Poem by Mulla Asgharali M M Jaffer “Fire Retires – A fiery tale of Woe”.
Audhu Billahi Minash Shaytanir Rajeem
Bismilahi Rahmanir Rahim
Rabbi Shahri Sadri Wa Yasirli Amri Wahlul Uktatum Minl Lisani Yafkahu Kawli
President of NASIMCO, Al Haj Razaq Bhai Damani,
Office Bearers of NASIMCO
Jamaat Presidents and Leaders of the Community
It is a great pleasure to be here today in Ottawa at this historic, magnificent venue – Parliament Building and to attend this NASIMCO Conference. This is my 2nd NASIMCO Conference (my first was many years ago in Minnesota) and I want to thank NASIMCO and indeed you all for the wonderful hospitality you have extended to Mahmood Dhala (our Assistant SG) and myself. A special thanks to the Host Jamaat, Ottawa Jamaat, for making us so comfortable and so welcome here.
Our President, Al Haj Anwarali Dharamsi dearly wanted to be here today but for logistical reasons was unable to make it. He sends you his salaams and best wishes for this weekend’s meetings.
The World Federation as you know works in partnership with Regional Federations in three main areas of work: (1) Islamic Education (2) Community Affairs and (3) WF-AID and Humanitarian work.
We have been truly delighted by the partnership working with NASIMCO in Islamic Education, for example in our flagship project – the Madrasah Centre of Excellence. The very idea behind Madrasah Centre of Excellence (or MCE) is to develop greater Tarbiya in our children and do this by strengthening our Madaris worldwide. We’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response of NASIMCO and the Madaris across North America. We have, during this NASIMCO term alone, conducted Teachers Skills Programme in Orlando and Allentown and plan to hold, this year, further TSP Programmes in New York, Montreal and Toronto. We have received enormous support from all 3 Madaris in Toronto. I recall we delivered to them in August 2017, 18,270 copies of storybooks (35 types) and 4,220 copies of workbooks (8 types).
A further 14 Madaris across North America will take up the Tarbiya Curriculum inshAllah. MCE will support CIL-NASIMCO to ensure all the teachers are given relevant training and support beforehand.
This, brothers and sisters, is a huge achievement and in my 15 years (yes I joined WF as a volunteer at the age of 18) I have never seen such strong co-operation, partnership and togetherness between WF and NASIMCO.
The testimony of this statement is the fact that so many Madaris have taken up the great work of the MCE Team and have seen value in MCE. We thank the NASIMCO OBs in particular the President, Br Razaq Damani, the Secretary General Br Arif Asaria and the NASIMCO CIL Head Riyaz Jivraj of
Orlando for spearheading this work in North America. May Allah (SWT) accept your services and increase your Tawfeeq. Ameen.
We have no doubt that we can do much more together with NASIMCO on Islamic Education and we look forward to continuing those conversations over this weekend inshAllah.
The second area we focus on is Community Affairs. This includes Development Programmes, Khoja Heritage work and Social Vices (an area we really need to explore much further).
We’re delighted to announce that The World Federation is launching in the coming months – khojanews.com. The idea here is to create a website that will become the Khoja CNN.
A website where we can bring Khoja Samachar and events in one consolidated platform. Our aim is simple: to make our community members proud to be part of this vibrant, dynamic and progressive community and to keep them connected to each other. Technology is certainly a key tool we need to utilise to keep our global community connected.
We would be delighted to gain as many articles from North America as possible so that we can collectively broadcast to our community worldwide the inspirational work that is done all over North America by our Member Communities. For anyone interested to assist us in this work please do speak to Brothers Arif, Mahmood or myself.
Our third area of focus is Aid and Humanitarian work under the banner WF-AID. This area has grown significantly over the last few years. Today WF-AID distributes close to USD 14m of AID work in over 15 countries worldwide. Our Ramadan programme which we have just launched will inshAllah distribute just under USD 800,000 and this is just one of many initiatives we focus on.
WF-AID focusses on two key objectives – helping our community and helping humanity. Both are critical pillars of our work. For our community, we assist Regional Federations in uplifting deserving community members. For example in Africa we have helped fundraise for several housing projects as well as assisting Africa Federation in Education. In India and Pakistan we have worked with India Federation and Pakistan Federation and helped them with housing projects, microfinance (including the flagship Uber/Ola project) as well as education (by topping up University Fees and scholarships, and through the Zainabiyya Child Sponsorship Scheme). We aim to ramp up our support to community members in all these countries, inshAllah. Whilst our community members do not suffer from extreme poverty (in the main) they do need our support to uplift and develop themselves economically and it is our organisations’ duty to serve and benefit them.
Similarly, it is our duty to help humanity – especially today. The wars in Iraq, Yemen and Syria have crippled these nations leaving their most vulnerable, their most helpless and their most defenceless people in a state of utter despair. We have to help those that we can.
That is why WF is establishing a registered NGO office in Najaf, that is why we established a co-ordination unit in Sayeda Zainab (sa) region in Syria with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and that is why we’re exploring a similar unit in Yemen.
The strategic move therefore from WF-AID is away from being purely a grant giver, to an aid agency that actually carries out the work with boots on the ground. This gives us the much greater control and direction that we need. WF-AID works with each of the Regional Federation but due to agency rules our work with NASIMCO is very limited in this area, in fact it is sporadic to the say the least.
That is why we need to explore a joint partnership to create NASIMCO AID as an extended arm to NASIMCO that will merge our combined expertise and which we feel can become the leading, the premier, the progressive Shia charity of North America. The idea is simple: to combine 20 years’ relief experience of WF – our compliance systems, our internal processes, our network of agencies, our worldwide NGO contacts with NASIMCO’s on the ground contacts, geographic leadership and knowledge base.
NASIMCO AID which we understand would be chaired by the NASIMCO President, would put NASIMCO on the spotlight – just like WF-AID does for WF.
Just imagine the impact NASIMCO AID could have: the full processes that have developed by WF over 20 years (from needs assessment at the start of the funding cycle to impact assessment at the end), the full network of agencies at NASIMCO AID’s direction and control, offices in Syria, Iraq and even Yemen as well as the potential for UN Recognition. Some may argue NASIMCO can achieve this itself, but our view is that together by joining hands we can achieve more. We can, in no time at all, help develop NASIMCO AID by sharing and implementing all the procedures that have taken us nearly two decades to develop. We can, within no time at all, provide NASIMCO AID with ability to work in 15 countries. WF as a registered UN ECOSOC NGO must then help NASIMCO AID achieve the same as well as gain as much needed international recognition.
Brothers and Sisters, there is no doubt that together, by working hand in hand we can achieve much more than by working in isolation. Our community of 125,000 worldwide with its small population has achieved so much – far beyond that many could have imagined. Our generation must make sure that we prolong this legacy. That is why, we feel it is our duty to help put NASIMCO AID on the map and make it the leading Shia NGO of Canada and the USA. Believe me, we can make it happen.
Apart from these three areas (Islamic Education, Community Affairs and Relief), The World Federation Office Bearers are focussed on creating lasting financial sustainability within our organisation and within our Regional Federations.
We passionately believe it is our strategic priority to strengthen the Regional Federations that we partner and that we serve.
An example of this that we want to share with you today is our joint investment venture with COEJ – called KSI Investments Ltd. Here, we have invested over £3.5m (USD 4.8m) into a joint venture company which gives us a return of 7-9% per annum. This has helped us (in a span of only a few years) recoup half of our Secretariat annual expenses. By working with COEJ not only are we able to pool resources, share investment ideas, collectively assess risk but we are able to create investment economies of scale.
Our President has asked me to offer this same model to NASIMCO today. We would be delighted to form a similar joint investment vehicle in North America with the returns to help make NASIMCO, WF and any Jamaats invested self-sufficient. By working together, we can achieve this, inshAllah.
Our Marjae, His Eminence Ayatullah Sayyid Sistani, (may Allah (SWT) prolong his life), supports this sustainability concept and has even provided special Investment Ijaza for us to utilise Khums Sehme Imam Funds to invest. This is, of course, subject to stringent conditions and the returns must be utilised on that which Sehme Imam is allowed to be utilised on.
We shall discuss this in more detail with NASIMCO. No doubt, NASIMCO, WF and Jamaats here could utilise this to help bring in long term, much needed sustainability.
Let us end by thanking Allah (SWT) for the opportunity he has given each and every one of us – to serve our community and to serve humanity. We need to make most of the opportunity by not working in isolation but by forming partnerships for collective progress. We pray to Allah (SWT) to lengthen the lives of our Marjae in particularly Ayatullah Sayyid Sistani and we pray for the reappearance of our Awaited Saviour, Imam Hujjat (AJTFS).