SHAFAQNA – Brother Mubashir Sheriff is a researcher at Zainab Rights and is involved at different levels in the World and Africa Federations of the Khoja community. Below are some thoughts he shared with Shafaqna on his contributions to society.
You work for Zainab Rights which is a grassroots media organisation calling for justice. Could you tell us a little bit about what you do and your thoughts on justice and the possibility of it in the world we live in?
Mubashir: As a researcher at ZR, my job entails delving into a series of topics to ensure the news that people read and listen to is true. Unbiased media is becoming increasingly difficult to find nowadays with mainstream media organizations using their platforms to further their own narratives. Distorting reality has sadly turned into a commonplace practice that makes people see purely what they want to see in people and situations, and discard whatever else may come in the way of their perfect vision. In order to reduce this, we try to find news from various sources to create an avenue for people to understand what is truly going on around them. The mass deserves the truth and we provide it to them. Although justice is a concept very popularly spoken about, it is very seldom implemented. And it is our fault. However, it’s important to note that it is entirely up to us to change this unfortunate reality. If each and every one of us stands up to do something for the sake of achieving justice, the world can definitely be a better, more peaceful place. After all, “Individually, we are one drop but together, we are an ocean.”
How important do you think it is for each one of us to be aware of the on-goings in the world so that justice may be conceived and what would you recommend as some ways in which we can gain this awareness?
Mubashir: As human beings, we are naturally bound to be interested in our surroundings. Stories fascinate us, whether they are associated with reality or fantasy. Fantasy, however, does remind us that humans can communicate with each other even without speaking, an idea commonly termed as “concern”. To be aware of what is going on in the world is the duty of every individual and the media is key in creating and gaining that awareness. Although it requires you to go the extra mile, it’s important that we do our research and find out if what we are hearing is genuine. Oftentimes, crucial facts are left out in stories plastered over the newspapers because no one wants to do the dirty work. It’s very easy for us to hear and believe what mainstream media tells us because convenience has become more important than truth. Everyone has become so caught up in their own lives that they forget about humanity, they forget that it is up to them to alleviate the world of these injustices. Do your research and gain knowledge from different sources (including mainstream media) as that is the only way we can know the truth and the truth is vital in determining our state as a global community. Talk about stories you don’t usually hear on the news, participate in open discussions and peer groups, follow independent media organizations, and believe that your voice DOES make a difference.
You are a Dentistry student working with Zainab Rights and you also work with the World Federation and Africa Federation of Khoja communities. How do you manage to juggle all of these different roles whilst studying at university?
It’s easy to fall under the notion that there isn’t enough time for everything but what people tend to forget is that when it’s managed well, it’s your weapon to achieving boundless heights. Coming from a family in which community service has always played an essential role, I find myself thoroughly enjoying everything I do and that is what motivates me to do multiple things at once. When you do what you love and participate in something that you are passionate about, you develop an intense feeling of wanting to do more. For me, that is through community service and dentistry and I hope that through these mediums, I am somehow able to make a more affirmative impact on our society.
How do you think your background in the natural sciences helps you in your journey towards a more just world?
Being able to witness the transition of an ill person to someone who is healthy is incredibly mesmerizing. Not only this but the way that human behavior can either change or stay the same when the body is functioning in alternative states is truly fascinating to me. Growing up in a family of individuals who have pursued a career in the natural sciences has always inspired me to follow in their footsteps. From a young age, I found myself constantly rummaging through my father’s books on medicine and asking my 10 year old self why things were the way they were, desperately trying to find a reason behind everything. This deep sense of inquisitiveness in combination with the satisfaction of seeing people being relieved of pain and suffering is what has inspired me to take small steps towards achieving a more just world.
Are there any personal experiences/thoughts you’d like to share that could be of help/inspiration?
I remember my mother telling me an interesting story that brings chills down my spine till today. A patient had come home in the middle of the night due to a dislocated shoulder. My father examined him and quickly found out that the only way he could save the individual at that point was to push it back in its place. In doing so, my father ended up injuring his back. It has been more than two decades since that injury but the pain in his back continues till today. But every time he is asked to speak of this experience, his response is that “his pain was relieved and I did what I had to do. The same way, you should do what you have to do to alleviate pain and suffering, as God has given you the ability to.” This is a lesson I believe many of us can learn from. We have turned this world into a competition where we compete for the biggest houses, the most extravagant cars yet we forget about our own fellow human beings. The world we live in is becoming increasingly selfish and we are unable to put others before ourselves. It is up to you and I to make this a more just and untroubled world but it all roots from one common trait: compassion and love for others.
– Sabiha Rahim for Shafaqna