The Director of the SSIS is Al-Haj Maulana Zafar Abbas Malik. Below is a brief summary of the wealth of experience that he holds in teaching and religious service:
Al-Haj Maulana Zafar Abbas began his religious studies in 1959 in Pakistan, after completing school, and continued until 1969. In 1969, he started teaching at the Howza in Lahore.
In 1974, he travelled to East Africa, residing mostly in Mombasa, Kenya. Apart from undertaking the religious services of the local Shia community, he engaged in tableegh work with the Bilal Muslim Mission amongst the native Africans. As Chief Missionary of Kenya, his work resulted in the conversion of thousands of natives into the folds of the true faith of Islam. The tableegh work also included the teaching of the Shia faith to the Sunni Muslim scholars, some of whom fully converted to the Shia faith and pursued further Islamic studies in Qum before returning to their communities as religious scholars and preachers.
In 1979, he returned to Pakistan. While he was there he was engaged with the Bilal Trust in Karachi, and was involved in setting the courses of many madressas in Karachi. He also established a specialised course in rural Sindh to produce resident imams for the Sindh province.
In 1981, he travelled to Birmingham, UK, and was the resident alim of the Khoja community there for a few years. In 1984, he was invited by the World Federation of Khoja Shia Ithna-Ashari Muslim Communities to form the first Islamic studies Howza in the UK, Madrasatus-Sayed-al-Khoei. He was the principal and taught there for many years with commitment, while also undertaking his duties as the resident alim of the Hussaini Islamic Centre, Stanmore. He continued to teach in the Howza, which subsequently changed its name to Jami'atul-Qaa'im, until 2001.
Many Shia Muslims from the Indian Subcontinent had migrated and were migrating to the UK, and the scholars saw a need for a united source of guidance for this community.
Thus, Al-Haj Maulana Zafar Abbas, with the late Mulla Asghar, Maulana Ameer Husain Hasani and Maulana Ameer Husain Naqvi, founded Majlis Ulama-e-Shia (Europe) in 1992 as a platform of Shia scholars in the UK for the purpose of collectively serving the Shia community in Europe with unison. Al-Haj was elected as the first President of Majlis Ulama-e-Shia, and he remained the President continuously until 2011, except for a 2-year period in which Maulana Syed Ameer Husain Naqvi was the president.
During his years of service to the Shia community, he has lectured and served far and wide, including Pakistan, East Africa, UK, various part of Europe, North America and Australia.
In 2001, his health had declined, due to which he withdrew from some of his educational activities, although he continued to serve as much as he could with Majlis Ulama-e-Shia and the World Federation of KSMIC. With improvement in his health, Al-Haj Maulana, at the request of the community and other scholars, decided to focus his attention towards empowering the Shia community through educational and spiritual endeavours,