Juma Jan Muhammad was born possibly in 1850 in Bombay, where he got his early education. He was a leading leather merchant in Bombay and a commission agent. He was also an owner of a tannery at Dharavi. He extended his business as far as Europe and Burma.
Juma Jan Muhammad also waged war against the parents who were grinding their daughters in the millstone of illiteracy, and exerted in promoting education among the females, and took keen interest in the unity of the community. In 1897, he rendered valuable services during the outbreak of plague in Bombay. Mr. Kennedy, the Police Commissioner of Bombay wrote him a letter of appreciation for his outstanding services. In 1904, the British India appointed him J.P. (Justice of Peace).
Juma Jan Muhammad was one of the founder members of the Ismaili Council in Bombay since its existence on April 9, 1906. He also served as a Private Secretary of the Imam. He took a live interest in Kera, Kutchh Case and gave his services to the jamat for many years. Imam Sultan Mohammed Shah appointed him as a Kul Kamadia.
During the proceeding of the Haji Bibi Case in Bombay, the Bombay High Court had deputed a mission in Zanzibar in June, 1907 to record the witness of the eminent Ismailis. The mission was comprised of some lawyers and the Ismaili leaders, notably Juma Jan Muhammad, Haji Kamadia Nazar Ali, Mukhi Jamal Megji, Alibhai Bhaloo, Kamadia Bhimji, etc.
Juma Jan Muhammad was invested the title of Alijah, and died in Bombay in 1912.
His son Haji Muhammad Juma Merchant also became known as one of the devoted social workers in the community. Haji Muhammad Juma was born in 1894 at Bombay, where he acquired his formal education. He joined his father’s business soon after completing the education. He founded the Young Men’s Khoja Association when he was under graduate, and became its President in 1916. He also served as an Honorary Secretary of the Recreation Club Institute in 1922, and also its Vice-President in 1931 and an Acting President in 1933. In 1930, he founded the Ismailia Cooperative Bank Ltd., and became its founder President (1930-1939). The Bombay government appointed him an Honorary Organizer of Cooperative Society in 1932, and as its Advisor in 1934. He was the first Muslim in Bombay to get this honour.
Imam Sultan Mohammed Shah visited his home at Bandra, Bombay on January 10, 1934. The Imam graciously accepted his family’s mehmani and asked few questions while looking the photo of late Juma Jan Muhammad and blessed them. Sultan Ali, the elder son of Haji Muhammad Juma Jan Muhammad humbly presented an engraved photo to the Imam, which he had prepared with his own hands. On that occasion, the Imam presented a shawl to Haji Muhammad.
In appreciation of his meritorious services, the Bombay government awarded him the title of Khan Bahadhur in 1939 and J.P. at the end of 1939.
Juma Jan Muhammad was elected as Vice-President of Girgam Cooperative Institute in 1935. He was also elected in the “B” ward and entered into the Municipal Corporation, Bombay in 1935. He built a building with four floors that had the latest amenities like safe-deposit vault etc. Prince Aly Khan performed its opening ceremony in 1937. He was also appointed as a member of the Ismaili Council, Bombay where he served for 10 years. Imam Sultan Mohammed Shah granted him the title of Alijah in appreciation of his valuable services. During his retirement from the Council, he was given a warm reception, and his oil paint photo was unveiled in the building of the Ismailia Cooperative Bank Ltd., by the hand of Sir Fazal Ibrahim Rahimtullah. In 1946, Juma Jan Muhammad was appointed the member of the Economic Committee of the Diamond Jubilee Celebration Committee. The Imam awarded him a diamond ring with an engraving: “Best Blessings from Aga Khan”. In 1950, he was graced an audience of the Imam and Mata Salamat. He also travelled extensively in Europe, Egypt, Japan and Middle East both on business and pleasure trips with his wife.
Alijah Haji Muhammad Juma Merchant expired at the age of 60 years on January 10, 1955. On June 9, 1955, the family members erected “Merchant Free Reading & Library” in the hall of the Welfare Society, Bombay in loving memory of Alijah Haji Muhammad Juma Merchant. Its opening ceremony was performed during a function, presided by Alijah Habib Alibhai Walji. The speakers paid rich tributes to his outstanding services.