London Jamaat owes a deep debt of Gratitude to Huseinbhai Dharamsi Gangji
He was ‘Bapa’ not just to Mohamedali, Muhsin, Jaffer and Akber and their sisters, but to many in London Jamaat. His very personality instinctively evoked the respect of a father because he touched so many in his special paternal manner, by his radiant presence in a quiet non-assuming yet so profound a demeanor. He was as engaging and witty as always, when I last saw him in Bhavnagar a few months ago, reading his Gujarati newspaper, checking out the cricket scores. He seemed so very refreshed and at peace sitting in his armchair just as I recalled seeing him many years ago counting sadaqa and nuzurat coins at the WF Secretariat in London.
The name ‘Stanmore’ has become synonymous with London Jamaat to day. Similarly the signposts on the journey of our Community has had numerous locations which, like Stanmore today, had become an identifier of London Jamaat. Before ‘Stanmore’ it was ‘Hammersmith’ and before (the formal inception of the Jamaat) there were various locations such ‘Kilburn’ , ‘Chatsworth Road’ etc. As the generation of students and young professionals of the 60s in London will recall, that along with Cumberland Place (East Africa House) and Barnet, (Jiwa Residence), the name Natal Road’ will remain forever etched in our memories. The warmth of the Dharamsi residence at 36 Natal Road, Bounds Green, was a palatial refuge for those of us living in cold lonely bedsitters shoving coins in the grey gas meters with a voracious appetite for pennies. Thankfully the doors were always open and the chai and ‘fatiya’ were indeed a treat at every majlis
The thousands who benefit from the outstanding services of London Jamaat today owe a deep debt of gratitude to Marhum Husainbhai Dharamsi Gangji because many of the founders and active workers, including all of his sons, who shaped the London Jamaat, were nurtured in their formative years, especially in the liberal sixties, directly or indirectly at Natal Road.
Bapa was one of a handful of elders who had the foresight to quietly and positively invest in education, not only in his own children, but in the youth of that generation. He led the way to emphasizing the value of higher education in the West, in an exemplary fashion. Education was his passion. As a historical note, it was in 1958 that he rebuilt the Faiz School building in Zanzibar – a place which has its own history. It was as early as the 1870s that the elders led by Dewji Jamal used to gather for religious services at the old school Faiz location when the Jamatkhana had become out of bounds to the dissident Khojas.
His loss is a loss to us all. The family lost a dearly loved father, grandfather, great grand father and a great great grandfather. The Community too has lost a great great elder who saw, participated in and experienced at first hand the evolution of this Community, especially the London Jamaat, spanning over five generations.
That truly is the legacy of Bapa as we all called him and really meant it.
We pray to the Almighty for his Maghferat and for a place in the close proximity of the Masoomin. Amin