Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilayhi Rajeeun
A Quintessential Khoja Personality who Exemplified the KSI Community
The Africa Federation mourns the passing away of Murabbi Hassan Bhai Ali Mohamed Jaffer and conveys its heartfelt condolences to his wife, sons, daughters, siblings and his many grandchildren.
Generally, people are known by the community they belong to. And then there are those inspiring individuals through whom a community is recognized. Hassan Bhai Ali Mohamed Jaffer Shariff Devji Jamal was that quintessential Khoja personality who personified the KSI Community. Through his words and deeds, he reminded us all of who we were and should be. His thoughts and words, always inspiring, were direct and to the point, as he did not pull any punches reminding us all of some bitter truths. His passion for the betterment of the Khoja Community matched his candor, to make us self-reflect on our follies and foibles as a people. Above all, his thought leadership has had a major impact on shaping our Community.
As a thinker, writer, historian, scholar, he straddled several generations, both in his span of Community service as well as his unique ability to engage young and old alike. In the sea of service, he stood shoulder to shoulder with towering figures like Alhaj Mohamedali Meghji, Mulla Asgherali M. M. Jaffer, Hajji Abdulrasul Ahmed Lakha to mention just a few.
As a historian, his own history is quite remarkable. Having the erstwhile ancestor like Alhaj Devji Jamal, Hassan Bhai himself was part of our history. Hassan Bhai was born in Zanzibar in 1932 and spent his life in Mombasa from an early age. After completing his secondary school education in Mombasa, he undertook a practical course in agriculture at the Indian school of Agriculture in Morogoro, Tanzania. His journey of community service commenced in 1953 when he was elected Hon. General Secretary of the Jaffery Sports Club, Mombasa. Ever since then his services remained unabated. He was Secretary and Chairman of the Debate and Education Section of the Ithna-Asheri young Men’s Union, Honorary Secretary and the later Chairman of the Ithna-Asheri Education Board of the Alibhai Panju Jaffery Primary school. He was also Vice Chairman of the Mombasa Jamaat. In the Supreme Council, he served on as Executive Councilor from 1965 and was its Hon. Treasurer during 1965/67, under the chairmanship of late Alhaj Mohamedali Meghji and served with Mulla Asgharali M. M. Jaffer who was then the Hon. Secretary of Africa Federation.
“His death is a truly irreplaceable loss not only for his entire family but also for the entire global Khoja Community. His death does lead me to reflect on what makes someone an exceptional person, because to me, Alhaj Hassan Bhai that is what he was. It is difficult to describe him in mere words; he was an exceptional Mentor to me, a man with exceptional qualities and immense knowledge very rare in our Community. He enlightened the Community all along in the last several decades on our history, our roots and championing the Khoja heritage. The legacy of his devotion and gracious service to the Community shall be eminently enshrined in the history of the Khoja Community globally, and particularly in Africa”
Shabir Najafi – Chairman, Africa Federation
His active involvement in the wake of the of the Zanzibar Revolution, the Uganda Exodus or the Somalia evacuation was critical to the success of each of these missions and demonstrated his dexterity at handling Community crisis.
His services to the wider community are also noteworthy. He served as a member of the Mombasa Municipal Council in 1963 and in 1959/60 he was an elected member of the managing committee of the Mombasa Muslim Association and Secretary of Eid Fete standing committee. In his professional capacity, he served as a member of the Mombasa Port Advisory and Productivity Council and as the Vice Chairman of the Mombasa Ships Agents’ Association.
It is remarkable that Hassan Bhai could contribute so much despite managing a very busy and thriving enterprise under the name of Murtaza Shipping Agency Limited in Mombasa, Kenya.
A key figure in the conceptualization of the Word Federation, he was elected as a member of the very first Executive Council of the World Federation of the Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Communities upon its establishment in October 1976. He was known to be close confidant of the founding President Marhum Mulla Asgherali and all the successive World Federation Presidents till today.
“Marhum Hassan Bhai Jaffer was a great pillar of strength for our Community and its leaders. He was always on hand to provide advice to me during my tenure at the Africa Federation or indeed World Federation. He was a strong visionary as well and he worked tirelessly as a Community Worker. Marhum will be remembered as being a beacon of light for our Community, an ardent advocate of our mother tongue – Gujarati which he himself spoke so eloquently. We pray to Allah (SWT) to place him amongst the proximity of our 14 Masomeen.”
Anwarali Dharamsi – President of the World Federation.
With the wealth of experience at his command, Hassan Bhai enchanted and enlightened the audiences during the Africa Federation and World Federation conferences and council debates, by the lucidity and a unique turn of phrase, with which he expressed himself. His interviews and speeches on social media continue to be followed with great enthusiasm.
In his golden years, as an elder statesman his advice and counsel was sought by many generations of leaders and social workers. He was also on the advisory board of the Khoja Heritage Project of the World Federation. His contribution in painstakingly compiling the history of the Khoja Community is unparalleled. His efforts revived the global interest in the heritage of a community, reconnecting us with our past. His feat of writing the Endangered Species – a tome on Khoja History was the first, after almost a century, when the likes of Sachedina Nanjiani and Adelji Dhanji Kaba put pen to paper.
“His seminal work The Endangered Species, is not just a mere narration of Khoja History but paints insightful visage of the Khoja Community as it was then, and as it is now. The epilogue of the book, is worth revisiting. It is a bitter-sweet reflection of who we have become as a people and where should we go”
Hasnain Walji. Chair Khoja Heritage Project – World Federation.
An unwavering champion for the well-being and respect for the Khoja Community he was always at the forefront and steadfast in defending the interests of our community worldwide. He will be dearly missed by us all. The indelible mark of his thought leadership will forever remain etched in the institutional memory of the Community for generations to come and a source of sawabe jaariya for him.
Alhaj Hassan Bhai very graciously accepted a mammoth task to prepare a booklet of the history of the Africa Federation from its inception in 1946, he was to do this work jointly with Dr. Hasnain Walji. Hassan Bhai prepared the framework and had put his thoughts into what would be the contents of the booklet. Insha’allah, Dr. Walji will continue to work on the booklet, which we intend to dedicate to Marhum Alhaj Hassan Bhai Jaffer.
In 2013, Africa Federation bestowed upon Alhaj Hassan Ali Mohamed Jaffer the Haydari Medal – highest Award in Africa Federation for his exemplary and selfless services to the Community.
Please visit these clips of interviews with Marhum Hassan Jaffer by Khoja TV of Reunion.
May Allah (SWT) by His infinite grace and mercy grant Marhum maghferat and a lofty place in the proximity of the Masumeen (AS) – Ameen.
Please recite Sura-e-Fateha for the maghferat of the departed soul and all Marhumeen.
The Secretariat wishes to thank Dr. Hasnain Walji and Alhaj Aunali Khalfan for compiling this brief Obituary of Marhum Alhaj Hassan Ali Mohamed Jaffer.