A Tribute to Mawlana Hazar Imam for Creating “Centres” of Soul at Wynford Drive in Toronto

On October 10, 2010, Bashir Fazal Ladha of the United Kingdom, during his visit to Toronto, went to Wynford Drive to see how the construction work of the Ismaili Centre, the Aga Khan Museum and their Park was coming along. He writes: “It was a thrilling moment and I was full of excitement when I saw the progress, and in a moment of inspiration I composed a poem which I have decided to share with readers of Simerg.” The opening of the museum to the public on September 18, 2014 was announced recently and we take the privilege to repost this beautiful and inspiring poem for all our readers.

Writing the History of Tomorrow

Please click to enlarge

A photo of the site captured on October 10, 2010 by Jim Bowie - the day Bashir Ladha visited the area and was thus inspired to write the poem. Photo: Jim Bowie

A photo of the site captured on October 10, 2010 – the day Bashir Ladha visited the area and was thus inspired to write the poem. Photo: Jim Bowie. Copyright.

BY BASHIR LADHA

A look down deep in the bowls of the earth
“A foundation being laid, a foundation of a building?” I ask
Not only, it is a foundation of a history to unfold…..

I bow my head in submission to
The Lord of  Time and Age
Yes the Lord of Time and Age
For indeed you are beyond time and space

The planets rotate in their orbits
Glorifying your majestic presence
In those momentous moments,
time and history are created

Not the history as in past,
but the unfolding of tomorrow

Lord you create  a new history brick by brick
As the form takes place…
The Majesty of your
awe-inspiring Light is Manifested

Stage by stage, the inner world is recreated
The plaster of your mercy,
the warmth of your love

All adorn the formless and
the formed building you built

You call these “centres”
Indeed these are “centres” of soul
where your name is mentioned

The light shines forth from its windows
Inviting the convenienced  and the stray
Inviting both to a new history of tomorrow
and recreating the event of
alastu*
Inviting to the life of paradise

Museum where the past will be enlivened
Prayer hall where the soul will be enriched
Park where the future will be contemplated
All this, a gift to humanity

Then why, Ya Mawla why do I neglect
Why do I remain unheeded
remaining a slave to my ego?

Teach me O Lord to submit,
to worship as if I see you

And if I do not see you,
to know that you see all

Wynford Drive, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I walk with you to a future
A history of tomorrow
Blessed by the Lord of Time and Age

I walk in hope and faith
for a better world ahead
.

* The day of the Primordial Covenant or the Day of Alastu is when God addressed the people and said, “Am I not your Lord?”  (alastu bi Rabbikum). It was the day when hearts were given spiritual nourishment.

© Simerg.com

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About the writer: Bashir Ladha has served Ismaili Institutions for the past forty years as an Alwaez, teacher and writer. He has been with the Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Board for the United Kingdom since 1983.

An Interview on Nasir Khusraw: Australian Broadcaster in Conversation with Alice Hunsberger

Rachael Kohn: Hello, this is “The Ark”, and I am Rachael Kohn. A thousand years ago a Persian poet defied the conventions of the day. His name was Nasir Khusraw, an Ismaili Muslim, a branch of Shi’a Islam. Instead of lavishing praise on the sultan or his horse, he praised learning and spiritual purity…..Click to read the Australian broadcaster’s interview with Nasir Khusraw specialist Alice Hunsberger

A statue of the famous Ismaili dai Nasir Khusraw in Badakhshan. Please click on image for interview.

A statue of the famous Ismaili dai Nasir Khusraw in Badakhshan. Please click on image for interview.

33rd and 49th Ismaili Imams on Imam’s Essence and Noor of Imamat, with a Poem for Hazar Imam’s 57th Imamat Day

ESSENCE OF IMAM

by Imam ‘Abd al-Salam, 15th Century

There is an ode of the 33rd Ismaili Imam ‘Abd al-Salam in which he says that the talisman (anything that has magical powers) that can open the treasure trove of spiritual meaning of the Holy Qur’an is the Imam. This ode is lucidly explained by Dr. Shafique Virani in his path breaking book, “The Ismailis in the Middle Ages.”

In the ode the Imam observes that the true essence of the Imam cannot be recognized with earthly, fleshly eyes, for these can only see his physical form, perishing like all else with the passage of time. His true face is to be perceived with the eyes of the heart. He has thousands of physical habitations, but his true home is traceless; he has had a thousand names, but all of them refer to one reality.

The Imam continues by saying that today he is known as ‘Abd al-Salam, but tomorrow the physical body will be gone and the name will change, yet the essence will remain in the next Imam of the lineage. Those who look at the Imam as they squint will consider him like any other human being, but as soon as the eyes of the heart perceive correctly, his true status is discovered. In form the Imams change, but in meaning and substance they are changeless. Human language cannot attain to the majesty of the Imams.

The Imam is the most precious ingredient in the supreme elixir (miraculous substance) of eternal life-red sulfur. He is not simply a pearl, but the ocean that gives birth to pearls. The existence of the Imam, who leads humankind to a recognition of God, is the very pinnacle of creation. [1]

~~~~~~~~

THE NOOR OF IMAMAT

By Mawlana Shah Karim al Hussaini Hazar Imam,
His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam

For hundreds of years, my spiritual children have been guided by the Rope of Imamat; you have looked to the Imam of the Age for advice and help in all matters and through your Imam’s immense love and affection for his spiritual children, his Noor has indicated to you where and in which direction you must turn so as to obtain spiritual and worldly satisfaction. [2]

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THE BLESSINGS OF IMAMAT DAY

By Nadim Pabani

Rejoice! Rejoice! For Imamat Day is here!
Do not despair for your Imam is always near.

But what is the essence of this most Blessed Day?
That inspires us to smile and continuously pray?

The Imam exists; a shining Lamp in the Dark
Guiding mankind to goodness, and residing in our heart

He watches over us with love and with care
So you may feel alone, but do not despair!

Your Mawla is here and today is a reminder
He sets an example showing how to be kinder

He promotes the good and forbids the bad
It’s why He exists, so why not be glad?

So on this Imamat Day we raise our hands,
And pray that His Light will shine through all lands

This Day we reaffirm our oath of allegiance
And promise once more to remain in obedience

The Imam is He, from whom we acquire
Our knowledge so that we, rise spiritually higher

Rejoice! Rejoice! For Imamat Day is here!
Remember Him always and you’ll have nothing to fear.

On Imamat Day we gather, we celebrate and rejoice!
And hearts beat in unison, saying shukhar in one voice!

Date posted: Wednesday, July 9, 2014.

_________________

References:

[1] Adapted from The Ismailis in the Middle Ages by Shafique Virani.
[2] Farman Mubarak Pakistan Visit 1964, published by the Ismailia Association for Pakistan. Quoted also in Ilm, Ismailia Association for the United Kingdom, July 1975, Volume 1, Number 1, page 27.

The Light of Imamat Continues to Shine Forever – “Light Upon Light” by Ikhwan Allani

Ikhwan Allani of Toronto, Canada, is fascinated by the beauty of poetry, especially in the expression of mystical knowledge and devotion. In this poem, he illustrates a technique to embed an esoteric aspect of the Ismaili tariqah through a universal medium such as poetry. Please click on Light Upon Light or on the image below.

Image credit: Irfan Lakhani/Saniya Hussain. Copyright. Please click on image for "Light Upon Light" by Ikhwan Allani.

Image credit: Irfan Lakhani/Saniya Hussain. Copyright. Please click on image for “Light Upon Light” by Ikhwan Allani.

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.

 

Spring, Let My Eye Twinkle in Your Joy

SPRING HITHER

By Navyn Naran

do i hear the trickle of spring?
do i see this first dawn welcoming the first warmth?
the peering of the shoot,
and  tenacity of the hidden root,
a glimpse of the sniffing, soft nose of the cotton-tailed rabbit..
delightful!
Nature is all-knowing

220px-Cucumber_leaf

how did the world turn one day from winter to spring?
how did just the right distance from the sun bring warmth to our earth?
how did this One Gesture bring us shanti,
laughter to the cold temperature of many hearts?
color to paint, and fragrance into flowers?
how can man imbue this Grace into his own beating pump?
ejecting  warmth, joy and
shared abundance into his breath ?
bridging smiles and hands for his own Spring
— and so the Spring of the world?

is it possible?
One Soul?
from One Soul!
a verse spoken over and over..who hears?
“words without thoughts never to heaven go”

you were aware of this once as a child i know it
knowledge of machinations of man’s world
has surely tainted your innocence!

Bank_Hall_Snowdrops

the winter has teased its Time further ,
— hark; Spring follows hence;
the rotation continues uninterrupted.
sshhh….do you see its entrance  ?
first, the barren vineyard treetops
bear the lightest green, then tinge of pink,
and maybe next week, crimson.
doesn’t a lover spontaneously touch his love with the softest kiss?
O spontaneous spring, surprise me!

hark, listen to the child,
truthfully telling all-
secrets his parents want to hide

Tree_Roots_at_Riverside

so spring tells all;
transparent,
as the eye ,
transilluminated be!
hide not my friend, verdantly let go.

sshhh! do i hear it coming?
the trickle of spring?
come hither and let my eye twinkle  in your joy.
radiance!
that, is the dress in which I will robe
Spring!
Spring! welcome
to our One World

Date posted: Sunday, April 13, 2014.

Copyright: Navyn Naran.

__________________

Roshan Thomas – Acting in the Path of God By Jalal Jaffer

ACTING IN THE PATH OF GOD

Roshan Thomas was among those who were killed in a terrorist incident in Kabul while she was celebrating the commencement of the Persian New Year, Navruz. She was buried earlier this week in Vancouver, where almost 2000 people from all walks of life attended her funeral at the North Vancouver Ismaili Jamatkhana.

Roshan Thomas was among those who were killed by terrorists in an incident in Kabul while she was celebrating the commencement of the Persian New Year, Navruz. She was buried earlier this week in Vancouver, where almost 2000 people from all walks of life attended her funeral at the North Vancouver Ismaili Jamatkhana.

By Jalal Jaffer

Acting in the path of God
Eliminates limitations, restrictions, conceptions
In pursuit of noble actions
To sustain, promote, achieve
Enhancement, progress, understanding
Amongst God’s most beautiful creation
The human being.

With clarity of mind
Determination against any odds
It was but natural
That Roshan picked a far-away geography
Hoping and pursuing and working towards
A change, some progress, any improvement
In a country, amongst a people
Engulfed in reactionary, ideological, meaningless
Battles and wars and human carnage
To what end, what purpose
Nobody could understand, far less explain
Where pre-historic level of crass ignorance
Animalistic behaviour, un-knowledge…prevailed.

Her commitment to her cause
To act in the path of God
Open the minds and hearts
Of the young and the old
Especially free the girls and women
From the yoke of servitude and worse
Through schooling, through learning, through education
A cause as noble as difficult
A place as harsh as promising
An activity as demanding as fulfilling.
Was solid and uncompromising.

Threats of violence and physical harm
Were ever present
Wise counsel to resist and desist
Came from all corners
None of this held her back
None of this affected her resolve
None of this dampened her spirits

Alas, the heartless ignoramus
A curse on human kind
Targeted her physical form…
Never realizing, never understanding
The spirit, earnestness, commitment
Residing in and within her
That would inspire, empower
Hundreds of new Roshans
More motivated, with greater commitment
To  rise, fight and complete
Her cause, her belief, her vision
For the whole world to watch and celebrate.

Copyright: Jalal Jaffer.

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About the author: Jalal Jaffer is a practising lawyer in Vancouver.

Related: To the Memory of Roshan Thomas and Zeenab Kassam by Navyn Naran

To the Memory of Roshan Thomas and Zeenab Kassam

The Energy of Roshan and Zeenab

The deaths of Roshan and Zeenab in Kabul at the hand of terrorists have touched the hearts of thousands around the world.

The deaths of Roshan and Zeenab in Kabul at the hand of terrorists on the eve of Navroz have touched the hearts of thousands in Afghanistan, Canada and all around the world.

By Navyn Naran

how were you born?

who is your mother?
whose child are you?
who bears a child?
a woman.

we, are all children.
children of the One,
“Who begets not , nor is He begotten
and there is none like unto Him”
so speaks the faith.

It is about the children,
our children,
each child, one child, any child
all the children

you, were a child
and are still;
a body, with a Spirit Breathed into you,
and your ‘child becomes the Man’

on a new moment and new day,
The Movement stirs,
is it the Wind of the Universe
pushing forward Time?
Giving Life and Taking Life Away

a woman bears a child
The Blessing comes to her,
and she, is the mother.
a teacher, teaches children
inculcates knowledge
to respect
and understand Allah’s Creation
spiritual and physical.
Why?
so that “we may leave this world
a better place than the way
we find it”
does not the Qur’an says:
“and whoseover takes a life,
it is as if he has destroyed all humanity”?

and the Prophet (s.a.s) has said;
“And Paradise lies
at the foot of the Mother”
then what is it you are
trying to achieve?

A Child. A Spark
of the Almighty’s Hand
Lo!
“an oil, neither of the east , nor of the west,
whose Light glows forth, though no fire touched it.”
Who?
Allah!
“Light upon light” the Noor says.

Roshan was light, Zeenab, a flowering plant

the mothers of children of the world
“she was more than a mother”
“her body may have died but the values
will only be stronger”
mother of her own children
mothers of belief and tenacity
mothers of courage and love..

as water flows, a child grows
plants reach high, lit from Greater than the sky..
what will you teach them, these children?
what will you share with them, the values?
how will you train them, the principles?

Rahim, Rishma, Karim, Sameera,
Karim-Aly and family,
children

know this:
E=MC2
“the energy of the Universe is in one mustard seed”…
the Energy of Roshan and Zeenab
is now faster than the speed of light

Squared

Revised: Saturday, April 5, 2014.

Copyright: Navyn Naran

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Author’s note: This poem in written to the Taliban in the context that each of them was born to and through a mother. Each was a child in time, and still is their mother’s child. The poem is best acted out and the various stanzas are to be read by children and adult children of different ages…this should invoke a feeling of an individual’s journey in time and a realization that killing one human is as if “one destroyed entire humanity,” including oneself. This, the taliban are doing. The energy they believe they want to overthrow, through the children they destroy, will be  transcended to a greater Force because it is Blessed through Allah.

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To read more about Roshan Thomas and Zeenab Kassam and the recent tragedy in Kabul, please visit http://ismailimail.wordpress.com, a definitive resource of news about the Ismaili community. We welcome your tribute to Roshan and Zeenab; please click Leave a comment or if you encounter a technical difficulty send your message to simerg@aol.com, subject: Roshan Thomas and Zeenab Kassam.

 

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.

Poems for Salgirah: ALI by Sherali Kara

(English translation follows this transliteration from Hindi)

ALI

By Sherali Kara

Hum jiyenge aur jiyenge sirf ALI tere liye. 
Ruhani bache tere hai, Haath thaam ke rakhna ALI. 

Tub bhi ALI he thaa, Ab hai tu Hazar Imam ALI.
Taa qayamat tak rahenga Hayul Qayum ALI ALI.

Kya tariqat shaan hai teri.
Khub haqiqi jalwa hai tera.
Kya noorani tevar tere hai.
Shaan e Khuda tu hi ALI hai.

Teri Hidayat se ALI hum jaamat ne taraqi ke.
Lakho Abjo sukhran karo ‘Sukran ALI Sukhran ALI

Is salegrah ke jasn me kya dena hai tujhe ALI.
Khub ibaadat aur khidmat jum kar karna hume ALI.

English Translation

We will again and again serve ALI, you and you only.
We are your spiritual children, hold our hands tight. 

You were ALI of the past, now you are Hazar Imam ALI.
You will be physically forever, Always Present and Everliving ALI ALI

What a tariqat greatness you have.
What a haqiqi brightness you posses.
With the Noorani enlightenment in you O ALI.
You are the greatness of GOD, only you ALI.

With your guidance, we jamat have prospered.
Millions and billions of thank you ALI, thank you ALI

On this Occasion of your Salgirah (Birthday),
what do we need to give you? O ALI.

Lots and Lot of Ibaadat and Khidmat by us is our gift to you. O ALI

Date posted: Friday, December 13, 2013.

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Author’s note: When I mention the word ALI, I am referring to the ALI who has been with us from the beginning of time and will remain with us till the end of time. Also, ALI here refers to all the Imams and not simply the first Imam, Hazrat Ali.

About the author: Since his teenage years, Sherali Kara, now fifty-three, has taken a keen interest in furthering his spiritual knowledge, and over the years has developed a deep spiritual and esoteric insight into several ayats from the Holy Qur’an, Ismaili ginans and qasidas. He hails from a family that has a long tradition of Khidmat (service) in the Ismaili Jamat. His mother, Malekbibi Kara, was called the “ginan queen” of her time. Mr. Kara composes poems and couplets specifically on the theme of ALI.  He lives in Andheri, a suburb of Mumbai, and provides Realty Advisory services.