- Khoja Ismaili Kabrastan, Gwadar
- Business-Fish merchant
Born in 1860 Gwadar
Muhammed took a prominent role in his father's business and accelerated it to steady progress.
He was first the trader in Gwadar to export tin packed dried fish on large scale to Colombo, which became a leading market of Gwadar.
He played a key role in the building of Gwadar Jamatkhana, viz. Varas Muhammad Remu, Kamadia Datoo Meru, Mukhi Muhammad Abdullah and Bandali Hamirani. He had intimate terms with Mahomed Jaffer (1874-1918), the elder brother of Pir Sabzali (1884-1938).
Mahomed Jaffer sent Pir Sabzali in Gwadar for his necessary training. Gwadar was the actual nursery for Pir Sabzali, where he learnt religious education and proficiency in business in the company of Varas Muhammad Remu.
Later on, he made Pir Sabzali his agent in Pasani, then in Ormada to supervise his business. Pir Sabzali passed 20 years in Gwadar, Pasani and Ormada, where he served the jamaats and conducted the business of Varas Muhammad Remu.
He also took a prominent role in his father's business and accelerated it to steady progress. He was first the trader in Gwadar to export tin packed dried fish on large scale to Colombo, which became a leading market of Gwadar.
In those days, the British India Steam Navigation (BISN) dominated the marine lines from Persian Gulf to Colombo via Muscat, Gwadar, Pasani, Ormada, Karachi and Bombay. Varas Muhammad Remu merited the agency of BISN after Dwat.
On the other hand, Taymur bin Sayed Faisal, the Sultan of Muscat and Oman appointed him as a Custom Collector in Gwadar. The British Empire put pressure on Varas Muhammad Remu to withdraw his mercantile terms with the Sultan of Muscat and Oman. It was not possible for him to make a hasty decision since he had lent three lac rupees to the Sultan of Muscat and Oman.
In 1916, Varas Muhammad Remu enjoyed the control of the custom of Muscat, and became a Director-General Customs, where he employed many Ismailis.
When the British pressure thickened, he came to Bombay in 1919 and submissively referred to the matter to the Imam for guidance. The Imam told him to follow the British, because he held British citizenship. Soon afterwards, he requested to the Sultan of Muscat to relieve him from his services due to the strain of works. Thus, he quitted his mercantile transactions with Muscat and also retired from the post of Custom Collector of Gwadar in 1920, and obtained the British agency.
Varas Muhammad Remu retained the agency of British India Steam Navigation Company and British India Dominance Insurance Company. He also extended his mercantile influence in Iranian coast, Pasani and Ormada.
Varas Muhammad Remu had a great proclivity towards Ismailism since childhood. He daily spread carpets in Gwadar Jamatkhana and burnt the loban(benzoin). He also became the Mukhi of Khoja Panjibhai Club in Gwadar.
He raised a fund of Rs. 3000/- for the first school in Gwadar in 1904. He visited Bombay with some leaders and revealed his plan to the Imam, who said that it was insufficient for a school and assured that he would approve necessary grant on next year. In 1905, the Imam sent a telegraphic message to Gwadar Jamat not to come in Bombay from Gwadar. Varas Muhammad Remu sent the telegram to Pir Sabzali in Pasani, requesting him to visit Bombay on behalf of Pasanijamat and make a humble request for a didar. Pir Sabzali travelled for Bombay, where the Imam told him at Valkesar Palace that, “Sabzali, you inform the Gwadar jamat of my arrival.” The Imam visited Gwadar on April 1, 1905 and formed a School Board with Varas Muhammad Remu as President, Mukhi Mohammad Piru as Vice-President, Kamadia Datoo Meru as Hon. Secretary and Danidina Vali as a member. The services of Ali Mohammad Ladha of Bombay had been acquired as a teacher. Varas Muhammad Remu destined to be the first President of the Ismaili Council for Gwadar in January, 1905, where he served for 19 years.
“The Imperial Gazetteer of India” (Calcutta, 1908, p. 186) writes that Gwadar was an open roadstead and port in Makran, about 290 miles from Karachi, with a population of 4350 persons in 1903. It is also learnt from the Ismaili journals of Bombay that the population of the Ismailis in Gwadar was about 500 around 1905. Soon afterwards, the Imam declared him as his Varas for Gwadar, Makran coast and Muscat on January 18, 1912 in Karachi
The inflation was at its worst during the first world war. He opened for the first time in Gwadar a department on September 2, 1918 to supply the grains, domestic and other commodities in the Jamatkhana at reasonable rates. Mukhi Tajar, Mukhi Muhammad Peru and Missionary Abdul Hussain Talib were consigned its control. This scheme aimed to provide the necessary items to the Ismailis on no profit motive. On October 21, 1918, the epidemic of influenza raged with greater violence in Gwadar, resulting in 13 casualties in the jamat within 15 days. It badly shook the economy of the Ismailis. To stem the tide of this dreadful scourge, Varas Muhammad Remu hurled into the field as a warrior to the rescue of the stricken humanity with no distinction of cast and creed. He once again restarted the supply of the necessities of life for six months on a non-profit motive for giving some relief to the down-trodden people. He entrusted the work to Mukhi Tajar Mukhi Muhammad Peru. He also imported a large quantity of medicines and other items from Karachi with the co-operation of Wazir Col. Ghulam Hussain Khalfan (1887-1967).
His business also extended in Karachi, where he had to stay several times, therefore, he built his building in 1917 at Rampart Raw, Karachi, known as Mohamedbai Reimoo Mawji Building on plot no. J.T. 1/21/1. He was also the director of the newly formed The Khoja Ismaili Trading Co., Karachi in 1918. In the Persian Gulf, the oldest Jamatkhana situated in Makran was worn out. Varas Muhammad Remu renovated it at the cost of Rs. 10,000/-. He also made a donation to the newly formed The Young Ismaili Vidhiya Vinod Club, Bombay on April 1, 1918. On April 21, 1919, he donated a handsome amount to the newly formed The Young Khoja Ismailia Kathiawadi Mitr Mandal, Kharadhar, Karachi.
In the meantime, his younger daughter, Manni expired in Gwadar on April 14, 1919, who was 14 years old.
Varas Muhammad Remu presided several functions in Karachi and Bombay and made impressive speeches. He was not a missionary; but is reported to have performed a waez in the newly built Jamatkhana at Amir Pir, Sind on December 17, 1920. With his efforts, the Panjibhai Club of Gwadar gained a new lease of life, and was named as the H.H. The Ismailia Volunteer Corps in 1920, whose first President was Mukhi Tajar. He also started a library in Gwadar in 1921, which also issued a hand-written journal, called Gohar-i Gwadar and a Gwadar Pani Company in 1922.
In the end of 1921, cholera raged with greater violence in Gwadar, whose population at that time was hardly 12,000 persons. Four Ismaili children became the victims of a catastrophe. Varas Muhammad Remu arranged specific medicines from Karachi and Bombay and distributed free of cost to the stricken humanity irrespective of caste and creed.
In April 1923, he was in Bombay when his two close associates, Pir Sabzali and Alijah Datoo Meru were on the eve of the departure for their special missions. This was certainly a matter of pride for him. Pir Sabzali departed on April 7, 1923, for Central Asia and Alijah Datoo Meru left for Iran on April 19, 1923, by sea. On both occasions, Varas Muhammad Remu was present to see them off. He also sent urgent telegrams to Karachi and Gwadar Councils to accord befitting honour to Alijah Datoo Meru.
The health of Varas Muhammad Remu Mawji was impaired in October 1924. He was taken to Karachi for treatment with Alijah Datoo Meru on November 2, 1924, where he expired on November 5, 1924, at the age of 65 years. The Ismailis in Gwadar closed their business when heard the news of his sad demise.
Varas Muhammad Remu left behind two sons, Hussain and Karim; and five daughters. Hussain was the father of Ruknuddin and Nuruddin, while Karim had three sons, Rahim, Issa and Tajuddin.