A Description of the Hajj by Naser-e Khosraw – from “One Thousand Roads to Mecca” by Michael Wolfe

AN INSTALLMENT FROM SIMERG’S MUST READ SERIES ABOUT NASER-E KHOSRAW’S MEMORABLE JOURNEY TO FATIMID EGYPT

A statue of the famous Ismaili dai Nasir Khusraw in Badakhshan.

“….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)

A bird’s-eye view of the Ka’ba crowded with pilgrims. The photo is from the archives of the US Library of Congress and was created by American Colony (Jerusalem), Photo Dept., in 1910. Please click for article by Naser-e Khosraw.

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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

Eid Mubarak: Send a Greeting Card

Simerg rejoices with its readers all over the world on the auspicious occasion of Eid al-Fitr and invites you to send a festive card to your family members and friends through the official website of the Ismaili community by clicking on http://ecard.theismaili.org/Eid-ul-Fitr-2014 or the image below.

The Ismaili website contains varying themes for its eCards including a wonderful selection of images of Ismaili Jamatkhanas, including those of the high profile Ismaili centres.

The Ismaili Centre, Dushanbe was opened on 12 October 2009 by His Excellency Emomali Rahmon, President of the Republic of Tajikistan, and Mawlana Hazar Imam. It is the first such Centre in Central Asia — a region that has been home to Ismaili Muslims for more than a thousand years. The ceremony was attended by the Mayor of Dushanbe, Mahmadsaid Ubaidulloev, senior government officials, diplomats, scholars and leaders of faith communities. Representatives of the Ismaili community from around the world were also present.

The Ismaili Centre, Dushanbe was opened on 12 October 2009 by His Excellency Emomali Rahmon, President of the Republic of Tajikistan, and Mawlana Hazar Imam. It is the first such Centre in Central Asia — a region that has been home to Ismaili Muslims for more than a thousand years. The ceremony was attended by the Mayor of Dushanbe, Mahmadsaid Ubaidulloev, senior government officials, diplomats, scholars and leaders of faith communities. Representatives of the Ismaili community from around the world were also present.

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EID AL-FITR

The fast of Ramadan ends with the Festival of Breaking Fast, Eid al-Fir, on the first day of the following month of Shawwal. The festival is also known as Bairam or Eid Ramadan. It is an occasion for celebration and rejoicing for Allah’s Bounty upon mankind for His revelation of the Qur’an. It is also a time for individuals to express their gratitude to Allah for having given them the strength, courage and resilience to complete the fast, and thus fulfilling the duty enjoined upon them by Allah.

The Festival begins with a festive prayer (Salatul-Fitr) with all the believers congregating at their respective places of worship. It is also an occasion for socialising and meeting with other Muslims and for fostering a sense of brotherhood and unity amongst the community (ummah). After the communal prayer, families gather together at home with relatives and friends and participate in exchanging gifts and partaking a meal.

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Please also visit Letter from China: Eid al-Fitr at the Huasheing Mosque in Guangzhou by Zulfikar Mulji.

Date posted: Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Reading for the Holy Night of Lailat al-Qadr with Links to Material on the Holy Qur’an

BY KARIMA MAGHRABY
(Additional material compiled by Simerg)

In his Khamsa, Shab-i Qadr (the Night of Power), the renowned Persian poet Amir Khusraw Dihlavi (d. 1325 CE) tells the story of a saint who made a failed attempt to stay awake until the Laylat al-Qadr. This image is taken from a folio in the Aga Khan Museum collection; the Toronto museum is due to open in 2014. Photo: Courtesy of the Aga Khan Museum

In his Khamsa, Shab-i Qadr (the Night of Power), the renowned Persian poet Amir Khusraw Dihlavi (d. 1325 CE) tells the story of a saint who made a failed attempt to stay awake until the Laylat al-Qadr. This image is taken from a folio in the Aga Khan Museum collection; the Toronto museum is due to open in 2014. Photo: Courtesy of the Aga Khan Museum

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

The first revelation

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

Cave of Hira

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

Mountain of LightProphet 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.

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Credits:
1. Wikipedia.org

2. Mecca.net
3. English Translation of the Qur’anic verses by Arthur John Arberry.

LINKS TO A SELECTION OF ADDITIONAL ARTICLES ON THE HOLY QUR’AN

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The Imamat: By His Highness the Aga Khan, the Ismaili Constitution, Azim Nanji and Abbas Hamdani

“…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

His Highness Aga Khan signing his book "Where Hope Takes Root" for the Premier of British Columbia during his 2008 visit to the province to celebrate his Golden Jubilee. Ismailis will be celebrating his 57th Imamat Day on July 11, 2014. Please click on image for Imamat article. Photo: With permission of The Vancouver Sun. Copyright.

His Highness Aga Khan signing his book “Where Hope Takes Root” for the Premier of British Columbia during his 2008 visit to the province to celebrate his Golden Jubilee. Ismailis will be celebrating his 57th Imamat Day on July 11, 2014. Please click on image for Imamat article. Photo: With permission of The Vancouver Sun. Copyright.

Please click: On the Imamat and Ismailis: By His Highness the Aga Khan, the Ismaili Constitution, Azim Nanji and Abbas Hamdani

Mi’raj-e-Rasul – The Night Journey of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) by Jehangir A. Merchant

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

This painted page from a manuscript shows the Archangel Gabriel with the Prophets Moses (left) and Muhammad (right). Surrounded by angels they discuss the question of daily prayers. This happened during Prophet Muhammad’s ascent to heaven. Because it was forbidden to show Muhammad, his face is veiled. Image: Copyright Museum With No Frontiers (MWNF). Please click on image for literary reading.

This painted page from a manuscript shows the Archangel Gabriel with the Prophets Moses (left) and Muhammad (right). Surrounded by angels they discuss the question of daily prayers. This happened during Prophet Muhammad’s ascent to heaven. Because it was forbidden to show Muhammad, his face is veiled. Image: Copyright Museum With No Frontiers (MWNF). Please click on image for literary reading.

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.

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For further information about the image shown above, please click on Page of Ottoman Manuscript. Please also click on http://www.museumwnf.org/.

Links to a selection of Jehangir Merchant’s pieces at Simerg:

Simerg’s New Downloadable Publication: Nawruz Literary Readings, Poetry and Ginan

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.

Earth Cylindrical Projection 2013-03-21 0012UT. NASA Image. Please click on image to download Nawruz booklet.

Earth Cylindrical Projection 2013-03-21 0012UT. NASA Image. Please click on image to download Nawruz booklet.

Earth Spherical View 2013-03-21 0012UT. NASA Image. Please click to download Nawruz booklet.

Earth Spherical View 2013-03-21 0012UT. NASA Image. Please click on image to download Nawruz booklet.

His Highness the Aga Khan’s “Never-To-Be-Forgotten” Message to Ismaili Youth – “Keep Clean Soul in a Clean Body”

The following image is a copy of the original message sent to Ismaili youth by the 48th Ismaili Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan (1877 – 1957) on the occasion of the Students’ Rally held in Nairobi, and  appeared in the Diamond Jubilee Souvenir, 1946. Another version of the image along with the cover page of the souvenir issue can be viewed by clicking on Historical Images: The 48th Ismaili Imam’s “Never-to-be-Forgotten” Message to Ismaili Youth or on the following image.

The above image of the message sent to Ismaili Youth appears in the Diamond Jubilee Souvenir Yearbook published in Dar-es-Salaam on August 10th 1946. Pleas click on image to view a larger version of the image with a transcript and the cover page of the special issue.

The above image of the message sent to Ismaili Youth appears in the Diamond Jubilee Souvenir Yearbook published in Dar-es-Salaam on August 10th 1946. Please click on image to view a larger version of the image as well as the cover page of the special issue.

UNEDITED TRANSCRIPT

“To My Spiritual children taking part in The Rally 

Blessings and Welcome – I am sorry my health does not permit me to be with you but I have followed your programme with great interest. Remember that according to our Ismailia Faith the body is the Temple of God for it carries the soul that receives Divine Light so great care of body its health and cleanliness are to guide you in later life care of your inside and outside cleanliness – mouth, eyes, ears and on first signs of infection to the dispensary. Later in life sports will become difficult for you but you can do much by going about your business, shopping etc on foot and carrying yourselves straight. The times of prayer should not be forgotten if you can do go to Jamatkana, if not say your Tesbih wherever you be. So keep clean soul in a clean body Blessings Aga Khan”

Date posted: Sunday, January 19, 2014.

Photo Essay: Karim Master’s Original Copy of “Fidai” Magazine Published in 1936 to Commemorate the Golden Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan

Karim Master’s Original Copy of “Fidai” Magazine Published in 1936 to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan

Please click on image for photo essay on Fidai magazine

Please click on image for photo essay on Fidai magazine

Poems for Salgirah: The Noor of Imamat Breathing with the Trillion Stars….and OOops (the Optimistically Out of Poverty Society) by Navyn Naran

ThE NOOR OF IMAMAT….OOops

By Navyn Naran

The arc of the Milky Way hangs over the imposing mountain fortress of Alamut in this starry scene. Photo: Babak Tafreshi. Copyright.

The arc of the Milky Way with over 100 thousand million stars hangs over the imposing mountain fortress of Alamut in this starry scene. Photo: Babak Tafreshi. Copyright.

Find your space, under a trillion stars
In the crystal quiet of the night,
no thoughts, no bars,
Breathe softly, abreast of a beating heart,
Under the open night sky, atop a mountain’s peak,
Where all is still, the breath and the heart’s beat.

A hum of air, quiet, warm,
Dark blue, black and milky way’s starry storm
a smattering of stars, incandescent light
hura and oil before any concern of dawn.
Breathing with the pulse of oceans and earths,
Under heaven of stars, as if asleep, but alert,
feel the ebb and flow in the breath of the world

din and duniya, Ya Ali
In desert sand under a diamond sky, Ya Ali
Peace it is, Ya Ali,
The Noor of Imamat born, Ya Ali
Breathing with the trillion stars, Ya Ali
Under dome of the hearth, You as me.

Hazar Imam, your firmans are pearls
the essence of the word, an individual learns
on your Birthday we reflect on Peace and Truth
on that which is not seen, that which will soothe.

OOops!

i will bow before you, and begin my poem.
let’s twirl under the sunshine,
optimistically
see all the wealth around us;
out of poverty comes sunlight
and “where hope takes root” paths emerge.

lift up your eyes and walk out of poverty.
in your very mind, exit poverty.
and if there is poverty of health and you can’t walk,
then move passionately, breathe deeply, sing from your heart

poverty in wealth?
a greater wealth than the wallet, is in our connection
recognizing one another is an unspoken place
look not always above you; look also below
gratefulness is greater than wealth

and if wallets are full,
is there an emptiness of heart? of mind? the poverty of love?
bridge our smiles, consult, listen to each other….

but walk, yes do walk.
walk out of poverty of respect. Leave.
“even the ants greet one another before they begin”
respect is greater wealth.

walk also out of the poverty of knowledge.
moving out of poverty, i may apply the information
no matter how minute or detailed.
stand solidly, grounded
walk out of lack of stability
one brick after another, consistently, as putty between the bricks

and in poverty of truth
speak heart and mind to self, if no other.
rich in your truth, there, is wealth.

you whistle and sing, and here
there is no poverty. rise, rise, further

poverty of ethics?
command over self a discipline and grace,
barakah will visit you, at its patient pace

poverty of generosity? i see it not,
naught to offer, sit with me here and drink water…refresh
smile and the world will smile at you, abundant generosity
simple living with high thinking.

walk.
let’s always walk.
out of poverty, i trust?
yes, yes…optimistically out of poverty,
a must.

in this quiet of night , in the softness and peace of morning snow,
Full of the magic of creation
there is physical, the obvious and the unknown
You hold the rope of being.

And this is a manifest world,
of the eye and the seeing
as in the surface of the ocean.
surface, recognised well, by surface.
and beyond? entire worlds and realities, hidden

there lie truths
and through the physical Imam
lies Truth
tis a journey
a truer reality, hidden batin

A birthday, the celebration of a physical reality
of a spiritual Being in a physical world.

Date posted: Friday, December 13, 2013

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About the author: Dr. Navyn Naran was born in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, to Anaar and Badrudin Naran. After beginning her high school in the UK, her family immigrated to the USA where she went to medical school at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, MA. She currently works in Paediatric Critical Care.

Pir Sadr al-Din’s Ginan “Eji Dhan Dhan Aajano” with Meaning, and Other Readings for the 77th Salgirah of the 49th Ismaili Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan

Spread in various countries around the world, the Shia Imami Ismailis have their own innumerable ways for celebrating important religious occasions according to their various cultural, social and religious traditions and backgrounds. One very important occasion in the annual calendar of the Ismailis is the Salgirah, or the birthday of their spiritual leader (Imam). His Highness the Aga Khan is their present Imam, and Ismailis around the world will be marking his 77th Salgirah on December 13, 2013. The following readings will enhance the readers’ understanding about the occasion as well as the special relationship that binds the Imam of the Time with his spiritual children.

Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Salgirah and the Depth of His Love for the Jamat

The term Salgirah is of Persian origin. Sal means anniversary and girah means knot and hence Salgirah literally means ‘an anniversary knot added on to a string kept for the purpose’. This article approaches the subject of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s birthday in terms of the Imam’s love for his murids and the love and devotion of the murids for their Imam.

In Metaphoric Ginan “Eji Dhan Dhan Aajano” Pir Sadr al-Din Asks Mu’mins to Act Righteously and Gain Spiritual Recognition of Imam-e-Zaman

The Ginan has attained a very special status because it is primarily recited during the festivities marking the Salgirah of the Imam. The appropriateness of reciting Eji Dhan Dhan Aajano during the Salgirah will become apparent as we try to understand the ginan and its underlying spiritual teachings.

The Preamble Of “The Constitution of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims”

The new Ismaili Constitution was ordained, signed and sealed by His Highness the Aga Khan on December 13th, 1986, his 50th birthday. His Highness did this with the belief that the Constitution would provide a strong institutional and organizational framework for his Ismaili community to contribute meaningfully to the societies among whom they live.

His Highness the Aga Khan and the Ismailis

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On the occasion of His Highness the Aga Khan’s 75th birthday on December 13, 2011, Simerg published a three-part photo essay tribute to the 49th Ismaili Imam. For those who may have missed, the series has been consolidated into a captivating one piece photo essay, which can be read at Simerg’s companion photo blog, Simergphotos, by clicking on the above link.

Date posted: December 7, 2013

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