Juma Ismail or Juma Jan Muhammad traced his descent from a certain Ramal, who lived in the village of Buara in district Thatta, Sind and died in Jerruk. His son mostly dwelt in Kutchh and returned to Bhambor in Sind. The Kalhora rulers of Sind were his deadly enemies, therefore, the son of Ramal came in Karachi, assuming the name, Bambo. His son was Motiyo, who lived in district Badin. His son Allana, whose son Vali resided in Tando Bagho, Sind and looked after the shrine of Pir Tajuddin. Vali married to Jusafa and had two sons, Ismail and Ramzan. Ismail had three sons, Muhammad, Piru and Juma; and four daughters, Chhatal, Karamsi, Mama and Fatima. Ismail came in Karachi, where his son Juma or Juma Bhagat was born.
Juma Bhagat was born in the Lassi area of Karachi in 1868, where he acquired his early education. He learnt the ginans at the age of 12 years in the school built by Imam Aga Ali Shah in Karachi. His service career began since 1883 as a reciter of the ginans, and delivered waez for the first time in 1891.
He however resided for the most part in the locality of Musa Lane, near Kharadhar, Karachi in the Seth Kassimbhai Vali Khoja Ismaili Poor House. He also passed his life in Gwadar, Sind, Bombay, Burma and served in East Africa for 20 years.
Juma Bhagat was in Karachi when Imam Hasan Ali Shah passed away in Bombay. About 12 days before the death, Imam Ali Shah had been in Karachi and after three days, the Imam went to Bombay. During the short visit, Juma Bhagat was on the port during arrival and departure of the Imam.
Juma Bhagat was a small trader and made his business trip as far as Zanzibar. He extended his business also to Burma. During his stay in Africa, he continued to serve the jamat. He was well-versed in the ginans and he was also a talented missionary.
During the second visit of East Africa in 1905, Imam Sultan Mohammed Shah assigned Juma Bhagat for performing waez. The Imam also appointed six other persons to acquire waez training from him, namely Ghulam Hussain Jaffer, Fazal Muhammad, Hashim Visram, Abdullah Dhalla, Moledina Alarakhia, Megji Mehr Ali. He also founded the first Ismaili Mission Centre in East Africa in 1905. In one of the farmans, the Imam said, “Bhagat Jumabhai Ismail had rendered great and excellent services to my house. He had done hard work in Africa to establish the Mission Centre in 1905 and laid the foundation of the missionaries.” (Nairobi: 14/4/1945). In the speech in the Ismailia Mission Conference held in Dar-es-Salaam on July 20, 1945, Imam Sultan Mohammed Shah paid rich tribute to him that he was one of the great missionaries who rendered invaluable services to him. Juma Bhagat executed his services as a Chief Missionary in East African countries.
During the visit, the Imam emphasized upon the Council to open religious schools in African countries. The Khoja Imami Ismaili Schools were opened in Dar-es-Salaam, Zanzibar and Bagomoyo on November 9, 1905 with the grant of the Imam. Juma Bhagat was incharge of holding the examinations of the schools after every six months, whose report was sent to the Imam through the Councils.
In 1908, Juma Bhagat arrived in Bombay and took a leading part as a witness in Bombay High Court during the Haji Bibi Case. He surprised the court while producing old manuscripts of the ginans of some 343 years on August 5, 1908, and another dating 1576 A.D. His ancestors were the custodians of the shrine of Pir Tajuddin in Sind, and they inherited the oldest manuscripts of the ginans, which ultimately came into the possession of Juma Bhagat.
It is to be noted that Imam Sultan Mohammed Shah visited the room of the Panjibhai Club in Karachi on February 17, 1912. On that occasion, the Imam had a photograph with four eminent missionaries – Juma Bhagat, Hussaini Pir Muhammad of Karachi, Sharif Shivji of Kathiawar and Abdul Hussain Talib of Gwadar.
In September, 1924, Juma Bhagat visited Kenya and Uganda and delivered waez. During his stay at Nairobi, he dispelled the internal disputes of the jamat through his impressive waez. In 1925, Juma Bhagat was on African tour and delivered waez in different villages. He travelled from Uganda in the same year and went to Egypt and Sudan to see the Ismailis.
It may be recorded that Ghulam Hussain Varas Vali was the first title holder of Alijah in Karachi. His wife, Fatima (d. 1930) was the first Ismaili lady missionary in India among the women and the sister of Juma Bhagat. The daughter of Fatima was Rehmat, who married to Chief Missionary Hussaini Pir Muhammad in 1918.
His last tour of waez was in Junagadh between February 12, 1927 and July 23, 1927 and returned to Bombay on next day, and he virtually retired from the Recreation Club Institute, Bombay in 1933.
Juma Bhagat had visited East Africa again and founded a library inside the Jamatkhana of Nairobi in 1933. Prince Aly Khan visited the library on February 14, 1951, where Rai A.M. Sadruddin delivered a speech on the importance of the library and remembered Juma Bhagat as the founder of the library.
According to the report of the weekly “Ismaili” (Bombay, November 11, 1934, p. 11), the Piru Khalikdina Dispensary, Karachi was being run on the grant of the Imam, and missionary Juma Bhagat also provided them free medicines.
He passed his retired life in Sultanabad, Sind since 1933. He was suffering from diabetes and underwent an operation in Hyderabad, Sind. During the operation, he disallowed use of chloroform to the doctors.
Missionary Juma Bhagat died on January 31, 1935 at the age of 67 years. He left behind a son, Bandali. Nurullah Bhagat was the son of Bandali, who was a missionary in East Africa and died in Karachi.