Faith or folly – Part 2

By Murtaza Somji,

(Nairobi, Kenya)

The biggest fallacy that we are collectively experiencing today, is opting to prefer presumption over prudence, result over process and drama over reality. In the face of such acts of extreme moral decadence, we shrug our
shoulders and blame everything on lopsided leadership, hence absolving blame unto ourselves and thus venturing south into a sanctum of moral poverty. The direct consequence of this is binary; as it completely deflates and disheartens the leadership that endeavors to navigate the Community ship through entwined marshlands onto calm waters.

Simultaneously; it crafts an invisible centripetal demoralization process within the fraternity. Budding youngsters who had envisaged walking down the path of serving the Community; suddenly find themselves at cross-roads. What follows is an insightful process of cross-thought pollination which in turn raises many a question. The aspirant is torn between serving the Community or stepping into confusion politics and defamation. The lack of integrity, disregard for the constitution clauses, pandering to politicians and turning the election process into a shameful charade, hits out as a harsh reality which is quite intimidating; thus, diminishing their enthusiasm to serve our Imam AJTF. They are caught up in a quicksand of confusion and uncertainty, muddled in answering to their conscience and mulling with cynicism over what entails voluntary service. For them, it is as if the whole process has undergone a vapid mental or psychiatric infirmity.

They suddenly find themselves like a mariner without a compass; amidst the violent unapologetic sea of turmoil and turbulence. They feel that life has taught them an equivalent of a grammar lesson, where sometimes we find the past perfect & sometimes; the present Tense.

There is an urgent need to introspect our values, our declining moral standards and the elasticity of our behavior. The leadership will need to invest, empower and transform bold ideas into breakthrough innovations.
It will have to regenerate robust enterprise into new initiatives. This process will need time, effort & commitment and will have to adapt a staggered approach. This will take time and will require a reality-check
matrix. The immediate demand however; is to explore, experience & integrate a ‘new normal’ into the constitutional articles, fortify the clauses, strengthen the electoral commission and the SOP’s and ensure that such a scenario is never repeated in our Community. To achieve all this, it will have to delve deep and form an astute strategy that will encompass a four-pronged program:

  1. A genuine focus of making real choices from among competing alternatives.
  2. Understand that strategy is a symphony, not a medley. It is a coherent, congruent and concise edition
    that ensures that all the parts fit together and every element benefits the other.
  3. Foresight that looks beyond the temptation and traps of the present; and pitches for something that is
    sustainable and far-sighted, and finally
  4. Courage – that will encourage it to re-focus and search for new horizons to conquer, expand, knock on new doors and embrace the experience with an open mind.

On the other hand, the aspiring youngsters will need to practice constraint, know that there will be likely faultlines, acknowledge that human faults and frailties are non-intentional, appreciate that ordeals offer opportunities, that pain & paranoia are not a recipe for collapse, rather a ladder to success.

The Regional Federations and the grassroot voter will have to commit to collectively help and discard the rusted link in the unity-chain that is holding the Community together. We have to stop this erosion of expertise and tap into the toolbox of the technocrats. They/We will have to practice an informed Code-of-Conduct, the clauses of which will encourage on touching lives, bridging distances, healing rifts and building bonds. We need to abandon the “fire and brimstone” condemnation, re-discover a more spiritual and rational approach and seriously engage in an intellectual audit. If this is not purposefully practiced, Unity will sound like a distant rumor.

Whilst wishing the World Federation leadership the very best, I pray and encourage it to take immediate steps to mend the fractured cords, practice formidable governance and strengthen its systems protocols and make them temper-proof. It also needs to periodically engage with the grassroots & seek ways of augmenting its Vision through their participation and not only visit when they are vote-thirsty. They should purposefully embrace and enhance Education, give plausible meaning to IQRA – the first word of the Holy Qur’an and shun divisive politics. The alternative is unimaginable.

About the author

Born in Tanga in 1959 in a humble family background, Alhaj Murtaza Somji studied at the Minto Ophthalmic Hospital in Bangalore, India to qualify as an Ophthalmic Optician. He then worked in Dubai as a senior optometrist for three years and finally settled in Kenya in 1989. He established his optical practice in Westlands –an upmarket suburb of Nairobi and has been operating as Eyestyle Opticians Limited since then.

Community service had been ingrained in his life from childhood as he regularly volunteered for Tanga Jamaat during his young age. After migrating to Nairobi and studying the Nairobi Jamaat dynamics, he assumed Governorship of the Golden Crescent Group in 1996. This led to bigger opportunities and he rose to the position of assistant Hon. Secretary of the Jamaat and then on to the post of the Hon. Secretary and finally served as the Chairman of SAAJ from 2004 to 2008. Prior to that he had taken up posts in the AF Sports Festival organizing committee, Africa Federation Education Board, Hon. Secretary - Nairobi Jaffery Education Board and more recently as a Board Member of a local NGO CHEPs. He has also had the honor of serving as the Hon. Trustee of Nairobi Jamaat, committee member of Housing Project Committee Nairobi and finally as the Chairman of the Nairobi Jaffery Education Board.

Murtaza Somji has also had the prestigious honor of serving the Ahlulbayt through his renditions of Manqabat, Naath and Merthiyas and continues to contribute to the general good of the Community at large.

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