SIM Silver (25 Years)

With the 25th anniversary, S I Madressa (London, Stanmore) has this year reached yet another milestone in its history.

To celebrate the Silver Jubilee, a programme was held on the 8th November 2009 at the Hujjat Centre (Stanmore). As a preamble, the principal of the S I Madressa, Br Zeeshan Kanji, delivered a speech to the community members on Friday 28th August 2009.



Here below is the script of the above speech.

My elders, brothers and sisters, Salaamun Alaykum

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Hujjat EC for giving me this opportunity to address you. I intend to be brief and do not want to take too much of your invaluable time.

I stand before you on behalf of this community’s institution, the Shia Ithna Atheri Madressa to inform you of a significant milestone this institution has achieved. This year, 2009, is the 25th Anniversary, for the Madressa.

May I request you all to recite a loud Salawaat.

I would like to echo the words of wisdom relayed to us by Sheikh Bahmanpoor in his various majalises so far with reference to Sura Kahf. Allah mentions in the Holy Quran

“We narrate unto you (O Muhammad SAW) their story with truth: Truly! They were young men who believed in their Lord (Allah), and We increased them in guidance.” (Ayat 13 Sura Kahf)

These men who sought guidance to strengthen their belief were indeed young men. It is at this important stage of one’s life that people can develop the foundation of their future. The creation of this Madressa was based on this vision of guiding our community where the core principals of our Faith are instilled into our children.

Few people realise how far the Shia Ithna’asheri Madressa has come in such a short time, or what an impact it has made on our community here and further afield. As you will see, from relatively modest beginnings it has flourished into the industrious organisation it is today. This history of the Madressa serves to illustrate what has been achieved so far, and is a tribute to all those whose ideas and efforts have gone into building a healthy future for generations to come.

On 13th January 1985, the London Jamaat first opened the doors of the Shia Ithna’asheri Madressa. Its main aim was to meet the growing religious needs of the children of our community. The Sunday classes were held at the newly-acquired Huseini Shia Islamic Centre in Stanmore, and consisted of a mere five classes and 60 students learning an elementary syllabus. Yet, in under a month the number of students had increased to over a hundred, and within a year there were 15 classes and over 250 students on register, and an established syllabus had been put into place.

As the Madressa grew, so did the efficiency with which it ran. In 1987 the Madressa began the process of computerising administrative data, and took the important decision to become a self-financing body with the introduction of a voluntary tuition fee. The Madressa teaching syllabus also underwent a comprehensive revision in the taught subjects of Tareekh, Fiqh, Akhlaq and Holy Qur’an. These subjects still remain at the core of the of the Madressa system today.

With the continuous growth the community took the view to move out of the centre in Stanmore to Priestmead School in Harrow. By 1988, the Madressa had grown to 380 students and moved to occupy larger premises at Park High School in Harrow. In the next few years, there was a general increase in the size of the community taking Madressa to a peak of 500 students at Park High.

The 1990s heralded the expansion of the Madressa on new fronts, both within the educational structure and in extra-curricular activities. The Madressa introduced teacher training workshops and awareness seminars to improve teaching and communication skills. Not only were these new pursuits of educational value, but also promoted community participation in many extra-curricular activities. These included annual sports days and annual activity trips.

In 1998, the Madressa was able to return to the renovated Husseini Islamic Centre in Stanmore, and today occupies all the available classroom space at the Centre together with the additional portakabins that you see in the car park.

Today the Shia Ithna’asheri Madressa boasts over 160 teachers and volunteers, some 38 classes and over 800 students. The age of this Madressa resonates an interesting observation; past students are now parents, teachers and in fact one of them has been a principal of this Madressa.

Until today the Madressa has maintained the core disciplines of Akhlaq, Fiqh, Quran and Tareekh. Other facets introduced are Arabic and Farsi languages, Islamic Studies GCSE, Professional and Personal Development classes for the senior students, specialist focus for those requiring learning support, SIM Cares to raise awareness in our children of the plight of the needy and Muslim Mum’s magazine.

At this juncture let’s not forget this community Madressa would not be what it is today had it not been for the parents of the students.

It has been said that if you want to understand a child, look at its parents. A child’s thirst for knowledge and desire to learn comes from its upbringing. Madressa has high hopes and ambitions for its students, but none of these can be achieved without the full support and cooperation of parents.

In the hectic pace of today’s society, we find we have less and less time for those important things. Many of us make the mistake of leaving Madressa to teach our children the basic essentials of Islamic life - when in reality these can only be taught at home and merely reinforced in the Madressa.

Our Madressa is recognised as the driving force amongst other Madaris world-wide with the syllabus having been adopted by many other Madressas across the globe. We even have had requests from non Khoja communities in Germany, Italy, Denver (US), etc. The teaching material is constantly being revised to keep it up to date, and new teaching methods introduced. Every year the Madressa produces core notes for students. The teachers use this as a basis to prepare for their classes together with research they undertake around the subject matter. This is a stark difference to when Madressa started when only a syllabus existed but each teacher had to produce his/her own set of notes prior to teaching. One of the key objectives of this institution is to maintain updated notes to move with the times.

In the e-age that we live in the Madressa provides students worldwide free access to the teaching material and manuals via its dedicated website. As the Madressa classes are formally limited to Sundays in 2008 it launched the first of its kind Online Collaboration System allowing to stay in contact with the students when they are not in Madressa with assessments, communications and monitoring of quran and salaat recitation. This positions the Madressa well in today’s age where secular schools are maintaining contact with their students outside school hours.

I would like to take this opportunity to invite you all to the 25th anniversary celebrations that we are planning to hold on the 8th of November this year. We will send out details of the programme nearer the time but would be grateful if you would mark out your calendars for this very important date in our community’s development.

A child has only one set of parents, and not even the most sincere hopes of our best teachers can replace the support and motivation a child receives at home. Madressa requires parents to be a good example to their children, constantly motivate their learning, supervise their homework and encourage regular attendance. And remember above all, that to our children, Madressa is only as important as parents make it

The Shia Ithna-asheri Madressa is the pride of this community and a tribute to the vision and foresight of those who saw its usefulness all those years ago.

I am sure I am speaking on behalf of all past, present and futures volunteers of this institution. We have all been very fortunate to be provided with this noble opportunity to be guardians of your children and thank you all for placing your trust in us to propagate His religion.

May Allah bless all those who have given their time and effort in any capacity, both in the past and present and pray that they continue for the next 25 years to help in imparting knowledge about His religion to our children.

Amongst all the Madressa volunteers who are present today we should be honoured to have with us ALL the past principals of the last 25 years of our Madressa.

I would also like on behalf of the Madressa to thank all previous and current jamaats in supporting this institution. May it continue for generations to come.

I would like to leave you with one final thought before I sit down. Put one our children graduated from one of our Madaris against any another muslim of a similar age. It is very evident that under each discipline of Akhlaq, Fiqh, Quran and Tareekh, our community child will excel in all aspects and it is something we should collectively be proud of. This is a testament of the vision of our forefathers for which we should be eternally grateful. Let us all recite sura a fateha for them.

Please remember each other in your duas in this holy month. Iltimase dua

Was salamun alaikum.