Sunni Community of Zahedan

Sunni Community of Zahedan
zahedanGeographical location of Zahedan: Zahedan is the capital of “Sistan & Baluchistan” province. It is situated in the south east of Iran and in the north of Baluchistan, near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, as the distance between Zahedan and the Pakistani border is 22 km. Zahedan is one of the crowded Iranian cities with a great population which is increasing day by day. According to the official census which was taken in 2007 the population of Zahedan were 800,460 people. After three years it seems more numerous than that time.

The population of Baluchi Sunnis is more than seventy percent (70%) of this number.
The weather in this city is as it occurs in desert regions, dry, hot, where rainfall is scarce, and the temperature ranges is between 42/5 and 12/6- degrees Celsius.

A Glimpse to the Zahedan History:
The city of Zahedan is known today the center of the province “Sistan and Baluchistan” it is one of the new fecundated cities, but highly it has grown up and the prosperity also has been gifted to Zahedan in the present era. If we search the history of this region all we find in this short, that surrounding areas and villages which became today one of the city’s suburbs.
In the Qajaar era it was the land that flourished with desert trees that became the city of Zahedan after that, and there was a fount which was missing once and appeared again. So that Baloch passerby tribes named it “Dozzap” which means “thief of water”.
After this one of the local populations “Murad” a Baluch resident dug a canal in 1898 in this area and began farming over there, he founded a zahedan-mapsmall village which was called “Dozzap”.
The location of this village in the trade corridor is between Iran and colonial India made the eyes of the central rulers of Tehran extended to this village and area where they saw many dreams for them to occupy it and extend their control to “Dozzap” and neighboring areas except all the regions of Balochistan. The government of Tehran sent the first convoy of Belgian experts in 1902 to study this bordering region geographically and strategically. So the central government of Iran built the first Department of Customs on the border near “Dozzap.”
There is no doubt that the village has advanced and developed after building the customs office, especially the arrival of a large number of workers and income earners and traders to Dozzap, then the management activities were more established by the state so the number of new tribes and clans increased who preferred to live with the new concerns and stability in the village.
The importance of Dozzap increased strategically during World Wars as well as the signs of culture and civilization became visible when the railway track was designed between “Quetta” (the capital of Baluchistan, Pakistan) and Zahedan by the English colonists.
When the kingdom of “Qaajar” was removed and “Pahlavi” family became the new rulers in Iran which was a client state of Britain, those learned from their Briton masters the importance of Balochistan. Reza Shah Pahlavi had assaulted on Baluchistan in 1928 as the region completely occupied by the military strength and force, Rezakhan’s forces attacked the tribes and clans those had been addressed earlier in the First World War for British forces in the region and defeated them by the simplest weapons. The king of Iran settled a group of army in the region following the order of the British, that group of army got the governance and leadership of Baluchistan till the matters of the region delegated to the officials from the ministry, and rename the village “Dozdab” to “Zahedan” (meaning the city of ascetics), in 1935.

Baloch Tribes in “Zahedan” and Their Struggle against the English Colonialists:
During the outbreak of World War in 1916 the English colonists Forces entered in Balochistan, they start their work with the territory of Baluchistan, they were confronted by tribe “YarAhmad Zai” and “Gamshadzahi” in the central areas of the province who carried out to the occupiers, while in the northern areas of Baluchistan; “Jumah Khan”, tribal leader of “Ismail Zai” with his tribe overcame them. “Jumah Khan” called all the tribes and Baluchs who lived at that time in this region to form a united front and to start closing ranks against the forces of foreigners in Balochistan, the first confrontation and armed clash between the popular armed resistance of “Jumah Khan Ismail Zai” and British army was taken place in “Guristani”, near Zahedan which was in fact the first armed resistance on the level of Iran in the whole era of the British occupation of this country. In that fighting between the Baluch mujahideen and the British colonialists, eighteen members of “Ismail Zai” tribe and a number of other clans were martyred, about seventy-five British soldiers were also killed in that clash. Since that time the attacks against British forces persisted which settled in these areas. baloch-balochistan
Even though Baluchs were struggling by their weapons, meanwhile the British forces preferred to remain in Baluchistan and lent hand of peace towards “Jumah Khan” and “General Dyer”, the commander of British forces asked peace and affection from “Jumah Khan”. Jumah Khan replayed him with Persian Poetry:
پدر کشتی وتخم کین کاشتی            پدر کشته را کی بود آشتی                          
It means: “You have killed fathers and seeded the semen of enmity; how a person can do reconciliation with the killer of his father?”
Thus Jumaa Khan rejected the British proposal of cease-fire. Subsequently other communities of Baluch tribes continued their resistance against the occupiers. When the British occupiers realized that they are not capable to face such resistance so they used their last plan for suppression of this resistance movement. As they told the central government in Tehran that this movement in Balochistan is a revolt against the central state, so the client state of Englishmen sent army to Balochistan which suppressed the people of Iran to serve its master a useless service. The central government also sentenced Baluch tribes to deportation and exiled the heads of tribes who were fighting against the occupation forces to other parts of the country until the departure of the colonialists and changing of the government in the capital. (Quoted from “The History of Baluchs and Balochestan”, in Persian).

Characteristics of the People of Zahedan:
1: Dignity and Pride:
The major part of Zahedan population is Sunni Baluchs; it is worthy in this section to study slightly some of the exclusivities and features of the zahidan inhabitants, the most important feature of Sunni Baluchs is to live with love of dignity and pride.
Among the most prominent features and characteristics which have been characterized by the Baluchi tribes, in past and present is their agonistic and braveness. The Persian poet Ferdowsi described their heroic in his words:
سپاهي زگردان كوچ و بلوچ            سگاليده جنگ مانند قوچ
كه كس در جهان پشت ايشان نديد        برهنه يك انگشت ايشان نديد
(An army of the Kouch and Baluchis prepared, who have been trained to fight and struggle like sheep.
None has seen in the world their backs; no one has seen a finger of them naked).
2: Simplicity in life: It is another characteristic of the Baluch people, especially the Baluchs of Zahedan, they prefer simpler types of living and you can not find the rich disdain to the life of poor, nor the poor people are greed to live like riches; they do not compete among them as we observe it in the lives of most of the rich people, as well as you do not see the poor’s cold heartbreak which you see from the poor of some other regions, perhaps this capacity and custom suspended from the teachings of Islam, which is in full compliance with this perfect religion. The Baluchs of Zahedan are very bound to good morals and offering, they offer prayers on time; with the keen interest they perform the Friday prayer coming from the remotest villages which amazed people. Paying Zakat and having fasting in the hottest days of the year is their special part of lives, and traveling for the pilgrimage as well as other good activities are the most important features of the Sunnis in Balochistan in general and Zahedan in particular.

Institutes and religious schools of Zahedan:
Due to bad status of the educational institutes and public schools and lack of key requirements of Sunnis ideological studies, it was much need to establish such centers and institutions which contain all the dimension of religious teachings of the holy Qur’an and Sunnah, these centers are known in Baluchistan as “Deeni Madrasa”, have enjoyed a great status, sanctity and importance among the Baluch people. One of the most prominent Universities is Darululoom Zahedan.

Jamia Darululoom Zahedan:
This great institution was founded by the great scholar late Shaikh Abdul Azeez (Almighty Allah’s mercy on him) on the bases of righteousness and daar3piety (we believe as well). Now it is the largest Islamic educational center of Sunnis in Iran.
Since the first day of its foundation Darululoom Zahedan has been playing a great role in Islamic education and leadership of Sunnis in Iran, where a large group of scholars and muftis and preachers were provided by this great Islamic centre in its short history. Darululoom has established preaching mission programs and other productive activities as well as short and long term educational courses. [For further information visit Darululoom Zahedan]
Some of the famous Sunni schools: “Ishaa’t-ut-Tawheed” Zahedan supervised by “Shaikh Muhammad Shah Bakhsh”, “Hammadiya Jam-e-Jam,” “Qasim-ul-Uloom”, “Tarteel-ul-Quraan”, “School of Maulana Abdul Aziz”, “Khair-ul-Madaris”, “Badr-ul-Uloom” and “Farooqia”, Tajweed-ul-Quraan”, “Madrasat-ut-Tawheed” and “Nusrat-ul-Uloom.”

Mosques of Zahedan:
Zahedan is known as a city where the most of the mosques are located not only in the province but around the country Iran, the number of mosques is about 300 masaajid, 18 of them are grand (jame’a). The most prominent mosque is Makki masjid of Zahedan
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“Masjid Makki” Zahedan, the Largest Mosque of the Sunnis in Iran:
The mosque which is located in Zahedan in the center of Baluchistan, the southeast of Tehran, contains the area of 50,000 square meters. Shaikh makki3Abdul Aziz (Allah’s mercy on him) founded this mosque in 1392 H.Q on the basis of piety and devotion (we think as well) and the building of this mosque was a points of change and upheaval in the lives of the people of this country, as it became the learning centre and school for the people, as well as a source of rehabilitation and guidance, After the death of Shaikh Abdul Aziz (may God mercy on him) Mawlana Abdul Hameed (may God protect him) took the responsibility of Jamia Darululoom Zahedan and Grand Makki Masjid. Shaikh-ul-Islam Mawlana Abdul Hameed tried his maximum efforts until he achieved success in maintaining peace and ceasing bloody clashes grinding between the communities and tribes.
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Markets of Zahedan:
There are many markets in Zahedan, and the most famous of these markets: BAZAR: which is located in the three streets in the center of Zahedan, Amirulmumeneen road, Shariati road and Beheshti road, this market known as “Bazaar”.
Old clothes’ market: old clothes market or market of “Salman Zadeh” displaying the old and used clothes. This shopping center has been exposed twice to fire by the sectarian rioters in the city, once in the current year where the whole center was burned at night. Once in the past year as well bazarwhere the Shiite rioters did not succeed to burn it entirely.
Chahar-rah Rasouli Market: it is the most famous market in the province because of sales imported from neighboring countries, especially textiles and cloths.
Friday Market: It is a large place in the western area of Zahedan at the end of Fazeli Avenue, which provides various types of goods for sale on Friday. There are other markets in the city such as “Mushtarak Market”, the market frequently is situated in poor neighborhoods areas, and the characteristics of these markets as they offer sales on the margins of the streets and small rooms built of iron. Fruits, vegetables, food sales extra are available in such markets; the most notable joined market in Zahedan is “the Common Market”, Bazare Mushtarak that is located at Kosar square, Bazare Mushtarak in Sherabad town of Zahedan.

Hospitals:
There are several hospitals in Zahedan, the largest hospital is “Ali bin Abi Talib Hospital”, which was inaugurated few years ago, then the hospital of “Khatam-ul-Anbya,” which unveiled in 1971; it is also a major hospital offering the services of a variety of medical.
“Tameen Ejtumaee” hospital founded in 1996 and this hospital is also wider and larger, here the service is better than other hospitals in the city.
There are some other hospitals like “Nabi Akram”, “Bou Ali”, “Ali Asghar” and “Zahra hospital for eye diseases”. “Rawanpezeshki Hospital” that was opened in 1996 for the treatment of psyche diseases.
All of the mentioned above hospitals take much money for treatment, and it is cheaper for patients who have insurance cards, and this idea prompted the Administration of Jamia Darululoom Zahedan to establish a medical centre; as “Medical Centre of Umm-ul-Mumenin Khadijat-ul-Kubra” came to existence by the help of benevolent people to provide medical services and treatment to poor people of the city, and addresses the vulnerable public at a low price.
And plan of work in this Medical Center is rotated by the specialist doctor’s hour wise in a day. The medicines are provided by some of the clinics of Zahedan city.
The administration hopes and seeks to extend the Medical Center to a large hospital significantly in the future if the government agrees and financial circumstances help.

Educational Level in Zahedan:
There are two types of education in Balochistan Provence; the first is traditional education, this type of education is the study of Islamic sciences and study of ancient texts such as Tafseer, Hadeeth, Fiqh and other subjects. These schools have there own programs and courses, they depend in their expenditures on financial aid provided by common people.   
The second type of education in Zahedan, as well as in the other towns of the province Sistan and Baluchistan is public education which includes pre-university, four key stages as follows:
1- Kindergarten: It represents the pre-primary stage, starting from five year of age and ends within one year.
2- Primary: five-year term.
3- Intermediate Level: Also called phase of the guidelines and it continues three years.
4- Secondary: It is four years.
Then for higher education varies in different universities with diversity of the branches.
The Problem in education field in Zahedan and other cities of Baluchistan is the bad situation of public education. The province is one of the underprivileged areas in terms of education, some officials have announced to combat illiteracy many times, but concerned officials and the heads of education ministry and representatives of the Council (Parliament) did not raise their voice to solve the matter.
According to unofficial statistics, 32% of the population of this province is illiterate; to understand this issue considerate that a quarter of the population professed conservative. In 2008-2009, 77 thousand students failed in the final exams in government schools, it is the largest percentage of failure in public schools comparing with all other provinces. Look http://www.niazerooz.com

Muhseneen Charitable Foundation of Zahedan:
It was established some years ago by the help of some philanthropists, traders and the city elders, this charitable organization works under the auspices of the Department of Darululoom Zahedan. It targets the following issues:
1- To support orphans, widows and poor Muslims.
2- To help students to continue their graduate studies in Islamic sciences.
3- To help imams, preachers and needy teachers of Qur’anic schools and religious coaching centers.
4- To establish vocational centers for the training of different professions of sewing, weaving and computer skills.
5- To establish kindergarten schools to educate children of the Muslims on the correct approach.
6- To establish of centers and hospitals for the treatment of young people living with addiction to drugs.

Azizi Fund for Good Loans:
It is an official institution and registered by the Government, it was founded in 2000 supervised by the administration of Darululoom Zahedan. The main objective of this fund is to find out solidarity and financial support for the fulfillment of educational and social objectives for scholars and students, preachers and general public on interest-free loans.
This kind of fund has is being given by the cooperation of a group of benevolent people in Zahedan, and its policy is to conduct approved loans of Islamic law, it does not take profit from the buyer or borrower ever, and gets its expenses by the help of benevolent.
In this short period, it has conducted thousands of easy payment of the loan amounts of different purposes such as: further studies, marriage and housing, treatment and other needs.
The administration seeks and hopes to obtain approval from the government for development of this fund, and developed it into a financial institution like banks.

Poor Areas in Zahedan:
shirabad There are many poor and ancient areas in Zahedan. The most important districts of Zahedan, the old one of the poorest town of the city is “SherAbad”, “KarimAbad”, “Jam-e-Jam”, “Muradkuli”, “Jaada Qadeem”, “Karkhana Namak”. These areas made the structure of old towns of the city. The most of residents of these areas are Sunnis characterized by narrow streets or lanes and houses are close together, full of dirt and you would feel that you have gone to a historical place.

Islamic Educational Centers of Females in Zahedan:
It is obvious that women can play an important role to reform the society on the Islamic teachings, if we pay a special attention to their education and excellent brought up in the light of Islamic teachings. Having in minds such ideas many preachers and the elders of this nation shown their keen interest to establish special academic centers for women which calls “Maktab” in the local language.
The number of such schools has gone up to forty maktabs significantly, while there are several small centers in many different aspects of the city.
The most prominent academic centers is “School of Sayyeda Ayisha” (Allah be pleased with her), the School of “Umme Salamah” and the school of Haji Abdul Haq.
These schools have special education programs; the duration of their educational system is not more than five years. Students learn during these years Sharia knowledge from the Qur’an and Sunnah and the interpretation of Qur’an and jurisprudence as well as Arabic language.

The Center of Tablighi Jamaa’t (preaching center):
There is a wide activity of Tablighi Jama’t in different areas of Balochistan to educate the people and invite them to wards the pure monotheism, the dissemination of Sunnah and to reject heresies, it has centers almost in all cities of Sunnis in Iran in general and Balochistan in particular, but the headquarter of the organization is in Zahedan located with Tawhid Masjid in west of Sa’di Street. The Supervisory Board is composed of the top scholars and activists of this center.

Celebrations of the Sunnis in Zahedan:
eid-mosallaThe Sunnis celebrate two Eids only; Eid al-Fitr, which is the first Islamic holiday and the first day of Shawwal month after Ramadan al-mubarak. The feast continues for three days. The day of Eid is a day of joy and pleasure in Zahedan. Early in the morning of Eid after sunrise First of all Sunnis walked towards the special place of Eid prayers which are called [Eidgah]. They exchange these pleasures with their relatives and friends also neighbors and poor people at the feast and exchange greetings on Eid day. This is known as relevance of the uterus.
As well as celebrating the Eid al-Adha, which marks the tenth of Dhul-Hijjah (an Islamic month); the Islamic world celebrates this occasion throughout the world. And celebrations of Eid al-Adha begin to perform the Eid prayer on the first morning of the feast. After prayers Muslims return to their homes in order to perform sacrifices by slaughtering goats, a cow etc as Almighty Allah has ordered us: “We bestowed you [oh Muhammad!] The Kawthar (Abundance), so offer Salat for your Lord and sacrifice.”
It has been the custom among the Baluch, like other Muslims and the Islamic nation to visit their relatives and exchange congratulatory words on the blessing of holiday.

Meetings and religious gatherings:
The annual ceremony on the occasion of honoring graduates of Darululoom Zahedan:
About 20 years ago in 1411 H.Q the first group of students graduated from Darululoom Zahedan, a ceremony was held to honor them after Friday prayers.
It has been practicing from immemorial time in the Islamic schools and institutes of the sub-continent Hindi that the school year ends with the reading of the last Hadeeth from the great book “Sahih Bukhari”. khatm-bukhari
The management of Darululoom from many years catered to hold a ceremony honoring the graduate students in Makki Masjid at Darululoom’s main campus. This ceremony has become the largest gathering of the Iran’s Sunnis and on this occasion the school year also ends.
Due to huge presence of coming people from outside of Zahedan, it was decided to extend this blessed event for two days and several groups and delegations from public and scholars from all provinces of Iran take part in the ceremony, they get the benefits of the reformative sermons and speeches.
The administration of “Khatm-e-Bukhari” hosts more than thirty thousand guests attending the annual ceremony by the help of Zahedani people. The administration also seeks to invite some of the great scholars and leaders from outside of Iran to see the close relationship of friendship between members of the Sunni community and the country’s population. It was noted that this event has affected the very educate students, scholars and reform of the younger generation and broadcast the Islamic spirit in the community.
Due to the large number of participants and guests it was decided to move the ceremony to Eidgah from the mosque, near Darululoom Zahedan.
And another meeting that held each year in Zahedan is the meeting of the heads of religious schools in Balochistan. These meetings of heads of religious schools (Madaaris) of Balochistan held three times, each time held in a member school at new school year.
As well as the annual ceremony of university students from various universities of various provinces of Iran, These meetings that are held in Zahedan aimed to guide this generation of Sunnis’ sons.
The meeting of tribal chiefs held also in emergency situations in Darululoom Zahedan.

Eminent Persons in Zahedan:
Shaikh Abdul Aziz Mullazadeh (God’s mercy on him), Qadhi Shah Mohammed, Qadhi Khair Mohammad, Shaikh Abdul Ghafoor, Shaikh Nour Muhammed and Shaikh Ne’matullah are the most prominent scholars and personalities who have passed away after being made a great effort in service and raise the banner of Islam in this city.
The city still follows the line of them step by step towards Islamic civilization and anti-innovation, rejection of superstition and avoiding sins by the struggle of great figures of respected scholars such as the Grand Shaikh Abdul Hameed (may God protect him), imam and preacher of Friday prayers for Sunnis in Zahedan, Shaikh Ahmed Narui, Shaikh Mufti Muhammad Qasim Qasemi, Shaikh Abdul Ghani and a large group of eminent scholars engaged in different Islamic schools, may God reward all of them.

Economical Status of Sunnis in Zahedan:
Despite the strategic geographical location of Zahedan and economical importance of Zahedan, it has been remained since it’s founding almost one of the poorest cities in Iran, where it is being neglected deliberately. Although the Baluchs contributed like other Iranian people to drop the Pahlavi regime, but despite the passage of nearly three decades of the victory of the Revolution the manifestations of poverty, underdevelopment and unemployment remained seeming that dominate the interface in Zahedan and other cities of Balochistan, in spite of some reconstruction projects in this area.
Any visitor coming from different areas to Zahedan would note the bad condition of poverty and poor living situation experienced by the inhabitants of these towns, where many people suffer from lack of foods and short of some other basic needs of life.
The other problem faced by residents of this border is drug mafia. Zahedan situated on Iran-Pakistan-Afghan borders, which is surrounded with tall mountains from the east and north corridor and has become fertile ground for the drug mafia, which is managed under the auspices of regional organizations for a long time ago and has increased in recent years badly.
Meanwhile forceful closure of the adjoined border causes to stop trade and exchange of goods from one side to another side of these areas. The frontiersmen suffer from real problems as the government oppressed them by the pretext of combating evil forces and terrorism, these limitations and prohibitions can be crossed only by rich and powerful persons in government circles.

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