Born in Moshi, Tanzania, now residing in Irvine California, Hasnain Walji, is a researcher, speaker and a writer involved in developing professional training and e-learning applications in the field of nutrition and integrative healthcare. He is President of Integrative Quest, Inc which specializes in formulating and marketing probiotics. He has authored of 26 books, all written from naturopathic perspective,endorsed by the Natural Medicine Society of England, translated in several languages including Spanish, French, German, Turkish, Hungarian, Portuguese and Chinese.
A contributor to several journals on environmental and Third World consumer issues, he was the founder and editor of The Vitamin Connection - an International Journal of Nutrition, Health and Fitness and Healthy Eating, and has written a script for a six-part television series, The World of Vitamins.
His institutional work for the Muslim community, spans over 30 years, Since 1976 he has served the World Federation of KSI Muslim Communities, as Secretary General, Vice-President and then as President of this august body. He is also a founding director and the Current President of the Mulla Asgher Memorial Library and Resource Center in Toronto. He has served as editor of Shia International and Living Islam Magazines and a regular contributor to a number of Islamic Journals. He has and traveled around the World, lecturing and reciting Majlises in English Urdu and Guajarati.
He has a special interest in the History of the Khojas and currently working in a Documentary called The Khojas – A journey of faith. He is also a founding director of a Social Justice Institute called Penmanship For Peace focusing on the plight of persecuted minorities including the Shia in Pakistan and part of a team compiling a volume on Shia Genocide in Pakistan. His passion is in increasing interfaith understanding to make this world a better place for his five grandchildren.
Dr. Walji established MARC
He served as the Secretary-General of WF
Dr. Hasnian Walji served as the vice president of WF during Mullah's leadership in the capacity of the president of the WF.
MIGRATION HISTORY OF KHOJA COMMUNITY – You Tube. By: Dr. Hasnain Walji, 2012.
Nomination for the post of the president of the WF: Embarking on the next Voyage on the Sea of Service
In view of the fact that I have been nominated for the post of the President of the World Federation of Khoja Shia Ithnaasheri Muslim Communities, I submit this paper, which attempts to set the background, define challenges and discusses some priority issues, for the consideration of the members of the Community at large. Inshaallah, I hope that this submission will go some way towards making informed decisions in determining the way forward and the mode of function in meeting the challenges now and in the days to come.
Aug 10 2000
I have offered my candidature for the post of President of the World Federation as I deem it a call of duty, to strive to serve the cause of Islam, in accordance with the teachings of Ahlul Bait (A.S.). Having had the good fortune to continuously serve the World Federation, in various capacities for the last 22 years, as part of the team with Marhum Mulla Asgherali M M Jaffer as our mentor, I passionately believe that, in the wake of his sudden passing away, the WF requires continuity, in the immediate future, while we give ourselves sufficient time to develop a blueprint for the long term. This conviction is fortified by the overwhelming representations made to me and the team at the secretariat, by the leadership and members of the community, to continue to head the team in order to maintain stability and integrity and endeavor to offer the level of services provided by the WF under the legendary leadership of Marhum Mulla Saheb.
The outpouring of appreciation and acknowledgements, after his demise, illustrate beyond any doubt that Marhum blazed a path of service, whereby the WF has become a household name after almost a quarter of a century of service to the Community. It is his legacy of service, that with a membership of just over 100,000 people, the WF is recognized as model organization and a key player in the entire Shii Community of over 90 million. It was he who epitomized the community’s endeavors in preserving its faith and values and consequently serving its fraternal network around the globe.
To have an informed opinion on the concept of the World Federation, its status and impact, it is necessary to understand the scope and breadth of services the WF has provided ever since its inception. Such an understanding will help us determine the direction, mode of function and the type of leadership in meeting the challenges in the days to come. With that in mind, I submit this paper, for the consideration of the members of the Community at large, which sets out the background and pertinent observations to help us formulate a plan of action for next term and beyond, Inshaallah.
Let me begin with a review of historical factors that led to the very formation of the World Federation in 1976. I consider such a review, albeit brief, to be an essential part of this document, owing to the very welcome heightened interest, debate and endeavors to get involved, by the younger members of this community, spread far and wide, brought together by the ‘blessings’ of the cyberworld. These are our future leaders, who need to be informed to enable them to appraise with pride, the foresight and tenacity of our forefathers, through whose efforts the KSI community is blessed with some of the finest institutions in the Shia world.
After years of research into the origins and the development of the KSI Community, I cannot help but observe that our history consistently reveals a propensity to group together in order to practice faith, one helping the other in a spirit of collective effort to better ourselves spiritually, socially and materially. From Zanzibar (1900 CE) to Albany (2000 CE), history continues to repeat itself even today, as the new ‘settlers’ begin the process of establishing a Shia Ithna-asheri Community. From small gatherings in homes to the formation of the Jamaat is akin to reaching “state-hood”. The defining moment in this journey to a symbolic statehood is always the completion of imambada and marks the beginning of institutionalization of community.
It was the foresight of our elders almost 60 years ago, that the Jamaats spread far and wide in East and Central Africa, decided to ‘federate” and the Africa Federation was born. Once it had shaken the inertia of novelty, it soon became an important instrument of change. In addition to unifying our customs and traditions, encouraging tabligh activities, provision of higher education scholarships, it espoused the virtues of centralization and this proved to be a cohesive force that enabled the community to endure major upheavals such as revolution in Zanzibar, Asian exodus from Uganda, and more recently, total uprooting of the whole of our community from Somalia.
With the ever-changing political and economic landscape in Africa, coupled with new employment opportunities and the mass displacement of our community from Uganda, a sizable proportion of the community had migrated to all corners of the globe by the early seventies. True to form, new Jamaats mushroomed all over Europe, North America. Seizing the initiative, without waiting for events to overtake us, a group of enlightened thinkers of our community, under the stewardship of Marhum Mulla Saheb, proactively floated the idea of the World Federation in 1975.
At its first constitutional conference, in Oct 1976, the World Federation was formally established. I recall those early heady days when the requests for assistance far outstripped the meager revenues, when the World Federation ‘secretariat’ was one filing cabinet in the backroom of a travel agency.
Let us at this juncture remind ourselves of the objects of the WF:
1. To promote the Shia Ithna-Asheri faith throughout the world
2. To relieve poverty amongst members of the community
3. To educate members of the community.
The Last 24 years
In the West, the community was facing new challenges. Masajid, Imambadas, and madressas were needed to be established quickly not only for spiritual fulfillment but also provide an anchor to counter alien values creeping in within the largely younger generation now passing through their formative years. Having reestablished contacts with our brethren in faith in the East, it became evident that they too needed our equal attention because of their economic plight. Rising to all these challenges, the WF can be said to have played a truly catalytic role in harnessing the resources of the community, both financial and intellectual towards the betterment of the community living up to our propensity to: group together in order to practice faith, one helping the other in a spirit of collective effort to better ourselves spiritually, socially and materially.
As is all too manifest from the its activities over the last two decades, the WF has had to face a glaring contrast of needs: the needs for survival in India and Pakistan and other places sharply contrasting with the needs for spiritual fulfillment in Europe and North America and elsewhere in the world. Both are equally important. For survival, our less fortunate members require clean air, clean water, balanced diet and shelter against extreme temperatures; whilst spiritual starvation and ideological pollution in the West have became increasingly challenging as the new generations born and bred in the West continue to mature into adulthood. Neither of these needs is in watertight compartments. The WF had to constantly balance its limited resources and priorities so as to be of service to all. It had to learn quickly that no matter how daunting the pressures are within our community to uplift our less fortunate members, it must also find sufficient time and energy to cater for the needs of the ever growing community in Europe, North America and elsewhere in the world. Alhamdulillah, the WF mastered this art sufficiently to mobilize those scarce resources to provide multifarious services around the globe.
The immediate task ahead for the WF, now, is to continue to strive to provide the much-needed services it has rendered in the past and at the same time rise to meet the new challenges that face our community. It is my firm belief that in its role as a nucleus of the community, the WF needs to redouble its efforts to reach out to the community network of Jamaats and Regional Organizations, as an enabler and facilitator in their endeavors to serve the community. In the same spirit of solidarity, it needs the reciprocal commitment from the Jamaats and the Regional Organizations. Let us seize the opportunity towards even better coordination and work in unison to maximize our resources.
To determine the direction of change and prepare a blueprint for the future, we must endeavor to enlist the greatest possible involvement and co-operation of every stratum of our community, men and women, particularly the Khoja Shii Ithnaasheri Community in various parts of the world who have not sufficiently involved themselves in working together with the worldwide fraternity. What follows is the rationale for, what I believe to be, some of the priority areas that will need our focus in the days to come:
Tabligh, must continue to have the highest of priorities
As a result of globalization of culture, one of the greatest challenges facing us today, is that we are pervaded by ideas inimical to Islam and promulgated within the school, universities, work place, and the media whose pervasiveness cannot easily be halted. This concern becomes all the more acute because of the inaccurate portrayal of the teachings of Ahlulbait (a.s.), which is no longer, limited to one part of the world. The need of time is to propagate pristine Islam – as taught by the Ahlul Bait (A.S.). Failure here may result in Islam being defined by others and presented in a pluralistic manner suited to the dominant worldview in order to serve their self-interest. We have become all the more vulnerable and exposed to the danger as it has begun to creep in and take root, from within our own community, suggesting that our young are not immune to this mis-definition. Having visited nearly 50 different Jamaats, in all the five continents, I have observed the symptoms that manifest this malaise from close quarters: that while rituals and ceremonies continue, there seems to be a distinct lack of spirituality and empathy towards understanding the profound teachings of Ahlul Bait (AS) amongst our young.
To counter this, we must see to it that our young men and women are introduced to abundance of unapologetic scholarly works where many answers are already given to problems of to-day in the most intellectually satisfying way. This is particularly so for university students, for they live within an ethos that subjects them to many and varied ideologies and which demand of them a more rational explanation in matters of belief. This is a major challenge facing the WF and will needs our utmost consideration. It is for this reason, all our instruments of Tabligh, must and Inshallah, will continue to have the highest of priorities, for it is my firm conviction this is the raison d’être of any organization in the service of Imame Zamana (a.f.).
Enhanced contacts with the Maraje & Ulama
Our contacts with the Maraje must be maintained and strengthened. Needless to say, the WF needs a source of revenue including but not limited to the collection of hukook. During my recent visit to the office of Ayatullah al Uzama Syed Seestani (May Allah Keep him) in Qum, we have been assured of the fullest cooperation and support in completing and continuing the many projects in the pipeline. This is a measure of the highest level of regard by our Marja, for Marhum Mulla Saheb and the track record of the WF. However, to view our contacts with the Marja as merely a matter of Khums collection is being myopic. The WF needs to proactively communicate to the maraje, its insight into the challenges presented, especially on behalf of Shia’s who live as a minority, in order to seek guidance. The increasing need for muballigheen requires that we need to begin working in close cooperation with the Religious Seminaries and prominent ulama in producing personnel compatible with the need of time.
Harnessing new talent & creative funding measures
In order to meet new challenges, in the days to come the WF will have to be proactive in harnessing new talent as well as initiating creative funding measures – which are vital elements for any vibrant organization. I believe, that these two are intertwined. A phenomenal opportunity created by the upswing of Western economies has placed the young educated sector of our community in a very fortunate position. These are talented young men and women who are making major intellectual and financial contribution to the companies they work for and in some cases own. Yet most of them appear estranged from their own community and roots. Redressing this sad state of affairs can not only bring us the twin benefits of talent and funding but is a key to our future existence as a vibrant community. By creating a focus group from amongst that very generation, we must formulate a systematic approach to identifying the roadblocks and subsequently clear the path not just to welcome this sector but ensure that the baton is passed to them. I believe that this task must begin immediately and to that end, urge leaders of our community to ensure that a good number of young be encouraged to attend the forthcoming conference as delegates.
Investing in higher education
While fully cognizant of the benefits of education, as a Community we have always had to struggle to raise commensurate funding. More than ever before, we need to realize that a process of social transformation is affecting every one, and our community is not immune from this. In coming years, our world will increasingly be shaped by ‘Informatization’ through information technology - a process that uses information rights to justify controlling others by constant and subtle persuasion. Needless to state, that education is the key to turn this challenge into an opportunity. We must therefore be prepared to invest sizeable resources in education, at all levels, particularly in the fields of Information Sciences and New Media Studies, for our young men as well as women, both in the East and the West, to ensure that they do not lag behind for the want of means.
At the same time, advances in information technology and the cyber world present us with even greater opportunities and challenges, as does the young pool of talent in our community. Tackled positively, a combination of these, offer us an exciting future as we prepare our young towards a new vista of opportunities for service of our faith. The task ahead is to fully mobilize this talent amongst our technology savvy young men and women and maximize the utilization of information technology to our best advantage, by way of dynamic web portals, streaming media, Internet based distance learning programs and discussion groups and much much more.
Combating disease, poverty and illiteracy
The Medical Advisory Board, Zainabiyya Child Sponsorship Scheme and major housing programs are all considered to be the hallmarks of the services of the WF. Needless to state, as we look at new challenges, in its characteristic unassuming way, the WF must continue to come to the rescue of afflicted Muslim brothers and sisters, to do its utmost to provide for their basic needs and to combat three great evils of human society, namely, disease, poverty and illiteracy especially to its own core. More than ever before, owing to the dire economic plight of our brethren in East Africa, as a matter of priority, the WF must mobilize sufficient resources from the West, to reciprocate their past generosity in the entrenchment of our community in the West and partner with the Africa Federation in their efforts alleviate the financial hardship faced by our community there.
By virtue of its history, experience and position, the World Federation is called upon to participate at many world forums to help define challenges and their responses. The World Federation, which represents the aspirations and interest of Khoja Shia Ithnasheries, will have to concern itself increasingly with an important aim of supporting a wider range of issues that confront our Shia brethren as they try to make their adopted lands as their homes. While the Charitable objects of the WF do not allow direct political affiliations, it can rightfully become a catalytic force and an effective voice when it comes to raising Muslim issues with Government and Civic authorities as well as international agencies like the UN. The recently established External Liaison Desk of the WF has had some measure of success and needs to be developed further on a global basis. The issues of resettlement of displaced mumineen, sectarian killings and other issues like government provision for Hujjaj, school curricula, all fall within the ambit of this sector, which needs to be vigorously expanded.
Teamwork and Modern management
To run the affairs of the WF optimally, past experience guides me to state we must have a broad based, experienced team at its helm that understands ethos of the organization, shares the vision of its founders and is versatile and innovative enough to apply that vision to new opportunities and challenges in the days to come. Such a team should comprise of mumineen, from the community, well versed in religious as well as secular matters to provide the intellectual stimulus, guidance and leadership.
At the same time, with the utmost humility I venture to suggest that we need graciousness from the elder statesmen of the community to allow and actively encourage the young men and women to come forward to serve and learn how to lead. I feel it is imperative that we allow them to show us the benefits offered by the science of modern corporate management in terms of performance, managing change as well as succession planning, always keeping in mind that function determines form, as we look to incorporating these ideas into our mode of function.
To enable us to draw talent from around the globe and remove geographical barriers in recruiting volunteers and workers, we need to extend the ‘secretariat’ beyond its traditional confines by facilitating communication through modern means using the internet, video conferencing and all other means available to enhance contacts and delegation of duties amongst the team members around the globe. Our experience at the secretariat in the last few months suggests that this is feasible and the basic technology is already in place and working. Having spent 23 years in East Africa, 23 years in Europe and 4 years in North America, I appreciate all the more, the variations in the dynamics across continents and truly believe that such an extension of the ‘secretariat’ can lead to a far greater optimization of our personnel and resources and a better grasp of the local issues
Defining Changes & Preparing a blueprint
The World Federation has come a long way. Over time, it has evolved a structure that has served the community well. However, it can neither remain static nor should it be changed for the sake of change. As a Community, our history and experience go far beyond the last 24 years of the World Federation. The KSI community structured as Jamaats as we now know it is over 100 years old and has the unique distinction of surviving as a minority within a minority for almost a century, with its core values remaining intact. The forerunner of regional organizations, the AF recently met for the 58th session of the Supreme Council and the next WF conference will mark 24 years of its existence. It goes without saying that each of these institutions evolved in keeping with the needs of time and in accordance with the prevailing rate of change. The rate of change some 20 years ago was significantly slower than it is now. Now the pace of change has gathered such momentum that we can hardly afford to rest on our laurels and watch the world go by.
To survive as a vibrant living entity, the community has no choice but to keep abreast of the changes around it, understand the impact of the modern era and adapt to the changing world. To that end, we need to initiate the process of deliberating upon the framework within which we may begin making gradual changes so that the needs of the community are adequately catered for in the future.
However, such deliberations should not be restricted to the narrow confines of administration and management of the WF Executive Council. It must be noted that the operative phrase here is the needs of community. Each of the structures in the entire community must be evaluated, and examined candidly, in the light of the requirements of the community. If any of them are found to be superfluous or redundant, inhibiting our progress or smooth functioning, then we should not be afraid to change or even abolish certain structures. By the same token, if they are deemed to function optimally, in interest of the community, then we should not force change for the sake of change.
Alhamdullillah, for now, the WF is sailing steadily. Let us allow ourselves time to carefully study and deliberate these challenges and then usher in the necessary changes in a systemized manner. To that end, I earnestly hope that the forthcoming Conference will appoint a specialist team, directly accountable to Conference, to systematically carry out an in-depth study of the changes required, prepare a master plan and work towards a building a consensus that will enable us to manage change as smoothly as possible. Thus the 9th term starting in October 2000, can be made a term of introspection, reflection and deliberations, where the leaders, thinkers, well wishers and workers of the community from all corners of the globe pull together to define the changes and prepare for their implementation by its 10th term, Inshallah, marking 30 years of WF existence.
I have very faith, that our community has the talent and the resources to do all the above and more. I urge you to join hands to embark on this voyage of a three-year term, to seek even loftier goals on the sea of service for the coming decades. The need of time is to keep this ship on an even keel while charting out new landmarks and venture towards new horizons. The Niyyah for all times is to please Allah and none but Him.
Nishan vahee hai zamaney men zinda Qaumon ka Keh subah-o-sham badaltee hai inki taqdeeren.
In every age this alone marks a vibrant race That every morn and eve its fortunes do change.
Acceptance statement by Al-Haj Hasnain Walji, the President of the World Federation
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
Yaa Rabbi, Yaa Rabbi, Yaa Rabbi, Qawwi Alaa Khidmatika Jawarihii.
O my Lord, O my Lord, O my Lord, strengthen my limbs in your service.
(Dua e Kumayl).
Aware of the magnitude of the responsibility and cognizant of my own limitations, I seek the Grace and Blessings of Allah (SWT) through the wasila of Masumeen (A.S) as we begin preparations to embark on this voyage on the sea of service. I thank you, one and all, for your confidence and an overwhelming mandate. I hereby pledge to serve the Community to the best of my ability, as the President of the World Federation of KSI Muslim Communities, and seek your prayers and continued support to enable me to justify the trust and confidence placed upon me by the Community around the globe.
In engaging in the electoral process, once again, our Community has conducted itself well by its dignity, discipline, and maturity. At this juncture, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to Alhajj Mohamedbhai Dhirani for his message of support and good wishes and reciprocate by acknowledging his long-standing services and have every confidence that he will continue in his endeavours to serve and guide in the best interest of the Community.
Now that the people have spoken, I pray, that together, with a unity of purpose, we can all move in unison in attaining the aims of the World Federation and enhancing the services of this august institution thereby earning the pleasure of Allah (SWT). As enumerated in my vision statement, the task ahead for the WF is to continue to strive to provide the same level services it has rendered in the past and at the same time rise to meet the new challenges that face us in the days to come. Under Marhum Mulla Saheb’s exemplary leadership much has been accomplished, we have the infrastructure in place and now we must seize the opportunity to make even greater strides in the service of Imame Zamana (AS), by building upon the infrastructure and actualising the potential of the young faithful by giving them more and more opportunities to serve and eventually lead.
In this day and age of globalisation, more than ever before, I see the WF as an enabler and facilitator in all our endeavours towards the betterment of our community. To that end, I pledge to engender team spirit, cultivate consensus and redouble efforts to foster even better coordination amongst all our institutions across the globe, in the service of the community. In turn I earnestly request a reciprocal commitment from our Jamaats, Regional Organizations and other institutions. Therein, I believe, lies a potent force of unity and progress.
Together let us make this 9th term starting in October 2000, a term of introspection, reflection and deliberations. I invite the leaders, thinkers, well wishers and workers of the community from all corners of the globe to come together to make it a term of consolidation as much as one of beneficial innovations and progress, Inshallah.
Wassalamu alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatu.
Hasnain Walji President Sep 7 2000
Hasnain Walji. Ph.D.'s Summary
Researcher, writer and a consultant specializing in directing and producing user-friendly interactive multimedia programs for consumers in holistic health, nutrition, complementary therapies as well as financial literacy.
Content Developer with a rare insight into the applications of information technology in consumer education.
Actively involved in knowledge management by coordinating research, compilation and editing of data obtained from international research institutes, universities and scientific journals and liaising with the software engineers to develop consumer information programs.
A contributor to several journals on environmental and Third World consumer issues,- founder and editor of The Vitamin Connection - an International Journal of Nutrition, Health and Fitness and Healthy Eating,
Scriptwriter for a six-part television series - The World of Vitamins.
Authored of over 30 books, all written from naturopathic perspective translated in several languages including Spanish, Portuguese, German, French Hungarian and Turkish.
Specialties Nutrition & Natural Medicine Financial Literacy Personal Development
Bio published by the KSI of America Directory, founded by Marhum Gulam Dhalla of Los Angeles and continued by his wife Nasimbai
Dr. Hasnain Walji is a renaissance man. An educator, historian, author, leader, and scientist in the field of nutrition, he has from his teen years to his indefatigable golden years been on a quest to learn and expand his knowledge. In fact he observes the trajectory of history and social trends and incorporates this arc of evolving issues in his contributions. The hallmark of his leadership is to bend this trend so our communities remain relevant and progressive as we confront new realities and challenges, yet remain true to our faith and traditions. Born and raised in Tanzania, in the foothills of Kilimanjaro, Hasnain has traversed the world. He commenced his institutional service to the Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri communities in 1974 as the Secretary to the London Jamaat, and president of Milton Keynes Jamaat in 1976. Soon after the World federation was formed in 1976 he was appointed as Secretary General, serving with the full confidence and as protégé of the founding president, the late Mulla Asgharali M M Jaffer, for more than two decades. In due course he succeeded to the presidency of the Federation, and his association in various leadership capacities has been unabated since. His pioneering establishments of various institutions reflect his progressive vision of addressing emerging needs of our communities. They range from the founding team of the Mulla Asghar Memorial Library and Resource Center in Toronto in 2009, the Institute of Islamic Learning in the Metroplex (IILM) in Dallas, to the SAFINAH group serving the social and healthcare needs of local residents in southern California, where he currently resides in Irvine. Amongst his numerous services to various community boards, his signature initiative has been the annual inter-faith gathering on Mother’s Day in Dallas and Los Angeles.
Fluent in several languages, he has recited majalis in English, Urdu and Gujarati on all continents at various Khoja centers, and penned many articles in several Islamic journals. He has authored 26 books on naturopathic medicine that have been translated from English to Chinese and other European languages, and served as editor of the “The Vitamin Connection” – a professional journal. In addition he has scripted a television series on “The World of Vitamins”. As a dedicated oral historian of the Khoja communities he is producing a groundbreaking anthropological documentary “The Khojas – A Journey of Faith” that spans the past 600 years of its history. He is also documenting the genocide of Pakistani Shias under the banner of Penmanship for Peace, a Social Justice Institute he co-founded that focuses on the plight of persecuted minorities.
A master of communications and media usage, Dr. Walji’s skills transcend into the use of technology to applications in integrative healthcare and behavioral science. He is currently VP of Knowledge Management at Frugality Game™ Inc. and CEO of IQBiotix Inc., which specializes, in formulating and marketing probiotics.
Hasnain’s continued remarkable contributions from his active engagement on boards ranging from Universal Muslim Association of America (UMMA) to Interfaith Peace Ministry of Orange County, thought provoking lectures on the challenges of the day, his professional addition to the science of nutrition, embrace of technology in advancing learning, be it madressah resources or finance or healthcare, the breadth of his socio-political endeavor in tackling causes of social and justice that confront our communities - all remain unparalleled, and his legacy will outlast his grandchildren.