Message for Our Society and its Gen. Secretary Mr. M. M. Bhana Patel from Mr.Shakil Hafez (U.K.)

    Assalamu alaikum

    It was a delight to meet and catch-up with Mohamed Bhai Bhanapatel of Eklera on his recent visit to the UK. Although he may not be fully aware of the indelible impression that he has left on many people over so many years, either as a result of his educational aspirations as a young man, or his diverse entrepreneurship and hard work ethics, or his leadership and lifelong contribution in relation to important issues affecting Muslims in surrounding hamlets and across the districts of Gujarat. The balance with which Mohamed Bhai has operated in both the religious aspects as well as civic aspects is an exemplary tribute to his maturity, wisdom and strength of character.

    I remember vividly as a 7 or 8 years old when Mohamed Bhai went from Eklera to study in nearby Sachin. As a foreigner living in Eklera in those days, having recently arrived from Tanzania, it was a breath of fresh air to witness a native with educational hopes and ambitions. For some of us he was clearly a role model, inspiring us to do well in our Eklera primary school. Having completed 5 chopdis, my family emigrated to UK, where later on in life I was able to further study Gujarati and achieve a Diploma, awarded by the Institute of Linguists in London. Yes my combined dictionary, Gujarati – English: English to Gujarati remains a close friend!

    Even though some of the young people of Eklera have not quite appreciated the value of higher education and have perhaps fallen short of being academically stimulated, I wish to urge Mohamed Bhai and all his colleagues not to despair in their noble endeavours through the Suratee Sunni Vohra Muslim Education Society (SSVMES) as sooner or later their sincerity and goodwill will make a profound impression on those people who are receptive to good advice and guidance. The well-known phrase to remember is, “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it to drink”.

    It is necessary to maintain and improve our collective support for fellow brethren who are in desperate need due to serious poverty, terminal health conditions or tragic family bereavement. At the same time no stone should be left unturned in relation to supporting our young people, boys and girls, so that they may realise their dreams and acquire educational and vocational skills that may benefit our communities long term, Insha’Allah.

    Having browsed the SSVMES website and examined some key areas of work, I am filled with joy with your achievements over such a long period. May Allah Ta’ala reward you all and the global contributors abundantly in this world and the hereafter, Ameen.Bearing in mind, “chota munh barhi baat”, I would like to share the following observations:


    Whilst providing adequate moral and financial support to any needy child, it is not unwise to extend the offer to children and young people who are gifted and talented. The likelihood of gifted and talentedindividuals reaching their full academic and intellectual potential is immense and, in time, for them to shoulder some of the burdens of our communities. One male or female doctor could potentially serve a huge geographical area, numerous individual patients, and be an inspiring role model for other boys and girls. One alim or alimah may serve to influence many villagers and congregations, equipping them with accurate knowledge and practice, thereby mobilising true Islamic values across the districts. No doubt by the time students that SSVMES supports have reached higher secondary or college, exceptional and outstanding individuals will become known to you so that further grants or loans may be considered.

    Widow fund

    In our culture people are generally reluctant to introduce suitable matches for marriage, worrying about “naam bad naam” if the marriage became pear-shaped. This should not be the case as our faith requires us to have trust in Allah Ta’ala and if things do not work out, at least you tried your best. We know that divorce is least desirable before Allah Ta’ala and therefore should be avoided as far as possible. However we also know that when a marriage takes place, during the Nikaah or otherwise, there are no vows taken by either spouse affirming “till death us do part”. So whether due to lack of compatibility and divorce or tragedy and bereavement, faced with crisis, most people will agree to start all over again. I therefore suggest that beyond providing financial assistance to widows/widowers, wherever possible, SSVMES should actively encourage and facilitate re-marriages so that parties can avoid lonely existence, comfort and support each other’s children, and maintain a dignified fabric of our families and communities.

    Medical fund

    When it comes to setting up ambitious projects, whether a new masjid, a darul uloom or maktab, a hospital or health clinic, our community’s passion and sacrifice remains unmatched anywhere in the world, Alhamdulillah. However in some cases we have become overwhelmed by power and money that these grand schemes attract from sincere donors around the world. Some people have very quickly succumbed to temptations and have indulged in the abuse of power by their controversial decisions or have become accused of mismanagement and other associated allegations. I think the better use of vital resources and medical skills is to create mobile clinics so that any extortionate overheads can be avoided. In addition specialist medical equipment, such as, MRI scanner or dialysis machine could be provided to an existing local hospital so that optimum health benefit may be derived by all patients regardless of their race or religion. It is most unlikely for a hospital administrator to exploit specialist medical equipment for personal gain or to take the machine home, as these highly complex machines are likely to be operated only by qualified professionals.

    Was salaam

    Shakeel Hafez
    15 Sha’ban 1437
    22 May 2016

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