Majlis Ulama-e-Shia—Past, Present and the Future
The greatness of nations and strength of communities, of religions and faiths, of Ulama and scholars, of creative and skilled people, of true life, of indomitable power and correct identity—are concealed in their mutual harmony and unity, organization and cohesion, sincerity and dedication, and unflinching commitment to the right cause. Organization, in particular, is like a bouquet of colourful-fragrant flowers that are not only beautiful but make the entire ambient look fascinating where they are placed. Those who are organized to fulfil a noble mission deserve honour and salutation. Those who serve a purpose with commitment and dedication are worthy of tribute and commendation. When someone migrates from one country to another he faces loneliness and solitude. Sometimes an immigrant encounters certain circumstantial vices that he is unable to uphold his identity.
The Muslims of the Indo-Pak Subcontinent, in search of a better future, began migrating to the western lands during 1950s. During 1960s, as their demographic size increased, the Muslim immigrants started thinking about their religious and ethnic identity. They started setting up mosques and Imam-bargahs. The Muslims who had strong belief in religion and Islamic ideology considered it pertinent to plan something for the future generations. In this regard, they raised funds, mobilised their resources and approached Ulama and Islamic scholars to teach and guide using the platform of mosques and Imam-bargahs. The Muslim Ulama played a pivotal role in promoting Islam and preserving the Muslim identity in the western world.
Today, the mosques and Imam-bargahs funded and managed by the South-Asian Muslim immigrants are much larger in number as compared to those run by the Muslims from the Arab, Iranian, Afghani and African origins. Most of these Shia Ulama and scholars performed their religious duties in the west without using a common platform, which is why the religious preaching, spiritual nurturing and moral grooming progressed at a slow pace. There was something missing—a united body of Ulama and scholars that would serve the cause in an organised way using a single platform.
In 1993, the Shia Muslim Ulama organised a large convention in London, founded the Majlis Ulama-e- Shia and elected Alhaaj Hujjatul Islam Maulana Zafar Abbas Malik sahib as its first President. During his long illustrious tenure as President of the Majlis, Maulana Zafar Abbas sahib expanded the Majlis to the rest of Western Europe. The Majlis was upgraded as Majlis Ulama-e-Shia Europe. He was instrumental towards reorganizing the Shia community and set up a large number of new mosques and Imamia missions throughout Britain and Western Europe. In order to enhance and strengthen unity among the Shia community, Maulana Zafar Abbas sahib set up the Imamia Council. He started Al-Majlis—an informative journal providing useful reading to Shia youth. Maulana Zafar sahib also published several booklets and magazines for the continued guidance of the Shia community living in Britain and Western Europe. He set up a network of camps for the training of youth. He also took practical measures to promote and expand the Shia TV channel.
The Majlis Ulama-e-Shia Europe elected Hujjatul Islam Maulana Syed Ameer Hussain Naqvi sahib as its second President. Maulana Syed AH Naqvi served the Majlis with diligence and commitment.
In 2011, the Majlis elected Hujjatul Islam Maulana Syed Ali Raza Rizvi sahib as its third President who is also the current President of the Majlis. One of his main achievements was the formation of an effective and capable Central Cabinet. He also got the Majlis formally registered in Britain as a Charity. He, alongwith his Cabinet, visited nearly all Imamia missions across Britain. He also organised camps for the families of the Shia community—first time in the history of the Majlis. He arranged camps for the youth and students.
He introduced as many as four Cabinet sessions in a calendar month which helped towards understanding various issues facing the community and how best they could be resolved through discussion and debate. Maulana Rizvi established a formal secretariat of the Majlis and appointed competent staff to assist its operations. He promoted and included other nationalities in the mainstream of the Majlis members. He enabled Majlis’s voice to be heard in the corridors of power. Through his indefatigable efforts the Majlis got distinguished recognition among political, social and religious institutions.