NOVEMBER 3, 1986

Diwan Sir Eboo, President of the National Council, Members of the National Council, President of the Regional Council and generous donors, there was a moment this evening when I thought there was going to be a highly embarassing situation when the head table had been served and nobody else had been served! It looked to Me as though we were going to be eating lobster bisque and you would be eating bread and water! And I thought this would not be the right way for our Jamat to welcome our most generous donors.

Then earlier this evening I was struck by how quickly we are all affected by the culture we live in although it's not our own. Bahadur Hirji, you all know, was taking pictures and he kept on saying to My wife and Me "cheese" - in the end I said to him, at least if you had said "samosas" or "biriani", I would have recognised that he was conveying a message to Me.

Anyhow, I wanted to tell you that this began and has continued as a most happy evening for my wife and me; we have been happy that this has been our first visit to our Jamat around the world after My Silver Jubilee celebrations, and to be in the company of people who have supported our activities around the world with such magnificent generosity. And that really is the reason why I accepted to sing for dinner! I tried to find the word all through dinner that corresponds to the old Arab poets who used to chant "Qasidas", but I couldn't find it. But that's what I wanted to refer to myself as this evening, seeing, the President, without warning me, affectively told Me I had to sing for dinner. In any event I wanted you to know that I am most proud and most grateful on behalf of the Jamat worldwide and all those who benefit from our programs in various parts of the world for the extraordinary support which everyone here this evening has contributed to our Apex institutions and our various programs in the developing world.

It is my deep conviction that the building of strong institutions which are materially self-sufficient, that have the capability to renew themselves and to renew the people that work with them, that are capable of growing in their impact, of serving more and more people around the world, that is a fundamental policy which our Jamat and which the Imamat should follow. And this is the reason for which I have encouraged the Jamat in the last ten years to look to the future and try to build solid institutions capable of working internationally, capable of affecting peoples thinking on development problems, problems which affect every member of the Jamat in Asia and Africa but not only the Jamat, every one who lives in Asia and Africa. And many of you have come from that part of the world relatively recently and you know what those problems are, you have lived them, you have experienced them. In many ways you are fortunate because you are in this country, but that is not the good fortune of the totality of our Jamat and it is the Jamat's responsibility, My responsibility to do everything that can be done to assist, to contribute to an improvement of the working and living environment of our Jamat and the populations of those countries. And this is why I am so convinced that the building of solid institutions which can work internationally, which can support our jamat and the peoples in which the jamat lives are singularly important for the next decades ahead of us.

Through your generosity you have contributed to making these activities possible but more than that, to establishing their permanency, their ability to be based on sound foundations, to grow as Inshallah they will grow, to serve as Inshallah they will serve, and for this the Jamat world-wide and I as your Imam express our deepest gratitude to you.

I hope that these few words will have expressed to you the importance that I attach to this work and the gratitude, the admiration which I have for every spiritual child who has contributed to this work.

Thank you.

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