As part of the 3rd anniversary of Simerg’s photo blog, we bring you two previous features portraying the rich culture and history of Iran, and the meaning behind the logo of the Aga Khan University. Please click on the links or images shown below.
Simerg is celebrating the public opening of the Aga Khan Museum on September 18, 2014, by launching a photography contest. A total of 25 photos, all related to the Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre and their Park taken from the time the grounds become open to the public through to September 25, 2014, will be selected by an independent panel of judges and posted on this website on or around 7th October, 2014. The prizes will consist of a total of 20 free annual youth and family memberships to the museum as well as 5 merit prizes from the museum’s shop.
There will be two categories. The Youth Category will be open to anyone 19 and under. A total of 10 annual youth memberships will be given to the winning entries and, in addition, the judges will select 5 merit entries who will be awarded with the Aga Khan Museum catalogue.
The Open Category is for anyone over the age of 19. It will be for all amateur photographers and photography enthusiasts as well as anyone who likes to shoot photographs, either using a camera or their smart hand-held devices and phones! For this category we will expect each photo to be accompanied with a 75 to 100 word narrative to encapsulate the photographer’s experience of the Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre or their Park. Only spaces where photos are allowed to be taken will be accepted for the contest.
The opening days of the museum will be the perfect breeding ground for passionate picture taking and writing a brief narrative, and if you are selected as a winner in the Open Category you will be one of 10 to receive an annual family membership.
Here are some ideas for taking and submitting photos: artistic and architecture beauty and grandeur of the projects, interior spaces (where permitted), landscape, nature (as in the park), as well as spontaneous moments involving people!
The prizes that are to be given are from gracious donations by numerous individuals and families in Ontario. Further details of the contest, including the names of judges, will be published in the coming fortnight. Start preparing for this contest as communities in Ontario and Canada as well as around the world eagerly anticipate the opening of three unique cultural initiatives undertaken by His Highness the Aga Khan!
by Pir Shihabu’d-Din Shah
Faith (Iman) is like a tree, the roots of which go into the heart: its trunk is in reason, and its branches are in the instincts, while imagination is its new shoots and leaves – (senses of) the body. The foundation (asl) of faith is love for the Imam-e-Zaman (the Imam of the Time). And if this foundation, that is, this love, and the roots of faith are strong and in good condition, all other parts of the tree, such as its trunk, its branches and leaves, can be expected to continue to flourish even if they are (accidentally) damaged. If, on the contrary, the roots are not well grounded, or even rotten, the whole tree will soon dry, and then will become good for nothing except to be used as fuel.
Thus love for Mawlana Hazar Imam is everything, being the root of faith. If it is not strong, all the acts of outward piety (a’mal-i zahiri) which are like leaves of the tree, will fade. If you have thousands of leaves, fresh and of good colour, they will dry in a short time, and then a very small fire will be sufficient to burn them completely.
2. LOVE FOR HAZAR IMAM
by Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq
It is related from Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) that a group of Shias visited him one day. One in the group addressed the Imam and spoke of a man who was with them.
“O Son of the Messenger of God: this man has love for you.”
On hearing these words, the Imam looked at the person and said:
“The best kind of love is the love for the sake of God and His Messenger. There is no gain in any other kind of love.”
The Imam then continued.
“Once the ansars [helpers] came to Hazrat Muhammad Mustafa (s.a.s.) and said, ‘O Messenger of God! We were on the wrong path and Allah guided us through you. We were destitute and we prospered by your blessings. For this reason, you may ask of anything you desire from our belongings and we shall give it to you.’
“At this, the following verse was revealed by Allah, ‘Say (O Muhammad): No reward do I ask (for my favours) except your love for my kith and kin’.”
Moved to tears, Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq then raised his hands and exclaimed:
“Praise be to God, Who has exalted us above all.”
“Faith” adapted from Risala dar haqiqat-i din by Pir Shihabu’d-Din Shah Al-Husayni, translated as True Meaning of Religion by Wladimir Ivanow. Pir Shihabu’d-Din Shah was the eldest son of the 47th Ismaili Imam, Aga Ali Shah, also known as Aga Khan II. The Pir was only 33 when he died due to a chest related illness, a few months before the demise of his own father, Imam Aga Ali Shah. Mawlana Shah Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III, then only 8 years old, succeeded to the throne of Imamat as the 48th Imam.
“Love for Imam” excerpted from article by Jehangir Merchant and Alnoor Bhatia published in Ilm, Volume 5, Number 1 (July 1979). The article was based on the Gujarati edition of Qadi al-Numan’s work, Da’aim al-Islam.
PLEASE CLICK: An Esoteric Interpretation of the Mi’raj and the Prophetic Tradition ‘I Have a Time with God’ (li ma’a Allah waqt) By Jehangir A. Merchant
DETAILS OF THE IMAGE
This single sheet probably came from a handwritten work completed for the Ottoman Sultan Murad III (r. AH 982–1003 / AD 1574–95), and is currently housed at the Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany. It features, between bands of script, the prophets Moses and Muhammad and the Archangel Gabriel conversing in heaven. Angels, perched on five clouds behind these three principal characters, appear to be listening. The scene portrayed is one from Muhammad’s visionary ascension to heaven. Muhammad stands on the right-hand side in a long green robe and turban, and Moses, wearing a long dark red robe, is on the left, in front of his heavenly throne, which is denoted by an inscription in Arabic lettering. Moses is gesturing his hands in speech. Muhammad, with whom he is conversing, stands on the opposite side. A white veil conceals his face, while his hands are hidden in the long sleeves of his gown. The heads of both prophets are crowned with halos, within which their names, written in a black script, can be deciphered. The Archangel Gabriel stands between Muhammad and Moses, turning towards Muhammad. He is characterised by a twin pair of multi-coloured wings and a crown. He is featured in the Old Testament as the gate-keeper of Paradise. As one of two angels standing in the presence of God (Luke 1:19), it was Gabriel who explained the story of the Messiah (Daniel 8:16ff.). In Muslim tradition, the angel brought the Divine Revelation of the Holy Qur’an to Prophet Muhammad. In Sura 2 verse 97 it is written that: Gabriel ‘has by God’s grace revealed it [the Qur’an] to you [Muhammad] to your heart’.
The text above the three personages, which describes the story, is written in Ottoman Turkish. It includes the account of Muhammad discussing with God the number of daily prayers. Both eventually agreed on five daily prayers. Moses is Muhammad’s heavenly adviser and Gabriel is his companion. The direct speech of all those involved is written in Arabic. The text is taken from a biography of the prophet which had appeared from the AH 1st century/AD 7th century on. The generic term for this type of biography is sira, which translates as ‘life facts’ or ‘way of life’. (Text adapted from the website of MWNF – see link below).
Date posted: Saturday, May 24, 2014.
Links to a selection of Jehangir Merchant’s pieces at Simerg:
- Jehangir Merchant’s Thank You Letter to the Fatimid Ismaili Icon, Da’i Al-Mu’ayyad al-Shirazi
- Ghadir-Khumm and the Two Weighty Matters (which includes Alwaez’s detailed profile)
- The Story of Noah’s Ark in the Holy Qur’an
- Great Moments in Ismaili History: The Establishment of the Fatimid Caliphate
- The Parable of Moses and Khidr in the Holy Qur’an: An Esoteric Interpretation
PLEASE CLICK: Simerg’s Imamat and Didar Series
INTRODUCTION: His Highness the Aga Khan, or Mawlana Hazar Imam as he is affectionately and respectfully addressed by his Ismaili followers, will be visiting Bangladesh and India during the coming month. In July 2011, the 49th Ismaili Imam who is the direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) made a highly successful visit to East Africa and Simerg provided a religious context of the visit by publishing a seven-part series on Imamat and what didar (lit. glimpse of the Imam of the Time) represents to an Ismaili.
We are pleased to provide the entire series which consists of thirty-five brief readings such as “Didar: Life’s Ultimate Purpose” by Imam Mustansir-Billah in PDF format. To download this highly educational and inspiring series, please click Simerg’s Imamat and Didar Series. We invite you to share this post with your contacts around the world.
A Note to Readers: Please scroll down or click Home page for other recent posts and click What’s New for links to all articles published on this blog since March 2009. Subscribe to this Website via the box near the top right of this page.
Rajabali Mecklai served in numerous capacities as a volunteer both in Uganda and Canada for many years but he registered as a badged Ismaili volunteer over 30 years ago. His late wife, Maleksultan, was a motivating force of his volunteering activities. She passed away in Vancouver’s downtown Drake Jamatkhana at the call of prayer on Friday, August 16 1996. Rajabali’s deep affection and closeness to Maleksultan is shown by the love letters he wrote in her memory, many of which he shares with his friends and youth of the Jamat….Read more of this first piece in Simerg’s new series
Please contribute your stories, see STORIES OF ISMAILI VOLUNTEERS.
By Malik Merchant
Labour for the welfare of others is the best way of improving oneself, because its results are sure and certain. If you work for yourself, you are never happy — His Highness the Aga Khan, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah (1877 – 1957), March 12, 1924, Recreation Club, Mumbai, India.
As publisher-editor of this literary website and its companion photoblog, Simergphotos, I’m always seeking out ideas to enrich the two blogs as well as looking at ways by which readers such as you can contribute meaningfully through submission of photos, stories and articles. The readers’ response has been encouraging as reflected in the number of original pieces we have published including the ones we received for our annual commemorative series such as I Wish I’d Been There (2010), The Jamatkhana (2011) and last year’s Thanking Ismaili Historical Figures.
Ideas come from numerous sources, and this year’s 4th commemorative series about Ismaili volunteers was precipitated by a recent chance meeting with an impeccably dressed elderly Ismaili volunteer at the Ismaili Centre and Darkhana Jamatkhana in Burnaby. Rajabali Mecklai who was born more than seventy years ago in Nagalama, a small Ugandan town, was standing beside his son. I was attracted by the glow on his face and the shining volunteer’s badge he was wearing on his smart navy blue volunteer’s blazer. I was impressed and inspired by the brief account Mr. Mecklai’s son, Nasir, gave of his father who was back on his feet once again as a volunteer following recovery from illness.
I asked the son to scan the volunteer’s badge his father was wearing, and include with it a brief profile of his dad, possibly with a few photos. So what was intended as an explanatory piece about the badge is now turning into a series about members of the Ismaili community who serve(d) brilliantly as badged as non-badged volunteers both within and outside the Ismaili Muslim community.
His Highness the Aga Khan has on many occasions expressed his immense admiration for the work of the volunteers, and has indicated that other communities also envy the Ismaili volunteers. He has blessed the Ismaili volunteers on numerous occasions and has used the word shabash, as his grandfather did, to praise the volunteers. In an interview with Simerg following a fascinating piece on the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat, Maria Cook of the Ottawa Citizen mentioned a conversation she had with His Highness at the opening ceremony:
“I asked His Highness how he kept his focus and energy. He replied that he surrounded himself with people who were very good at what they do and also many dedicated volunteers. He said he was inspired every day by their efforts and devotion to excellence.”
There are countless tales of devoted service and we would like to hear from you about Ismaili volunteers around the world who serve, simply wish to serve, without any expectation of rewards. What inspired you or the friend you know or a member in your family to join the Ismaili volunteers or serve as non-badged volunteer in Ismaili or non-institutions and groups, what challenges did the person experience during his/her services, what are the iconic and memorable events that the volunteer carries in the heart which sustains and motivates the person to carry on serving , and what are some of the inspirational moments that can be shared with others.
You may find it useful to take a moment to glean from other life-experiences of volunteers on numerous volunteer websites (see selected links below).Also, the story need not be confined to serving Ismaili volunteers. It might be related to a retired volunteer or of one who served exceptionally and is no longer with us, whose examples would be of benefit to others.Your contribution – narrative and images – with your full name, address and phone number should be emailed to Simerg@aol.com, subject “Simerg Volunteer Series”. We wish to hear from you, and look forward to publishing many stories of heroism and commitment in the next few months.
Date posted: Sunday, May 26, 2013.
Date update: Sunday, August 4, 2013 (new story, link below)
The series so far:
- Volunteers, the Unsung Heroes of the World-Class 2008 Ismaili Golden Jubilee Games Celebrating the 50th Imamat Anniversary of His Highness the Aga Khan (August 4, 2013).
- Rajabali Mecklai, 85, Serves the Vancouver Ismailis and Community at Large with Dedication and Distinction (July 18, 2013).
Introduction: The birthday anniversary of Hazrat Imam Ali (a.s.) is commemorated on the 13th Rajab. 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, in addition to the celebration of Yaum e-Ali, commemorate the birthday anniversary (Salgirah) of their present living Imam (Mawlana Hazar Imam), His Highness the Aga Khan, who is the direct lineal descendent of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) through Hazrat Ali (a.s.) and Bibi Fatima (a.s.).
NADE ALI IN OTTOMAN CALLIGRAPHY
Nade Ali, Nade Ali, Nade Ali
Nade Aliyyan mazhar al-ajaib
Tajidahu awnan lakafin-nawaib
Kullu hammin wa ghammin
sayanj-i Ali Bi wilayatika,
Ya Ali! Ya Ali! Ya Ali!
Call Ali call Ali call Ali,
the manifestation of marvels
He will be your helper in difficulty
Every anxiety and sorrow will end
Through your friendship.
O Ali, O Ali, O Ali
LINKS TO TWELVE READINGS
The Love for Ali by Altaf Hajiyani
Hazrat Ali’s Example: What We Can Do Today by Pervis Rawji
The Naad-e-Ali, “Call Upon Ali….oh Ali, oh Ali, oh Ali” by Hussein Rashid
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
An Englishman Reflects on the Nature of Imam Ali by Barnaby Rogerson
Islam’s Great Striver: Hazrat Ali by Lt. Col ‘Abdullah Baines-Hewitt
One who perseveres patiently
will not be without success,
even if it takes a long time – Hazrat Ali
One who is headstrong and opinionated perishes,
while one who seeks the advice of others
becomes a partner in their understanding — Hazrat Ali
Ethics in the Kalam-i Mawla of Hazrat Ali by Farouk M. Topan
Nasir-i-Khusraw on The Excellence of ‘Ali by Nasir Khusraw
Discourses of Hazrat Ali by Tajdin Dhala
A MESSAGE BY HIS HIGHNESS THE AGA KHAN
ON THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE AGA KHAN FOUNDATION
“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.
Date Posted: May 22, 2013.
Ten years after the Palermo Protocol, top world personalities convened from December 10-12, 2010, in an International Forum in Luxor, Egypt, to outline a roadmap for ending human trafficking. The Forum was organized by End Human Trafficking Now! and The Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT).
“I am convinced that, over time, the most effective weapon to combat human trafficking will be civil society’s rejection of these vile activities” – His Highness the Aga Khan
As part of this initiative the 49th Ismaili Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, was among those in the jury (see photo, below) who presented the first-ever award in history to recognize a business executive‘s energy and commitment in tackling human trafficking.
The Ismaili Imam also delivered opening remarks at this forum, which are now been incorporated into our original piece Aga Khan in Prestigious Jury for First-Ever Business Leader’s Award to Fight Human Trafficking.
Date posted: Sunday, May 5, 2013.
PRINCE RAHIM AGA KHAN – A BRIEF PROFILE
Date and place of birth: October 12, 1971, Geneva, Switzerland.
Relationship to His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam: Prince Rahim Aga Khan is His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan’s second of four children, the others being older sister Princess Zahra and younger brothers Prince Hussain Aga Khan (all three born to Begum Salimah Aga Khan) and Prince Aly Muhammad (born to Princess Inaara Aga Khan).
Post Secondary Education and Specialization:
(1) 1996 – Bachelor of Arts, Comparative Literature, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island;
(2) 2006 – Executive Development Programme, Management and Administration, University of Navarra IESE Business School, Barcelona, Spain.
Current Responsibilities: Executive Director of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED); Executive Director at the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance(AKAM).
Based at the Secretariat of His Highness the Aga Khan at Aiglemont, north of Paris, France, Prince Rahim is an executive Director of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) — the economic development arm of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). He also serves as an Executive Director at the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM).
A graduate of Brown University, Rhode Island, USA with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Comparative Literature awarded in 1996, Prince Rahim received his secondary education at Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts. In 2006, Prince Rahim completed an executive development programme in Management and Administration at the University of Navarra IESE Business School in Barcelona, Spain. Prince Rahim travels regularly to Asia and Africa to oversee the industrial plants, hotel properties and financial institutions, including microfinance programmes, of the Aga Khan Development Network.
The engagement of Prince Rahim to Ms Kendra Spears, of Seattle, Washington USA, was announced on Friday, April 26, 2013, to the joy of Ismailis around the world, who celebrated the news with sherbet and cake.
By Navyn Naran
there is an expectant joy in the air
as we welcome the news our Mawla has shared
and He is happy for a love of two
a new beginning for all, here paired.
this joy paralleled e’en by the spring
the breeze gently caressing the face of each
we share in their love and welcome the new
an understanding and acknowledgement in this niche.
our Prince has met a partner in life
and Benevolent the Grace enveloping this match
how happy we feel for that special bond and trust
and pray this development manifest strong in latch.
the sacred Truth as once was shared,
and Knowledge beckoned Adam and Hawa in this life
so meeting in mind, heart and soul in twain
is Blessed by the Creator as man takes wife
there is joy in our community for the Noorani family
sherbet and cake to enjoy for all
and cherry blossom beckon another fresh day
as brother and sister welcome this Call.
for the arduous tasks You take under Your wing
shall flourish and strengthen as this Bond to be
and mighty as Zulfiqar, the sword,
in Trust and Respect always between.
Khushamadeed Ms. Spears, Mubarak O Prince,
Mubarak! our hearts smile, Mubarak! and since
a Unity weaving as Iman does hope
we welcome you Kendra to this lineage’s rope.
our Mawla, Mubarak! devotedly we serve
Your happiness is ours also, let us not bend nor swerve
a nikkah is called, a love unending for two
Khushamadeed Kendra, a most respectful welcome to you.
Date posted: Sunday, April 28, 2013
Date updated: Monday, April 29, 2013 (typo)
For a contrasting style/format of this same piece, please click on the following:
“Mubarak…Khushamadeed”: A Poem for Prince Rahim Aga Khan and Ms. Kendra Spears