For the next one week, Sohel Ajani will not be tuning in to the radio on his mobile phone while travelling to his office. Instead, he will listen to religious discourses stored in his phone’s memory card to commemorate Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar that began on November 27.
“It is not possible to attend live discourses organised at mosques owing to work commitments. The audio lectures on the phone are very moving as stories of human oppression and sacrifice are discussed in detail,” said Ajani, a member of Wahadat Foundation, a voluntary group of young Muslims, which digitises religious discourses for community members.
The foundation, formed in 2008, comprises 65 young Shia Muslims. “Initially, we distributed memory cards filled with data, but community members felt the information was limited due to space constraints,” said Shezanali Hemani, member of the foundation. “This year, we added CDs under the banner, ‘Islamic Data 2011’. The CDs contain powerpoint presentations, audio files and recorded footage of lectures of Islamic scholars in Saudi Arabia along with text documents explaining the significance of Muharram.”
Ajani said, “The CDs discuss contemporary world politics such as the Arab Spring, the Syrian conflict and stories of oppression around the world. By drawing parallels between the past and the present, we are trying to enlighten people.”
The group is also trying to reach out to the older lot using innovative techniques. “We distribute pamphlets to community members, discussing the contribution of the Prophet and other Muslim saints. We also organise group screenings of the video clips,” said Ajani.