The inaugural Western Indian Ocean Studies workshop entitled 'Rahe Najat (The Path of Salvation): Religious and social dynamics amongst mercantile communities of the western Indian Ocean' was hosted by the department of religious studies from 12-13 November 2015 at the Florida International University in Miami.
Updated on 12 March 2018
A delegation of The World Federation of KSIMC had a meeting with Ayatollah Ishaq Faiyyaz in Najaf-al-Ashraf on 23 July 2017. The delegation comprised of the President, Anwarali Dharamsi, Vice President Shabbar Dhalla, Secretary General Shan E Abbas Hassam, Hon. Treasurer Mohamedkazim Bhaloo, Assistant Hon. Treasurer Muntazir Bhimji, Assistant Secretary General Mahmood Dhala, Executive Councillor Safder Jaffer, the Head of Islamic Education Dr Murtadha Alidina and the Head of Marketing and Communication Anisa Kanji.
Ayatollah Ishaq Faiyyaz welcomed the delegation and prayed for the acceptance of their Ziyarat. He went on to provide the following observations and advice. He praised the Khoja community as a community that has maintained its faith and Islamic traditions (including the wearing of traditional dress). Unlike other groups who tend to lose their values, the Khoja have preserved their faith even in Europe and the West. In addition, they have focussed on youths and their guidance. He stressed the importance of guiding the youths especially during key times in the year such as Muharram and Ramadhan Mubarak to engage them with religious programmes. He added that leaving them unsupervised with freedom could lead them distraction and association with non-Islamic values of people. As advice to parents on upbringing children, he said the children need to be taught to respect parents, to be humble and train them on Islamic values.
An example of a good model, he stated, was adopted in Afghanistan where very village had a local mullah who taught the local community masails of fiqh, usul & furoo of din etc. This system created a solid infrastructure of learning and preserving of values adding that such a system was not existent even in Iran or Iraq.
In a discussion around the attitude of liberals and their undermining of the role of the mara’ji, he stated that this stemmed from the ignorance and unawareness of what the maraj’i have been doing. There is a feeling that the maraj’i do not observe ‘freedom’ and ‘human rights’. Where the liberals have gone wrong in their assessment is that whilst Islam prescribes freedom, there are clearly defined parameters laid out. For example, there is no restriction of interaction with non-Muslims but to a limit – for example preserving basic rights of an individual, not doing ghibat, etc. Unfortunately, Western propaganda has smeared the image of Islam to be synonymous with terrorism. He further gave the example of the dual morality of the West where they prescribe to freedom on one hand and yet do not protect freedom fighters. He cited the example of the time during the Gulf War in 1991 when US fighter planes circled Iraq imposing a no-fly zone yet Shias were being butchered by Saddam.
On code of leadership within our community and whether someone is allowed to hold office if they are not practicing (e.g. not wearing hijab, etc.) he suggested that every effort should be made to carry out the duty of amr bil maruf and nahi anil munkar and have the dress-code observed. If, however the code of leadership explicitly stated hijab as a condition and community accepted it, then the rules should be followed.
There was then a discussion on the work being done by WF and Agha’s office in Afghanistan.
Ayatollah Faiyyaz felt Khoja community could send more students to Najaf even though the infrastructure in Najaf needed to be developed. He added that The WF should support the Hawza re-establish itself in Najaf and that this was a great service as Najaf will remain the focus. It has a unique position in that it will remain until the arrival of the Imam Zamana (AJ). He stated that since the time of Sheikh Tusi over 1,000 years ago when the Hawza was established, this legacy continues. Najaf has produced top level scholars such as Ayatollah Khui, Sheikh Ansari and others and today has more than 16,000 -17,000 students. However, there remains a shortage of amenities and facilities and if it were not for this, Najaf today would easily attract more than 40K-50k students. He recalled the days when the Khoja community from East Africa had sent Sheikh Yusuf Nafsi and Sheikh Ayni to study in Najaf (during the days of Syed Al-Khui).
After a discussion on the work done by The WF and Ayatollah’s office Afghanistan, the meeting closed with him praying for the delegation, for increased tawfeqaat, for safe journey home, for acceptance of aamaal and protection from tribulation in every place, for the hastening of the reappearance of Imam Zamana (AJ) and for tawfeeq to do khayr that will be beneficial in qabr and the hereafter.
The Holy Prophet (saw) has said ‘Verily, Rajab is Allah’s month, Sha’aban my month and Ramadan the month of my Ummah’.
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