PLEASE CLICK: A New Year Resolution for 2016
PLEASE CLICK: A New Year Resolution for 2016
The sacred space is set
The energy is invoked
The earth’s ochre red
Makes a path through the green.
Reflected in the Ismaili and Uganda flag
The logo of the university
Radiating, rippling outwards
Our world of rapid change
Meets in Uganda to break the ground
Nakawa is chosen to propel
the University Hospital
To reach beyond its borders
The frontiers of Science
Radiation ever outwards
Decades of decay at Mulago
A new seed of hope is planted
In Uganda’s rich soil
Revitalizing the land
For life long learning
Radiating ever outwards
The President and Imam’s vision
Bringing to the region
Appropriate advanced Health Care
The people can access
Here at home the very best
The youth empowered to remain
Here at home to give their best practices
Expanding ever outwards
The people rejoice with lush voices
Their partners join hands to celebrate
This great milestone laid by the red bricks
That fulfills the words of the anthem
That ever propel outwards
Salute to the President and Imam for
Their vision, their respect
For national progress
Global standards of excellence
To be in the frontier of scientific
and humanistic knowledge
The best in the world
Propelling expanding ever outward
An emblematic crown over Uganda
Date posted: December 18, 2015.
Copyright: Shariffa Keshavjee/Simerg
Nakawa – an area in the city of Kampala.
Mulago – The hospital located on Mulago Hill in Kampala.
Links to stories and videos of the Land Grant Ceremony of the new Aga Khan University Teaching Hospital to be built in Uganada:
Also, http://www.nanowisdoms.org is an excellent resource for speeches of Mawlana Hazar Imam.
We welcome your feedback. Please click Leave a comment.
Muslim and Nevin Harji have just returned from a remarkable trip to Badakhshan, which is located in one of the most remote corners of the earth, in the midst of the magnificent Pamir mountains. The Harjis were fortunate to be invited to an Ismaili wedding in the small village of Namadgut (near Ishkashim). The whole village consisting of forty Ismaili families was involved in the preparation and celebration of the wedding. We continue our special series on Badakhshan with this special photo essay An Ismaili Wedding in the Pamirs Through My Lens by Muslim Harji.
Letter from Publisher
By Abdulmalik Merchant
When my parents visited me in Voorhees, New Jersey, during the spring of 1995, we would together walk to the main library twice a week. The short walk passed by scenic ponds and streams. There was a scary component to it though — encounters with scattered groups of unfriendly geese.
Once in the library, our focus was to read the Sunday newspapers from nearby cities that made their way into the magazine and newspaper section by Monday.
During one such visit, my dad found himself staring at the Baltimore Sun’s wonderful two page spread of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s first historic visit to Tajikistan, that had taken place a few days earlier. The June 4, 1995, story gave a moving account of the visit by the paper’s correspondent Kathy Lally. It was obvious that she was well acquainted with the Ismailis, and also understood the emotions of the Ismaili people, who had greeted their Imam for the first time in centuries. To my delight, an on-line version of the report did become available, and I reproduced it on Simerg, with the Sun’s permission, some 5 years ago under the title A Western Correspondent’s Account of the Aga Khan’s Historic First Visit to His Followers in Gorno-Badakhshan.
Two decades are not long in the life of a community, and for each of these past twenty years, since Mawlana Hazar Imam’s first visit in May 1995, the Ismaili community of Gorno-Badakhshan has commemorated the historic visit with a celebration known as “Didar” (a Glimpse, of the Imam) or “Noor” (the Light, that the Imam represents). The happiness of this annual event was captured by world-renowned photographer Matthieu Paley in the picture above where Ismaili girls are proudly displaying a framed decorated photo of their beloved Imam.
Subsequently, in addition to many other Badakhshan pieces, we published Ismaili Portraits From Tajikistan, by Khorog’s most distinguished and beloved ‘foreign’ permanent resident, Dr. Ali Rajput of Birmingham, England who in his personal capacity has served the jamat in Badakhshan in numerous ways.
Another piece that we were fortunate to publish was a personal account from Gulnor Saratbekova entitled “Shukr Mawlo, Shukr Mawlo” – When Hope is All You Have Left, describing the dangerous and nervous state of affairs during the prolonged period of civil strife and unrest in Tajikistan in the early 1990’s. Her gratitude, shukr, in this piece is of course to Mawlana Hazar Imam who through the work of his Imamat institutions averted a serious famine that the jamat and other countrymen faced during the Civil War. I would strongly recommend that readers visit the links mentioned for some historical memories.
…..AND NOW MUSLIM HARJI’S SUPERB BADAKHSHAN SERIES
Now, Simerg is happy to present a photographic series dedicated to Badakhshan and Central Asia by none other than Canadian photographer Muslim Harji of Montreal. While he admires and cherishes the memories of the beautiful landscapes of Badakhshan that he captured with his lens, what he has come away most from this visit is the hospitality and warmth of the Ismaili people of Badakhshan. Harji’s incredible photo essays about his journeys to Jerusalem, Dubai, Iran, Turkey, South and South East Asia, have been seen by thousands on this blog, and we are delighted to add this new one to Simerg’s superb photo collection. Please click The Ismailis of Badakhshan Through My Lens by Muslim Harji.
With Tajikistan and Badakhshan now more accessible than ever before, and with so many exciting Imamat projects underway in that part of the world, we hope that Harji’s story will inspire the professional and youth of the jamat to visit this remote and beautiful region. By the way, there is an incredible array of well-organized professional tours to the region that are led by highly experienced non-Jamati operators in North America and Europe.
….The guiding rope
That God has cast
We hold fast to it
The pendulum moves
We Appreciate…Read More
PLEASE CLICK: “We Appreciate” – Poem and Voices from the Aga Khan University East Africa Convocations: Graduates and Families Speak About Hopes and Express Gratitude to University’s Founder, His Highness the Aga Khan
The Jamatkhana Toronto
BY SHARIFFA KESHAVJEE
A thousand years and more
A seed of faith planted
In Khadak in Mumbai
Transplanted to many soils
India, Pakistan, Afghanistan
Bagamoyo, Zanzibar, Mombasa
Now the park on Wynford Drive
The murid murshid seed
Planted and transplanted
Now sacred space of meeting
People, stories, histories
Fused, bonded, shared
Nascent unity love and care
For the highest potential
Nurturing and flourishing
The murid murshid seed
When open arms welcome
Pluralism of mind and heart
Where ideas take root
A Mission is in bloom
The intellect soars
The vision expands
In the park in Canada
The murid murshid spark
A strong foundation
When vision, mission, ideas
In harmonious symphony rise
The universe conspires
The crucible swells
Then there is alchemy
In Toronto in the park
The murid murshid love
Consecrated to Thee
A park, ineffable light, a sacred space,
Where nature, man, knowledge
Come together in unison
Of mind, body and spirit
Of dialogue and collaboration
A mosaic of cultures, languages
Inspiring hope and harmony
The murid murshid bond
Reaches out to man and nature
Circle of infinity encompasses
A Jamatkhana for supplication
The jamat comes together
To submit in humility before the Divine
The hymnal voice rising into the dome
Reaching heavenward ascending
To arrive into the silence of the heart
The murid murshid bond
Reverberating beyond time
The sound of prayer ascends
Reaches a crescendo
From the dome to beyond
Through the crystal clear
To the Divine Light matrix
Into the heart of Divinity
The bond of murid murshid
Sets free the heart of man
Those who come together in dialogue
Those who contemplate and reflect
Welcome to the open arms of wonder
Sacred space, the crucible
That transmutes base to pure
That nurtures and gives flight
To the wings of the souls
The soul of murid to murshid
Transcends human understanding
Had we but wings
We would fly in the sky
To search for the light
Neither of North, South
East and West
To flutter and land
In the windowsill
Of the Divine Master
Where murid murshid
Blend and Unite
Date posted: Monday, September 22, 2014.
Copyright: Shariffa Keshavjee/Simerg. 2014.
The images shown in the poem may be clicked for enlargement. Image captions are as follows:
Top image – The “Muqarnas” is a finely crafted corbelled ceiling whose skylight provides a subtle transition from the outside to the serene Jamatkhana inside. Photo: Copyright Gary Otte.
Centre image – A screen made from ribbons of steel separates the anteroom from the prayer hall. It repeats an 8 sided pattern exhibiting a geometric tool used by Muslim artists to create order and rhythm for contemplation. Photo: Copyright Gary Otte
Bottom image – Inside the Jamatkhana, the central skylight panel descends to a white translucent onyx block. Photo: Copyright Shai Gil.
About the writer: Shariffa Keshavjee is a philanthropist and an entrepreneur with an objective to help women empower themselves. Raised in Kisumu, she considers herself a “pakaa” Kenyan. She is now based in the nation’s capital, Nairobi. Her other interest is in visual arts where she delights in painting on wood, silk and porcelain using water colours, oils and acrylics. She also likes writing, especially for children, and bird watching.
Subscription: Be informed about new post notifications automatically. Subscribe to the blog by simply entering your email at top right of this page, and confirming the subscription notice sent to your email.
Feedback: We welcome feedback/letters from our readers. Please click Leave a comment or submit your letter to email@example.com. Your feedback may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation. We are unable to acknowledge unpublished letters.
The year is 1936, and the setting for a serious dialogue between a brother and his sister is Mumbai’s famous Chawpati on Marine Drive – with the continent of Africa in the distant horizon, thousands of miles away….
“To Africa,” she said.
She looked at his startled face and continued, “That’s your future. So many of my friends have gone and bought shops or farms, or found work on the railways…You know for many years our Imam, Mowlana Sultan Mohammed Shah, has been issuing firmans to us Ismailis to migrate to Africa. Now the Ismailis have built large jamatkhanas in Africa where people can pray and meet freely every day. You won’t be alone. When I heard one of his firmans…I knew it was a message meant for you. It’s your way out.”
PLEASE CLICK: “Conversations on Three Continents”
To acquire a Kindle version ($9.11) or a paperback copy ($11.66) at Amazon please click on Conversations on Three Continents.
A LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER
By Abdulmalik J. A Merchant
Between Simerg and its photo website Simergphotos, I have published almost 900 pieces (see Table of Contents) since I began blogging in early 2009. I am thrilled about every piece that I receive, review and publish. I work closely with the many contributors, and collaborate with them every step of the way until the piece is finally published. Readers’ feedback varies from article to article, but the best response has always been reserved for the photo pieces. The photos of the Tashkurgan Jamatkhana in China which I published almost 3 years ago (see A Jamatkhana in Tashkorgan, China) precipitated a tremendous outpouring of interest due to the mystery surrounding the Ismailis in China. Readers were captivated and wanted to know more. I did not have enough material to satisfy their curiosity on that subject.
All that changed with a truly remarkable collection of photos that I started receiving recently from Ghulam Panjwani of Nairobi, who over the past several years has made numerous trips to China. He and his wife Mumtaz prepared a comprehensive narrative about the Chinese Ismailis including their social and religious customs and traditions.
That the Panjwanis have decided to share their valuable experience and inside knowledge via Simerg is a source of immense happiness to me, and I am deeply grateful to them for their special contribution, as we embark on a new exciting year at Simerg and Simergphotos.
The goal is to reach more and more readers, and you can help in this process by informing your friends and relatives as well as your contacts about both www.simerg.com and www.simerphotos.com. A free subscription is only a click away at the top right of this page.
I welcome your feedback at Simerg@aol.com and invite you to contribute original pieces for the two blogs. You have a wide choice of topics you can write about.
I hope you enjoy Ghulam’s piece for the New Year! My parents, Jehangir and Maleksultan Merchant, and daughter Nurin join me in wishing you and your families a very happy and joyous 2014. May all your wishes be fulfilled.
Please click on image below or Ismailis in China – A Travelogue with a Special Photo Collection
ThE NOOR OF IMAMAT….OOops
By Navyn Naran
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.
i will bow before you, and begin my poem.
let’s twirl under the sunshine,
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.
let’s always walk.
out of poverty, i trust?
yes, yes…optimistically out of poverty,
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
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
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.