Chronicle 50

A history of the first 50+ years of the ISIJ of Toronto

Salaam un Alaikum and welcome to Chronicle 50!

The word “chronicle” is defined in the dictionary as: “a factual written account of important or historical events in the order of their occurrence”. This chronicle has been written & compiled to permanently record the first 50 years of the ISIJ of Toronto. (Toronto Jamaat).

The idea of formally capturing our +50-year history came to me in September 2022, when as a Director of the Mulla Asghar Memorial Library & Islamic Resource Centre (MARC), I was curating an exhibit to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the arrival of Ugandan Asians in Canada. As some of you know, over 60,000 Asians were forcibly expelled from Uganda in August 1972 and re-settled in various parts of the world. As I researched the topic and questioned some people who had arrived here at that time, it struck me that the Toronto Jamaat has a very rich and remarkable history, which must never be forgotten.

Regardless of where in the world they had arrived from, our grandparents & parents came to Toronto to start their new lives and give us a better one. They established a Jamaat so that we, their families, could practice and maintain our faith and culture in the same way they had done. In that respect, their actions were no different to that of our ancestors in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when they crossed the Indian Ocean from India to East Africa seeking better lives. I concluded that it was important and fitting to record the events in our Jamaat’s 50+ year history, which with their foresight, courage and efforts our parents and grandparents experienced. I also realized that with the passing of time, some of the people who helped to establish our institution would no longer be around to share their memories with us, and that this information would potentially be lost forever.

On October 23rd, 2022, during the “Khoja Heritage Day” celebration at MARC, I discussed my idea with members of the Jamaat’s Board of Directors. They promised to give it due consideration. In February 2023, quite by coincidence, Sr. Shaheen Sajan called to tell me about her mother Zarinbai’s written memoir of her experiences in those early years. She asked if there were any plans afoot to document our Jamaat’s 50-year history. A month later I raised the topic again, this time with our Jamaat’s Vice President, Br. Mazahair Dhirani. I proposed that MARC and the ISIJ of Toronto collaborate on a joint-project to capture the first 50 years of the Jamaat’s history. A few weeks later he invited me to formally present the idea to the Board. They listened, approved and gave me access to the Jamaat’s archives and resources to conduct the necessary research.

I then recruited three professionals to help me: Shaheen Sajan, Shaukatbhai Moloo and Hasnain Davdani. Without a doubt I will remain in their debt for a long time. Thank you team!

Our “Chronicle 50” team began working on the project right away. We focused on capturing the key events and milestones in our community’s historical development and consciously chose not to make it a celebration of specific individuals. We also determined that the most practical platform for our work would be a website like this one. It would allow us to add or correct information easily and update content for accuracy. We welcome your feedback or any additional information about the contents which we may not have been made aware of. Please send your feedback or suggestions by email to: [email protected]

The Chronicle 50 team and I humbly present to YOU, the ISIJ of Toronto community, this chronicle, in the hope that its contents will serve as an example, inspiration and reference point for both the current and future generations of our community. We trust it will help them to understand the qualities it takes to establish an institution like ours that is so enduring and which serves so many. Qualities like faith, character, courage & resilience. The renowned German philosopher once wrote: –

Life can only be understood backwards;
but it must be lived forwards.
Søren Kierkegaard

In the last few pages, we reveal the hopes and aspirations for our Jamaat and community for the next 50 years. The quotes that you will read in that section are from a diverse group of community members, including some past leaders and younger people, male and female. We are sincerely grateful to them for their thoughts and contributions.

If we have inadvertently omitted an important event or milestone in the chronicle, please find it in your hearts to forgive us. If we have erred or caused any offence kindly pardon us. We apologize for any inaccuracies that you may note in the contents and commit to correcting them as soon as possible.

With Duas,

Shabbir Jaffer (Team Lead); Sr. Shaheen Sajan, Br. Shaukat Moloo, Br. Hasnain Davdani.


We wish to recognize and thank the past leaders of our community and other individuals whom we interviewed for the information they shared with us. They are: –

Murrabi Taki Jeraj Merali, Br. Bashir Versi, Br. Murtaza Alibhai, Br. Mohsin Kamalia, Br. Huseinali (Chacha) Paryani, Br. Hussein (Sukhi) Meghji, Br. Nazir Gulamhussein, Dr Ashiq Najarali, Br. Razak Damani, Nasimbai Esmail, Zarinabai Bharwani, Jamilabai Devji.

We acknowledge “The Legacy”, a book that the Jamaat published in 2009 as a helpful source of information. We also wish to thank the following community members who provided us with information, photos and other historical records to help us in the compilation of Chronicle 50: –

Zarinbai Sajan, Munira Fazel, Muntazir Jaffer (Director of Operations), Shabbir Jeraj, Shafiq Punjani, Arif Teja (MIC), Mohamed Moledina (RIC), Arif Datoo.

Thanks also to our Webmaster, Shahid Juma of ECNet Solutions for his assistance with creating and building this website with our content.

Thank you,

Shabbir Jaffer
Director, Mulla Asghar Memorial Library & Islamic Resource Centre (MARC)