Part 2 – Reunion Island
Official Name: Reunion, (an overseas department of France)
Land Area: 2,510 sq km (969 sq miles)
Capital City: Saint-Denis (147,800)
Languages: French (official), Creole
Religions: Catholic, Hindu, Muslim
This lush and beautiful mountainous and rugged volcanic island (with active volcano) fertile lowlands along coast, was uninhabited when discovered by the Portuguese in the early 16th century. The island was renamed Reunion in 1793, and it remained a French colony, except for a brief British occupation from 1810 to 1815.
It was the first visit by the present Africa Federation office bearers to Reunion Island since the Union Des Associations Khodjas Shia Isnashri De La Reunion – UAKSIR became member of the Africa Federation in April 2013. The visit to the Island was led by the Africa Federation Chairman, Alhaj Anwarali Dharamsi who was joined by the AFED Vice Chairman and Chairman of Conseil Régional Des Khojas Shia Ithna-Asheri Jamates De L’ Océan Indien (CROI), Alhaj Navazaly Molou. The delegation included the AFED Hon. Secretary, Alhaj Aunali Khalfan, the Hon. Treasurer, Alhaj Mohamed Hemani and AFTAB Chairman, Seyed Hassan Naqvi.
Upon arrival at Roland Garros Airport in Reunion, the delegation were warmly welcomed by the President of UAKSIR, Alhaj Amine Nassor Goulamaly and his team, Jamaat officials, KHOJA TV members and some community members who were also present at the airport.
The purpose of the visit was primarily to establish closer acquaintances with our community members in four Jamaats of Reunion, namely Mefile Maquame Massoumines (Saint Denis Jamat – North), Mehfile Mourtouza (Saint Andre Jamat – East), Mehfile Ali (Saint Paul Jamat – West), Mefile Imame Zamana (Saint Pierre Jamat – South) to meet the leaders of our community, Madressahs heads, teachers, youth and students.
Whilst visiting the Jamaats, the delegation also visited Madressahs, Mosques, Imambarghas in all four Jamaats and a visit to Khoja TV studio. The delegation also attended the UAKSIR Annual General Assembly held in Saint Dennis Imambargha from 29th to 30th March 2014 which was attended by all four Jamaats and its members.
UAKSIR was established in 2005 and is made up of four Jamaats with total of 1,700 heads; the largest Jamaat being Saint Denis, the capital with about 1,100 heads.
UAKSIR also runs a day time Primary School, named – ‘La Cite Du Savior’ within the Jamaat complex in Saint Denis, there are presently 3 classes and 23 students, headed by three professors (teachers), the School was established in August 2012. In his briefing to the visitors, Alhaj Amine Nassor explained that there is an urgent need for expansion of the School and relocation to a bigger place whereby a proper School meeting the Government standards and Education Ministry’s requirements are met.
The Jamaat also runs a Madressah having total of 150 students, and operates thrice a week, like in all other Jamaats, the Madressah teachers are mainly ladies volunteers, and who devote their time and provide voluntary services to the community.
The new Mosque – Mehfile Imam Ali (A.S.) in Saint Paul was completed in November, 2011 and is fully functional. The total cost including land and construction was Euros 1,459,577.00. UAKSIR had to take loan from the bank to complete the project; the outstanding bank loan stands at Euros 470,000.00. UAKSIR has appealed for support to clear the bank loan.
Khoja TV is part of UAKSIR established in 2008; it has 1,200 subscribers and viewers in Reunion, Mayotte, Madagascar, Mauritius, France, Tanzania and Birmingham in the UK. TV programs are mainly pre-recorded lectures, events, educational programs and children’s serials etc. which are being televised from the Studio in predominantly French, Creole and Gujarati languages. The goals of KHOJA TV are to impart religious knowledge and provide educational programs to the communities. For example during the holy month of Ramadhan and Muharram/Safar, several programs and lectures on religious topics, duas are televised. The Radio broadcasting was established in 2013.
Viewers can buy the TV “Decoder – Box” costing about Euros 200 and Web Radio Box costs Euros 60 which works with internet connection from any part of the world. According to the Director, Alhaj Salim Badouraly, the annual budget of Khoja TV is Euros 72,000.
The present set-up suffices for short term; however there is room for expansion and development with some advance equipment and improvements over the programs and materials to meet the current viewer’s needs.
All four Madressahs were visited during the 4 days visit to Reunion, these are operating under the auspices of the Jamaats for boys and girls:-
Mehfile Maquame Massoumines Jamaat – Saint Denis in North – 178 students
Mehfile Mourtouza Jamaat – Saint Andre in East – 45 students
Mehfile Imame Zamana – Saint Pierre Jamaat in South – 31 students
Mehfile Ali Jamaat – Saint Paul in West – 21 students
According to the head of Madressah, Alhaj Akbar Jivan, the syllabus used is borrowed from Stanmore Jamaat, and were translated in French.
As for the delegation, it was a good learning experience in that they were able to share their views and experiences with the Jamaats and the volunteers who are working whole heartedly and devoting their time and resources for the development of the younger generation of our community. Nothing can override the importance of imparting religious education, the Tarbiyah and Akhlaq to our children from young age. Indeed it was quite pleasing to witness the involvement of the Jamaat leadership and UAKSIR in developing the Madressahs and supporting them.
May Allah (SWT) grant all involved in the Madressahs long life, good health and tawfeeqat to continue in the same spirit and inspiration.
There was a good turnout at the UAKSIR General Assembly. It was held in a pleasant atmosphere in Saint Denis Jamaat (North) Imambargha. A good number of ladies participation was recorded, and community members from all four Jamaats were present at the General Assembly which was held over the two days.
Several agendas were discussed with active participation from the leaders and members of the four Jamaats of Reunion. The Annual Report and other matters on Islamic and Secular Education, Madressahs, Tabligh and Media (Khoja TV) were deliberated with reports presented by each sectional heads.
Africa Federation delegation, led by the Chairman, Anwarali Dharamsi, AFED Vice Chairman and Chairman of CROI, Navazaly Molou, AFED Hon. Secretary, Aunali Khalfan, AFED Hon. Treasurer, Mohamed Hemani and AFTAB Chairman, Seyed Hassan Naqvi attended the General Assembly.
We wish to thank the Chairman and the Office Bearers of UAKSIR, the Presidents and Managing Committee Members of the four Jamaats of Reunion, Alhaj Zamir Jaffer Bhanjee of Saint Denis Jamaat, Alhaj Asgarali Amin Abbas of Saint Pierre Jamaat, Alhaj Mustafa Mohamedali Jivan Saint Andre Jamaat and Alhaj Irchad Kassam Chenai of Saint Paul Jamaat.
Our appreciation also go to the Director, Alhaj Salimali Badouraly and Committee Members of KHOJA TV and the community members of Reunion Jamaats for the wonderful reception and warm hospitality accorded to the AFED delegation during the visit to the Island.