The Shia Khojas from Mumbai have managed to refurbish and revive a guest house in the city of Najaf, Iraq that is owned by a philanthropist organisation of the community for more than 100 years but ha
The Shia Khojas from Mumbai have managed to refurbish and revive a guest house in the city of Najaf, Iraq that is owned by a philanthropist organisation of the community for more than 100 years but had been confiscated by former Iraq President Saddam Hussain. After the fall of Saddam, the organisaton managed to get possession of the place and refurbished it. It has now inaugurated the same for the benefit of pilgrims. The organisation has plans to refurbish similar places that it owns in Karbala and Kazmain, the other pilgrimage cities of Iraq, but is falling short of funds.
According to Mr Mohib Nasser, vice president of Anjuman-e-Faiz-e–Panjetani (AFP) that owns numerous guest houses or musafirkhanas in Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria — all pilgrimage destinations for the Shia community — after the downfall of Saddam, “The musafirkhanas in Najaf, Karbala, Kazmain and Basrah had been erected by the AFP over a period ranging from 1912 to 1965. However, after Saddam took over the reins of the country he systematically dismantled the entire process by executing the chief convenor of AFP, Haji Abdul Hussain Jetha Gokalin, in 1968... After the fall of Saddam, the current team of AFP decided to reclaim the properties but had to go through a tedious judicial process for the same,” said Mr Nasser.
In 2013, the AFP got possession of the Najaf property, which was intact but required major refurbishment. This was completed at a cost of $2 million, with the help of donations from Khoja individuals from all over the world. The musafirkhana with a capacity of accommodating 70 pilgrims and a mere 90 meters from the mausoleum of Imam Ali (AS) was reopened amid much fanfare recently.
“The AFP has managed to get possession of the properties in Karbala and Kazmain too and the work of rebuilding the musafirkhana in Karbala is underway. There were two properties but one was demolished to make way for a road. Work on rebuilding the existing property, which is located around 400 meters from the mausoleum of Imam Hussain, is underway but work is slow due to funds. We have appealed to the worldwide Khoja community to donate generously for the same and are hopeful of it being completed in a few months,” said Mr Nasser, who is also the chairman of the Al-Imaan Trust that does philanthropic activities for the Muslim community in Mumbai and India.