Monday, February 7, 2011

Legends-Ebrahim Bawani

The Bawani family is one of the renowned families of Jetpur. The Adamjees are also one of the main branches of the Bawani family. Both, Ahmed Ebrahim Bawani, father of Ebrahim, and Adamjee Haji Dawood were pioneers of industrialisation of Burma. Ahmed Bawani Violin Hosiery Works established near Rangoon in 1930 was the largest hosiery mill in Asia.
Ebrahim was born in 1926 in Rangoon. During the Second World War he migrated from Rangoon to Bombay and completed his education. With the creation of Pakistan, Ebrahim, with his brothers and uncle Lateef Bawani, migrated to Karachi. In 1948, they imported machinery and established Bawani Violin Textile Mills in Karachi. After that they purchased Talhar Sugar Mills from PIDC and within a short period of time, the Bawanis became one of the leading industrial groups of the country.

During the life time of Uncle Lateef, popularly known as 'Kaka Lateef', Ebrahim preferred to remain in the background and under the able guidance of the Kaka, gradually his character started to take shape. Eventually, he became one of the well-known Memons in the Muslim world. During the period 1954 to 1957 he was elected President of the then Pakistan Chamber of Commerce which, later on, amalgamated with three other business organisations to become Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Ebrahim was director of many companies but with rare excepfion he never accepted high position in any business Organisation. His first important assignment was founding and developing of Ayesha Bawani Academy on Shahrae Faisal, where two high schools for boys and girls were set up, and after six years a college was also set up in the same building. All these institutions, which cost the family several million rupees became renowned for their high standard of education. At the time of nationalisation in 1972 about 3,200 students were getting education in this Academy. In 1962, Maulvi Tamizuddin Khan, former Speaker of the Parliament, performed the opening ceremony of a similar Academy in Dacca. Some more schools were also started in East Pakistan due to the efforts of Kaka Bawani and Ebrahim played a key role in the establishment of Pakistan Memon Federation. Ebrahim worked on his dream child: establishment of a residential school some 80 miles away from Karachi. Having been impressed by the characterbuilding public schools of the Western world, he wanted to establish a residential school on the same pattern. A plot of land on the bank of River Indus was also acquired. The construction of the school then should have cost Rs. 2 million while the annual recurring expenses were estimated to be about Rs. 300,000. The school would have provided educational and residential facilities to 300 students. However, according to Mr. Ebrahim, his associates from the community did not support him as much as was expected.
Ebrahim became disappointed and gave up the idea for lack of co-operation. Disillusioned with the Memon community, he became more aloof from it and devoted his entire spare time, money and energy for the service of the whole Muslim millat and for the propagation of Islamic teaching. He made this his life mission. He remained mostly out of Pakistan in connection with his mission.

Ayesha Bawani Wakf was the most glorious achievement of Ebrahim Bawani which was established in 1962 by the Bawani family. Its activities spread in the entire Muslim and Christian world. It is providing aid, grants and scholarships. It is also known as a publishing Organisation of many religious books. Ebrahim did not believe in publication of traditional books and short cuts to heaven. He felt that to attract the modern, intellectual Muslims and non-Muslims towards Islam, it was necessary to converse with them in their own language and at their own intellectual level. He therefore, published books which would attract such persons towards serious study of Islam. Some of the books which became well-known include The Bible, The Quran and The Science by a French writer. The Wakf has reprinted more than a dozen editions of its English translation and distributed free copies world wide. One more important publication is The Gospel of Barnabas. Only two copies of the original Gospel remained in the world and the Wakf discovered one of these copies in the library of American Congress and printed more than 100,000 copies to distribute free of cost in the Western World. The third book is Jesus, A Prophet of Islam, by Muhammad Ataur Rahim.

During the last three decades Ayesha Bawani Wakf has published a total of 51 titles in English, Urdu, Gujrati and Sindhi languages. Nearly all books have seen more than one edition and some of them were published ten and twelve times. Hundreds of thousands of these books have been distributed free all over the world.

'Muslim News International' was one more example of the campaign carried on by this mujahid. He started this monthly magazine with the aim of providing news and views of the Muslim nations and peoples to the world.

The printing and publishing of the magazine was shifted to Karachi. The Government of Pakistan occasionally created problems which Ebrahim Bawani courageously faced, refusing co-operation. Ultimately, difficulties increased to such an extent that 'Muslim News International' ceased publication.

He was called a Mujahid because he actually went on the front lines of areas where Muslims were fighting for their independence, such as Kashmir, Philippines, and Palestine. He collected large amounts from the Arab Sheikhs to purchase arms and ammunitions required by the Muslim freedom fighters, it was on such a mission that he went to Kuala Lumpur, where he breathed his last in his hotel room. His body was brought to Karachi for burial.

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