Photographer Muslim Harji captures the spirit of the Navroz celebrations in Canada’s 2nd largest city, Montreal, with a series of photographs portraying the beauty, diversity and happiness of the Ismaili jamat. The city is host to the largest contingency of Ismailis from Afghanistan in the Western world, and has been home to hundreds of Ismailis of South Asian origin, mainly from Africa, since the early 1970’s…..More
STATEMENT BY PRIME MINISTER STEPHEN HARPER
Prime Minister Stephen Harper on March 21, 2015 issued the following statement on the celebration of Nowruz:
“Laureen and I would like to offer our best wishes to everyone celebrating Nowruz both here in Canada and around the world.
“Nowruz, or ‘new day,’ is a festival that has been celebrated for thousands of years by Persian, Kurdish, Central Asian and Ismaili communities. It marks the beginning of spring and a New Year, and is an opportunity to reflect upon the past year, recognize good fortune, and look to the year ahead with hope. Our Government shares your optimism for the future and will continue to work to help create a year of peace and prosperity for all Canadians.
“Nowruz traditions include a spring cleaning of the home, preparation of the haft-seen table, the gathering of families and friends to share meals and gifts, as well as musical and dance performances. In addition, shortly before Nowruz bonfires are lit and individuals recite a special phrase that helps to symbolically carry away the hardships of the past year with the flames.
“Nowruz is an opportunity for all Canadians to learn about the ancient Persian festival and recognize the important contributions of Iranian-Canadian, Central Asian and Ismaili communities to building a peaceful, pluralistic and prosperous Canada.
“On behalf of all Canadians, I wish everyone celebrating Nowruz a happy and healthy New Year.
For more photos and a comprehensive 10 minute video of the opening ceremony of the Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, please click on the following links:
MESSAGES BY FIRST LADY, MRS MICHELLE OBAMA, AND PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
Excerpts from remarks by the First Lady, Mrs. Michelle Obama, at the White House on March 11, 2015:
“I think it’s so fitting that we’re holding this celebration here today because one of my favorite things about the White House is how it is truly the People’s House — a house that reflects the diversity of culture and traditions that make us who we are as a country. And Nowruz is one of those traditions.
“For more than 3,000 years, families and communities in the Middle East, Asia, and all around the world, including here in the United States, have celebrated this holiday to mark the renewal of the earth in springtime — and we’re finally feeling spring! To reflect on the year before, and to make new commitments for good health, prosperity in the year ahead.
“And just like in many of your homes, we have created our own White House Haft-Seen. As you all know, Haft-Seen [see Simerg’s piece The Beautiful Nowruz (Navroz) Tradition of Haft Sin – ed.] essentially means “Seven S’s,” and each “S” represents a different hope for the New Year — a hope for blessings like patience and love and sweetness. For example, we’ve got grass sprouts that represent rebirth and renewal of nature. We’ve got an apple for health and beauty. We have crushed berry spice that represents the sunrise and the spice of life.”
MESSAGE BY PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
Date posted: March 22, 2015
To celebrate Navroz, families in Iran gather around a specially prepared holiday table to make wishes for the coming months. Items on the table refer to new life and renewal, and they are based around the number seven….Read more
Please click: The Beautiful Nowruz (Navroz) Tradition of Haft Sin
Date posted: Friday, March 20, 2015.
Please click: Muslim and non-Muslim Expressions on Imam Hussein (a.s.)
The emigration (Hijrah) of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s) from Mecca to Medina in the year 622 AC was a significant event and later adopted to mark the beginning of the Muslim Era. The Muslim New Year begins with the month of Muharram (In 2014, October 24). Amongst the Shi’a Muslims, the first part of the month of Muharram is an occasion which is marked with a sense of sorrow and solemnity. The 10th of Muharram was the day when Hazrat Imam Hussein (a.s.) together with most of the members of his family and close companions were martyred on the fields of Karbala….Read more
AN INSTALLMENT FROM SIMERG’S MUST READ SERIES ABOUT NASER-E KHOSRAW’S MEMORABLE JOURNEY TO FATIMID EGYPT
“….The tallest mountain near Mecca is Abu Qubays, which is round like a dome, so that if you shoot an arrow from the foot of the mountain it reaches its top.…Having come into the city, you enter the Haram Mosque, approach the Ka’ba, and circumambulate….. always keeping the Ka‘ba to your left [shoulder]. Then you go to the corner containing the Black Stone, kiss it, and pass on….”
Please click: Naser-e Khosraw’s Pilgrimages to Mecca
(Links to all series articles provided below)
Complete series by Michael Wolfe:
Part I – Introduction and Naser-e Khosraw Commences the Journey
Part II – Naser-e Khosraw in Fatimid Cairo
Part III – Naser-e Khosraw’s Pilgrimages to Mecca
Part IV – Naser-e Khosraw’s Dangerous Homeward Journey
BY KARIMA MAGHRABY
(Additional material compiled by Simerg)
Laylat al-Qadr is the auspicious night when the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) first received the revelation of the Holy Qur’an, thereby conferring upon him the mantle of prophethood at the age of forty.
The Shia Ismaili Muslims observe Laylat al-Qadr on the 23rd night of Ramadan, in keeping with traditions received through Hazrat Ali (a.s.) and his wife Hazrat Bibi Fatimah (a.s.), and the Imams of the Fatimid dynasty. It is a night of special prayer, reflection and remembrance of Allah.
When Prophet Muhammad was 40 years old, he received his first divine revelation from Allah through Angel Jibreel. When Angel Jibreel appeared to him, he said:
“Recite: In the Name of thy Lord who created,
created, Man of a blood-clot.
Recite: And thy Lord is the Most Generous,
who taught by the Pen,
taught Man that he knew not” — Holy Qur’an, Al-Alaq, 96:1-5
Part of Al-Alaq (The Clot) – 96th sura of the Holy Qur’an – the first revelation received by Prophet Muhammad
The night of this first revelation is celebrated as Laylat al-Qadr (the Night of Power). The following verses from the Holy Qur’an describe the loftiness of this night and articulate the importance of the final revealed scripture to mankind:
“Lo! We revealed it on the Night of Power. What will convey unto you what the Night of Power is! The Night of Power is better than a thousand months. The angels and the spirit descend therein, by the permission of their Lord, with all decrees. Peace it is until the rising of the dawn.” — 94:5
A photo of Cave of Hira in the Mount of Light, near Mecca, where the Prophet would come for his devotions and meditations, and the sacred spot where the Holy Quran began to be revealed. Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) had just stepped into the forty-first year of his life, when during the 23rd night in the month of Ramadan the first 5 verses of the Surah Al-Alaq (96) were revealed to him. The small cave is about 3.5 meters long and 2 meters wide. Hira was the Prophet Muhammad’s most adorable place for meditation.
“(This is) a Scripture which We have revealed unto you (Muhammad) that thereby you may bring forth mankind from darkness unto light, by the permission of their Lord, unto the path of the Mighty, the Owner of Praise” — 14:01
“And celebrate the name of thy Lord morning and evening. And part of the night, prostrate thyself to Him; and glorify Him a long night through. As to these, they love the fleeting life, and put away behind them a Day (that will be) hard.” — 76:25-27
Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s) received his first revelation from Allah through Angel Jibreel (Gabriel) in the Hira cave which is on Jabl al Nur (Mount of Light) shown in this photo. The peak is visible from a great distance. The Prophet used to climb this mountain often even before receiving his fist revelation from Allah.
“We sent it down during a Blessed Night” — 44:3
“Ramadhan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong)” — 2:185
Hazrat Mawlana Murtaza Ali (a.s.) the successor of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s) to the throne of Imamat is quoted as having said:
“Do not remember God absent-mindedly, nor forget Him in distraction; rather, remember Him with perfect remembrance (dhikran kamilan), a remembrance in which your heart and tongue are in harmony, and what you conceal conforms with what you reveal.” — quoted in Justice and Remembrance, Introducing the Spirituality of Imam Ali, by Reza Shah Kazemi, p. 162.
Date posted: Friday, July 18, 2014.
3. English Translation of the Qur’anic verses by Arthur John Arberry.
LINKS TO A SELECTION OF ADDITIONAL ARTICLES ON THE HOLY QUR’AN
- Assessing English Translations of the Qur’an, and Links to Translations on the Internet by Khaleel Mohammed
- The Noble Qur’an – An Inexhaustible Well-Spring of Inspiration and Knowledge by His Highness the Aga Khan
- Anecdote: Ismaili Children’s Understanding of the Holy Qur’an Gives Immense Happiness to Mawlana Hazar Imam by Kamaluddin A. Mohammed
- Literary Reading: Some Considerations of the Term ‘Imam’ in the Holy Qur’an by Dishad Keshwani
- The Parable of Moses and Khidr in the Holy Qur’an: An Esoteric Interpretation by Jehangir A. Merchant
- Literary Reading: Fatimid Scientist, Al Hazen, Inspired by the Spirit of the Qur’an
- “The Blue Manuscript” by Sabiha Al Khemir – An Intriguing Fiction About the Hunt for a Priceless Fatimid Qur’an by David Skinner
- “Thank You” Letter to the Makers of the Blue Qur’an by Andrew Kosorok
- The Story of Noah’s Ark in the Holy Qur’an by Jehangir A. Merchant
- Historical Images: President Thomas Jefferson’s Copy of the Qur’an
“…The Ismaili Imamat is a supra-national entity, representing the succession of Imams since the time of the Prophet…” -- His Highness the Aga Khan, February 2014
PLEASE CLICK: An Esoteric Interpretation of the Mi’raj and the Prophetic Tradition ‘I Have a Time with God’ (li ma’a Allah waqt) By Jehangir A. Merchant
DETAILS OF THE IMAGE
This single sheet probably came from a handwritten work completed for the Ottoman Sultan Murad III (r. AH 982–1003 / AD 1574–95), and is currently housed at the Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany. It features, between bands of script, the prophets Moses and Muhammad and the Archangel Gabriel conversing in heaven. Angels, perched on five clouds behind these three principal characters, appear to be listening. The scene portrayed is one from Muhammad’s visionary ascension to heaven. Muhammad stands on the right-hand side in a long green robe and turban, and Moses, wearing a long dark red robe, is on the left, in front of his heavenly throne, which is denoted by an inscription in Arabic lettering. Moses is gesturing his hands in speech. Muhammad, with whom he is conversing, stands on the opposite side. A white veil conceals his face, while his hands are hidden in the long sleeves of his gown. The heads of both prophets are crowned with halos, within which their names, written in a black script, can be deciphered. The Archangel Gabriel stands between Muhammad and Moses, turning towards Muhammad. He is characterised by a twin pair of multi-coloured wings and a crown. He is featured in the Old Testament as the gate-keeper of Paradise. As one of two angels standing in the presence of God (Luke 1:19), it was Gabriel who explained the story of the Messiah (Daniel 8:16ff.). In Muslim tradition, the angel brought the Divine Revelation of the Holy Qur’an to Prophet Muhammad. In Sura 2 verse 97 it is written that: Gabriel ‘has by God’s grace revealed it [the Qur’an] to you [Muhammad] to your heart’.
The text above the three personages, which describes the story, is written in Ottoman Turkish. It includes the account of Muhammad discussing with God the number of daily prayers. Both eventually agreed on five daily prayers. Moses is Muhammad’s heavenly adviser and Gabriel is his companion. The direct speech of all those involved is written in Arabic. The text is taken from a biography of the prophet which had appeared from the AH 1st century/AD 7th century on. The generic term for this type of biography is sira, which translates as ‘life facts’ or ‘way of life’. (Text adapted from the website of MWNF – see link below).
Date posted: Saturday, May 24, 2014.
Links to a selection of Jehangir Merchant’s pieces at Simerg:
- Jehangir Merchant’s Thank You Letter to the Fatimid Ismaili Icon, Da’i Al-Mu’ayyad al-Shirazi
- Ghadir-Khumm and the Two Weighty Matters (which includes Alwaez’s detailed profile)
- The Story of Noah’s Ark in the Holy Qur’an
- Great Moments in Ismaili History: The Establishment of the Fatimid Caliphate
- The Parable of Moses and Khidr in the Holy Qur’an: An Esoteric Interpretation
Simerg’s new downloadable publication is filled with informative readings and inspiring poems including an explanation of the ginan “Eji Navroz na din sohamna”. Please click on A Rich Collection of Readings and Poetry on Navroz or one of the following two NASA images showing a cylindrical projection of the earth and the earth as seen from the sun at noon on March 21, 2013.