Special Series: Ismaili Expressions on the Imamat and Imam of the Time — (I) The Preamble of the Constitution of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims

LETTER FROM PUBLISHER

By Abdulmalik Merchant

Canada’s Confederation Day, the American Independence Day, Tanzania’s Saba Saba celebrations and the Imamat Day of His Highness the Aga Khan, all fall in the month of July.

Canada is already preparing for its 150th birthday two years hence when Ismailis around the world will, inshallah, celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of their beloved 49th Imam, whom they respectfully address as Mawlana Hazar Imam.

 A portrait of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, with a framed portrait of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah in the background. Photo by Philippe Le Tellier/Paris Match via Getty Images. Copyright.

A portrait of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, with a framed portrait of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah in the background. Photo by Philippe Le Tellier/Paris Match via Getty Images. Copyright.

His Highness the Aga Khan succeeded to the 49th hereditary throne of Imamat at the age of twenty by the will of his grandfather, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III, who served as the 48th Ismaili Imam for a record 71 years (August 17, 1885 – July 11, 1957).

Over the next week, Simerg will provide an insight into the principles of Imamat through short readings. We begin the series by posting the Preamble of the Ismaili Constitution, which is an introductory succinct statement giving the historical roots of the Ismaili Imamat, the principle of Imamat succession, and the permanency of the spiritual bond that exists between the Imam and his followers.

Another theme that will be explored in the coming few days through the writings of Ismaili Pirs, missionaries and philosophers is the principle of the Unity of Imamat, that is the Ismaili belief and understanding that each Imam, being the bearer of the Noor (Light) of Imamat, is the same irrespective of his own age or the time he lives in.

Finally, another aspect that will become apparent from the readings to follow is that the hereditary institution of Imamat can never become extinct. This is in accordance with the well known Muslim prophetic tradition, hadith thaqalain, which says, “I leave behind me two weighty things: The Book of Allah and my Progeny. If you keep yourselves attached to these two, never, never will you go astray. Both are tied with a long rope and cannot be separated until the Day of Judgement.”

The Preamble of the Constitution of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims

Please click on photo for enlargement

December 13, 1986, Geneva: On his 50th birthday, His Highness the Aga Khan is seen ordaining a new constitution for the worldwide Ismaili community.

December 13, 1986, Geneva: On his 50th birthday, His Highness the Aga Khan is seen ordaining a new constitution for the worldwide Ismaili community.

“Mawlana Hazar Imam Shah Karim al Hussaini, His Highness Prince Aga Khan, in direct lineal descent from the Holy Prophet (s.a.s.) through Hazrat Mawlana Ali (a.s.) and Hazrat Bibi Fatima (a.s), is the Forty-Ninth Imam of the Ismaili Muslims.”

BACKGROUND

In 1905, the 48th Ismaili Imam, Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III, issued a written set of ‘Rules and Regulations’ for the Ismailis of East Africa which effectively served as their communal constitution. This constitution re-affirmed the centrality of the Imam’s authority over the affairs of his community and also articulated the distinctive religious identity of the Ismailis. This document was revised and published several times until 1954, and was made available to Ismailis and non-Ismailis alike. Similar rules were given to the Ismaili community in British India.

During the 1960’s, the 48th Imam’s grandson and successor, Mawlana Shah Karim al-Hussaini Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan IV, gave Constitutions to his followers in Africa and Pakistan in 1962, and to the Jamat in India in 1967.

A constitution review committee was then formed in the early 1980’s, and after exhaustive review, Mawlana Hazar Imam, in 1986, ordained a new Ismaili Constitution known as “The Constitution of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims.”

The Ismaili Constitution became applicable throughout the world, linking all Ismailis to the Imamat. His Highness did this with the belief that the Constitution would provide a strong institutional and organizational framework through which his community would be able to contribute to the harmonious development of the Muslim Ummah and of the societies in which his followers lived. He expressed confidence that the Ismaili Constitution would give a stronger integrated identity to his community, and that in abiding by it in letter and spirit, the Ismailis would achieve greater peace, unity, happiness, security and wellbeing. He futher hoped that the Constitution would become an enabling document for all his murids (followers) for an active role in institution building, for creative application of their abilities, for personal development and for intellectual and spiritual satisfaction.

The new constitution was ordained, signed and sealed by Mawlana Hazar Imam on December 13th, 1986, his fiftieth Salgirah (birthday) and thirtieth year of Imamat. The Constitution was revised by Mawlana Hazar Imam on July 11, 1998, when he completed forty one years of his spiritual leadership.

THE PREAMBLE

(A) The Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims affirm the shahādah lā ilāha illa-llāh, Muhammadur rasulu-llāh, the Tawhid therein and that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) is the last and final Prophet of Allah. Islam, as revealed in the Holy Quran, is the final message of Allah to mankind, and is universal and eternal. The Holy Prophet (s.a.s.) through the divine revelation from Allah prescribed rules governing spiritual and temporal matters.

(B) In accordance with Shia doctrine, tradition, and interpretation of history, the Holy Prophet (s.a.s.) designated and appointed his cousin and son-in-law Hazrat Mawlana Ali Amiru-l-Mu’minin (a.s), to be the first Imam to continue the Ta’wīl and Ta‘līm of Allah’s final message and to guide the murids, and proclaimed that the Imamat should continue by heredity through Hazrat Mawlana Ali (a.s) and his daughter Hazrat Bibi Fatimat-az-Zahra, Khātun-i-Jannat (a.s).

(C) Succession of Imamat is by way of Nass, it being the absolute prerogative of the Imam of the time to appoint his successor from amongst any of his male descendents whether they be sons or remoter issue.

(D) The authority of the Imam in the Ismaili Tariqah is testified by Bay‘ah by the murid to the Imam which is the act of acceptance by the murid of the permanent spiritual bond between the Imam and the murid. This allegiance unites all Ismaili Muslims worldwide in their loyalty, devotion and obedience to the Imam within the Islamic concept of universal brotherhood. It is distinct from the allegiance of the individual murid to his land of abode.

(E) From the time of the Imamat of Hazrat Mawlana Ali (a.s), the Imams of the Ismaili Muslims have ruled over territories and peoples in various areas of the world at different periods of history and, in accordance with the needs of the time, have given rules of conduct and constitution in conformity with the Islamic concepts of unity, brotherhood, justice, tolerance and goodwill.

(F) Historically and in accordance with Ismaili tradition, the Imam of the time is concerned with spiritual advancement as well as improvement of the quality of life of his murids. The imam’s ta‘lim lights the murid’s path to spiritual enlightenment and vision. In temporal matters, the Imam guides the murids, and motivates them to develop their potential.

(G) Mawlana Hazar Imam Shah Karim al Hussaini, His Highness Prince Aga Khan, in direct lineal descent from the Holy Prophet (s.a.s.) through Hazrat Mawlana Ali (a.s.) and Hazrat Bibi Fatima (a.s), is the Forty-Ninth Imam of the Ismaili Muslims.

(H) By virtue of his office and in accordance with the faith and belief of the Ismaili Muslims, the Imam enjoys full authority of governance over and in respect of all religious and Jamati matters of the Ismaili Muslims.

(I) It is the desire and Hidāyat of Mawlana Hazar Imam that the constitutions presently applicable to the Ismaili Muslims in different countries be superseded and that the Ismaili Muslims worldwide be given this constitution in order better to secure their peace and unity, religious and social welfare, to foster fruitful collaboration between different peoples, to optimise the use of resources, and to enable the Ismaili Muslims to make a valid and meaningful contribution to the improvement of the quality of life of the Ummah and the societies in which they live.

Date posted: Saturday, July 4, 2015.

© Simerg.com

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References for this post:

(1) The Ismailis: An Illustrated History by Farhad Daftary and Zulfikar Hirji, published by Azimuth editions in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies (2008).

(2) Wikipedia article on Imamah, with link to website, http://www.salmanspiritual.com/

(3) http://www.kamalzar.com, website of Alwaez Kamaluddin Muhammad and Alwaeza Zarina Kamaludin.

Reminiscences of Two Great Ismaili Missionaries of the 20th Century – Pir Sabzali and Meghji Missionary

“[Pir Sabzali and Meghji Missionary] drew all their courage and strength from their intense and ardent practice of Ibadat and went out to accomplish their missions with intelligence and knowledge, and with the firm belief that the help of Hazar Imam was always with them.”

A youthful portrait of the Ismaili missionary, Meghji Maherali (1881 – 1941), of Mombasa, Kenya. Photo Credit: Archives of the family of Meghji Missionary. Copyright.

BY IZAT VELJI

My profound gratitude and thanks [to the late Ameer Janmohamed] for sharing so much about Pir Sabzali – it is indeed a living history. The personal comments and recollections made his Thank You Letter to Pir Sabzali all the more interesting and real. The group picture shown below of Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah with Ismaili missionaries astonished me because there in the photo staring back at me is my nanabapa [maternal grandfather]. I happen to be the proud grand-daughter of Missionary Meghji Maherali, seated at the extreme left in the centre row. In the same row, third from right, is Pir Sabzali.

Every time missionary Pir Sabzali came into Mombasa, he never left without visiting nanabapa. The two had ever so much to share. There was no rivalry, competition or one-upmanship between them. This was very evident from everything that my mother, Noorbanu, shared with us kids.

Mum said that at the dining table, Pir Sabzali and nanabapa shared stories about their travels and advised and helped each other on how to improve each other’s skills in establishing the various jamats they visited. They also discussed ways of improving their waezes [sermons] and participation in discussions so as to become more effective. Apparently, there was a lot of gentleness and warmth as well as mutual respect between them, and they had a soft sense of humour when they recounted personal anecdotes. It seems like they really fed off each other. Pir Sabzali would relay messages of blessings to nanabapa’s family from Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah.

Please click to enlarge and read caption. Photo: (Late) Ameer Janmohamed Collection. UK.

Later, they would retire to the front room where nanima would send a tray of chai and ‘goodies’ via my mum, who was then seven or eight years old. She remembered all this with so much pride and joy. My mum passed away in 2000. She said that the two missionaries would sit for hours apparently discussing all matters Ibadat (special worship prayers).

They drew all their courage and strength from their intense and ardent practice of Ibadat and went out to accomplish their missions with intelligence and knowledge, and with the firm belief that the help of Hazar Imam was always with them. With missionary Sabzali’s encouragement and help, nanabapa established a school of waezins in Mombasa, one of his recruits being my father, Noordin Koorjee. Even back then, our missionary leaders practised ‘succession planning’ so that Imam’s work would not come to a standstill after they passed on.

These two ashaqs [devotees] were very sincere in their service to Mawla, and deeply loyal to their Mashuq (the lord of the devotee).

STANDING BACK ROW- l to r: Missionary’s sons Gulamhussein, Fatehali, Sherali, Hussein; 2nd child Mehdi Gulamali is not in picture; SITTING ON CHAIRS – l to r: Daughters Khatija, Fatma, Missionary Meghji Maherali, wife Zainub with Hussein’s 3rd child Shirin, Hussein’s wife, Sikina; SITTING ON FLOOR – l to r: Dolat – Hussein’s 1st child, daughter Noorbanu (mother of Izat Velji, author of this article). Photo Credit: Archives of the family of Meghji Missionary. Copyright.

When Pir Sabzali’s health deteriorated and he was in his last days, Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah sent him a message saying that he still wished to send Sabzali to Africa. Missionary Sabzali died a few days later. This came verbally from my parents, not once but several times. I have no way of authenticating this statement, but if it’s true then only Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah and Mawlana Shah Karim, the present Imam, would know the true import and reach of this message to Pir Sabzali.

When nanabapa died, Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah sent a telegram to the Mombasa Council that “Missionary Meghji’s funeral be held with a lot of pomp because of Meghji’s long and wonderful service to the Mombasa jamat.” So, out came the Scouts Band, all spit and polish followed by the cubs and scouts troops followed by the jamat giving kandh to nanabapa all the way from Chief jamat khana to the cemetery. That’s a long distance.

Today, almost eighty years later, I stand head bowed, in sheer admiration for nanabapa and Missionary Sabzali, whose soul was granted Piratan by Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah. Incidents and events like these are simply overwhelming and sometimes difficult to grasp and comprehend. It is their spirit and devotion which keep the Jamat inspired.

Copyright: Izat Velji/Simerg.

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Editor’s note: Izat Velji’s piece originally appeared on this website in response to Ameer Janmohamed’s Thank You Letter to Pir Sabzali and the Ismaili Pirs of the Ginanic Tradition, which was  published as part of this website’s highly acclaimed third anniversary series on thanking Ismaili historical figures.

We welcome your feedback – please click Leave a comment.

About the writer: Izat Velji spent her early childhood years in Kenya and Tanzania. After completing her secondary schooling in Kenya, she pursued a degree in education and teaching at the University of Nairobi. She then settled in Canada where she completed her degree in Medical Lab Sciences. Later, she was recruited into the faculty of the Aga Khan School of Nursing in Karachi where she taught a number of science subjects including Clinical Microbiology and Basic Immunology. During her tenure in Karachi, she was very fortunate to have met His Highness the Aga Khan who visited her lab and class, once with the late Pakistani President Zia ul-Haqq, and on another occasion with his brother Prince Amyn. Encouraged by her husband, Izat also undertook voluntary assignments with the Aga Khan Health Board for Karachi to develop, conduct feasibilities as well as implement Health Education materials for the province of Sindh and the Northern Areas of Pakistan including Hunza and Chitral. The material that she helped prepare continues to be used today by AKDN Agencies such as Focus in their teaching modules. Since returning to Canada, Izat has been very active with the Ismaili community as a volunteer and especially with the Duke of Edinburgh’s program for youth aged 14 to 25. Most recently in 2011, she was acknowledged by the Governor General at the Gold Award Ceremony.

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Triumphal Moments in Ismaili History: Jawhar’s Conquest of Egypt and Imam al-Muizz’s Resplendent Darbar in Cairo

“I WISH I’D BEEN THERE”

1970: Mansoor Ladha, veteran award winning journalist, writer and author, interviewing His Highness the Aga Khan for Tanzania’s daily, The Standard (now Daily News). Photo: Mansoor Ladha Collection. Copyright.

BY MANSOOR LADHA

As a journalist, a writer and an author, what better time to be than reporting milestones and significant events during the Fatimid Period or the “Golden Age” of Ismailism, when Ismaili Imams ruled over a vast empire and when Ismaili literature, philosophy and law flourished. It was during the Fatimid Period that the Ismaili scholars and authors produced what were to become the classic texts of Ismaili literature dealing with a multitude of exoteric and esoteric subjects. I think I might have made Ismaili fiqh (jurisprudence) my area of specialization, because it had not existed during the pre-Fatimid period. It was codified and became catalogued during the early Fatimid period. It was during the Fatimid period that Ismailis made their important contributions to Islamic theology and philosophy in general and to Shia thought in particular. Modern recovery of Ismaili literature clearly attests to the richness and diversity of the literary and intellectual traditions of the Ismailis.

Egypt became the center of the Fatimid empire that included at its peak North Africa, Sicily, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, the Red Sea coast of Africa, Yemen and the Hejaz. Egypt flourished as the Fatimids developed an extensive trade and diplomatic network and ties which extended all the way to China. Map: Wikipedia; click to enlarge

But, I think, for me of all the events that I would have reported, there are a number of related incidents that stand out, and which I would have liked to witness in the company of Imam Muizz’s trusted commander, Jawhar al-Siqilli. He was of Sicilian descent.

He had been entrusted by the Imam to conquer Egypt. With a 100,000 men assembled and equipped at a cost of 24 million dinars, he set out for Egypt on February 5th, 969.

Embedded I would be, like the modern journalists in this vast army, alongside my hero! The road to Egypt had been well ascertained, forts had been built through the route at specific places. Jawhar was carrying with him a thousand caskets filled with silver. Camels carried gold ingots in plain sight, cast in the shape of millstones, to impress the crowds and the local peoples through which the army passed. Then four months later, in June of the same year, I would arrive with Jawhar in Egypt, and hardly witness any resistance!

As the first measures after the conquest, I see him issue a proclamation promising financial reforms and an end to injustice. He reached out to Sunnis, Jews and Christians and offered them protection.

Then I had been with him as he crossed the Nile, and on July 6 of the same year, he marched through Fustat, and established himself north of the city in the plain that would become his new capital – a capital that Imam Muizz had expressed a wish would rule the world.

Fatimid Cairo with an outline of Jawhar’s wall shown by dashes (Please click to enlarge)

This site was empty except for a monastery and a castle. On the very night of Jawhar’s arrival in this empty spot, I would have seen the Sicilian mark the perimeter of the city with wooden stakes strung together with belled ropes. A crow would land on the rope and set the bells jingling. The ground breaking work would commence at that spot for what would eventually become known as al-Qahira (“The Triumphant”). I would see the birth of what is now modern Cairo!

But the epochal incident, the Grand Darbar, would come four years later. During this interim time I would see Jawhar establish the new capital, pacify the provinces, institute financial reform, defeat the Qarmats in December 971, and introduce new religious observances in conformity with the Shia Ismaili faith. This would include a call to prayers containing the Shiite invitation to “come to the best prayer.”

Now that all had been done, no further time would be spent. There was nothing left to do but to invite Imam al-Muizz.

In 973, the Imam leaves the Maghreb on his way to Egypt with his sons and relatives with him, along with coffins of his ancestors. One of his stops is Alexandria, where the Imam resolves to dedicate his life in the exercise of good works. He then preaches to them in a manner which draws tears from many who are present.

He departs after spending three days in Alexandria, and on June 6, 973, he reaches a place known as Mina. Jawhar is there to receive him. I see him go forth to meet his master and I witness him drawing near the Imam, dismounting from his horse and kissing the ground before the Imam in a show of loyalty, humility and submission to the Amirul Muminin. This is affection and love for the Imam I see at the highest and deepest level. It is a profound experience and a joy to behold, which I would report.

The Imam would then cross the Nile on the Rawdah bridge, bypass Fustat, and proceed straight to Cairo and take possession of the palace or fort that Jawhar had constructed for the Imam.

It is Ramadhan – year AH 362. The feast marking its end is underway. I’d see Imam Muizz conduct his prayers at the new mosque in Cairo, and then ascend the pulpit to give his sermon, with Jawhar on the steps of the pulpit. I would feel the emotions as the crowds weep and sob at hearing the Imam’s sermon.

Outside, the Imam would then mount his horse surrounded by his four armoured and helmeted sons, while two elephants led the procession. Destination – the fort, and I on my heels to get there for the Darbar!

Then, at the fort, all the citizens eagerly await to pay their allegiance to the new Caliph. Jawhar would be within my sight, and very close to the Imam, to his right.

I would witness the Imam majestically seated on his golden throne as he received all the nobles, Qadis, Vazirs and Ulemas of his city. They would present the Imam with their beautiful gifts as well as a robe made from a rare yarn that is known to grow only in Tunis. The material has a special shine and is gilded with gold and silver. The Imam would then be presented a Turban of a similar material and he would adorn the robe and the Turban. A resplendent Darbar for me to record and report as a journalist!

My friend, Jawhar, would get his turn. I would see him present the Imam, al-Muizz, with the best breed of 150 horses gilded with saddles and bridles of gold and diamonds as well as camels and ponies, saddled with boxes filled with all rare items in Egypt.

Then the Imam Muizz in a remarkable gesture of magnanimity and forgiveness would announce the release of about 1000 of his prisoners and present robes and Khalat to all his nobles and officers.

Would Jawhar be forgotten in the sight of the Imam? No. I would be exuberant to see my beloved Imam’s immense love for someone responsible for conquering Egypt some four years earlier. Jawhar would be honoured as he is presented with a golden Khalat and a turban. Imam Muizz then would tie a sword on Jawhar’s waist and present him with 20 horses with golden saddles, 50 thousand dinars and 200,000 dirhams.

With this Darbar, Egypt and Cairo enter a new era that would last almost two centuries and constitute one of the most brilliant periods in Ismaili history and Islamic Civilization.

Indeed a monumental and epochal event to witness and report! What a story and I Wish I’d Been There with Jawhar.

© Simerg.com

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Front cover of Ladha’s work

About the Writer: Mansoor Ladha is an award-winning journalist based in Calgary, Canada. He has held several senior editorial positions with daily and weekly newspapers in Canada, Kenya and Tanzania, which included the Edmonton Journal, Morinville Mirror, Redwater Tribune, Daily Nation, Kenya, and Daily News, Tanzania. Currently, he freelances for the Calgary Herald, the Vancouver Sun, and the Calgary Senior newspapers and travel magazines. He has also published a book entitled A Portrait in Pluralism: Aga Khan’s Shia Ismaili Muslims and is currently working on memoirs on his life in East Africa and in Canada. Last year, he was one of the several writers, scholars and journalists invited to contribute a chapter in the book called, The Story That Brought Me Here. He has served on several public and voluntary bodies in Canada. His complete profile can be viewed on his Web site www.mansoorladha.ca.

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This piece by Mansoor Ladha is one of 32 succinct pieces on Ismaili history that appeared in this blog’s highly acclaimed first anniversary special series, I Wish I’d Been There.

2. We welcome feedback/letters from our readers. Please click Leave a comment, or email it to simerg@aol.com. Your feedback may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation. We are unable to acknowledge unpublished letters.

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Narrative references:

1. Cairo by Andre Raymond, translated by Willard Wood, published by Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2000.

Also note: Cairo map shown is from this book

2. Jawhar as-Siqilli by Zawahir Nooraly in book Great Ismaili Heroes, Pakistan. The complete article is also available on-line at:  http://www.amaana.org/heroes/note010.htm

Triumphal Moments in Ismaili History: The Unveiling of the 11th Imam, al-Mahdi, in North Africa — the Realization of a Dream 1100 Hundred Years Ago that Became the Fatimid Caliphate

“I WISH I’D BEEN THERE”

To witness that moment of unveiling when Imam al-Mahdi rode out to meet his followers stands for me above all the other moments of glory, intrigue and devastation  throughout Ismaili history….
And those followers at Sijilmasa fell at his feet in the most sincere devotion to their spiritual guide.”

Sijilmasa was a mediaeval trade entrepôt at the Western edge of the Maghreb in what is now Morocco

BY ALEEM KARMALI

Standing out in the heat of the desert, a group of conquering Berber tribesmen waited anxiously for their Imam to emerge from the city of Sijilmasa in North Africa. The year was 909 and they had successfully overthrown the Aghlabid rulers at Raqqada. Now was the moment they had longed for – they had come to retrieve their Imam from Sijilmasa, where he had been under arrest, and install him as their new Caliph. They dreamt and prayed that the world would finally achieve peace and justice under the rule of a divinely-guided descendant of the Prophet.

Until that moment, the Ismaili Imams had been in hiding for four generations, so few people could recognize them. In order to identify him at Sijilmasa, it was agreed that if someone rode out into the desert, the tribesmen would dismount from their horses. If that person did not respond by also dismounting, they would know it was their Imam.

To witness that moment of unveiling when Imam al-Mahdi rode out to meet his followers stands for me above all the other moments of glory, intrigue and devastation throughout Ismaili history. The image of a long-hidden Imam remaining atop his mount when all his awestruck followers dismounted is among the most powerful symbols of the authority of the Shi‘a Imams. In that instant, over a century of hiding and persecution was cast aside, and a new era would begin for the Ismailis. For most, the Imam had long been an idea rather than a living person, but now he was real and right in front of them. He was present and living. And those followers at Sijilmasa fell at his feet in the most sincere devotion to their spiritual guide.

This moment was the culmination of over a century of work by the Imams and the Ismaili da‘wa. In the aftermath of the succession dispute following Imam Ja‘far al-Sadiq’s death in 765, there was disarray amongst the Shi‘a. But that moment in the desert was proof that they had succeeded in carving from that disarray a distinct Ismaili doctrine and identity.

To use an analogy of the theatre, they had prepared and rehearsed for this play for over a hundred years, and this was the moment when the curtains were drawn on opening night. This was the first unveiling of the Ismailis to the world, and the realization of a dream that became the Fatimid Caliphate.

© Simerg.com

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This piece by Aleem Karmaili is one of 32 succinct pieces on Ismaili history that appeared in this blog’s highly acclaimed first anniversary special series, “I Wish I’d Been There.”

Aleem Karmali - I Wish I'd Been There - The Unveiling at SijilmasaAbout the writer: Mr. Aleem Karmali, a documentary filmmaker and founder of Crescent Productions, completed the Graduate Programme in Islamic Studies and Humanities at the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London and has an MA in Visual Anthropology at Goldsmiths College, University of London. He also has a BA Honours in Communication Studies and Sociology from Wilfrid Laurier University, and has been working in audio and video production since 1997.

History in the Making: Establishment of the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat in Portugal

COMPILED BY SIMERG

Please click on photo for enlargement

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th hereditary Imam of Shia Ismaili Muslims  directly descended from the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.). Photo: AKDN/Anya Campbell. Copyright.

A portrait of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th hereditary Imam of Shia Ismaili Muslims. Photo: AKDN/Anya Campbell. Copyright.

In an unprecedented historical event, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, and Portugal’s Minister of State and Foreign Affairs, Rui Machete, came together at the historic Necessidades Palace in Lisbon on Wednesday June 3, 2015, to sign a landmark agreement to establish the Seat of the Imamat in Portugal. The Ismaili Imamat is a supra-national entity, representing the succession of Imams since the time of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s).

The Agreement marks the first such accord in the Ismaili Imamat’s modern history. It will come into effect once it has been approved by Portugal’s Parliament and ratified by the President of the Portuguese Republic. Present at the signing ceremony was Portugal’s Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho and other senior government officials.

Thanking the government for inviting the Ismaili Imamat to establish its permanent seat in Portugal, His Highness the Aga Khan (known to his 15 millions Ismaili followers as Mawlana Hazar Imam), hailed the agreement as a historic milestone in the Imamat’s history and said:

“Today is a unique and important occasion, where for the first time in our history we will have the opportunity to work with a partner with whom we share so many values, so many hopes and so many desires.”

He expressed the hope that the agreement would be approved by the Portuguese Parliament  through the democratic process, and that once it was ratified both the Imamat and Portugal could work together to achieve results that could not be achieved by working alone. His Highness also mentioned his community’s great respect and admiration for Portugal, a country where faith is integrated with civil society, a country where all people are happy, or at least the majority are happy, in a world where happiness is unusual.

The agreement establishing Portugal as the seat of Imamat took place at the Palace of Necessidades. It  is a historical building in the Largo do Rilvas, a public square in Lisbon, Portugal. It serves as headquarters of the Portuguese Foreign Ministry. Palace Photo Photo: Wikipedia.

The agreement establishing Portugal as the seat of Imamat took place at the Palace of Necessidades. It is a historical building in the Largo do Rilvas, a public square in Lisbon, Portugal. It serves as headquarters of the Portuguese Foreign Ministry. Palace Photo: Wikipedia.

The Institution of the Ismaili Imamat goes back 1400 years when, according to Shia Muslim tradition, the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) designated and appointed his cousin and son-in-law Ali Ibn Talib (a.s.) to be the first Imam, and proclaimed that the Imamat should continue by heredity through Imam Ali and his daughter Bibi Fatimat-az-Zahra (a.s).

The Ismailis are the only Shia Muslim community led by a living Imam who is vested with global religious authority and has the responsibility for the community’s spiritual and material well-being.

The succession of Imamat is by way of Nass [designation], it being the absolute prerogative of the current Imam to appoint his successor from amongst any of his male descendants whether they be sons or remoter issue.

The present 49th Imam, Prince Karim, succeeded to the throne of Imamat at the age of twenty on July 11, 1957 upon the demise of his late grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III, who  served the community for 72 years, beginning in 1885 when he was only seven years old.

The historical accord will result in intensified cooperation between Portugal and the Ismaili Imamat in supporting research and the knowledge society and in improving the quality of life of Portugal’s inhabitants.

Responding to the historic signing, the Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho said at Wednesday’s ceremony:

“The decisive step taken today will enable the deepening of cooperation, until today essential focused on the social area, with the Imamat Ismaili community beginning to support Portuguese institutions dedicated to excellent research on a wide variety of fields of knowledge.

“I am present here today due to it being a historic moment which brings a long and intense relation existing between Portugal and the Ismaili community to a new level, reflecting particularly the importance of the Ismaili community that resides in our country and Portuguese speaking African countries.”

The Prime Minister also pointed out Mawlana Hazar Imam’s role in “promoting a more tolerant world,” and also said that the choice of Portugal as the seat of the Ismaili Imamat was an acknowledgment of the Portuguese community’s ability to promote dialogue and tolerance between peoples, cultures and beliefs.

Exclusive Simerg Photo Essay: His Highness the Aga Khan and Premier Kathleen Wynne Inaugurate the Beautiful Aga Khan Park in Toronto

PATRON AND BUILDER

Please click on photo(s) for enlargement

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th hereditary Imam of Shia Ismaili Muslims  directly descended from the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.). Photo: AKDN/Anya Campbell. Copyright.

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th hereditary Imam of Shia Ismaili Muslims directly descended from the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.), is the builder of the Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre and the newly opened Aga Khan Park that connects the two buildings. Photo: AKDN/Anya Campbell. Copyright.

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THE INAUGURATION CEREMONY

The recitation of the Canadian National Anthem at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

The recitation of the Canadian National Anthem at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Qur'an reciter Ahsan Afzaly, left, with his back-up colleague, Edrees Amiri, pictured at the Ismaili Centre prior to the opening ceremony. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant.

Qur’an reciter Ahsan Afzaly, left, with his back-up colleague, Edrees Amiri, pictured at the Ismaili Centre prior to the opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant.

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The audience listen to the Ismaili Muslim Choir prior to the arrival of Premier Kathleen Wynne and Mawlana Hazar Imam for the opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant

The audience listens to the Ismaili Muslim Choir performing at the far left corner prior to the arrival of Premier Kathleen Wynne and Mawlana Hazar Imam for the opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant

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Mawlana Hazar Imam, Premier Kathleen Wynne and the reciter of the Holy Qur'an, Ahsan Afzally, look on as a translation of the Qur'anic verses in English and French is underway. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Mawlana Hazar Imam, Premier Kathleen Wynne and the reciter of the Holy Qur’an, Ahsan Afzally, look on as a translation of the Qur’anic verses in English and French is underway during the opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Premier Kathleen Wynne delivering her speech at the opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. This panoramic view shows the elegance of the event which was held inside a beautifully decorated tent built for the occasion. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Premier Kathleen Wynne delivering her speech at the opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. This panoramic view shows the elegance of the event which was held inside a beautiful tent built for the occasion. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Mawlana Hazar Imam congratulates Premier Kathleen Wynne after the completion of her speech at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Mawlana Hazar Imam congratulates Premier Kathleen Wynne after the completion of her speech at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Mawlana Hazar Imam gathers his speech before rising to speak to the audience at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Mawlana Hazar Imam gathers his speech before rising to speak to the audience at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Mawlana Hazar Imam addressing the audience at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Mawlana Hazar Imam addressing the audience at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Mawlana Hazar Imam in an animated mood as he shares a joke related to the expulsion of his community from Uganda during the reign of Idi Amin. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Mawlana Hazar Imam in an animated mood as he shares a joke related to the expulsion of his community from Uganda during the reign of Idi Amin. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Mwlana Hazar Imam receives a standing ovation as he is congratulated by Premier Kathleen Wynne after the completion of his speech at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Mwlana Hazar Imam receives a standing ovation as he is congratulated by Premier Kathleen Wynne after the completion of his speech at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Mawlana Hazar Imam graciously accepts the standing ovation he receives after completing his speech at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Mawlana Hazar Imam graciously accepts the standing ovation he receives after completing his speech at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Premier Kathleen Wynne and Mawlana Hazar Imam unveil the plaque to officially open the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Premier Kathleen Wynne and Mawlana Hazar Imam unveil the plaque to officially open the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Premier Kathleen Wynne and Mawlana Hazar Imam shake hands after unveiling the plaque to open the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant.

Premier Kathleen Wynne and Mawlana Hazar Imam shake hands after unveiling the plaque to open the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant.

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Mawlana Hazar Imam and Premier Kathleen Wynne prepare to depart after unveiling the plaque to open the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Mawlana Hazar Imam and Premier Kathleen Wynne prepare to depart after unveiling the plaque to open the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Mawlana Hazar Imam seen departing the exquisitely prepared tent structure that hosted the inauguration ceremony of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Mawlana Hazar Imam seen departing the exquisitely prepared tent structure that hosted the inauguration ceremony of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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The President of the Aga Khan Council for Australia, Azim Remtulla, was among those who attended the opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

The President of the Aga Khan Council for Australia, Azim Remtulla, was among those who attended the opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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The Aga Khan Museum became the venue for a special reception for guests who attended the opening of the Aga Khan Museum on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

The Aga Khan Museum became the venue for a special reception for guests who attended the opening of the Aga Khan Museum on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Date posted: May 27, 2015.

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Hazrat Ali, the First Imam: A Collection of Easy Readings for Young and Adult Readers

THE IMAMS

We are the tree of Prophethood,
the place of descent
of Divine revelation,
the place of frequenting
of the angels,
and the mainsprings of knowledge.
Those who help us and love us
await (God’s) mercy…..Hazrat Ali

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Introduction: The birthday anniversary of Hazrat Imam Ali (a.s.) is commemorated on the 13th Rajab (corresponding to May 2, in the year 2015). This festival is celebrated by the Shi’te communities and is observed as an occasion to reflect upon the life and teachings of their first Imam. According to the Shi’a doctrine and tradition, Hazrat Ali  was the foundation (asas) of the institution of Imamah. His designation (nass) by the Prophet upon the Command of Allah (al-amr), to guide the believers after the termination of the institution of Nabuwah is central to the Shi’a theology. The Imam’s function is to continue the teaching (ta’lim) and interpretation (ta’wil) of Allah’s Final Message after the demise of the Prophet.

Today, the Shi’a Ismaili Muslims are led by His Highness the Aga Khan, who is the direct lineal descendant of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) through Hazrat Ali (a.s.) and Bibi Fatima (a.s.).

This post on Imam Ali will appeal to all readers, young and adults alike.

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THE ANT

By God,
were I given all the seven heavens
with all they contain
in order that
I may disobey God
by depriving an ant
from the husk of a grain of barley,
I would not do it…..Hazrat Ali

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THE PROPHET’S HOUSEHOLD

To them (the Household of the Prophet)
pertain the noblest of human virtues described in the Qur’an,
and they are the treasures of the Beneficent Allah.
When they speak, they speak the truth,
but when they keep quiet, no one can out strip them…..Hazrat Ali

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His Highness the Aga Khan seen giving his commencement lecture at the American University in Cairo on June 15, 2006. The excerpt on Hazrat Ali, from whom the 49th Ismaili Imam is directly descended, is from the address. Photo Credit: American University in Cairo.

His Highness the Aga Khan seen giving his commencement lecture at the American University in Cairo on June 15, 2006. The excerpts on Hazrat Ali are from the lecture. Photo Credit: American University in Cairo.

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Great Selections from Nahj al-Balaghah for Young People (II)

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ON BEING PATIENT

One who perseveres patiently
will not be without success,
even if it takes a long time – Hazrat Ali

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Great Selections from Nahj al-Balaghah for Young People (I)

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THE HEADSTRONG

One who is headstrong and opinionated perishes,
while one who seeks the advice of others
becomes a partner in their understanding — Hazrat Ali

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KALAM-I MAWLA

Ethics in the Kalam-i Mawla of Hazrat Ali by Farouk M. Topan

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A MESSAGE BY HIS HIGHNESS THE AGA KHAN
ON THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE AGA KHAN FOUNDATION

“The closer you come, the more you will know him” by Akber Kanji, Toronto, Canada

“This is a time of new freedoms, but it is also one in which new choices must be made wisely. In exercising freedom and making choices, our institutions must be guided, as they have been in the past, by the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace of Allah be upon him), and the tradition of our tariqah, which is the tradition of Hazrat Ali: A thinking Islam and a spiritual Islam – an Islam that teaches compassion, tolerance and the dignity of man – Allah’s noblest creation.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, May 14, 1992.

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THE BLESSED

Blessed is one
who is humble regarding himself,

whose livelihood is good,
whose inner thoughts are virtuous,
whose character is good,
who spends the surplus from his wealth
and removes superfluity from his speech,
who keeps his evil away from people — Hazrat Ali

Date Posted: May 1, 2015.

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A Message to Our Beloved Ismaili Brothers and Sisters in Syria: Our Hearts and Prayers are With You, You are Never Alone!

Click for enlargement

Salamiyah and surrounding areas shaded in yellow. Map: Adapted from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please click for enlargement.

Salamiyah and surrounding areas shaded in yellow. Map: Adapted by Simerg from a map produced by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please click for enlargement.

LETTER FROM PUBLISHER

In a special post on January 30, 2013, we had mourned the death of numerous members of the Jamat who were brutally killed in Salamiyah, Syria, by suicide bombers. Simerg had paid tribute to these Jamati members with a thoughtful poem (republished below), and sincerely hoped and prayed that peace would return to Syria.

For those not familiar with Ismaili history, the groundwork for the establishment of Fatimid Caliphate over a thousand years ago was laid in Salamiyah — such is its importance and place in Ismaili history. The 11th Imam, al-Mahdi, set out from Salamiyah in the late  ninth century for the long 3,500km caravan journey to Sijilmasa in North Africa, as a first step in establishing the Caliphate. For over 1200 years, Salamiyah (pop. 187,123, by 2004 census) has been home to tens of thousands of Ismailis, who have lived peacefully, side by side, with Sunni and other Shia Muslims as well as the non-Muslim communities. Indeed, the Ismaili Imamat projects in Syria are designed for the well-being and progress of the entire Syrian nation.

The recent beheadings of Westerners, as well as deeply humiliating treatment, torture and beheadings of Shia and Sunni Muslims opposed to IS (Islamic State), including the burning of a Jordanian air pilot captured by ISIS militants, indicate that the ISIS acts of barbarism are not likely to cease.

Letter to ISIS from Muslim scholarsWe now report with utmost dismay, sadness and profound sorrow that during the last 2 weeks, Ismailis along with members of Sunni and other Shia communities have become victims of IS terror once again. The website of the US Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry, reports in a new release dated April 3, 2015, that “ISIL recently massacred over 40 people in Mabuja in Hama province – reportedly Ismailis and Alawites, including women and children”. [2]

The Canadian Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Rob Nicholson, in his statement issued on April 2, noted that “…the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL] has demonstrated its contempt for the sanctity of human life through its March 31 attack on the Syrian town of Al Maboujeh, on the outskirts of Salamiyeh. Reports indicate that over 40 people, mostly civilians, were killed, and that dozens more were injured. An unknown number of civilians were also reportedly abducted by the terrorist group. As ISIL continues its campaign to seize territory in Syria, innocent people such as those in Salamiyeh are at risk. Al Maboujeh is largely populated by religious and ethnic minority communities, including Christians, Druze, Alawites, Sunni Bedouins, Shi’a Ismailis, among others, who have been systematically targeted and persecuted by ISIL terrorists.” [3]

A view of Salamiyah. Photo: Wikipedia.

A view of Salamiyah. Photo: Wikipedia.

The website SYRIA DEEPLY, which provides an overview of the latest news, says in a summary that “according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, ISIS militants had killed Alawite, Ismaili and Sunni residents of Mabouja by ‘burning, beheading, and firing on them’.”

It further notes in its dispatch that “IS has been moving westward across Syria in a bid to eventually take Salamiyah, a town east of Hama city” (see map above). The report includes a statement by an anonymous IS militant to Reuters that the Hama campaign is aimed eventually to take Salamiyah. “The ultimate goal is to liberate Salamiyah and Hama but it will not happen before Islamic State is 100 percent ready.” [4]

This is very worrying for all residents of Salamiyah, and everyone around the world who have family members in and around Salamiyah and elsewhere in Syria.

As a united and a deeply loyal community under Mawlana Hazar Imam’s leadership, we deeply feel for our  Syrian brothers and sisters, especially when lives are lost in such senseless acts by IS. We reassure the Syrian Jamat of our concern for them, as well as our deep affection and love for them. Mawlana Hazar Imam himself has articulated that as Imam “his first concern is for the security of his followers.” [5]

We pray for the souls of all those individuals who have lost their lives, and assure the Syrian Jamat of our constant prayers for their strength of faith and courage at such a difficult time in their history. We sincerely offer prayers that peace returns to their homeland soon. This can only occur when political leaders who are opposed to each other come together for the greater welfare of people of Syria. Dialogue, which has failed in the past, is the only solution for peace and long-term stability in the country. Compromise is an essential component in this process towards stability and peace.

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YOUR FEEDBACK: We invite our readers to offer their solidarity with the Ismaili jamat in Syria and the people of Syria by expressing their sorrows and feelings by clicking on Leave a Comment or in the comment box below. If you encounter any difficulty in submitting your comment, please email your comment for publication to Simerg@aol.com, subject “Syria.”

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SALAMIYAH AND SYRIA
“Peace Will Be Again”

Dates in season - Salamiyya, Syria

BY ELIA BADRUDIN

Salaam , al Salaam, O salaam
to all of humanity, Peace

al Salamiyeh , KNOW that Peace will be again.
the heavens will smile on you again.
all humanity which speaks for Peace
has promised that
the planet has your place

al Salamiyeh, more than a thousand years before
prayers were seeds of this ground
a grassland lying on Syrian steppes
a fertile plain of hope
a soft quiet spawning the golden age
a diverse Ummah immersed with the Fatimids…
you’ve nurtured yourself for the heavens here
and it is not all gone today.
you are not lost to us; neither sand grain lost to the sky.
as hearts are the stronger carrying yours
as anguish is balanced with resolute prayer
transformed, you will return, al Salamiyeh
the world is not asleep.

we are an entire Ummah living together in al Salamiyeh
the world has not left you
nor any other facing terror —
“you may feel alone
but you are not alone”
does not your date tree stand strong in windstorm?
and your smile not nourish your child?
He is “Always with you, Always with you”
remember.
and the world will not sleep.

not dogma, not terror,
there’s no martyrdom in suicide!
whosoever taketh life of another..
brutal condemnation
the bestiality of his own cowardly nature
who will betray your homeland and ours
has fallen to the brainwashing of his idols
and their very own envy

not even an animal kills but of hunger
leave them to their desolate running.
only, the ends of the earth are round
and of the heavens, eternal.
where will they go?

and the world will not sleep
all day and all night
across our globe
Ismailis holding hands with every other faith
for all of Syria and for all your families.
“you are not alone, you are never alone”

our seven days, a satado,
are seven ages of pain vanquished
are hearts awry yet steadfast
and hope takes root in this action
then Time too will make space..

and these fools will not rule
fear not the evils, for though they have drained innocent blood,
their souls and hearts are for His Taking

Salaam , al Salaam, O salaam
to all of humanity, Peace.

Date posted: Sunday, April 5, 2015.
Last updated: April 5, 2015 (quote from a letter from Muslim scholars to ISIS).

Note: The poem by Elia Badrudin was originally published on January 30, 2013 following the deaths of several Ismailis from a suicide bomb attack in Salamiyah.

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We invite our readers to offer their solidarity with the Ismaili jamat in Syria and the people of Syria by expressing their sorrows and feelings by clicking on Leave a Comment or in the comment box below. If you encounter any difficulty in submitting your comment, please email your comment for publication to Simerg@aol.com, subject “Syria.”

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Quotation References:

[1] English text of complete letter to ISIS at http://www.lettertobaghdadi.com/14/english-v14.pdf.
[2] http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2015/04/240326.htm
[3] http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=958439
[4] http://www.syriadeeply.org/articles/2015/04/7041/syria-executive-summary-41/
[5] Voices: “The Power of Wisdom” – His Highness the Aga Khan’s Interview with Politique Internationale

Related:

Great Moments in Ismaili History: The Establishment of the Fatimid Caliphate by Jehangir A. Merchant.

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Please note that Simerg is an independent initiative. It is not affiliated with any organizations or institutions, and thus the views expressed here are those of the authors.

A Brief Note on a Manuscript at the Library of Congress Dedicated to Fatimid Imam al-Hakim bi Amr-Allah

A view of the African and Middle Eastern Reading Room at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Inset the Main Building. Photo: Library of Congress, USA.

A view of the African and Middle Eastern Reading Room at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Inset the Main Building. Photo: Library of Congress, USA.

INTRODUCTION

In 1945, the US Library of Congress (LOC) purchased a collection of printed books and manuscripts form Shaykh Mahmud al-Iman al-Mansuri, professor of religion at the al-Azhar University, Cairo. Assembled by the Shaykh from sources in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe, the collection deals with virtually every aspect of Qur’anic and Islamic studies and includes commentaries, biographies, dictionaries, and works on history, literature, and philosophy. Approximately 1,300 of the 5,000 volumes that comprise the collection are book manuscripts. The collection is known as the Mansuri Collection.

MANUSCRIPT DEDICATED TO IMAM AL-HAKIM

Among the thousands of items in the Mansuri Collection, is a work on astronomy dedicated to the 16th Ismaili Imam (or the 6th Fatimid Caliph), al-Hakim bi Amr-Allah (d. 411AH/1021 CE). The text is a popular exposition on the study of the order of events in time, and the order in which they occur, especially in those related to astronomical movements and the measurement of time.

A folio from a manuscript whose original work was dedicated to Ismaili Imam al-Hakim. Photo: Library of Congress, USA.

A folio from a manuscript whose original work was dedicated to Ismaili Imam al-Hakim. Photo: Library of Congress, USA.

Note on fol. 2a says that the author, Ibn Jahhaf al-Ḥusayn ibn Zayd ibn ʻAli, was a famous astronomer during the reign of the 6th Fatimid Caliph al-Ḥakim bi-‘Amr Allah (996–1021). The manuscript is yellowed cream, with watermarks, and is in bad condition due to damage from humidity. Edges of some leaves have been repaired. There are dark stains on edges of paper and the last few leaves are missing. The title page is black and red ink; and the colour of the text is black, red, green and yellow. There are occasional diacritical marks, with notes on title page and marginal notes. There are catchwords on rectos.

SUMMARY

Personal Name
Ibn Jaḥhaf, al-Ḥusayn ibn Zayd ibn ʻAli.

Related names
Watari, Muḥammad ʻAli ibn Zahir, former owner.
Ibn al-ʻAttaar, Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad, active 1426. Kashf al-qina firasm al-arba.
Mansuri Collection (Library of Congress) DLC.

Uniform title
Yawaqit fi maʻrifat al-mawaqii

Main title
Kitab al-yawaqit fi maʻrifat al-mawaqit

Description
8 leaves (33 lines), bound : paper ; 20 x 15 cm.

Binding:
New cardboard covered with cloth; leather spine.

Acquisition source, purchase:
Mahmud al-Mansuri ; 1945.

Additional formats:
Also available in digital form on the Library of Congress website.

LC control no:
2008401930

Geographic area code:
n-us-dc

Type of material:
Rare Book or Manuscript

Date posted: Tuesday, March 31, 2015.

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Please click on either of the following two Library of Congress links for additional images of the manuscript:

Three Reasons Why Ismailis Are An Exceptional Community in the Islamic Ummah by Mohammed Arkoun

“Coming from Algeria, which is my country, I can tell you that you represent in Muslim world, in Islamic Ummah a very exceptional community, exceptional community for three reasons.” — Professor Arkoun, please click to read article

“Heresiographic literature describes all the sects in Islam from one point of view, the Sunnite point of view, the Shiite point of view, telling that ‘we, we have the truth, and the others don’t have anything’. This is the heresiographic interpretation of Islam which is totally irrelevant for us today.” — Professor Arkoun, please click to read article

PLEASE CLICK: Three Reasons Why Ismailis Are An Exceptional Community in the Islamic Ummah

Please click on image for article.

Please click on image for article.