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Zakat - the third pillar

Mindful of its obligations at the community level the Zakaat programmes continue to benefit persons at the Jamaat level. In the 1990's the need to expand such services as well as to address the needs of Poor relief and related areas, Drug rehabilitation, Counselling services and Clinic facilities and a Home for the Aged came sharply into focus. These facilities from humble beginnings at Montrose Mosque now to be found at the ASJA Islamic Community Services Home Aged in Longdenville.

Product certification has always been of concern to the ASJA because of the number of Muslims who patronize fast food outlets and those who purchase packaged meats and other products, including beverages. This is an ongoing process requiring constant vigilance. Clinics- the ASJA was able to establish two (2) medical clinics at Arima and Charlieville Mosques on a biweekly basis. Doctors continued to be sourced partly from the IDB student programme and other doctors who voluntarily gave their services. Due to lack of voluntary help at the Jamaat levels both facilities fell into disuse and had to be discontinued.

Hospitals and Medical Services Complex- The ASJA has plans in place to embark upon the construction of Hospital and Medical Services Complex to meet the healthcare needs of all who require such services.

Cultural and Social Activities

Hajj And Umra

The ASJA has been richly endowed over the years with activities which cater for the needs of the entire community with a multitude of functions at Jamaat, regional and national levels. Forty (40) years ago the ASJA organised its first Hajj trip in 1966 and this year's journey will reflect its milestone of service to the community as the only national organisation to do so. Figures have fluctuated over the years with the largest contingent being ninety-six (96) pilgrims which Insha Allah this year may be increased through heavy demands to well over one hundred (100). An Umra trip had already been organized for 2006 was been cancelled due to the Israeli – Lebanese conflagration.

National Eid Dinner

From the inception in 1967 at the inaugural Eid dinner at the Trinidad Hilton, the hosting of this auspicious occasion has continued on an annual basis so that we are now in our 39th year of celebrating Eid ul Fitr at the national level. Several Jamaats and Regional Councils have marked the occasion in a similar fashion as part of their religious and social interactions.

Festival of Eids

In 1994, the ASJA held its first Eid ul Fitr National Celebrations at Skinner Park, San Fernando with the name being changed, to accommodate both Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Adha, to the Festival of Eids, in 2004.

This occasion, which is juxtaposed between the two festivals, attracts a large cross section of the Muslin community as an all-day family event and, without doubt, the largest gathering of Muslims at any given point in time. Jamaats, Booth holders, Principals, teachers and students of our schools and members of the organisation and community interests all share in the day's activities in which items are provided for the oldest amongst us and games and services for youths and toddlers. This year a new dimension will be added to the celebrations to entertain the thousands that assemble for the event.

International Qaseeda Singing Competition

Within the last four years, Qaseeda singing competition has been revived, at an international level, with Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname being the main participants in different categories with both male and female contestants vying with each other for supremacy in songs of praise to Allah and Salaams on His Prophet (saw). Attractive cash prizes as well as special awards are given to the winners and participants.

This year [2006], a large contingent of participants is expected to participate from other visiting countries with ASJA as the host organisation in what promises to be a very exciting weekend at the end of August, being held on the 26th and 27th of August. Over three hundred (300) foreign guests and participants are expected to be hosted by ASJA some of whom will be accommodated at the Complex. Special dormitories are being constructed for this event, to house participants and guests alike, as well as to accommodate youth camps, which have been a regular annual feature of the Association's community-oriented programmes.

Indian Arrival Day Celebrations

To mark the 160th anniversary of our ancestors who emigrated from India under the indenture ship programme, the ASJA for the first time last year, decided to commemorate the event with an awards ceremony and cultural and social activities and parade of schools.

This year, with added impetus of last year's success, the second annual celebrations occupied two days with an eat-out dinner, singing of songs and fireworks on the 29th May, preceding the main celebrations on the 30th. This was an all-day event with participation from schools, colleges, Jamaats and stakeholders and members of the community. The Eat out dinner was a welcome change with over two thousand persons in attendance in a garden setting with their families and friends. The actual holiday was marked by a street procession of schools with speeches, Qaseedas and an awards ceremony forming part of the official programme followed by a cultural programme later in the afternoon. Children and even adults availed themselves of the opportunity to have some fun on the chair plane which was provided free of charge.

Our 70th Anniversary Celebrations

Having attained our 70th year in existence and several activities being prioritized to meet regular commitments, it was decided to celebrate our 70th anniversary at theend of August when our visitors to our Qaseeda competition will be present. A Khatam ul Quran service will precede the celebrations, Insha Allah, which will include an Awards ceremony and other formalities befitting the occasion.

Conferences and Other Observances

Inter Religious Organisation In the year 1970, at a conference of religious organisations in the country, the Inter-Religious Organisation, [IRO], was formed with the ASJA's representative, Dr. Wahid Ali, being elected as the first President of this body. As a founding member, the ASJA maintains linkages at this level participating in discussions and decisions-making processes working together for the betterment of the society.

The Organisation, ASJA, also held conferences at different levels, the last being Vision 2006 with a focus on future development. Conferences of Teachers have also been an on going event in the education system which has the potential for becoming an annual event on the educational landscape. In the same vein, the celebration of Meelad un Nabi continues to be a national event and was celebrated this year with a massive rally for school children where more than three thousand (3,000) students and staff members attended.

Welfare Services

Around the year 1955 the ASJA was responsible for successfully arranging legal representations for twenty four (24) seamen (Lascars) who were charged with mutiny aboard ship. A Pakistani seaman was also charged for murder. They were all repatriated after due process with the ASJA providing for their needs in the interim.

In the 1950's and 1960's the war between rival factions of the Madinga Tigers in Biche became unbearable for the Police Services, residents and families of victims of a family feud that could not be contained.

With the help of the ASJA the matter was eventually brought under control to everyone's relief and peace restored to the village.

The Social Relief Net

From as far back as the 1940's the ASJA has been involved in assisting financially in the area of natural disasters whether at the local or international levels. Severe drought at that time in India was so overwhelming that it became a matter of international concern and the ASJA contributed significantly to the Indian Famine relief Fund.

The ASJA also contributed heavily to the earthquake victims in Pakistan in the late 1970's and also later the earthquake of Iran both of which claimed thousands of lives and left thousands homeless. Within more recent times the ASJA Disaster Relief Fund has been able to bring relief to millions who have been displaced through the Tsunami Disaster in South East Asia and more so in Indonesia. Contributions have also been made to help in assisting victims of the Earthquake Disaster in Pakistan last year.