A letter from Sayyed Ali Khamenei landed in the hands of residents of Mumbai. People living in a suburban region of the city of Mumbai, the financial hub of India, experienced this rather bizarre occurrence recently. They found a letter inserted along with copies of their morning newspapers. The letter was from a sender they would have never expected, the spiritual head and supreme leader of Iran, Sayyed Ali Khamenei. The letter which was originally from an Islamic group operating locally had multiple quotes from the supreme leader of Iran. The subject matter of the letter was in response to the terrorist attack in January 2015 on Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine.
According to the letter from Khamenei, the world needs to be enlightened about the fake rumors and propaganda run by the Western countries against Islam. The letter urges people not to distort facts and to not be biased against Islam. It suggests that they should read the Holy Quran and understand the faith by themselves instead of going by what is being projected by media around the world.
The letter refers to Khamenei stating that the event which took place in Paris has forced him to communicate with people directly. It goes on to state that a lot of effort is being made to demonize Islam as well as its followers. Further, the letter reads that people should gain information and knowledge about the foundation and history of Islam from its ancient scriptures and books. Khamenei encourages people to read and learn about the Prophet Mohammad’s life through the Holy Quran.
The letter says that Khamenei is directly addressing the young people as they control the future of their country. Khamenei then asks why the people in the Western world realize their mistakes after hundreds of years. The organization which undertook distribution of this letter is a Shia Islamic body from suburban Mumbai. Close to 100,000 copies of the letter from Khamenei were circulated in various parts of the city in English and Urdu languages.
The association is an unofficial group of around 20 businessmen who are residents of localities where this letter was circulated. They often get together for their prayers at a local mosque known as Zaib Palace which is also called Mehfil-e-Saani-e-Zahra(SA). The group’s members include an owner of a cable television channel, a tire franchise owner, and a manager of a business with subsidiaries in the Middle East and India. They came together as they are all followers of Imam Sayyed Mohammad Fayyaz Baqir. They also ran an online campaign for Khamenei’s #Letter4U that went viral January 22.
Zaffer Mohamed, an owner of a web hosting organization, said that ever since the arrival of the imam around six years ago, their group has started undertaking various projects for social welfare like renovating local hospitals. The group informed that response to their initiative of the letter from Khamenei has been a mixed one. Readers of the letter asked the group to understand and evaluate why there is a negative perception in the minds of people regarding Islam today. It would be interesting to see how the group gathers resources and responds to other requests like copies of the Holy Quran to be sent. The letter from Khamenei which reached India started an open conversation and has definitely gathered a lot more momentum.
By Ankur Sinha