Versi Advani

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Versi Advani
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Suleman Versi 18561910

Born in Bhuj

In 1835, Versi Advani migrated to Zanzibar from Bhuj, Gujarat, India with his three brothers: Khalfan, Abdulrasul and Gulamhussein. The other two brothers Mohamed and Khatau migrated later on.

It is thought that Versi Advani was probably a Sindhi Khoja who may have intermarried with Khoja of Kutchi and Kathiawari origin. He was among the first converts to Shia Ithnaasheri faith, others being Dewji Jamal, Mohamed Walji, Lakha Kanji, Mohamed Lakha, Janmohamed Rawji, Nasser Lilani and Saleh Sachedina. He was among the 12 pioneers of Kuwwat Jamaat of Khoja Shia Ithnaasheris of Zanzibar. His name appears among the signatories of the Kuwwat Mosque Waqf Registration of 1881, stored at Zanzibar Archives.

During the crisis in Kilwa around the 1910s when the Jamaat refused rituals like majlis to be conducted at home, a permission was required to be obtained from the Waras in Zanzibar. Versi Advani together with Haji Peera Walli, Nasser Lilani and Lakha Kanji resolved this issue by requesting the Waras to write a letter giving permission for majlis to be recited at home.

It is also reported that Versi Advani and Sachoo Peera were among the few people in Dar es Salaam who were allowed to hoist German flag at their houses. Versi Advani is also reported to have formed a friendship with Sachoo Peera and Nasser Mawji. The trio gave lots of services in religious and social fields in Dar es Salaam. Versi and Nasser helped Sachoo Peera in construction of the first mosque for Dar es Salaam Jamaat in 1907. It is also reported that the old Imambara in Dar es Salaam was constructed mainly by the efforts of Versi Advani