Fourteen years have passed since the passing away of Mulla Asgharali M M Jaffer. Yet his memory is as fresh as ever and oftentimes, he remains the subject of discussion by the Community and especially those who worked so closely with him at The World Federation for over 3 decades. We invited some of them to pen a few words reminiscing about Mulla Saheb .
The goal is to emulate him; the problem is that he set the standard so high.
I often spend my spare time thinking about Mulla and the way he was able to lead the community, in good times and bad. The way he interacted with one and all, his enduring patience, and his resoluteness in the face of adversity are all qualities to be emulated. Indeed he has left all those who have come after him with a goal as well as a problem: the goal is to emulate him; the problem is that he set the standard so high.
One quality shines out for me above all: fear of God. What an amazing yet simple characteristic. He feared the repercussions of his actions and how he would answer God.
With my presidency entering its second term, inshallah, I pray to Allah to
grant me the Tawfeeq to follow in the footsteps of our Imams, and the people they inspired such as Mulla Saheb and our other noble forefathers.
Asgar Moledina – President
Inspirational words and guiding principles
Mulla Saheb was an inspirational leader, and we were all so fortunate to have had the opportunity to have worked closely with him. I personally learnt a lot from him and one of his legacy certainly imprinted in my mind. He always used to emphasize, that if with our actions we are able to make a positive impact on a life of an orphan, widow or a needy person anywhere in the world, then our life has been worthwhile in this world. For me these words have always been inspirational and guiding principle in my actions. We miss him very much.
Ahmed Hassam – Former President
Nurtured in us the capacity to explore fully the deeper knowledge
Fourteen years have passed since the passing away of Mulla Saheb . Time passes as it must do. All the questions we may ask about his contributions are multiplied by the fact that he is no longer with us. This only goes to show the depth of appreciation of him as a man as well as a leader. He nurtured in us the capacity to explore fully the deeper knowledge of our past and present in order to reach a higher point in our development as an individual and as a community. But this change is not an automatic one. All of us must be eager to share our highest goods with the whole community, indeed, with all humanity. Only then, we will be able to transform ourselves and the community. Therein lies our hope.
Sibtain Panjwani – Former Secretary General
Alas we did not take full advantage of his great wisdom
When I left WF in 2006 after working in MAB for almost 30 years I have thought about it a lot and tried to examine what kept me continue to work and I think this would apply to others. It was Mulla- indeed it was him who inspired me. He kept me going. He had such a unique way of dealing with his team - the way he made you feel that you were the most important person to him and to WF and that without you he would be handicapped. Hence one continued, if not for any other reason but for him, because you would not want to let him down. He was a light of guidance and inspiration. When he died, I felt that light had gone and I felt left in darkness and the void made it so difficult to for me to continue.
It will take generations for the Community to get another Mulla Asgher. Alas we did not take the chance to take full advantage of his great wisdom
Mohamed Taqi Walji – Former Chairman Medical Advisory Board
When times were tough.. he was a tower of strength
He was my mentor. Working with him was an education and an inspiration. His art of diplomacy taught me a lot. When times were tough, and all of us who were around him were at the end of our wits, he was a tower of strength and always found an opportunity out of the challenge we were facing.
I found out his resilience and farsightedness and when he directed me to deal with issues when outside influences tried to break our unity. Above all it was his unflinching support to the team. I truly feel blessed to have known him so closely. Though he is no longer with us, his guiding spirit has never left those who worked with him. I am sure my former colleagues ask the same question when faced with a difficult Community issue: “What would Mulla have done in such a circumstance?” And each time I ponder in that question, invariably the answer comes to me.
Manzoorali Kanani – Former Vice President
With the right intentions no project is impossible
Mulla Saheb taught me the value of belief, that if your intentions are right then no project is impossible. Ultimately Allah would provide the resources. As I grappled with the figures and had many sleepless nights trying to manage the WF budget, I knew that Mulla was probably talking to some needy individual, a Jamaat President or a displaced person committing to help them out of their predicament. My predicament was that the deficit grew even bigger. He was simply unstoppable and his compassion just would not allow a seeker to go empty-handed.
When I asked him if he ever had sleepless nights that our commitments far outnumbered our bank balance, he would smile and tell me that each night he went to sleep he would tell himself: “There is nothing I can do about the issues until the morning – so I might as well enjoy a night’s sleep.” Working with him so closely was an experience very few of us were blessed with and I would not trade that for anything in the world.
Ahmed Daya – Former Hon. Treasurer
Public Service is not a bed of roses
Devoting life in public service is not always a bed of roses. At times, it can be very taxing, not only for the individual concerned, but also for his family. Two events in the life of Mulla Asghar had traumatic effect on his family that is often not known.
The first event was his detention in Iraq along with his wife for over 100 days. For this experience, he wrote a book: “I was Saddam’s prisoner.”
The second event was a sick joke played by an unknown sadistic mind who spread rumours that Mulla Asghar had suffered a massive heart attack in the course of a meeting and had since passed away.Busy bodies, oblivious of the related sensitivity, went into over drive to spread the news without checking on its veracity.
It is a price social workers often have to pay. It reminds one of an Urdu couplet by Mirza Ghalib:
Hum ne chaha tha ke andohe jafa se chute.n;
Voh sitamgar mere marne pe bhi razi na huva!
Hassan Jaffer – Family Friend and author of Relentless Endeavors (Mulla’s Biography)
Mulla Saheb was not a fair-weather leader who backed down because of public opinion.
Fourteen years on, my continuous recollection of Mulla Saheb are his timeless words on the timely need to understand the need of the times: "Time has come” he used to say , “that we recognize our goal. What do we need? We need a society where every act of good-will is propelled and driven by the sincere intention to please Allah and none else.”
At the same time, demonstrating his expectation of the Community, he stated that "……..we rise above the mean and the mediocre to that which is high and sublime." In order to achieve this he boldly opined as early as 1975 that "Unless the youth of this community are prepared and have girdled their loins to serve the community to the best of their abilities, this community, left in the hands of the hardcore traditionalists will not be able to take any strides ahead."
Mulla always held tenaciously to his principles, which, on occasion meant he pleased many and displeased some, or sometimes pleased a few and displeased many. But then who said Mulla sahib was a fair-weather leader who backed down because of public opinion. That is legacy a few can emulate.
The best way sum up this tribute is to end with his own verse in Gujarati:
AME SHU NE AMARI VAAT SHU - TYAREJ SAMJASHE.
UTHI CHALYA JAASHU' TAMARI ANJUMAN MA' THI.
What we were and what we said will then be understood
When no longer, we will grace your sittings and assemblies
Hasnain Walji – Former President
Let us remember him with a Sura al-Fatiha.