Compiled and prepared by Abdulmalik J. Merchant
As Canada pays its respect to the volunteers by marking the week of April 6, 2014, as Volunteer Week, we bring you some very rare historical quotations on service and voluntary work which appeared in a special Ismaili Volunteers, Scouts and Guides Souvenir published in 1954 to jointly commemorate the 48th Ismaili Imam’s Platinum Jubilee and the 35th anniversary of His Highness the Aga Khan’s Bombay Volunteer Corps.
WORK NO WORDS
“Today I will give you a small motto and that is “Work No Words”. Labour for the welfare of others is the best way of improving ourselves, because results are sure and certain. If you work for yourselves, you are never happy. This is not a new idea, but this is an outcome of the experience of thousands of years of history.” – 48th Ismaili Imam, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan (1877-1957)
DISCIPLINE AND SERVICE
My dear Hazar Imam’s Spiritual Child,
I enclose the photo which you ask for the Souvenir Number of the Ismaili Volunteers, Scouts and Guides.
My message to the Volunteers, Scouts and Guides is:
“I ask you all to remember the great opportunities you have for discipline and service in your organization. Discipline is very important in life, and by making good use of the training you now have, you are laying the foundations for useful and happy lives. I send my loving thoughts and best wishes to you all.”
The Begum Aga Khan (1906-2000)
“Your patriotism and loyalty must be sincere, active, and productive. Please follow this advice, be industrious and hardworking. The work done for the good of the community is always noble and verily we are taught that all good deeds shall be compensated four-fold.” — His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan (the present 49th Ismaili Imam)
“Itmadi Sabzali has revealed his spiritual power to thousands of people. He was the standard-bearer of the devotees. He passed away leaving a permanent void in this world but his soul has attained salvation.
“Itmadi Sabzali has rendered such service to us that after his death we have given him the status of Pir. If others also render like service, they too shall attain such a status. During the period of 54 years of my Imamat, to only one person have I given this status.” — Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan
ONE BIG FAMILY
“Every Ismaili, man and woman, and child should grow up with the feeling and certain knowledge that they are a member of one great family, powerful and respected throughout the world, beyond the hills and across the seas…If each person is aware of this fact, it will give them extra courage and self-assurance.” – Prince Aly S. Khan (1911-1960)
“I would suggest that the richer and more fortunate a man is, the more he should be thinking of others and not himself. It is the duty of rich Ismailis to think of their poor brethren and give them a much-needed lift in life.” — Prince Aly S. Khan
“I have great pleasure in enclosing my photograph and congratulate Pirmahomed V. Madhani and the various members of the Volunteer Corps for the excellent services they have rendered to their Imam and their brother Ismailis.” — Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan (1933-2003)
RAISING THE BANNER OF FAITH
“The future of Ismailism depends on those of your age and mine. Are we to follow the example of those who in Egypt, in Iran and in Sind, on different occasions by their faith and devotion, raised the banner of the Hazar Imam till the whole world saw its light? I say, Yes. For we young men must not fail where our fathers succeeded so gloriously.” — Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan
LESSONS FROM HISTORY
“Ismailis under Imams did great things in past. With same devotion, unity, obedience and discipline – and no jealousy – similar occasions will arise for greater deeds.” – Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan
PERFORM YOUR BEST
“Everyone must follow the ideal of performing the greatest amount of work and service to the Ismaili faith. I, therefore, expect every Ismaili to consider the work allotted to him his sacred duty to perform to the best of his abilities, and to do utmost. He who serves me most becomes nearer to me.” – Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan
“Young people ought to be explained that besides lucrative jobs, there should be aim of service to the community.” – Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan
A man’s chief capital is time and that if he wastes time, he wastes his greatest asset which can never be recouped.” — Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan
Front Cover of 1954 Souvenir. Photo: Noordin Babul
THE FOLLOWING IS THE 1954 VOLUNTEER PLEDGE OF LOYALTY TAKEN BEFORE A CANDIDATE WAS ADMITTED AS AN ISMAILI VOLUNTEER
“Believing in the Omnipresence of God,
I hereby solemnly give this pledge
To ever remain faithful
And leave no stone unturned
to serve Mawlana Hazar Imam, our community,
our country, and our volunteer corps.”
Date posted: Friday, April 11, 2014.
Note: With the exception of the image of the cover page, the last photo shown, none of the portrait thumbnail photos shown in the piece belong to the souvenir.
All quotations taken from “Ismaili Volunteers , Scouts and Guides Souvenir in Commemoration of His Royal Highness Prince Aga Khan’s Platinum Jubilee and Completion of 35 Years of His Highness the Aga Khan’s Bombay Volunteers Corps” published by Lt. Col. Pirmohamed Madhani, 1954. The rare copy of the souvenir was submitted to Simerg by Mr. Noordin Babul and family, originally of Lourenço Marques (now Maputo), Mozambique, and now residing in Texas.