Dear Community Members,

Salaamun Alaykum.

InshAllah you are all well. We experienced yet another set of tragic news over the weekend with three suicide bombs taking place very close to the shrine of Sayyida Zainab (a.s.) in Damascus. The World Federation strongly condemns these attacks and any attack that causes harm to innocent people. Our Prayers are with those affected not only in these attacks, but also globally.

Last weekend, I had the privilege to have attended one of the sessions at the CoEJ’s scholar’s retreat. It was an excellent opportunity to network and spend some time with scholars from Europe. I pray that they had a fruitful retreat.

You may have seen that Ayatullah Sistani has given some advice for the believing youth. I encourage you all to read these eight recommendations and share these with your friends and family. It is invaluable advice and inshAllah, we will all benefit from this.  A part of the letter which really touched me was when he said ‘Indeed Allah loves the community that has synergy and works for mutual betterment’. We must continue to work together as a community and make ourselves a strong and united group. 

We must also recognise some of the fantastic work undertaken by our community members globally. Dr Mohsin Jaffer, of Miami, and Br. Jawad Khakhi, of Seattle, were invited to Barack Obama’s last State of the Union Address on the 12th of January 2016. Dr Jaffer is a very active member of our community and a highly respected doctor of over 30 years. Jawad Khakhi is the CEO and founder of a successful software firm as well as President and a founding Director of Ithna-Asheri Muslim Association of the Northwest (IMAN).

Another community member, Dr Sukaina Hirji, started a Twitter storm on the 24th of January to counteract comments made by the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, about the ‘traditional submissiveness’ of Muslim women in Britain. British Muslim women were tweeting their accomplishments, professions and hobbies with the hashtag #TraditionallySubmissive. It’s incredibly important to stand up and challenge the stereotypes being forced upon us, especially in these times.  

Amidst all the gloom that the world is facing, I read the story of our community youth who left Yemen during our evacuation and was in our camp in Djibouti. He applied for a fellowship in the US only a day or two after the evacuation and had an interview from the camp a few days later. He received the fellowship and will now be studying in the US. This took a lot of strength and perseverance on his part – he was in a terrible situation and whilst many would crumble, he kept working towards this goal. This is a story of incredible hope and it is stories like these that keep our team going. If this boy who suffered so much, left his whole life behind and fled to Djibouti can still have hope and work towards his dreams, we should have the same motivation.

For some time now, The World Federation has been undertaking a project aimed at preserving our culture and heritage. As part of our Khoja Heritage Project, the team in Mumbai went to interview some elder community members. These video interviews contain valuable historical, cultural and religious insight from senior members of our community. We plan to continue this in Africa, Europe and North America soon inshAllah.

Our team in Mumbai recently held their fourth Ahkam-e Mayyit workshop where Maulana Gulam Abbas taught the participants the practical rituals of Ahkam-e Mayyit. It is very important to know how to carry out these rituals and inshAllah these workshops will continue to take place in the future.

This week I will be attending the Muslim Youth Helpline annual dinner in collaboration with CoEJ. The Muslim Youth Helpline does some amazing work and I’m very keen to foster a long term relationship with them. InshAllah there will be a write up about this event on the website next week.

Finally, at The World Federation, we are currently looking for a suitable candidate to fill the position of a full-time administration and secretarial support in the Stanmore office. This is a great opportunity to get involved with the organisation and help make a difference in many people’s lives. Have a look at the job description and if you’re interested, please do get in touch with the Secretariat Team.

We have now started to translate our newswires in Gujarati and French. This is to ensure we are reaching as many community members as possible and also so we can preserve our culture. We welcome feedback on this and all the work we do so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Salaams & duas,

Shabbar Dhalla, Vice President of The World Federation of KSIMC