What of the Visionaries and Thinkers?

Mohamedarif Suleman – Nairobi, Kenya

Here comes the 21st century, and with it arrives further bombardment of education and the need to secure an education for each child. Only now, unlike the 80s and 90s, here is more talk about Information Technology. In the midst of all of this, what has the Khoja Shia Ithnasheri envisioned for himself?

It is true to say that some things will never change. For instance, with the advent of an IT age, we will not prefer being fitted to batteries and accumulators in lieau of the life-giving habit of feeding (a la pilau and biryani!). Similarly, IT has come only to assist us in furthering the levels to which humankind can reach. The oncoming era is no different in terms of euphoria and excitement than the industrial revolution of the 19th century.

In the same token, we must admit that there are some things that should not change. For instance, respect for elders, rights of minors and orphans, etc. all these that we believe belong to all ages regardless. What will change, in the final analysis is the pace of our lives. And this is what we are concwerned about (just as doctors will be concerned about increased cases of constipation and other excretory troubles as a result of faster fast foods!). What do we as a community feel touched by at the dawn of this all-important centenarian twist?

Alhamdulillah, in the last five or so years, East African Jamaats can confidently say that there has been a significant rise in the number of boys and girls going for higher education. At the grassroots level, all major Jamaats now have their own schools and academies, where the striving for excellence continues. This could not have come at a more opportune moment as these national economies merge into the international scenario where true marker forces are now into direct play. Indirectly, what this means is that, we no longer need to produce O ’Level, dropouts to run family-bred businesses, because the IT revolution has created newer entry levels for new entrepreneurs.

But exporting our blood fortune – our children to Western counties or to foreign lands should not be the goal. It should rather be the means to a greater goal. After all, the community may not be deeply interested in fluently speaking American products because there would be no benefit out of such individuals. The community and as such the parents would rather invest in youths who will bring substantial benefit to the community at large.

Unfortunately, perhaps out of lack of foresight or sheer ill of fortune and circumstance, when business was boom in East Africa, no visionary came forth and presented a plan for the sustainability of education, or for shelter for that matter. Twenty years ago, when the first computers started trickling in with those mega 5.25” floppies, the community was found giving out loans to students, as it was found yearning for donations. And two decades later, when the world is at the threshold of an IT revolution, the same sight is still visible. There is only one change. Today, the resources are not enough to meet the demand.

Where are the visionaries of this community? Or are there any? And could this be one reason why the newer generation finds this institution to be incompatible? An answer is ended fast, and faster is the need to redress the situation. As a community, we should stand up in respect for all our leaders because we are what we are today because of their selflessness. But we need more. We need direction. We need visionaries. We need thinkers.

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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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