Dr Ashik Najarali Interview summary by Hasnain Davdani

1. Born in Mozambique – grew up there till age 17 – Left the country in 1963 for further studies in the UK – May have been drafted to the Army if did not leave and stayed back to do his A-Levels. Education in Mozambique was mostly in Portuguese. His 2 brothers Taki and Raza were actually drafted to the Portuguese Army and served 4 years in the Army.

2. In the UK studied in London – Learnt the English language and did O-levels and A-Levels in English – Went to Portsmouth to do 1 year of Pharmacy. Later got admitted to Medical school in Bristol and did 5 years of Med. school and got his degree in Medicine and studied further to specialize as a paediatrician. After graduation, in 1972 did his internship at variou Hospitals in England.

3. Family back home getting anxious to emigrate from Mozambique as the Ugandan Asians were being expelled at the time in 1972.

4. Was recruited for a job in Halifax Canada. In 1972 / 73 emigrated to Canada from UK. Studied Neo Natal medicine in Halifax. Started to sponsor his siblings from Mozambique and Pakistan to come to Canada.

5. In 1975 moved to Hamilton Ontario with his wife Shamim who was also a Dr. Extended family arrived in Canada between 1975 and 1977 and settled in Toronto.

6. He then moved to Toronto with his wife and started work at the Doctors Hospital in Toronto. Spoke fluent Portuguese and was serving many Portuguese speaking patients living in Brampton.

7. Eventually settled in Brampton Ontario around 1978/79 as there was a large Portuguese community in Brampton who needed the services of Portuguese speaking Dr.

8. There were about 4 or 5 families from our community settled in Brampton at the time in 1978. And there was no local center as such for the community in Brampton. Initially attended the programs at Bayview (JIC) with his family when it opened.

9. The community in Brampton grew as many from East Africa came to settle there. There was a need to congregate locally somewhere nearby instead of Bayview (JIC)

10. Dr Ashik got involved in this endeavour to congregate locally in Brampton and at first started once a week Quran Khani organized by Br. Mustafa Nasser at his residence.

11. There was only one Madressa in the beginning at East end in Scarborough. Then another Madressa was started in the West in Etobicoke where the kids living in the west end of the GTA could attend.

12. For Majalis congregation in Brampton – The Families took turns holding majalises at each other’s houses. Mustafa Nasser and Dr Ashik organized Ramadhan programs at their houses. No Maulanas were available initially to recite – Listened to Majalis on tapes.

13. Later on Marhum Molvi Ali Mohammed who was living in Etobicoke recited the majalises at the houses and facilitated the Aamals for Ramadhan.

14. The gathering then took place at the Sunni mosque for a while

15. Around 1994 as the Chairman of the West Jamaat, Dr. Aashik approached the Jamaat in Toronto for recognition that community in the west needed a place of their own to congregate. A sub-committee was formed and they started looking for a place.

16. Some Ismaili friends recommended a place on Selby Road which they were leasing and was now available for lease as they had got their own centre. Approached Landlord to see if they could lease it. Approached ISIJ for discussion they agreed for us to get a lease for I believe for 3-5 yrs.

17. The community in Brampton supported the idea fully. We asked the landlord to allow us to fix the place up. Some of us took the task of helping to fix the place – added an extra bathroom and separating the bathrooms for man and women via curtain – lobby entrance and the stairs were the same – we then separated the entrance to the ladies after the lobby area – on the ladies side we had a small kitchen for tea and warming some food. Some members spend time in the evening and weekends to fix, paint remove all the garbage. The west Jamaat in the beginning was small and so the place was adequate.

18. At Selby we had Jumerat Majalises and we got Maulana for Moharram Ramadan. Marhum Molvi Ali Mohammed was reciting most of the time on these occasions

19. Then LandLord wanted to sell. We approached the Jamaat again. One of jamaat member offered the ground floor of his printing shop elsewhere but that did not materialize and we had to move

20. Iinitially we were stuck and resorted to renting temporary places until we got another warehouse off KENNEDY road. This place also became the beginning of the idea of MIC.

21. My chairmanship ended few yrs after moving to Selby. Haider Jaffer came for a yr or so, then Mustafa Nasser for 1+ yr – then Murtaza Panju got involved with the MIC project