For many, their relationship with cultural heritage shifts and changes over time. For others, they feel a constant and strong connection to their cultural heritage. The question is, what is it about cultural heritage that draws people to it? When people feel distant, why are they drawn back?
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An important part of the ExCo is The World Federation Awards ceremony, where awards are presented to members of the local community. In Birmingham, these were presented to:
AL-NUR AWARD – RAZA HUSSEIN MOHMEDALI MOTI
Raza Hussein Mohamedali Moti has been a member of the Ghusal and Kafan committee since the mid-seventies, overseeing many changes in that time. He has provided guidance and ground support to bereaved families, regardless of time, day and night.
Raza Hussein Mohamedali Moti was presented with the Al-Nur award for philanthropy.
AL-QAMAR AWARD – RUBAB BAI MASTER
Rubab bai Master has been a Qur’an teacher for over forty years, starting off in Dar-es-Salaam Madrasah before moving to Birmingham, teaching both students and training to teachers in the UK and internationally. As well as encouraging others to learn and grow, she has also been following this advice, enrolling in Damascus university to extend her Arabic language skills. She has authored three books on Qur’anic recitation, which are used worldwide as a manual and model for teaching Qur’anic recitation and rules of tajweed.
She has a long history of dedicating her time to teaching and inspiring the youth within the community, serving as a teacher at CoEJ summer camps and judging various Qur’an competitions. She is also the head of the Madrasah Qur’an department, Head of the Ghusl/Kafan committee, and as a senior member of the matrimonial committee.
She has delivered majalis in various communities in Europe, including in the UK, Sweden, Portugal and France and has trained others to write and deliver eulogies and lamentations about Imam Husayn (as).
Rubab bai was the first Khoja woman to be invited by the Iranian Government to Iran’s Annual Qur’an Conference to display her books and in 2012, became the first Khoja woman to have a documentary made about her life by the Iranian television channel, IRIB. The documentary was later dubbed in French, Spanish, Turkish, and Arabic and shown on various channels such as Hispan TV and the Lebanese channel, Al-Manar. Her story of contribution and commitment to Islam and the Ahlulbayt (a.s.) was also aired on Hidayat TV in July 2016
Rubab bai Master was presented with the Al-Qamar award for philanthropy.
AL-NUR AWARD – ZEHRA BAI PREMJI
Zehra bai Premji started her volunteering journey in 1995 as part of the treasury team, before becoming the head of the kitchen team, ensuring the tabarruk and nyaz are served in a timely manner at each programme. She carries out her volunteering tasks with love and enthusiasm for the community.
Zehra bai Bhanji was presented with the Al-Nur award for philanthropy.
AL-QAMAR AWARD – MUMTAZ BAI MOTI
Mumtaz bai Moti has been part of the Birmingham Jamaat since the 1980s and has been a volunteer at the Muhammadi Nursery, the welfare committee and as chair of the Senior’s Ladies Section. In her roles, she has visited the sick and elderly and arranged weekly programmes for senior citizens, which is often the only means of socialising they have.
Mumtaz bai Moti was presented with the Al-Qamar award for volunteering and philanthropy.
AL-NUR AWARD – SUKAINA BAI BHANJI
Sukaina bai Bhanji has been serving the community for around forty years, assisting in various aspects including washing up, cleaning up after the events and subsequently being appointed as head of the ladies volunteers, which brought many new tasks such as overseeing programmes.
Sukaina bai Bhanji was presented with the Al-Nur award for philanthropy.
AL-SHAMS AWARD – MARHUM AFZAL HUSSEIN SHERIFF VELJI
Marhum Afzal Hussein Sheriff Velji was born in 1958 in Mombasa and moved to Birmingham in 1971. He joined Birmingham City Council in its Treasury Department after completing school and served as a cashier for almost 15 years, during which time he and his brother started their own businesses.
Marhum has a friendly nature and his presence brought radiance to gatherings in which he took part. He travelled widely and participated actively in meetings and functions of the community, and his presence is still craved at these events two years after his passing.
Marhum’s philanthropy and charitable work knew no bounds. Examples abound of large sums that he donated towards community and religious projects. Birmingham Jamaat was a key beneficiary of his support whenever required, including a £400,000 donation towards refurbishment of the Jamaat’s nursing home property. The Jamaat will forever be indebted to him. In his last year, he travelled to Kashmir in a trip organised by the Lady Sumayya Humanitarian Aid Foundation Limited, where he joined sponsored Samu Lagna (mass marriage ceremonies) of couples from poor families. Seeing the squalid conditions in which people were living, he was moved to commit towards the building of several homes at significant cost. These are just two examples of his acts of good that continue to reward him today.
Marhum Afzal Hussein Sheriff Velji was bestowed posthumously with the Al-Shams award for voluntary contribution to wider society.
Get the latest news from the Khoja Heritage December Tour Daily Reflection updates 2018!
Read the Eid-al-Fitr letter from the President of The World Federation.