(I) Joy and Blessings of Ginans and (II) Recitation and Explanation of Kesri Sinha Sarup Bhulayo

I. JOY AND BLESSINGS OF GINANS

Joy and Blessings of GinansBy Jalal Jaffer

When the heart is yearning
For peace, quiet, solace
When the mind is questioning
The whys, the whats, and the hows of life
When the soul is feeling trapped
Wanting to escape and soar out and beyond
It is the lilting melodies, heart-wrenching and soothing
It is the words and phrases, simple and serene
It is the pictures and landscapes, divine and mysterious
That crash through inner barriers and screens
Exposing….guiding…leading…
The yearning heart, the questioning mind, the trapped soul
To beauty, knowledge, wisdom, understanding
And find one’s own truth and meaning.
YES, that’s the joy and blessing of Ginans.

~~~~~~

II. KESRI SINHA SARUP BHULAYO

"Kesri Sinha Sarup Bhulayo" by Pir Shams, Author Shiraz PradhanA Recitation by Shermina Sayani


About the reciter: Shermina Sayani is a paediatric doctor from London, UK. She enjoys reciting and performing Ginans and Qasidas within the Jamat.  Shermina also has a great passion for writing and directing plays. Shermina has produced a number of plays for the UK Ismaili community on secular, ethical and spiritual issues.

AND

An Explanation by Shiraz Pradhan

Please  click An Explanation of the Ismaili Ginan “Kesri Sinha Sarup Bhulayo”

 ~~~~~~

FORTHCOMING - WEEK OF APRIL 20, 2014

Modern Cosmology and Astrophysics in Ginans by Shiraz Pradhan

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 hangs over the imposing mountain fortress of Alamut in this starry scene. The Milky Way is some 100,000 – 120,000 light years in diameter and contains 100-400 billion stars.  Photo: Babak Tafreshi. Copyright.

 

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.

__________________

“Work No Words” by His Highness the Aga Khan, and Other Rare Ismaili Historical Quotes on Service

Compiled and prepared by Abdulmalik J. Merchant
Publisher-Editor, Simerg.com

As Canada pays its respect to the volunteers by marking the week of April 6, 2014, as Volunteer Week, we bring you some very rare historical quotations on service and voluntary work which appeared in a special Ismaili Volunteers, Scouts and Guides Souvenir published in 1954 to jointly commemorate the 48th Ismaili Imam’s Platinum Jubilee and the 35th anniversary  of His Highness the Aga Khan’s Bombay Volunteer Corps.

WORK NO WORDS

His Highness the Aga Khan III, Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah (1877 - 1957)

“Today I will give you  a small motto and that is “Work No Words”. Labour for the welfare of others  is the best way of improving ourselves, because results are sure and certain. If you work for yourselves, you are never happy. This is not a new idea, but this is an outcome of the experience of thousands of years of history.” –  48th Ismaili Imam, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan (1877-1957)

DISCIPLINE AND SERVICE

My dear Hazar Imam’s Spiritual Child,

I enclose the photo which you ask for the Souvenir Number of the Ismaili Volunteers, Scouts and Guides.

My message to the Volunteers, Scouts and Guides is:

“I ask you all to remember the great opportunities you have for discipline and service in your organization. Discipline is very important in life, and by making good use of the training you now have, you are laying the foundations for useful and happy lives. I send my loving thoughts and best wishes to you all.”

Yours affectionately,

Om Habibeh,
Mata Salamat
The Begum Aga Khan (1906-2000)

NOBLE WORK

The New Prince Karim Aga Khan IV in Switzerland after the passing away of  the Aga Khan III.

“Your patriotism and loyalty must be sincere, active, and productive. Please follow this advice, be industrious and hardworking. The work done for the good of the community is always noble and verily we are taught that all good deeds shall be compensated four-fold.” — His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan (the present 49th Ismaili Imam)

PIR SABZALI

Pir Sabzali (1871 - 1938) - bestowed with the title of a Pir by Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan.

“Itmadi Sabzali has revealed his spiritual power to thousands of people. He was the standard-bearer of the devotees. He passed away leaving a permanent void in this world but his soul has attained salvation.

“Itmadi Sabzali has rendered such service to us that after his death we have given him the status of Pir.  If others also render like service, they too shall attain such a status. During the period of 54 years of my Imamat,  to only one person have I given this status.” — Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan

ONE BIG FAMILY

Aga Khan III Platinum Jubilee in India, officiated by son Prince Aly Khan

“Every Ismaili, man and woman, and child should grow up with the feeling and certain knowledge that they are a member of one great family, powerful and respected throughout the world, beyond the hills and across the seas…If each person is aware of this fact, it will give them extra courage and self-assurance.” – Prince Aly S. Khan (1911-1960)

RESPONSIBILITIES OF
THE RICH

“I would suggest that the richer and more fortunate a man is, the more he should be thinking of others and not himself. It is the duty of rich Ismailis to think of their poor brethren and give them a much-needed lift in life.”  — Prince Aly S. Khan

EXCELLENT SERVICE

Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan

“I have great pleasure in enclosing my photograph and congratulate Pirmahomed V. Madhani and the various members of the Volunteer Corps for the excellent services they have rendered to their Imam and their brother Ismailis.” — Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan (1933-2003)

RAISING THE BANNER OF FAITH

“The future of Ismailism depends on those of your age and mine. Are we to follow the example of those who in Egypt, in Iran and in Sind, on different occasions by their faith and devotion, raised the banner of the Hazar Imam till the whole world saw its light? I say, Yes. For we young men must not fail where our fathers succeeded so gloriously.” — Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan

LESSONS FROM HISTORY

This thoughtful study of the late Aga Khan was done in clay by his late wife, the Begum Aga Khan. Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

“Ismailis under Imams did great things in past. With same devotion, unity, obedience and discipline – and no jealousy – similar occasions will arise for greater deeds.”  – Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan

PERFORM YOUR BEST

“Everyone must follow the ideal of performing the greatest amount of work and service to the Ismaili faith. I, therefore, expect every Ismaili to consider the work allotted to him his sacred duty to perform to the best of his abilities, and to do utmost. He who serves me most becomes nearer to me.” – Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan

YOUTH RESPONSIBILITIES

“Young people ought to be explained that besides lucrative jobs, there should be aim of service to the community.” – Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan

TIME

A man’s chief capital is time and that if he wastes time, he wastes his greatest asset which can never be recouped.” — Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan

~~~~~~~~

PLEDGE
Front Cover of 1954 Souvenir

Front Cover of 1954 Souvenir. Photo: Noordin Babul

THE FOLLOWING IS THE 1954 VOLUNTEER PLEDGE OF LOYALTY TAKEN BEFORE A CANDIDATE WAS ADMITTED AS AN ISMAILI VOLUNTEER

“Believing in the Omnipresence of God,
I hereby solemnly give this pledge
To ever remain faithful
And leave no stone unturned
to serve Mawlana Hazar Imam, our community,
our country, and our volunteer corps.”

Date posted: Friday, April 11, 2014.

Note: With the exception of the image of the cover page, the last photo shown, none of the portrait thumbnail photos shown in the piece belong to the souvenir.

______________________

All quotations taken from “Ismaili Volunteers , Scouts and Guides Souvenir in Commemoration of His Royal Highness Prince Aga Khan’s Platinum Jubilee and Completion of 35 Years of His Highness the Aga Khan’s Bombay Volunteers Corps” published by Lt. Col. Pirmohamed Madhani, 1954. The rare copy of the souvenir was submitted to Simerg by Mr. Noordin Babul and family, originally of Lourenço Marques (now Maputo), Mozambique, and now residing in Texas.

 

 

 

For Canada’s Volunteer Week, Aga Khan Council President Malik Talib Tells Ismaili Volunteers, “You Are a Beacon of Islamic Ethics”

We wish you a lifetime of “enlightened self-fulfillment”

Malik Talib

Malik Talib

The President of His Highness the Aga Khan Ismaili Council for Canada, Malik Talib, issued the following message through the community’s weekly newsletter “Al-Akhbar” as the country marks the National Volunteer Week from April 6-12:

“On behalf of the Canadian institutions and the entire Jamat, I wish to express our deepest appreciation and gratitude for the voluntary service rendered by Ismaili volunteers across Canada.  Whether you are an Ismaili Volunteer who wears a uniform with pride, an individual who quietly takes care of our Jamatkhana spaces, a non-badged volunteer like myself serving within our institutions, a volunteer who has gifted a Time and Knowledge Nazrana (TKN) during Golden Jubilee, or you volunteer externally in civil society, you are a beacon of Islamic ethics, values, and a shared humanity.

The badge of the Ismaili Volunteer Coorps with the slogan "Work No Words". Photo: Abdul Shivji, Ottawa.

The badge of the Ismaili Volunteer Coorps with the slogan “Work No Words”.  Photo: Abdul Shivji, Ottawa.

 
“In today’s age of social technology and digital connection, knowledge is more abundant and time feels increasingly scarce, making voluntary service in Canada particularly challenging.  Yet, as we seek to balance our material and spiritual obligations under the pressures of modern-day life, we create space in our lives to serve across many boundaries and frontiers. We do this as Canadian Ismailis living the values of Islam and those of Canada.  The Governor General of Canada, The Right Honourable David Johnston calls Canada “a smart and caring nation.” Mawlana Hazar Imam spoke with pride about this in Parliament:

His Highness the Aga Khan at the Parliament of Canada

His Highness the Aga Khan at the Parliament of Canada

“The Canadian spirit resonates with a cherished principle in Shia Ismaili culture – the importance of contributing one’s individual energies on a voluntary basis to improving the lives of others. This is not a matter of philanthropy, but rather of self-fulfillment – ‘enlightened self-fulfillment’.”

“As Canada celebrates National Volunteer Week from April 6-12, it is the perfect opportunity to acknowledge the value and contribution of all volunteers who give of their precious time, talent or material resources day after day to improve people’s lives. In the days ahead, we will celebrate this beautiful tradition of leadership and service. To the countless people who volunteer, both visibly and silently, we wish you a lifetime of “enlightened self-fulfillment”. 

“Once again to all Ismaili Volunteers in Canada, thank you for helping to improve the quality of life for Jamati members everywhere and make Canada a better place for all.  I encourage everyone in the Jamat to join me in expressing respect and appreciation to our volunteers for all they do to make a positive impact in our lives.”

_________

Please also click on the following links to read stories about Ismaili volunteers in Canada and around the world:

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.

_____________________

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

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

Noah’s Ark in Islamic Scripture by Jehangir A. Merchant

The much talked and anticipated Hollywood movie “Noah” hit theatres last week amidst criticisms by many religious groups consisting of Muslims and Christians. Movie goers rated it from a high of “A” and “B” with some demoting it to a “D”. A number of Muslim countries including Indonesia and some Arab States even banned the movie for its depiction of Noah.

Mary Fairchild writing for About.com hinted that the movie would be replete with inaccuracies, and suggested reading the “authentic” story in the Bible.

Simerg has a version of the story from the Holy Qur’an, presented by the well-known Ismaili scholar Alwaez Jehangir A. Merchant, who served the community for several decades as a teacher, missionary, and a writer. Please click on The Story of Noah’s Ark in the Holy Qur’an or the image below.

A Depiction of Noah’s Ark in Islamic Art

Miniature from Hafiz-i Abru’s Majma al-tawarikh. “Noah’s Ark”, Herat 1425. Leaf: 42.3 × 32.6 cm. The scene on the stormy sea is quite dramatic, with the fluttering sail, the ark breaking out of the picture frame, and the swollen bodies. The animals that are to populate the earth are rendered both humorously and fairly realistically. Photo: The David Collection, Denmark.

Miniature from Hafiz-i Abru’s Majma al-tawarikh. “Noah’s Ark”, Herat 1425. Leaf: 42.3 × 32.6 cm. The scene on the stormy sea is quite dramatic, with the fluttering sail, the ark breaking out of the picture frame, and the swollen bodies. The animals that are to populate the earth are rendered both humorously and fairly realistically. Photo: The David Collection, Denmark.

 

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

______________

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.

________________

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.

 

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

Simerg’s new downloadable publication is filled with informative readings and inspiring poems including an explanation of the ginan “Eji Navroz na din sohamna”. Please click on A Rich Collection of Readings and Poetry on Navroz or one of the following two NASA images showing a cylindrical projection of the earth and the earth as seen from the sun at noon on March 21, 2013.

Earth Cylindrical Projection 2013-03-21 0012UT. NASA Image. Please click on image to download Nawruz booklet.

Earth Cylindrical Projection 2013-03-21 0012UT. NASA Image. Please click on image to download Nawruz booklet.

Earth Spherical View 2013-03-21 0012UT. NASA Image. Please click to download Nawruz booklet.

Earth Spherical View 2013-03-21 0012UT. NASA Image. Please click on image to download Nawruz booklet.

In Ogden Memorial Lecture, Ismaili Imam Speaks About the Communications Revolution and Its Risks, and Says Progress is Possible When Today’s Complex World Issues are Subject to Competent, Intelligent, Nuanced and Sophisticated Dogmatic Free Analysis, and Based Upon What He Describes as “Empathetic Knowledge”

Compiled and presented by Abdulmalik J. Merchant
Publisher-Editor, www.simerg.com

I. Excerpts from President Christina Paxson’s Introduction to His Highness the Aga Khan

A collection of thumbnails from His Highness the Aga Khan's visit to Brown University to deliver the Ogden lecture on the occasion of the University's 250th anniversary.

A collection of thumbnails from His Highness the Aga Khan’s visit to Brown University where delivered the Ogden lecture on the occasion of the University’s 250th anniversary. Photo: The Ismaili

Today we welcome His Highness the Aga Khan to the Brown campus — not as a newly arrived guest, but as a returning friend of the University and a Brown parent. In May 1996, Brown conferred the honorary Doctor of Law degree upon His Highness. At that time, President Vartan Gregorian said of him:

“He has become a major activist for civilised humanity and universal values. Not in words but in deeds. Not in one location but around the world. For he believes in the long tradition of Ismaili community values — that education, self-reliance, solidarity, and character are the elements which keep a community vibrant and healthy and lead to enlightenment and dignity.”

In the 18 years since, His Highness’s critically important work has intensified and expanded. As the 49th hereditary Imam — the spiritual leader — of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, His Highness has been productively engaged with the development of Asia and Africa, work he and his organisations have pursued for nearly 60 years. He is the founder and chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network, one of the world’s largest private development agencies, which has improved living conditions and opportunities for people in 30 countries through work in healthcare, education, architecture, rural development, the built environment, and the promotion of private-sector enterprise…About 80,000 people work for the Network.

Eighteen years ago, on May 26, 1996, His Highness the Aga Khan receives a standing ovation at the conclusion of the Baccalaureate Address at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. Next to him is Vartan Gregorian who was then President of the University.

Eighteen years ago, on May 26, 1996, His Highness the Aga Khan receives a standing ovation at the conclusion of the Baccalaureate Address at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. Next to him is Vartan Gregorian who was then President of the University.

The Network’s efforts range from small — the micro loans and financing that are so important to eager but resource-poor entrepreneurs — to two entire universities: The five campuses of the Aga Khan University, and the University of Central Asia, whose School of Professional and Continuing Education has served nearly 50,000 students in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan. His Highness once made the following remark:

“Education has been important to my family for a long time. My forefathers founded Al-Azhar University in Cairo some 1,000 years ago… Discovery of knowledge was seen by those founders as an embodiment of religious faith — faith as reinforced by knowledge of workings of the Creator’s physical world. The form of universities has changed over those 1,000 years, but that reciprocity between faith and knowledge remains a source of strength.”

Whether for 250 years or a thousand, we at Brown recognise and celebrate the institutions and people throughout the world who champion fundamental values like the discovery of knowledge and the notion that knowledge is a globally shared source of strength.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming His Highness the Aga Khan.

~~~~~~~~

II. Excerpts from His Highness the Aga Khan’s Ogden Lecture Delivered on March 10, 2014

His Highness the Aga Khan visited Brown at the invitation of University President Christina Paxson. His Ogden Lecture was part of the school’s 250th anniversary celebrations. - Photo: AKDN / Farhez Rayani

His Highness the Aga Khan visited Brown at the invitation of University President Christina Paxson. His Ogden Lecture was part of the school’s 250th anniversary celebrations. – Photo: AKDN/Farhez Rayani

Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim

1. STEPHEN OGDEN, PRINCE RAHIM, AND
THE AGA KHAN DEVELOPMENT NETWORK

Thank you very much, Madame President, for your very kind introduction. It is a great honour for me to give the Ogden Lecture…and to pay tribute to the memory of Stephen Ogden.

I have long felt a close sense of belonging at Brown; my eldest son was a member of the Brown Class of 1995, and I treasure the fact that I received an honorary degree from Brown, and was privileged at that time to give the Baccalaureate Address.

My own education has blended Islamic and Western traditions. I was studying at Harvard some 56 years ago when I inherited the Ismaili Imamat. It is not a political role, as has been mentioned, but let me emphasise that Islamic belief sees the spiritual and material worlds as inextricably connected. Faith should deepen our concern for improving the quality of human life in all of its dimensions. That is the overarching objective of the Aga Khan Development Network, which President Paxson has described so well.

2. 1996 AND NOW 

It has been said that giving an effective university lecture requires the boldness to make some strong predictions about the future.

As I look back, over some 18 years now, to 1996, I think I actually under-estimated how many things would change in the years ahead. If you were a student at Brown 18 years ago, you would not have had any Facebook friends and you wouldn’t be following anyone on Twitter. And, even more sadly perhaps, no one would be following you!

There was no instant messaging at that time; indeed, as I recall, people actually used their telephones primarily for talking!

In fact, email itself was still quite a new thing in 1996. And those are only the most obvious examples of transformative change in our world.

What has been the impact of such changes? We often think about technological innovation as a great source of hope for the world. We hear about how the internet can reach out across boundaries, helping us all to stay in touch, and giving us access to information from every imaginable source.

3. COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES - FULFILLED HOPES AND DISAPPOINTMENTS

But it is worth remembering that the same affirmations have greeted new communication technologies for centuries, from the printing press to the telegraph to television and radio. Yet in each case, while many hopes were fulfilled, many were also disappointed. In the final analysis, the key to human cooperation and concord has not depended on advances in the technologies of communication, but rather on how human beings go about using – or abusing – their technological tools.

Yes, the Information Revolution, for individuals and for communities, can be a great liberating influence. But it also carries some important risks.

A. Risks: Fleeting attention spans, Impulsive Judgments and Isolation

More information at our fingertips can mean more knowledge and understanding. But it can also mean more fleeting attention-spans, more impulsive judgments, and more dependence on superficial snapshots of events. Communicating more often and more easily can bring people closer together, but it can also tempt us to live more of our lives inside smaller information bubbles, in more intense but often more isolated groupings.

B. Risk: Greater Connectivity # Greater Connection

We see more people everywhere these days, standing or sitting or walking alone, absorbed in their hand-held screens. But, I wonder whether, in some larger sense, they are really more “in touch?” Greater “connectivity” does not necessarily mean greater “connection.”

Information travels more quickly, in greater quantities these days. But the incalculable multiplication of information can also mean more error, more exaggeration, more misinformation, more disinformation, more propaganda. The world may be right there on our laptops, but the truth about the world may be further and further away.

C. Risk: Contribution to Fragmentation

Among the risks of our new communications world is its potential contribution to what I would call the growing “centrifugal forces” in our time – the forces of “fragmentation.” These forces, I believe, can threaten the coherence of democratic societies and the effectiveness of democratic institutions.

The problem of fragmentation in our world is not a problem of diversity. Diversity itself should be a source of enrichment. The problem comes when diverse elements spin-off on their own, when the bonds that connect us across our diversities begin to weaken.

D. Risk: Knowledge Gaps…Becoming Empathy Gaps

Too often, as the world grows more complex, the temptation for some is to shield themselves from complexity, we seek the comfort of our own simplicities, our own specialities. As has often been said, we risk learning more and more, about less and less. And the result is that significant knowledge gaps can develop and persist.

The danger is that knowledge gaps so often run the risk of becoming empathy gaps. The struggle to remain empathetically open to the Other in a diversifying world is a continuing struggle of central importance for all of us.

The danger of having knowledge gaps grow into empathy gaps – that was the theme of my address in 1996. I discussed then what was becoming an enormous knowledge gap, nearly an ignorance gap, between the worlds of Islam and the non-Muslim world. Since that time, to be sure, there have been moments of encouraging progress on this front, including academic-centred efforts here at Brown, with your wonderful Digital Islamic Humanities Project.

4. THE WORSENING KNOWLEDGE GAP, AND THE LOSS OF AN IMPORTANT ISLAMIC TRADITION

But in many ways, that knowledge gap has worsened.

We have heard predictions for some years now about some inevitable clash of the industrial West with the Muslim world. These multiplied, of course, in the wake of the 9/11 tragedies and other violent episodes. But most Muslims don’t think that way; only an extreme minority does. For most of us, there is singularly little in our theology that would clash with the other Abrahamic faiths, with Christianity and Judaism. And there is much more in harmony. What has happened to the Islamic tradition that says that our best friends will be from the other Abrahamic Faiths, known as the “People of the Book”, all of whose faith builds on monotheistic revelation?

Of course, much of what the West has seen about the Muslim world in recent years has been through a media lens of instability and confrontation. What is highly abnormal in the Islamic world thus often gets mistaken for what is normal. But that is all the more reason for us to work from all directions to replace fearful ignorance with empathetic knowledge.

5.  NON-RECOGNITION IN THE WEST OF MUSLIM CONTRIBUTIONS

Down through many centuries, great Muslim cultures were built on the principle of inclusiveness. Some of the best minds and creative spirits from every corner of the world, independent of ethnic or religious identities, were brought together at great Muslim centres of learning. My own ancestors, the Fatimids, founded one of the world’s oldest universities, Al-Azhar in Cairo, over a thousand years ago. In fields of learning from mathematics to astronomy, from philosophy to medicine Muslim scholars sharpened the cutting edge of human knowledge. They were the equivalents of thinkers like Plato and Aristotle, Galileo and Newton. Yet their names are scarcely known in the West today. How many would recognise the name al-Khwarizmi – the Persian mathematician who developed some 1,200 years ago the algorithm, which is the foundation of search engine technology?

6. HOSTILITY BETWEEN AND WITHIN FAITHS

In the Muslim world itself, as is true outside of it, much of our history, culture and art, has been obscured, and with it a clear sense of Muslim diversity. Among other “in-comprehensions” is the increasing conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims. In places like Pakistan and Malaysia, Iraq and Syria, Lebanon and Bahrain, Yemen and Somalia and Afghanistan, the Sunni-Shia conflict is becoming an absolute disaster.

The harsh truth is that religious hostility and intolerance, between as well as within religions, is contributing to violent crises and political impasse all across the world, in the Central African Republic, in South Sudan and Nigeria; in Myanmar, in the Philippines and in the Ukraine, and in many other places.

Such hostilities, of course, represent the most sinister side of what I have described as the centrifugal, fragmenting patterns of our times.

7. RESPONSES TO INTOLERANCE

A.  Recognition of Pluralism

How can we respond to such tendencies? The response, I would emphasise today is a thoughtful, renewed commitment to the concept of pluralism and to the closely related potential of civil society.

A pluralist commitment is rooted in the essential unity of the human race. Does the Holy Quran not say that mankind is descended from “a single soul?” In an increasingly cosmopolitan world, it is essential that we live by a “cosmopolitan ethic,” one that addresses the age-old need to balance the particular and the universal, to honour both human rights and social duties, to advance personal freedom and to accept human responsibility.

It is in that spirit that we can nurture bonds of confidence across different peoples and unique individuals, welcoming the growing diversity of our world, even in matters of faith, as a gift of the Divine. Difference, in this context, can become an opportunity – not a threat – a blessing rather than a burden.

B. Good Governance: The Example of America’s First President, George Washington

This brings us to the challenges for governance in our time. How do we organise our complex societies to achieve harmony and perhaps some progress, even at this time of growing diversity? These have always been difficult questions and they are not getting any easier. As you know, they were particularly difficult questions for the United States back in this university’s earliest years, as 13 former colonies tried to write a new national constitution.

George Washington, who had presided over the Constitutional Convention, came to this campus in 1790, after just one year as President, when Brown itself was only a quarter of a century old. He travelled to Providence to mark the recent adoption of the new US Constitution by the state of Rhode Island – the last of the original 13 states to do so.

The colossal face of  George Washington as photographed from the Presidential Trail at the Rushmore Memorial. George Washington (1732 - 1799), America's first President is considered the father of the country and is therefore the most prominent figure on the mountain. Photo: Malik Merchant. © Simerg.com

The colossal face of George Washington as photographed from the Presidential Trail at the Rushmore Memorial. George Washington (1732 – 1799), America’s first President is considered the father of the country and is therefore the most prominent figure on the mountain. Photo: Malik Merchant. © Simerg.com

Washington’s visit in Providence marked a moment of historic constitutional significance. And the questions we have raised today, balancing centrifugal, fragmenting realities on the one hand with the imperatives of national bonding and governing on the other, were central concerns for Washington at that moment and throughout his career. After eight years of coping with these issues as the first American president, he made them the major theme of his famous Farewell Address.

He was worried, principally, he said then, about what he called the spirit of “faction” and its ability to undermine a sense of democratic nationhood. He described faction as a spirit, that “kindles the animosity of one part against another,” creating a “fatal tendency to elevate a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community” against the whole. It threatened, he said, “a frightful despotism”, one that could “render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together…”

C. New Government Frameworks and Constitutions Honouring Human Rights:  Kenya and Tunisia

Such threats to bonding, and thus to balance, have long presented a central governance challenge, here and elsewhere. And these issues are now being addressed with new intensity all across the world.

Amazing as it may seem, fully 37 countries have been writing or rewriting their constitutions in the last ten years, with another 12 countries recently embarking on this path….And nearly half of these 49 countries have majority Muslim populations.

Clearly, many Muslim societies are seeking new ways to organise themselves. And there can be no “one size fits all”. The outcomes obviously are going to be many and varied. The process will challenge the creativity of the world’s best political and legal thinkers. Especially in the developing world, such matters will increasingly be in the hands of younger, more educated men and women, provided the system allows them to come to the forefront.

These governance issues are frankly today, of global concern. And I believe that the great universities of the world and Brown University in particular, can also play an especially creative role in responding to them.

The challenge, as we have said, will be one of balancing values and interests, honouring the importance of religious and ethical traditions, for example, while also respecting the free will of individual human beings; accommodating both the role of central governments and regional demands, reconciling the urban and the rural; providing for democratic change, and institutional continuity.

Creating new governance frameworks is obviously not an easy task. But it can be accomplished. In Kenya just three and a half years ago, for example, a new constitution ratified by two-thirds of the voters, redistributed power dramatically from the central level to 47 county governments. In Tunisia, just a few weeks ago, a new “consensus” constitution with 94 per cent approval from the elected Constituent Assembly reaffirmed the Islamic identity of the Tunisian state, while also protecting the human rights of religious and ethnic minorities.

D. Good and Quality Civil Society: Vital to Democratic Governance

In these cases, and in other places such as Bangladesh, one of the fundamental constructive forces at work has been the strength of civil society, it is a topic that is worth serious attention.

By civil society I mean an array of institutions that operate on a private, voluntary basis, but are motivated by high public purposes. They include institutions devoted to culture, to science and to research; to commercial, labour, ethnic and religious concerns; as well as a variety of professional societies. They include institutions of the media and education.

I think the conclusion is the success of democratic societies will depend in the end on more than democratic governments. The scale and the quality of civil society will become a factor, I believe, of enormous importance.

A quality civil society has three critical underpinnings: a commitment to pluralism, an open door to meritocracy, and a full embrace of what I described earlier as a cosmopolitan ethic.

The voices of civil society will reflect and express the growing complexity of society, not as autonomous fragments, but as diversified institutions seeking the common good. And I believe that the voices of civil society can be among the most powerful forces in our time. Where change has been overdue, they can be voices for change. Where people live in fear, they can be voices of hope.

 8. ATTRIBUTES OF A GOOD CIVIL SOCIETY

A. Talent and Voluntary Service

One of the energizing forces that makes a quality civil society possible, of course, is the readiness of its citizens to contribute their talents and energies to the social good. What is required is a profound spirit of voluntary service, a principle cherished in Shia Ismaili culture, and honoured, I know, here at Brown.

B. Diversified Input

Progress is possible when the multiple, diversified needs of any society can be matched by multiple, diversified inputs; that is also what civil society is all about. This is why great universities, with their broad, diversified programmes, can be a resource of importance in the development of quality civil society, in their own countries but also around the world. And again, Brown offers a powerful example.

C. Predictability and Sophisticated Analysis

Perhaps the biggest quandary we face in our economic and social development programmes is the problem of “predictability”; knowing what changes are going to arise, and then deciding what is more or less likely to work in a given situation. But again, progress is possible when complex issues are subjected to competent, intelligent, nuanced and sophisticated analysis, free from dogmatism, and based upon what I would describe as “empathetic knowledge.” This happens best in open, meritocratic societies, where people’s responsibilities are based on their competence. It also happens best when the intellectual resources of the world’s great universities, like Brown, are brought into play.

D. Well-Informed Leaders with Broad Outlooks

A quality civil society, in any setting, will require well-informed leaders who are sensitive to a wide array of disciplines, and outlooks and cultures. It will require people with the ability to continue their learning in response to new knowledge. I know these are central concerns for Brown University, articulated so well in its new Strategic Plan and its call for “Building on Distinction.”

E. Diversity Without Fragmentation

As we look ahead, in sum, we face a world in which centrifugal and fragmenting influences are of growing importance, presenting new governance challenges all across the planet, and especially in fragile societies. In such a world, the voices of pluralistic civil society can help ensure that diversity does not lead to disintegration, and that a broad variety of energies and talents can be enlisted in the quest for human progress. Diversification without disintegration, this is the greatest challenge of our time.

9. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE HUMAN INTELLECT IN THE SHIA ISMAILI TRADITION AND THE ROLE OF IMAMAT INSTITUTIONS

His Highness the Aga Khan meets with Ismaili students at Brown University.

His Highness the Aga Khan meets with Ismaili students at Brown University. Photo: The Ismaili/Aly Z. Ramji

One of the important values of the Shia Ismaili tradition is the transformative power of the human intellect – that conviction underscores AKDN’s strong commitment to education, at all levels, wherever we are present. These activities include the Aga Khan University – now thirty years old – our newer University of Central Asia, our Aga Khan Academies at the primary and secondary levels, and our major commitment to the potential of Early Childhood Development.

The Aga Khan University in Karachi and East Africa is in the process today of creating a new Liberal Arts faculty, while also establishing eight new post-graduate schools. I would emphasise both these initiatives. Professional education is sorely needed in the developing world, but equally important is the capacity to integrate knowledge, to nurture critical thinking and ethical sensitivity and to advance interdisciplinary teaching and research.

10. FINAL REMARKS: SPEAKING FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

His Highness the Aga Khan delivers an Ogden lecture titled "Modern governance in a more complex world: Challenges and responses" at Brown University. - Photo: AKDN / Aly Z. Ramji

His Highness the Aga Khan delivers an Ogden lecture titled “Modern governance in a more complex world: Challenges and responses” at Brown University. – Photo: AKDN / Aly Z. Ramji

Over the past six decades I have been immersed in the problems of developing societies, grappling with ways to assist their populations, despite both natural hazards and human errors. It is my conviction that a strong, high-quality, ethical and competent civil society is one of the greatest forces we can work with to underwrite such progress. And, if this is correct, then the role of great universities has never been more important.

I am convinced that Brown will be among the greatest universities stepping up to this challenge, as it finishes its first 250 years, and embarks on its next quarter of a millennium!

Date posted: Wednesday, March 12, 2014

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Please visit Ismailimail for a comprehensive collection of links to all material related to the above event. It is the best referral website for anything related to His Highness the Aga Khan and the Ismaili community.

Please also visit:

www.brown.edu
http://www.akdn.org
http://www.theismaili.org
www.nanowisdoms.org

Brown University’s Ogden Lecture, and a photo of His Highness the Aga Khan that I took in 1996 at Providence which will remain my greatest treasure!

Stephen A. Ogden Jr.

Stephen A. Ogden Jr.

INTRODUCTION: Founded in 1764, Brown University, the seventh-oldest college in the United States, is celebrating the 250th anniversary of its founding this year. As part of this anniversary, His Highness the Aga Khan, the 49th Imam of Ismaili Muslims, will deliver a Stephen A. Ogden Jr. ’60 Memorial Lecture on International Affairs at Brown University on Monday, March 10, 2014, at 5 p.m. The ceremony will be will be carried live  at http://www.brown.edu/web/livestream/.

Since 1965, the Ogden Lectures have been the most distinguished of their kind, serving both the Brown and Rhode Island communities in the field of International Relations.

Stephen A. Ogden Jr., an active member of the Brown class of 1960, was seriously injured in an automobile accident in the spring of his junior year. After a valiant fight for life, he died in 1963. Established by his family, the Ogden lectureship came into being two years later as a means of achieving in some small measure what Steve Ogden had hoped to accomplish in his life: the advancement of international peace and understanding.

The Ogden Lectures are a living tribute to the memory of a young man who had hoped to devote his abilities and energy to the field of international relations. These lectures have brought to the University and to Rhode Island a large number of U.S. and foreign diplomats as well as many other observers of the international scene. All have given lectures, free and open to the public, on current world topics.

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A Cherished Photo

By Abdulmalik J. Merchant
Publisher-Editor, www.simerg.com

Aga Khan IV, 49th Ismaili Imam, pictured at Brown University in May 1996. Photo: Akdn.org

His Highness the Aga Khan, the direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s) and 49th Imam, pictured at Brown University in May 1996. Photo: Akdn.org

A family member living overseas called me in Philadelphia, USA, during the third week of May in 1996, and asked me to obtain a speech that he thought Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, had already delivered at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, earlier that month. Without waiting another second, I called Brown’s main number, and was swiftly connected to a very kind and knowledgeable gentleman. When I requested for a copy of the speech, he informed me that the speech had not yet been delivered and that His Highness would be addressing the University’s Baccalaureate Service during the coming Memorial Day Weekend. Obviously, my next question was if I was permitted to attend the event, and without hesitation he asked me to come over and bring my friends too! He explained that the address would take place at the First Baptist Church, where sitting would be limited to the graduating students. However, all the visitors would be able to watch the videocast on a large-screen on the College Green. I thanked him with all my heart. But before wishing me good-bye, he thoughtfully asked me to spend an extra day in Providence, as Mawlana Hazar Imam along with eight other individuals would also be conferred with an Honorary Degree at a special University Ceremony on the same Green.

The Memorial weekend was only two days away! I rushed to get a rented car and prepared for the event, including purchasing a couple of $9.00 disposable cameras from a nearby drugstore in downtown Philadelphia, where I lived. I set out for the 6 hour drive on Saturday morning, May 25th. I first stopped at Scranton University and attended my cousin Akber’s graduation ceremony. I then proceeded to Connecticut to meet Anaar Naran, a close family friend who was my younger brother Fahar’s teacher at Dar-es-Salaam’s Aga Khan Boys Primary School in the 1960′s.

The following morning, Sunday, 26th May, upon reaching Providence, I first decided to locate the whereabouts of the Green. Satisfied, I checked into a nearby hotel and returned with immense excitement to the event site well before the start of the 1:30 pm Baccalaureate Service in the First Baptist Church.

May 26, 1996: His Highness the Aga Khan receives a standing ovation at the conclusion of the Baccalaureate Address at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. Next to him is Vartan Gregorian who was then President of the University.

May 26, 1996: His Highness the Aga Khan receives a standing ovation at the conclusion of the Baccalaureate Address at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. Next to him is Vartan Gregorian who was then President of the University.

Seated at the front of the Green, I witnessed the entire ceremony on the large screen that had been set-up. The ceremony  embraced lively expressions of thanksgiving, harmony, and rhythm and included music and spiritual readings from Islam, Christianity and Hinduism as well as other faiths, incorporating the many spiritual and cultural traditions of the Brown community. The program that was distributed contained the texts of the spiritual readings. I was captivated and deeply touched by the distinguished and dignified ceremony which respected and recognized world-faiths.

As I heard a Hindu reading which alluded to the Lord Vishnu as the Preserver of the Universe and one who would manifest himself again, my thoughts turned to that notion of manifestation as presented by Ismaili missionaries and Pirs in some of their ginans, which were aimed at converting Hindus to the Ismaili faith.

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 University’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

The entire service including President Gregorian’s and Mawlana  Hazar Imam’s speeches (Vartan Gregorian’s Tribute to His Highness the Aga Khan at Brown University in 1996) was overpowering and unforgettable, and I was given an opportunity to share my thoughts about the complete event with the Philadelphia jamat a few days later at the invitation of the mukhi. During that talk I also read out the scripture excerpts from Brown’s programme booklet. Alas, the diskette with the hard-copy of my speech is in storage and not easily accessible.

The following morning on Monday, 27th May, bagpipers, highland drummers, marching bands and more than 5,000 graduates, alumni, faculty, parent educators and University guests marched in a mile-long procession that announced Brown University’s 228th Commencement exercises, in  one of the largest and most colorful academic pageants in the nation.

By approximately 11:45 all the three groups – the medical students, graduate students as well as undergraduates - had returned from their separate convocations for the University Ceremony on The College Green.

May 27, 2009: A section of the large crowd witnessing the University Ceremony at Brown University's "Green." The Honorary Degree recipients, including the Aga Khan, are on the stage in the distant. Photo: Malik Merchant

May 27, 1996: A section of the large crowd witnessing the University Ceremony at Brown University’s “Green.” The Honorary Degree recipients, including the Aga Khan, are on the stage in the distant. Photo: Malik Merchant

In the meantime I wandered around the Green, enjoying and soaking in the lively atmosphere. Near one end of the Green I spotted Mansoor Saleh, a class-mate from my 1964 primary school days in Dar-es-Salaam. He was with the Council for USA. I was meeting him after several years, and I greeted him with immense enthusiasm and excitement, not knowing who was around us. A few moments earlier I had seen Princess Zahra Aga Khan and Prince Rahim Aga Khan, and I asked Mansoor where Hazar Imam might be. He asked me to turn to the left, and there standing just a few metres away was Mawlana Hazar Imam in the company of other distinguished individuals, who were also going to be conferred with honorary degrees. I should have been a little quieter in greeting Mansoor, I thought to myself! But then it was a meeting of brothers after years, I said to myself. Wouldn’t my Imam feel happy at that very warm brotherly encounter and greeting?

Dozens of academic staff passed by in the University’s regalia, and many stopped to greet Mawlana Hazar Imam and other dignitaries. I saw President Shams Kassim-Lakha, in his elegant Aga Khan University regalia, approaching Mawlana Hazar Imam and readied my camera to click them together. But a person blocked the scene, and I was momentarily delayed. I clicked as soon as the person had passed. I was uncertain about the shot I had taken and who might be in it. This wasn’t a digital camera – the film had to be sent to the lab to be processed! Everything happened too swiftly.

I thanked Mansoor, wished him goodbye, and proceeded to the back of the Green to watch the University ceremony during which President Vartan Gregorian presented special awards and honors as well as conferred honorary degrees to Mawlana Hazar Imam and eight others – namely Mary Chapin Carpenter, Edward D. Eddy, Timothy Forbes, Agnes Gund, Arthur Mitchell, Sandra Day O’Connor, Itzhak Perlman and James Wolfensohn. Flags from more than 50 nations, representing the homelands of the Class of 1996, were flown during the University ceremony which was filled with thousands of people. When Mawlana Hazar Imam was presented with the honorary degree, President Vartan Gregorian prompted the gathering to give him a special ovation.

A truly memorable event had come to an end. I returned to Philadelphia, and my first action was to submit the cameras for processing. I was quite clear about the contents of dozens of photos that I had captured, with the exception of one.

…AND THE PHOTO

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highnes the Aga Khan, pictured at "The Green" at Brown University, 1996. Photo: Abdulmalik Merchant

THE TREASURED PHOTO – please click for enlargement. Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, with other honorary degree recipients before the ceremony at “The Green” at Brown University, 1996. Photo: Abdulmalik Merchant.

I soon collected the processed prints, and started flipping through the photos, which were essentially of average quality. I felt satisfied considering I had used a very rudimentary camera, a disposable one. Then as I neared the end of the second set of prints, I realized that President Shams Kassim-Lakha had been too fast for my shutter speed. I brought the photo closer to my eye. It filled me with immense joy and happiness. I didn’t know that the camera had harmoniously coordinated with other forces to capture the image. Either by fluke or providence this (‘posed’) photo of Mawlana Hazar Imam is one that I will cherish and treasure throughout my life.

Date posted: Sunday, March 9, 2014.

Copyright. Simerg.

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