Establishing and building our community, with hope and faith in Allah swt.

The 1980’s was the first full decade in which our community was able to congregate and worship together, without having to rent rooms and halls from others. The Muhammadi Islamic Centre on Bayview Ave (later renamed Jaffari Islamic Centre) opened in November 1979. Volunteerism has always been central to our community’s activities, and we were blessed, as indeed we still are, to have many individuals come forward to work in various capacities on behalf of the community. 

Also in this decade, children who had settled in the GTA during the 1970’s began entering universities and colleges as their parents worked hard to ensure they received a good education. In later years these children contributed their knowledge and expertise in various capacities towards the well-being and progress of our Jamaat, Alhamdulliah. 

The community in Toronto

Maulana Zaki Baqri

Maulana Zaki Baqri was appointed as the first Resident Alim at JIC and held the position for some time before moving to Kitchener, Ont. All religious programs held at the new Muhammadi Islamic Centre were well attended. Our numbers continued to grow, and a real sense of community spirit began to evolve.

With the limited number of spaces available parking was often a problem, but in 1982 the management of Temple Har Zion (Jewish synagogue) next door and ISIJ of Toronto reached an arrangement to share each other’s car parks as needed. The arrangement worked effectively for the next twenty-five years and was cited as one of the reasons that the two institutions jointly received a Harmony Movement award in November 2004. The story of their cooperation received positive coverage in local and national media.

5-Year Temple-Islamic Center Partnership Recognized by Interfaith Organization | Pluralism Project Archive (harvard.edu)

To meet the needs of a fast-growing community an additional madressa was opened at JIC and named “Centre Madressa”. The community now had three Madressahs for its children: Centre Madressa, East End Madrassah and West-End Madrassah. There was no shortage of community members who gave their time on Sunday mornings to volunteer as teachers and administrators of these institutions.

Formation of a Senior Citizens Group of Toronto:

In 1986, Marhum Alibhai Suleman Kaba, (popularly Known as Kaba Bapa) initiated the formation of the Senior Citizens Group of Toronto, under the auspices of Toronto Jamaat.  It would provide both an educational and social forum for the seniors of our community that is still functioning today.  Marhum Kaba Bapa served as its first Chairperson and Marhum Hassanali A. Bhimji was the Vice Chair.  May Allah bless and reward them for their efforts.

The community in Hamilton, Ontario

In 1989, thanks to a generous donation from Marhum Amir Sunderji, a property was purchased at 95 Mead Ave, Hamilton to house a Shia Centre where the local community could hold religious programs. Before it could be used however it had to be completely renovated, a task that individuals from the community put their time and efforts into performing. The work was duly completed, and the Centre was ready for occupancy in 1990. It was utilized by the community for their programs until 2009. 

Marhum Ramzan Manek, the first Head of the community’s Management Committee started a Madrassah for the community’s children with the help of Maulana Zaki Baqri, who at that time was the Resident Alim of the Kitchener Jamaat. Maulana Baqri travelled to Hamilton every Saturday to teach and instruct the children there.

The community in the West-End

In September 1984 seven families who resided in the Brampton area sent a letter to the Toronto Jamaat proposing the acquisition of a mehfil in the west-end. Meanwhile they continued to gather for religious services at people’s homes until 1987 when they were able to rent a unit owned by a Sunni brother on Torbram Rd, Brampton. They held nightly Quran Khani programs there and performed the A’maals of Shab-e-Qadr at Dr Kassamali Jaffer’s house. Also during the 1980’s the community rented a room at the Brampton Civic Centre for occasions with larger turnouts. Rooms at the Turner Fenton School in Brampton were also used for Muharram programs during 1988 and 1989.

As the community grew and entered the 1990’s, it became evident that a larger centre would be needed.

The community in London, Ontario

The few families who had settled in London continued to gather in their houses and apartments to commemorate events in the religious calendar. Their numbers grew steadily, and they would often hold events with families from other Shia communities. A Madressa with 10 children in attendance was started in 1981 at the residence of Mohammed Dungersi and was later moved to the residence of Ali Pardhan.

Presidents and Heads of the Ladies Committee

During the 1980’s the ISIJ of Toronto was served by five Presidents and three Heads of the Ladies Committee, who together with their Executive Committees worked tirelessly for the advancement and well-being of the community: 

Marhum Ebrahim Kassam, Marhum Gulam Sajan, Marhum Ahmed Kanji, Mohsin Kamalia and Husseinali (Cha Cha) Paryani.

Heads of the Ladies Committee: Zarinbai Sajan, Nargisbai Dhalla, Shirinbai Sumar.