DOWNLOAD THE 2019 REPORT HERE.
Find out more about the first Khoja Heritage Tour Below
Read all about our first tour which took place on January 2018 for the senior members here.
Watch videos on our last tour here.
Learn more about what we did while visiting the cities in our previous tours.
Whilst in Ahmedabad, the participants visited the Pir Imamshah shrine located at Pirana, outside Ahmedabad. Shaykh Kumail gave a history of the Pirs and their beliefs and traditions. Pir Imamshah (d. 1513) was the grandson of Pir Sadruddin, who preached Satpanth tradition. Pir Imamshah was the person responsible for the early transformation of the Khojas towards this Satpanth tradition. The Imamshah shrine is considered as a hub for 'Satpanth' meaning 'true path' - a movement which was being followed by our forefathers during the late 15th and early 16th century. Pir Sadruddin had brought the concept of Das Avtaar (ten reincarnations) and Pir Imamshah structured the satpanth movement based on this. While Shaykh Kumail was discussing this with the group, one of the local caretakers of the shrine (dargah), Rawjikaka, asked the group to join them for a meal and he mentioned that Hazrat Ali was the 10th incarnation and Hazrat Mehdi would be our saviour - both being beliefs of Satpanth movement.
They visited Alhaj Nasir Dosani, the President of Kalupur Jamat of Ahmedabad at his residence as well and were shown documents of purchase of mosque and cemetery by Allama Haji Naji in the 19th century. Br Ahmed Master and other Jamat officials gave a history of the Jamat.
Amreli is the final resting place of the prolific author of Khoja History, Edalji Dhanji Kaba. The group visited the graveyard to pay tribute to him while they were in Amreli. Not only was he a prolific writer about Khoja history, but he was also a source of inspiration to the community during the early days of the awakening of Khoja community. Shaykh Kumail Rajani gave a short history of the life of Marhum Edalji and how his writings made him the target of his opponents. The group visited the Amreli jamaat too.
In Bhavnagar, the group headed to the Haji Naji kabrastan to pay homage to the great Khoja guide Allama Haji Naji Sahab. The Khoja Heritage Project has declared the site as a Heritage Site and the opening ceremony was also carried out. Shaykh Kumail took the opportunity to speak about the tireless work carried out by Allama Haji Naji by writing books and publishing countless periodicals.
They then visited Umme Kulsum Centers (a nursing home, home for challenged young girls, Hawza for sisters). The objective, as explained by Shaykh Kumail, was to appreciate such initiatives which cater the need for specially gifted people. The Vice President of India Federation, al-Haj Abbasbhai Bhojani, who is also actively involved in various projects of aforementioned trust, discussed the details pertaining to each of these projects.
The group then flew to Bhuj, where they stayed for three days while visiting nearby places. Bhuj is a 15th century city and is the second home for any foreign Kutchhi speaking Khojas. The participants were very warmly welcomed by members of the Bhuj jamaat and office bearers of Kutch Federation. Alhaj Azizbhai Kothari of Bhuj Jamat, Alhaj Aunalibhai Salehmohamed and Alhaj Rajabalibhai Hasham spoke on various aspects of Khojas history in Bhuj. Shaykh Kumail passionately spoke about the need for the overseas community and the community in Kutch to join together and learn from each other. Rajabalibhai mentioned that the Kutch community had never been forgotten by their overseas brethren during their most difficult period and that now was the time to strengthen the brotherly bonds. The community in Kutch were extremely glad to receive the guests. The event ended with a delicious Kutchi dinner with khichdi and kadhi, lasan na ladu and ringa nu shaak, which the group really enjoyed! Whilst in Bhuj, the group went to Bhuj Boarding House where they spoke to some promising young students.
Nirona Village is close by to Bhuj and our participants spent some time there and saw a 300-year old piece of Rogan art, which had been created using castor oil for painting on fabrics.
Jamnagar is the fifth largest city of Gujarat and is remembered as a home to many of our elders. The Khoja Heritage Tour group visited a graveyard there where they were able to trace some of their ancestors. The group visited a Hostel there, which is home to 17 boarders, who the group met. At the evening programme held at Jamnagar mosque, the President, Bashirbhai Khwaja, welcomed the group. Shaykh Kumail explained to the congregation the purpose of the trip and gave an extra dose of Khoja history. In celebration of the birthday of Bibi Zaynab (as), Maulana Syed Ali Zafar Kazmi recited the majlis.
In Mahuva, the group were met at the Najafi Hall by Alhaj Mukhtarbhai Boss, the President of Dargah Party Jamaat. Mahuva has approximately 15,000 community members, the second largest in India.
The group visited Jafari & Fatema English School where the girls presented flowers and Parvezbhai Merchant welcomed the group. The headmistress gave a report on the tremendous progress of the school in the last five years. The group were introduced to several school officials, including the trustee Alhaj Sajjadbhai Varteji, whose services in the field of education among others for over 30 years is well known. The school was established in 1989 was run by Al Imaan Charitable Trust until recently, when the Mahdi Foundation took charge. There are five different stages, from pre-primary to college level. After the introduction by the headmistress, Sheni Fazal and Jamila Dewji, on behalf of our group, expressed their pleasure at the progress of the school. They also advised that girls be encouraged to take courses which up to now had been for boys only. Shaykh Kumail Rajani spoke on the importance of education and the need for Muslim children to aim high, including achieving Nobel prizes.
The group visited Masjide Panjetani where Syed Mehdi Bapu, the President of the Sadat Jamaat, gave a history of the mosque. He said that the first Sadat in Mahuva arrived in 1456. He also told the group that after the renovation in 2014, the mosque now conducts five daily prayers for both men and women.
Some participants visited the girl's hostel run by Abbasi Mission Trust in Mahuva. 89-year old Alhaj Nooralibhai Mukhi, a trustee of the hostel, gave a short history of the institution. Established in 1981, the hostel currently has 31 girls whose full cost of living and school is met by the Trust. There is also a boys hostel with 56 boys. The same trust also runs a subsidized medical clinic.
The Madressa Party Jamaat arranged an elaborate welcome ceremony for the participants and presented them with flowers and shawls. The President, Sajjadbhai Rajani, and Maulana Kausar Abbas Mukhi spoke at this occasion. Participants were presented with folders containing history of the Jamaat and its institutions. Shaykh Kumail provided details on the formation of Khoja Jamat in Mahuva, which the group all enjoyed learning about.
A message from the Khoja Heritage Project Team Dr Hasnain Walji, KHP Chair and Shaykh Kumail Rajani, KHP Deputy-Chair
Dr Hasnain Walji, KHP Chair, reminds us that "History informs us of who we are and what we are to be, as well as to know what to strive for and what to avoid. The Khoja Heritage Project team passionately believes that a collective effort to preserve our heritage is the critical link to our faith and cultural legacy. It must never be forgotten that the Community is what it is today, largely because of integrative steps of Khoja heritage and Islamic faith as per the teachings of Ahlulbayt (as). The two are far from being mutually exclusive.."
Shaykh Kumail Rajani, KHP Deputy-Chair, adds "I was encouraged to challenge my perception in respect to the unilateral role of faith in the fabric of the Khoja Community as I -along with sixty elderly community members- walked the narrow streets of Mandvi and Lalpur. The Khoja Heritage tour of seniors has unequivocally conveyed me that people connect with each other, not only on the grounds of faith but also due to their cordial appreciation of common culture and shared heritage."
Watch this short video where Dr Hasnain Walji,
talks about exactly what you are about to embark on in this trip.