When the Leeds Jamaat was formed in 1973 the world was a different place. Emigration to the West was on the rise and our community was in the infancy of forming its structures. In this environment, a handful of families who had migrated from East Africa amalgamated and conceived the vision of forming the Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Community (KSIMC) of Leeds. In 1979, the community leaders gave their assent to formally constitute the Jamaat resulting in the birth and establishment of the KSIMC of Leeds.
Over the past 10 years, several developments instigated by the Jamaat’s long term vision led in 2004 to the opening of the Baab-ul-Ilm Centre (Gateway to Knowledge), which now accommodates a multi- purpose centre catering for religious, educational and social needs within a wholesome Islamic environment.
Today, the world is again a different place. Our community is stronger in some areas whilst developing and emerging in others. Given that our values, based on the teachings of Ahlulbayt (AS) are constant, how do we best address our challenges in this fast changing, modern world to ensure that the Jamaat continues to serve the future generations of this united community? Over the years since the Jamaat’s inception this vision has been revisited many times by the leadership who were forever cognisant of the needs of the community and steering the Jamaat accordingly. By 2004, the grassroots had a formal opportunity to influence the direction of Jamaat by airing their aspirations of what should be the mission of the Leeds Jamaat in this rapidly changing environment, which were collated and articulated in the following mission statement.
“Creating an appropriate environment by utilizing the current infrastructure to facilitate the religious, educational, social, spiritual and intellectual enhancement of the community members, in particular the youth, thereby, empowering them to respond, both independently and collectively, to the socio-political status quo within which they reside, pursuant to the tenets of the Shia Ithna-Asheri faith of Islam.”
Thus, it has been legacy of our leaders, past and present, that the message of “amr-bil-maruf” (enjoining in good) and “nayhi-anil munkar” (forbidding evil) is inculcated into our community. Whilst this purpose has not changed, amending and clarifying the Jamaat’s vision and mission only serves to meet the challenges and demands of the future and provide our greatest asset, our people, with the knowledge, Islamic skills and tools to face a complex and challenging future with enthusiasm and confidence.