got transferred from tongue to chest into the holy Faatimi Imaams.   Imaam is like a moon, so seeing the glowing (nooraani) face of Imaam and obeying his order for the commencement of a new month is like moon-sighting.   The Alavi calendar has fixed number of days of each month based on the Lunar leap year (kabeesah) formula.  An Alavi year has 355 days and in every 30 years 11 extra days are added i.e. in the span of 30 years; an extra day is added 11 times in different years in the last month of Zul Hijjah making it 30 days, which has usually 29 days.  All odd months have 30 days and all even months have 29 days.  Therefore accordingly, the month of Ramazaan being an odd month always consists of 30 days. Da'i has strict control on printing of this calendar as the details of all important dates are noted in it with the timings of daily prayers.  A single type of calendar is printed and is distributed in the whole community. 

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