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Vice President’s Eid Speech

In: Latest News
Mulla Fidahussein Saheb, Councillors  Ashton and Chaudry my elders and brothers. As salaam un alaykum wa rahmatullahi wabarakatu.

Today is the day of ‘Eid al-Adhaa which means ‘The Festival of Sacrifice’.

[It was on this day that Allah (SWT) had put Prophet Ibrahim (A), common to all Abrahamic faiths, to a very big test of sacrificing his son H Isma’eel (A) for His sake. Despite all the huddles of parental feelings and the traps, which Shaytan had set for him, H Ibrahim (A) was successful in the test. He (A) responded to his Lord’s call without succumbing to anything and thus earned the everlasting praise of Allah (SWT). Allah (SWT) saved H Isma’eel (A) and replaced him with a ram; and then highly applauded Prophet Ibrahim (A).

Festivals in Islam are not meaningless and confined to superficial things. They have meanings, which, if observed, benefit us immensely.

The whole episode of Prophet Ibrahim (A)’s sacrifice and appointment of that day as a festival is to remind us that we are duty bound to Allah (SWT). If we respond to His call; Strive on His path with steadfastness; Disallow Shaytan or the Satanic minded to misguide us; and sacrifice all our comfort and most beloved things for His sake, then, we too, shall earn the eternal pleasure of Allah (SWT) and find Him as the best of all helpers in our affairs.

My Brothers!

Life is full of challenges and what matters is not the challenges we face but how we deal with them. Do we bury our heads in sand and hope that the storm passes or face the challenge like H. Ibrahim (A) with trust in Allah (SWT) and emerge stronger.

Our fathers and forefathers originally come from the Indian subcontinent to the shores of East Africa. They were novices in a complete sense of the term. They were new to places, new to faith in the midst of a vast unexplored tract of land. They had no previous cultural contact with indigenous African population without knowing their language they could not communicate well. Against these odds, the khojas settled all over East Africa. Today Khoja Shia Ithna Asheries have settled all over the World and have organised in to jamaats (Religious organisations such as our’s). This fact of us organising into jamaat remains alive today as it was more than 120 years ago.

In our collective psyche, formation of jamaat is akin to reaching statehood but without the state. For many of us the defining moment is the completion of imambada (centre such as this) and this marks the beginning of our institutionalisation of community. In this way, the community can remain within a well knitted framework of jamaat and from which it can plan for its needs. Momentous decisions that have far reaching consequences for the community have emerged from many of our imambadas throughout the world. Imambada is a place, not only to practice faith and enhance our spiritual needs but also a meeting place for the community to discuss needs and issues relating to social affairs, marriage and  deaths within Islamic ethos.

Ours is a community whose history is blazon with incidents typifying struggle to group together in order to practice the faith, one helping the other in a spirit of communal benefit and preservation of faith. The community that has a history of sacrifice, first in search of Shia Ithna-asheri faith and then for its preservation will have to be sufficiently versatile to survive. That we have survived intact is the proof of our versatility. Our records show that in the early days how desperate we were to learn about the principles of Shia Ithna-asheri faith and turned to our Spiritual Leaders , marjaa of the time – Sheikh Zainul Abedin Mazandarani. This linkage of our community with marja has remained till today and has grown closer and stronger and served us well. This is our experience and may this close interaction with marja continue to guide us to overcome complex sets of challenges that face us today.

We are also grateful to our fathers and forefathers for instilling moral and ethical principles within the community and establishing democratic institutions.

The measure of a leader’s success is the confidence he enjoys from his constituency and those he represents a vibrant community is one that is able and bold enough to question the leadership and express their dissatisfaction when they feel that decisions are being made which go against the spirit in which these Institutions have been set up. In turn the Leadership, if it wants to regain the confidence of the members, should also ensure that the redress to the concerns raised is genuine.

For failure to satisfy the concerns of the members can lead to apathy and ultimately the demise of the very institutions that we so tireless wish to strengthen.

Finally, in terms of religious interpretation, the community needs to take the next step in contextualising the Ahlulbayt’s (as) wisdom to address contemporary problems. Our community has been able to build communities around the world precisely for the practice of our faith. However, practicing faith can only come with understanding. It is only through critical religious discussion in forums that would bring us closer to why we are Shi’a Muslims today – especially in rapidly changing environments with so many worldviews. Our centre in London has provided such forums, especially to the youths and Inshallah will continue to do so. Islam is a rational religion and abhors extremism of any kind.

Our challenge is to face up to the realities and take inspiration from the lives of our H Prophet (SAW) and the Aimas (AS) and work towards a better and stronger society, a society that is the torch bearer of truth and justice, and a community that others inspire to.

The strength of our Khoja community has always been our adherence to the teachings of Islam and the Seera of the H Prophet (SAW) and his Pure Progeny (A) who have always advised us to side with justice and equity. We as custodians need to preserve this community for our next generation just as our fathers and forefathers have done justice to us.

We pray to Allah (SWT) to guide us in the right path and preserve our community and give us the strength and wisdom.

Another year is over and we are again approaching the months of Aza and the commemoration of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (AS).

We are honoured to have the following to spiritually inspire us during the:

Ashra-e-Muharram by
Urdu – Mawlana Sadiq Hassan from Australia
English  – Mawlana Shahnawaz Mahdavi from Dar-es-Salaam
Ladies – Zakira Taherabai Kassamali from Toronto

And Ashara-e-Zainabiyya by   
Urdu – Mawlana Fatehali from India
English – Syed Mohamed Rizvi from Toronto
Ladies – Zakira Raazia Batool from Pakistan

The Jamaat as always relies on the generosity of its members to facilitate these Azadari’s during the two months. The cost per day based on approximately 30 Majlises is £810 per majlis. This would include the Fares, Hadyas and accommodation for the recitors. If you wish to sponsor any of these nights or part thereof then please contact the Jamaat office, myelf, Riyaz Merali, Sajjad Tejani or Taherabai Kassam in the ladies.

The Muharram Nyaz fund is also open and please contact the Treasury desk.

Furthermore as always the Jamaat relies on the generosity of its members in order to facilitate the Azadari majalises and lectures.

This community takes pride in establishing relations with other communities and faiths and we have a special interfaith committee which attends various events and take active part in these activities. One of our youth is represents the Muslim communities of Harrow in the Harrow Council’s Interfaith Committee.  The Annual Husayn Day Interfaith event will be held on 7th February at 2.30pm at our centre and would urge all members to attend and also invite their friends and neighbours. The invitation cards will be available at the Jammat office from next week.

The EC would like to extend their appreciation to all the volunteers, in whatever capacity they have and are serving the Jamaat and the community. At this juncture I would request you all to recite a sur-e-fateha for all our Marhumeens.

We are honoured today to have with us Cllrs David Ashton (Leader of the Harrow Council) and Cllrs Ghoulam Choudry.

Councilor, we the KSIMC of London are a law abiding community, although we may be small in number but I can assure that we have a big heart. Our members are hardworking, generous and are also net contributors to the economy of this country.

We enjoy a very cordial relationship with the Council and the community would like to thank you for facilitating this relationship and making yourselves available whenever we have needed your support and also inviting us to the Civic Centre to attend the various functions and meetings.

Cllrs David and Maryln Ashton and Cllr Choudry are also regular visitors to this centre and have participated in the Husayn Day programme, joined us for Iftar and also attend the Wednesday’s senior’s programme. I am told by our Hon Secretary that a few more attendances and you may be able to apply for an honorary membership.

Before I call upon Cllr Ashton to say a few words, I would like to leave you with a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.

The ultimate measure of a person is not where they stand in moments of comfort and convenience, but where they stand in times of challenge and controversy.

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