‘The whole is greater than the sum of its parts’

On Saturday 31st May 2014, over 30 leaders from across Europe gathered in Märsta, Sweden for the quarterly CoEJ Executive Council meeting.

  • Dr. Jiwa updated the Council on the outcome of the WF conference, as well as the range of work he has been involved in.

  • CoEJ to undertake census work to map needs of the community.

  • Comprehensive review on all of CoEJ’s activities, including upcoming exciting projects.

  • CoEJ investments – looking towards becoming self-sufficient.

  • Success of mediation programme recognised, and plans formulated for next steps.

  • Fair representation explored, with great contributions from Jamaats.

  • tandardised marriage contracts for Jamaats discussed.

The meeting commenced with a reflective recitation of the Holy Qur’an by Br. Ali which focussed on the importance of consultation to strengthen organisational work. Br. Salim Govani, as President of Zainabiya Islamic Centre, Märsta (host Jamaat) welcomed those present. He stated how delighted he was that so many councillors took the effort to travel to Sweden and that he was looking forward to welcoming them to the centre that evening for the wiladat programme.

Br. Kassam Jaffer as chair steadily worked through the agenda, ensuring that the meeting was well ahead of time. The President’s report encompassed Dr. Jiwa’s various visits to Germany and Mombasa as well as the meeting with Ayatullah Ishaq Fayyaz. He spoke briefly about the work being done on scoping the practicality of launching a Shia state school as well as recognising CoEJ’s contributions to Sufra food bank.

Dr. Jiwa smoothly continued onto an update on the recently concluded World Federation conference that took place in Dar-es-salaam in May 2014. Developments included the passing of a resolution recommending that all regions ‘ensure that constituent members consider membership for female members of the community. In addition, the Conference ensures that the ladies management committee are elected by the ladies of the community’, along with the election of CoEJ councillor Sis. Waheeda Rahim as the first ever female electoral commissioner for World Federation. All regions had also committed to undertake a community wide census, which CoEJ shall be leading on in the coming months.

The meeting then adjourned for zohr salaat and lunch at the conference venue, allowing for some key conversations and networking to occur.

After lunch, Vice President Dr. Akber Mohamedali went through a comprehensive review of the CoEJ activities – with 2012 to 2013 events impacting on over 2000 individuals. Particular attention was given to the young girl’s camp with several councillors commenting on how much their daughters enjoyed it. Camp CoEJ: Sweden was promoted, with the youtube promo shown, and plans for a similar trip for girls Camp CoEJ: Switzerland were discussed. Kibaha, CoEJ MAMT (for both gents and ladies), Youth Leadership Programme and more were all highlighted as upcoming exciting programmes that members of the community could partake in. Relief projects for Bosnia and Syria was also raised, encouraging Jamaats to promote these causes in their respective centres.

The MCE (Madressa Centre of Excellence) team were commended for their hard work and dedication, with Cllr Shalina Chandoo missing the meeting due to the delivery of the neuropsychology of learning workshop that was being delivered in the UK at the same time.

Sis. Esmat Jeraj provided a quick overview of some of the external relations work CoEJ had been involved in, including partaking in hustings (focussing on racism and Islamophobia) in the run up to the EU elections, a visit to Brussels to the EU Commission, partnering with Camp UK and the Big Iftar and Dr. Rizwan Alidina’s visit to Parliament to discuss the impact of cousin marriage.

Br. Murtaza Bharwani then gave an update on CoEJ investments, on which he has spent considerable time and effort to allow CoEJ to become self-sufficient. The Councillors were then asked to share how they have contributed to CoEJ over the last few months.

Br. Kassam Jaffer, Secretary General, provided those present with a comprehensive review of the interim mediation workshop that he had delivered – as part of the launch of the CoEJ Internal Mediation Service. He also informed everyone that several Jamaats along with other regions had approached CoEJ to deliver similar programmes in the near future. Kassam then went on to provide an overview of the CoEJ mediation/conflict resolution strategy that is being developed, as well as updating the council that a working team had been formed to oversee the work.

After breaking for the wiladat programme and maghrib salaat, the council re-gathered at 11.30pm to conclude the meeting. Discussion occurred on fair representation at World Federation level, with everyone reminded that as one community the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Marriage contracts were considered, with greater work being undertaken to standardise across Jamaats.

Sayed Mohammed Naqvi closed the meeting with a recitation of Dua e Wahda – the dua for unity, as the sun began to rise on a new day. Wholehearted thanks must be given to Br. Salim and his team of dedicated volunteers who tirelessly looked after all the guests, ensuring that all needs were met.