Editorial Salaamun Alaykum Teamwork is vital component for an upcoming community such as ours. It allows us to work together to make better decisions, produce higher quality achievements and manifest with superior results. The affectivity of teamwork is reliant upon communication between the components of the team, hence this issue of Insight aims to communicate areas of best practice amongst the community in order propagate such ideas where our community as a whole can prosper. It also allows for us all to share in the pride from such companionship. We, the global Khoja community, are like the cogs in a clock, each intertwined with the other working in unison. Where if one cog was to be removed the clock would stop, rendering it useless. So too must we all function together as a team. This issue of Insight focuses on teamwork through sporting achievements and how members of our community worldwide are involved with sports. The articles document such inspiring sports personalities as the ladies badminton team in Toronto and the recognised professional golfer Sarfaraz Daya. The interview with Dr Jiwa explains how he envisages sport as a method to interact with the community and the importance of having regular sporting events such as the annual Mulla Asghar Memorial Tournament. Of course one of the sporting highlights this year has been the London 2012 Olympics which has offered a plethora of opportunities for the community, particularly those in and around London to be involved and to be recognised. Sibtain Damji was one of those individuals within our community who was recognised for his efforts in for his local community and was honoured to carry the Olympic torch in his hometown, Peterborough. We also learn of the background of the modern day Olympic Games and its inspiration. Amongst our wide variety of material, this issue also contains our regular feature â€˜InFocusâ€™ article by ww.khojamatch.com, with an interview of a previous user, and the article written about environmental challenges aims to enlighten us all on how we can all work towards reducing our pollution footprint on the world. The Insight editorial team are always in search for reader contribution, be it in the form of articles or comments. Has something in this issue ignited a though or opinion that you want share or comment upon? Do you have any other suggestions or ideas you wish to write about? Our next issue will be themed on Relief and the Economy. We welcome any budding writers to contribute either aligned to this theme or otherwise. Please send your contributions to email@example.com by the 30th January in order to be included in the next edition of Insight. We look forward to hearing from you.
Hasnain Ramji Insight Editor
For further World Federation news and updates, please see your weekly 'Newswire' updates or the website, www.world-federation.org. Please note, views and contents of articles and contents within this issue are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The World Federation or the Insight publication.
Zainabiya Child Sponsorship Scheme (ZCSS) “Verily knowledge is the life of hearts, the light of the eyes from blindness and the strength of the bodies against weakness” Imam Ali (AS) ZCSS Objective: The World Federation’s education objective is to empower communities with the ability to become selfsufficient. The most efficient method of reducing illiteracy is through education. The ZCSS aims to enable growth and progress through this most powerful of mediums. This would create a generation of skilled individuals who can work together to lift their communities out of poverty.
Providing Education: Across all aspects of the ZCSS, a common theme is evident, that is based around investing in individuals.
With over 30 years of experience in the provision of education, ZCSS has come to realise time and again that education yields the highest return on investment. As an NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation), we believe that it is our duty to invest in the long-term development solutions of the world. Therefore, through such schemes of investment that avoid dependency, we can create a better world for the generations to come. The World Federation works to provide education through the ZCSS in three ways: 1. Financing further education 2. Pre University Sponsorship 3. Building Schools in remote areas
Gujarat: In 1981, India’s literacy rate was 43.6%. However, thirty years on since the inception of the Zainabiya Child Sponsorship Scheme, the literacy rate in India has increased to 74.04%. No one entity can truly claim that it was solely responsible for such a transition. However, both the NGOs and the Indian Government can take some credit for this success. Since 1981, The World Federation has been working to provide educational sponsorship in India with an aim to alleviate absolute poverty in various towns and villages across Gujarat. Thirty years on, The World Federation has worked with its partners and local philanthropists to create self-sufficient communities across Gujarat with the ability to fund their own Pre School, Primary, and Secondary Education. Today communities across Bhavnagar, Mahuva and Ahmadabad have schools, libraries, and educational institutions filled with their budding young generation.
£ 55 - The average monthly cost of sponsoring one further education student.
Andhra Pradesh: Andhra Pradesh has a literacy rate of 67.7%, which means that over twenty seven million people in the state are illiterate. Furthermore, Hyderabad, the state capital, is over-populated, with shocking contrasts of slum life adjacent to the towers and high-rise buildings of the metropolis. Beyond the state capital, villages such as Avalkonda are remote and lack basic amenities with no provision of education and healthcare. In Andhra Pradesh, ZCSS is currently sponsoring eighty-seven further education students, including a student completing a degree in Medicine at one of Hyderabad’s top Medical institutes called Bhaskara Medical College. Syeda Insiya Fatima had always dreamed of becoming a medical doctor and providing health-care for some of Hyderabad’s poorest communities including her own community. This year Syeda Insiya Fatima is due to graduate from the Bhaskara Medical College with Bachelors in Medicine and Bachelors in Surgery, following five years of sponsorship.
Services provided: In Gujarat, ZCSS is currently sponsoring two hundred and sixty three students to attain qualifications in further education. The students generally choose the
popular subjects such as Business Commerce, Medicine, Dentistry and various other allied fields. The average annual tuition fee per student in various institutions across Gujarat is £660, which many cannot afford. The students we sponsor range from college students, to postgraduate students. The students who are studying to obtain their Higher Secondary Certificates (equivalent to A-Levels) generally aspire to one day complete a degree and join India’s thriving metropolises. Alongside providing financial assistance, our students receive advice from our recent graduates who have completed their university education, and now serve as an inspiration to the forthcoming students aspiring to succeed. The graduates, who have received educational sponsorship through the ZCSS, generally appreciate the value the scheme has added to their lives and so upon finding employment, they seek to pay back the entire cost of their education so ZCSS can train more students. The postgraduates being sponsored provide a unique set of benefits to the community. India’s growing further education sector will produce leaders of industry, globally. Our postgraduate students are attaining expertise in fields such as Business, Mass Communication and Information Technology where they can one day become leaders of industry in a growing economy.
Conclusion: The benefits of providing further education in India are clear, and we can rest assured that a yearly ZCSS sponsorship of £660 will increase an individual’s potential income and allow them to provide for themselves and their family. The provision of Further Education allows us to make entire communities self sufficient as our student’s serve their communities following graduation. These students will go a long way to eradicating poverty from communities across India and ensuring, through education, they can one day achieve self-sufficiency.
Islamic Education The renowned Madinah and Bab Summer Course for youths is a three-week experience of a lifetime. Students aged 14-17 and 18-24 respecitvely, spend three weeks in Qum, Mashhad, and Tehran. Their activities include Ziyarat of Imam Ali Ridha (as) and Bibi Masuma-e-Qum (sa), classes by renowned scholars, Islamic discussions, Q & A with experts, sight-seeing, and lots of fun! This year’s course, which concluded on 5thAugust 2012, was attended by almost 60 students from across the world. Nine mentors were also selected, and accompanied the group to provide support and encouragement to the students.
Islamic Education has recently published two new titles: ‘My First Book of Faith’ (reviewed in this issue of Insight) - a colourful and illustrated book for children on the basic teachings of Islam; ‘From Resolution to Revolution’ - a collection of discussions on a range of Islamic ethical and social matters.
To apply for future course as either a student or a mentor, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org The World Federation’s Qum Office facilitated a three month short course for sisters at the Jamiat al-Zahra university in Qum. Five fortunate sisters from Canada, Pakistan and the UK were able to attend the course. In India, The World Federation’s India Office has provided local Hawza students and scholars with a course in English and IT. The India Office also held a youth camp for boys on the outskirts of Mumbai.
Islamic Education has supported madrasah students by publishing a series of mind maps that help revision, and through teacher resources which were provided free of cost to every teacher that teaches the GCSE subject. A course in Islamic Family Ethics was also organised by Islamic Education and was held in April in Milton Keynes to support the development of community Muballigheen and Madrasah teachers.
Student Are you a Khoja male or female looking to study a bachelor’s degree in the west? The Walji Alibhai Pradhan Loan can help you by providing a loan of upto £5,000 GBP per annum for a maximum of 3 consecutive years.This loan is for university tuition fees only and will be paid directly to your institution. To apply for this loan you must be a member of a constituent Jamaat of The World Federation of KSIMC. This loan is available to one male & one female only. Terms and conditions apply (please read the application form prior to submitting), the deadline is 15th December 2012. Please mark the Application form as “Walji Alibhai Pradhan Loan” and return it to The World Federation Stanmore office.
Please apply by downloading and completing the loan application form at:
www.world-federation.org/education/loanform For any queries contact us on:
T: +44 (0)20 8954 9881 E: email@example.com
Registered Charity (UK), No. 282303
Infocus www.khojamatch.com Khojamatch.com was re launched in May 2011 to exclusively help community members find their spouse. Members create a username to protect their identity and perform their own search of eligible people. The service is free for members of Khoja jamaats. With more and more people being introduced online, Khojamatch provides another channel for Khoja singles to complete their faith, alongside the good work already being done by community matchmakers, family and friends. A recently engaged member of Khojamatch speaks to Insight to share his story: Insight: How did you hear about Khojamatch? KM past member: I read about it from The World Federation e-newsletters and Wedding Invitations. Insight: Why did you choose Khojamatch as the way to find your future spouse? KM past member: I believed it offered a unique platform compared to other matrimonial websites and the traditional route such as the local matchmaker. I wanted to try a different approach and particularly I chose Khojamatch because it’s established within the community. Insight: What did you like about Khojamatch? KM past member: No membership fees; the Salaams and ice breakers really serve the purpose of connecting with potential spouses; the transparency between members and in-depth profile information of members; email blasts suggesting members for the 'searcher'; free-flow of communication between members since there was no restriction of characters in messages sent or fees per message and finally cultural exposure with options to search potentials around the globe who are 'legit'. Insight: What did not work so well? KM past member: Actually, I have no criticism but obviously features can be added to make it more viable to those who intended to get married.
Insight: How did you find your 'other half’? What steps did you take? KM past member: First I narrowed it down via geography. I figured out common interests between us: She’s from a Liverpool supporting family and I'm a Man United fan. I matched my profile personality to hers. When comfortable, we spoke and met several times by parental approval. And then Alhamdulillah finally came to a mutual decision based on realistic expectations and establishing the right foundations of the relationship For example what’s important like work ethic and an awareness of religious duties. Insight: How did you move off the site - did you tell your parents straight away? KM past member: After determining common interests, ambitions and being transparent with one another. We had a connection and decided to take it to the 'next level'. Insight: What would you recommend we tell other single Khojas to encourage them to sign up to KM? KM past member: Absolutely, especially in this day and age where other matrimonial websites are suspicious and it connects people who share. I think it breaks the stereotype about social circle (not in an offensive way). Insight: Thank you With more members joining up to the website, the database is growing. If you or someone you know is looking to get married, sign up to www.khojamatch.com. It is one other way to find your destined spouse Insha’Allah.
For a better future: The journey of the Khoja Shia Ithna Asheri Community Our community has transformed irreversibly. The needs, challenges and anxieties of our forefathers when they left the ports of Porbander in the late 19th Century were of a very different kind. At that stage, our forefathers were focussed on relieving their economic hardships. Immigration from India to East Africa was a forced one in search of relief from the famine in India which affected our community significantly. As many of our forefathers travelled towards Africa, they did so to start a new life and eventually found differing levels of prosperity. Our forefathers were conscious of the need to retain our faith, our language and our culture and so formed closeknit communities. That mind-set of retaining our faith and culture must continue to exist today. Against all the odds in this strange new land, they formed institutions 'Jamaats', then the Africa Federation and then The World Federation. Not only did they (and still do) provide religious services but often social services, welfare support, networking opportunities and importantly an atmosphere of commonality and brotherhood.
Shan E Abbas Hassam Secretary General
Furthermore, the next generation from Africa and indeed from Pakistan and elsewhere then continued this process of migration; with our community members settling in Europe, North America, Dubai and other s scattered into other developed countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore and even Brazil. What is quite clear is that our community has, to some extent, managed to keep a strong sense of identity, religious vigour and brotherhood. However, in today's 21st Century, our community that has adapted through all the challenges it has faced, will need to continue to adapt in order to survive. Furthermore, it is important to point out that the modern society has brought with it a multiplicity of challenges that we can only ignore at our peril. So how will our Khoja Shia Ithna Asheri Community survive in the 21st century and beyond? For us to survive, prosper and maintain the vibrancy of our community then we will have no choice but to continue adapting: a trait of our forefathers. But to do this, it is important for a period of reflection to occur.
Imam Ali (AS) has said: 'Success is the result of foresight and resolution, foresight depends upon deep thinking and planning...' It is high time that we focus our energies in reflecting on the global context in which we survive and for us to think strategically. We must build upon the good work and the thinking of the Strategic Plan which began in 2003 and indeed create a plan for the next 20 years - 'A Generational Plan.' For The World Federation to do this, a full survey (or indeed census) of our community is needed. Although our institutions have done wonderful work for the community, a global set of data has been never been recorded to analyse our population and to create policies based on that data. A detailed global survey will help us understand the make-up of our community: its health, prosperity, spiritual needs and social problems.
the next 20 years. I fervently believe that our institutions must be focussed, unified in their approach and clear on the direction of the community. We cannot do this without fully understanding the community's needs and current context globally and thoroughly. However, once this has been done thoroughly, we mustn't be ashamed of creating long-term programmes that will help bring our community forward. Let us thank Allah (SWT) for the resources and intellectual capacity that He has placed in our community, for the values He has entrenched in our institutions and for the Tawfeeq He has given the fortunate few to serve.
It will help us assess the social and living conditions of our community. Its results will be an essential tool for effective policy making and planning; most importantly it will help our institutions create this 'Generational Plan.' Simply put, this 'Generational Plan' is one which need to help us understand our context and to adapt for the future. It will help our institutions make long term commitments and agree on a common direction forward in many areas. It will help re-energise our leadership and create clarity on the fundamental actions, programmes and areas which we need to concentrate on. I have therefore brought in a team at The World Federation (a mix of youthful volunteers and experienced community workers) that will first focus on creating a survey/census for our community. We will need the support of The Regional Federations and Jamaats in order to gain as many answers from our community members. The more data we will receive, the more accurate the global survey/ census will be. Not only will a full questionnaire be needed but qualitative data (by gathering a sample of interviews from community members will also be required). Our leadership must be made aware of this historic and mammoth task. Not only will financial resources be needed, but a full cadre of volunteers across The World Federation and the Regional Federations. From this data collection exercise, we will ask the next Conference to create a team to assess and analyse the data to create a 'Generation Plan' for our institutions for
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Physical fitness and moral fibre: the inspiration for the modern Olympics Sixty-four years since London last hosted the prestigious games; during the summer of 2012 the capital of England yet again celebrated the awe-inspiring collation of sporting events that is known as the modern Olympics. Whether you are interested in the Olympics or not, it is an event that takes place every four years that is practically impossible to avoid. It not only celebrates the merriment of sporting prowess, but represents all nations from across the globe, without exception, coming together peacefully to promote the qualities that sustain life itself, physical fitness and moral fibre. Londonâ€™s bid to host the Olympic games won favour from the International Olympic Committee at the expense of strong rival bids from other cities due to one pivotal pledge, the commitment to inspire the younger generation to partake in sport and in turn promote fitness intertwined with morality for generations to come; extending the games beyond the few weeks during which they physically occur. This runs to the very core of the inspiration of the modern Olympics itself, the essence of why the Olympics were resurrected. When we reflect upon these Olympic pillars of promoting fitness and morality, we become conscious of how this mirrors our Shia Islamic religion. It is often discussed within the realms of our faith that we must work towards promoting
Dr Abbas Ramji
our wellbeing, both physically and spiritually in order to optimise benefits of this world and the hereafter. Londonâ€™s Olympic Organising Committee ingeniously promoted the story of how the modern Olympics were enthused in a very subtle manner that may have escaped even the most discerning spectator. The 2012 Olympic mascot, a one eyed alien-looking blue creature was named Wenlock. Delving into the eye of Wenlock opens up the tale of a single minded English country doctor, William Penny Brookes, born in 1809 in Much Wenlock, Shropshire, England. Dr Brookes trained in surgery in London and also ironically in Paris, the unsuccessful rival Olympic city bidder, before returning to his home in the English Midlands to take over his fatherâ€™s medical practice in 1831. As a self-fulfilled Victorian philanthropist, Dr Brookes immersed himself into building and developing his local community, having almost solitarily established the local school, improved the roads, introduced street lighting and brought railway to his town. However, more than all these esteemed accomplishments, his true ambition was to revive the ancient Olympics. Dr Brookes set up the Wenlock Agricultural Reading society in 1841, and less than a decade later, an off shoot from this organisation was the Wenlock Olympic Society.
beacon of a character, who campaigned throughout his life for an Olympic games to promote physical fitness and moral fibre, passed away weeks before the first modern Olympics opened in Athens in 1896.
This organisation devoted itself to staging an annual sporting event to “promote the moral, physical and intellectual improvement” of the town’s inhabitants, “especially of the working classes by the encouragement of outdoor recreation”. Perhaps it can be argued that this nineteenth century committee in the rural English countryside was the modern inspiration of outdoor physical games in schools across the world. Dr Brookes’ inspiration was noted to be based upon his knowledge about premature deaths among weavers, through a lack of outdoor exercise. He was well known for lobbying the British Government of the era to make physical exercise a compulsory element of the school curriculum, using evidence that he collected from Wenlock schoolboys that gymnastics improves physique. Likewise, our Jamaats across the world also aim to promote sports within our communities as a central activity through their sporting events and regular sessions. This not only promotes improved physical health of our communities, but contributes towards enhanced social cohesion, the essential ingredient for a successful community.
Using this year’s Olympic Games, we as a global community must take inspiration from this individual to promote well-being and improved health among ourselves both individually and collectively. Regional sports tournaments are held among our community on a regular basis but perhaps they only attract a specific sector from within our community. The challenge now lies in how to modify these tournaments to promote on-going improved health throughout the year as a continuum and to also consider how such events can appeal to the wider community as do the Olympic Games themselves. Reference: Moore W (2012). A doctor’s lifelong campaign to revive the Olympic Games. BMJ, 344, 51.
Utilising the ideals of the creativeness of ancient Greek athletics, the first games initiated by Dr Brookes were held in a field in the crisp English autumn of 1850 with the full pageantry and eccentricity of a village fayre. Sports included hurdles, running, cricket, football, cycling on penny farthings, blindfolded wheelbarrow races and even a race for “old women” to win a pound of tea. These games continue annually even today. Dr Brookes’ sights were set beyond Much Wenlock to an international stage. He initially lobbied the local council until the Shropshire Olympic Games; regional county-wide games were setup in 1861. Having then cofounded the British National Olympic Association, he helped establish Britain’s first national Olympics held in Crystal Palace, London in 1866. He continued his plight by diligently lobbying the Greek Government to reinstate the International Olympic Games. This inspirational
Dr Hussein Jiwa: An inspiring tale of passion and coordination
The Mulla Asghar Memorial Tournament (MAMT) is the biggest annual sporting event within the Khoja Shia Ithna’Ashery Community of Europe. The tournament, whose namesake himself was an inspiration for our community, has grown from mere 120 participants at its inception to currently attracting over 600 sports persons annually. Dr Hussein Jiwa is one of the pioneers of MAMT, also currently the president of the Council of European Jamaats (CoEJ). Born in Moshi, Tanzania in 1955, Dr Jiwa migrated to Pakistan in the 1960’s and later qualified as a Medical Doctor (M.B.B.S.) from Liaqat Medical College Hyderabad in 1980. A year later he completed Houseman ship in Orthopaedic Surgery and General Surgery at Liaqat Medical Hospital thence joined Pakistan Army as a General Duty Medical Officer with a rank of Captain. In 1992 Dr Jiwa acquired a Diploma in Osteopathy and Naturopathy (a system of medicine founded on the belief that diet, mental state, exercise, breathing, and other natural factors are central to the origin and treatment of disease) from the British College of Naturopathy & Osteopathy. He now works as Registered Osteopath within the NHS and private practice in London and Peterborough. Dr Jiwa is married to Saeeda Panjwani and has been blessed with two sons. He is a member of the Peterborough Jamaat
where he has served as a committee member, youth coordinator and chairman of the Peterborough Shia Sports Club. At a regional level, he joined the European Hajj Mission in 1995 as a group doctor and has been offering his services to the Hujjaj ever since. Prior to his present post in CoEJ, he has also served as Chairman of its Health Improvement Board and the Vice President. Dr Jiwa talked to the Insight team about his experiences and passion for sports within our community: Insight: Salaam Alaykum. Dr Jiwa: Wa ‘Alaykum Salaam. Insight: What was your motivation behind your organizing of the MAMTs? Dr Jiwa: In 1994 I became the local jamaat Shia Sports table tennis captain where we organised Friday night indoor sports at the mosque. We later introduced our local Shia Sports team into the Peterborough table tennis league. When I was elected Peterborough Shia Sports secretary, we extended to outdoor sports activities and developed ladies sports. Inspired by the huge turn out and tremendous interest of youngsters during these events, I proceeded to organise an inter-jamaat sports event. In 2000 we organised an annual sports festival under the banner of CoEJ: ‘The CoEJ Bank Holiday August Tournament’. Then after the sad demise of Marhum Mulla Asghar in 2001, we renamed the tournament to its current title, in the memory of Mulla and on the ethos that he taught us: discipline and taqwa.
Insight: As an extension to this, do you think we can extend these tournaments from inter-regional to intraregional? The Khoja Olympics? Dr Jiwa: Since CoEJ started hosting these sports tournaments the number of participants has increased and Alhamdulillah at present we have over 600 male and 200 female participants, plus spectators and invitees. Besides Europe, we have guest teams from Dubai and Canada. Over the years MAMT organisers have gained a tremendous experience and I can say confidently that the CoEJ MAMT team has the potential, ability and capacity to produce an annual Shia Ithnaâ€™Asheri sports festival for Europe under the banner of CoEJ. To me the idea of Khoja Olympics sounds good provided the venue is easily accessible and economical. We need to consider the logistics involved including travel, accommodation, transportation, catering, medical assistance and security. It's not impossible but we need to think about venues that can address all of the above. Insight: Do you foresee children of our Madaris more commonly competing in sports at International level? Can we dream of a situation whereby our community is able to produce the likes of Usain Bolt and alike? Dr Jiwa: By integrating sports more within our community, we may well find that those excellent sporting ideals of self-motivation, comradeship, discipline, and teamwork will only aid us in preparing our children for the world before them. Our Madrassa children can and Insha'Allah will, one day be competing at international level. All it needs is motivation, a commitment and positive support from their parents and encouragement from their elders and mentors within their local Jamaats. These children need nurturing from a very early age and given professional training. We have a number of our children who regularly attend professional training in various sports including football, tennis, cricket and table tennis. The classic example is Aasif Yusuf Karim, current president of Nairobi Jamaat, who was an international cricket player representing Kenyan as captain in the world cup. He is also a very keen tennis player and has previously represented Kenya in the Davis Cup.
Insight: Do you think our centres, especially those being planned or those that are being constructed should have dedicated sports facilities? Dr Jiwa: Ideally our centres should have a purpose built sports complex but in reality this would be difficult to maintain. It would be good to see new centres with purpose built low maintenance indoor games facilities, which could be shared, separately by ladies and gents. Hosting sporting events within our centres would inspire our community to come together to play for and support their respective teams. Additionally, having some sporting facilities within our centres would certainly encourage more ladies to participate in sports. They would feel more secure and be able to observe Hijab while playing. Insight: What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our community in terms of participation and promotion of sports? Dr Jiwa: We are lucky that we live in a world where sports are widely broadcast. From school, to college and university, even at home on television; youngsters are presented with various sporting influences all year round. Sports, especially team sports, are an excellent way to teach young children discipline, self-control, and the importance of taking care of your health. I feel that as a community, we are not fully tapping into this well of opportunity we have been handed. We still see sports as more of a hobby or just a form of socialising. What we need to do is take the concept of sports more seriously and provide our children with the same opportunities as they can get outside. We cannot however, ignore the issues that affect our sisters when it comes to playing sports. It is our duty to ensure that we promote the observation of Hijab; however this can prove difficult when taking part in sports. Finding venues that cater for female only court bookings, or swimming sessions, is not always easy and this can play a big part in deterring our girls from sports. Overcoming this problem is certainly one of the biggest challenges we face as a community. Insight: What is your vision of sports for the community? Dr Jiwa: We hold tournaments not only for the obvious sporting purposes but also for the broader benefits these events bring-an ideal opportunity to promote unity in our community. These events avail us a rare opportunity to meet each other, promote brotherhood and allow us to
build new relationships through networking. I have seen in many years that members young and old, from different jamaats, meet here and form long-lasting friendships. I believe we should continue to be proactive in sports and am encouraged not only by the increased interest and participation in the sporting events within and beyond our community, but also by the dedication and efforts of various volunteers and respective hosts.
With continued hard work and perseverance, and by the grace of Allah SWT, we can record more success in our efforts and overcome the challenges mentioned above.
Insight: Alhaj Husseinbhai, What sports are you involved in? Dr Jiwa: I am an ardent Table Tennis fan and have been playing table tennis since my school days. I have played for my local jamaat and competed in a number of CoEJ MAMT tournaments as well as in the Peterborough table tennis league. Insight: Thank you for giving us the opportunity to interview you. Dr Jiwa: On the contrary, I must thank you for giving me the opportunity to express my passion about sports in our community.
World Cup 2013 Football : Birmingham (European Champions) Vs Dar es Salaam (African Champions) Volleyball : Stanmore (European Champions) Vs Dubai (Middle East Champions) We have the leaders, the volunteers, the sports people and the organisation; so why not? MAMT has evolved from its humble beginnings into a major sporting event in our communitiesâ€™ annual calendar. Do you think it is should continue to run in its current format or there is a case for elevating MAMT into a global sporting festival within our community? Should we do it? Can we do it? Please email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Alleviating environmental challenges:
It starts with YOU! Allah has blessed us with a world that is filled with abundant natural resources, from forests that provide us with wood and medicine to the water we need for our survival; unfortunately, our actions have created a severe global crisis felt in all corners of the world. In the last century alone, we have seen rapid economic and social development, but this comes at a cost to our valuable environment. It is evident that our environment is suffering, our climate is changing, we are experiencing biodiversity loss and most of this is driven by our actions, our unsustainable production and consumption patterns, creating social tensions and resource shortages. “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” - Native American proverb. We have two choices here: to either continue business as usual by continuing to pollute and damage our environment or we can consciously change ourselves through our daily actions so that our children, grand children and future generations, until the day of the arrival of our living Imam Mahdi (AS), can inherit a clean environment. Did you know: If each one of us lived the lifestyle of the average American, we would need five planets?
It is never too late for us to change. But what we must encourage, at this crucial time, is change amongst the younger generation. Today’s generation of young people is the largest in history with half of the world’s population under the age of 25, most living in developing countries such as my own country of Tanzania. We must help our children understand that: what the media portrays as a happy and fulfilling life driven by unbridled consumption, is not in line with our Islamic teachings that encourage sustainable consumption. This is clearly stated by Allah (SWT) in the Holy Qur’an “And be not excessive. Indeed, He does not like those who commit excess” (Surat Al-'An`ãm, 6:141). Our world population is estimated to be 7 billion people, all competing for the same natural resources to meet our needs. As Muslims, we are discouraged from being wasteful in our habits, which can be applied to everything from water and energy consumption to food and spending our wealth on materialistic items we do not need. We need to remember that while some of us are able to exceed our requirements, there are billions in the world who cannot consume enough to meet their basic needs. There are 925 million hungry people in the world and 98 percent of them are in developing countries, some 37% per cent
of the developing world’s population – 2.5 billion people – lack improved sanitation facilities, and over 780 million people still use unsafe drinking water sources. These are scary statistics that not only shed light into the imbalances of this world, but remind us that we should be grateful for what Allah has provided us with and treat those blessings well, by consuming responsibly, being sustainable in all our actions, and sharing whenever we can. As parents, guardians and care-takers, we all have a role to play in highlighting the relationship between Islam and addressing environmental challenges through our daily sustainable actions, in particular to our children. Let us recall what Imam Sajjad (AS), our fourth Imam said: “The right of your child is that you know that he has emerged from you in this world, his right and wrong are attributed to you. You are responsible of his fine teaching and training.” At a time when the Earth’s natural resources are being depleted faster than they can be replenished, adopting sustainable ways of living that are in line with our communities and nature has never been more critical. In fact, there are some very basic steps we can do to minimize our impact on the environment, to help reduce the stress we add on the environment by overconsumption. Here are some tips to help you adjust your lifestyle choices at home, at school and at work. Most of these tips come from the ‘UNEP/UNESCO YouthXchange Climate Change and Lifestyles Guidebook’.
Lifestyle choices: How your actions can make a difference What we EAT The Holy Prophet (PBUH) said: “There are three traits which Allah loves (in people): briefness in speech, short (length) of sleep and small (portion) of food; while there are three traits which He dislikes (in them): loquaciousness, oversleeping, and overeating.” We all need food and drink to survive, however, the choices we make on these have an impact on our environment and contribute to climate change, for example through transportation of food from where it is grown to where it is consumed. Here are some things to keep in mind:
• Food miles are a way of measuring our food’s footprint to see how far a particular food has travelled to get to our plates. Although food miles account for a small proportion of the energy consumed and emissions produced by the food industry, you can try as much as possible to consume locally grown food, which travel less distances to reach your plate and therefore have less impact on the environment. Organic food, produced using organic farming methods, produce fewer emissions and use less energy - another responsible choice to make. • Livestock release greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change, through their respiration and digestion. By reducing our meat consumption and having more meat-free meals, we can help decrease greenhouse gas emissions released by livestock. • Water use in food production is highly influential. About 70% of global water use is for agriculture including food processing and manufacturing. Therefore, to help address this high water use, we need to consume less of the diets that consume high levels of water, such as a lot of meat or processed foods.
How we TRAVEL The Holy Prophet (PBUH) said: “Travel even if you do not acquire wealth, you will broaden your perceptivity.” He also said: “Travel so that you become healthy, and struggle so that you become bountiful, and perform Hajj so that you become enriched materially and spiritually.” Islam encourages us to travel so that we can gain knowledge. For many of us, travelling has become a part of our lives, be it for work, for studies, for pleasure or to visit family. However, is this travel always needed and can we travel more responsibly without hurting the environment? About 15% of overall greenhouse gas emissions come from transport since most of our modern transport method relies on oil or other fossil fuels for energy, which all contribute to climate change. Here are some tips to help us travel more responsibly: • Public transport, especially for those living in developed countries, is the best solution. Buses, trains or metros (urban rail systems) that we have in cities like London, New York and Paris, among
many other cities, are very efficient and contribute less to climate change than driving your own car. • Car pooling or car sharing are other options that are environmentally friendly. Next time you are on your way to mosque or are dropping your children at school, why not give others a lift along the way. In the long term, this will take cars off the road, it will help reduce traffic, emissions and pollution and it will make you feel good by helping others. • What about walking or cycling? Or even better, staying home and communicating via skype or any other kind of communication?
How we use ENERGY We need energy for everything in our lives, from the electricity we use for cooking, working and doing our homework, to getting from one place to another. Unfortunately, most of our energy comes from fossil fuels like oil, coal and natural gas, all of which, when released into the environment, contribute to environmental problems like climate change. We now have the technology to use energy in a more efficient way by using energy from renewable sources such as sun, wind, and water. Did you know: Enough sunshine reaches the Earth in two hours to meet the world’s energy needs for a year? Until our governments decide to say no to fossil fuels and yes to renewable energy sources, it is upon us to curb our energy consumption to help reduce environmental challenges. We can do this by: • Controlling the temperature is one way you can use less energy. Whether you live in Canada where you need more heat during the winter, or in Kenya where you need air-conditioning to cool your homes – remember that minimal heating and minimal cooling is the best way to go.
computers in your house, don’t turn them on at the same time – why don’t you share them as a family and watch TV together? If you aren’t using electrical appliances, unplug them from the main switches – this helps save electricity!
How we SHOP Many people love to shop, but is shopping necessary? Buying new things is not always the best solution. Here are some tips to help you along the way: • Next time you plan on going shopping, ask yourself whether you really need to buy new things. What about borrowing, swapping, buying second-hand, making or repairing? These options are definitely better for the environment. • Every shopping trip you make, remember the five Rs: Rethink – do you really need to buy the new item? Reduce – if you must buy it, could you use less of it? Repair – could you repair your old item rather than buying a new one? Re-use – could your new item be used for more than just one purpose? Recycle – can you recycle your old items? Every item you buy has its own lifecycle from the sourcing of raw materials, to the energy required during use, to the waste produced through disposal. Therefore, think wisely next time you buy something, and buy things that have a lifecycle that is not as harmful to the environment. These are just some of the many ways you can change your lifestyle to be more sustainable. As Muslims, we must remember that Allah (SWT) has blessed us with these resources for our survival and enjoyment, however, we are also the care-takers of this beautiful Earth and we are accountable for all our actions. Let us be honest, sustainable and responsible in all our actions so that Allah may be pleased with us, inshAllah!
• Controlling electric appliances is crucial. Next time you buy a new light bulb, buy the energy efficient ones. When you leave the room, turn off the light. When you wash your clothes in the machine, make sure you fully load the machine and wash at lower temperatures to help reduce electricity usage and air-dry your clothes! If you have multiple TVs and
Going for the gold Sharply attired in their team’s red sports jerseys and hoisting black leather badminton backpacks firmly onto their shoulders, Toronto jamaat’s first professional female badminton team is an impressive ensemble of muscle, strength and vitality. To a curious onlooker watching them stride into the gymnasium, they can easily pass for an Olympic team setting out to defend the gold medal for their nation. Truth be told, they consider their mission to be no less significant. The 14 team members aged between 20 and 45 years consist of an eclectic team of university students, working women, newlyweds and young mothers. The resultant assortment of skills and combined prowess has enabled them to secure the winning position for the Toronto jamaat at several tournaments across North America. Over the years, they have travelled to New York, Orlando, Florida, Los Angeles and Minnesota to compete with the community’s best and finest badminton players from across North America. “It’s been a great way to keep fit, have fun and develop some really great friendships,” remarks Fatima (Hudda) Jamal, a mother of two who also juggles a full-time job with her busy badminton schedule. “My husband and children are really supportive when I have to travel for
Shyrose Jaffer Dhalla
tournaments. They even come out and cheer for me at games!” Attributing much of their success to fellow player Shellina Jessa’s efforts to coach, train and organize them, the hardworking team dedicatedly meets twice a week to improve their skills. A quick look at their adeptness and remarkable performance on the court and it is easy to see that the relentless schedule has paid off. It has undoubtedly been an exercise of real determination and relentless commitment for a team that has had to build itself from the ground up with limited resources, coaching and financial backing. “We have had to learn the rules of the game, adopt fair scoring practices, train our referees and learn the proper skills,” explains Fatima Tarbhai during a break following an intense practice game. “Playing professionally has also meant preparing for the many costs involved”. To help offset costs each year, team members embark upon a vigorous fundraising campaign for sponsors and spend long hours phoning and offering tax refundable receipts to local businesses and individual community members for their donations. “It is time consuming and challenging but each of us must bring in a certain amount of funds or we simply can’t play,” she asserts vehemently.
“We are grateful to NASIMCO and our sponsors for their support and for helping us to make this possible.” Having a gymnasium at the community’s newly built Ja’ffari Islamic Centre has been a great asset in ensuring the team’s longevity. “A lot of communities may consider having a gym a waste of money but we have seen that it has motivated a lot of people and helped them understand the importance of healthy exercise,” comments Fatima Tarbhai. “We have hundreds of ladies turn up during Ramdhan sports nights who end up getting hooked to sports! Having a place to play in has really made sports an important part of life for many who had never considered playing before.”
The future promises to be decidedly bright for “The Badmintonians” from Toronto and the global community will be watching expectantly to rejoice in their upcoming successes.
The team has been delighted to find that their local tournaments have been attracting a lot of spectators. “The atmosphere at the gym becomes so lively and that motivates us,” says Tarbhai. “The best times are definitely during Ramdhan nights, with people often setting up their scrabble games and trivia competitions in the bleachers. Even the seniors come in to watch and cheer for us. I once had a senior come up to me to tell me they were reciting duas for us to win. She even told me what to recite to improve my game! I sometimes ask my grandma to help blow the whistle for us and she absolutely loves wearing it around her neck and being a part of all the action.” Perhaps the strongest pull that that keeps the players returning to play each term is the easy camaraderie and sisterhood enjoyed by the team. The bond shared by the women is evident in the frequent and exuberant highfives, good–natured teasing and elated cheering for fellow players. After practice, the team inevitably ends up at the mosque’s ‘Salaam Cafe’ for burgers, ribs and mishkaki as they chat and share laughter. “That time when we chill out is really important,” reveals Tarbhai, “it not only helps develop strong friendships but it also helps us play better as a team afterwards.” Interestingly, team members have also found that playing the sport has contributed to their spiritual side. “We always break for namaaz and this has made us disciplined in our playing times. We are always aware of the Islamic calendar because our playing schedule is only changed when there is a khushali’ or wafaat,” observes Tarbhai. “A lot of us, especially the new International students, end up coming to mosque events more frequently because we may schedule a game later at night or after Iftaar. We are truly blessed to have our own professional team.”
Lloyds TSB recognises the Olympic spirit of a khoja volunteer:
Sibtain Damji / Bashir Damji
For most of us, the travel disruptions, the web of bunting and the themed adverts became a cause of apathy. But what is it that the Olympics actually gave us? Like all sporting events, it is something to root for; a cause to support. We silently prayed for our teams in the various events and kept a close eye on the Olympic medal count. From Peterborough’s Hussaini Islamic Centre, Sibtain Damji was one of the torchbearers involved in the Olympic torch relay. A Sales Manager at the Lloyds TSB Central Peterborough branch, he was nominated by his Colleagues at work for endless hours of work he has put into the Shia Sports club during his lunch breaks and out of hours. The person who converted Sibtain’s and his community’s Olympic Torch dream into an epochmaking reality was Emma Smith, his Branch Manager. A motivating leader in her own right, Emma recognised the hard work Sibtain does for his jamaat, Shia Sports and the Mulla Asghar Memorial Tournament (MAMT), amongst others. She wrote the following testimony when nominating Sibtain for the relay: "Sibtain runs a charity called Shia Sports and dedicates his weekends and evenings to running this. This involves arranging sports events for children as young as 5, encouraging them to participate in sport and keep them off the street, and to unite his Muslim community
through sports and team building. Sibtain helps to keep them active and encourages sport. At lunchtime he is constantly on the phone booking sports halls, venues etc. to ensure the children are kept active. He invites people from abroad to come over for the week and compete against each other too. Sib raised £800 recently for charity but over the years between himself and his late father he has raised thousands for charity. Charity work is so important to Sibtain because of his faith and the memory of his Father and helping a friend in need is his nature. He is keen to continue to do this as this is what he enjoys” Shia Sports is a charity under the Husseini Islamic Centre, Peterborough that aims to provide sporting opportunities to all members of the community. Run by a team of passionate youngsters, Shia Sports is a group of community volunteers keen on sustaining the noble legacy of their parents. Sibtain’s father, late Aunali Damji, originally from Kighoma -Tanzania, was a proactive member of Shia Sports and one of the founders of the MAMT. Al-Hajj Aunalis’ spirit of serving his community is now being carried posthumously by his energetic son, Sibtain. The Shia Sports motto of “Giving back to the community, it’s what we do best” is replicated across different centres run by the community.
Involvement in the Olympics goes beyond a love of sport to a need to show the successful integration of Shias in the wider community. The involvement and demonstration of Khojas and Muslims as a whole in the media surrounding the Olympics has served well in promoting the values of Islam in a peaceful way.
You can follow Sibtain and Abbasali’s Olympic Journey via ‘@AHDamani’ and ‘@Shia Sports’ or you can read more about ShiaSports at www.shiasports.com/sports-pundit.
Members of the Shia Sports Peterborough with the torch. Another proud member of Shia Sports, Abbasali Damani (far left) will also be involved in the Olympics this year as a Volleyball Field of Play Volunteer.
The status of women: Manifesting the ideals of Islam in our communities institutions
Shyrose Jaffer Dhalla
The issue of womenâ€™s participation in decision-making in our communities continues to be a valid concern as evidenced by questionnaire answers, discussions at open forums and at meetings. In countless testimonials obtained while collecting data for the World Federationâ€™s Womenâ€™s Needs Assessment, women around the world have reported feeling unheard, overlooked and silenced; many have expressed the sentiment that community leaders are not interested in their opinions and that the denial of the fundamental right to vote has only compounded this prevalent atmosphere. While women commonly lead in their own separate ladies committees, they continue to lack representation at the jamaat executive level and are typically denied voting rights during elections and major decision-making referendums. Consistently excluded from discussions which directly impact them such as building plans, allotment of budgets, fundraising initiatives and cost cutting measures, female leaders report being unable to make independent decisions for ladies programs and even a lack of access to mosque premises, audio/visual equipment and community resources. The hard work of dedicated community members in various parts of the world has challenged this familiar status quo and many trailblazing communities are leading the way by example. Noteworthy milestones across the globe range from a female jamaat president (Kitchener,
Canada), women on executive teams/constitutional reform committees (Toronto, Los Angeles, etc), female representation on Regional teams for NASIMCO (Orlando, Vancouver, Toronto) and female councillors and sub-committee members for the World Federation (UK, Canada). While due recognition must be given to such progress, remaining gaps in representation and challenges in other regions remain alarmingly common and call for a continued, sustained effort. We are believers of a faith that has promoted and granted rights to women at a time when the rest of society lagged behind dismally. Indeed, the argument that the Western world denied recognition and voting rights to women at a time when Islam granted respect and inheritance to them is often cited to prove our ideological stance on the status of women. As it stands, however, the Western world has long since made advances to amend their laws and constitutions to accord women voting privileges. The ironic discrepancy in so many of our own jamaat constitutions indicates that we must accelerate our efforts to grant women their rights. Islamic history shows us great examples of female role models from the family of the Holy Prophet (SAW) that have played pivotal roles in political events; it behoves us, as followers of the Shia Ithnasheri faith, to be at the forefront of a movement that encourages female voting rights, participation and leadership in the political arena.
The United Nations Report (October 2005) on the “Equal Participation of Women and Men in DecisionMaking Processes, with Particular Emphasis on Political Participation and Leadership” gives many valid reasons and favourable outcomes that warrant increased female political participation and leadership. Women account for approximately half the population and therefore have the right to be represented as such. The equal representation of women and men enhances the democratization of our governance, promotes justice and enhances an atmosphere of fairness. The global community under the leadership of World Federation is increasingly becoming aware of the challenges faced by women in our communities and promising efforts are being made in various regions to promote the advancement of women. A glowing example is that of the nationally governing regional body of the North American Shia Ithnasheri Muslim communities (NASIMCO) which has set a historical precedence with the presence of 3 female executive councillors (out of a total of 8) while advocating that its female members be given the right to be seated at the same table as the rest of the team at all local, regional and international meetings. And in a bold gesture that has truly demonstrated their firm commitment towards the empowerment of women, the 31st annual NASIMCO conference was centered on the theme, “Practical Pathways to Progress: The Female Role.” Community leaders across North America were obliged to consider the status of women as distinguished female keynote speakers drew attention to the persisting inequality between men and women in decision-making while especially discussing women’s persistent exclusion from voting and formal politics. Traditionally an event attended solely by males, this NASIMCO conference hit a milestone with an unprecedented number of female participants; women and chairladies from various communities had been especially invited, given the pertinence of the theme. Female chairladies and political leaders were seated at the main table alongside their male counterparts. Even more importantly, the workshops, led also by female facilitators, defined two strategic objectives in the critical area of concern on women in power and decision-making: (a) to identify strategies at a local level to engage women in Jamaat management committees and (b) to identify strategies at the regional level to engage member Jamaats to involve women. Undeniably, as allies, men have an essential role in supporting women’s initiatives and movements in their efforts towards equality. The aforementioned example of the NASIMCO conference is a classic example of how
male leaders on executive teams can set an agenda and organize debate to influence political will geared towards the advancement of women. It is imperative that the males of our community be galvanized to make a conscious decision to create awareness for this cause and to join their efforts in bringing these goals to fruition. Timing, when endeavouring to bring change, is an important consideration: there are certain times in the political process when the opportunities to introduce reform are greatly increased. In communities and regions undergoing transition, election of new administrative teams and constitutional or legal reform, such windows of opportunity often exist and must be optimally taken advantage of. Preparing for the way forward entails that women be motivated, trained and prepared for leadership roles through effective mentorship and access to training and skills development. Workshops to attain this goal should range from topics such as how to be involved in politics, the merits of joining the political arena, nuances of constitutional documents, advocating and effectively lobbying for change. Successful mentoring should also involve attendance at executive and AGM meetings to allow women to develop and fine-tune their political skills. At the same time, it is imperative that constant, due consideration be given to any obstacles or challenges that may hinder accessibility for women. Key aspects of planning must be undertaken with a keen sensitivity to time of meetings, proximity, type of venue and offered services such as childcare. Removing the prevailing glass ceiling in our governing structures may seem like a utopian dream but as we have seen in mainstream society, with hard work and strongwill it is definitely possible. The voices of women are valuable and our communities stand to benefit when we involve them to take part in discussion, debate, lobbying, creating agenda and undertaking formal and informal activism. Their input on special groups, advisory panels, financial and fundraising teams, building/renovation teams, sub-committees and regional teams will enable us to make even greater achievements in the upcoming years. May Allah (SWT) help us to achieve these worthy goals and guide us towards justice and equity for all, ameen. Shyrose Jaffer Dhalla is a NASIMCO tier 5 Executive Councillor and is the North American Liaison for World Federation’s Women’s Needs Assessment initiative. She presented her full report and action plan for the political advancement of women at the annual NASIMCO conference (June 2012) in Miami, USA.
Profile of a local sports person:
Sarfaraz Daya - Golf The crowd erupted into a deafening round of thunderous applause and exuberant cheers when the 14 year old teenager stepped up to the winner’s podium to accept his trophy as the winner of the prestigious 2001 KLM Golf Tournament. “I took that massive trophy in my hands,” remembers Sarfaraz Daya, now 25 yrs old, “and I looked at my father across all those people and we both had this huge smile on our faces. It was one of the most awesome moments of my life!”
Shyrose Jaffer Dhalla
His exceptional skills have since taken him across the globe to compete in a dizzying number of tournaments in Dubai, Kenya, Moshi, Vancouver, Orlando, Los Angeles, Niagara Falls and Toronto.
Just three years prior, Sarfaraz was a rambunctious 11 year old who had pulled on his father’s arm to buy him a set of plastic golf clubs. His father, Munir Daya, instead bought him a junior set of clubs which inevitably unleashed a hidden masterstroke genius who would emerge onto the golf course. In a triumphant streak, Sarfaraz Daya has claimed victory after victory in a blazing meteoric sweep that has placed him firmly at the top of the winners’ podiums across the world.
Eleven years since that victorious moment in Netherlands, Sarfaraz who is famously nicknamed ‘Junior Woods’, continues to firmly stake a solitary spot in the winner’s podium, unshakeable in his position at Number One. Considered the best ranked player (2007) at the age of 19 yrs on the National Team of Tanzania (a distinction he could not officially hold due to his Canadian citizenship) he has won several TAGA (Toronto Amateur Golf Association) tournaments, the Great lakes Professional Golf Tour, and first position at numerous JGA (Jaffari Golf Association) Tours. His exceptional golf skills have contributed to major victories for the Mehdi Cup, Haider Cup, University of Toronto’s Varsity team and Canadian Interuniversity sports.
A mere eight months after his historic win at the prestigious KLM Golf tournament, he went on to win the Arusha Open (2007) defeating 115 of the best golf players from across Africa. By age 15, he was selected to represent Tanzania in the Junior World Cup (2002) in Scotland. A glittering array of over 85 gold trophies, beautiful glass plaques and golf statuettes chronicle his numerous victories, testifying to his outstanding skills.
Despite the high ranks and multitude of successes, Sarfaraz remains grounded about the factors that have contributed to his successes. The game of golf has always held an inexplicable intrigue and fascination for Sarfaraz. He remembers the long drives past Ocean Road in Dar es Salaam when he would wistfully peer out of the car window as a child, watching the golfers playing. “If my father had not continued to believe in me and pay for the
expenses, there is no way I could have made it this far; he just trusted me. And I really admire him for that.” Playing golf meant waking up extremely early on weekends to make it for 6.00 am tee times but that did not deter the energetic adolescent. “My game was improving exponentially even though I was only able to play on weekends. I had no formal training so my caddy would show me how to hold the club but I had to learn about technique by myself.” By the age of 17 years, Sarfaraz’s handicap was at an amazing ‘zero’ making him what is referred to in golf lingo as a ‘scratch player’. He was not only winning countless tournaments but making incredible accomplishments including making a thirty foot putt into the final hole for a birdie that led him to victory at a TAGA tournament (2008) in Toronto.
fact, finishing second is the worst thing for me. Coming second place says to me ‘you did not win’. It takes me a few days to get over it even if others, like my father, assure me that these are not losses. It’s simply because my victories are for my own personal goal and satisfaction. “ Sarfaraz intends to take a short break from competitive golf to focus on his recent marriage and to spend time with his new wife, Sakina Tejani, and begin a Master’s degree in Human Resources in September. “Golf has taught me to look at things in perspective and to not take things for granted. One has to really be in the ‘here and now’, to zoom in and really focus on what matters. Because honestly, it is really not about the shot you just played or are going to play but about the one you are currently playing that truly makes all the difference.”
After spending most of his impressionable years on the golf course, Sarfaraz agrees that the game has not only made him into a great athlete but has truly shaped his personality and influenced his world view. “The game of golf does involve a lot of socializing with adults. It definitely matured me, taught me to how to be a gentleman, hold a conversation and to learn etiquette. You cannot be rowdy and childish. I also learned about humility because I saw that on the golf course no one is a doctor, lawyer or rich man. It is all about how well you play the game and I learned that nothing else will help you but your own skills and judgement.” The relentless schedule and learned independence became a critical coping mechanism for Sarfaraz at age 18 when he lost his mother to cancer and had to move to Canada to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a double major in Economics and International Development at the University of Toronto. Over the years, he has also found an enhanced spiritual connection with Allah (SWT) through his competitive playing. “My dad has always been firm about praying and fasting regularly and that has really given me a foundation and a constant. But it is when I play golf and things suddenly fall into place and just amazingly go my way that I really feel the presence of God in my life. I always realize that a higher hand is making things work out because no matter how well you play; you also need a great deal of good fortune on the golf course. I can really feel that God is looking out for me. I always feel so grateful to Him.” Sarfaraz comes across as a humble, unassuming young man who requires much prodding to detail his huge number of accomplishments. But that does not mean that he takes winning lightly. “I play to win, there is no doubt about it,” he concedes. “I absolutely hate to lose. In
My First Book of Faith As a mother-to-be, I am constantly reminded of the emotional bond that forms between a mother and her unborn child. It has to be the greatest and strongest love I have ever felt. In our Holy Qur’an, Allah (SWT) describes our creation in our mother’s womb and in almost all verses relating to this, He states creating the human being’s ability to hear and see first and foremost, before developing the rest of the human organs. Allah reminds us that “Surely, We have created man from a small life germ uniting (itself) We mean to try him, so We have made him hearing, seeing” (Surat Al-'Insãn, 76:2). The sounds unborn babies hear most loudly and clearly until they are born are their mothers’ voices; we must therefore use our voices wisely by introducing our religion to our children among other teachings at this early stage. When asked to review the World’s Federation newest publication targeted towards children, My First Book of Faith, written by Aamina Jivraj and Fatima Z. Karim, with illustrations by Sajida Jivraj, I was delighted to introduce the contents of this book to my unborn child. This book provides a basic introduction of Islam to children, with an overview of the fundamental beliefs and
practices of our beautiful religion. Every page, written in simple English and short sentences, is filled with attractive and colorful illustrations, which inevitably capture and enhance our children’s understanding of very important Islamic concepts. This book is crucial in the early years of a child’s growth and development, a must-have for all parents to help them educate their children on basic Islamic principles. The first half of the book provides an introduction to Allah (SWT), the Kalimah, the Panjatan, our Imams and the Masumeen, and the Holy Prophets. The second half of the book focuses on the roots and branches of Islam. This section contains some of the best illustrations of the book, such as the one that presents the Tree of Islam, illustrating Islam’s core roots, Usool-e-deen, namely Tawheed (Oneness of Allah SWT), Adalat (Justice of Allah), Nubuwwat (Prophethood), Imamat (Divine leadership) and Qayamat (Day of Judgment), as well as Islam’s branches. These branches include Salaat (Prayers), Sawm (Fasting ), Hajj (Pilgrimage), Zakaat (Islamic Tax), Khums (One-Fifth Islamic Tax), Jihad (Holy war), Amr bil Ma’roof (Telling others to do
Good), Nahi Anil Munkar (Discouraging others from doing bad), Tawalla (Loving the Holy Prophet [saw] and the Ahlul Bayt) and Tabarrah (Keeping Away from the Enemies of the Holy Prophet and the Ahlul Bayt). To help readers understand how the roots and branches of Islam are related to the Holy Qur’an, the writers include a verse from the Qur’an for each of the roots and branches, so that we can clearly see how Allah (SWT) guides us through our Holy Qur’an. Although the book is complete as it is and whilst the book adequately informs its readers about our Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW), to follow on from this a more detailed section about the Panjatan could be of benefit. Another suggestion would be to include a short glossary or further resources section for parents/readers who may not be as well-informed about some of these core beliefs and practices of Islam and may need some further guidance on where to go for additional information. For example, for the section on the Prophets, it may be useful to follow this up with information regarding, when and where
exactly the Prophets lived and how long they lived for. Having read the book, I realize that this book is not only excellent for children, but also for new Muslims who wish to learn the basics of Islam. It allows one to absorb the essence of Islam, and provides enough information for readers to conduct their own individual research to further develop and enhance their understanding. For our children, it lays the reliable religious foundation they need to have. It introduces the key concepts that will be further developed through the upbringing they receive at home, and the teachings they will absorb in Madressah and during Majalis. Copies of the book are available at £2.50 plus P & P. As copies are limited and are in high demand, readers are advised to order early to avoid disappointment. To order your copy, email : email@example.com or call : +44 (0) 208 954 9881.