The writer, Alhaj Murtaza Asgherali Somji (Nairobi, Kenya) is the Director of Eyestyle Opticians and someone who has held many diverse roles in community service.
Community and Self-Identity:
n introspective topic that stirs the imagination of patriotic ones. it invites one to experience deep insights and inward thinking, transcending into the depths of contemplation, gratitude and graciousness. The first step in this journey would be to understand the importance of a Community and what it actually translates into.
Apart from the metaphorical meaning of the word Community; which squarely means ‘Come-
Unite’, the word in itself denotes Unity, Brotherhood and Fellowship. A striking semblance of this
attribute would easily come up as the African word – UBUNTU.
UBUNTU clearly portrays a dynamic self-constitution of ‘I am because we are’ and invites us to
appreciate an inter-woven societal fabric; a perfectly synergized and synchronized set of finely
knitted tapestry; constantly encouraging us to partake in a broader spectrum of shared rituals,
cultures and norms. It bestows upon us the status of being authentic human beings thus, making
us a part of a larger and more significant rational, communal, environmental and spiritual
world. It enhances communion and encompasses the interdependence of humans on one another
and the acknowledgement of one’s responsibility to their fellow humans and the world around
them. It defines a unique offering of Unity being collective even whilst practising individualism.
Furthermore, it instils a sense of voluntarism which in turn gives birth to self-confidence, self-
esteem and satisfaction. Apart from benefiting mental and physical health, voluntary
services contribute immensely to networking, socializing and combating depression. It also
accommodates and facilitates the redemption of deviant and errant members of the Community. This
allows the fire of experience and wheels of social control to mould a Community into a refined rank of
justice and Integrity.
Sharing the same unique attributes of UBUNTU, a Community instils an integral system within
us that results in perpetual growth across the entire social spectrum. Thriving in a vibrant
community enhances social connections, bonded by association and watered with compassion
and empathy. An enterprising Community, therefore, pivots upon the Social quotient and balances
the Intelligence, Emotion and Adversity quotients in an almost equalized pattern. Social engagements design our harmony hamper by tapping the talent of Intelligence, increasing
our propensity towards empathy, developing resilience and rounds off by being the melting pot
of Social Integration.
The seesaw of all other quotients swivels remarkably well whilst balancing on the fulcrum of the
Social Quotient, thus allowing a robust and holistic blend that builds overall aptitude and
empathy in an equal measure.
This is what my Community means to me; for it envelopes all elements; centric and peripheral;
to ensure that I am spiritually and socially fit, that I am an important part of the jigsaw, that I
contribute to co-existence and am part of a critically important whole. That, in my own small way,
I am the nectar and the synthesis of a larger mesh. It allows me to grow and thrive and develop
congruency between values and actions.
Interestingly, as we delve deeper; the core values of Majlis, Jumu’ah Prayers and Niaz suddenly
start taking a distinct Social dimension. Whereas Majlis [emanating from an Arabic expression
‘Ijlis’ meaning To Sit] encourages us to sit together, probably to discuss, learn or listen, Jumu’ah
(congregate) brings us all together on one platform, and teaches us disciplined order and equality,
whilst the Niaz phenomenon espouses the significance of sitting together in a group whilst
breaking bread. All these are conjoined attributes that foster unanimity, fellowship and thought-
pollination. This is what makes the Community stand steadfast against challenges and calamities.
It also invites us to share our happiness and grief, celebrate our festivals and commemorate our
loved ones. It oversees our health, encourages and assists in spiritual and secular education and
urges us to become sportingly active. Such beautiful and refined concepts are rarely found in this
era of self-centricity and monetized materialism.
Perhaps this would be one of the reasons why we devotedly practice an important component
of our belief system by reciting the sacred pledges of the Tasbeeh of Bibi Sayyeda A.S. After
affirming that Allah is the Most High and Mighty – Allahu-Akber, we bow down our heads in
absolute submission and gratitude – Alhamdulillah – expressing our thankfulness for the priceless
gifts of piety, contentment and serenity. And finally, we extol the blessings bestowed upon us –
one of them being a Community and its essential Sense of Belonging by proclaiming SubhanAllah-
glorifying the Almighty for his bountiful benedictions and favours unto us – thus completing the
Indeed, the Community exceeds the statutes of the UBUNTU philosophy of I am because We are
and rightfully teaches us that We are because the Community is.
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