Mukhi Rai Abajibhai Nathu Bhalwani was the Mukhi of Sanosara jamat in Saurashtra. He was a hakim by profession and treated the Ismailis free of charge. His wife Galabai (d. 1907) was also a dedicated social worker. Mukhi Rai Abajibhai died on February 10, 1956 and left behind four sons, in which Jaffer Ali Bhalwani was most prominent figure among the Ismailis.
Jaffer Ali Bhalwani was born on December 27, 1903 in the village of Sanosara in Saurashtra. He took his education upto 7th class in his village, and started working with his father. He was interested in the study of Ismaili literature since childhood.
He married in 1920 and moved to Bombay with the permission of his father. He first came in Ahmadabad, where Ghulam Hussain Basaria, the President of the Religious School offered him to join as a religion teacher for three months. He accepted it and the day before he took the charge, a certain Nur Muhammad Aliji Mona came from the village of Methan of Sidhpur district with a letter of Varas Memonji Dossan of Meta, the President of Dhandhar and Patanwada Division Council. It was addressed to Ghulam Hussain Basaria, insisting to provide one religion teacher with immediate effect for 100 students in the village of Methan. Ghulam Hussain Basaria changed his mind at once and showed it to Wazir Jaffer Ali Bhalwani with a request to go to Methan, where he was needed more than Ahmadabad. Wazir Jaffer Ali Bhalwani accepted the new offer and decided to go to Methan for three months.
He departed for Methan on March 21, 1922 with Nur Muhammad Aliji Mona and reached next day. He took charge of the religious school on March 23, 1922. It was the first phase of his religious career at the age of 19 years.
He rendered untiring services in Methan and when he completed his terms for three months, he asked to be released from his post, but his term was extend for three months, which he accepted. After the end of six months, he was once again requested to continue his services till new arrangement. In this way, he continued giving religious education to the students for two years.
In 1924, Imam Sultan Mohammed Shah made a historical visit of Sidhpur. Varas Memonji promised Jaffer Ali Bhalwani to give him a chance of Imam’s audience for his dedicated services. He prolonged his stay till Imam’s gracious visit. The Imam made an arrival in Sidhpur on February 14, 1924. Jaffer Ali Bhalwani was presented before the Imam with the 100 students. The Imam was given its report, who blessed him. Varas Memonji said to the Imam that Jaffer Ali Bhalwani was called from Ahmadabad for three months, and since no replacement could be arranged, he extended his term for two years, and now he would like to move from Methan. The Imam said, “This teacher will never go after closing the school. I pray that he will make more progress and earn respect.” Jaffer Ali Bhalwani heard the words of the Imam and assured to Varas Memonji that he would never leave until he would be asked to leave.
Jaffer Ali Bhalwani now took leading parts in other community works. He handled the correspondence of the Mukhi and Kamadia with other jamats. He continued his services in Methan for 12 years (1922 to 1934).
In 1934, Imam Sultan Mohammed Shah made a visit of Bombay, where he also went with other leaders. The jamat of Methan submitted a report to the Imam that Jaffer Ali Bhalwani had prepared two to four teachers in Methan like himself, and they also wanted to relieve him. The Imam blessed him and said, “You are talented in keeping the accounts. I transfer you in the Itmadi Department of Kathiawar. Your posting will be as a Provincial Kamadia instead of a teacher from today. You go to Junagadh and see Wazir Ghulam Hussain Kassim, where you work under his directions.”
He joined the Itmadi Department in Junagadh in 1934. Wazir Ghulam Hussain Kassim received a letter after few years from Bombay to depute a trained provincial Kamadia for Yeotmal for some time in place of Alijah Sunderji Versi, who was sick. He wrote a letter to Jaffer Ali Bhalwani, who was working in the district of Ahmadabad. When he received the letter, he first came to Junagadh and delivered his charge and reached Yeotmal on December 31, 1942.
Jaffer Ali Bhalwani heard that Alijah Sunderji Versi had expired one day before his arrival, he had to take charge of C.P. Brar district on January 1, 1943. He had to travel in the whole district from one village to another, where he delivered waez. He also arranged religious gatherings, about eight times in a year in eight different villages, – Akapuri, Anji, Saikheda, Kumbhari, Akolabazar, Siroli, Kwtha and Titavi.
During the occasion of Diamond jubilee, the report of his dedicated services was submitted to the Imam, who blessed him and appointed him also an ex-officio of Nagpur and Yeotmal Councils and also assigned him the works in the villages of Hyderabad, Deccan. He came to C.P. Brar in April, 1946 and made Vardha as his centre.
In appreciation of his valuable services, the Imam vested him the title of Huzur Mukhi in 1947, Alijah in 1948, Rai in 1949, Itmadi in 1950 and Wazir in 1951. It implies that he merited five titles in five years, which is a unique example.
In 1950, Imam Sultan Mohammed Shah visited Poona, where he declared an establishment of a Council in Hyderabad, Deccan with the President Itmadi Nur Muhammad Khan Bahadur Wazir Ahmad Alidina. Later on, Wazir Jaffer Ali Bhalwani was appointed as its ex-officio. He was also appointed the Joint Secretary of Birar Council on November 16, 1954, and the Imam blessed him for his appointment in a message of December 10, 1954. Prior to this, Imam Sultan Mohammed Shah made him the Vice President of C.P. Birar Council and ex-officio of Hyderabad State Council.
In 1955, the Religious Educational Central Board was founded in Hyderabad, Deccan, and Jaffer Ali Bhalwani was appointed its first President. He also played an important role to build the new Jamatkhana in Hyderabad, Deccan.
On January 17, 1955, he was given a special title of Honorary Missionary with the following message of the Imam from Aswan :-
My dear spiritual child,
In view of your longer and dedicated services, I confer upon you the title of Honorary Missionary. This honour is above all which I bestow upon you.
I give you my most loving blessing for your best present work.
Jaffer Ali Bhalwani was also a writer and compiled many books in Bombay, such as Ghulshan-e-Ilm (1963), Bhalwani Bhandor Part I (1963), Part II (1965), Part III (1968), Piyara Imam’ni Piyari Vatto (1968), Tip’e tip’e Sarovar Bhara’i (1969), Piro ane Sayedo Rachit Ginano (1981, 1982), Wazir Mukhi Alidina Kanji Ramji’nu Jivan Chalitr (1986), Varas Bhagat Kara Ruda (1986), etc.
Jaffer Ali Bhalwani was also a writer and compiled many books in Bombay, such as (1963), Part I (1963), Part II (1965), Part III (1968), (1968), (1969), (1981, 1982), (1986), (1986), etc.
Wazir Jaffer Ali Bhalwani expired on October 2, 1990 at the age of 87 years.