On Tuesday, the 19th of November, a delegation of US State Department officials and representatives from the US embassy in Nairobi visited Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah. Rory Anderson, a policy advisor for Africa in the Strategic Religious Engagement Unit and Maryam Cementwala, a Policy Advisor at the Strategic Initiatives Office of International Religious Freedom, were accompanied by Michelle Di Ionno a Political Associate at the local embassy and other personnel.

The guests engaged in a round-table discussion with faculty members and students on the importance of interfaith dialogue in creating a harmonious global society. The delegation was then given a tour of the campus where they had the opportunity to interact with students of various nationalities and across different levels of study. The entourage interacted with students who were revising material covered in class earlier that day. They also witnessed a Rauḍat al-Adab al-Fatimi gathering in which two opposing teams recite Arabic verses from memory. Each team begins a verse that starts with the last letter of the preceding verse recited by their opponents. The team that concedes the least and recites with the most accuracy wins.

Working towards religious engagement and trying to understand its influence on society, the delegation commended the effective synthesis between tradition and modernity at Aljamea and the manner in which faith gives impetus to advancement in all spheres of life within the Bohra community. They also applauded the parity between male and female counterparts within the academy as well as the broader community remarking that it was due to such an inclusive and all-encompassing educational philosophy that the community could achieve such progress without compromising on its core religious values.

The visit concluded with dinner served on a traditional thāl, where the guests not only enjoyed the community’s distinctive cuisine but also sampled its unique culture, after which they viewed a performance by the academy’s band.

On Saturday, 16th November, Dr Karen C Pinto, a professor at Boise State University’s College of Innovation and Design and an eminent medieval Islamic maps expert visited Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah, Karachi.

Dr Pinto delivered a talk to students and faculty on the topic of medieval Islamic maps where she explained their prominent characteristics and distinctive features. She spoke of the tendency for such maps to be oriented to the South, the concept of an encircling ocean and the symbolism of birds. Having studied and collected over 3000 medieval maps, her expertise and breadth of knowledge were apparent as she delivered a riveting lecture.

She also introduced the audience to her monumental medieval map classification project, a website named MIME (Medieval Islamic Maps Encyclopedia).

After her talk, Dr Pinto toured the campus and took great interest in the Kufic calligraphy which features prominently throughout. During her visit to the library and rare books section, she took special interest in a manuscript which contained Fatimi scripts, comparing them in detail to a similar script she had come across in her research. She was kind enough to sign the library’s copy of her publication titled Medieval Islamic Maps: An Exploration. Before her departure, Dr Pinto joined faculty members and students for lunch in a traditional Bohra thāl.

Since January 2019, Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah, Mumbai (Marol) has been actively participating in the Dawoodi Bohra community initiative to rid water bodies of plastic waste known as Turning the Tide.

Every Sunday, groups of students and faculty members join Afroz Shah, community members and other volunteers to lend a hand in the cleanup of Mithi River and Versova beach in Mumbai.

Apart from the cleanup, students also take part in activities that further help this cause. These include interacting with local residents in their homes and showing them environmentally friendly ways of disposing their domestic waste, introducing them to sustainable practises such as recycling and creating awareness about concepts such as circular economy and how waste can be transformed into a source of income.

In commemoration of World Food Day, the students and faculty of Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah, Nairobi joined members of the Dawoodi Bohra community for a seven kilometer walk through the heart of Nairobi to raise awareness about global hunger.

The walk commenced from the iconic Uhuru Park in central Nairobi and progressed through the city’s major highways before terminating at Uhuru Gardens, Langata. A brief closing ceremony was held at the gardens to mark the event in which government officials and county representatives commended the community’s efforts and dedication to the cause.

Under the guidance of His Holiness Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS and drawing inspiration from the numerous Islamic traditions which exalt those who feed the hungry, the Bohra community organises food drives and awareness events throughout the year.

The Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Kenya, His Excellency Mr Sunil De Silva, visited Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah, Nairobi on Saturday the 12th of October. Upon his arrival, he was received by the Principal of the Academy and senior faculty members, following which he viewed a brief video about the history and functionings of the institution, the Dawoodi Bohra community and the recently concluded ʿAshara Mubāraka event in Colombo.

In his address the High Commissioner spoke of the role of religion in calling towards peace and harmony and bringing people from varied denominations together. He acknowledged that the ʿAshara Mubāraka sermons in Colombo demonstrated this harmonising quality of religion by drawing thousands to the island nation of Sri Lanka thereby establishing her as a peaceful and safe nation in the eyes of the world.

He then toured the campus and expressed his admiration for the rich architectural legacy of the community stating that he had not visited North Africa but seeing the campus gave him a glimpse into the region.

During the course of his visit, High Commissioner De Silva also visited the classrooms where he enthusiastically interacted with students, especially those from Sri Lanka and conversed with them in Sinhala.

The visit concluded with the High Commissioner commending the educational philosophy of the institute and expressing his wish to visit again soon.

As part of the Dawoodi Bohra community’s many environmental awareness initiatives which fall under the Project Rise umbrella, students from Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah Nairobi participated in a cleanup activity organised by the Karen and Langata District Association on International Coastal Cleanup Day.

The students were joined by community members and hundreds of other volunteers from the corporate sector as well as numerous other educational institutes in a combined effort against improper waste disposal practices in the Langata area.

An estimated six tonnes of garbage was collected from roadsides by the volunteers which will undergo segregation and eventually be recycled and introduced back into the economy.

For the students of Aljamea, the activity was not merely an exercise of civic duty but an expression of faith and a demonstration of the values espoused by the Dawoodi Bohra community. The Prophet Mohammed SAW states that ‘cleanliness is an integral part of faith.’ Elaborating on this understanding, His Holiness Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS during the Ashara Mubaraka sermons this year in Colombo, spoke of how it goes against the laws of nature for garbage to be disposed in places where it harms and inconveniences other beings. Since the sharia is modeled after nature, it becomes imperative upon Muslims to honour the laws of nature and dispose of waste in a manner that does not harm any constituent of the environment.

The Chief Minister of Sindh province, Syed Murad Ali Shah along with members of the Sindh government visited Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah, Karachi on Wednesday, 3rd July. Upon their arrival, the Principal of the academy greeted them with a warm welcome after which the honourable guests were taken on a tour of the campus.

The tour began with Mahad al-Zahra, the department of Quranic sciences dedicated to the memorisation and study of the Holy Quran. Syed Murad Shah admired the building’s architecture which he found to be conducive to learning and memorisation. The Aljamea band which was positioned outside the Mahad building, played various tunes and melodies.

The Chief Minister then visited al-Masjid al-Fatimi. Upon seeing the Fatimi design elements he remembered the late His Holiness Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA and praised his unwavering dedication to restoring numerous monuments of Islamic significance not just in Egypt but throughout the Muslim world.

A special presentation of books and rare manuscripts was arranged for the guests in the library. Syed Shah was shown pictures of his late father Syed Abduallah Ali Shah’s visit to Aljamea, which brought back pleasant memories. He was impressed by the extensive reading and research material provided to students and took a keen interest in the process of copying and preserving rare and antiquarian manuscripts.


Passing through boys’ hostel, the Chief Minister then visited the sports ground, where he applauded the range of sporting activities made available to students, as well as the holistic approach to education adopted by the institute which fosters both mental and physical growth.

After the tour, he graced the main assembly hall where students and faculty members had gathered. In his address Chief Minister Shah commended the efforts of His Holiness Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS and his dedication to the cause of education, which is manifested in institutions like Aljamea. He also recalled the ʿAshara Mubāraka event held in Karachi two years ago where he had the chance to meet with His Holiness TUS and expressed his admiration for the various initiatives led by the Dawoodi Bohra community that have brought about lasting socio-economic change.

The visit concluded with a brief press conference where he reiterated the significance of Aljamea in shaping personalities that would serve the community in particular and humanity in general.

His entry in the guest book reads as follows:

Former UN Environment Executive Director Mr Erik Solheim together with UN Champion of the Earth Advocate Afroz Shah visited Surat on Tuesday 25th June 2019 to conduct an engaging and evocative seminar for students and faculty members of the community’s principal educational institute, Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah.

The program is part of the Dawoodi Bohra community’s ongoing global initiative, ‘Turning the Tide’ against Plastic Pollution which comes under the Project Rise banner and is aimed at inspiring and educating people, especially young leaders of the community about the perils of plastic pollution. It also focuses on how measures can be put in place to reduce and eventually eliminate single use plastics from community events and centres across the world.

Mr Erik and Afroz Shah engaged with more than 200 students and faculty members during the course of their talk. They highlighted how a substantial reduction in plastic waste can be achieved by even the smallest changes in lifestyle choices and daily practices. The merits of circular economy were also touched upon bringing to the fore an understanding of waste as a resource that can be put back into the economy rather than a liability.

Taking a pledge to reuse, reduce and eventually eliminate single use plastics

To the students and faculty of Aljamea as to the broader community they represent, safeguarding the environment and preserving water bodies is not merely an act of civic responsibility but an expression of faith as prescribed by the tenets of Islam and the Prophetic traditions.

The talk at Aljamea was followed by yet another cleanup drive on the banks of the Tapti river, near Zaini bungalow as part of the sustained initiative by the community to rid water bodies of plastic pollution. Students, community members and other local volunteers joined the cleanup which commenced in the evening and saw active participation from all those involved.

 

 

In what is now a long standing tradition of Aljamea's al-Imtihān al-Sanawī (annual examinations), the huffāz (those who have committed the Holy Quran to memory in its entirety) certification ceremony was held in Raudat Tahera (the mausoleum of His Holiness Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA and Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA in Mumbai) as part of a series of commemorative events that mark the ʿurs mubārak (death anniversary) of His Holiness Dr Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA. (more…)

The Iranian Cultural Centre in Karachi, Khana-e-Farhang organised a Persian language certification ceremony at Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah on Saturday the 2nd of February. (more…)

Surat Campus

Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah,
Devri Mubarak,
Zampa Bazaar, Begampura,
Surat, Gujarat, 395003, India

261-3011110
surat@jameasaifiyah.edu

Karachi Campus

Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah
St-8 Block-C, North 
Nazimabad, Karachi,
74700, Pakistan

38636600
karachi@jameasaifiyah.edu
Nairobi Campus

Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah,
Saifee Park, Syedna Mohammed 
Burhanuddin Road, Nairobi,
00100, Kenya

020-7650283/84
nairobi@jameasaifiyah.edu
Mumbai Campus

Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah,
3 Bori Colony
Marol, Andheri East, Mumbai,
Maharashtra, 400059, India

222-8317500
mumbai@jameasaifiyah.edu
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