Ideas of One Humanity in World Religions: Comparative Study of Ginan “Hum dil Khalak Allah Sohi Vase” by Shiraz Pradhan, With a Recitation

Be careful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single soul….” – Holy Qur’an, 4:1

Instability is infectious, but so is hope. And that it is why it is so important for us to carry the torch of hope as we seek to share the gift of pluralism….Profound expressions about our common humanity are embedded in the world’s great religious traditions, including my own…” — His Highness the Aga Khan, Lisbon, June 12, 2014.

Credit: Istockphoto.com. Please click on image for "One Humanity"

Image Credit: Istockphoto.com. Copyright. Please click on image for “One Humanity”

PLEASE CLICK: Ideas of One Humanity, Love and Peace in World Religions: Comparative Study of Ginan “Hum dil Khalak Allah Sohi Vase” with a Hindu Bhajan

The Holy Qur’an: An Anecdote from His Highness the Aga Khan’s Visit to an Ismaili Religious Night School

In this piece Kamaluddin Mohammed, a prominent and highly respected Ismaili scholar and missionary explains the importance of studying the Holy Qur’an, and gives an anecdote from a religious night school visit made by the current 49th Imam of the Ismailis, His Highness the Aga Khan, during his visit to India in 1967.

PLEASE CLICK:  Ismaili Children’s Understanding of the Holy Qur’an Gives Immense Happiness to Mawlana Hazar Imam

Calligraphy writing has been a preeminent Islamic art since the seventh century when the Qur'an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad and recorded in the Arabic language. Controlled, angular lettering called Kufic script was commonly employed in the writing of early Qurans. This folio from the Qur'an, is Sura 9, "Repentance" (al-Tauba), verses 31-32, Near East or North Africa, ca. 900. Photo:  Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. Please click on image for article.

Calligraphy writing has been a preeminent Islamic art since the seventh century when the Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad and recorded in the Arabic language. Controlled, angular lettering called Kufic script was commonly employed in the writing of early Qurans. This folio from the Qur’an, is Sura 9, “Repentance” (al-Tauba), verses 31-32, Near East or North Africa, ca. 900. Photo: Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. Please click on image for article.

An Introduction to My New Book “Qur’an and Ginan” (Qur’anic Teachings in the Ginan) by Kamaluddin Ali Muhammad

In this special piece for Simerg, erudite Ismaili missionary and scholar, Alwaez Kamaluddin of Pakistan, provides a short but very interesting insight on the subject of Qur’anic teachings in the Ginan, while highlighting the features of his most recent book published in English.

PLEASE CLICK: “Qur’an and Ginan” (Qur’anic Teachings in the Ginan)

Front cover of "Qur'an and Ginan" - Qur'anic Teachings in the Ginan - co-authored by Alwaez Kamaluddin and Alwaeza Zarina Kamaluddiin. Hardback, pp. 225, Kamalzar, 2014. Please click for article.

Front cover of “Qur’an and Ginan” – Qur’anic Teachings in the Ginan – co-authored by Alwaez Kamaluddin and Alwaeza Zarina Kamaluddin. Hardback, pp. 225, Kamalzar, 2014. Please click on image for article.

 

Modern Cosmology and Astrophysics in Ismaili Ginans by Shiraz Pradhan

“Our story begins as all stories do: In the beginning there was nothing, no universe, no galaxies, no sun, no moon, no stars. Then all of a sudden there was a titanic explosion from nothingness — BIG BANG….In this essay I propose to first present a brief scientific description of the Big Bang origin of the universe from a gigantic explosion, its growth in various phases right up to our present time, and then cite Ismaili Ginans that have striking parallels of modern Cosmology and Astrophysics in them” — Shiraz Pradhan

PLEASE CLICK: Concepts of Modern Cosmology and Astrophysics in Two Ismaili Ginans, Choghadia and Mul Gayatri

An annotated version of a meteor's streak and the arc of the Milky Way hanging over the imposing mountain fortress of Alamut in this starry scene. Highlights in this photo include bright white stars Deneb (in Cygnus), Vega, and Altair, nebulae near the Galactic Center, and the dark obscuring dust clouds of the Milky Way also known as the Great Rift. Photo: Babak Tafreshi. Copyright.

An annotated version of a meteor’s streak and the arc of the Milky Way hanging over the imposing mountain fortress of Alamut in this starry scene. The Milky Way, the galaxy that contains our solar system, is some 100,000 – 120,000 light years in diameter and contains 100-400 billion stars.  Like the Milky Way, there are some 100 – 200 billion other galaxies in our universe! Highlights in this photo include bright white stars Deneb (in Cygnus), Vega, and Altair, nebulae near the Galactic Center, and the dark obscuring dust clouds of the Milky Way also known as the Great Rift. Photo: Babak Tafreshi. Copyright. Please click on image to read article Modern Cosmology and Astrophysics in Ismaili Ginans.

 

(I) Joy and Blessings of Ginans and (II) Recitation and Explanation of Kesri Sinha Sarup Bhulayo

I. JOY AND BLESSINGS OF GINANS

Joy and Blessings of GinansBy Jalal Jaffer

When the heart is yearning
For peace, quiet, solace
When the mind is questioning
The whys, the whats, and the hows of life
When the soul is feeling trapped
Wanting to escape and soar out and beyond
It is the lilting melodies, heart-wrenching and soothing
It is the words and phrases, simple and serene
It is the pictures and landscapes, divine and mysterious
That crash through inner barriers and screens
Exposing….guiding…leading…
The yearning heart, the questioning mind, the trapped soul
To beauty, knowledge, wisdom, understanding
And find one’s own truth and meaning.
YES, that’s the joy and blessing of Ginans.

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II. KESRI SINHA SARUP BHULAYO

"Kesri Sinha Sarup Bhulayo" by Pir Shams, Author Shiraz PradhanA Recitation by Shermina Sayani

About the reciter: Shermina Sayani is a paediatric doctor from London, UK. She enjoys reciting and performing Ginans and Qasidas within the Jamat.  Shermina also has a great passion for writing and directing plays. Shermina has produced a number of plays for the UK Ismaili community on secular, ethical and spiritual issues.

With an Explanation by Shiraz Pradhan

Please  click An Explanation of the Ismaili Ginan “Kesri Sinha Sarup Bhulayo”

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.

Brown University’s Ogden Lecture, and a photo of His Highness the Aga Khan that I took in 1996 at Providence which will remain my greatest treasure!

Stephen A. Ogden Jr.

Stephen A. Ogden Jr.

INTRODUCTION: Founded in 1764, Brown University, the seventh-oldest college in the United States, is celebrating the 250th anniversary of its founding this year. As part of this anniversary, His Highness the Aga Khan, the 49th Imam of Ismaili Muslims, will deliver a Stephen A. Ogden Jr. ’60 Memorial Lecture on International Affairs at Brown University on Monday, March 10, 2014, at 5 p.m. The ceremony will be will be carried live  at http://www.brown.edu/web/livestream/.

Since 1965, the Ogden Lectures have been the most distinguished of their kind, serving both the Brown and Rhode Island communities in the field of International Relations.

Stephen A. Ogden Jr., an active member of the Brown class of 1960, was seriously injured in an automobile accident in the spring of his junior year. After a valiant fight for life, he died in 1963. Established by his family, the Ogden lectureship came into being two years later as a means of achieving in some small measure what Steve Ogden had hoped to accomplish in his life: the advancement of international peace and understanding.

The Ogden Lectures are a living tribute to the memory of a young man who had hoped to devote his abilities and energy to the field of international relations. These lectures have brought to the University and to Rhode Island a large number of U.S. and foreign diplomats as well as many other observers of the international scene. All have given lectures, free and open to the public, on current world topics.

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A Cherished Photo

By Abdulmalik J. Merchant
Publisher-Editor, www.simerg.com

Aga Khan IV, 49th Ismaili Imam, pictured at Brown University in May 1996. Photo: Akdn.org

His Highness the Aga Khan, the direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s) and 49th Imam, pictured at Brown University in May 1996. Photo: Akdn.org

A family member living overseas called me in Philadelphia, USA, during the third week of May in 1996, and asked me to obtain a speech that he thought Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, had already delivered at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, earlier that month. Without waiting another second, I called Brown’s main number, and was swiftly connected to a very kind and knowledgeable gentleman. When I requested for a copy of the speech, he informed me that the speech had not yet been delivered and that His Highness would be addressing the University’s Baccalaureate Service during the coming Memorial Day Weekend. Obviously, my next question was if I was permitted to attend the event, and without hesitation he asked me to come over and bring my friends too! He explained that the address would take place at the First Baptist Church, where sitting would be limited to the graduating students. However, all the visitors would be able to watch the videocast on a large-screen on the College Green. I thanked him with all my heart. But before wishing me good-bye, he thoughtfully asked me to spend an extra day in Providence, as Mawlana Hazar Imam along with eight other individuals would also be conferred with an Honorary Degree at a special University Ceremony on the same Green.

The Memorial weekend was only two days away! I rushed to get a rented car and prepared for the event, including purchasing a couple of $9.00 disposable cameras from a nearby drugstore in downtown Philadelphia, where I lived. I set out for the 6 hour drive on Saturday morning, May 25th. I first stopped at Scranton University and attended my cousin Akber’s graduation ceremony. I then proceeded to Connecticut to meet Anaar Naran, a close family friend who was my younger brother Fahar’s teacher at Dar-es-Salaam’s Aga Khan Boys Primary School in the 1960’s.

The following morning, Sunday, 26th May, upon reaching Providence, I first decided to locate the whereabouts of the Green. Satisfied, I checked into a nearby hotel and returned with immense excitement to the event site well before the start of the 1:30 pm Baccalaureate Service in the First Baptist Church.

May 26, 1996: His Highness the Aga Khan receives a standing ovation at the conclusion of the Baccalaureate Address at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. Next to him is Vartan Gregorian who was then President of the University.

May 26, 1996: His Highness the Aga Khan receives a standing ovation at the conclusion of the Baccalaureate Address at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. Next to him is Vartan Gregorian who was then President of the University.

Seated at the front of the Green, I witnessed the entire ceremony on the large screen that had been set-up. The ceremony  embraced lively expressions of thanksgiving, harmony, and rhythm and included music and spiritual readings from Islam, Christianity and Hinduism as well as other faiths, incorporating the many spiritual and cultural traditions of the Brown community. The program that was distributed contained the texts of the spiritual readings. I was captivated and deeply touched by the distinguished and dignified ceremony which respected and recognized world-faiths.

As I heard a Hindu reading which alluded to the Lord Vishnu as the Preserver of the Universe and one who would manifest himself again, my thoughts turned to that notion of manifestation as presented by Ismaili missionaries and Pirs in some of their ginans, which were aimed at converting Hindus to the Ismaili faith.

May 26, 1996: An audience at Brown Univeristy's "Green" watches a live telecast from the Meeting House of the First Baptist Church where the Aga Khan delivered the Baccalaureate Address to graduating class. Photo: Abdulmalik Merchant

May 26, 1996: An audience at Brown University’s “Green” watches a live telecast from the Meeting House of the First Baptist Church where the Aga Khan delivered the Baccalaureate Address to graduating class. Photo: Abdulmalik Merchant

The entire service including President Gregorian’s and Mawlana  Hazar Imam’s speeches (Vartan Gregorian’s Tribute to His Highness the Aga Khan at Brown University in 1996) was overpowering and unforgettable, and I was given an opportunity to share my thoughts about the complete event with the Philadelphia jamat a few days later at the invitation of the mukhi. During that talk I also read out the scripture excerpts from Brown’s programme booklet. Alas, the diskette with the hard-copy of my speech is in storage and not easily accessible.

The following morning on Monday, 27th May, bagpipers, highland drummers, marching bands and more than 5,000 graduates, alumni, faculty, parent educators and University guests marched in a mile-long procession that announced Brown University’s 228th Commencement exercises, in  one of the largest and most colorful academic pageants in the nation.

By approximately 11:45 all the three groups – the medical students, graduate students as well as undergraduates – had returned from their separate convocations for the University Ceremony on The College Green.

May 27, 2009: A section of the large crowd witnessing the University Ceremony at Brown University's "Green." The Honorary Degree recipients, including the Aga Khan, are on the stage in the distant. Photo: Malik Merchant

May 27, 1996: A section of the large crowd witnessing the University Ceremony at Brown University’s “Green.” The Honorary Degree recipients, including the Aga Khan, are on the stage in the distant. Photo: Malik Merchant

In the meantime I wandered around the Green, enjoying and soaking in the lively atmosphere. Near one end of the Green I spotted Mansoor Saleh, a class-mate from my 1964 primary school days in Dar-es-Salaam. He was with the Council for USA. I was meeting him after several years, and I greeted him with immense enthusiasm and excitement, not knowing who was around us. A few moments earlier I had seen Princess Zahra Aga Khan and Prince Rahim Aga Khan, and I asked Mansoor where Hazar Imam might be. He asked me to turn to the left, and there standing just a few metres away was Mawlana Hazar Imam in the company of other distinguished individuals, who were also going to be conferred with honorary degrees. I should have been a little quieter in greeting Mansoor, I thought to myself! But then it was a meeting of brothers after years, I said to myself. Wouldn’t my Imam feel happy at that very warm brotherly encounter and greeting?

Dozens of academic staff passed by in the University’s regalia, and many stopped to greet Mawlana Hazar Imam and other dignitaries. I saw President Shams Kassim-Lakha, in his elegant Aga Khan University regalia, approaching Mawlana Hazar Imam and readied my camera to click them together. But a person blocked the scene, and I was momentarily delayed. I clicked as soon as the person had passed. I was uncertain about the shot I had taken and who might be in it. This wasn’t a digital camera – the film had to be sent to the lab to be processed! Everything happened too swiftly.

I thanked Mansoor, wished him goodbye, and proceeded to the back of the Green to watch the University ceremony during which President Vartan Gregorian presented special awards and honors as well as conferred honorary degrees to Mawlana Hazar Imam and eight others – namely Mary Chapin Carpenter, Edward D. Eddy, Timothy Forbes, Agnes Gund, Arthur Mitchell, Sandra Day O’Connor, Itzhak Perlman and James Wolfensohn. Flags from more than 50 nations, representing the homelands of the Class of 1996, were flown during the University ceremony which was filled with thousands of people. When Mawlana Hazar Imam was presented with the honorary degree, President Vartan Gregorian prompted the gathering to give him a special ovation.

A truly memorable event had come to an end. I returned to Philadelphia, and my first action was to submit the cameras for processing. I was quite clear about the contents of dozens of photos that I had captured, with the exception of one.

…AND THE PHOTO

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highnes the Aga Khan, pictured at "The Green" at Brown University, 1996. Photo: Abdulmalik Merchant

THE TREASURED PHOTO – please click for enlargement. Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, with other honorary degree recipients before the ceremony at “The Green” at Brown University, 1996. Photo: Abdulmalik Merchant.

I soon collected the processed prints, and started flipping through the photos, which were essentially of average quality. I felt satisfied considering I had used a very rudimentary camera, a disposable one. Then as I neared the end of the second set of prints, I realized that President Shams Kassim-Lakha had been too fast for my shutter speed. I brought the photo closer to my eye. It filled me with immense joy and happiness. I didn’t know that the camera had harmoniously coordinated with other forces to capture the image. Either by fluke or providence this (‘posed’) photo of Mawlana Hazar Imam is one that I will cherish and treasure throughout my life.

Date posted: Sunday, March 9, 2014.

Copyright. Simerg.

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Ameer Kassam Janmohamed (1931-2014): Leader, Humanitarian and Man of Letters Passes Away in London, UK

REMEMBERING AN ISMAILI MAN OF LETTERS

Born in Kisumu, Kenya, to Rabhiabai and Kassam Janmohamed on June 6, 1931, Ameer Kassam Janmohamed was kind and generous and true to the responsibilities he had to his family and friends, his faith and the noble causes he undertook in public life from his youthful days. His long time service to the Rotarians was particularly significant.

Please click on Ameer Kassam Janmohamed (1931-2014) or photo for tribute.

Ameer Kassam Janmohamed (1931-2014), lived his life to the fullest. Please click on photo for tribute.

Ameer Kassam Janmohamed (1931-2014), lived his life to the fullest. Please click on photo for tribute.

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The Parable of the Lion (and the Sheep) in the Ismaili Ginan “Kesri Sinha Sarup Bhulayo”, Composed by Pir Shams

Following his highly acclaimed piece Ismaili Spirituality in Pir Shams Shabzwari’s Ginan “Ek Shabada Suno Mere Bhai”, writer Shiraz Pradhan continues his exploration of the spiritual dimensions of Ismailism with yet another ginan composed by Pir Shams, namely “Kesri Sinha”.

Please click: An Explanation of the Ismaili Ginan
“Kesri Sinha Sarup Bhulayo”

Please click on image for article. Photo: Istockphoto.com. Copyright.

Please click on image for article. Photo: Istockphoto.com. Copyright.

Through the parable in the ginan about a lion cub who grows up in a flock of sheep and starts to behave like a sheep, the Pir seeks to encourage us to correct our own errors and recognize our true nature. Pradhan’s essay cross references other writings and ginans with a similar theme, and finally concludes with a translation of  the five verses of “Kesri Sinha” for the benefit of the readers.

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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