The Meaning of Irfan, the Name of the New Prince Welcomed by Prince Rahim Aga Khan and Princess Salwa Aga Khan

Prince Rahim and Princess Salwa during their nikah ceremony in September 2013. Photo: TheIsmaili / Gary Otte

Prince Rahim and Princess Salwa during their nikah ceremony in September 2013. Photo: TheIsmaili / Gary Otte

Compiled by Simerg

Following last October’s happy announcement by Prince Rahim Aga Khan and Princess Salwa that that they were expecting their first child, a son named Prince Irfan, was born in Geneva, Switzerland on 11 April, 2015. The couple were married in September 2013 in the grounds of the Château de Bellerive, overlooking the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland.

An official announcement on the community’s website, http://www.theismaili.org, said that both Princess Salwa and Prince Irfan were in good health. Mawlana Hazar Imam’s special message to the global Jamat on this occasion expressed the great happiness of both his as well as the family of Princess Salwa. Jamats around the world received the news of Prince Irfan’s birth with immense joy and traditional celebrations.

The Meaning of Irfan

Irfan is an indirect Qur’anic name for boys. Irfan means “wisdom”, or more correctly, Wisdom with a capital W. It refers to all that is good and true of thoughts and deeds. It is derived from the Ain-R-F root (to know, to recognize), which is used in many places in the Holy Qu’ran, [1] as in the following verse:

Transliteration:

Wa Jā’a ‘Ikhwatu Yūsufa Fadakhalū `Alayhi Fa`arafahum Wa Hum Lahu Munkirūna — Sura Yusuf, Chapter 12, Verse 58

Translation:

And the brethren of Joseph came, and entered unto him, and he knew them, but they knew him not — Holy Qur’an, 12:15, translation by A.J. Arberry.

The Term Irfan in Islamic Mysticism

The term ‘irfan (gnosis), which literally meaning knowledge, is widely applied in Islamic mysticism. In the mystical context, like another term in the same family, mari’fa, which is also translated as gnosis, the knowledge is of certain kind which can be achieved neither through the senses nor experience, nor through reason nor narration, but rather is acquired by inner witnessings and interior unveilings. [2] It is that knowledge that unites man with God after penetrating and transforming him completely.

The famous prayer of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s) sums up the end toward which the gnostic strives with all his mind, soul and body:

“O God, deliver us from preoccupations with worldly vanities and show us the nature of things ‘as they really are’. Remove from our eyes the veil of ignorance, and show us things as they really are…Deliver us from ourselves, and accord us intimate knowledge of Thee.” [3]

We rejoice with our thousands of  readers around the world on the wonderful news of the birth of Prince Irfan, and join with jamats around the world to congratulate Mawlana Hazar Imam, Prince Rahim, Princess Salwa and their families, with prayers for Prince Irfan’s long life and well being.

We also sincerely hope and pray that the birth of Prince Irfan may bring immense barakah and peace to jamats worldwide.

We encourage readers to express their wishes and thoughts on the birth of Prince Irfan by clicking on Leave a comment or scrolling down to the comments box below.

Date posted: Friday, April 17, 2015.
Last updated: Tuesday, April 21, 2015.

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This compiled piece contains excerpts from the following sources:

[1] http://quranicnames.com/irfan/
[2] http://www.alseraj.net/
[3] http://www.allamaiqbal.com/publications/journals/review/apr89/7.htm

See also:

A Nikah in the Noorani Family: Prince Rahim Aga Khan Weds Ms. Kendra Salwa Spears by Navyn Naran

A Brief Note on a Manuscript at the Library of Congress Dedicated to Fatimid Imam al-Hakim bi Amr-Allah

A view of the African and Middle Eastern Reading Room at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Inset the Main Building. Photo: Library of Congress, USA.

A view of the African and Middle Eastern Reading Room at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Inset the Main Building. Photo: Library of Congress, USA.

INTRODUCTION

In 1945, the US Library of Congress (LOC) purchased a collection of printed books and manuscripts form Shaykh Mahmud al-Iman al-Mansuri, professor of religion at the al-Azhar University, Cairo. Assembled by the Shaykh from sources in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe, the collection deals with virtually every aspect of Qur’anic and Islamic studies and includes commentaries, biographies, dictionaries, and works on history, literature, and philosophy. Approximately 1,300 of the 5,000 volumes that comprise the collection are book manuscripts. The collection is known as the Mansuri Collection.

MANUSCRIPT DEDICATED TO IMAM AL-HAKIM

Among the thousands of items in the Mansuri Collection, is a work on astronomy dedicated to the 16th Ismaili Imam (or the 6th Fatimid Caliph), al-Hakim bi Amr-Allah (d. 411AH/1021 CE). The text is a popular exposition on the study of the order of events in time, and the order in which they occur, especially in those related to astronomical movements and the measurement of time.

A folio from a manuscript whose original work was dedicated to Ismaili Imam al-Hakim. Photo: Library of Congress, USA.

A folio from a manuscript whose original work was dedicated to Ismaili Imam al-Hakim. Photo: Library of Congress, USA.

Note on fol. 2a says that the author, Ibn Jahhaf al-Ḥusayn ibn Zayd ibn ʻAli, was a famous astronomer during the reign of the 6th Fatimid Caliph al-Ḥakim bi-‘Amr Allah (996–1021). The manuscript is yellowed cream, with watermarks, and is in bad condition due to damage from humidity. Edges of some leaves have been repaired. There are dark stains on edges of paper and the last few leaves are missing. The title page is black and red ink; and the colour of the text is black, red, green and yellow. There are occasional diacritical marks, with notes on title page and marginal notes. There are catchwords on rectos.

SUMMARY

Personal Name
Ibn Jaḥhaf, al-Ḥusayn ibn Zayd ibn ʻAli.

Related names
Watari, Muḥammad ʻAli ibn Zahir, former owner.
Ibn al-ʻAttaar, Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad, active 1426. Kashf al-qina firasm al-arba.
Mansuri Collection (Library of Congress) DLC.

Uniform title
Yawaqit fi maʻrifat al-mawaqii

Main title
Kitab al-yawaqit fi maʻrifat al-mawaqit

Description
8 leaves (33 lines), bound : paper ; 20 x 15 cm.

Binding:
New cardboard covered with cloth; leather spine.

Acquisition source, purchase:
Mahmud al-Mansuri ; 1945.

Additional formats:
Also available in digital form on the Library of Congress website.

LC control no:
2008401930

Geographic area code:
n-us-dc

Type of material:
Rare Book or Manuscript

Date posted: Tuesday, March 31, 2015.

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Please click on either of the following two Library of Congress links for additional images of the manuscript:

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

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.

______________

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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Chapter Five of Nasir-i Khusraw’s Wajh-i Din: The Gateway and Key to Paradise by Rukhsana Ali

“By the generosity of the Imam of the time, we say that Paradise in truth is the Intellect, and the Gateway of paradise is the Prophet (peace and salutation be upon him) during his time, and his wasi, his rank, and the Imam of the time during his age. The Key to the gateway of paradise is the utterance of the phrase, La ilaha illa Allah, Muhammadan rasul Allah.”

Please click:  Pir Nasir-i Khusraw on the Gateway and Key to Paradise

This statue of the Ismaili da’i and intellectual giant Nasir Khusraw stands in his memory in Badakhshan. Please click for article.

Simerg’s Photo Features: Prince Amyn Aga Khan, Fatimid Glass, Alamut and Bagamoyo Jamatkhana

This website’s photo blog, Simergphotos, was launched just over three years ago. Together, Simerg with Simergphotos, has achieved a combined viewership of over two million – 1.8 million and 306,000 since 2009 and 2011 respectively. During the course of this time we have published memorable photo essays covering a vast array of subjects. Beginning this week, we bring you links to highly informative and educational pieces. Our journey commences with Prince Amyn Aga Khan’s Investiture as Head of Ismaili Scouts, the Discovery of Fatimid Glass in a Byzantine Shipwreck, Alamut Where Every Stone Tells a Story, and A Journey to Bagamoyo Jamatkhana. Please click on the images below for these fascinating historical stories.

000 Prince Amyn Investiture~~~~~

002 Fatimid Glass~~~~~

001 Alamut~~~~~

003 Bagamoyo

The Modern Pace of Life and the Place of Faith and Religion – A Reflection by Farouk Topan

Simerg Post Pace of Life

THE FUNDAMENTAL MESSAGE OF RELIGION

By Dr. Farouk Topan

The pace of life today is said to be much faster than it was just a few decades ago. This is an axiom of our times. What, however, is not axiomatic is the corollary that is often assumed to stem from it, namely that spiritual value and worth get diminished in proportion to the increase of pace. It is not uncommon to hear the lament that nowadays people have no time for religion. Many people actually believe this, and that is a great pity. For religion is not a ‘thing’ one ‘does’ if one has time. Religion is a commitment, an involvement of one’s being and personality, utterly, totally and completely.

Human nature, however, accepts few commitments gladly and it abhors those which are seen as imposed externally. Some people consider religion as a process forced upon them from outside themselves. To view religion as an imposition is to misunderstand its message and its function.

The fundamental message of religion to Man is to be at peace — at peace with himself, with his fellow human beings, and at peace with his Creator; the fundamental function of religion is to enable a person to understand and to know his own nature, his environment and to begin to recognise and to know his Creator. Knowledge and peace are interlinked. One makes the attainment of the other possible and a person who attains a degree of both becomes a potential recipient of God’s most valuable gifts to Man: wisdom. Tranquility is a reflection of wisdom.

Photo: John Macdonald.

Photo: John Macdonald.

“I do not believe that we should fear material progress, nor should we condemn it. The danger is that it could become an obsession in our lives and that it could dominate our way of thinking” — Mawlana Hazar Imam [1]

“The day we no longer know how, nor have the time nor the faith to bow in prayer to Allah because the human soul that He has told us is eternal is no longer of sufficient importance to us to be worthy of an hour of our daily working, profit-seeking time, will be a sunless day of despair” — Mawlana Hazar Imam [2]

An essential aspect of knowledge is the understanding that even a tiny part of our lives cannot be isolated from what is termed ‘religion'; for religion properly understood, is nothing less – and even more –  than life itself. We, as Muslims, are not and cannot be ‘outside’ of Islam. Islam involves us completely; that, indeed, is the essence of our existence.

The realization of this simple fact is the basis for experiencing an inner calm and tranquility. Then the pace of life around a person becomes largely immaterial, and its varied speed becomes a matter of petty insignificance. This is not to underestimate the powerful attractions of the style of life prevalent in many parts of the world; it is simply to point out that, if one wants to stop oneself from being drifted away aimlessly by the currents of materialism, one can stabilize oneself through the teachings and practices of Islam.

Date posted: Thursday, November 6, 2014.

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The essay has been adapted from Ilm, Volume 2, Number 1, published by the Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Board (ITREB) for the United Kingdom, where it appeared under the title “Islam and the Modern Pace of Life.” Excerpts from the speeches of His Highness the Aga Khan were not part of the original piece by Dr. Topan.

[1] His Highness the Aga Khan, Takht Nashini (ceremonial installation), Karachi, Pakistan, January 23, 2958.
[2] His Highness the Aga Khan, Convocation Address, Peshawar University, Pakistan, November 30, 1967.

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Links for speeches of His Highness the Aga Khan:

A Collection of Readings on Imam Hussein and Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan – Two Ismaili Imams Who Lived 1250 Years Apart

IMAM SULTAN MAHOMED SHAH, HIS HIGHNESS THE AGA KHAN (1877 – 1957)

Aga Khan Post ImageOur beloved 48th Imam, Hazrat Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah (a.s.) was born in Karachi on November 2, 1877. He assumed the Imamat at the age of 7 in August 1885, and became the longest serving Imam in Ismaili history. He passed away on July 11, 1957, at the age of 79, bequeathing the hereditary throne of Imamat to his grandson, Mawlana Shah Karim al Hussaini Aga Khan, the current 49th Imam who has been on the throne for 57 years. In his tribute to his grandfather, Mawlana Hazar Imam said, “Through 72 years of Imamat, he guided his spiritual children to happiness and prosperity.”…..Read More

IMAM HUSSEIN (626 – 680 CE)

Imam Hussein Post LinkOur beloved second Imam, Hazrat Hussein (a.s.) was born on January 8, 626 AC. He began his reign as the 2nd Ismaili Imam* on the death of his father, Hazrat Ali, on January 27, 661. Imam Hussein was martyred in the Battle of Karbala on the 10th day of the Muslim month of Muharram, or October 10, 680, at the age of 54. He was succeeded to the hereditary throne of Imamat by Imam Zainul Abideen. The Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle, and thus shorter than the 365 day solar calendar. This year (2014), the 10th day of the Muharram falls on or around November 3/4……Read more

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*Note: Although Shia Nizari Ismailis consider Imam Hussein (a.s.) as the second Imam, he is generally regarded as the 3rd Imam by other Shia Muslims, who treat his brother Hazrat Hassan (a.s.) as the second Imam.

Imam Hussein (a.s.): “The Chief of the Youth of Paradise”

Please click: Muslim and non-Muslim Expressions on Imam Hussein (a.s.)

Processional standards (‘alams) are used in Shia processions, particularly on the day of ‘Ashura, the tenth day of the month of Muharram, to commemorate the martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, al-Hosayn, the son of ‘Ali, in the seventh century in Karbala’, Iraq. In this openwork ‘alam, the form, decorative elements, and function are closely intertwined. The bifurcated blades on the top of the pear-shaped body of this beautifully carved ‘alam are a symbolic reference to the first Shia imam, ‘Ali, the Prophet’s son-in-law, who is known by the epithet dhu’l-fiqar in reference to his bifurcated sword. ‘Ali is also referred to by name in the mirror-image inscription on the central field of this ‘alam: ya Allah ya Muhammad ya ‘Ali, calling upon God, Muhammad, and ‘Ali for support. The symmetrical formation of the invocation ya ‘Ali in the inscription is usually seen as depicting the stylized face of a lion, another symbolic reference to the first imam. Photo and caption: Aga Khan Museum. Accession Number: AKM679, 82cm x 32.5 sm, Iran or India,16th Century, Pierced Steel.

Processional standards (‘alams) are used in Shia processions, particularly on the day of ‘Ashura, the tenth day of the month of Muharram, to commemorate the martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, al-Hosayn, the son of ‘Ali, in the seventh century in Karbala’, Iraq. In this openwork ‘alam, the form, decorative elements, and function are closely intertwined. The bifurcated blades on the top of the pear-shaped body of this beautifully carved ‘alam are a symbolic reference to the first Shia imam, ‘Ali, the Prophet’s son-in-law, who is known by the epithet dhu’l-fiqar in reference to his bifurcated sword. ‘Ali is also referred to by name in the mirror-image inscription on the central field of this ‘alam: ya Allah ya Muhammad ya ‘Ali, calling upon God, Muhammad, and ‘Ali for support. The symmetrical formation of the invocation ya ‘Ali in the inscription is usually seen as depicting the stylized face of a lion, another symbolic reference to the first imam. Photo and caption: Aga Khan Museum. Accession Number: AKM679, 82cm x 32.5 sm, Iran or India,16th Century, Pierced Steel.

The emigration (Hijrah) of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s) from Mecca to Medina in the year 622 AC was a significant event and later adopted to mark the beginning of the Muslim Era. The Muslim New Year begins with the month of Muharram (In 2014, October 24). Amongst the Shi’a Muslims, the first part of the month of Muharram is an occasion which is marked with a sense of sorrow and solemnity. The 10th of Muharram was the day when Hazrat Imam Hussein (a.s.) together with most of the members of his family and close companions were martyred on the fields of Karbala….Read more

The twelve months of the Muslim calendar and major Muslim festivals. Image by Simerg.

The twelve months of the Muslim calendar and major Muslim festivals. Image by Simerg.

Happiness of the Talika by Navyn Naran

On the occasion of Prince Rahim Aga Khan’s marriage to Princess Salwa on August 31, 2013, Simerg had published a special photo feature and poem honouring their union. Ismailis around the world now rejoice with their beloved Imam and his family as well as the family of Princess Salwa with the announcement that the couple are  expecting their first child.

We offer our congratulations to Prince Rahim and Princess Salwa, the entire Noorani family as well as Ismailis all around the word on the talika that was received from Mawlana Hazar Imam yesterday. The poem by Navyn Naran may reflect the happiness of the Jamat on receiving this talika. Esoteric in meaning, the poem shares the amazement and happiness of new life.

Form; Hidden-Intermingled; Formless; Untenable-Present

Prince Rahim and Princess Salwa on their wedding day on August 31, 2013. Photo: TheIsmaili / Gary Otte.

Prince Rahim and Princess Salwa on their wedding day on August 31, 2013. Photo: TheIsmaili / Gary Otte.

By Navyn Naran

It was as if Blessings were falling from the sky!
manna  arriving from heaven?
onto an earth parched and dry.
Happiness

Spiritual in physical presence
when submerging,
melting,
now hidden from sight
water
a new journey, a New Life

it takes much Energy to evaporate, doesn’t it?
Formless now, your drop is unseen in the earth,
and on that Moment, when Time is here for you to emerge,
the heat carries you.
and entranced, in a trance,  you rise  up
still un seen,
rise away…mmmm

Looking for you i travel,
in cotton white i see you, can’t touch,
a cool lightness of being,
in facade of the cloud.

yet now, as i look up and see this emanation falling,
Unique you arrive,  physical form, enthralling.
in sunlight you are beautiful,
in the quiet, silently,
MY Happiness

Lily of the vallley. Istockphoto. Copyright.

Unique, a snowflake,
Blessings!
a skip in my step, a faster heart beat,
i feel your presence and i melt
“you are the cat’s meow, the ow in my WOW, the lilt in my step”
Snowflake.

A Blessing is coming,
Here you are!
and i see
a Snowflake mixed with the new
confetti snow.
Happiness

Date posted: Saturday, October 25, 2014.

Copyright: Navyn Naran/Simerg. 2014.

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Dr. Navyn Naran was born in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, to Anaar and Badrudin Naran. After beginning her high school in the UK, her family immigrated to the USA where she has lived since. Dr. Naran went to medical school at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, MA. She currently works in the Paediatric field.

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