09/05/2019, 13.19
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Thousands of Shias gather in Colombo for the Dawoodi Bohra community’s annual conference

by Melani Manel Perera

Every year an international ten-day gathering is held during which Islamic clerics and religious leaders speak. In the first session, the 53rd al-Dai al-Mutlaq (religious leader) discussed the vices that corrupt the soul and damage society. Radical Buddhist monks opposed the conference.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Thousands of Muslims travelled to Colombo from all over the world to participate in the annual conference of the Dawoodi Bohra community, a Shia group, from 1 to 10 September.

Their presence however sparked the opposition of radical Buddhist monks, who wanted to organise a protest in front of the meeting venue. Police were deployed to protect the Muslims, with orders to disperse any riot.

The Ashara Mubaraka is the annual conference of the Shias who follow Ali ibn Abi Talib, the first Shia imam and son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad. During the ten-day gathering, the faithful heed preaching and sermons.

The Dawoodi Bohra have been present in Sri Lanka for 150 years, whilst their largest concentration is in India. The community has about 2,500 members on the island with four mosques: Jaffna peninsula, Galle, Pettah and Colombo 04.

The annual gathering has been held in Sri Lanka six times. This year, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, the community’s 53rd al-Dai al-Mutlaq (religious leader) decided that ethics and moral advice by the first imam to his son al-Hasan would be the main themes of the conference. The topic reflects a father's love for his child and the desire by the latter to be a righteous, honest and virtuous man.

The Islamic cleric held the first sermon in the Husaini mosque in Colombo 04, where radical Buddhist monks wanted to stage a protest. Addressing some 21,000 people, he discussed the dangers and the negative consequences of three vices: pride, anger and greed.

The imam warned the faithful to stay away from such threats, which can degrade the soul and cause harm to personal and societal growth and well-being.

The great international gathering also provided an opportunity to community members to re-evaluate and reconsider the values ​​of devotion to their faith and loyalty to the country.

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