On Tuesday 7th May 2024, Dr Iyad Abu Moghli, founder and Director of the Faith for Earth Coalition at the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), visited the Nairobi campus of Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah. He was accompanied by a delegation of five other members from the UNEP headquarters in Nairobi.

Dr Abu Moghli has dedicated around 40 years to strategic planning, sustainable development, interfaith collaboration, and innovation. His work centres around the interplay of religion and the environment, ethics, values, and spirituality in environmental governance. He played a crucial role in the UNEP's co-hosting of the COP28 Global Faith Leaders Summit in Abu Dhabi, where His Holiness Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS, represented by his son, Shahzada Husain Burhanuddin, signed the ‘ABU DHABI INTERFAITH STATEMENT FOR COP28’.

Upon arrival on campus, Dr Iyad and his delegation received a warm welcome from the Principal and senior faculty members. Afterward, they embarked on a guided tour of the campus, which showcased the unique blend of tradition and modernity that is central to Aljamea's philosophy. This was evident not only in the academy's curriculum and outreach initiatives but also in its architectural design and overall aesthetics.

The campus emphasis on sustainability was particularly highlighted during the visit. The design incorporates features such as rainwater harvesting, passive ventilation, and natural lighting, which significantly reduce carbon emissions. Additionally, one third of the campus is designated as green space, and over 250 trees flourish on the grounds. Dr Iyad was also introduced to Aljamea's sustainable subsistence farming initiative, which utilises composted waste from the campus kitchen and dining hall to produce a variety of organic fruits and vegetables.

The guests proceeded to a walk-through exhibition showcasing the Dawoodi Bohra community's sustained global endeavours for environmental preservation. The exhibition highlighted major focus areas such as water conservation, cleanliness and zero waste initiatives, adoption of renewable energy sources, and initiatives to increase green cover. Dr Iyad was highly impressed by the community's comprehensive approach, noting its alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. He commended how the community's environmental efforts are inspired, informed, and driven by faith and the guidance of His Holiness Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS. He then urged the community to share its efforts with UNEP and the world, as they could serve as an inspiring model for other faith-based communities to emulate.

Dr Iyad then delivered an engaging talk in the academy’s auditorium which was attended by the entire student body and faculty. He spoke about the vision behind Al-Mizan, a covenant founded on the principles of Islam which calls Muslims across the world towards action for the good of the environment. He also mentioned how the principles of faith and the guidance of faith leaders have the unique ability to inspire and instruct people in ways which legislation and policy are unable.

In his discussion, he emphasised the interdependence of natural ecosystems and the vital roles played by even the tiniest creatures. He cited a narrative from the Torah and the Bible, relating to the Nabi Nuh’s AS (Prophet Noah) ark. When Allah Taʿala instructed Nabi Nuh AS to carry pairs of all species, the Prophet inquired about two gnats. Allah reiterated His command, emphasising that even the gnats had a purpose in creation and should be saved. Similarly, the Holy Quran mentions how Allah does not disdain to give the parable of a gnat or even smaller creatures. Dr Iyad used these narratives to illustrate the intricate design of natural systems, the delicate balance struck by Allah, and how seemingly insignificant efforts contribute to greater good.

Expressing his deep admiration for the academy as well as the broader community, Dr Iyad remarked that he looked forward to continuing this meaningful dialogue with Aljamea and the Dawoodi Bohra community as well as working together on sustained initiatives for environmental awareness.

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Syedi Mazoon al-Dawat Shahzadah Aliasgar Kalimuddin was born on the 9th of Zilhijja al-Haram 1351 H/4th April 1933. He was the 8th son of the 51st Dai Mutlaq Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA and half brother of the 52nd Dai Mutlaq Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA.

From an early age he excelled at academics and was described by Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA as having a capacious memory. Syedna Saifuddin RA makes reference to him in his Risalat Ramadaniyya Takbir Sakinat Fath Mubin, which he authored in the year 1367 H/1948. This was the year when Syedi Mazoon Saheb was elevated to the rank of haddiyat and given the epithet ‘Kalimuddin.’

He served Dawat in numerous capacities throughout his life. A wide range of departments and institutions such as Alvazaratus Saifiyah (Syedna’s secretariat), Burhani Educational Society, MSB Educational Institute, and Burhani college of Commerce and Arts were among those which benefited from his wisdom, guidance and leadership and progressed greatly as a result.

Following the demise of Syedi Mazoon al-Dawat Shahzadah Qasim Hakimuddin, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS appointed him one of the four rectors of Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah on 20th Rajab al-Asab 1439 H/5th April 2018. Prior to his appointment as rector, on two occasions in the year 1416 H/1995 and 1426 H/2005 - he conducted Aljamea’s viva voce examinations on behalf of Shahzadah Hakimuddin.

On 20th Rabi al-Akhar 1439 H/7th January 2018, Syedna Saifuddin TUS elevated him to the rank of Mukasir and thereafter, on 27th Jumada al-Ukhra 1440 H/4th March 2019, he was elevated to the rank of Mazoon, a position he held until his demise.

His entire life can be succinctly summed up as a life characterised by the love of knowledge and led in its pursuit and service. Those who had the good fortune of participating in his asbāq (traditional sessions of learning where entire books and treatises on varied subjects are covered over a period of time) and learning from him will recall the mastery with which he taught. Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA praised his conviction and dedication in delivering asbāq. He had an uncanny ability to contextualise even the most complex concepts and thoughts by giving practical examples, pithy anecdotes, as well as his lived experiences carefully selected from his countless interactions and exchanges with Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA, and Syedna Mufaddal Safuiddin TUS, the three Dais he had the privilege of serving. People would travel from great distances to be a part of his asbāq, which until his very last days, occupied the greater part of his daily schedule.

His passion for knowledge is further exemplified by his numerous publications, most prominent among which is a collection of volumes known as Jawahir al-Kalam al-Ghaliya (the gems of invaluable words). Each volume, published annually with the explicit raza and permission of Syedna, contains excerpts from discourses delivered by Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA and Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS on various occasions throughout that year. It is prefaced by a scholarly introduction in praise of Syedna and in appreciation of the themes and intricacies he has dealt with in his sermons and discourses, how they can be understood within the broader context of the year’s occurrences, and how their teachings can be implemented in a practicable manner.

In addition to his erudite scholarship, Shahzada Kalimuddin was an adept orator. The simplicity of his diction and softness of tone coupled with the gravity and depth of the concepts he conveyed made for an arresting and intellectually engaging discourse which left his audiences captivated for hours on end. Yet despite the elevated position from which he approached his lofty subject, his anecdotes and quips always offered light hearted moments that reflected the mastery of his skill.

In Fatimi philosophy, ʿibādat (worship) is bifurcated into two equally necessary and important parts; ʿilmiyya and ʿamaliyya (intellectual and practical). In addition to his diligence in matters of the intellect, Shahzada Kalimuddin demonstrated great devotion in his observance of ʿibādat ʿamaliya as well. This is evidenced by the manner in which, even during his final Ramadan, at the age of 95, he did not miss a single namaz with Syedna TUS nor did he forgo a single rozu. He was also an advocate for the importance of physical fitness and engaged in daily exercise.

Shahzada Kalimuddin had a warm and charismatic personality. His disarming smile had the tendency to put people immediately at ease, giving them the confidence to ask him any question and to broach any topic without inhibition.

During Aljamea’s viva voce examinations, a challenging and testing time for students and faculty alike, his smiling countenance and nods of encouragement, as students tried to navigate the complexities of the questions posed to them, served both as a source of guidance and inspiration. Despite any shortcomings, he would always appreciate and applaud the efforts of students and faculty members, giving them further impetus to continue striving for excellence in the pursuit of knowledge and diligence in the service of Syedna, the community and humanity at large. His paternal warmth will be missed deeply and his exemplary legacy of service will continue to inspire, within Aljamea and throughout the larger Dawoodi Bohra community.

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Upon his arrival in Nairobi on Monday, the 3rd of July, His Holiness Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS inaugurated the newly constructed roof (saqaf) which covers the entire central courtyard (sahat) of the campus.

His Holiness TUS had directed for a permanent roof to be constructed atop the central courtyard following the Ashara Mubaraka event of 2021 which was hosted by Aljamea Nairobi. During that time, a temporary aluminium clear span structure had been erected to transform the central courtyard into a seating area. The temporary roof proved especially beneficial in providing shade during the daytime and shelter from the cool wind currents and constant rains that are characteristic of the Nairobi climate.

Following more than a year of intricate planning and design, work on the permanent structure began in December 2022 and was completed in 3 months time. The roof is made entirely of ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) a versatile and resilient plastic which is preferred for its light weight, strength, durability as well as its ability to transmit UV light, an essential element for the growth of plant life. A combination of fritted and clear ETFE sections allows for the central courtyard to be illuminated and shaded at the same time. It ensures that the 36 date palms in the courtyard receive ample sunlight while creating a comfortable and diffused environment for students and faculty to use the space throughout the day.

During winter months, it has the added benefit of retaining more heat without impairing the natural flow of air through the courtyard and across the entire campus. The clear sections also allow for the minarets to be seen from the courtyard as before, while the steel columns that support the entire structure are designed in such a way that they mimic the date palms and their overhanging fonds, making them unobtrusive and allowing for them to blend into the existing design language of the courtyard.

The roof has also been fitted with state-of-the-art projection mapping, lighting and audio equipment which was used for the first time in an immersive light and sound presentation prepared by students and faculty to welcome His Holiness to the campus. Students also presented a tableau highlighting the numerous academic, cultural and physical activities they engage in on a daily basis throughout their time at the academy which was followed by a vocal recitation and band performance. The facade of Masjid al-Zahra was transformed via projection mapping, into a canvas that took the audience on an artistic journey through the history of Aljamea while showcasing the tireless efforts of Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA and Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS in the construction of its campuses and the holistic edification of its students.

Renowned for his piety and dedication to the Almighty’s worship, Maulana al-Imam ʿAli bin al-Imam al-Husain AS is famously known as Zayn al-ʿAbideen, Adornment of the Worshippers, as well as al-Sajjād, the one who prostrates frequently. Historical accounts report that he completed a thousand rakaʾāt (pl. of rakʿa, the basic unit of Muslim prayer, namaz, consisting of a bow and two prostrations) every single day.

The Imam also authored a number of supplicatory and petitionary prayers which eloquently capture the intimate relationship between the worshipper and the Creator, shed light on the intricacies of the human condition and offer insight into Islamic concepts of atonement, mercy and intercession. Bequeathing the knowledge and wisdom of these supplications to his son and successor, Maulana al-Imam Mohammed al-Baqir AS, they were memorized and shared with their followers and the larger Muslim community and were eventually compiled into a collection that came to be known as al-Ṣaḥīfa al-Sajjādiyya.

Recitation of prayers authored by Imam ʿAli Zayn al-ʿAbideen AS have a significant role in the Dawoodi Bohra community’s traditions of worship and devotional practices. Beyond acting as supplements to night prayers often referred to as tahajjud and their daily recitation during the holy month of Ramaḍān al-Muʿaẓẓam, Imam Ali’s AS supplications have influenced and shaped much of the supplicatory, devotional literature authored by the Dawoodi Bohra community’s leadership.

At the behest and guidance of His Holiness Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA and His Holiness Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS, Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah in recent times has had the honour of publishing these Arabic prayers along with their Lisan al-Daʿwat (the vernacular of Dawoodi Bohra community) translations for dissemination and use within the wider Dawoodi Bohra community. Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah students and faculty, during their month-long sojourns for community service during the holy month of Ramaḍān al-Muʿaẓẓam, also have the honour of reciting these prayers aloud to members of their congregation when leading worship. The literary merits of the prayers, and the various themes and subsequent works they have inspired, are studied at the Academy and have been the subject of a number of student and faculty research projects. Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah’s library also houses one of the earliest known offset/lithographs of a prominent commentary on the Ṣahīfa. Printed in 1271AH/1854CE, Riyāḍ al-sālikīn fī sharh ṣahīfat Sayyid al-Sājidīn is a well-known commentary of al-Sahīfa al-Sajjādiyya written in Arabic by al-Sayyid Ṣadr al-Dīn ʿAlī Khān al-Husayni al-Shirāzī. As such, Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah has been honoured with the service and preservation of both the spiritual and material legacy of this most treasured collection of prayers, often referred to as the Psalms of the Household of Mohammed SA.

The words and prayers of Imam ʿAli Zayn al-ʿAbideen AS are especially pertinent during these difficult times as the world, and specifically India, face the challenges of the global pandemic. During this holy month, Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah students and faculty pray for those affected by the pandemic and join the larger Dawoodi Bohra community in offering what support and assistance they can. May Allah the Almighty protect all humanity, reward those on the frontlines for their dedication, grant strength to the bereaved and afflicted and swiftly deliver us from this peril.

Business Daily

What piques your interest when you look at a tree? Is it the size or colour of its flower? For Ahmedali Hebatullah, who lives in Nairobi, it is the branches and roots; how they look, how they are growing and to which direction.

To him, trees are living works of art. From them, he draws inspiration that he applies to his art of making Bonsai trees. Bonsai trees are miniature versions of real-life trees.

Exceptionally detailed, with every prune and bend Mr Hebatullah’s bonsai trees are specially crafted to draw people in aesthetically and elicit in them feelings of relaxation and rejuvenation.

‘I’ve been creating bonsai trees for two years now,’ Mr Hebatullah says. ‘But my love for the craft is many years old.’

The educator at Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah Arabic Academy in Nairobi grew up mingling with trees, plants and flowers in orchards and nurseries. While at it, he stumbled upon bonsai. Showing interest, his mother bought him a book. Years later, he is putting his knowledge to use. He finds the process of cultivating and shaping bonsai analogous to shaping young minds in the classroom. 'They both require patience and determination,' he adds. His hobby also aligns with the institute's environmental awareness campaigns and he hopes that the bonsai will inspire more people to appreciate nature and take up gardening, tree planting as well as other green practices.

His backyard is an eden of bonsai with more than 100 trees. Some are growing in clay pots, others in training boxes, alone or as miniature forests. Some are growing over rocks. Some have flowers cascading down while others are growing leaning towards one side. The ‘wind-swept style,’ he calls it.

As he shows me around, he does so with passion. The nature-loving professor has miniaturised jacaranda, jade, acacia, olive, sausage and fig trees among others.

He spends an hour each day in his workshop and watches a YouTube video daily to sharpen his craft.

He shows me a Desert Hibiscus that he is propagating through air layering. It is ‘doing very well.’ Air layering is a method of propagating bonsai where a propagated part of the tree continues to receive water and nutrients from the parent tree as it slowly develops its roots.

Once the roots are fully grown, the propagated plant is cut off and transplanted. Mr Hebatullah sources his trees from his garden and nurseries. He looks for three things while choosing one for miniaturisation. The thickness of its stem, its shape and the size of its leaves. Small leaves are preferred.

Bonsai is about small leaves and making the tree old through bends created by wiring. A large trunk is ideal for this because it adds age to the bonsai tree. The tree must be above three years old. As for the shape, it must be aesthetically pleasing.

The oldest trees he has used are 15 years old. A pink-flowered jade (Crassula ovata), the umbrella tree (Schefflera arboricola) and a Chinese banyan (Ficus microcarpa) whose roots he crafted to grow over a rock. These are the welcoming displays at his sunroom, where he hosts visitors.

Before working on a tree, he studies it to understand how it grows while it is in a training box.

His tools of trade are few. Differently sized aluminium wires for the bending, a pair of gardening scissors and shears for pruning small and large branches respectively, pliers for wire cutting and bending, a chopstick and the tree itself.

Wires are ‘the paintbrush of bonsai’ but should be removed if they start eating into the tree. The tree’s main roots are removed leaving only the hairy, fibrous roots. This is because, with a reduction in the size of the tree, big roots are unnecessary. However, in the case of a cypress, he maintains a root ball.

The tree is thereafter repotted in a well-draining clay pot filled with river sand, compost pumice rock in a 5:3:2 ratio. Once a month, he adds NPK fertiliser.

‘We use river sand because normal soil holds a lot of water leading to root rot. The chopstick is my hoe. I use it to till the soil,’ he explains, adding that the fibrous roots are adequate to absorb nutrients for the now dwarfed tree.

Compost provides nutrients and the pumice rocks are a soil amendment. The tree is then left to grow. Styling may be done as it grows. The tree can be repotted every two years or have its roots trimmed to maintain the same pot size.

Pots are a crucial detail. Mr Hebatullah sources his pots from South Africa, China and India since they are difficult to find in Kenya.

While pricing his bonsai for sale, he factors in the cost of the pot, time and age of the tree. The small leaf golden jade costs Sh 14,500. Other bonsai cost as much as Sh 40,000.

He sells his creations through his social media page, Bonsais R Us. Covid-19 has proved to be a peak season for him as people rediscovered gardening pleasures. He also does online training on the art of bonsai trees.

While the art of bonsai making started in China, it has found roots in Kenya, as more people keep bonsai as masterpieces in their homes.

Should you want to venture into bonsai making, ‘Arm yourself with knowledge, be passionate and patient. Don’t despair when plants die. It’s normal. Finally, remember it’s a partnership. Do your part faithfully and leave the rest to God,’ Mr Hebatullah says.

This post may have been edited in the interest of brevity, clarity and relevance according to our internal guidelines. In order to view the original full length post please click on the link at the top of the page.

Due to the ongoing global pandemic and in the interest of safety, all four campuses of Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah are currently engaged in online learning. Nearly three months have now passed since the start of the new academic year, and despite the fact that students and faculty members are spread out across multiple continents and time zones, the process of enlightening minds and enriching souls remains undiminished.

 

In Fatimi philosophy, the pursuit of knowledge is a perennial practice undeterred by the vicissitudes of time. Throughout history, the Imams AS and their Duʿāt RA have continued to impart knowledge even in the face of natural calamities, pestilence and persecution. Their devotion and dedication to spreading knowledge led them to conducting classes in underground cellars and rooftop terraces, always adapting according to the needs of the time.

True to its Fatimi heritage, on many occasions in the past, Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah has altered its modus operandi during times of hardship or upheaval to ensure that the lofty process of learning persists. For instance, in the aftermath of devastating floods that submerged practically the entire city of Surat in 2005 causing widespread destruction and damage, especially in Zampa Bazaar where the Aljamea campus is situated, the entire student body and faculty were relocated to Burhanpur for the remainder of the academic year.

Similarly during the reconstruction phase of the Aljamea Surat campus, the construction of the Karachi and Nairobi campuses and the ongoing construction of the Mumbai campus, classes have continued, sometimes in makeshift structures and despite what may seem like limitations in resources. Although the acquisition of knowledge through the processes of education is carried out in the physical realm and often relies on material objects, it is ultimately a spiritual endeavour. This belief lies at the core of Aljamea’s Fatimi philosophy of education. Ultimately, as Imam al-Jafar al-Sadiq AS has stated, those who adhere to this belief and the love of the Ahle Bayt AS, even if their physical circumstances are so dire that they have nowhere to seek shade apart from the shade of a tree, it is of no consequence to them and of no harm.

Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah Karachi was awarded second prize at the 69th Pakistan Annual Flower show under the University Gardens category on the 20th of February, 2020. The award was presented to faculty members by His Excellency President Arif Alvi at a ceremony which came as the culmination of a gardening competition organised by the Horticultural Society of Pakistan. Established in 1948 the society aims to cultivate a network of enthusiasts and create awareness about the need for functional green spaces within urban institutions and neighbourhoods by providing assistance and technical expertise.

The Aljamea Auditorium garden which showcases lush green lawns, fruit bearing trees, ornamental shrubs and a variety of perennial as well as seasonal flowers fulfilled the criteria set by the Horticultural Society and impressed the judges with its attention to detail and deep rooted conceptual background. In Fatimi philosophy and literature, gardens are symbolic of intellectual pursuits which delight the soul, bring it happiness and nourish it with the resultant fruition. Throughout all campuses of the Academy, gardens inspired by Quranic verses and historic references from the Fatimi era feature prominently and serve as functional spaces for creative exploration and study.

Nineteen students from Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah Nairobi sat for their beginner level Persian Language examinations on the 9th and 10th of January, 2020. The examinations were conducted by the Iranian Cultural Centre in affiliation with the Ferdowsi University of Mashhad. Mr Mahmood Majlesin, accompanied by the Cultural Councillor Mr Murtaza Shapouri and other members of the Cultural Centre attended a felicitation programme at the Aljamea campus on the 7th of February, where the students were presented with certificates of commendation. Faculty members along with students presented original poems and prose in Persian which was followed by a meaningful dialogue on the role of language in preserving cultural heritage and facilitating research within Islamic studies.

Mustafa F Shakir, a faculty member at Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah, Surat, won three bronze medals in the 9th National Field Indoor Archery Championship, held at Shanti Niketan Public School, Agra, from 24th to 26th, January 2020. He was part of a 16-member team representing Gujarat State in the tournament upon invitation from the President of the Gujarat Archery Association, Mr Ishwar Solanki. Mustafa won his three medals in the Veterans Category for single spot, five spot and overall performance.

The Executive Dean of Strathmore Business School Nairobi, Dr George Njenga visited Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah Nairobi on Saturday, the 18th of January, accompanied by a delegation of senior faculty members.

As part of a collaboration between Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah and Strathmore University, more than 30 students and faculty members are pursuing a course in business studies concurrent with their education at Aljamea.

The Dean delivered a guest lecture to the students enrolled in the programme. He acknowledged the Dawoodi Bohra community’s deep-rooted business identity and its strict adherence to business ethics, while applauding the role played by Aljamea in instilling values that enable the community to flourish without compromising its faith.

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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