Allah has blessed humankind with the ability to develop complex and intelligent cultures by way of intellectual reflections, and scientific discoveries as well as spiritual achievements. Our ethnicity, heritage and culture are part of what make humans distinct from the animals.
Further, each ethnic group or a nation, has gone about developing its cultural heritage in their own ways - based on their geographical locations, social values, beliefs, religious customs, dress, art, cuisine to name but a few - that distinguish them from each other.
Indeed the Qur’an recognizes this:
“O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is Knower, Aware.” (49:013)
Yet in this globalized world of today, not all of us feel a connection with our cultural heritage, while others yearn to connect. Some feel that these things are no longer relevant during these modern times. For others, exploring cultural heritage offers enormous benefits.
What is it about cultural heritage that draws people to it?
It gives us a connection with people of similar heritage, allows us to identify with others of similar mindsets and backgrounds. It can bring about an empowering sense of unity and belonging within a group. It also allows us to better understand previous generations and the history of where we come from.
Above all, preserving our cultural heritage engenders a positive feeling of communal support. Those that identify strongly with a certain heritage are often more likely to help out others in that same community. The unique and widely acknowledged distinction of the Khoja Shia Ithnasheri Community has been that very trait, of helping each other during times of trials and tribulations on our journey from the ports of Porbandar and Mandvi to almost 40 countries today. The testimony of that bonding lies the creation an enviable network of Jamaats, Regional Federations and the World Federation which bind us together.
Of late there have been many calls by members of the Community to facilitate and enhance the understanding of our heritage and culture. Hence the World Federation has embarked on the Khoja Heritage Project (KHP). This important project will be co-chaired by Shaykh Komail Rajani, the current Lead of Islamic Education and Dr. Hasnain Walji, former President of the World Federation and Producer of the acclaimed documentary “ The “Khojas – A Journey of Faith”. Plans are underway to include numerous individuals who have a special interest in history and heritage to assist in delivering on the objectives. Mumineen interested in helping are cordially invited to write to the secretariat via a special email: [email protected]
The KHP mission is to collect, collate, document, preserve and promote the cultural heritage and legacy of our ancestors for posterity with a view to help:
- Appreciate the struggle and adventures of our forefathers
- Revive the spirit of unity among the our community members
- Engender pride in the rich cultural heritage of the Community
- Become cognizant and be prepared for the challenges facing the upcoming generations
- Learn from the different phases of the Community life to make better decisions as we evolve as a Community
- Reinvigorate the spirit of the "Khoja" heritage and good practices in different socio-religious activities
- Be an exemplar and inspirational Community for others.
“I passionately believe that a concerted effort to preserve our heritage is a critical link to our faith and cultural legacy. The Khoja Heritage Project embodies academic disciplines and skills including history, journey of faith and trade, sociology, textual analysis and visual perception, to name but a few. The project doesn’t focus on sheer preservation of the history rather it is perceived to be a benchmark for the confrontation of the new challenges the community is facing in the contemporary world.” Shaykh Kumail Rajani
Amongst the numerous projects the team will embark upon are:
- Collection & Digitalizing the books related to Khoja history and culture
- Capturing Oral History from our elders
- Khoja History TimeLine,
- Khoja Family Tree
- Recognition awards for contribution to the Khoja Community
- Helping organize Khoja Heritage day and Exhibitions
- Identify and label Khoja Heritage Sites
- Academic Engagement and Conference
“Our history and heritage plays a vital role for a community. We learn from our past in order to plan our future. History serves as a model of who we are and what we are to be. I believe that the Khoja Heritage Project will engender an even greater sense of belonging and help retain the valuable social capital that our forefathers have built up over several generations. ” Dr Hasnain Walji .
For further information please contact: [email protected]