Navroz Mubarak: The Beautiful Navroz Tradition of Haft Sin + Links to Great Navroz Readings

To celebrate Navroz, families in Iran gather around a specially prepared holiday table to make wishes for the coming months. Items on the table refer to new life and renewal, and they are based around the number seven….Read more

Please click: The Beautiful Nowruz (Navroz) Tradition of Haft Sin

Conceived and created by Nurin Merchant of Ottawa, this Navroz greeting incorporates the rose and jasmine flowers which are extremely popular in Iran during the celebration of Navroz. The base of the picture shows shoots of wheat grass signifying robust evergreen health throughout the year. Image: Nurin Merchant. Copyright. Please click on image for Haft Sin.

Conceived and created by Nurin Merchant of Ottawa, this Navroz greeting incorporates the rose and jasmine flowers which are extremely popular in Iran during the celebration of Navroz. The base of the picture shows shoots of wheat grass signifying robust evergreen health throughout the year. Image: Nurin Merchant. Copyright. Please click on image for Haft Sin.

Date posted: Friday, March 20, 2015.

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Please also click Simerg’s New Downloadable Publication: Nawruz Literary Readings, Poetry and Ginan

The Muslim World at the USA Library of Congress: An Interesting Collection of Images at Simergphotos

Below, Battle tunic with Qur’anic Verse and Inscriptions in Praise of Muhammad and Ali….More Photos

Inscribed with much of the text of the Koran, this eighteenth-century linen Shiite Muslim battle tunic, most probably from Iran or southern Iraq, also bears inscriptions in praise of the prophet Muhammad and of his son-in-law, Ali. It is eloquent testimony to the place of religious commitment in all aspects of life in the Islamic world. Across the shoulders is inscribed verse 13 of Surah 61 (“al Saff,” or Battle array): “Help from God and a speedy Victory. Photo: Library of Congress, USA. Please click on image for more photos.

Inscribed with much of the text of the Koran, this eighteenth-century linen Shiite Muslim battle tunic, most probably from Iran or southern Iraq, also bears inscriptions in praise of the prophet Muhammad and of his son-in-law, Ali. It is eloquent testimony to the place of religious commitment in all aspects of life in the Islamic world. Across the shoulders is inscribed verse 13 of Surah 61 (“al Saff,” or Battle array): “Help from God and a speedy Victory. Photo: Library of Congress, USA. Please click on image for more photos.

In Memoriam: Mohammed Ibrahim Ali (1925 – 2014) by Enoo

PLEASE CLICK: In Memoriam: Mohammed Ibrahim Ali

 A SON’S TRIBUTE TO A LOVING FATHER

Renowned Ismaili musician and composer, Enoo, pictured with his beloved dad in 2005 before the Vancouver  mulaqat with Mawlana Hazar Imam. Photo: Enoo archives.

Renowned Ismaili musician and composer, Enoo, pictured with his beloved dad in Vancouver in 2005 before the mulaqat with Mawlana Hazar Imam. Photo: Enoo archives.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Simerg invites obituaries/in memoriam pieces honouring deceased family members. Please see submission guidelines and examples by clicking Obituaries and Tributes.

Voices of Graduates: The Magnificent Aga Khan University Convocations in Nairobi, Kampala and Dar-es-Salaam

….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
Dar-es-Salaam Procession

Simerg Profiles His Excellency Gordon Campbell, Canada’s Representative to the Ismaili Imamat

Mawlana Hazar Imam receives His Excellency Gordon Campbell at Aiglemont. Left to right: Malik Talib; Rouben Khatchadourian, Prince Rahim, HE Gordon Campbell, Mawlana Hazar Imam, Dr Mahmoud Eboo, and Dr Shafik Sachedina. AKDN / Cécile Genest

Mawlana Hazar Imam receives His Excellency Gordon Campbell at Aiglemont on March 4, 2015. Left to right: Malik Talib; Rouben Khatchadourian, Prince Rahim, HE Gordon Campbell, Mawlana Hazar Imam, Dr Mahmoud Eboo, and Dr Shafik Sachedina. AKDN/Cécile Genest

Mawlana Hazar Imam received His Excellency Gordon Campbell, Canada’s Representative to the Ismaili Imamat, at Aiglemont, France, on Wednesday, March 4, 2015.

Recently appointed to this role by the Government of Canada, Gordon Campbell has also been serving as Canada’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom since September 2011. Prior to his appointment, Mr Campbell served three terms as Premier of the province of British Columbia from 2001 to 2011, during which time he was ranked best fiscal manager among Canadian premiers by the Fraser Institute.

Joining Mawlana Hazar Imam and Mr. Campbell at the meeting were Prince Rahim, Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Personal Representative to Canada; Dr Mahmoud Eboo, Resident Representative of the Aga Khan Development Network in Canada; Malik Talib, President of the Ismaili Council for Canada; Rouben Khatchadourian, Political Counsellor at the Canadian High Commission to the UK; and Dr Shafik Sachedina, Head of the Department of Diplomatic Affairs at Hazar Imam’s Secretariat.

Mawlana Hazar Imam at a luncheon hosted by Premier Gordon Campbell that was attended by community, education and business leaders in honour of Mawlana Hazar Imam's Golden Jubilee visit to British Columbia. Gary Otte

Mawlana Hazar Imam at a luncheon hosted by Premier Gordon Campbell that was attended by community, education and business leaders in honour of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Golden Jubilee visit to British Columbia in 2008. Photo: The Ismaili/Gary Otte.

In 2008, Mr. Campbell as BC’s Premier hosted a luncheon in Mawlana Hazar Imam’s honour for the Golden Jubilee visit to the Province. At the event, Mawlana Hazar Imam signed his book Where Hope Takes Root for the Premier. Mr. Campbell spoke about the contribution made by the Ismaili community in the Province and across Canada: “It touches us in British Columbia when we go to the Partnership Walk and we see literally thousands and thousands of people, not just Ismaili people, but many, many others as well joining the Ismaili community here. And most importantly, young people, young people who are becoming aware of the fact that we live in a great place and there may be things we can do to help others live in better places around the world. That is your message, and it is a message that is based on not just talking about the opportunities here before us but actually taking steps down that road to hope and to promise that you have talked about so much in the past.”

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness Aga Khan, signing his book "Where Hope Takes Root" for Gordon Campbell, the Premier of British Columbia during his 2008 visit to the province to celebrate his Golden Jubilee.  Photo: With permission of The Vancouver Sun.  Copyright. Please click on photo for book review.

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness Aga Khan, signing his book “Where Hope Takes Root” for Gordon Campbell, the Premier of British Columbia during his 2008 visit to the province to celebrate his Golden Jubilee. Photo: With permission of The Vancouver Sun. Copyright. Please click on photo for book review.

Mr Campbell, a Vancouver native, studied English and Urban Studies at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and completed his MBA at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. He spent two years teaching in Nigeria with the Canadian University Service Overseas (CUSO) where he also coached championship state basketball and track and field teams in addition to launching a major library restoration initiative. After his return to British Columbia, Mr Campbell founded a successful property development firm. He then began his political career in local politics in Vancouver, where he went on to serve as Mayor for three successive terms from 1986 to 1993, and spearheaded key urban regeneration projects and ground-breaking initiatives in literacy and cultural diversity.

As Premier, Mr Campbell was recognized for his leadership on climate change issues and his reconciliation initiatives with Canada’s First Nations.  He was recognized as a champion of Canada’s highly successful 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia.  Mr Campbell worked to ensure that the 2010 Olympics were not just about the city of Vancouver, but were a Games that all Canadians could celebrate and call their own.

The Globe and Mail recently reported that Mr. Campbell is being floated as federal Conservative candidate for a new federal riding in Vancouver. Residents are receiving phone calls asking them if they’d vote for the former B.C. premier were he to run for the federal Conservatives in their electoral district.

Date posted: March 5, 2015.
Last updated: March 6, 2015 (typo, Hazar Imam received Gordon Campbell at Aiglemont on March 4, 2015, and not on February 4 as mentioned previously).

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Material compiled from the following sources:

Obituaries and Tributes: Simerg Invites Ismaili Readers from Around the World to Honour and Celebrate Lives of Family Members Who Have Returned to Their Original Abode

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un
“Surely we belong to God and to Him we return.” — Holy Qur’an

Did you know that Simerg offers to all its Ismaili readers around the world an opportunity to submit memorials to honour and celebrate the lives of beloved members of their families who have physically departed this world?

The 48th Ismaili Imam, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan (1877–1957), wrote in his Memoirs that “Life is a great and noble calling, not a mean and grovelling thing to be shuffled through as best as we can but a lofty and exalted destiny.”

It is the individual’s celebrated life that we are asking you to reflect and write about, in the form of a short notice or a longer tribute. There is no restriction about how long ago the beloved individual passed away. Please see below for examples of different styles of obituaries, and how to submit your tribute.

Honouring Lives Lived

By Malik Merchant
Publisher-Editor, www.simerg.com

Top portion of image shows plaque commemorating Ismailis who were killed in a WWII raid in Burma. Bottom half is a surreal image by Sarite Sanders of Aswan’s Fatimid cemetery.

Simerg offers all its Ismaili readers around the world an opportunity to submit memorials to honour and celebrate the lives of beloved members of their families who have physically departed this world recently or in the past. The memorials may be submitted in the form of (1) a simple short notice or (2) a tribute of up to 500 words.

Substance of the Notice and Tribute

1. The simplest kind of tribute is a notice about the passing of the person. The notice will contain some information about the who, when, and where of a person’s death. It may be one paragraph, which includes the name of the parents or spouse(s) of the deceased, the children of the deceased, sibling or close relatives of the deceased, place of residence, the Jamatkhana or funeral home where the last rites were carried out and where the deceased was finally laid to rest. This short notice may be followed by a longer tribute at a later date as described in (2) below. The following is an example of a notice:

“[Name of Deceased], author and playwright, died peacefully at home in [city], on [date]. He was the much-loved husband of [spouse name], father of [children], guardian and grandfather. The last rites were held in [name of Jamatkhana] on [date] and he was later buried on [date] at [name and city of cemetery]. Post funeral religious ceremonies were conducted at [name of Jamatkhana]. It was the wish [of the deceased or the deceased family] that monetary contributions in his honour be made to [organization, hospital, cause etc.].”

2. The purpose of the longer tribute will be to celebrate the person’s life. It will start with the same basic information you put in the notice (1, above), and goes on to add details about the person’s life: hometowns, education, jobs, family members, and personal interests and activities. Anecdotes may be included from the person’s life to help family members, readers and future generations to reflect on the life of the individual. The universal tale, as is well-known, lies in specific examples, and for this reason we are inviting you to write a tribute of up to 500 words in length.

For examples of short obituaries see The Times of London and for longer obituaries/tributes please see your local newspaper, or click The Globe and Mail. These newspaper links as well as What to Write will assist you in constructing appropriate obituaries.

Submission Rules

The obituary may be for any Ismaili person or a non-Ismaili by marriage or birth to an Ismaili who has passed away recently or at any time in the past.

Each submission must specify your relationship with the deceased person, as well as include your full name, mailing address and the phone number where you may be contacted. Anonymous pieces will not be accepted for publication, although the editor may at his discretion allow author anonymity once the tribute has been approved for publication. Please submit the notice or tribute as a PDF file or include it in your email message. The tribute can be in English or French

Notices and tributes will appear on a cumulative basis, once a month (frequency is subject to change). They should be submitted to simerg@aol.com with the subject of the email reading “Celebrated life of [name of deceased].” There is no charge whatsoever for this initiative being offered by Simerg. The editor will contact you with the draft copy once the notice or tribute has been finalized for publication. Along with your short notice or tribute, we ask you to submit the celebrated person’s photo. For long tributes, we invite you to submit additional photos which have a direct relevance to the person’s life that you have described. Images should be in JPG format.

Thank you

Malik Merchant
Publisher-Editor
www.simerg.com
simerg@aol.com

CANADA.

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Published tributes:

The editor welcomes tributes to the deceased. Please send them to simerg@aol.com. Each submission must carry with it the contributor’s full name, address and phone number where he/she can be reached for authentication purposes. Anonymous submissions will not be acknowledged or replied to.

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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.

Fascinating Midwife and Nursing Stories from East Africa, as Mawlana Hazar Imam Arrives for Aga Khan University Convocation Ceremonies

BY SHARIFFA KESHAVJEE
Special to Simerg

Midwives are frontline health care providers playing a vital role in reducing maternal mortality. The Aga Khan Hospital’s Nursing and Midwifery Service is committed to providing effective and efficient care to meet the needs of its patients. The Service delivers a high standard of patient care that is intended to exceed expectations of patients, families and the local community. Nurses are trained on a regular basis to cope with technological advances and societal complexities.Photo: The Aga Khan Hospital for Women, Karimabad

Midwives are frontline health care providers playing a vital role in reducing maternal mortality. The Aga Khan Hospital’s Nursing and Midwifery Service is committed to providing effective and efficient care to meet the needs of its patients. The Service delivers a high standard of patient care that is intended to exceed expectations of patients, families and the local community. Nurses are trained on a regular basis to cope with technological advances and societal complexities. Photo: The Aga Khan Hospital for Women, Karimabad

Editor’s note: In a recent piece for Simerg, Shariffa Keshavhejee enlightened our readers with The Amazing Story of Kundan Paatni: A Graduate of the Aga Khan Nursing School in Nairobi in the 1960s which included rare pictures of His Highness the Aga Khan. In this new exclusive essay, which coincides with the arrival of Mawlana Hazar Imam to East Africa to preside over the Aga Khan University Convocation in Dar-es-Salaam (February 24, 2015), Kampala (February 26), and Nairobi (March 2), Shariffa tells us contrasting tales of midwifery and nursing from decades earlier, including that of her own birth.

Midwife Noor Banu

My friend Mala Pandurang told me of an Ismaili Khoja midwife who delivered three of her children at home in Bukoba. She was called Noor Banu, the only Asian midwife in the locality. Mala’s search to get more information about Noorbanu at the British colonial office drew a blank. She is now looking at links from India to see if any of the midwives came from the  nursing institutions started by the British early 20th century. Child birthing was associated as unclean, and hence the Hindu women who joined these professions were of the lower castes. Mala also wants to know if any of the midwives were spinsters/widows.

Zarin Jivanjee and Midwife Asbaimasi

Zarin Jivanjee was born at home in 1943 in Nagara. Her house was a traditional Indian home with a fario (deck) in the center where all activities happened — drying clothes, lentils and making large amounts of food.  Midwife Asbaimasi came home. She was old, and well known even by prominent families such as Sir Eboo Pirbhai. Asbaimasi also prescribed herbal medicines for aches, pains, colds, digestive problems, rashes. In her window there was black thread. For each complaint. she would give a thread and a powder. She lived in River Road and had to be summoned at birth. There was a Dr.Anderson but the treatment given by Asbaimasi was more effective and preferred.

Shirinbai, Fatmabai, Roshankhanu and Khatibai

Shirinbai Juma born in 1934 in Jugu Lane. The midwife came home.

Fatmabai was born in Kathiawar, her family came from Harravad.  There was a bai who came to deliver at home. She was given five and a half rupees for delivery.

Roshankhanu Jiwa Nathoo was born in 1935 in Kisii. In Kisii too children were born at home The midwife was an old Nubian lady who was very well versed.

Khatibai Mohamed was born in Jugu Lane in the centre of Nairobi. She would go home and the staff would help with the hot water and cleaning up. If there was a miscarriage, she could not remember what would happen.

The Impact of Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah’s Farmans

Portrait of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah. Photo: US Library of Congress.

Portrait of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah. Photo: US Library of Congress.

I was told by Dr. Sultan Somjee, the author of Bead Bai, that there was a farman (guidance) of Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III (1877-1957) telling the Ismaili community to take up nursing and not to look down on the profession. Thereafter many Ismaili women trained as nurses that included midwifery. We called them collectively as naaras and not nurse. Fatma naaras was well known in Nairobi. Indeed Somji’s book begins with Birth Stories (Chapter II) told by midwife of old Nairobi, Jugu Bazaar. Now, the Aga Khan Hospitals/University have nursing as priority programmes.

The Story of Shirin

Shirin Cassam Keshavjee was inspired by the 48th Imam’s farman. She joined Witwatersrand University (Whits), South Africa, to train as a nurse and then as a midwife. However she could not practice nursing near her home, being a person of colour.

Fortunately for Shirin, she heard an announcement in the Pretoria Jamatkhana that they were looking to employ a nurse in the Aga Khan Clinic in Kisumu. Lucky for Shirin, her uncle, Habib Keshavjee, was off to East Africa with his family.

So Shirin joined Habib Keshavjee’s family for the trip. She came to Nairobi and proceeded to Kisumu to live with the family of my grandfather, Count Hasham Jamal. Here Shirin was to change the face of midwifery in the Nyanza District. She was the first ever qualified midwife.

She was appalled at the state of the women and the new born child. Her kind hearted and soft spoken manner brought mothers from all over the district of Nyanza, Homa Bay, Kindu Bay, Kissii, Kimlili, and all the way from Kampala too!

She explained early care of the child, sanitation, breast feeding, sterilization, diet of mother and child. Shirin then married my cousin, Amir Shamji. Thus began the liaison. Now there are five Keshavjees, married to five Jamals!! Shirin Shamji (nee Keshavjee) lives in Toronto.

A midwife in Upper Egypt holding a kulleh pot. Also known as the goollah, it is a porous water-jar of sun-dried Nile mud. Photo Credit: Winifred S. Blackman/ Wellcome Library Image, London.

A midwife in Upper Egypt holding a kulleh pot. Also known as the goollah, it is a porous water-jar of sun-dried Nile mud. Photo Credit: Winifred S. Blackman/ Wellcome Library Image, London.

‘Laxmi’ Jenab Nanjee

The following story was narrated by Jenab Nanjee to her daughter-in-law, Nuri Abdul, daughter of Madatali Suleiman Verjee

“I was born in Jugu Lane now called Gulzar Street on Sunday, August 20, 1930. It was my grandfather’s house, Madatali Suleiman Verjee. It  was customary to go to your parents house at the time of birth.

“My mother was in her final days of pregnancy. She was ready now to go to her parental home for Khoro Bharavo. Khoro is the lap. Bharavo is to make full. This is a ceremony filled with abundance on the lap of the new mother. A special prayer is recited and the expectant mother’s mother prepares a coconut and some sweet meats to take to Jamatkhana to make sacred this time of birth. The new mother usually wears green as a symbol of plenty and of happiness.

“A European nurse, a qualified midwife was asked to come home for delivery. This was a privilege of the wealthy. ( I wonder what happened to the not so wealthy)

“I was born on a Sunday. My grandfather was very happy and pleased that a ‘laxmi’, a daughter was born to his daughter. Sometimes a daughter was a bad omen. Suleiman Verjee saw this as a sign of prosperity. He gave me the first gursurdhi  jaggery mixed with water. A sweet drink to  bring sweetness into my life. He gave me the name of Jenab, a name of one of the wives of the Holy Prophet Muhammed (s.a.s).

“My mother and I stayed at my grandfathers house for a month. This was so that my mother could be helped with my first initial upbringing and that my mother would regain her strength. At this time the family visited my mother and she was given many gifts called ‘chati’.

“Customarily it was significant that Mrs Suleiman Verjee was given such good care, received many gifts and that she had the care of a qualified midwife. Jenub, now 82  lives in Nairobi.

“Now the course offered by Aga Khan University in East Africa is call Nursing and Midwifery. It leads the way in East Africa. It offers undergraduate, and graduate programmes as well as conversion and professional and continuing education courses.

“The nurses can achieve international standard, even when they are studying and are mothers. They study as they work.”

During his visit to East Africa in 2009, Mawlana Hazar Imam toured  some of the Hospital’s diagnostic services and specialist clinics.  Photo: AKDN

During his visit to East Africa in 2009, Mawlana Hazar Imam toured some of the Hospital’s diagnostic services and specialist clinics. Photo: AKDN

The Story of My Own Birth

I now share the story about my birth in Kisumu on June 1, 1946. We lived in Jamal Building facing Lake Victoria. The building was constructed on Main Street Station Road in 1945.

Now that she was full term, my mother Khatija had to move to the downstairs room. She could not deliver her baby in the upstairs room, where there was a great deal of traffic of the extended family. Besides older children Zeenat and Amina, she had a brother-in-law Amirkaka, sister-in-law Nasirbanu and of course her in-laws, Bapaji and Ma. The downstairs room was called ‘Nichlo room’.

It was already embarrassing moving down. In 1945, women or men never talked about pregnancy, welfare of the mother and so on. Expectant mothers were covered by a long dress and a pachedi (shawl) would be drawn over the head in the presence of Bapaji or any male relative.

So Khatija, my mum, was all prepared with clean sheets and extra americani sheeting for the baby. No early preparation was made for the baby. It was a bad omen to do so. No layette, no baby showers!!!

It was before 4 a.m on 1st June. Khatija hoped that Bapaji would go for his early morning prayers, so that she could ask my dad to get Sherabai Hirji, the midwife.

Sherabai was smart. She was also cheerful and kind. In her white uniform, she inspired confidence. She was very good at delivering but she did not keep medical notes such as the baby’s weight, height, and temperature. However, my mum was relieved to see the arrival of Sherabai, who was a friend and well known to the family. Seeing my mother out of bed she admonished,  “What are you doing out of bed? You are so close now, get into bed!”

As if to help, my mother said “Let me get the hot water and the sagri….open brazier, jiko.” She got another reprimand, “You are doing no such thing.” Sherabai organised the water, sheeting and towels. She was familiar with the household having brought into the world Amina and Nasirbanu just a few years earlier.

Thus I was born in the presence of midwife and nurse. Sherabai then organized a brick, which would be heated on the jiko and placed on the mother’s stomach to keep it in shape.

Sadly, I was yet another female child. This did not auger well for my mother, nor for the family. Nevertheless, there I was, plump and full of life, to be loved by all the family in Kisumu till a year later we moved to Mombasa.

Date posted: Saturday, February 21, 2015.

Copyright: Shariffa Keshavjee. 2015.

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Shariffa KeshavjeeAbout 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.

Feedback: We welcome feedback/letters from our readers. Please click Leave a comment or submit your letter 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.

Links to a selection of articles by Shariffa Keshavjee on simerg and simergphotos:

  1. Bagamoyo’s Historic Ismaili Jamatkhana Through Pictures, Poetry and Prose
  2. Inferno of Alamut
  3. The Jamatkhana in Toronto — “A Seed of Faith Planted…” by Shariffa Keshavjee
  4. My Fascination with the Once “Exotic” World of Paan

“The Honourable Task of Caring for the Sick” — Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, on Nursing

Aga Khan Dar arrival

Editor’s note: Mawlana Hazar Imam has arrived in East Africa to preside over the Aga Khan University Convocation in Dar-es-Salaam (February 24, 2015), Kampala (February 26) and Nairobi (March 2). We are pleased to publish the following excerpts from his speeches on the profession of nursing.

EXCERPTS FROM MAWLANA HAZAR IMAM’S SPEECHES

I. 1981…Inauguration of the Aga Khan School of Nursing, Karachi, Pakistan

Mawlana Hazar Imam  with Pakistan President Zia ul-Haqq at the opening of the School of Nursing in Karachi in 1981. Photo: Christopher Little/25 Years in Pictures, Volume 1, 1983, Islamic Publications, UK.

Mawlana Hazar Imam with Pakistan President Zia ul-Haqq at the opening of the School of Nursing in Karachi in 1981. Photo: Christopher Little/25 Years in Pictures, Volume 1, 1983, Islamic Publications, UK.

“The School of Nursing’s primary mission is to raise the standards and standing of the profession itself, so that it is accorded the recognition and prestige earned and deserved by the women whose working lives are dedicated to the demanding and honourable task of caring for the sick. We are confident that the nurses in our hospital will be rewarded with respect, appreciation and remuneration that their integrity and loyal commitment justify. The key note to the School’s philosophy is excellence.

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, presents diplomas to graduating nurses during his 17-day visit to Pakistan in 1991. Photo: Gary Otte/The Ismaili, UK, December 1991.

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, presents diplomas to graduating nurses during his 17-day visit to Pakistan in 1991. Photo: Gary Otte/The Ismaili, UK, December 1991.

“Let me end by addressing directly the first Aga Khan School of Nursing students. Here today, you like me, are at the beginning. You are starting your chosen professional training. The opening of your School is for me the beginning of a new major philanthropic medical complex. My purpose is to make possible the development of your career, but you must achieve. If you fail, I have failed. If you succeed, Pakistan will be rewarded.” [1]

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II. 1996…Baccalaureate Address  at Brown University, Providence, USA

May 26, 1996: An audience at Brown Univeristy's "Green" watches a live telecast from the Meeting House of the First Baptist Church where the Aga Khan delivered the Baccalaureate Address to graduating class. Photo: Abdulmalik Merchant

May 26, 1996: An audience at Brown Univeristy’s “Green” watches a live telecast from the Meeting House of the First Baptist Church where Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan delivered the Baccalaureate Address to the graduating class. Photo: Abdulmalik Merchant/Simerg.

“The Aga Khan University was founded thirteen years ago in Pakistan with planning assistance from Harvard. It was the first private self-governing university in that country of 125 million people. Medical Science was the initial field of engagement. As Pakistan had one of the lowest ratios in the world of nurses to doctors, and the nursing profession was mired in mediocrity, social unacceptability and low pay, nursing became our priority. With the assistance of McMaster University in Ontario, a curriculum was designed and a School of Nursing launched. In addition to becoming a leading academic institution, it has transformed the role of women in society by providing them with new educational and professional opportunities.

“This solution to some of Pakistan’s most pressing health care problems, which has also enhanced the social self-worth and professional status of women in the country, may soon be replicated in other areas. Under the university’s international charter, the nursing school now envisages the creation of an Institute of Advanced Nursing Studies in East Africa to extend the same professional and societal opportunities to the women of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and further afield.” [2]

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III. 2001…Archon Award Ceremony, Copenhagen, Denmark

“It is particularly meaningful to receive this recognition from Sigma Theta Tau with its record of focussed dedication to the global advancement of nursing. I have long felt the enhancement of the nursing profession to be absolutely critical to the improvement of health care in the developing world, and the Islamic world. The way forward was to professionalise, to institutionalise, and to dignify this great profession.

“More than twenty-five years ago, these were some of the central concerns that led to the establishment of the Aga Khan University in Karachi and its School of Nursing. Universities have the unique capacity for forming the human resources necessary for all fields of human development.

“The School of Nursing was the first academic programme offered by the Aga Khan University for a combination of reasons, some universal in nature, and others particular to countries like Pakistan. It is generally accepted that high quality health care, both in institutional as well as community settings, cannot be provided effectively without capable nurses to support physicians and other health professionals. But Pakistan suffers from an acute shortage of nurses. Even now, there are four physicians for every nurse whereas the international norm is at least five nurses to every physician. In addition, because women constitute an overwhelming number of nurses in the developing world, the Board of Trustees of the Aga Khan University felt that the School of Nursing could foster the enhancement of nurses, and women professionals more generally, empowering them, and increasing their standing and effectiveness in society.

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, talking with graduating students at a luncheon held on the Aga Khan University Campus during his 17-day visit to Pakistan in 1991. Photo: Gary Otte/The Ismaili, UK, December 1991.

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, talking with graduating students at a luncheon held on the Aga Khan University Campus during his 17-day visit to Pakistan in 1991. Photo: Gary Otte/The Ismaili, UK, December 1991.

“Today, the AKU School of Nursing takes pride that:

“More and more women are coming forward to join the profession. By adding programmes that lead to Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Nursing for the first time in Pakistan, the School is providing opportunities for career advancement that were out of reach for nearly everyone in the profession in the country.

“The School of Nursing has become an important resource for policy dialogues with the government and the nation’s Nursing Council. It has assisted in the review and reforming of nursing policies, and the curriculum for nursing education for the country as a whole.

“The School of Nursing is also in the vanguard as the Aga Khan University launches its first programmes outside Pakistan, in fulfilment of the provisions of its charter as an international university. The School is developing an initiative in Advanced Nursing Studies regionally in Eastern Africa, responding to the needs for advanced training in Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya.” [3]

~~~~~~

IV. 2014…House of Commons, Ottawa, Canada

“The nursing school’s impact has been enormous; many of those who now head other nursing programmes and hospitals in the whole of the region — not just Pakistan — are graduates of our school.” [4]

Date posted: Friday, February 20, 2015.
Last updated: February 21, 2015.

________________

Notes:

[1] Speech at the Inauguration of the Aga Khan School of Nursing, Karachi, Pakistan, February 16, 1981.

[2] Baccalaureate Address to the Class of 1996 at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, May 26, in the Meeting House of the First Baptist in America, near the Brown University campus in Providence, Rhode Island, USA.

[3] Speech by His Highness the Aga Khan at the Archon Award Ceremony of Sigma Theta Tau International, Copenhagen, Denmark, June 7, 2001.

[4] Address of His Highness the Aga Khan to both Houses of the Parliament of Canada in the House of Commons Chamber, Ottawa, February 27, 2014.

For speeches made by Mawlana Hazar Imam, please visit http://www.akdn.org/speeches and http://www.nanowisdoms.org.

Kundan Paatni: A Dedicated Nurse Shares Her Special Moments at the Aga Khan Hospital, Nairobi, in the 1960s

“To my overwhelming surprise the lift door opened on to the fifth floor where I was in charge. There they were, the Aga Khan and the President. I was honoured and awed. I felt like the luckiest person on earth. I met all the dignitaries and escorted them through the impeccable ward of which we were so proud.” — Kundanben Paatni

ESSAYS AND LETTERS: The Amazing Story of Kundan Paatni: A Graduate of the Aga Khan Nursing School in Nairobi in the 1960s

His Highness the Aga Khan and the late President Jomo Kenyatta visit the Aga Khan Hospital. Photo: Kundan Paatni Archives.

His Highness the Aga Khan and the late President Jomo Kenyatta visit the Aga Khan Hospital. Photo: Kundan Paatni Archives.