Ashara Mubaraka London Blog Article by Yusuf Zakir (Orange County, California)
I have a 13-year old daughter and a 10-year old son. They were born and raised in California — nearly as far as you can get from the central headquarters of the Dawoodi Bohras in Mumbai.
As parents, we always want our children to be learning, whenever and wherever possible and we want to learn with them. Throughout the year, we find as many learning opportunities as we can, whether that is around the kitchen table, on the sports field, or at our place of worship. We want them to be guided by principles that will help them live an honorable, productive, and kind life.
But, life moves fast. Like most parents raising young children, we get caught up in keeping up and we sometimes lose out on opportunities to teach and to learn. In this fast-moving and ever-changing world, Ashara Mubaraka is a constant. It is an opportunity for us to pause, to reflect, to think. It is a chance for us to set an emotional and philosophical trajectory for the year; a chance to truly learn the best way to live.
We seek to attend Ashara every year with His Holiness, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin. Due to the pandemic, we had not had the chance to attend for several years. When His Holiness announced that he would conduct this year’s Ashara Mubaraka sermons in London, it was a new opportunity for us to continue learning in a country that is much like the one where our children have been raised.
In the span of 10 days, we did a year’s worth of learning. His Holiness offered teachings on a breadth of issues, including hope, generosity, humility, kindness, and patience. Following each waaz (sermon) delivered by His Holiness, we sat with our children to unpack the teachings we had received. We shared our reflections on the principles we learned; the historical narratives demonstrating those principles that His Holiness shared with us; and how those principles could be applied in our daily lives.
For example, during one sermon, His Holiness encouraged us, the Dawoodi Bohra community, to contribute positively to the countries we live in as proud and faithful citizens. He specifically addressed those of us living in the UK and North America and urged us to be exemplary members of society. Inspired by these teachings, our children pledged to do the following: Upon returning from Ashara, when they would start their new school year, they decided, with the help of their school, to give back to those communities in need, including children who may not have access to food or education. My children also pledged to help elderly neighbors with small tasks, such as taking out the trash or mowing the lawn — small acts that would make a big difference in the lives of the elderly.
During another sermon, His Holiness explained the concepts of doubt, conviction and perseverance and how we should believe in ourselves. My wife and I both work in very different roles — I lead diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at a law firm and she runs a business in the construction industry. The commonality in our work is that we are working to blaze trails every day. And every day, we are filled with self-doubt — doubt that we are good enough, smart enough, skilled enough. His Holiness reminded us that we are not alone. He encouraged us to engage in some gracious self-reflection and to be kind to ourselves.
These are ideas that we are unprepared to learn on our own. Rather, the counsel and guidance of His Holiness creates these opportunities for learning and fosters inspiration for our community. It drives us to want to perfect our lives.