Wake up, Khojas!

Admirable are the projects that trace our history to our roots in the Indian sub-continent, but if we were paying attention to these initiatives, we would very easily have known how to distance some aspects of our past from our present. The present is our reality as Shi’s Ithna’sheries – followers of the 12 appointed successors to the Holy Prophet (SAW).

Another reality facing us today is the availability of alternative schools of thought being offered anywhere and everywhere, which do not require the approval or consent of any leadership for one to follow. Meanwhile, official community centres remain hotspots of conflict between traditionalists and modernists. We keep syncing our lips to the global chant that today’s world belongs to science, technology, knowledge, and learning, but we remain bereft in the face of providing guidance and answers to our younger generation so much so that, in seeking the same, they risk the prospect of misguidance and polarisation.

It is easy to blame external forces on one’s deficient areas, but how we respond to and prepare against such adversities, is perhaps of greater significance now than ever before.

The new generation feels confused when they see our customs and traditions bearing a greater vicinity in character and feature to our HInduist past than to our self-proclaimed beliefs of Shi’a Islam. Shutting our ears to the murmurs around us will not make this go away.

One of the most powerful companions to the Shi’as today is the presence of the institution of Imamah, but when this thread is stretched too far and too thin, we appear to be more similar to the Ismailist faith (again our predecessor), than to the madh-hab of Ahlul Bayt (AS). If the learned are failing to convey this message loudly and clearly that the role of these great personalities, emissaries of the Holy Prophet (SAW) was to give guidance to us in meeting our everyday challenges and to show us the right path leading to the pleasure of the Almighty; and if they continue to restrain themselves from cautioning us against reducing these holy personalities to some deity status, available to us for the fulfilment of desires, because the house of scholars feels this is the only way they can protect Shi’ism, then it is time to announce that disintegration is already happening in our midst, and when it crumbles from the inside, there may be no way at all to save it ever. Then the monumental sacrifices made by our ancestors in bringing us here will come to nought, as we regress into the era from which they emerged, in spite of a high level of risk and insecurity.

Imamat is just one facet, albeit an important one, but there are several others, like the role and place of the Holy Book, which has predominantly been used for physical safety, ridding of evil, etc.

My dear Khoja brothers and sisters, the world has moved away very very far in the sphere of knowledge, those who left deen are clearly straying, and those who have remained stuck in the past, are apparently entrapped in activities that are of no consequence to our successful existence. If we do not wake up now, we will surely fall into one of these two abominable categories.

More from this author:

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About the author

Mohamedarif is a marketing professional and educationalist with a penchant for writing as a hobby since childhood. As he experimented writing about sporting events at first and then current affairs, he quickly developed a skill for observation of his environment and began to write on reform topics, especially in connection with the community. To further feed his pursuit of writing, he founded several newsletters and bulletins at his school and at the Husayni Madrasah in the 1980's, all the time learning from others already in the field not just about writing, but also about pre-press and production processes. He was also the editor-in-chief of the Knowledge Magazine in 1995–1996. A decade later, importing a flurry of ideas into his new home, Nairobi, he first founded a two page community newspaper then became a regular writer of the Friday Faculty before establishing the Community on Friday, a fully fledged Madrasah magazine in 1996. And while his writing at the community continued, he simultaneously started writing for a business weekly, pairing in with his newfound role as a marketing professional. During his time in Nairobi, he wrote several speeches for sitting chairmen and presidents while also giving some himself, developing his concurrent role as a public speaker and trainer.

With changing times and a decrease in advertising sponsorship, as well as a fall in overall readership, Mohamedarif transformed this publication into an electronic blog. Thus was born the Community on Friday in its present format.

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