After attacks in Paris, Shias clear the air

SHAFAQNA – Residents of Andheri west recently found an unusual insert in the copy of a newspaper. This was a letter by a local Muslim group quoting the supreme spiritual head of Iran, Seyyed Ali Khamenei. 

It was written in the aftermath of the attack on French magazine Charlie Hebdo.The letter urged readers to not prejudge  Islam by the “false propaganda” of Western states, and instead acquaint themselves with the true faith by reading the Holy Quran. 

“The recent events in France have convinced me to directly talk to you about them. Many attempts have been made to place this great  religion of Islam in the seat of a horrifying enemy. Receive knowledge of Islam from its primary and original sources. Gain information about Islam through the Quran and the life of its great Prophet,” it read. 

The letter reads: “I am addressing you, [the youth], not because I overlook your parents, rather it is because the future of your nations will be in your hands.” 

The letter was circulated by a Shia Islamic organization in Yari Road, Andheri. Around one lakh copies in English and Urdu were distributed in the city, mainly in Andheri, parts of Bandra and south Mumbai. 

The informal group comprises 20-odd businessmen from the locality who meet to offer prayers at Mehfil-e-Saani-e-Zahra (SA), the nodal mosque also called Zaib Palace. Together they are bound by a deep reverence for their Imam Sayyed Mohammad Fayyaz Baqir. “It was he who suggested we propagate Khamenei’s ‘Letter4U campaign’, which went viral worldwide on January 22,” said Zaffer Mohamed, who owns a webhosting company. 

His friends Sayyed Ali Zaheer Naqvi who runs a business consultancy, Nadir Tejani, a distributor of tyres, Ajaz Virani, a clearing and forwarding agent and young students Hasnain Merchant and Ahad Merchant agree. Tejani added, “We have received a mixed response to our outreach. Some people have requested us to despatch a copy of the Quran and we have requisitioned these already.”

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