Hassan Ali M Jaffer
- 1 Birth & Death
- 2 Community Service
- 3 Business Skills
- 4 Achievements
- 5 His Works
- 6 Interviews & Lectures
- 6.1 Message to Milton Keynes 25th Anniversary Celebration
- 6.2 Interview with Khoja Heritage Project (KHP)
- 6.3 Interview with Khoja TV
- 6.4 Documentary by Ahlulbayt TV: Khoja from Struggle to Conviction
- 6.5 Interview on thoughts - on the life of Al-haj Mohamed Jaffer Sherrif Dewji
- 6.6 Khoja Symposium
- 6.7 Africa Federation Meeting
- 6.8 Visiting Community Members of Shiraz (Iran - 5th October 2014)
- 6.9 Visiting Africa Federation Archive Section
- 7 Death
- 8 Obituary and Tributes
- 8.1 The World Federation of KSIMC
- 8.2 Africa Federation
- 8.3 A Profound Thinker with an Abundant Dose of Pragmatism: A personal tribute to Hassanbhai Jaffer by Dr. Hasnain Walji
- 8.4 Ingenious Candour: A personal tribute to Hassanbhai Jaffer by Kumail Rajani
- 8.5 Tributes of 2nd WFExCo Term 2017-2020, 23rd February 2018
- 8.6 Tribute to Hassanbhai Jaffer by Kumail Manji, former Secretary General of The World Federation of KSIMC
Birth & Death
Birth Date: In The Year 1932
Death Date: February 23, 2018
At the 14th Constitutional Conference held in Dar-es-salaam from 4th to 7th April, 1980, Alhaj Hassan Ali M. Jaffer was unanimously elected to the post of Vice Chairman of Africa Federation. Hassan bhai was born in Zanzibar in 1932 and has been a resident of Mombasa since his young age. After completing his secondary school education at Mombasa he undertook a practical course in agriculture at the Indian school of Agriculture in Morogoro, Tanzania. He commenced social services in the community from 1953 when he was elected Hon. General Secretary of the Jaffery Sports Club, Mombasa. Since then, he has served on a number of communal bodies at various times; he was secretary and chairman of the Debate and Education Section of the Ithna-Asheri young Men's Union, Hon secretary and the later chairman of the Ithna-Asheri Education Board managing the Alibhai Panju Jaffery Primary school. He was also Vice Chairman of the Mombasa Jamaat.
In the Supreme Council, he has been Executive Councilor since 1965 and was its Hon. Treasurer during 1965/67 under the chairmanship of late Alhaj Mohamedali Meghji and at the time late Mulla Asgharali M. M. Jaffer was the Hon. Secretary of Africa Federation. He has been an elected member of the Executive Council of the World Federation of the Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Communities since its establishment in October, 1976.
Apart from his services in the community, Hassan bhai has served in public life as an acting member of the Mombasa Municipal Council in 1963 and in 1959/60 he was an elected member of the managing committee of the Mombasa Muslim Association and Secretary of Eid Fete standing committee. He has been a member of the Mombasa Port Advisory and Productivity Council and at one time was the Vice Chairman of the Mombasa Ships Agents' Association. Hassan bhai had a business as a Shipping Agent in Mombasa under the name of Murtaza Shipping Agency Limited and was the Managing Director of the company. He is married with five children.
With the wealth of experience at his command, Hassan bhai is also a prolific writer and public speaker, and has vast knowledge of history of the Khojas since the migration from India to East Africa and Indian Ocean Islands. He has always enchanted and enlightened the audience during the conference and council debates that were made lively by the lucidity with which he expresses himself. Alhaj Hassan bhai is presently semi-retired and resides in Mombasa. His interest in the community affairs remains unwavered since his young age; he has always been in the forefront and steadfast in defending the interests of our community worldwide. Whenever his services and advice are required, be it for the Africa Federation or the Jamaat he is always there.
Major part of information is extracted from Federation Samachar of July 1980.
- The Endangered Species (Toronto, 2012)
- The Sowing and Reaping of Destiny – With ABCD Syndrome: Wither Khoja? (2008) http://hamjaffer.com/files/SowingAndReaping.pdf
Interviews & Lectures
Message to Milton Keynes 25th Anniversary Celebration
Brothers and sisters gathered in Milton Keynes, Salaams and dua.
As Milton Keynes Jamaat celebrates 25th anniversary of the opening of the Zainabiyya Islamic Centre, it is only befitting that the organisers have displayed vision in organising an ‘Ancestors Day Exhibition’ to recall: Where, when, why and how we emerged as a distinct Community to be known as the Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim community? How long and arduous has been our journey of survival to date? In that spirit we need to ask: Where we stand today and under the fast changing world, what future do we envisage for ourselves and for our progeny for the next 25 years? How well equipped we are to manage the envisaged change? The first exhibition of this nature in Britain was held in Leicester on 19th January, 2014, which was well received. Glad to learn that Mr. Burket Walji will make similar presentation in Milton Keynes.
Why this Exhibition called Ancestors Day? There is nothing special in belonging to any community, race or tribe. It is purely a matter of coincidence of birth, or shall we say, accident of birth! What matters most is how righteous and virtuous life one lives in the sight of Allah Almighty.
Khalaqallahul Jannata leman Ata’ahu wa ahsana wa lav kana abdan Habashiyya,
Wa khalaqannara leman asahu wa lav kana Qurashiyya.
Allah swt has created heaven for those who obey Him and do good deeds, even if he be a bondage slave from Habasha (Ethiopia); And has created hell for those who disobey him, even if he be from the (renowned) tribe of Quresih.
- Imam Sajjad (A.S.) to Tavuse Yamani. -Masnaqib Aale Abdi Talib by ibne Shahr Aashub.(Vol.4, Page 151.)
Allah in His Mercy decided that we should be born in a certain community. Are we going to question that divine choice? Can we run shy of having been born in any particular race or community? Or for that matter, can we be arrogant for being what we happen to be? What, if we were instead born as Eskimo or Aborigine? Ladies and gentlemen, it is worth recognising here that the Cutchi and Gujarati speaking Khoja are not the only Khoja on this planet earth! There are also Sindhi, Punjabi and Kashmiri Khoja from the Indian sub-continent. Besides, there are also others known as Khoja in different parts of the world, about which I have made references in my book: “The Endangered Species.”
In Milton Keynes we have several families who are known as Khoja of Narwhal from the Punjab or from Kashmir. We have had several such families in Nairobi, Kenya. I know of a good friend in Milton Keynes, Syed Nayab Haider who is a non Gujarati Khoja and a respected member of the community. I hope he is present in this gathering and I would like to greet him with: Ki Galla, change? To Gujarati and Cutchi speaking participants I would say: Kee.n Ayo.n and Kem Cho!
I know also know of a well-known Punjabi Khoja who became a leading member of the Ismaili Khoja Jamaat and its leading Waez and Missionary. The environment and the dynamics at play for the Punjabi and Kashmiri Khoja have been somewhat different to that of the Sindhi, Cutchi and Gujarati Khoja. For the converts in Gujarat and Sindh, considering their background and the particular environment they were living in, plus the multiple challenges posed to them as a result, retention of the Khoja identity and development of the structured community set up became crucial for their survival and for the preservation and promotion of their faith as Shia Ithna- Asheri. Besides, because of the split from the main body of the Khoja community on doctrinal grounds, social and economic boycott was practiced against them by their cousins. There were also incidence of physical threats against certain individuals and also some cases of assassinations are recorded.
All this provided added challenge for them to get better organised. This identity and the community structures put in place as a result have played crucial role in their emergence as a Shia Ithna-Asheri community in India and in their settlement and growth in Africa. Later on, this identity played no less crucial role, especially after the Uganda Exodus in 1972, in their rehabilitation as a cohesive religious community in Europe, North America and in the rest of the world. Today, the world wide Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri community numbering less than 150,000 are nationals of almost two dozen different states and settled in over forty countries. Despite their widespread dispersal, they are linked with each other – thanks to their organisations. In moments of crisis such as the Zanzibar revolution 1964, Uganda exodus 1972, unrest in parts of Madagascar in 1987 and evacuation of an entire community of 1,100 from Somalia in 1991, when no help or even message of sympathy and support was forthcoming from any quarters, the unity and the spirited outlook of the community provided a ray of hope, where, otherwise, everything looked bleak.
In the aftermath of the massive earthquake in Cutch (India) in 2001 that severely affected our small community of around 700 heads remaining in Cutch in different locations, it was the unity and the organisational structures of the community that promptly responded to the immediate needs of the affected people and at the same time generated global support for commendable rehabilitation and reconstruction work. Historically, but for this identity and the organizational structures under which the Khoja community operated, their fate following their migration from India to Africa in the latter half of the nineteenth century and in their subsequent migration from Africa and from the Indo-Pak sub-continent for resettlement in the West during the latter half of the twentieth century would have been difficult to visualise. A look at what befell other migrant communities that lacked such identities and organisational structures will be revealing.
In my book “The Endangered Species” I have reviewed related developments at some length. There are a number of youngsters from within the Khoja community, including some who have acquired some religious education in Iran or Iraq who tend to question the need for retaining our Khoja identity and for operating as an organised cohesive society. When individuals view issues from narrow personal socio economic angles only or simplistic emotionalism, they often tend to project themselves as a self-serving elitist group and miss out on the overall holistic perspectives. To all youngsters, community leaders and the religious scholars, Mulla Saheban, Maulanas and Zakirs who ascend the Mimber, I would respectfully suggest that they read the autobiography of Mulla Qader Husein Naif – Karbalai, first published in 1900, in order to understand and appreciate the trials and tribulations of the Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri community as they emerged as a distinct community some 150 years ago. In this context, they can also read about the guidance given to Mulla Qader Husein by Ayatullah Sheikh Zainul Abedeen Mazandarani. Readers would then be able to understand and appreciate what proactive role a Muballigh can play in reforming a society and the way Mulla Qader Husein dedicated over three decades of his life with missionary zeal, driven by a sense of caring concern, love and compassion at much personal deprivation and risk to his own life. Apart from running traditional Madressa for children, Mulla Qader Husein effectively applied the institution of Minber and Majlis as an extended form of Madressa to cater for the specific needs of the adults. A noble soul, Mulla Qader Husein was undoubtedly a great benefactor of the Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri community to whom we owe an eternal debt of gratitude. He lies buried in the courtyard of the shrine of Imam Husein in Karbala. I will respectfully recommend to all Zuwwar going to Karbala that after doing the first ‘izne dukhul’ as they enter the main gate of the Haram of Imam Husein, they need to recognise that they may possibly be walking over the grave of Mulla Qader Husein buried somewhere underneath. Please pause for a moment then to offer fateha for this great benefactor of the Khoja community.
The question we are now faced with is:
- But for this unity and the structured set up of our community, where would we have been today?
- Demolish these structures and the identity that go with it, and then try to visualise where we and our successive generations will end up in the next few decades?
- A million dollar question is: What positive, passive or negative role each one of us is playing in this context in our daily lives?
Congratulations to Milton Keynes Jamaat for organising this Heritage Exhibition named as ‘Ancestors Day’. Over the years I had the opportunity of visiting Milton Keynes several times with late Mulla Asghar and I recall the early formative stages of the Milton Keynes Jamaat and developments taking place for building the Zainabyya Islamic Centre. It is gratifying to observe that in Milton Keynes much importance has been given to local Madarassa. Here I fondly recall numerous discussions I used to have with late Bahadur Dallal and was always impressed with his enthusiasm to promote the activities of Milton Keynes Madrassah on modern lines and also for initiatives in interfaith activities. In the spirit of ‘let the light shine’, we have to reach out with goodwill, with love for all and malice towards none, and strive work to a culture of harmony all round. There is a permanent Exhibition on Khoja Heritage in Toronto. You may like to visit the website of the Mulla Asghar Memorial Library and Research Centre, Toronto. http://marcresource.org/
Khoja History – Documentary Film You may also be interested to learn that a professionally produced documentary film by MARC on the evolution of the Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri community commissioned by the World Federation is to be released on 18th May, 2014 in Dar es Salaam. You can preview a trailer of this documentary film on www.khojajourneyoffaith.org
It will be worth for parents to sit with their children and watch this film. This documentary will help in understanding where we originated from; account of the long journey to reach where we are today; how our predecessors struggled in India and in Africa. Recalling our roots may also provide moments for reflection as to what challenges we are now facing and what we can do for our progeny?
I wish your endeavours every success.
Interview with Khoja Heritage Project (KHP)
Interview with Khoja TV
Documentary by Ahlulbayt TV: Khoja from Struggle to Conviction
Interview on thoughts - on the life of Al-haj Mohamed Jaffer Sherrif Dewji
Africa Federation Meeting
Visiting Community Members of Shiraz (Iran - 5th October 2014)
Visiting Africa Federation Archive Section
In 2007, the office bearers of Africa Federation (AFED) decided to create an Archives section within the Afed Secretariat. In Archives section, old documents, photographs, books and records are maintained with proper index references. Several appeals were sent out to request Jamaats and community members who possessed historical records, photographs etc. to send them to the Archives section thereby they would make copies and return the originals to their respective owners. Only few responded to the appeal. There is also a plan to digitize the records, photographs, documents etc. for posterity, safe keeping and future use by the Federation. Regular bulletins from the Archives section secretariat are issued covering different topics including events that took place in the Jamaats of Africa several decades ago, profiles of the past leaders and history of our community in Africa from the early days of migration from India where it all started !!
On Wednesday, 12th July 2017, Archives section was privileged to host a prominent member of our community, a prolific writer and a historian of the Khoja Heritage, Alhaj Hassanbhai Jaffer from Mombasa, Kenya. Hassanbhai has authored several books, his latest book is titled “The Endangered Species”. The book is available from the Afed Secretariat office and from KSI Jamaat of Dar es Salaam Bookshop. A meeting was held with Hassanbhai, the Archives sectional secretary, Alhaj Murtaza Jivraj and the Archives administrative secretary, Arifa bai Somji. The Afed office bearers, Alhaj Aunali Khalfan, Alhaj Mohamed Hemani and Alhaj Hussein Karim also attended the meeting. The meeting was held over a lunch at the Archives office which is located in the Afed sub-office. The discussion covered a wider spectrum of subjects, including the importance of maintaining historical records and preserving them for the future generations, similarly for using as references when such a need arise, it was also emphasised that the Archives section should obtain modern equipment like, a good quality colour scanner, a digital camera cum video recorder and a computer with bigger capacity to store data, information and also back-up facilities. Murtaza bhai Jivraj explained that the equipment required would cost approximately US$10,000. Upon the request from Afed, Alhaj Hassan Jaffer has kindly agreed to take up an important assignment of compiling a book on the history of the Africa Federation since its inception in 1946 which, Afed intends to launch in April 2018 marking the celebrations of 72 years of the existence of the Africa Federation - The mother of all Federations.
We are very grateful to Hassan bhai Jaffer for accepting to take up this mammoth task. On this note, we shall request all our community members and particularly the elders of our community to provide him with full support and cooperation to enable him complete this task successfully. We pray for his good health, long life and success in his endeavours, Ameen. The Africa Federation Secretariat is thankful to Alhaj Hassan bhai Jaffer for his visit and for providing useful guidance on the subject of Archives and the importance of preserving the history of our community.
Marhum Hassanbhai Jaffer passed away on 23rd of February 2018 in Mombasa, Kenya.
Obituary and Tributes
The World Federation of KSIMC
The World Federation expresses its deep sorrow at the passing of Hassan Ali Mohammed Jaffer. Sadly, this marks an end of the era of towering leaders with whom Hassanbhai served for almost seven decades. He was amongst the last of the illustrious figures such as Marhum Mohamedali Meghji, Marhum Abdulrasul Lakha, Marhum Mulla Asgher not to mention his own father Alibhai Mohamed Jaffer amongst others, who were instrumental in shaping the modern KSI Community. As their close confidant, they sought his wise counsel then and over more than half a century he continued to remain the most sought-after sage and savant for many succeeding leaders until today.
"Marhum Hassan Jaffer has been a tower of strength for this community and its leaders. I fondly recall his detailed and often quite direct advice. He was always on hand to provide frank, clear and honest feedback with a unique level of incisiveness. His work the Endangered Species book has set alight a reinvigoration of Khoja pride and cultural enthusiasm.” - Shan E Abbas Hassam, Secretary General of The World Federation.
There are many words to describe this remarkable personality. None will be eloquent enough to do justice to this multifaceted individual who encompassed so many rare qualities. A voracious reader, he was at the same time a prolific writer. An outstanding intellectual, he was also a down to earth outspoken farsighted member of the community. He was a profound thinker exuding wisdom and at the same time adept at envisioning paradoxes. He enjoyed poetry and prose but eschewed small talk, preferring straight talk. He was an insightful historian but skillfully linked the past with the present. As a Khoja stalwart, his words were polite and respectful, but when needed was not afraid to call a spade a spade. He was of the pre-baby boomer era but his engagement with all generations, from baby boomers to the millennial generation was seamless. As a keen analytical observer, he was well known for his candid and oftentimes rather acidic analysis of the state of the Community and has migrated many of us into discomfort zones.
“I can never forget the lesson he imparted upon learning of my bid for the presidency of The World Federation. His advice was blunt: “Don't ever try to wear someone else's shoes. Wear your own. They will be more comfortable and you will take greater strides.” Later he shared that this manner of straight talk was from his shipping experience: “When space is asked in a cargo ship and none is available, there is only one way to say it: NO!" Hassan Bhai’s grasp of the community’s contemporary challenges, his lucid way of analyzing the situations and his art of proffering remedies without embellishment have all left a deep mark on me.” Ahmad Hassam, Former President of The World Federation.
Born in Zanzibar in 1932, Hassan Bhai spent most of his life in Mombasa. His services to the Community span almost seven decades, and commenced when he was elected Honorary Secretary of the Jaffery Sports Club, Mombasa in the early fifties. He went on to serve as Chairman of the Debate and Education Section of the Ithna-Asheri Young Men’s Union, Hon Secretary and Chairman of the Education Board of Alibhai Panju school. He also served as Vice Chairman of the Mombasa Jamaat and Hon. Treasurer of the Africa Federation in the mid-sixties under the Chairmanship of late Alhaj Mohammedali Meghji and the late Mulla Asgher as Hon. Secretary of Africa Federation.
"The passing away of Hassanbhai Alimohamed Jaffer is indeed an irreplaceable loss for the entire Khoja Shia community.He was an academician, a historian, a social worker and above all an intellectual with a zeal for humanitarian work. He always searched for an opportunity to serve and always found these and delivered to perfection! His academic interests kept him in touch with many leading universities both in the west & Islamic world. He would always share many interesting and aspiring work with his friends and colleagues. He read extensively and was an author extraordinaire, as exemplified in his books that he wrote! Above all his humble advice whenever and wherever required was delivered with courtesy and the highest level of humility! He will be sadly missed by all of us! - Dr Asgarali G K Moledina, Former President of The World Federation.
He was instrumental in the formation of The World Federation, having participated in many preparatory meetings as well as a key advisor to Mulla Asgher at the first constitutional Conference in 1976. He was elected as a member of the first Executive Council of The World Federation and continued his engagement with the world body in many capacities. His presence and eloquent submissions at the meetings of The WF were always memorable and got the audience thinking out of the box, as he reframed the conversation to be relevant to the times. On the global scene, while he espoused interactions the wider Shia Muslim causes, he always reminded the Community to focus on its own priorities first.
“Murabbi Hassanbhai withstood the test of the time to amplify his voice, loud and clear, that we, as a Khoja community, have an equal share in the wider Shia Ithna Asheri Muslim community. Deploying the analogy of his shipping business, he captivated Ayatullahs of Qum and Najaf by his unique style of narrating the history. His unwavering commitment and dedication to the Khoja community compelled him to caution community leaders and religious scholars alike when the legacy of KSI was compromised or underestimated.” Shaykh Kumail Rajani, Former Head of Islamic Education and Current Deputy Chair of the Khoja Heritage Project.
Of late, he was also on the advisory board of the Khoja Heritage Project of The World Federation. Remarkably, having an erstwhile ancestor like Haji Dewji Jamal made Hassan Bhai very much an integral part of our history as the Shia IthnaAsheri Community. His lifelong labour of love, The Endangered Species was the first comprehensive book of Khoja history in almost a century, when the likes of Sachedina Nanjiani and Adalji Dhanji Kaba put pen to paper in the mid 19th century. His ‘out of the box’ thinking about community affairs is also reflected in his unique turn of phrase in this book, not found in manuals of creative writing.
“His seminal work The Endangered Species is not just a mere narration of Khoja History but paints insightful visage of the Khoja Community and it’s arc of history demonstrating the past and comparing it with the present. It is an insider’s look at the opportunities and challenges of keeping faith and culture in balance on the path of progress. The epilogue of the book is worth revisiting. It is a bittersweet reflection of who we have become as a people and where should we go” Hasnain Walji, Former President of the World Federation and current Chair Khoja Heritage Project.
When elder statesmen like Hassan Bhai pass away, they leave a colossal vacuum in the Community, and much valuable knowledge, memories and experience is interred with them. The paradox is: only after their passing we wish we had recorded these memories and experiences. Perhaps, acutely aware of this, he ensured that his thoughts, knowledge and guidance remain after him in the form of books, lectures and interviews. Thankfully many of his works, interviews and speeches have been preserved. All these will be invaluable for many generations to come to learn to form his into the past and the present state of the Community. His contribution to the preservation of the history of the KSI Community is truly monumental and without a parallel.
- The World Federation coveys its heartfelt condolences to his wife, sons, daughter, siblings and his many grandchildren. May the Almighty (swt) bless him with His Mercy and a place in the proximity of the Masoomin (AS).
The World Federation thanks Dr. Hasnain Walji for compiling this obituary of Marhum Alhaj Hassan Ali Mohamed Jaffer.
A Quintessential Khoja Personality who Exemplified the KSI Community
The Africa Federation mourns the passing away of Murabbi Hassan Bhai Ali Mohamed Jaffer and conveys its heartfelt condolences to his wife, sons, daughters, siblings and his many grandchildren. Generally, people are known by the community they belong to. And then there are those inspiring individuals through whom a community is recognized. Hassan Bhai Ali Mohamed Jaffer Shariff Devji Jamal was that quintessential Khoja personality who personified the KSI Community. Through his words and deeds, he reminded us all of who we were and should be. His thoughts and words, always inspiring, were direct and to the point, as he did not pull any punches reminding us all of some bitter truths. His passion for the betterment of the Khoja Community matched his candor, to make us self-reflect on our follies and foibles as a people. Above all, his thought leadership has had a major impact on shaping our Community.
As a thinker, writer, historian, scholar, he straddled several generations, both in his span of Community service as well as his unique ability to engage young and old alike. In the sea of service, he stood shoulder to shoulder with towering figures like Alhaj Mohamedali Meghji, Mulla Asgherali M. M. Jaffer, Hajji Abdulrasul Ahmed Lakha to mention just a few. As a historian, his own history is quite remarkable. Having the erstwhile ancestor like Alhaj Devji Jamal, Hassan Bhai himself was part of our history. Hassan Bhai was born in Zanzibar in 1932 and spent his life in Mombasa from an early age. After completing his secondary school education in Mombasa, he undertook a practical course in agriculture at the Indian school of Agriculture in Morogoro, Tanzania. His journey of community service commenced in 1953 when he was elected Hon. General Secretary of the Jaffery Sports Club, Mombasa. Ever since then his services remained unabated. He was Secretary and Chairman of the Debate and Education Section of the Ithna-Asheri young Men’s Union, Honorary Secretary and the later Chairman of the Ithna-Asheri Education Board of the Alibhai Panju Jaffery Primary school. He was also Vice Chairman of the Mombasa Jamaat. In the Supreme Council, he served on as Executive Councilor from 1965 and was its Hon. Treasurer during 1965/67, under the chairmanship of late Alhaj Mohamedali Meghji and served with Mulla Asgharali M. M. Jaffer who was then the Hon. Secretary of Africa Federation.
“His death is a truly irreplaceable loss not only for his entire family but also for the entire global Khoja Community. His death does lead me to reflect on what makes someone an exceptional person, because to me, Alhaj Hassan Bhai that is what he was. It is difficult to describe him in mere words; he was an exceptional Mentor to me, a man with exceptional qualities and immense knowledge very rare in our Community. He enlightened the Community all along in the last several decades on our history, our roots and championing the Khoja heritage. The legacy of his devotion and gracious service to the Community shall be eminently enshrined in the history of the Khoja Community globally, and particularly in Africa” Shabir Najafi – Chairman, Africa Federation
His active involvement in the wake of the of the Zanzibar Revolution, the Uganda Exodus or the Somalia evacuation was critical to the success of each of these missions and demonstrated his dexterity at handling Community crisis. His services to the wider community are also noteworthy. He served as a member of the Mombasa Municipal Council in 1963 and in 1959/60 he was an elected member of the managing committee of the Mombasa Muslim Association and Secretary of Eid Fete standing committee. In his professional capacity, he served as a member of the Mombasa Port Advisory and Productivity Council and as the Vice Chairman of the Mombasa Ships Agents’ Association. It is remarkable that Hassan Bhai could contribute so much despite managing a very busy and thriving enterprise under the name of Murtaza Shipping Agency Limited in Mombasa, Kenya.
A key figure in the conceptualization of the Word Federation, he was elected as a member of the very first Executive Council of the World Federation of the Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Communities upon its establishment in October 1976. He was known to be close confidant of the founding President Marhum Mulla Asgherali and all the successive World Federation Presidents till today.
“Marhum Hassan Bhai Jaffer was a great pillar of strength for our Community and its leaders. He was always on hand to provide advice to me during my tenure at the Africa Federation or indeed World Federation. He was a strong visionary as well and he worked tirelessly as a Community Worker. Marhum will be remembered as being a beacon of light for our Community, an ardent advocate of our mother tongue – Gujarati which he himself spoke so eloquently. We pray to Allah (SWT) to place him amongst the proximity of our 14 Masomeen.” Anwarali Dharamsi – President of the World Federation.
With the wealth of experience at his command, Hassan Bhai enchanted and enlightened the audiences during the Africa Federation and World Federation conferences and council debates, by the lucidity and a unique turn of phrase, with which he expressed himself. His interviews and speeches on social media continue to be followed with great enthusiasm. In his golden years, as an elder statesman his advice and counsel was sought by many generations of leaders and social workers. He was also on the advisory board of the Khoja Heritage Project of the World Federation. His contribution in painstakingly compiling the history of the Khoja Community is unparalleled. His efforts revived the global interest in the heritage of a community, reconnecting us with our past. His feat of writing the Endangered Species - a tome on Khoja History was the first, after almost a century, when the likes of Sachedina Nanjiani and Adelji Dhanji Kaba put pen to paper.
“His seminal work The Endangered Species, is not just a mere narration of Khoja History but paints insightful visage of the Khoja Community as it was then, and as it is now. The epilogue of the book, is worth revisiting. It is a bitter-sweet reflection of who we have become as a people and where should we go.” Hasnain Walji. Chair Khoja Heritage Project - World Federation.
An unwavering champion for the well-being and respect for the Khoja Community he was always at the forefront and steadfast in defending the interests of our community worldwide. He will be dearly missed by us all. The indelible mark of his thought leadership will forever remain etched in the institutional memory of the Community for generations to come and a source of sawab e jaariya for him. Alhaj Hassan Bhai very graciously accepted a mammoth task to prepare a booklet of the history of the Africa Federation from its inception in 1946, he was to do this work jointly with Dr Hasnain Walji. Hassan Bhai prepared the framework and had put his thoughts into what would be the contents of the booklet. Insha’allah, Dr Walji will continue to work on the booklet, which we intend to dedicate to Marhum Alhaj Hassan Bhai Jaffer. In 2013, the Africa Federation bestowed upon Alhaj Hassan Ali Mohamed Jaffer the Haydari Medal – highest Award in Africa Federation for his exemplary and selfless services to the Community.
Please visit these clips of interviews with Marhum Hassan Jaffer by Khoja TV of Reunion.
- May Allah (SWT) by His infinite grace and mercy grant Marhum maghferat and a lofty place in the proximity of the Masumeen (AS) - Ameen.
- Please recite Sura-e-Fateha for the maghferat of the departed soul and all Marhumeen.
The Secretariat wishes to thank Dr Hasnain Walji and Alhaj Aunali Khalfan for compiling this brief Obituary of Marhum Alhaj Hassan Ali Mohamed Jaffer.
A Profound Thinker with an Abundant Dose of Pragmatism: A personal tribute to Hassanbhai Jaffer by Dr. Hasnain Walji
Hassan A M Jaffer (1932 - 2018)
A Profound Thinker with an Abundant Dose of Pragmatism - A Personal Tribute by Dr. Hasnain Walji.
yā-rab vo na samjhe haiñ na samjheñge mirī baat
de aur dil un ko jo na de mujh ko zabāñ aur ......
Personalities whose foresight and vision put them head and shoulders above the rest often remain 'under understood' and only time then testifies to their true worth. Such people become community icons as they espouse the essence and spirit of the Community they belong to. Hassan Bhai A.M. Jaffer embodied the values of the Khoja Shia IthnaAsheri Community in a way that few could. His insight into how faith and culture come together to make a Community was breathtakingly clear. His writings and speeches were always underpinned by the ethos that the Ithna-Asheri faith and Khoja culture were not mutually exclusive but two wings that would help the Community to soar. It is hard to find eloquent words to do justice to this sagacious and erudite individual who was blessed with so many rare qualities.
He realized, more than most, that weakening the wing of culture in the name of faith would lead to a lopsided trajectory in our evolution to be Ummat e Wasata - a Qur’anic term he quoted often - meaning a nation most balanced. He boldly held his ground when external elements tried to undermine Khoja culture, as much as resisting any move that compromised on the pristine values of our faith. In that, he had crystal clear vision to discern the corals of faith and the rocks of ritual in the clear waters of our society. His intellectual grasp of the ideals and realities of faith gave him the confidence to challenge the mundane and mediocre, espousing a genuine aspiration to raise the ntellectual bar of the Khoja Community. His earlier works like "Whither my Community" a paper he presented way back in 1973, where I had the good fortune to be present as a young man, had a profound impact on many youths including me. Over the half century that I had known him, he remained consistent in his thoughts and words, always inspiring and thought rovoking. He was not afraid to call a spade a spade and pulled no punches when he addressed the Community. His intellectual rigour has had a major impact in shaping the minds of many, as he beseeched us all to take the higher road. From the many high-quality articles, he shared with me on a regular basis, I know he kept abreast of current affairs and appreciated good writing. His taste for Urdu poetry was legendary and apt verses flowed naturally when he wanted to make a point.
A profound thinker with an abundant dose of pragmatism, he averted many an issue with his wise counsel, when the Community leadership sought his guidance. I vividly recall the profound discussions behind closed doors between him and Marhum Mulla Asgher, at times of tension in at the World Federation and how these two great men found creative solutions. Above all, it was his holistic perspective on our history that was so enlightening. His depth of knowledge of Muslim history matched his grasp of the history of the Sub-continent. However, with all his endeavours at revitalizing history, he did not live in the past. Indeed, his outlook was very modern, aware of the nuances of the contemporary era. Straddling several generations, from octogenarians to the millennials, he connected well with all. He was equally comfortable in the company of academics or religious scholars he could converse with and engage young and old with ease. Having worked with him for almost a decade when he was writing the Endangered Species, gave me a rare insight into his thinking. He chose the title Endangered Species, almost as a caution to the Community and subtitled it: An Account of the Journey of Faith by the Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Community. This seminal work represents a labour of love by this remarkable personality nurtured within the Khoja Community. (The book is published by the Mulla Asgher Memorial Library and Resource Center)
For the past 70 odd years, Hassan Bhai Jaffer had the good fortune of experiencing much of this history in the making, first hand. As a keen analytical observer, he is well known for his candid and oftentimes rather acidic analysis of the state of the Community. His ‘out of the box’ thinking about community affairs is also reflected in his unique phraseology of creative writing. When I first started editing the manuscript, instinctively, my red pencil began crisscrossing the double-spaced lines. But after a chapter or two, I stopped; I realized that my editing of the characteristic style was sterilizing all the flavours and aromas of an author who had lived in the very kitchen of the KSI house of history. With an erstwhile ancestor like, Dewjibhai Jamal, who was instrumental in connecting the community with Ayatullah Zainul Abedin Mazandarani in the 1800s, which eventually led to us choosing the path of the Ahlul Bait (AS), Hassan Bhai had a unique vantage point in observing our history.
He will be greatly missed by all and especially his near and dear ones. I will miss his almost daily forward of a text or email on some interesting analysis of a topic, (his favourite being pieces from Dawn in Pakistan) and the frequent phone calls from Mombasa. The Khoja Heritage reading circle which meets every two weeks will feel his vacuum and all of who have a passion for Khoja History will miss his contagious enthusiasm and support. From now on when we need to defend our Khoja identity we will miss a stalwart and a formidable ally in the cause.
Allow me to end with a couplet he was so fond of after a long conversation or presentation:
zamana baRay. shoq. say sun raha tha
humi so gaye dastaN kehtay kehtay
- May Allah shower him with His Mercy and grant him a lofty place in the proximity if the Masumeen (AS)
Ingenious Candour: A personal tribute to Hassanbhai Jaffer by Kumail Rajani
Ingenious Candour: A Personal Tribute to Hassanbhai Jaffer (1932 - 2018)
‘I prefer to be called Hassanbhai and not ‘murabbi’, ‘mwalim’ or ‘al-haj’’, he straightforwardly conveyed this message in my first encounter with him. It did not take me long to decipher that it was not only his humbleness but the ardent passion for the Gujarati language which determined his choice of words. Hassanbhai was undeniably the embodiment of an ideal Khoja Shia Ithna Asheri Muslim. He neither allowed his faith to be compromised nor his cultural identity to be underestimated; living with the indomitable spirit of ‘Indeed the nobles of you in the sight of Allah is the most God-wary’.
Some people are born to lead without a title. In last two decades or so, Hassanbhai never held any leadership position in the community and yet he was the guru for the veterans and novices alike, imparting his impartial advice in the most candid way possible. His concern for the community institutions often impelled him to initiate the conversation with those just new in the leadership positions admonishing them for some oversights and enjoining them to uphold the utmost integrity in their service. Despite our regular communications since last many years, he never engaged with me in any theological or jurisprudential conversations. Marhum’s passion, as I observed, was history. Period. Even his selective forwards of political columns and op-eds of Dawn had historical nuances.
Hassanbhai was a champion par excellence in defending the equal right of KSI Community to be acclaimed as Khojas. Since the 1970s, while community leaders continued striving to live with the motto of ‘We Exist to Serve’, he invested himself into evidencing ‘We Exist’. He was acknowledged in academia and community for his seminal contribution in the field of Khoja Studies. He kept abreast of the latest material researched in Tokyo or Santiago and whether it was published by universities or seminaries. A few months earlier, he was still looking into some evidence to locate Hirji Jamal school in Bhavnagar and expressed his wish to hire a painter who could reconstruct Khoja Mohalla of Mumbai of the late nineteenth century. He was not only a community historian but also a passionate individual who would travel to remote areas to meet his Khoja brethren. I was privileged to travel with him to Shiraz to meet some community members living in that part of the world. How can I ever forget his insightful conversation with Ayatullah of Qum? He will set the preamble by deploying the analogy of his shipping business and how blunt he had to be to say ‘No’. He then will not shy off to highlight the incredible contribution of KSI community in the tabligh and how often it is underappreciated by the contemporary clerical institutions of Qum and Najaf. He would also provide solutions as to how we could adopt a strategy for tabligh in the secular world. Marhum also often complained about the poor scholarship of seminarians in the field of Khoja Studies.
Hassanbhai touched the lives of many ordinary people. He was in constant touch with most of them through regular emails, Whatsapp, Skype and other electronic mediums. He vehemently criticised elites of community i.e. shethias, waderas and aulama for their negligence in defending the incredible heritage of the KSI community. His succinct and acute remarks would be deeply missed in the bimonthly reading circles of the Khoja Heritage Project. Alike many, I too will miss his regular emails and text messages. I have been told that good people never die. As long as we cherish them in our minds, they are immortal. They speak through their writings and communicate through enduring memories. ‘Will they not then listen?’ (Qur’an 32:26).
Qayd e mausam se tabiyat rahi aazad uski
Kaash gulshan mein samajta koi fariyad uski!
It was 21st of February 2018 when I spoke with Marhum for the last time. In that conversation, he expressed his wish to visit Karbala for the ziyarat in the upcoming months.
- May Allah swt resurrect him with his mawla, Imam Husayn (as).
Tributes of 2nd WFExCo Term 2017-2020, 23rd February 2018
Tribute to Hassanbhai Jaffer by Kumail Manji, former Secretary General of The World Federation of KSIMC
IN MEMORY OF HASSANBHAI A. M. JAFFER - An icon of our age passes on.
At his age of 86, I used to call him “The Youngest mind in the Khoja Community,” because in my interactions with him over the last eight years or so, I admired how Hassan Uncle was truly in touch with today’s reality and concerned about the rapidly evolving and very new needs of the community. Being a prolific writer, he always had the clarity of thought whenever he spoke. Most people have opinions and advice to give; Hassan Uncle is the one you would turn to for wisdom - the kind that one would cherish for years to come.
I had the honour to be by his family and the Mombasa community as we paid our final respects to this great man, and that's when realisation truly struck that Hassan Uncle would not be around anymore. We would not again see his calm yet commanding presence at our community forums; we would not again hear his clear and articulate understanding of the community’s development; we would not again experience his fearless positions on where he felt things were going wrong, and we would not again hear his soft words of guidance whenever anyone of us got stuck in the journey of community service. He was among the last remaining icons of a generation that produced stalwarts like Mulla Asgher MM Jaffer. I have always regretted that I was too young to meet Marhum Mulla Asgher, but I can say today, with great pride, that I knew Hassanbhai A. M. Jaffer - a person no less in stature. May Hassan Uncle’s wisdom across the three generations he spanned, be always etched in our memories and in our actions.