Literary Reading: Service to the Imam, the Greatest Source of Happiness – Diwan Sir Eboo Pirbhai

“…Each one of us is only an instrument of the will and guidance of Mawlana Hazar lmam, and our duty and responsibility is to fulfill his wishes to the best of our abilities….”

On June 13, 1983, His Highness Prince Aga Khan Shia Imami Ismaili Council for the USA hosted a dinner to commemorate the Aga Khan’s Silver Jubilee visit to New York. The President of the Council, Shams H. J. Bhallo , made the following remarks in respect of the remarkable services of Sir Eboo Pirbhai (1905 – 1990)  to the Imamat and the Ismaili community worldwide. The late Sir Eboo served both the current Aga Khan and his grandfather, Aga Khan III, for several decades. 

“During the past 14 years, since the appointment of the first [USA] Councils in 1973, we have come to admire and love a unique person of wisdom and kindness – a leader, a father and a graceful friend, Count Sir Eboo Pirbhai. We have worked with you Sir Eboo as typical Americans – inquisitively and sometimes with tolerable brashness. You have steered us all as a benign leader should – firmly and gently and with a true and constant steadfastness of serving the Imamat. We are honored to salute you today and thank you for your patience and kindness. I would like to humbly request Hazar Imam – a request perhaps as unique in our history as Sir Eboo himself – to honor us by presenting to Sir Eboo a token gift  from the USA Jamat to reflect a small measure of our gratitude and respect for this grand young man.”

His Highness the Aga Khan and the Late Diwan Sir Eboo Pirbhai share a moment in Los Angeles, USA, in 1983

His Highness the Aga Khan and the Late Diwan Sir Eboo Pirbhai share a moment in Los Angeles, USA, in 1983

In reply, the late Sir Eboo, who was given the title of Diwan by His Highness the Aga Khan during the Silver Jubilee celebrations in London, England, a month later, made the following observations:

It is difficult for me to recall any occasion in the past when I have felt as deeply moved as I feel tonight. I am deeply moved that the Councils in the United States wish to present a token gift to me, and even more moved that Mawlana Hazar Imam has graciously consented to award the token on this happy occasion of  his Silver Jubilee Visit to New York.

Khudavind*, I consider this singular honor as yet another sign of the millions of mercies which you have showered upon me, and I submit to you my humble gratitude.

“…there is no greater source of satisfaction in life other than what may be achieved by becoming an instrument of the guidance of Mawlana Hazar Imam, and working with him for the progress and well-being of the Jamat…”

 

To the leaders of USA Jamat, and indeed to Jamati Leaders world-wide, I can only say that it is a rare privilege to be blessed with the opportunity of serving the Imam and the Jamat. Having been so blessed, I consider that what little I have been able to achieve has been no more than what any member of the Jamat would have done. Each one of us is only an instrument of the will and guidance of Mawlana Hazar lmam, and our duty and responsibility is to fulfill his wishes to the best of our abilities.

I also wish to remind each and every Ismaili that there is no greater source of satisfaction in life other than what may be achieved by becoming an instrument of the guidance of Mawlana Hazar Imam, and working with him for the progress and well-being of the Jamat. For all my Ismaili brothers and sisters, I pray that they may achieve this satisfaction.

Mawlana Hazar Imam, I accept this token with utmost humility and deepest gratitude, and on this occasion wish to reaffirm to you, my Imam, my entire and total disposal at your service and that of the Jamat, regardless of positions or circumstances.”

His Highness the Aga Khan also spoke on this occasion and said in his speech:

“Here assembled this evening are people whose parents I have worked with, whose children I am working with, lnshallah, whose grandchildren I will work with.  And, I think it is appropriate that I should express, in my office as Imam, my happiness and my gratitude, my pride, in working with such eminent leadership, with leadership which is committed to honorary service taken out of their daily lives which requires of them hard work, commitment to their families but on top of that they have found the time in the past, find the time today, Inshallah, will continue to find the time in the future, to serve the Jamat around the world.

“…sometimes people who are not members of the Jamat ask me where the strength of the Jamat comes from and it is very difficult for me to explain to them that the strength of the Jamat, in many ways, comes from this spirit of brotherhood, the spirit of service, the spirit of concern for people of the same faith, the same family…”

 

I think this is a source of unlimited strength, and I believe that it is one of the most fundamental, one of the most important, one of the strongest pillars on which we can build our future and sometimes people who are not members of the Jamat ask me where the strength of the Jamat comes from and it is very difficult for me to explain to them that the strength of the Jamat, in many ways, comes from this spirit of brotherhood, the spirit of service, the spirit of concern for people of the same faith, the same family.

“…I asked him (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…”

(from Voices: Maria Cook of the Ottawa Citizen on the Delegation Building)

And I hope that this new and young Jamat in the United States, and the new and young Jamat in Canada, and the slightly less new and slightly less young Jamat in the United Kingdom and Western Europe will succeed in maintaining this tradition, strengthening it and making it available to the Jamat around the world – not only the traditional service but that, that traditional service should grow, that which is strong and that which is desirable from Western society,  from western technology and from western know-how.”

____________

Source: The American Ismaili and Roshni (Silver Jubilee Visit, USA, joint special issue 1983), published by His Highness Prince Aga Khan Shia Imami Ismaili Council for the USA.

Notes:

* Khudavind - a term the Ismailis use as mark of respect and intimacy when addressing their Imam on an individual basis – either verbally or in other forms of personal communication, such as letters.

6 thoughts on “Literary Reading: Service to the Imam, the Greatest Source of Happiness – Diwan Sir Eboo Pirbhai

  1. Thank you Simerg on this very beautiful piece on Sir Eboo Pirbhai. I am very glad to say that I was in the hall when Sir Eboo was given the title of DIWAN in London.

    I am doubly priveleged in that I have been to Sir Eboo’s house in Nairobi as a young cadet volunteer and later as fully fledged volunteer. He was the most unassuming modest person I have met. His family is continuing his great seva with serving Mowlana Hazar Imam Shah Karim.

  2. Sir Eboo was the only person I know who was always in absolute awe in the presence of Imam-e-Zaman. A tremendous role model for all of us, young and and not so young!

  3. The services of Late Diwan Sir Eboo was admirable and second to none.The backbone behind Sir Eboo’s success was late Count Manjee Janmohamed of Nairobi who was the President of the Council during The Golden Jubilee of our beloved 48th Imam (Sir Eboo was a member of Council) and Diamond Jubilee (Sir Eboo was the secretary).

    Mawlana Sultan Mohamed Shah had asked President Manjee Janmohamed to continue but the President humbly said to Mawla to give oppurtunity to Sir Eboo who eventually took over the leadership.

    The President of the US Council, Mahmood Eboo, may be aware of this.

  4. What an admirable role model for the young and not-so-young Ismailis who wish to serve the house of Imam! I had the opportunity to meet with the late Diwan Sir Eboo in 1982 in Toronto when he visited our offices of BEEW – the Bureau of Economic Enterprise for Women, a government funded non-profit initiative of the then Aga Khan Economic Planning Board of Ontario, under the able guidance of late Chair Mohamed Kanji. Mawla rest these noble souls in eternal peace! Ameen.

  5. Wonderful! Very inspiring. Sir Eboo was a chosen and blessed soul. Thank you for sharing this excellent information with us all.

  6. This is very good information and also a great source of encouragement for the community and especially for the volunteers.

    Sir Eboo spent his whole life serving the Imam through the jamat. His services will always be remembered for generations to come. His lifelong self-less services has set an example for peoples of all ages. He served with generosity, respect, humility and integrity in the best tradition of the Jamat and Islamic values.

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