Mehfil-e-Shahe Khorasan was first established in Mumbai then referred to as Bombay in the late 19th century.
My early recollection of being involved with Mehfil was when I would go with my mother, to my grandmother's house, which housed a Mehfil on the first floor.
The Management of the Mehfil was conducted by my mother Zainab, her sister Fatima & other members of the family, including the children.
There were others from within the circle of Family and Friends who volunteered their time. Just to mention a few: Kasam Ali Bhai, Sherbano Bai Meghji, Sherbano Bai Fidahussain and Marium Bai along with their families.
Ansar came in at a very early age and devoted his entire life to the services of Imam Hussain A.S. He was the only person who accompanied the family when they moved to Pakistan, & passed away just a few years ago in Karachi Pakistan.
There were many others who also served with tremendous dedication and humility and the services provided by this institute are still being carried on at the same location.
Even today, despite the advance in technology and Live Streaming, the month of Muharram still witnesses the same vigor and devotion of the people who occupy nearly three roads, sit on bleachers & line up the streets with mini Taaziyah.
I would be failing in my duty if at this time I did not acknowledge the services rendered by those from within the family and the community at large, in the development of not only Azadari but also towards the social development of the community, always keeping in mind that whatever was done would eventually benefit the cause of Islam.
We then added the establishment of other centers Like Kaiser Bagh Khoja Masjid & other services like Orphanages, Hospitals, Schools and development of religious study books in Guajarati (which was the predominant language of the then Khoja community). The initiation of these projects started from within the family by doing the translation of the Quran in Guajarati by my Uncle Ahmed Suleman Jumani.
Thereafter with active and absolute dedication followed a series of activities undertaken by Peer Mohammed Ebrahim and who did marvelous work by producing a number of publications in furthering the promotion of the Islamic faith.
The Habib Family became instrumental in establishing Schools, Orphanages, Hospitals & various other Social Services. The Habib Benevelont Trust undertook besides its other activities, the Tafseer of the Holy Quran under the active participation of Agha Pooya and Mir Mohammed Ali.
Haji Dawood Nasser Family along with other Prominent Khoja Families established the institution of the Khoja Jamaat and housed one of the few Shia Mosques.
Pakistan became an independent country in 1947 and most members of the family decided to make Karachi their Home.
The first Muharram in Karachi was observed by the new residents of Karachi by pitching a Tent in the same area where the present day Mehfil stands.
Karachi had a very large community and a Khoja Center in Kharadar but because of distance, the need was felt that a center was required in the residential area of Karachi and so the land on which the Mehfil now stands, was acquired.
Mehfil-e-Shahe Khorasan became the center of Azadari and hosted some of the most prominent speakers and became the nucleus of promoting social and economic structure for the Shia community through active participation of The Habib Family along with other members of the community.
In 1967 along with my family, we moved to the United States and made New York our new home.
During this time, we would travel back to Karachi to commemorate Muharram. But in 1972 when we finally settled down in Englewood, NJ we decided it was not feasible to keep going back to Karachi for Muharram, so we observed our first Muharram that year at our residence with just my family present.
By the Grace of Allah we came to know about the Ashoor Majalis being organized and held at the residence of Marhoom Dr. and Mrs. Bilquis Abdullah in New York City and around that same time we met with Mr. Inayat Ali Khan, Mr. Abid Rizvi and his wife Shams Rizvi, Dr. Syed Sibte Rizvi and his wife Jafri Rizvi, Mr. Ahmed Mirza, Mr. Munir Hussain along with a few other members of the community.
We were advised that during the Months of Muharram and Safar, Programs were held in New Jersey at Homes of various Individuals.
The year of 1973 we decided to hold Majaalis for the full ten days of Muharram. We rented a hall which housed the International School at United Nations. There were no Zakirs from within the very small community of Indo Pakistan region so we listened to the Majaalis of Allama Rashid Turabi on tape. Soz and Salam were read by various Individuals. Chehlum Majalis was organized at the residence of Mr. Inayat Ali Khan and his brother Mir Murad Ali Khan.
During the same period Mr. Inayat Ali Khan advised that a number of Graves were available in Princeton and funds were made available to purchase the first Graveyard for the community.
The following year we decided to continue the program of Majalis at the UN International School & through the courtesy of Dr. Sibte Rizvi we contacted Maulana Shabi ul Hasan who graciously accepted our invitation to address the gathering. Soz and Salam were read by Syed Raza Ali.
During the same period we were also graced by Maulana Taaher Johari and had the good fortune of listening to his educational lectures.
The year of 1975 Maulana Shabi ul Hasan could not come and we called on Maulana Waris Hasan from London to come to New York for the Muharram program again at the same venue UN International School.
Sheikh Sarwar came to New York as a representative of Ayatullah Khoei and presented himself to the community.
The same year we also were able to invite Allama Aqeel Turabi and arranged his lectures at a school hall in New Jersey, courtesy of Mr. Inayat Ali Khan. During the two years Majalis Programs were organized and held at various homes with the Chehlum Majalis always at the residence of Mr. Inayat Ali Khan. Soon after Chehlum of 1975, we decided it was time to find a place we could call our own and by the Grace of Allah we settled on a property in Englewood after having explored various other areas in Queens, Brooklyn and other parts of New Jersey.
The year of 1975 had two Muharrams, in the same year, and Maulana Waris Hasan addressed the second Muharram of the year.
We took possession of the building in Englewood where we are now located & started the Thursday night program and celebrated the various Wiladat and Shahadat Majaalis for the rest of the year.
That month of Ramadhan we observed the month with all the Amaals for the month and the Bohra Community also joined us in observing the month.
The First Muharram at Mehfil E Shah E Khorasan of NJ ; Maulana Mohammed Hasan Rizvi came from Karachi to address the gathering.
During the final days of Chehlum during the majalis to commemorate the 28th Safar the place which housed the Mehfil caught fire due to a short circuit in the boiler room.
The incident of the fire and how it contained itself until the last of the members were safely out is a story in itself. The reconstruction for the place to be available by the next Muharram was also not possible without a miracle, those who witnessed will relate to that.
In the year 1979, Mehfil in cooperation with Syed Ehtesham Haider embarked on a program and took out a supplement in the then ethnic newspapers Nav Yugh, Crescent, and Jung for Eid and Muharram. A program was also sponsored on Indian Television Vision of Asia for Sham e Ghariban.
Mehfil also prepared a virtual calendar of prayer time for the Tri State and brought out the Islamic Calendar for the year. Which by the Grace of Allah is still being done. We also commemorated 1400 hundred Years remembrance with a souvenir Medallion.
With the active participation of Sheikh Sarwar every Thursday we would discuss the Quran and Tafseer following Dua e Komail. Credit of initiating this should be given to Mr. Zulfikar Ladak and his wife Mumtaz Ladak.
The first Hussain Day program was organized at the United Nations School by Syed Ehtesham Haider with active participation of Dr. Manzoor Rizvi and few others whose names escape me. Subsequent to that this program then went under the banner of Hussain Day Committee.
By the Grace of Allah Mehfil has been host to a number of well-known Zakirs
Poets Soz Khwans and Scholars. It is not possible to list them all but just to mention a few:
Syed Tilmiz Hasnain Rizvi
Syed Mohammed Moosawi
Professor Karrar Hussain
Janab Adib ul Hindi
Prof. Syed Abul Qasim
Syed Akhtar Rizvi
Syed Mehdi Mohsin Hakeem
Janab Izzat Lakhnawi
Syed Mohammed Moosawi
Janab Nasir Jahan
Syed Abrar Hussain
Syed Shamim us Sibtain
Syed Zeeshan Haider Jawadi
Mir Hasan Mir
Dr. Khalil Tabatabai
Syed Mehdi Mohsin Hakeem
During the year 1980 Mehfil with active cooperation of Dr. Ibrahim, Aza Khane Zahra, a camp was organized at 10 Miles River Narrows Burg N.Y.
Maulana Anwar Ali was the Imam at that camp.
The year was 1983 when we welcomed a young boy Syed Ahsan Naqvi.
He needs no introduction there is not a member of the community who does not know him.
Khorasan Educational Center a sub of the Trust in March of 1985 under the Chairmanship of Dr. Haider Shamsi along with Maulana Anwar Ali established a program of Islamic teachings. It was short lived as the response from the community just was not there.
During the following years many programs were initiated with active cooperation by Dr. Manzoor Rizvi, Syed Ehtesham Haider, and Dr. Zafar Jafri.
Just to mention a few, Sunday school which after initial introduction was then under the guardianship of Syed Irshad Raza, and the introduction of Shab e Dari by Syed Ehtesham Haider. Establishing Juma Namaz by Dr. Manzoor Rizvi.
And the Islamic Central Directorate with the active participation of Dr. Haider Shamsi. This directorate operated in the basement of Mehfil for quite a length of time and the moved to the house purchased by Dr. Haider Shamsi.
The school as of writing this is now being run by Mrs. Salma Ladak with a much larger curriculum than before, covering a major part of Islamic Subjects.
Initially a Program of Musalema was introduced by Janab Syed Ahsan Sibte Kazmi which later on for convenience was moved and is now being held yearly at different homes from the community.
The younger members of the Mehfil being interested in sports Mehfil formed a group of young people under the banner of Khorasan Lions.
Mr. Hasan Rizvi took an active role and organized games inviting others to join.
Later on the group disbursed with the generation going to schools for advance education. Today from those young men Masha Allah many have achieved their dreams and are now are successful in their endeavors.
The community has come a long way from the 1970, as the community grew in the Tri State area need was felt to improve the facilities and as such a few members of the community got together to discuss the project and the contributions made towards the project by:
Dr. Manzoor Rizvi, Syed Baqir Rizvi, Mr. Mussarrat Hussain, Dr. Mohsin Raza, Syed Hasnain Naqvi, Syed Shabih Haider and the support from our younger generation who advised us and helped us in the development of the project.
We are extremely grateful to all the other members who were always ready to help out during the construction, especially Shabi Haider who put everything aside and was always at the site, and Syed Sabit Hussain for all his help.
Through the active participation of Salma Ladak, Principal of Az Zahra Islamic School, and Shiraz Hussain, Mehfil embarked on a program of social service of feeding the poor and the younger generation of the community have participated.
The Khorasan Trust is has been established under the name of Imam Reza A.S and is dedicated to the commemoration of the monumental sacrifices made by the Prophet and his Ahl lul Bait.
The unparalleled event in Islam the tragedy of Karbala, where Imam Hussain A.S. along with his sons, brothers, nephews, and his selfless companions sacrificed everything that he possessed, in that desert plain in Iraq in the year 680 AD to redeem Islam from the un-Islamic regime of the Tyrant Yazeed a powerful ruler. This event in Islam is the touchstone for understanding the true and original Islam, in contrast with the Islam as projected by the Muslim Dynasties, which contrary to the real Islam, was a political, autocratic, and expansionist movement under the misleading cover of Islam.
Islam is not a religion or just a way of life, as we understood it, not many years ago, It is a very Progressive way of life.
Quranic Ayats were revealed 1400 plus years ago, these very Ayats served the purpose of the communities at that time and to day they serve the community equally well and will do so till the end of time.
It is up to us to understand the meaning of these Ayats and understand as to what they actually mean, and that can only be possible if we follow the Ahl ul Bait and understand the true way of life that Allah prescribed for us.
May Allah in His kind Mercy Bless us and forgive us.