Ismaili Historical Insights: (I) 1925: Mahatma Gandhi on the Meritorious Deed of a Khoja Ismaili

Letter From Publisher

Simerg's Merchant

Simerg’s Merchant

By Abdulmalik J. Merchant

Simerg’s new feature Short Historical Insights is intended to make history educational, interesting and stimulating for readers through anecdotes, facts, stories as well as images related to Ismailis and their Imams, in no more than  500 words. Information in the series will be unearthed from a maze of documents, including those that are not easily accessible due to their sheer size or location, or material which, in the broader scope, would be of interest for research on specific themes. Of course, we will also rely on other well-known (or lesser-known) treatises and texts as well as libraries and museums for this new feature.

For the first episode, we go to a massive work called The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi and reveal a story that appears in Volume 33, which is dedicated to the period from September 1925 to February 1926 in Gandhi’s life. During his visit to Mundra in Gujarat, the father of India, is frustrated with members of his own faith with respect to their treatment of the Untouchables* and, somewhat grudgingly, praises the work of one Khoja (Ismaili) named Ibrahim Pradhan Saheb, who has unselfishly built a school for the outcast children.

This anecdote, by none other than Mahatma Gandhi, is an excellent example of the Ismaili spirit of loyalty to their countries of birth or adoption, a matter which Ismaili Imams have placed on their followers as one of their two principal obligations during their lifetime, the other being their loyalty to the Ismaili Muslim faith. Ibrahim Pradhan was an exemplary Ismaili in this regard, and we are pleased to provide a short account of his contribution from Mahatma’s own two speeches made in 1925.

Readers are invited to contribute to this new feature by submitting their pieces to  Simerg@aol.com. We always acknowledges letters and submissions from non-anonymous sources.

Ibrahim Pradhan’s Meritorious Deed As Recorded By Mahatma Gandhi

102 – Gandhi’s Speech at Mundra, November 1, 1925, page 177 – 181

Mahatma Gandhi spinning yarn in the 1920's. Photo: Wikipedia.

Mahatma Gandhi spinning yarn in the 1920’s. Photo: Wikipedia.

(It is noted by Mahadev Desai that Mahatma Gandhi began his speech with “Antyaja brothers and sisters, their sympathizers, and other Hindu brothers and sisters”)

” ….It is wrong to invite me to a place where the entire public believes in untouchability. It is an insult to invite me to a place where the untouchables are treated with nothing but contempt. After having come here, I heard of the school for the untouchables. I felt that at such a place the Antyajas [lit. the last born – ed] would receive service. I would congratulate Ibrahim Pradhan Saheb on the school but the Hindu public deserves no such congratulations. Its existence puts the Hindus to shame. It is a matter of shame for me if a Muslim builds a Siva temple for my benefit. I was pleased to see the school’s activity of spinning and weaving; however, I immediately felt that neither I nor the Hindus could take credit for this meritorious deed. I can have no sense of satisfaction if a Muslim recites the Gayatri mantra instead of me. I can only feel satisfied when a Brahmin comes along and offers to recite the  Gayatri for me. However, in this case, the Khojas are doing the work that should be done by Hindus. Here, no one is bothered in the least about the Antyajas. I do not see any non-Antyajas except the guests sitting among the  Antyajas here before me. Even those who go around with me during the day have abandoned them and are seated in the enclosure for high-caste gentlemen. If you could rip open my heart today, you would find it crying — ‘O Lord! Could this be the Hindu dharma, where no one cares for the Antyajas? Is there not a single person in the town who will come to their rescue’?…

103 – Gandhi’s Reminiscences of Kutch, November 1, 1925, pages 181-187

Location of Mundra in the Kutch district of  India's Gujarat State. Image: Wikipedia.

Location of Mundra in the Kutch district of India’s Gujarat State. Image: Wikipedia.

I had my bitterest experience in Mundra. I found only hypocrisy, insincerity and play-acting there. Even Muslims were made to sit in the enclosure for those who supported untouchability as if they too believed in it. Hence, only my companions and the Muslim volunteers remained in the section reserved for Antyajas. Many among the Hindu volunteers, though they claimed that they did not believe in untouchability at all, were nevertheless kept in the enclosure meant for those who did believe in it.

There is a school for the Antyajas in Mundra but it is a philanthropic Muslim gentleman, Sheth Ibrahim Pradhan, who runs it at his own expense. The school may be regarded as good up to a point. The children are kept very clean. The building is in the centre of the city. The children had even been taught Sanskrit verses, [which they recited] in a broken accent. Spinning, carding, ginning and weaving were taught in the school itself. Only children’s clothes were not made of khadi [handspun and hand-woven cloth – ed.]; however, the organizers had gone in for the cloth believing it to be pure khadi. The reader might perhaps conclude that this school would give me some satisfaction. It gave me no satisfaction but caused me grief, rather, as the credit for it would not go to a Hindu. I have already mentioned the name of the gentleman who finances it.

Yerawada (or Aga Khan) Palace, now the Gandhi Memorial, was built by the 48th Ismaili Imam to provide a means of livelihood to the famine stricken people in Pune. Historically, the palace holds great significance. Mahatma Gandhi, his wife Kasturba Gandhi and his secretary Mahadev Desai were interned in the palace from 9 August 1942 to 6 May 1944.  In 1969, the current 49th Ismaili Imam, Prince Karim Aga Khan, donated the Palace to the Indian people as a mark of respect to Gandhi and his philosophy. Today, the palace houses a memorial on Gandhi where his ashes were kept.

Yerawada (or Aga Khan) Palace, now the Gandhi Memorial, was built by the 48th Ismaili Imam to provide a means of livelihood to the famine stricken people in Pune. Historically, the palace holds great significance. Mahatma Gandhi, his wife Kasturba Gandhi and his secretary Mahadev Desai were interned in the palace from 9 August 1942 to 6 May 1944. In 1969, the current 49th Ismaili Imam, Prince Karim Aga Khan, donated the Palace to the Indian people as a mark of respect to Gandhi and his philosophy. Today, the palace houses a memorial on Gandhi where his ashes were kept.

The gentleman in charge of this school is the heir of the Aga Khan in Mundra. Sheth Ibrahim Pradhan deserves all praise for his charity, as I was informed that this school is not being run for the purpose of converting the untouchables or schoolchildren to Islam, but in order to enable them to make progress as Hindus. The people of Mundra also informed me that the gentleman in charge, Mauledina Meghji was a Vedantin [belonging to a school of Indian philosophy – ed.] and a learned person. All this must be regarded as satisfactory. However, what is the contribution of the Hindus? Untouchability is an ugly blot on the Hindu religion, it is a sin. The Hindus alone can do prayaschitta [atonement for sins] for it. The dirt on my body will go only when I myself remove it.

This institution adds to the prestige of Sheth Ibrahim Pradhan, and to that extent to the shame of the Hindus.

Date posted: July 26, 2015, word count, appx. 400 words.

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Notes and references:

*Untouchables are outcasts—people considered too impure, too polluted, to rank as worthy beings. Prejudice defines their lives, particularly in the rural areas, where nearly three-quarters of India’s people live….Although the Indian constitution makes caste discrimination illegal, Untouchables living at the bottom of society are subjected to indignities” — from http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0306/feature1/

See complete volume 33 at http://www.gandhiserve.org/cwmg/VOL033.PDF.

Eid ul-Fitr Should Provide Spark of Hope For the Less Privileged, and Foster Brotherhood, Forgiveness and Generosity in the Muslim Umma

“The poor are not mere inanimate, unmotivated, units of deprivation. They are living, thinking people like the rest of us.”
Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam 

EID MUBARAK

Historical photo: Muslims offering the Eid ul Fitr prayers at  the Sheikhantaur Mosque in Tashkent. Photo created/ published between 1865 and 1872. Credit: The US Library of Congress.

Historical photo: Muslims offering the Eid ul Fitr prayers at the Sheikhantaur Mosque in Tashkent. Photo created/published between 1865 and 1872. Credit: The US Library of Congress.

The festival of Eid, also known as Bairam or Eid Ramadan is one of the most joyous days in the Islamic calendar. It is an occasion for celebration and rejoicing for Allah’s Bounty upon mankind for His revelation of the Holy Qur’an during the month of Ramadan. It is also a time for individuals to express their gratitude to Allah for having given them the strength, courage and resilience to complete the fast, and thus fulfilling the duty enjoined upon them by Allah.

On this joyous occasion, we convey our heartiest felicitations and Eid Mubarak to all our readers as well as Muslims around the world, with the fervent hope and prayer that peace and harmony should prevail over many areas of the Muslim world afflicted by horrible conflicts, which are resulting in the loss of lives and contributing to unbearable hardships and struggles. The Islamic ethic of forgiveness, generosity, and peaceful co-existence and unity through dialogue are keys by which conflicts can be resolved, whereby every Muslim can aspire for a life of material and spiritual well-being and happiness.

The excerpts produced in this post from the Holy Qur’an and the hadith as well as from the farmans, writings and speeches of Hazrat Ali (a.s.) and Mawlana Hazar Imam (His Highness the Aga Khan) are foundation blocks for building harmonious societies around the world. The acts of charity and generosity mentioned in the quotes will facilitate those who are underprivileged to manage their own destinies, thereby leading them to a life of dignity, befitting Allah’s greatest creation.

PROFOUND TEACHINGS OF ISLAM

(Selections from the Holy Qur’an, the hadith and teachings of Shia Ismaili Imams)

Conceptual image for the holy month of Ramadan and Eid al Fitr. Photo: Istockphoto

Conceptual image for the holy month of Ramadan and Eid ul Fitr. Photo: Istockphoto. Copyright.

“It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards the East and the West, but righteous is the one who believes in Allah and the Last Day, and the angels and the Books and the prophets, and gives away wealth out of love for Him to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask and set slaves free.” — Holy Qur’an, 2:177

“And whatever good you may spend on others is for your own good, provided that you spend only out of a longing for God’s countenance.” — Holy Qur’an, 2:272

“You will not enter paradise till you believe, and you will not believe till you love one another. Let me guide you to something by doing which you will love one another: Salute and sundry among you.”  — Tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.)

“Have a tender heart, as tender as a fistful of green grass; be not arrogant and stiff as a tree upright in a forest. A tree is toppled in a storm, but grass bends and sways happily with the wind.” Hazrat Ali (a.s.), Kalam-e-Mawla, 8:67

“A great river is not made turbid by a stone. A religious man who takes to heart an injury is as yet, but shallow water. If any misfortune befalls you, bear with it, that by forgiving others you may yourself obtain pardon. O my brother! seeing that we are at last to return to earth, let us humble ourselves in ashes before we are changed into dust.” — Hazrat Bibi Fatima (a.s.). [1]

“…As the world gets smaller, it is fundamental that people should work together and not against each other, and try to be a little more generous than you have been in the past. If people have made mistakes, forgive them their mistakes. If people have harmed you, forget and forgive. Do not hold grudges. Do not turn around and say, ‘he hurt me yesterday, so I will hurt him today’. This is not the spirit of Islam…” His Highness the Aga Khan, Farman Mubarak, Mumbai, 1969, Precious Gems.

“Islam is not passive. It does not admit that man’s spiritual needs should be isolated from his material daily activities. A Muslim must play an active role in helping his family and the brotherhood of believers. The object is not to achieve status, wealth and power, but to contribute to society’s overall development. This implies moral responsibility to help the weaker, less fortunate members.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, Toronto, May 14, 1987. [2]

“…when you are studying the Qur’an, when you are studying the history of Imams, when you are studying the history of pre-Islamic Arabia, I would like you to take from this history that which will help you to live within the spirit of Islam. This means to live honestly, to live purely, to know that you are brothers and sisters, to be available at all times when one or the other needs help, to be generous, to be honest. These are the qualities which you can trace throughout Qur’an-e Shariff, throughout the life of the Prophet, throughout the lives of the Imams. And this is something which I would like you to follow, not only in letter but also in spirit, because it is this spirit which cannot be changed, and which I would like my spiritual children to understand fully…” Farman Mubarak, His Highness the Aga Khan, Karachi, November 29, 1964. [3]

“There are those who enter the world in such poverty that they are deprived of both the means and the motivation to improve their lot. Unless these unfortunate ones can be touched with the spark which ignites the spirit of individual enterprise and determination, they will only sink back into renewed apathy, degradation and despair. It is for us, who are more fortunate, to provide that spark.” —  His Highness the Aga Khan, speech, Housing and Development, Mumbai, January 17, 1983.

“The poor are not mere inanimate, unmotivated, units of deprivation. They are living, thinking people like the rest of us.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, Aiglemont, March 16, 1983.

“On the occasion of my Silver Jubilee, I would be deeply happy if the members of my jamat, wherever they are and whatever their age, would reaffirm in a visible and united manner their commitment to the principles of Islam which bind all Muslims together, and which are unique example to all mankind: Belief in Allah, the fulfillment of His message to man, respect and support for His greatest creation, man himself. In this way let us establish even sounder foundations for a good and proper life and let us extend our support to those living in the developing areas of the world.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, 1982. [4]

A new moon at Mackerricher State Park, California, USA. Photo: Istockphoto. Copyright.

A new moon at Mackerricher State Park, California, USA. Photo: Istockphoto. Copyright.

Date posted: Friday, July 17, 2015.

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References:

[1] Quoted in Ilm, July 1986, page 17.

[2] Ilm, Volume 13, Number 1, July 1990, page 45-46.

[3] Farman Mubarak Pakistan Visit 1964, published by the Ismailia Association for Pakistan, quoted also in Ilm, Volume 13, Number 1, July 1990, page 38.

[4] Talika Mubarak of Mawlana Hazar Imam, Silver Jubilee, July 11, 1982, quoted in Ilm, July 1990, page 55.

Reminiscences of Two Great Ismaili Missionaries of the 20th Century – Pir Sabzali and Meghji Missionary

“[Pir Sabzali and Meghji Missionary] drew all their courage and strength from their intense and ardent practice of Ibadat and went out to accomplish their missions with intelligence and knowledge, and with the firm belief that the help of Hazar Imam was always with them.”

A youthful portrait of the Ismaili missionary, Meghji Maherali (1881 – 1941), of Mombasa, Kenya. Photo Credit: Archives of the family of Meghji Missionary. Copyright.

BY IZAT VELJI

My profound gratitude and thanks [to the late Ameer Janmohamed] for sharing so much about Pir Sabzali – it is indeed a living history. The personal comments and recollections made his Thank You Letter to Pir Sabzali all the more interesting and real. The group picture shown below of Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah with Ismaili missionaries astonished me because there in the photo staring back at me is my nanabapa [maternal grandfather]. I happen to be the proud grand-daughter of Missionary Meghji Maherali, seated at the extreme left in the centre row. In the same row, third from right, is Pir Sabzali.

Every time missionary Pir Sabzali came into Mombasa, he never left without visiting nanabapa. The two had ever so much to share. There was no rivalry, competition or one-upmanship between them. This was very evident from everything that my mother, Noorbanu, shared with us kids.

Mum said that at the dining table, Pir Sabzali and nanabapa shared stories about their travels and advised and helped each other on how to improve each other’s skills in establishing the various jamats they visited. They also discussed ways of improving their waezes [sermons] and participation in discussions so as to become more effective. Apparently, there was a lot of gentleness and warmth as well as mutual respect between them, and they had a soft sense of humour when they recounted personal anecdotes. It seems like they really fed off each other. Pir Sabzali would relay messages of blessings to nanabapa’s family from Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah.

Please click to enlarge and read caption. Photo: (Late) Ameer Janmohamed Collection. UK.

Later, they would retire to the front room where nanima would send a tray of chai and ‘goodies’ via my mum, who was then seven or eight years old. She remembered all this with so much pride and joy. My mum passed away in 2000. She said that the two missionaries would sit for hours apparently discussing all matters Ibadat (special worship prayers).

They drew all their courage and strength from their intense and ardent practice of Ibadat and went out to accomplish their missions with intelligence and knowledge, and with the firm belief that the help of Hazar Imam was always with them. With missionary Sabzali’s encouragement and help, nanabapa established a school of waezins in Mombasa, one of his recruits being my father, Noordin Koorjee. Even back then, our missionary leaders practised ‘succession planning’ so that Imam’s work would not come to a standstill after they passed on.

These two ashaqs [devotees] were very sincere in their service to Mawla, and deeply loyal to their Mashuq (the lord of the devotee).

STANDING BACK ROW- l to r: Missionary’s sons Gulamhussein, Fatehali, Sherali, Hussein; 2nd child Mehdi Gulamali is not in picture; SITTING ON CHAIRS – l to r: Daughters Khatija, Fatma, Missionary Meghji Maherali, wife Zainub with Hussein’s 3rd child Shirin, Hussein’s wife, Sikina; SITTING ON FLOOR – l to r: Dolat – Hussein’s 1st child, daughter Noorbanu (mother of Izat Velji, author of this article). Photo Credit: Archives of the family of Meghji Missionary. Copyright.

When Pir Sabzali’s health deteriorated and he was in his last days, Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah sent him a message saying that he still wished to send Sabzali to Africa. Missionary Sabzali died a few days later. This came verbally from my parents, not once but several times. I have no way of authenticating this statement, but if it’s true then only Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah and Mawlana Shah Karim, the present Imam, would know the true import and reach of this message to Pir Sabzali.

When nanabapa died, Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah sent a telegram to the Mombasa Council that “Missionary Meghji’s funeral be held with a lot of pomp because of Meghji’s long and wonderful service to the Mombasa jamat.” So, out came the Scouts Band, all spit and polish followed by the cubs and scouts troops followed by the jamat giving kandh to nanabapa all the way from Chief jamat khana to the cemetery. That’s a long distance.

Today, almost eighty years later, I stand head bowed, in sheer admiration for nanabapa and Missionary Sabzali, whose soul was granted Piratan by Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah. Incidents and events like these are simply overwhelming and sometimes difficult to grasp and comprehend. It is their spirit and devotion which keep the Jamat inspired.

Copyright: Izat Velji/Simerg.

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Editor’s note: Izat Velji’s piece originally appeared on this website in response to Ameer Janmohamed’s Thank You Letter to Pir Sabzali and the Ismaili Pirs of the Ginanic Tradition, which was  published as part of this website’s highly acclaimed third anniversary series on thanking Ismaili historical figures.

We welcome your feedback – please click Leave a comment.

About the writer: Izat Velji spent her early childhood years in Kenya and Tanzania. After completing her secondary schooling in Kenya, she pursued a degree in education and teaching at the University of Nairobi. She then settled in Canada where she completed her degree in Medical Lab Sciences. Later, she was recruited into the faculty of the Aga Khan School of Nursing in Karachi where she taught a number of science subjects including Clinical Microbiology and Basic Immunology. During her tenure in Karachi, she was very fortunate to have met His Highness the Aga Khan who visited her lab and class, once with the late Pakistani President Zia ul-Haqq, and on another occasion with his brother Prince Amyn. Encouraged by her husband, Izat also undertook voluntary assignments with the Aga Khan Health Board for Karachi to develop, conduct feasibilities as well as implement Health Education materials for the province of Sindh and the Northern Areas of Pakistan including Hunza and Chitral. The material that she helped prepare continues to be used today by AKDN Agencies such as Focus in their teaching modules. Since returning to Canada, Izat has been very active with the Ismaili community as a volunteer and especially with the Duke of Edinburgh’s program for youth aged 14 to 25. Most recently in 2011, she was acknowledged by the Governor General at the Gold Award Ceremony.

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Triumphal Moments in Ismaili History: Jawhar’s Conquest of Egypt and Imam al-Muizz’s Resplendent Darbar in Cairo

“I WISH I’D BEEN THERE”

1970: Mansoor Ladha, veteran award winning journalist, writer and author, interviewing His Highness the Aga Khan for Tanzania’s daily, The Standard (now Daily News). Photo: Mansoor Ladha Collection. Copyright.

BY MANSOOR LADHA

As a journalist, a writer and an author, what better time to be than reporting milestones and significant events during the Fatimid Period or the “Golden Age” of Ismailism, when Ismaili Imams ruled over a vast empire and when Ismaili literature, philosophy and law flourished. It was during the Fatimid Period that the Ismaili scholars and authors produced what were to become the classic texts of Ismaili literature dealing with a multitude of exoteric and esoteric subjects. I think I might have made Ismaili fiqh (jurisprudence) my area of specialization, because it had not existed during the pre-Fatimid period. It was codified and became catalogued during the early Fatimid period. It was during the Fatimid period that Ismailis made their important contributions to Islamic theology and philosophy in general and to Shia thought in particular. Modern recovery of Ismaili literature clearly attests to the richness and diversity of the literary and intellectual traditions of the Ismailis.

Egypt became the center of the Fatimid empire that included at its peak North Africa, Sicily, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, the Red Sea coast of Africa, Yemen and the Hejaz. Egypt flourished as the Fatimids developed an extensive trade and diplomatic network and ties which extended all the way to China. Map: Wikipedia; click to enlarge

But, I think, for me of all the events that I would have reported, there are a number of related incidents that stand out, and which I would have liked to witness in the company of Imam Muizz’s trusted commander, Jawhar al-Siqilli. He was of Sicilian descent.

He had been entrusted by the Imam to conquer Egypt. With a 100,000 men assembled and equipped at a cost of 24 million dinars, he set out for Egypt on February 5th, 969.

Embedded I would be, like the modern journalists in this vast army, alongside my hero! The road to Egypt had been well ascertained, forts had been built through the route at specific places. Jawhar was carrying with him a thousand caskets filled with silver. Camels carried gold ingots in plain sight, cast in the shape of millstones, to impress the crowds and the local peoples through which the army passed. Then four months later, in June of the same year, I would arrive with Jawhar in Egypt, and hardly witness any resistance!

As the first measures after the conquest, I see him issue a proclamation promising financial reforms and an end to injustice. He reached out to Sunnis, Jews and Christians and offered them protection.

Then I had been with him as he crossed the Nile, and on July 6 of the same year, he marched through Fustat, and established himself north of the city in the plain that would become his new capital – a capital that Imam Muizz had expressed a wish would rule the world.

Fatimid Cairo with an outline of Jawhar’s wall shown by dashes (Please click to enlarge)

This site was empty except for a monastery and a castle. On the very night of Jawhar’s arrival in this empty spot, I would have seen the Sicilian mark the perimeter of the city with wooden stakes strung together with belled ropes. A crow would land on the rope and set the bells jingling. The ground breaking work would commence at that spot for what would eventually become known as al-Qahira (“The Triumphant”). I would see the birth of what is now modern Cairo!

But the epochal incident, the Grand Darbar, would come four years later. During this interim time I would see Jawhar establish the new capital, pacify the provinces, institute financial reform, defeat the Qarmats in December 971, and introduce new religious observances in conformity with the Shia Ismaili faith. This would include a call to prayers containing the Shiite invitation to “come to the best prayer.”

Now that all had been done, no further time would be spent. There was nothing left to do but to invite Imam al-Muizz.

In 973, the Imam leaves the Maghreb on his way to Egypt with his sons and relatives with him, along with coffins of his ancestors. One of his stops is Alexandria, where the Imam resolves to dedicate his life in the exercise of good works. He then preaches to them in a manner which draws tears from many who are present.

He departs after spending three days in Alexandria, and on June 6, 973, he reaches a place known as Mina. Jawhar is there to receive him. I see him go forth to meet his master and I witness him drawing near the Imam, dismounting from his horse and kissing the ground before the Imam in a show of loyalty, humility and submission to the Amirul Muminin. This is affection and love for the Imam I see at the highest and deepest level. It is a profound experience and a joy to behold, which I would report.

The Imam would then cross the Nile on the Rawdah bridge, bypass Fustat, and proceed straight to Cairo and take possession of the palace or fort that Jawhar had constructed for the Imam.

It is Ramadhan – year AH 362. The feast marking its end is underway. I’d see Imam Muizz conduct his prayers at the new mosque in Cairo, and then ascend the pulpit to give his sermon, with Jawhar on the steps of the pulpit. I would feel the emotions as the crowds weep and sob at hearing the Imam’s sermon.

Outside, the Imam would then mount his horse surrounded by his four armoured and helmeted sons, while two elephants led the procession. Destination – the fort, and I on my heels to get there for the Darbar!

Then, at the fort, all the citizens eagerly await to pay their allegiance to the new Caliph. Jawhar would be within my sight, and very close to the Imam, to his right.

I would witness the Imam majestically seated on his golden throne as he received all the nobles, Qadis, Vazirs and Ulemas of his city. They would present the Imam with their beautiful gifts as well as a robe made from a rare yarn that is known to grow only in Tunis. The material has a special shine and is gilded with gold and silver. The Imam would then be presented a Turban of a similar material and he would adorn the robe and the Turban. A resplendent Darbar for me to record and report as a journalist!

My friend, Jawhar, would get his turn. I would see him present the Imam, al-Muizz, with the best breed of 150 horses gilded with saddles and bridles of gold and diamonds as well as camels and ponies, saddled with boxes filled with all rare items in Egypt.

Then the Imam Muizz in a remarkable gesture of magnanimity and forgiveness would announce the release of about 1000 of his prisoners and present robes and Khalat to all his nobles and officers.

Would Jawhar be forgotten in the sight of the Imam? No. I would be exuberant to see my beloved Imam’s immense love for someone responsible for conquering Egypt some four years earlier. Jawhar would be honoured as he is presented with a golden Khalat and a turban. Imam Muizz then would tie a sword on Jawhar’s waist and present him with 20 horses with golden saddles, 50 thousand dinars and 200,000 dirhams.

With this Darbar, Egypt and Cairo enter a new era that would last almost two centuries and constitute one of the most brilliant periods in Ismaili history and Islamic Civilization.

Indeed a monumental and epochal event to witness and report! What a story and I Wish I’d Been There with Jawhar.

© Simerg.com

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Front cover of Ladha’s work

About the Writer: Mansoor Ladha is an award-winning journalist based in Calgary, Canada. He has held several senior editorial positions with daily and weekly newspapers in Canada, Kenya and Tanzania, which included the Edmonton Journal, Morinville Mirror, Redwater Tribune, Daily Nation, Kenya, and Daily News, Tanzania. Currently, he freelances for the Calgary Herald, the Vancouver Sun, and the Calgary Senior newspapers and travel magazines. He has also published a book entitled A Portrait in Pluralism: Aga Khan’s Shia Ismaili Muslims and is currently working on memoirs on his life in East Africa and in Canada. Last year, he was one of the several writers, scholars and journalists invited to contribute a chapter in the book called, The Story That Brought Me Here. He has served on several public and voluntary bodies in Canada. His complete profile can be viewed on his Web site www.mansoorladha.ca.

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This piece by Mansoor Ladha is one of 32 succinct pieces on Ismaili history that appeared in this blog’s highly acclaimed first anniversary special series, I Wish I’d Been There.

2. We welcome feedback/letters from our readers. Please click Leave a comment, or email it 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.

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Narrative references:

1. Cairo by Andre Raymond, translated by Willard Wood, published by Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2000.

Also note: Cairo map shown is from this book

2. Jawhar as-Siqilli by Zawahir Nooraly in book Great Ismaili Heroes, Pakistan. The complete article is also available on-line at:  http://www.amaana.org/heroes/note010.htm

Coming Soon: Priceless Memories of Badakhshan Through the Lens of Muslim Harji

LETTER FROM PUBLISHER

Simerg's Merchant

By Abdulmalik Merchant

Muslim Harji, a regular contributor to this website and its sister blog, Simergphotos, says that his recent visit to Central Asia with his wife Nevin was the best trip of his life, surpassing the jouney he had made to Iran some time ago. His visit to Badakhshan, in particular, has resulted in a perfect blend of  photos which capture the region’s extraordinary landscapes as well as the wonderful spirit of the Ismailis, who have inhabited the Pamirs for centuries.

Upon arriving at the village of Rushan, we were greeted by children singing the

Upon arriving at the village of Rushan, we were greeted by children singing the “Khushamudin song” — a welcome song. We were then escorted into the home of the Ismaili village elder. Photo: Muslim Harji. Copyright.

The inspiring life moments that Muslim and Nevin experienced in Badakhshan will be treasured by them for their entire lives, because the “priceless memories will never come again.”

While we prepare Harji’s Badakhshan photo essay for publication later this week, we invite you to review Through the Lens of Muslim Harji, a page specifically dedicated to Muslim. It gives the links to his pieces published on Simerg/Simergphotos.

Muslim has established himself as a powerful photographer. The hundreds of complimentary letters that readers have submitted in response to his photo essays as well as the many thousands who have visited Simerg to view his photographs bear a true testimony to Harji’s extraordinary talents with his lens.

We look forward to continuing the remarkable friendship that we have forged with Muslim Harji, and thank him for his support.

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Update June 13, 2015: Please see Muslim Harji’s piece via The Ismailis of Badakhshan Through the Lens of Muslim Harji

History in the Making: Establishment of the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat in Portugal

COMPILED BY SIMERG

Please click on photo for enlargement

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th hereditary Imam of Shia Ismaili Muslims  directly descended from the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.). Photo: AKDN/Anya Campbell. Copyright.

A portrait of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th hereditary Imam of Shia Ismaili Muslims. Photo: AKDN/Anya Campbell. Copyright.

In an unprecedented historical event, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, and Portugal’s Minister of State and Foreign Affairs, Rui Machete, came together at the historic Necessidades Palace in Lisbon on Wednesday June 3, 2015, to sign a landmark agreement to establish the Seat of the Imamat in Portugal. The Ismaili Imamat is a supra-national entity, representing the succession of Imams since the time of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s).

The Agreement marks the first such accord in the Ismaili Imamat’s modern history. It will come into effect once it has been approved by Portugal’s Parliament and ratified by the President of the Portuguese Republic. Present at the signing ceremony was Portugal’s Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho and other senior government officials.

Thanking the government for inviting the Ismaili Imamat to establish its permanent seat in Portugal, His Highness the Aga Khan (known to his 15 millions Ismaili followers as Mawlana Hazar Imam), hailed the agreement as a historic milestone in the Imamat’s history and said:

“Today is a unique and important occasion, where for the first time in our history we will have the opportunity to work with a partner with whom we share so many values, so many hopes and so many desires.”

He expressed the hope that the agreement would be approved by the Portuguese Parliament  through the democratic process, and that once it was ratified both the Imamat and Portugal could work together to achieve results that could not be achieved by working alone. His Highness also mentioned his community’s great respect and admiration for Portugal, a country where faith is integrated with civil society, a country where all people are happy, or at least the majority are happy, in a world where happiness is unusual.

The agreement establishing Portugal as the seat of Imamat took place at the Palace of Necessidades. It  is a historical building in the Largo do Rilvas, a public square in Lisbon, Portugal. It serves as headquarters of the Portuguese Foreign Ministry. Palace Photo Photo: Wikipedia.

The agreement establishing Portugal as the seat of Imamat took place at the Palace of Necessidades. It is a historical building in the Largo do Rilvas, a public square in Lisbon, Portugal. It serves as headquarters of the Portuguese Foreign Ministry. Palace Photo: Wikipedia.

The Institution of the Ismaili Imamat goes back 1400 years when, according to Shia Muslim tradition, the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) designated and appointed his cousin and son-in-law Ali Ibn Talib (a.s.) to be the first Imam, and proclaimed that the Imamat should continue by heredity through Imam Ali and his daughter Bibi Fatimat-az-Zahra (a.s).

The Ismailis are the only Shia Muslim community led by a living Imam who is vested with global religious authority and has the responsibility for the community’s spiritual and material well-being.

The succession of Imamat is by way of Nass [designation], it being the absolute prerogative of the current Imam to appoint his successor from amongst any of his male descendants whether they be sons or remoter issue.

The present 49th Imam, Prince Karim, succeeded to the throne of Imamat at the age of twenty on July 11, 1957 upon the demise of his late grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III, who  served the community for 72 years, beginning in 1885 when he was only seven years old.

The historical accord will result in intensified cooperation between Portugal and the Ismaili Imamat in supporting research and the knowledge society and in improving the quality of life of Portugal’s inhabitants.

Responding to the historic signing, the Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho said at Wednesday’s ceremony:

“The decisive step taken today will enable the deepening of cooperation, until today essential focused on the social area, with the Imamat Ismaili community beginning to support Portuguese institutions dedicated to excellent research on a wide variety of fields of knowledge.

“I am present here today due to it being a historic moment which brings a long and intense relation existing between Portugal and the Ismaili community to a new level, reflecting particularly the importance of the Ismaili community that resides in our country and Portuguese speaking African countries.”

The Prime Minister also pointed out Mawlana Hazar Imam’s role in “promoting a more tolerant world,” and also said that the choice of Portugal as the seat of the Ismaili Imamat was an acknowledgment of the Portuguese community’s ability to promote dialogue and tolerance between peoples, cultures and beliefs.

Exclusive Simerg Photo Essay: His Highness the Aga Khan and Premier Kathleen Wynne Inaugurate the Beautiful Aga Khan Park in Toronto

PATRON AND BUILDER

Please click on photo(s) for enlargement

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th hereditary Imam of Shia Ismaili Muslims  directly descended from the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.). Photo: AKDN/Anya Campbell. Copyright.

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th hereditary Imam of Shia Ismaili Muslims directly descended from the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.), is the builder of the Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre and the newly opened Aga Khan Park that connects the two buildings. Photo: AKDN/Anya Campbell. Copyright.

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THE INAUGURATION CEREMONY

The recitation of the Canadian National Anthem at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

The recitation of the Canadian National Anthem at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Qur'an reciter Ahsan Afzaly, left, with his back-up colleague, Edrees Amiri, pictured at the Ismaili Centre prior to the opening ceremony. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant.

Qur’an reciter Ahsan Afzaly, left, with his back-up colleague, Edrees Amiri, pictured at the Ismaili Centre prior to the opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant.

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The audience listen to the Ismaili Muslim Choir prior to the arrival of Premier Kathleen Wynne and Mawlana Hazar Imam for the opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant

The audience listens to the Ismaili Muslim Choir performing at the far left corner prior to the arrival of Premier Kathleen Wynne and Mawlana Hazar Imam for the opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant

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Mawlana Hazar Imam, Premier Kathleen Wynne and the reciter of the Holy Qur'an, Ahsan Afzally, look on as a translation of the Qur'anic verses in English and French is underway. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Mawlana Hazar Imam, Premier Kathleen Wynne and the reciter of the Holy Qur’an, Ahsan Afzally, look on as a translation of the Qur’anic verses in English and French is underway during the opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Premier Kathleen Wynne delivering her speech at the opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. This panoramic view shows the elegance of the event which was held inside a beautifully decorated tent built for the occasion. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Premier Kathleen Wynne delivering her speech at the opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. This panoramic view shows the elegance of the event which was held inside a beautiful tent built for the occasion. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Mawlana Hazar Imam congratulates Premier Kathleen Wynne after the completion of her speech at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Mawlana Hazar Imam congratulates Premier Kathleen Wynne after the completion of her speech at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Mawlana Hazar Imam gathers his speech before rising to speak to the audience at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Mawlana Hazar Imam gathers his speech before rising to speak to the audience at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Mawlana Hazar Imam addressing the audience at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Mawlana Hazar Imam addressing the audience at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Mawlana Hazar Imam in an animated mood as he shares a joke related to the expulsion of his community from Uganda during the reign of Idi Amin. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Mawlana Hazar Imam in an animated mood as he shares a joke related to the expulsion of his community from Uganda during the reign of Idi Amin. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Mwlana Hazar Imam receives a standing ovation as he is congratulated by Premier Kathleen Wynne after the completion of his speech at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Mwlana Hazar Imam receives a standing ovation as he is congratulated by Premier Kathleen Wynne after the completion of his speech at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Mawlana Hazar Imam graciously accepts the standing ovation he receives after completing his speech at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Mawlana Hazar Imam graciously accepts the standing ovation he receives after completing his speech at the opening of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Premier Kathleen Wynne and Mawlana Hazar Imam unveil the plaque to officially open the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Premier Kathleen Wynne and Mawlana Hazar Imam unveil the plaque to officially open the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Premier Kathleen Wynne and Mawlana Hazar Imam shake hands after unveiling the plaque to open the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant.

Premier Kathleen Wynne and Mawlana Hazar Imam shake hands after unveiling the plaque to open the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant.

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Mawlana Hazar Imam and Premier Kathleen Wynne prepare to depart after unveiling the plaque to open the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Mawlana Hazar Imam and Premier Kathleen Wynne prepare to depart after unveiling the plaque to open the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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Mawlana Hazar Imam seen departing the exquisitely prepared tent structure that hosted the inauguration ceremony of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Mawlana Hazar Imam seen departing the exquisitely prepared tent structure that hosted the inauguration ceremony of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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The President of the Aga Khan Council for Australia, Azim Remtulla, was among those who attended the opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

The President of the Aga Khan Council for Australia, Azim Remtulla, was among those who attended the opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Park on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

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The Aga Khan Museum became the venue for a special reception for guests who attended the opening of the Aga Khan Museum on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

The Aga Khan Museum became the venue for a special reception for guests who attended the opening of the Aga Khan Museum on May 25, 2015. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Date posted: May 27, 2015.

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A Welcome Poem for Mawlana Hazar Imam for the Opening of the Aga Khan Park

REFLECTIVE POOLS IN THE GARDEN,
WELCOME TO THE PARK

IMG_1815 Aga Khan Museum ParkBy Navyn Naran

The park has been busy with many preparations,
t’was a sunny bright day and the place was a-buzz,
No honey bees in sight, trees, crisp in their posture
Readying for the performance, the opening of the park.

Excitement and interest, can be seen and be heard
At the museum and center, delightful and clean
The beauty and grace and calculated thought
In art, materials sustainable, masterpieces sought.
Today clouds flirt in our skies, but hearts are filled,
the sun is watching, the ground freshly tilled.
Welcome my Mawla, welcome to your park!

Welcome, my Mawla
Welcome to this garden.
The outdoors “where God IS”,
as you, hidden in my heart.
The green is yet young,
as is my soul’s quiet space,
the roots stretching free,
a new baby unfurling in perfect place.

Water pools, invite clarity and clear thought,
peace, contemplation facing east, west, south and north,
in this space, feeling happy, your Love’s blessing, you are near,
there is pleasure, here is Grace,
we come to play, pray, see and hear.
in ice cold, and thunderstorm, we are healed in this space,
i come here seeking freshness, spaciousness from the “rat-race”,
i have danced, skipped and run across the green grass, and the paths,
we are awed at the care and beauty shared,
marble, light, skill and art.

a haven of peace, in the contours of this garden
now thawed in the sunlight, now moist earth, not hardened.
These young shrubs, balanced sensually
‘twixt museum and spiritual center,
like twine intermingling, as we exit and enter.
As the double-stranded DNA bonded by electronic attraction,
magnetic forces of creation spiral energies, radiant interaction

Welcome your Highness, Prince Amyn, Prince Hussain
Welcome to your park, again and again,
Your gait and your mission, your arms lifted as your greet
your smile brings barakah,
and our hearts feel complete.
What have you not given, not improved which lives?
all cultures, all peoples, one earth, many tribes
in such  gardens we seek time, a place to unwind
a reflection, and rest enjoying the child in our mind.

As santoor plucks a melody, expressive, a lilt,
And rabab strums a movement, brown-orange bridging rifts,
An edge igniting spirit, mysteries of the mind
so the garden offers expansion and life of a necessary kind.

It is in this I the garden gives to life,
Welcome to your Park,
It is in this eye, the garden lifts my heart
Welcome to my Park
Every eye wishes to meet your eye.
Welcome to Our Park
Welcome your Highness, welcome to our hearts.

Date posted: May 25, 2015.

Copyright: Navyn Naran/Simerg. 2015.

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Navyn Naran

Navyn Naran

About the writer: 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.

2015 Toronto Doors Open: Over 15,000 Visitors Explore Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Centre

BY ABDULMALIK MERCHANT

It is indeed a pleasure for Simerg to present a collection of photos with interviews that were done at the site of the Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Centre on the occasion of  Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open held during the weekend of May 23-24, 2015. These two new Islamic gems were added to this year’s Doors Open exploration roster of more than 155 architecturally and culturally rich buildings across Toronto.

May 24th 2015 - Toronto's 16th Annual Doors Open. TheIsmaili Centre. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Ismaili Centre. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015, Toronto's 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum.  Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Park with Museum in background. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Park with Museum in background. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 - Toronto's 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

May 24th 2015 - Toronto's 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum Bellerive Room (Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Collection). Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum Bellerive Room (Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Collection). Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

The two iconic buildings were added to the Toronto landscape when they were officially opened last September by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in the presence of the patron, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, the direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) and 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims. Prince Karim became the Imam of the Ismailis on July 11, 1957, when he was only 21. His Diamond Jubilee will be celebrated in 2017, the same year (and month) Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary.

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum, Diwan Restaurant. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum, Diwan Restaurant. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 - Toronto's 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum, gift shop. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum, gift shop. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum, gift shop. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum, gift shop. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 - Toronto's 16th Annual Doors Open. The Ismaili Centre, a briefing for visitors. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Ismaili Centre, a briefing for visitors. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

May 24th 2015 - Toronto's 16th Annual Doors Open. The Ismaili Centre. Visitors on the move to see other sections of the centre. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Ismaili Centre. Visitors on the move to see other sections of the centre. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

May 24th 2015 - Toronto's 16th Annual Doors Open. The Ismaili Centre. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Ismaili Centre. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum. Volunteer Mehdi Ansar. Photo: Malik Merchant /Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum. Volunteer Mehdi Ansar. Photo: Malik Merchant /Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Ismaili Centre. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Ismaili Centre. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. Visitors at the Aga Khan Park, outside the Aga Khan Museum. Background – the Ismaili Centre. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. Visitors tour the Aga Khan Park. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. Visitors tour the Aga Khan Park. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

It is estimated that more than 17,000 people visited the Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Centre during Doors Open. Visitors described their experience as rich, and complimented the hosts for their excellent organization and the explanations that were provided. Several Toronto residents said they would return to visit the museum’s collection of Islamic art in greater detail.

Date posted: Monday, May 25, 2015.
Last updated: Friday, May 29, 2015.

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Leaders and Communities Extend Condolences to His Highness the Aga Khan and His Ismaili Followers as Mass Funeral is Held in Karachi for Terror Victims

KARACHI, PAKISTAN - MAY 13: Relatives of injured and killed cry and wait outside a hospital following a gun attack on a bus carrying members of Ismaili Shia community, in Karachi, Pakistan, 13 May 2015 that killed at least 45 people including over a dozen women and injuring more than 14 people. (Photo by Sabir Mazhar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

KARACHI, PAKISTAN – MAY 13: Relatives of injured and killed cry and wait outside a hospital following a gun attack on a bus carrying members of Ismaili Shia community, in Karachi, Pakistan, 13 May 2015 that killed at least 45 people including over a dozen women and injuring more than 14 people. (Photo by Sabir Mazhar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

A genuine outpouring of sympathy has been extended to His Highness the Aga Khan and his followers after the gun attack on a bus in Karachi on May 13, 2015 in which 43 Ismailis were killed at point black range. Two more people died later in a hospital from injuries they suffered. An Associated Press report published in both the Washington Post and The Miami Herald (Karachi Mass Funeral) states that Pakistan was observing a day of national mourning, and state-run television was broadcasting live footage, showing mourners attending the last rituals for the victims of Wednesday’s assault. Forty-three of the victims were laid to rest in a mass funeral on Thursday, one was buried earlier, and another body remains to be identified. The following is a selection of messages of sympathy that have been publicly released by numerous leaders and governments around the world.

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Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada

Prime Minister Stephen and His Highness the Aga Khan at the Parliament of Canada.

Prime Minister Stephen and His Highness the Aga Khan at the Parliament of Canada.

“Canada condemns the cowardly terrorist attack on a bus carrying Shi’a Ismaili Muslims in Karachi.

“It is particularly chilling that gunmen opened fire indiscriminately, murdering many Ismailis regardless of their gender or age. It is an affront to everyone who cherishes religious freedom. We urge the Government of Pakistan to bring the perpetrators to justice and to ensure that all religious minorities in the country are protected and their religious freedom guaranteed.

“On behalf of all Canadians, Laureen and I offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who perished in this murderous attack. We also offer our heartfelt prayers that those injured may have a speedy recovery.

“I have worked closely with His Highness the Aga Khan over the years and know first-hand of the peaceful nature of the Shi’a Ismaili community here in Canada and around the world. We mourn with His Highness and the entire Shi’a Ismaili Imamat who have consistently stood for peace, pluralism and religious freedom.”

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Statement by the US Secretary of State

Secretary of State John KerryPress Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC May 14, 2015

“I strongly condemn the heinous May 13 attack on a bus in Karachi, which resulted in the deaths of dozens of members of the Ismaili community.

“The American people stand in solidarity with the people of Pakistan, and with the global Ismaili community on this tragic day. Make no mistake: There is more strength by far in the respect and solidarity that we feel towards one another than there could ever be in any terrorist attack.

“I extend my personal condolences to the families of the victims, and to my dear, esteemed friend His Highness the Aga Khan, who has led the Ismaili community in investing in so many important development and education projects not only in Pakistan, but around the world. We will support efforts to bring all those responsible to justice and stand ready to provide assistance to the investigation of this tragic attack.”

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Statement by Canadian Senator Hon. Mobina S.B. Jaffer

Senator Mobina Jaffer, left, pictured in Kenya.

Senator Mobina Jaffer, left, pictured in Kenya.

“Honourable Senators, I rise today with a very heavy heart. Very early this morning, I awoke to the news that forty- three innocent Ismaili Muslims who were riding a bus in Karachi, Pakistan, were senselessly gunned down by six armed individuals who were dressed in police uniforms. They were my brothers and sisters in faith.

“Sixty-two people were on the bus on their way to a community centre when the gunmen boarded after cutting off the bus with their motorcycles. Once inside, the gunmen shot indiscriminately at the men, women and children. When the gunmen left, an injured individual drove the bus to a nearby hospital. By the time they arrived at the hospital, most of the passengers had died.

“His Highness the Aga Khan, my spiritual leader, stated: ‘This attack represents a senseless act of violence against a peaceful community. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and the families of those killed and wounded in the attack’.

“Other leaders across Pakistan have expressed their absolute shock at this attack on the Ismaili Muslim community. The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, called it ‘‘a deplorable attempt to spread chaos in Pakistan.’’

Honourable senators, the Ismaili Muslim community is one of the most peaceful and charitable communities in Pakistan. They are involved in a number of development projects across the country and work in all segments of society. Their roots in Pakistan are very deep, as they have inhabited that area of the world for hundreds of years. While the community is small, their positive impact on Pakistan is tremendous.

“As an Ismaili Muslim and as a Canadian, my heart breaks for the victims of this attack and for their families. Many of those killed had Canadian family members. I understand that one Canadian has lost his father, mother and brother. I know you join me in sending our condolences to those Canadians. I know this Chamber will join me in condemning this abhorrent attack on innocent individuals in Pakistan.

“As mine are, I know your thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their loved ones in Pakistan and Canada.”

Thank you.

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Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the
UN Secretary-General

New York, 13 May 2015

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moonThe Secretary-General condemns in the strongest possible terms the terrorist attack today on a bus in Karachi, Pakistan, reportedly killing at least 45 members of the Ismaili community and injuring several others. 

The Secretary-General calls on the Government of Pakistan to take all necessary measures to bring to justice the perpetrators of this despicable act.

Taking note that a number of attacks against the Shia and Christian minorities have taken place in the recent past in Pakistan, the Secretary-General urges the Government of Pakistan to take swift measures aimed at effective protection of religious minorities in the country. Creating a climate of tolerance, understanding and respect will greatly contribute to achieving this objective. 

Pakistan, as a responsible member of the international community, must uphold its obligations and commitments towards protecting its citizens, including all minorities. 

The Secretary-General extends his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government and people of Pakistan.  He wishes a speedy recovery to those injured in the attack.

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Statement by the Iranian Foreign Ministry

Marziyeh AfkhamIran’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham, pictured at left, condemned a Wednesday terrorist attack in the Pakistani city of Karachi that killed scores of Shiite Muslims on a bus.

Afkham slammed the atrocity and condoled with the bereaved families of the victims and the Pakistani people and government.

“Extremism and terrorism are against humanity and Islam, and killing innocent people, with any purpose and in any form, is rejected and unjustifiable,” she said.

The objective of such terrorist attacks is to undermine unity in Pakistan, Afkham warned, but expressed confidence that prudence and rapport between the Pakistani government and nation would safeguard stability and security in Irans neighboring country.

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Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Turkey

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Turkey“We have learned with great sorrow that more than 40 people lost their lives and around 20 others were injured, according to initial reports, as a result of the armed attack perpetrated against a bus carrying members of the Ismaili sect, in Karachi, Pakistan today (13 May) in the morning hours.

“We strongly condemn this terrorist attack. We share the grief of the friendly and brotherly people of Pakistan and express once again our strong feelings of solidarity with the Government of Pakistan.

“We wish God’s mercy on those who lost their lives in this heinous attack, convey our condolences to their families and wish a speedy recovery to the wounded.”

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Statement by the European Union Spokesperson

13/05/2015

“The deadly attack on a bus in Karachi today that has killed at least 43 people and wounded more civilians is a further instance of the scourge of sectarian violence.

“The Pakistani government must do its utmost to tackle sectarian violence and bring to justice the perpetrators of these violent and criminal acts. There must also be no impunity for these crimes. The rights of all citizens need to be protected, regardless of religion or belief.

“The European Union expresses its condolences to the families and friends of the victims.”

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Statement by the Pakistan Consul General in Chicago

Pakistan Consul General

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Statement by US Ambassador to Pakistan

May 13, 2015

us-ambassador-olson“On behalf of the American people, U.S. Ambassador Richard Olson extends his deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims of Wednesday’s heinous bus attack in Karachi, and strongly condemns this senseless terrorist act. 

“The United States remains steadfast in its commitment to the people of Pakistan in their efforts to counter terrorism, and supports the right of every person to worship as they choose, without fear of intimidation, coercion or violence. We support Pakistan’s efforts to bring all those involved to justice and stand ready to provide any appropriate assistance to authorities investigating this tragic attack.”

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Statement by US Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky

US Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky

WASHINGTON, DC – “I was shocked to learn of the devastating attack that brutally and senselessly murdered 43 innocent Ismailis and wounded many others.  They were attacked because of their religious beliefs by militants who are targeting anyone who doesn’t accept their view of Islam.

“I have a significant and highly respected community of Ismailis within my Congressional District, and I work closely with them.  For years I have participated in the Aga Khan Foundation Partnership Walk in Chicago, a walk that symbolizes the Ismaili community’s work to end global poverty, hunger, illiteracy and poor health around the world.  My district is home to two of their houses of worship called Jamat Khana, one in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago and the other in Glenview, Illinois. 

“My heart goes out to the families of the murdered and injured, and to the community as a whole which is deeply shaken by this act of terror.  I stand strongly with the Ismaili people, a peaceful people, and all those across the world who reject violence and intolerance.  We must join together as a global community to do everything possible to keep these attacks from happening in the future.”

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Statements from Muslim Organizations in Canada

PLEASE CLICK: Canadian Muslim Organizations Offer Condolences to the Ismaili Community + List of Deceased

Please click on image for Muslim organization statements.

Please click on image for Muslim organization statements.

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MEDIA DISPATCHES AND OPINIONS

Iran’s Press-TV reported that people in the Pakistani-controlled Jammu and Kashmir, home to other Shia communities, observed mourning and held ceremonies in commemoration of the victims.

Pakistan’s Express Tribune, a publication affiliated with the International New York Times (formerly the International Herald Tribune) reported that participants at the Ithad-e-Ummah Conference, organised by the Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC) condemned the massacre of Ismailis in Karachi, and said that the killers have no religion. Among those attending the conference, which was chaired by PUC Chairperson Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, was the Chief Guest, Azad Jammu and Kashmir’s President Sardar Muhammad Yaqoob, the Shia Ulema Council Secretary General Allama Arif Waheedi, International Islamic Study Council President Mian Abu Bakar, Qazi Kifayatullah, and Dr Allama Shabbir Hassam Mesmi.

In an opinion piece for the same paper, Raza Rumi, editor at The Friday Times, who is currently a visiting fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy in the US wrote:

“The sheer barbarity of the attack on the Ismaili community in Pakistan’s largest and one of the more misgoverned cities shocked the country. It is not the first time that such a sectarian attack has happened. During the past two years, more than a thousand people have been killed in targeted sectarian attacks. However, this was the largest attack on Ismailis. The head of the Ismaili community, Prince Karim Aga Khan, rightly termed the massacre of 43 men and women “a senseless act of violence against a peaceful community”. It is ironic that the Pakistan movement owes its genesis to the contributions of Sir Sultan Muhammed Shah, Aga Khan III who was the founder, patron and the first president of the All-India Muslim League.”

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PEACEFUL REACTIONS IN HUNZA

http://www.Pamirtimes.net reports that the news of the attack created anger among the Ismailis of Gilgit-Baltistan. However, demonstrations that were held in Gilgit, Aliabad (Hunza) and Gulmit (Upper Hunza) were peaceful. The Karakuram Highway was blocked by protesters for several hours today to register protests. Shops and markets remained closed in different parts of Gilgit and Hunza after the carnage in Karachi.

Civil society groups held candle-light vigils in different parts of Gilgit city and Karimabad (Hunza). Photo: Pamirtimes.net

Civil society groups held candle-light vigils in different parts of Gilgit city and Karimabad (Hunza). Photo: Pamirtimes.net

Peaceful protests at a demonstration held in Gulmit village of Upper Hunza against Safoora Chowrangi attack. Photo: Pamirtimes.net

Peaceful protests at a demonstration held in Gulmit village of Upper Hunza against Safoora Chowrangi attack. Photo: Pamirtimes.net

Date posted: Wednesday, May 14, 2015 (20:45)
Date updated: Saturday, May 16, 2015 (09:30), more messages of condolences

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Please also visit the latest post Canadian Muslim Organizations Offer Condolences to the Ismaili Community + List of Deceased.

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