Faith or folly – Part 1

By Murtaza Somji,

(Nairobi, Kenya)

Ten years ago; on March 19th. 2010, I had penned an introspective article (An Appeal to Sobriety) that mapped out the maladies for an alarming folly that had raised its head to malign the then Africa Federation Leadership in its entirety.

Indeed, it was an hour of reckoning for the entire Community; as it had attempted to divide the Regional Communities, eclipse the gains and ridicule the leadership into a penumbra of desolation and isolation. I had outlined the damage done simply by engaging in unnecessary rhetoric, drama and maladroit besmirching of the reputation of our leaders. I received many an acclamation from far & wide and to my understanding the Community had leap-frogged into a sphere of reasoning and maturity.

Little did I know that the sphere was actually a bubble that could burst by a gentle poke of the pin. A couple of moons ago, there was such a bubble-burst and this time it was in the form of the disputed World Federation elections. Indeed; the whole scenario was a theater of the absurd. The entire world-wide Community was engrossed in either enquiry or gossip without really looking for solutions. Instead of thinking smart and thinking forward, we denigrated into an acrimonious stigmatization of venal scourge and affliction. Reason & Rationale suddenly lacked efficacy as the intellectual judicial giraffe had taken off on an unplanned holiday.

Gone were the times when we had stood steadfast; claiming to be the paragon of values and virtues; and the ardent adherents of our lofty religious doctrines. We were quickly sliding into the quagmire of moral turpitude and there were no straws to clutch on to. The hurling of slurs and insults was so discordant and spiteful that it posited a threat to the very survival of the institution. Faith had been invaded by folly and the results were disquieting. The rainbow had suddenly lost its color and the associated sparkle. It seemed like the end was nigh.

At one point it got so dirty that it posed many a question in my fertile mind! Are we the same who swear allegiance to our Imams A.S? Are we really the ones who wish to be counted amongst the 313 who will finally stand alongside the savior of Mankind? We seem to have distanced and degraded ourselves from the intrinsic attributes of Piety, Propriety and Purity to such an extent that we should think again before laying claim to be the Shias of Ahlul Bayt. Depending on your vantage point, this might sound to be cynical or quite severe an analysis, but at that time the signs were alarming and the symptoms depressing.

People who had come out to serve willingly and honorably were shocked to have been met with virtual brickbats and systemic abuse. It was simply unbelievable and unholy to read the scornful invectives unceremoniously
meted out to so many individuals. Much of these were leaning on the proverbial stilts of hypothetical assumption and perceived pseudo-facts.

The quest for clout continued to stretch our arduously woven community fibre to the limit; threatening to tear it apart and create divisions within our ranks. Stark fault lines began to emerge insidiously, stimulating the abject destruction of the unity that is the bedrock of our Community. Social Media took centre-stage; promoting and furthering these insults and counter-insults. The power of the powerful was in full cry and the thumping of the affluent chests resonated across the communal divide. The inimical boisterous tone of the belligerent made a baloney of the entire system. Non-seasoned and self-centered new leaders; in the spirit of religiosity and collegiality; spoke and used the print media without any consultation or reason, weighing their fetid and farcical thought-pattern on a pivot of arrogant immaturity.

A Coalition of confusion, collusion & chaos reigned supreme.

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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