The Office of al-Sayyid al-Sistani (May Allah prolong his life),
al-Najaf al-Ashraf, Iraq.
In the name of Allah, the All-Beneficent, the Ever-Merciful
All praise belongs to Allah, Lord of the worlds, and blessings and salutations upon the best of His creation, Muḥammad, and his pure infallible progeny.
Peace be upon our brothers and sisters from the Shiʿa Ithna ʿAshari Khoja community, and His mercy and blessings be upon them.
It pleases us, as you are on the verge of convening your general conference this year in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to convey to you the greetings of the respected Sayyid [al-Sistani], may Allah prolong his life, and his felicitations for this august gathering and his prayers for you to attain all that is good in this world and the Hereafter. After reminding you of the importance of maintaining piety and being conscious of Allah, the Most High, in private and public, he wishes to impart some advice on the following matters:
1) The importance of unity and abstaining from dissension and discord that only give rise to trouble and misery. No community is divided but that it is afflicted by weakness and inability and this [eventually] leads to disgrace and loss. You must adhere to the electoral process and respect the will of the majority in organizing your affairs and in selecting those who will administer them. You should be longing to ensure the smooth and peaceful transition of leadership from one administration to the next elected administration, for indeed there is goodness in this for you [both] in your religion and your worldly life.
2) Taking great care to ensure the preservation of your cultural identity, whether it pertains to [matters of] your religion, ethics and notable traditions, or language and etiquettes. You must be cautious not to get acculturated to the culture of other societies where you migrate. Indeed, the cultural identity of every community is the chief guarantor for its prosperity, and your identity is – by the grace of Allah - one that incorporates rightly-guided beliefs, praiseworthy values and sublime morals, and these are the things that guarantee felicity for human beings in both worlds.
3) Keeping close ties with the grand institution of marjaʿiyya for the Shiʿa Ithna ʿasharis - may Allah enlighten them with His proof - in the coming ages just as has been your practice thus far. This is certainly the ideal path for the survival of your affair and the security of your future. The Grand Marjaʿ is always concerned for your well-being; he cares about you and takes an interest in your success and prosperity.
4) Paying special attention to increasing the religious and social awareness of the younger generation among the youths of the community in the face of attempts by deviant groups to recruit and attract them. These groups work assiduously under glamorous and misleading titles with the aim of driving them, in the end, towards corrupt beliefs and wrong practices, distancing them from steadfastness in their faith and conduct, and hurling them into the pits of extremity (i.e. overdone or underdone).
5) Consideration for the state of the African believers from both cultural and humanitarian perspectives, for they are your brothers and sisters in faith and belief, so they should not suffer in your presence while you are capable of assisting them. You must therefore care for them while preserving their dignity, as this will bring special blessings and bounties of Allah -Glory be to Him- upon you.
6) Exercising precaution when it comes to the legally prescribed religious dues such as khums etc. These funds should not be spent in the wrong places, and one should stick to the exact amount that the Marjaʿ has permitted in his spending [of it]. Indeed, the responsibility is only lifted when the dues are delivered to their rightful recipients. The portion due to the Imam (sahm al-imam) is not to be spent except for propagation of the religion, as per the guidelines of the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (as), and securing the fundamental needs of devout believers. The portion due to the holy lineage (sahm al-sadat) is to be disbursed to the poor, devout descendants from the Banu Hashim. Compensation for grievances (radd al-mazalim) is likewise to be disbursed to the poor who are devout. It is necessary to ensure that all the legal conditions are met by those to whom one wishes to give the religious dues. It is not permitted to be complaisant in this because of one’s personal attachments or feelings of empathy towards those who claim to be deserving [of these funds] without clear evidence to substantiate the claim or other similar justifications. Similarly, there is no justification for expending more than what the Marjaʿ has permitted in accordance with the interests of the wider community [of believers].
In conclusion, we ask Allah, the Exalted, the Omnipotent, to keep you under His perpetual aegis, to make you steadfast on the truth that you are upon, to send down His mercy and blessings upon you, and to make you an adornment [and a source of pride] for the Ahl al-Bayt (as) through your unwavering adherence to guidance, holding on to the firmest handle, and beautifying yourself with the noblest morals. We pray that He places your deeds among those that please our master and Imam, al-Hujjah ibn al-Hasan al-ʿAskari, may Allah hasten his relief [through his reappearance].
Peace be upon you, and the mercy and blessings of Allah.
al-Najaf al-Ashraf, on the sixth day of the month of Rajab, 1438 A.H (4th April 2017)
Signed: Office of al-Sayyid al-Sistani, al-Najaf al-Ashraf