- Sri Lanka has received US $ 31 million in foreign exchange by holding this conference
- This announcement of each year’s venue is an eagerly awaited moment for the whole community
- His Holiness Dr. Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin conducted a series of sermons
- As many as 21,000 Bohra Muslims from 40 countries participated
- Around 18,500 Bohras from foreign countries participated
Known as the blessed ten, Ashara Mubaraka refers to a period of ten days at the beginning of the Islamic year. Hence, the first ten days of the month of Muharram (first month according to the Islamic calendar) is dedicated to the remembrance of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his Ahle Bayt (family and kin), specifically his grandson Imam Husain . The tenth day of Muharram, known as Ashura marks the day on which Imam Husain was martyred along with his family members and companions. In remembrance of these significant events, Sri Lanka played host to this year’s the World Annual Bohra Conference. The Conference was led by the Spiritual Leader of the Dawoodi Bohra community, His Holiness Syedna Saifuddin.
Issuing a press release on September 4 (Wednesday), President Maithripala Sirisena said that it is a necessity at present to unite all regardless of religious and ethnic differences to achieve peace while eliminating poverty. Extending his greetings to the World Annual Bohra Conference, the President added that the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also contain the same message. Furthermore, he said that it is an honour for Sri Lanka to hold the Bora Conference as the Bora community is committed to ensure peace. “This year’s conference is being held in Sri Lanka with the participation of 21,000 Bohra Muslims from 40 countries under the theme of “We Believe in Sri Lanka”. Around 18,500 Bohras from foreign countries participate in this event. About 2,500 Sri Lankan Bohras are also participating in the event.
The aim of this conference is to strengthen the peace and trust between Sri Lankan religious groups and people of all communities. It also aims to tell the world that Sri Lanka is a good country for tourism and trade.
“It is estimated that Sri Lanka has received US $ 31 million in foreign exchange by holding this conference”, the press release stated.
We are a peace loving, open minded community- Adamaly
Commercial and Civil Lawyer and Senior Marketing Lecturer at Synergy School of Marketing Mohamed Adamaly shared his insights with Daily Mirror concerning how the Convention to mark the Ashara Mubaraka , would help create a positive environment for religious harmony, peace building and boost the tourism and economic sector in Sri Lanka.
Stating that the decision to have the Convention in Sri Lanka this year, is the choice of the Spiritual Leader of the Dawoodi Bohra Community Dr. Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, he said that the decision reflects the Syedna’s concern for the greater good of this Country arising from his love for Sri Lanka and its people. “A substantial effect of this convention is that the country, which is currently facing a downturn in the tourism sector, has received a huge boost. I would say that it is a vote of confidence in the security and logistical capabilities of our country, which we want the world to see.”
“There is still a sentiment of apprehension about the country’s safety to international travellers. This move is one that opens to the world the fact that the country is safe and that people across the world feel confident in visiting Sri Lanka.”
“It is a boost to our macro economy, our tourism sector and the entire small and medium scale economy, especially the agriculture sector, from the farmer, the king-coconut vendor, the three-wheeler driver to the small and medium retailer, restaurant operator, and at a larger scale to the banking sector, the airport and the airport services, the national airline and the entire tourism industry including internal transportation, hotels and informal accommodation facilities. There is a ripple effect of this benefit on anyone because it is a large group of people coming in for fairly a long period of time, a ten to fourteen days stay. So, I think we could look at the positives from a number of perspectives” Attorney-at-Law- Adamaly stated.
Adding that it also opens various avenues to share the values and culture of the Bohra community with Sri Lankans, he said that it equally provides Bohras from foreign countries the opportunity to enjoy and experience Sri Lanka’s rich multi ethnic culture, the ways of the Sri Lankan people and their warmth at every point of interaction.
“This helps in understanding that we are an open minded, peace loving community, that we are a community that assimilates well and has strong respect for other communities and other cultures. I firmly believe with every interaction between visitors and our own people, there is a “moment of truth” for both to understand and experience the love and friendship that exists among people. In this context, the Convention in Sri Lanka is a very important event. Even though the Bohra population of Sri Lanka has made an impact in many fields, we are just 2,500 people here – and thus have a relatively tiny presence. However, when there is a large group as at present, the interaction with other communities and with people of this country is at a much higher and wider level and we hope that the awareness created would lead to positive exchanges and perceptions all around” he explained.
Chosen location transforms into cultural hub
Issuing a statement, the Anjuman-E Saifee Trust Sri Lanka had the following to say on the selection of Sri Lanka for this years’ Ashara Mubaraka.
“Continuing the time-honoured tradition of his forefathers, His Holiness TUS chooses a different city as the venue for where he leads Ashara Mubaraka sermons each year. Among the numerous advantages of such a practice, one major benefit is the transformation of the selected location into a cultural hub for the Dawoodi Bohra community. The presence of His Holiness, the influx of thousands of visitors and the coordination and cooperation with local, state and national governmental bodies cements the local community’s standing. Since the event is replete with spiritual, economic, cultural and social impact, cities vie for the honour of hosting it.
Written and oral petitions on behalf of host cities, often at large community events, begin several months prior to Muharram and they present His Holiness with reports of their preparations and planning. Prior to Muharram and before the start of the new year, after having taken all the various proposals into consideration, His Holiness makes his decision. This announcement of each year’s venue is an eagerly awaited moment for the whole community; within minutes of the formal declaration, the host city is engulfed in a flurry of final preparations and prospective attendees are busied finalizing their travel and accommodation arrangements”.
Since the event is replete with spiritual, economic, cultural and social impact, cities vie for the honour of hosting it
Love for country as an integral part of faith
During Ashara Mubaraka, His Holiness Dr. Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin conducted a series of sermons that explored the themes of justice, sacrifice, brotherhood, forgiveness, kindness and piety. While these qualities reflect the character of Imam Husain and his kin, these qualities also manifest themselves in the tragedy that befell Imam Husain and his loved ones in Karbala, Iraq. Dr. Syedna preached the relevance of these eternal principles in the context of contemporary times.
This year’s sermons were chosen on an extensive counsel given by Imam Ali bin Abu Talib to his son Imam Hasan. The counsel is a series of directions and guidance regarding moral and ethical conduct which reflect the love of a father for his son and his desire for him to be upstanding, honest and virtuous. While the first sermon explored the dangers and negative consequences of three specific vices: pride, anger and greed, Dr. Syedna cautioned the community to stay vigilant against such traits as they degrade the soul and are detrimental to the personal as well as societal growth and well-being. Furthermore, it was noted that self-admiration and conceit hinder growth and further development.
In describing the importance of patriotism and encouraging the community to help people of all faiths and backgrounds, Syedna quoted the Prophetic traditions which establish love for country as an integral part of faith and quoted the Prophet’s (PBUH) statement that all of creation is a family dependent upon Allah (SWT) and those most beloved to Him are the ones who benefit his family the most. Syedna counseled community members, recalling his own father’s guidance, to always stay true to the laws of whichever land they may inhabit and always strive for the betterment of humanity.