Investing in religious & secular education and the community’s well-being.

The 1990’s was a decade of several accomplishments and sound progress for our community. It was during this decade that we purchased the land now known as Jaffari Village in Thornhill, acquired a property in London, ON called the Ahlul Bayt Islamic Centre and established the As Sadiq Islamic School in Vaughan and Crescent Village in Richmond Hill. It was also the decade in which we were served by two accomplished and erudite scholars, first Dr Liyakat Takim and later Maulana Syed Muhammad Rizvi.

The community in Hamilton, Ontario

By this time the local Shia community numbered about 200 people. They included people from the Middle East, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as Khoja Shia Ithna ‘Asheri (KSI) families from East Africa. The property at 95 Mead Avenue continued to be used for all religious programs, madrassah, weddings and funerals.

The community in London, Ontario

As the community expanded and people’s houses and apartments were no longer sufficient to meet their needs, it was concluded that a larger space was needed. In November 1998, with the full support of the ISIJ of Toronto, an industrial unit was found and leased for the community to hold congregational prayers, majlises and other events. Arif Datoo and Ali Pardhan alternated as the Chair of its Management Committee. Under their direction, community members worked together to prepare the place for use. In March 1999, twenty-five years after Dr Boga and his family settled there, the centre opened and was named the “Ahlul Bayt Islamic Centre of London”.


The community in the West-End

In 1994, Dr Ashik Najarali, then the Chair of the West-End Management Committee approached Husseinali (Cha Cha) Paryani, the President of ISIJ of Toronto for help in finding a suitable place for his community to worship at. A sub-committee was formed to begin the search and it soon identified a property on Selby Rd, Brampton which was available to rent. The landlord agreed to lease it to the community for five years. The building needed to be renovated before it could be used, so several members of the West-End community banded together to get the work done. They spent their weekday evenings and weekends cleaning, painting, dry walling, creating separate entrances and installing washrooms. The West-End community utilised the building for their programs for the next five years. In 1999 however, the landlord decided to sell the property and the community was once again forced to rent venues to congregate for prayers and hold programs. One such place was a room in the Shoppers’ World mall in Brampton.

At this juncture the West-End community decided to build a centre of their own and persuaded the Toronto Jamaat to help them locate and purchase a parcel of land for the purpose. Their joint efforts eventually resulted in the acquisition of land at 7580 Kennedy Rd, Brampton, Ont. In the interim, a building at 144 Kennedy Rd was used to hold their programs. After renovating the property, it was opened for use on 1st Ramadhan 1419/9th December, 1999. The building was not large enough to accommodate Madrassah classes, so the community secured classrooms at the nearby Turner Fenton School for that purpose.

The community in Toronto:

Dr Liyakat Takim

In 1990 the Toronto Jamaat appointed Dr Liyakat Takim to the position of Director of Religion (Resident Alim). His majlises in English language were particularly appreciated by the younger population of the community. Dr Takim also developed a good working relationship with Rabbi Michael Stroh of the next-door Temple Har Zion, which later proved helpful to the Jamaat. When vandals daubed hateful graffiti on the walls of JIC, a group of volunteers from Temple Har Zion arrived to help with the clean up. Dr Takim remained in the role until 1996 when he took up successive teaching positions at universities in the USA and Canada.

The community in Toronto:

Also that year, thanks to the efforts of then president Gulam Sajan and Kassim Lakhani, the Jamaat’s first Burial Expense Scheme (BES) was launched. It was later renamed Burial Assistance Plan (BAP).

In 1991 the community’s first news magazine, Jaffari News, was published. It continued to inform and engage the community until the late 2010’s when it ceased publication.

In 1992 the ISIJ of Toronto became the first KSI community worldwide to create the role of “Speaker of Jamaat”. The Speaker would be responsible for organising bi-annual Jamaat elections as well as chairing all Annual & Special General Meetings. The intent of this move was to bring a higher level of fairness and objectivity to the Jamaat’s proceedings. The first person to be elected to the position was Marhum Hussein Bharwani.

In 1993 a new constitution for the ISIJ of Toronto was published. It included for the first time the position of “Chairlady”.

In May 1995 the community was very saddened by the news that its Jamaat’s President Mohamed Alibhai, a dedicated and visionary leader, had passed away. Nazir Gulamhussein, a long-time community volunteer who had only recently settled in Toronto was asked to assume the presidency, a role which he accepted.


the new Resident Alim

Syed Muhammad Rizvi

In 1996 Maulana Syed Muhammad Rizvi, who had moved to Toronto from Vancouver a year ago to pursue academic research at the University of Toronto, was appointed as the new Resident Alim of the community by the Jamaat. Maulana Rizvi brought with him a strong pedigree of scholarly knowledge and became the Alim that other Jamaats and the World Federation referred to for guidance on various religious matters. Maulana Rizvi continues to hold the position in 2023.


Constitutional Review Committee

In 1999 a Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) was appointed by the Executive to conduct a thorough review of the Jamaat’s constitution, a task which was to take over three years to complete.


The Out of the Cold Program

Late in 1999, after being approached by an Interfaith group, the Toronto Jamaat agreed to participate in the “Out of the Cold Program”. Supported by government agencies the program looks after homeless people for a night every week for 10 consecutive weeks in the winter season. This was an important decision which demonstrated the community’s willingness to work with other faith-based communities to support the homeless of the wider community. The Jamaat continues to partner with other faith groups and municipal agencies in running the program today.

the community continued to grow rapidly

In this decade the community continued to grow rapidly, and programs held at JIC attracted larger and larger crowds. During the first 10 days of Muharram tents had to be erected on both the Gents and Ladies sides to accommodate the overflow of attendees. Another beneficial use for the tents was to hold majlises in the English language, providing an alternative to Urdu lectures, which our youths appreciated.

Islamic Education and Community Centre- IECC

It was becoming increasingly obvious that the community would have to find or build a larger centre eventually to meet its needs longer-term. Accordingly, in 1993, Sikander Kara, a member of the Property Acquisition Committee (PAC), identified a 28-acre property for sale at 9000 Bathurst St, Thornhill and recommended it as appropriate for our needs. After securing both the General body’s agreement and assurance of funding from some generous donors and a bank, the Toronto Jamaat’s Executive Committee (then led by Marhum Mohamed Alibhai authorized the PAC to make an offer to purchase the property & land at 9000 Bathurst St, for an amount not exceeding $2,750,000.

Its purchase was successfully concluded in May 1994. The official opening ceremony which followed on September 4th, 1994, was attended by community members, various civic dignitaries, Marhum Mulla Asgharali M.M. Jaffer (President of the World Federation) and other religious scholars like Professor Abdul Aziz Sachedina and Dr Liyakat Takim. The new property was initially named “Islamic Education and Community Centre” (IECC).

Bathurst lands ribbon cutting_Mulla Asghar 1994
Toronto Jamaat President Mohamed Alibhai, Professor Abdul Aziz Sachedina, Habibbhai Kara, Mulla Asghar Ali M.M. Jaffer

Opening of As-Sadiq Islamic School

There was already a small building on the premises which had served as a hospital. The Executive Committee decided to move the Centre Madressah from JIC to this building in order to provide it with more space for its students and operations. The rooms in the hospital were converted to classrooms. Soon afterwards, additional classrooms were added to facilitate the opening of As Sadiq Islamic School in September 1994. This was a temporary measure until the land at 9000 Bathurst could be developed to build a new mosque, community centre and school.

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No new construction took place on the land for the next five years. The community deliberated on the development plans in terms of its purpose, design, construction costs and funding. At a Special General Meeting of the community on November 8th, 1998, the Executive Committee and PAC presented a plan to develop and build a multi-purpose hall and school which was duly approved.

the community centre

In 1999, the then President Ali Raza Rajani, appointed Vice President Razak Damani to chair a Property Management Committee to move ahead with the development. Other individuals from the community who had relevant professional experience or designations were recruited to serve on the team. They retained a reputable architect and a construction company to begin the development and buildout of the community centre. Approval of a Site Plan Application and building permits were successfully obtained from the City of Vaughan and construction began. The financing for the development came from both Toronto Jamaat members and overseas donors. No money had to be borrowed from banks or other financial institutions.

As Sadiq Islamic School

As-Sadiq Islamic School_class in progress-3rd November 2023

The idea of creating a full-time Islamic school for the community was first discussed during the 1980’s. Rooted in the desire to provide our children with a high-quality secular education while uplifting them spiritually, it wasn’t until the 1990’s that the concept was realized.

In July 1991/Muharram 1412 a Preliminary feasibility Study entitled the Al-Mahdi School Project was initiated. The President of the Toronto Jamaat, Marhum Gulam Sajan and his committee recruited various members of the community to form an Education Task Force, for which there was no shortage of volunteers. Marhum Nissar Sheraly and Mohamedtaki Mohamed were two such individuals who brought with them a background in education to help guide the task force. Work began on drafting a set of by-laws. The team also focused on preparing necessary documents that would be needed to register the school. These included a denominational curriculum, facilities plan, timetables, classroom specifications, staff projections, marketing and bus transportation.

When the ISIJ of Toronto decided to purchase the property at 9000 Bathurst St. Thornhill work began in earnest to prepare a formal presentation for the community regarding the establishment of the school. On July 9th 1993 at a general meeting attended by community leaders and interested parents the school’s Bylaws were enacted. The School Task Force was replaced with a Board of Trustees who were sworn in on November 20th, 1993. The Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees consisted of Maulana Syed Muhammad Rizvi, Nisar Sheraly, Dr Ahmad Al-Hashimi, Mahmud Somani and Dr Shabbir Alibhai.

On August 9th 1993, As Sadiq Islamic Schools was incorporated as a private denominational school under the ISIJ of Toronto. The former hospital building at 9000 Bathurst St. was renovated and its bedrooms were converted to classrooms. On September 2nd, 1994 the school opened its doors for the first time. The opening was attended by members of the community, the Board of Trustees, The Mayor of Vaughan, the President of the World Federation (WF) of Khoja Shia Ithna Asheri Jamaats and representatives of other Shia Ithna Asheri communities.

At first the school offered classes from Junior Kindergarten (JK) to Grade 2. In the years that followed and as demand grew, more grades were added so that by the 2010’s the school had the entire range of elementary school grades: JK, SK, grades 1-8.

In 2003 the Board of Trustees authorized the introduction of a Montessori section to cater for much younger children. In September 2009 the school moved from the old building to a purpose-built facility within the Jaffari Community Centre. Since then, it has expanded further and gone from strength to strength. It now has 760 students enrolled, 50 staff members and offers the full complement of elementary (JK to Grade 8) and secondary school classes (Grade 9-12).

The school has consistently excelled in the ratings and rankings of Ontario schools for academic standards and the excellent performance of its children. As Sadiq Islamic school is truly the pride of our community in Toronto.

Crescent Village, Richmond Hill

Crescent Village, popularly known as “The Complex” is a non-profit housing program that was jointly funded by the Federal and Provincial governments of Canada and Ontario respectively. Its objective was to help non-profit housing organizations to build cost-effective housing for people with low to moderate incomes. In 1988 Dr Hyder Fazal, a member of the Planning Committee of the ISIJ of Toronto proposed the idea of a housing project. Hussein Bharwani, then president of the Jamaat appointed a sub-committee under the leadership of Sajjad Ibrahim to initiate the project. The team consisted of Murtaza Alibhai, Dr Hyder Fazal, Marhum Gulamabbas Sajan, Marhum Hassanali Bhimji and Marhum Raza Sumar. After working for two years to collect the data needed, they submitted an application. They received funding approval in 1991 and immediately afterwards the Jaffari Islamic Housing Corporation was officially registered with the provincial government.

Negotiations with the Ontario Housing Ministry then began and after they were completed further discussions ensued with the Town of Richmond Hill, where a ten-acre site was identified for the development. Initially the development plans faced opposition from some parties in the vicinity, but thanks to the dedicated efforts of the sub-committee, construction began by the grace of Allah s.w.t. A team of volunteers from the community was recruited to interview applicants and collect needed information and data to help in the selection of tenants. The project was completed in 1993 and the selected tenants began moving into their new homes soon afterwards.

The development was named “Crescent Village” It has 198 units which house many families from our community. The Board of Directors of the Jaffari Housing Corporation is responsible for its financial management, legal matters, selection of tenants and compliance with the Operating Agreement with local & provincial governments. The Board stays vigilant to ensure that Crescent Village is clean, safe, and welcoming.  The project has the honor of being one of the best managed housing complexes and has established a reputation in cost effectiveness, resulting in a healthy financial position.

On October 18th, 2011 at the Recognitions Award Night organized by York Region, Crescent Village received a Certificate of Recognition for outstanding commitment and dedication to Community Engagement.  In November 2012, it received an Award for Excellence presented by the ONPHA out of 742 providers across Ontario.

Presidents and Chair Ladies

During the 1990’s the Jamaat was served by four Presidents and three Chair Ladies, who together with their Executive Committees worked tirelessly for the advancement and well-being of the community:

Presidents: Marhum Gulam Sajan, Marhum Mohamed Alibhai, Nazir Gulamhussein and Ali Raza Rajani.

Chair Ladies: Zarinbai Sajan, Sikinabai Baker-Mehdi, Shirinbai Sumar.