The History of the Khojas


The Revered Dewji Jamaal

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Hardly anybody knows me, the simple, low profiled and unassuming commoner. Above all dull, dumb, meek, introverted, aloof, pensive, deeply sensitive, highly conscientious and extremely shy. Also panicky and scary, in my childhood the sight of a maskini(beggar) scared me to death and  I would hide myself under the cover of my mother's chadar(veil). All that makes me a real complex personality. Why had God to endow me with all the negative attributes? May be it was genetic defect. I was born on the 18th of February, 1948 into a highly religious and orthodox family of Indian ancestry in that tiny island of Zanzibar off the eastern coast of Africa. My father, SHERIFF FAZAL MOHAMED SHERIFF, was also born in Zanzibar in 1898 and so was my mother, MARIAMBAI KHAMIS DAMJI, in 1911. I therefore consider myself a pukka Jangbario(Zanzibari) though my command of the language Kiswahili is substandard unlike the other Khoja Ithnashris  who had inhabited the island.

CONT: CHAPTER ONE - Sikh Heritage





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From the Africa Federation Archives: The community resident’s brief history


In 1898 Br. Suleiman Kaaba arrived in Mombasa from India in a dhow at the age of 22. After spending about two years in business he left Mombasa for Nairobi. He stayed for a month in Nairobi then left by train to Kisumu and travelled to Jinja by boat. From Jinja he walked for two days to reach Kampala.

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Remembering “the Man with Broad Shoulders” Fondly known as “Mulla Asghar”, he was born in 1937 in Mombasa, Kenya, and by the time he turned 23 in 1960, Mulla’s father passed away.

He was an effective and visionary leader, a distinguished religious scholar, an inspirational pioneer – one who was widely admired and loved by whoever path he crossed.  March 21 marked the anniversary when the Shia world lost a pioneering personality some ten years ago in the year 2000. He was a person known for his visionary leadership and exceptional mobilization and organizational skills. He was such an exemplar champion on community service and welfare that his welfare projects benefited people far beyond the Shias of the Asian subcontinent descent that included Sunnis, Zoroastrians, and Hindus. To this day, his legacy and social welfare institutions that he help build continue to benefit Shias and non-Shias in India, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Europe, and North America. This legendary person was Mulla AsgharAli M M Jaffer, founder of the World Federation of Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Communities, based in London, UK.


Below article circulated by Bashir Tejani are excerpts which form part of a longer biographical review of late Mulla Asgherali M.M.Jaffer, published in the Special Supplement of the Mombasa Jamaat Chronicle, on Jan.,3, 2002, to coincide with the World Federation Executive Council meeting held in Mombasa, between 3rd and 6th January,2002, when Mombasa Jamaat dedicated the newly built Assembly Hall at the Jaffery Academy to the memory of late Mulla Asgharali M. M. Jaffer.