The Dawoodi Bohras first moved to Chicago in the 1950s when a handful of young, aspiring men and women came to study here.
The Bohra community of Chicago – or Anjuman-e-Saifee Chicago, as we call it – was formally constituted in the early 1970s.
Since then, we have grown into a vibrant community of over 1,000 members, including over 200 children, many of whom are third-generation immigrants.
We represent an important part of the American story. We are entrepreneurs and professionals, academicians and physicians, lawyers and government employees. In all that we do, we mirror the qualities that make Bohras stand out globally – we are peace-loving, law-abiding, and industrious, and place a high value on education and community service. These core values are exemplified in the Bohra’s leader, His Holiness Dr. Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, who sets a high standard of behavior for us to emulate. We revere him for his compassion, his benevolence, and his humanity, and we look to him for guidance in all aspects of our lives.
Bohras in Chicagoland are professionals in the field of medicine including doctors, chiropractors, heart specialists, neurosurgeons, and eye specialists. Many have flourishing businesses in the construction and hardware industry, supply to federal and state governments, IT firms, and real estate management. Community members are also thriving in smaller niche markets such as photography, engraving services, and printing and advertising products.
We believe that society as a whole benefits when we all come together. The members of Anjuman-e-Saifee have succeeded on multiple fronts by making that premise their guiding principle.
The Burhani Park Complex is the nerve center of the community. Here, members gather regularly for religious and social events (on average, about 120 events per year), children attend classes to study the Quran, and volunteers plan and carry out community services and administrative tasks that include the upkeep of the facility. Burhani Park is located in a religious enclave of sorts in Willowbrook, Illinois—the Buddhist center, the Macedonian Church, and MECCA are all adjacent.
Interest-Free Loans (Qardan Hasana Scheme) Islamic finance is based on interest-free loans. Community members contribute funds to the Qardan Hasana Scheme which then funds business undertakings, house purchases, and graduate and undergraduate students.
Community Outreach The Chicagoland community often hosts community outreach evenings. The events are well-attended by state and federal officials and consular staff from countries that community members have ties to. Anjuman-e-Saifee is recognized for its outstanding hospitality and delicious dinners!
Celebrations Other major celebrations include the July 4th barbeque, the annual funfair, the Eid raffle, and the women’s prayer meet celebrating the Prophet Mohammed’s daughter Maulatona Fatema, along with lunch and a craft fair.
- Caring for Elders: The community has a strong tradition of caring for its elderly. Recently, at the behest of His Holiness (tus), a more concerted global effort has been launched to understand the needs of the elderly and address their needs, including tackling depression by taking them on regular outings.
- Outreach to newcomers: Most of the people who came to Chicago in the 1960s remember Hakim Taiyebi as the person who reached out to them. Hakim Uncle (as he is popularly known) is now in his eighties, but his tradition has been carried on and community members try to ensure that help is always at hand for newcomers.
- Business Council: We have a number of people with stellar achievements who organize workshops for aspiring entrepreneurs, be it marketing services or products, helping with tax accounting, or flipping houses.
Environment Consciousness Anjuman-e-Saifee has taken on two major drives to build consciousness and work towards the preservation of the environment in the spirit that small steps can inspire and grow into bigger movements.
- Eliminate Foam Cups: Last Ramadan, a notice went out causing major tremors amongst young and old alike! No more tea in foam cups! Every family received two insulated metal containers for tea. Everyone had to bring their own to get tea! After Ramadan, the rule carried over to every event. Bring your own cups for water and tea. That’s a saving of a minimum of 50,000 cups a year.
- Zero-waste Policy: The Bohra eat together in groups of about eight in a large round metal dish called a thaal. No leftover food is tolerated in the thaal. People take only as many servings as they expect to finish and not a single grain of rice is left over. Food left over in the kitchen is donated
Feeding the Community (Faiz al Mawaid al Burhaniyah) Dinner is cooked in the community kitchen five days a week by community caterers and picked up or delivered to over half the Bohra households in Chicagoland. It frees up valuable time for working parents and stay-at-home mothers to spend with their children, as well as for students and empty-nesters, apart from providing traditional, freshly cooked, and nutritious meals.
Hosting Global Community Events Last year, Anjuman-e-Saifee hosted a conference for Dawoodi Bohra medical practitioners in North America. The three-day conference was the first of its kind in the USA; 141 medical professionals attended, and 11 speakers spoke individually and led panel discussions. It was an excellent forum for networking and sharing experiences. The MEDS Conference 2020 will also take place in Chicago on June 12-14 with the goal of invigorating the medical community to provide medical outreach and upliftment locally and internationally.
Two years ago, the Attalim Annual Conference was held at the Burhani Park Complex. Educators from all over came together to plan the year’s religious education curriculum and develop programs for nurturing strong values in children.
A Promising Future His Holiness, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (ra) graced Chicagoland with his presence in 2001 to inaugurate al-Masjid al-Badri. The community is praying and actively planning for the day that his heir, His Holiness, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin (tus) will grace the masjid and their homes. Construction will soon begin on an extension to the masjid complex comprising of additional classrooms and meeting spaces as well as a brand new kitchen to facilitate the FMB community kitchen program.