Los Angeles Hosts Scholar Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
By Amjad Khokhar
All US visits are not created equal. Definitely, not the most recent one, that we were fortunate enough to be a part of. This visit was incomparable and quite historic. Like all charismatic figures, his presence crystallized scattered Muslim Angelinos of Indo/Pak descent and attracted an impressive crowd well over 400 participants to a beautiful venue in Orange County. More could have shown up if word had gotten out sooner and farther with more media projection, but nevertheless a good size majority did show up to listen directly from the world-renowned scholar, Ustaz Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, on his maiden North American tour of Canada and USA. Los Angeles city was the last venue at the end of the month-long tour of cities, such as Toronto, NYC, DC, Miami, Dallas, and San Francisco, climaxing in Los Angeles.
Al-Mawrid USA, a new organization, based in Orlando, Florida organized this tour. It is a foundation for Islamic Research and Education. As a legatee of the rich intellectual tradition in Muslim history, al-Mawrid is a unique institution of learning. A deep concern over the dearth of suitable approaches to Islamic learning in our times gave birth to this institution. Lost in the maze of sectarian prejudices and political wrangling, the true message of Islam, based on the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah, has become alien to the Muslims.
One of the trustees and an organizer is based here in California – Mohammad Arif Munif, who along with other local volunteers (Idris Mohsin, Jawad Hafeez, Salman Siddiqi, and Amjad Khokhar, among others) made arrangements for the Sunday – June 14 th event in the elegant Titan Student pavilion, that is a part of California State University Fullerton, a central city of beautiful Orange County in Southern California. The Muslim and Pakistani students and alumni of CSUF had a tradition of hosting and arranging remarkable events, and this one added to that long list.
The evening started promptly at 6 pm as advertised, which has been a lifelong practice of Ustaz Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, to be extremely punctual with all activities associated with his name, a definite lesson for every practicing Muslim living here in southern California and everywhere.
With brief introductory remarks by California organizer Mr Arif Munif, he quickly handed the proceedings to Dr.Aamer Abdullah, who was the co-host at the stage sitting next to Mr Ghamidi. Without going into any other lengthy remarks, Dr Abdullah started with the first question posed by the audience, handed to him by the volunteers working the crowd, Ustaz Javed Ahmad Ghamidi with his trademark soft eloquence started speaking, and the whole auditorium started feeling the energy and the confidence in his voice that only comes after a life spent doing research of the Holy Qur'an and other Islamic principles. The evening went on with the remarkable Q&A session, punctuated with occasional smiles and laughters from the audience to the quick wit of Mr Ghamidi. The questions ranged from monthly mortgage payments made to the US banks, to Halal foods here in US, to Zakat and Taxes collected here, to raising our children in the US, and the matrimony affairs between a husband and a wife. A professional audio video team was capturing every moment of the evening, and a big part of the entire video of the Los Angles event will be made public at the website page of http://almawridus.org and also on http://www.javedahmadghamidi.com/videos/category/cat/english-videos
At the break of Maghrib prayer, the formal event ended. After the Maghrib payer, the participants gathered around Mr Ghamidi and to the surprise of everyone present, with his great humbleness and people-friendly demeanour, he obliged to everyone’s request for the autographs and group pictures taken with him.
All I could see around me was smartphone cameras flashing and smiles so wide on everyone’s face that I haven’t seen for a long, long time. True happiness and genuine respect and admiration was all too evident in and around that circle of tremendous activity, and I kept hearing around me about how far people had travelled today just to be here to listen to him live, and just maybe get close enough to him and shake his hand. Families drove from as far as Las Vegas, Nevada, and Modesto, California, easily a five-hour drive one-way.
I don’t know about you, but I am not sure if any other popular figure today commands that much widespread respect for a 68-year-old religious scholar from a land where there are thousands of other religious scholars, that can attract people from that far, willingly drive long distances, for an evening of a short two-hour session. Quite charismatic, I must confess.