Simergphotos presents An Anthology of the Silk Road Through the Lens of Muslim Harji and Smithsonian’s Folklife Festival with magnificent photos taken by Harji during his recent visits to the iconic Silk Road cities of Samarkand and Bokhara in Uzbekistan. Then the post steps back in time and brings you wonderful memories from the Smithsonian Institution’s Annual Folklife Festival held in Washington D.C. in 2002, which was entirely dedicated to one single subject: The Silk Road. The post contains photos from the opening day, which was attended by His Highness the Aga Khan, as well as an excellent thematic anthology covering many aspects of the exciting Silk Road!…More at Simergphotos.
Muslim and Nevin Harji have just returned from a remarkable trip to Badakhshan, which is located in one of the most remote corners of the earth, in the midst of the magnificent Pamir mountains. The Harjis were fortunate to be invited to an Ismaili wedding in the small village of Namadgut (near Ishkashim). The whole village consisting of forty Ismaili families was involved in the preparation and celebration of the wedding. We continue our special series on Badakhshan with this special photo essay An Ismaili Wedding in the Pamirs Through My Lens by Muslim Harji.
Letter from Publisher
By Abdulmalik Merchant
When my parents visited me in Voorhees, New Jersey, during the spring of 1995, we would together walk to the main library twice a week. The short walk passed by scenic ponds and streams. There was a scary component to it though — encounters with scattered groups of unfriendly geese.
Once in the library, our focus was to read the Sunday newspapers from nearby cities that made their way into the magazine and newspaper section by Monday.
During one such visit, my dad found himself staring at the Baltimore Sun’s wonderful two page spread of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s first historic visit to Tajikistan, that had taken place a few days earlier. The June 4, 1995, story gave a moving account of the visit by the paper’s correspondent Kathy Lally. It was obvious that she was well acquainted with the Ismailis, and also understood the emotions of the Ismaili people, who had greeted their Imam for the first time in centuries. To my delight, an on-line version of the report did become available, and I reproduced it on Simerg, with the Sun’s permission, some 5 years ago under the title A Western Correspondent’s Account of the Aga Khan’s Historic First Visit to His Followers in Gorno-Badakhshan.
Two decades are not long in the life of a community, and for each of these past twenty years, since Mawlana Hazar Imam’s first visit in May 1995, the Ismaili community of Gorno-Badakhshan has commemorated the historic visit with a celebration known as “Didar” (a Glimpse, of the Imam) or “Noor” (the Light, that the Imam represents). The happiness of this annual event was captured by world-renowned photographer Matthieu Paley in the picture above where Ismaili girls are proudly displaying a framed decorated photo of their beloved Imam.
Subsequently, in addition to many other Badakhshan pieces, we published Ismaili Portraits From Tajikistan, by Khorog’s most distinguished and beloved ‘foreign’ permanent resident, Dr. Ali Rajput of Birmingham, England who in his personal capacity has served the jamat in Badakhshan in numerous ways.
Another piece that we were fortunate to publish was a personal account from Gulnor Saratbekova entitled “Shukr Mawlo, Shukr Mawlo” – When Hope is All You Have Left, describing the dangerous and nervous state of affairs during the prolonged period of civil strife and unrest in Tajikistan in the early 1990’s. Her gratitude, shukr, in this piece is of course to Mawlana Hazar Imam who through the work of his Imamat institutions averted a serious famine that the jamat and other countrymen faced during the Civil War. I would strongly recommend that readers visit the links mentioned for some historical memories.
…..AND NOW MUSLIM HARJI’S SUPERB BADAKHSHAN SERIES
Now, Simerg is happy to present a photographic series dedicated to Badakhshan and Central Asia by none other than Canadian photographer Muslim Harji of Montreal. While he admires and cherishes the memories of the beautiful landscapes of Badakhshan that he captured with his lens, what he has come away most from this visit is the hospitality and warmth of the Ismaili people of Badakhshan. Harji’s incredible photo essays about his journeys to Jerusalem, Dubai, Iran, Turkey, South and South East Asia, have been seen by thousands on this blog, and we are delighted to add this new one to Simerg’s superb photo collection. Please click The Ismailis of Badakhshan Through My Lens by Muslim Harji.
With Tajikistan and Badakhshan now more accessible than ever before, and with so many exciting Imamat projects underway in that part of the world, we hope that Harji’s story will inspire the professional and youth of the jamat to visit this remote and beautiful region. By the way, there is an incredible array of well-organized professional tours to the region that are led by highly experienced non-Jamati operators in North America and Europe.
LETTER FROM PUBLISHER
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.
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.
Update June 13, 2015: Please see Muslim Harji’s piece via The Ismailis of Badakhshan Through the Lens of Muslim Harji
Photographer Muslim Harji captures the spirit of the Navroz celebrations in Canada’s 2nd largest city, Montreal, with a series of photographs portraying the beauty, diversity and happiness of the Ismaili jamat. The city is host to the largest contingency of Ismailis from Afghanistan in the Western world, and has been home to hundreds of Ismailis of South Asian origin, mainly from Africa, since the early 1970’s…..More
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.
Our beloved 48th Imam, Hazrat Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah (a.s.), His Highness the Aga Khan, 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.”…..Photo Collection