Dr. Asgarali Moledina, past president of The World Federation, remembers former Africa Federation chairman Zulfikar Haiderali Khimji, who passed away 15 years ago this month.
Zulfikar Haiderali Khimji, born in Mombasa on January 4th 1950, passed away tragically in Nairobi on Sunday 18th July 2004 soon after he had begun his second term as AFED Chairman. He was the son of Haiderali Khimji and Nurbanu Khimji (d/o of Hassnali Pirbhai).
Dr. Moledina writes:
My personal reflections on the late past chairman (2001 – 2004) of Africa Federation, Zulfikar Haiderali Khimji
It was on that cold wintery gloomy dark evening of Sunday July 18th 2004 when I had just reached home from a tiring flight from Nairobi, that I received the sad news of the passing away of Zully (as we fondly called him from childhood). My wife’s face was grim but she ensured that I was settled and calm before breaking this tragic news.
The immediate information was that as he was pursuing a robber who had run away with his cellphone he collapsed and passed away. It was shocking as I had met him a few days earlier in Nairobi and he looked very fit and healthy. It was late at night but my first reaction was to call my travel agent and book a flight back to Nairobi, which I reached around Zohrain time.
I went straight to the mosque and the late Zully was already shrouded and prepared for the last leg of his journey back to his creator. Looking at the face of the deceased and recalling my days at medical school, I thought immediately of a typical textbook picture of strangulation. I called Ramzan Bhai Nanji, then the vice chairman of AFED and my dear friend, who confirmed my conclusion. It turned out that Zully had been strangled by street boys as he tried to reclaim his cellphone sim card.
Mourners from all communities
What a sad, sombre evening was Monday 19th July, as the funeral of this humble man was attended by thousands of respectful mourners from all communities. The next day at the Ziyarat majlis the mosque was full of people from members of all communities of Nairobi and from far and wide. Everyone paid glowing tribute to a life well led with purpose and vision, with so many missions accomplished.
Zully and I shared our childhood in Mombasa and he came from a very humble beginning. A self-made man initially selling different wares as a mobile hawker, he then started his first enterprise as MPPS (Mombasa Penny Profit Store). It has today grown ny leaps and bounds and is ably managed by his noble charitable son, Zaheer Abbas, our current chairman of Nairobi jamaat.
The late Zulfikar bhai encouraged young people of our community to pursue the path of entrepreneurship by accompanying them to trade fairs in China and India. He continuously spoke to the community of small-scale industries, small businesses and even arranged facilities for our youths to embark on these businesses. At the same time he focused on higher education opportunities for our high school graduates. This led to the posthumous establishment of ZAKMEF (Zulfikar Ali Khimji Memorial Education Fund established by Alhajj Ramzan Nanji) which today caters for the scholarships for our students.
He played a pivotal role in AFED’s Quran Competition, took the first AFED delegation to China for business and organised mountain-climbing expeditions.
At this juncture I want to share a personal story. Zully and I contested the post of chairman of AFED in 2004. I called him beforehand and discussed in detail my reasons for contesting for this position. We understood each other well and throughout the contest kept talking to each other, even though over-excited supporters on both sides were at times crossing the limit of decency.
During the campaign, while having finished my Arusha jamaat visit, I called him to inform him that I was driving to Nairobi to campaign on his home turf. He immediately offered to send a car to Namanga to pick me up at the border so we could have lunch together. We sat and discussed the vision for our community and agreed to continue with the contest in the most amicable way possible, despite attempts by supporters on both sides to turn the contest ugly. This was Zulfikar bhai, his humble approach and attitude.
Zully won the vote. In retrospect I am glad the won and passed away while still being the chairman of AFED and in service of the community for the pleasure of his creator. Immediately after the elections at the Triennial Africa Federation meeting in Nairobi in April or May 2004, which I attended as a councillor, the late Zulfikar bahi appointed me as the first chairman of Central Bilal Board.
I cherished this post and am ever grateful to him because it made me realise the great potential of tableegh work in East and central Africa. I was then called upon by the then chairman of AFED, Ramzan Bhai Nanji, to join the team as vice chairman, which I gladly did.
Remembering Marhum Zulfikar Haiderali Khimji in pictures:
Request for a Sura e Fateha for marhum Zulfikar Haiderali Khimji