- Ulama-e-Qir’am and Respected Scholars
- President of The World Federation, Al Hajj Dr Asghar Moledina
- Chairman of The Africa Federation, Al Haj Shabirbhai Najafi
- President of The Council of European Jamaats, Al Haj Dr Akbar Mohamedali
- President of The India Federation, Al Haj Soheilbhai Bhurani
- President of The Pakistan Federation, Al Haj Anver Rajpar,
- President of NASIMCO Al Haj Mohamed Dewji
- President of Dar es Salaam Jamaat, Alhaj Azim Dewji
- Distinguished Councillors, Delegates, Invitees, Momineen & Mominaat
It is with immense humility and with immeasurable gratitude for me today to thank each and every one of you for your heartfelt support in electing me unanimously as the President of The World Federation of Khoja Shia Ithna Asheri Communities for the term 2017 to 2020.
After Marhum Mulla Asghar, Marhum Haider Haji, Dr Hasnain Waji, Dr Ahmed Hassam and Dr Asgar Moledina I would now be the 6th Elected President of this August Body, this special and this truly unparalleled global institution unifying the Khoja Community worldwide. It is, my brothers and sisters, not only a deep honour and a unique privilege but also a great responsibility me and my team have accepted to undertake.
I have had the wonderful experience of being President of this Jamaat, Dar Es Salaam Jamaat from 2004 to 2010, serving for three terms. I was then later elected as Chairman of The Africa Federation from 2010 to 2016.
I feel having served at the helm of this Jamaat and at the helm of a Regional Federation provides me a unique viewpoint from which to guide the activities of The World Federation. I also pledge today, to work hand in hand with the Regional Federations and to concentrate the energies of The World Federation in supporting their planned activities and in developing their capacities.
And yes, my dear colleagues, I want to make The World Federation even stronger. I want to make an organisation that is financially self-sufficient, that provides a strong sense of direction for our community whilst providing much needed services in partnership with our Regional Federations. I want to focus on catalysing economic growth for all (to help social mobility) and I want to re-focus our efforts in areas like the Madrasah Centre of Excellence and Capacity Building. More than anything else, my dear esteemed colleagues, I want to make sure that we help increase the spirituality of our community by creating and strengthening well-established structure and processes.
I spent an evening in London with the Project North Star team in the company of Dr Moledina and I found that the number one priority message from the community is the yearning for spirituality. This is the thirst of our time, a challenge which we can ill afford to ignore.
The newer challenges emerging in maintaining cohesion of our faith intertwined with Islamic religious framework within our community will require a careful and harmonised approach from the leadership level from The World Federation and Regional Federations.
I also feel another huge challenge of our times – a challenge which we cannot ignore is the rising disparity in our community. I see for myself here in Africa: the larger gaps between those of means and those without. And I feel our institutions have a clear duty and a prime responsibility to help our own community members. We should be proud of the work done by all of our institutions in the field of education, housing, capacity building but there is still so much to do.
In Europe and North America we must not feel like relative poverty in our community doesn’t exist. We must look at creating schemes for first time property buyers, assistance of loans to businesses, support for secondary degrees and so on. For community members to feel an attachment to our institutions they must see tangible, consistent benefits – and a clear long term plan. However, these need to be well planned so that there is a good management and control mechanism to oversee such activities.
In the term 2017 to 2020 I want to focus therefore on Three Key Objectives:
Islamic Education (and building our community’s collective spirituality, Community Cohesions by making us even more connected through an array for new activities to further unify our community);
Economic Development (by creating well planned and properly structured schemes to help uplift of our community and indeed humanity);
Community Affairs (by strengthening our community ties, striving for greater unity and developing our community members).
Our communication needs a complete overhaul.
I want to make sure that The World Federations’ communication within the community is significantly improved and its PR externally to NGOs, UN Agencies and other stakeholders is entirely revamped given the needs of the present time.
There is a need to get closer to community members to ensure they have a strong connection and strong bond with The World Federation.
The recent crisis in Yemen and displacement of our own community members there, the plight of the oppressed (Khojas and non-Khoja Shias) globally, the challenges of Islamophobia, the sectarian strives et cetera are clear indications that this institution needs modernisation to meet the challenges of our time.
To do all of this work, I will need a strong, energetic and experienced team.
I will soon announce my Nominated Councillors each of whom will take on a portfolio and report back to me on its progress. The message I want to convey to this August body is that the selection of Appointed Councillors will be purely based on their benefit and value added to the institution.
Brothers and Sisters I want to work with you all with this clear, focussed strategy. Let us start the 2017 term with a clear vision of bringing significant progress in our community by uplifting our collective spirituality, by strengthening our unity and by developing our community members worldwide.
I would like to commend the good efforts by the immediate past President of The World Federation, Dr Asgar Moledina and his team which include Shabbar Dhalla, Reza Hooda and Kumail Manji. Notable efforts have been made by Past Office Bearers of The World Federation including Ahmed Daya, Dr Hasnain Walji and Shan E Abbas Hassam all of whom continued to be involved with the organisation.
One of the greatest achievements of The World Federation happened in this last term – and that is the rescue and re-settlement of our Khoja Community of Yemen which occurred during the civil unrest in Yemen. I wish to place on record the sincere thanks to the core team of Shan E Abbas Hassam, Sajjad Rashid, Sibtain Asaria and Shaykh Safder Jaffer all of whom worked tirelessly and emphatically as well as many other volunteers.
I would like for this August Body to note the heroic efforts of Al Haj Sajjad Bhai Rashid of Mombasa, Kenya for leading two rescue missions alongside many volunteers who braved the sea to rescue about 560 members of our community to safety in Djibouti. I wish to also thank Africa Federation, NASIMCO, COEJ and other community members worldwide for their timely contributions and coming to rescue in this emergency situation. Whilst the past leadership of the World Federation have recognized the heroic efforts by the then Chairman of Mombasa Jamaat, Alhaj Sajjad Rashid and his team of volunteers, I personally wish to thank him for his support and cooperation throughout the period of my leadership in Africa Federation.
Please join me in prayer for the safety and security of our Marja-e-Taqleed, Ayatollah Al Uzma, Al Seyyid Ali Hussaini Al Sistani and all the Ulemas and pray to Allah (SWT) to grant them long, healthy and peaceful life – Ameen.
I would like to end by remembering the Founder of this beloved institution – a man who is an inspiration to our leaders today – a man who was a visionary and a man whose legacy will continue, inshAllah, for generations to come.
Please recite a Sura Fateha for Marhum Mulla Asghar MM Jaffer and for all our Marhumeen.