Artistic Expressions: The Covid-19 Lockdown Inspired Skin Surgeon Nizarali Makan to Take Up Painting – We Have a Selection of His Works

My name is Nizarali R.V. Makan. I am 73 years old and a recently retired Dermatologist and Skin Surgeon. I was born in Zanzibar, and attended the Aga Khan Nursery, Primary and Secondary Schools there, followed by post-secondary education in Dar es Salaam. I received my college, medical school education and postgraduate specialty and fellowship training in the United States, and practiced medicine for nearly forty years in Orange County, California, and Bellingham, Washington.

Ismaili artist series by Simerg
Nizarali Makan

I started painting during the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, never having used a paint brush before, except for a single course in painting at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver, B.C.

Over the past several decades I have been blessed to serve Ismaili institutions in the United States and Canada. As a young physician in the pre-TKN days (1987), I served as guest consultant in dermatology at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi, and visited Gilgit and Hunza under the auspices of the Aga Khan Health Services Pakistan. In latter years, I served as both Regional and National Convener for the Institute of Ismaili Studies London. My wife Nazira is from Kampala, Uganda, and we have three children. My hobbies, besides painting, include piano and astrophotography. I am pleased to share a selection of my modest works of art with readers of Simerg, and invite you to view more of my paintings on my Facebook page.

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Please click on images for enlargements

Paintings by Nizarali Makan

Zanzibar street by Nizar Makan, artistic expression by Ismailis, Simerg
“My Street.” Acrylic on canvas, 16” x 20”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2021).

Artist’s note on “My Street”: I was born and grew up in Stone Town, Zanzibar, down the narrow alley from the Ismaili Jamatkhana, and a stone’s throw from the Bohra Masjid and the Mehfil e-Abbas of the Khoja Shia Ithnasheri community. That is why my late mother, who passed away at the age of fifty-two when I was 15 years old, used to make fun of me when I was little — that my faith was Ismaili, my shortcut to the other side of the Zanzibar streets went through the alley of the Mehfil-e Abbas, and with a Maulidi cap at Idd I could easily pass as a Bohra.

Parents Ismaili Artistic expressions by Nizar Makan Simerg
“Parents”, acrylic on canvas, 24” x 18”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2021).

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Boats cacophony of colours by Nizar Makan, artistic expression by Ismailis, Simerg
“Cacophony of Colours”, acrylic on canvas, 18” x 24”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2021).

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Bride by Nizar Makan, artistic expression by Ismailis, Simerg
“The Bride”, acrylic on canvas, 20” x 16”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2021).

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Clay by Nizar Makan, artistic expression by Ismailis, Simerg
“Clay“, acrylic on canvas, 16” x 20”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2021).

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My children Ismaili Artistic expressions by Nizar Makan Simerg
“Children”, acrylic on canvas, 20” x 16”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2021).

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Taj Mahal by Nizar Makan Ismaili artistic expressions simerg
“Story of Love”, acrylic on canvas, 20” x 16”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2020).

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Cosmic communication by Nizar Makan, artistic expression by Ismailis, Simerg
“Cosmic communication”, acrylic on canvas, 16″ x 12”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2020).

Artist’s note on “Cosmic communication”: It is said that God endowed Prophet Dawud (David), a shepherd, with the most beautiful and melodious voice, such that when he sang the Psalms, birds and animals would pause to listen. This painting is a rather simplified representation and reminder of that mystical communication and cosmic bond between all of God’s creatures. After all, we are all interconnected and made up of the same stardust, and our physical bodies are like garments to be shed some day.

Venice by Nizar Makan Simerg Ismaili artistic expression
“Venice, the city of romance, drama and intrigue”, acrylic on canvas, 18” x 24”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2021).

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“Rocks shaped by Water” by Nizar Makan, artistic expression by Ismailis, Simerg
“Rocks shaped by Water”, acrylic on canvas, 16” x 20”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2021).

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Aga Khan Development Network, AKDN logos by Nizar Makan Ismaili artistic expressions Simerg
“AKDN”, acrylic on canvas, 16” x 20”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2021).

A note by the artist on “AKDN”: Each AKDN, Jamati and Apex agency or entity within the Ismaili Imamat has its own unique logo that powerfully represents its goal and objective. In this painting, I have sought to artistically render the logos that I have come across over the past several years onto the Ismaili Flag. I hope to provide meaning of logos in a future piece. Hyperlinks are provided for logos whose meanings have already appeared in Simerg or its sister websites Barakah and Simergphotos.

Column 1 (top to down): Aga Khan Park (Toronto, Canada), Focus Humanitarian Assistance, Aga Khan Health Services, Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance; and Aga Khan Music Awards;

Column 2: Aga Khan Trust for Culture, The Ismaili Centre London (UK), University of Central Asia, The Ismaili Centre Lisbon (Portugal), and Aga Khan Agency for Habitat;

Column 3: Personal Standard or Crest of Mawlana Hazar Imam (top portion), The Ismaili Centre Vancouver (Canada); The Ismaili Magazine, Crest (repeat), and Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development;

Column 4: Personal Standard or Crest of Mawlana Hazar Imam (full), and World Partnership Walk (an initiative of The Aga Khan Foundation);

Column 5: Crest (repeat), The Ismaili Centre Dubai (United Arab Emirates), information about the logo not known, and the Seal of the Aga Khan University (also see HERE with explanations of 3 other logos);

Columns 6: Aga Khan Museum (Toronto), The Ismaili Centre Dushanbe (Tajikistan), Aga Khan Foundation, The Ismaili Centre Toronto, and Aga Khan Centre London (UK); and

Column 7: The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London (UK), Aga Khan Education Services, Aga Khan Planning and Building Services, The Aga Khan Academies, and Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

External Links: For more works of art by Nizarali Makan please visit his Facebook page.

Date posted: August 16, 2022.

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We welcome feedback/letters from our readers. Please use the LEAVE A REPLY box which appears at the bottom of this page or click on LEAVE A COMMENT. Your feedback may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation. We are unable to acknowledge unpublished letters.

The editor invites Ismaili artists to submit a selection of their paintings and other works of art for publication in Simerg. Please submit images, preferably a maximum 8 objects in Jpeg (1200 x 900) along with your profile to the editor Malik, at mmerchant@simerg.com.

Emerald Ponds, a Grizzly Family of Four, Jagged Mountains and More: An Unforgettable Day on Hwy 40 in Alberta’s Kananaskis Country

After about an hour’s driving (appx 80 kms) from Calgary on the Trans Canada Hwy you are ready for a lifetime experience as you drive through the paved Alberta Hwy 40 or the Kananaskis Trail. Malik Merchant has seen wildlife on the path on every trip he has made over the last few weeks; he now shares photographs that he took on his most recent trip. Please click HERE or on the image(s) below for his latest story, and also visit his photoblog Simergphotos for more of his beautiful experiences in and around Calgary.

Grizzlies Kananaskis Country, Hwy 40
Grizzlies, Kananaskis Trail (Alberta Hwy 40). Please click on photo for story and more photos.
Wedge Pond, Kananaskis Country, Hwy 40
Wedge Pond, Alberta Hwy 40. Please click on photo for story and more photos.

Date posted: August 15, 2022.

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Gifts from Amin by Shezan Muhammedi synopsis on Simerg

Forthcoming Book: “Gifts From Amin – Ugandan Asian Refugees in Canada” by Dr. Shezan Muhammedi

The latest issue (August-September 2022) of Canada’s History magazine, established in 1920 as The Beaver, carries an excellent 8 page article by Ottawa’s Dr. Shezan Muhammedi under the title “Sitting on Fire” based on his forthcoming book “Gifts From Amin – Ugandan Asian Refugees in Canada,” which is due o be released in September 2022 by the University of Manitoba Press. Shezan holds a Ph.D from the University of Western Ontario and is a policy analyst with the Canadian Federal Government and an adjunct research professor in the Department of History at Carleton University in Ottawa.

August 4, 2022 marked the 50th anniversary of President Idi Amin’s announcement in 1972 that all Ugandan residents of South Asian descent, whether citizens or not, had ninety days to leave the country, creating an international humanitarian crisis. Among those affected by the decree, which came into effect a few days later on August 9, 1972, were Shezan’s own mother and family who arrived in Canada in the fall of 1972 along with thousands of other Ugandan Asian refugees. Shezan’s piece in Canada’s History may be accessed by subscribers of the magazine.

The University of Manitoba has put out the following brief on Shezan’s Gifts From Amin:

Giftys from Amin by Shezan Muhammedi University of Manitoba Press
Gifts From Amin: Ugandan Asian Refugees in Canada” by Shezan Muhammedi. Published by the University of Manitoba Press, forthcoming (September 2022), pp. 288.

“In August 1972, military leader and despot Idi Amin expelled Asian Ugandans from the country, professing to return control of the economy to “Ugandan citizens.” Within ninety days, 50,000 Ugandans of South Asian descent were forced to leave and seek asylum elsewhere; nearly 8,000 resettled in Canada. This major migration event marked the first time Canada accepted a large group of predominantly Muslim, non-European, non-white refugees.

“Shezan Muhammedi’s Gifts from Amin documents how these women, children, and men — including doctors, engineers, business leaders, and members of Muhammedi’s own family — responded to the threat in Uganda and rebuilt their lives in Canada. Building on extensive archival research and oral histories, Muhammedi provides a nuanced case study on the relationship between public policy, refugee resettlement, and assimilation tactics in the twentieth century.

“As the numbers of forcibly displaced people around the world continue to rise, Muhammedi’s analysis of policymaking and refugee experience is eminently relevant. The first major oral history project dedicated to the stories of Ugandan Asian refugees in Canada, Gifts from Amin explores the historical context of their expulsion from Uganda, the multiple motivations behind Canada’s decision to admit them, and their resilience over the past fifty years.”

The book may be pre-ordered at Indigo.ca and Amazon.ca.

Date posted: August 14, 2022.

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Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. Also visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah, dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan, and Simergphotos for beautiful photographs on diverse themes including nature and culture. Simerg’s editor Malik Merchant may be reached via email at mmerchant@simerg.com.

Ismaili Centre Houston Imara Aga Khan Simerg

The Ismaili Center Houston: Reflections by Prince Amyn Aga Khan and Mayor Sylvester Turner

“The Ismaili Center is intended to be a resource for all Houstonians as a place to come together with local, national, and international partners to enhance the vibrant nature and rich cultural tapestry of this city” — Prince Amyn Aga Khan (READ MORE ON BARAKAH)

Houston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner introduces Prince Amyn Aga Khan to Houston Police Department Chief Troy Finner. Please click on photo to read report.

“The Ismaili Center Houston will be a magnificent building, both physically — with its landmark architecture, picturesque gardens, and ingenious design — and societally speaking, through its impact on Houston, across Texas, and throughout the United States” — Honourable Sylvester Turner, Mayor of Houston (READ MORE ON BARAKAH)

Prince Amyn Aga Khan in Houston to review the development of the Ismaili Center Houston
Prince Amyn Aga Khan is joined by Greater Houston Partnership President and CEO Bob Harvey, and Performing Arts Houston CEO Meg Booth as they hear remarks from Mayor Sylvester Turner. Please click on photo to read report.

Date posted: August 13, 2022.

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Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. Also visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah, dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan, and Simergphotos for beautiful photographs on diverse themes including nature and culture. Simerg’s editor Malik Merchant may be reached via email at mmerchant@simerg.com.

August 11, 2022: Watch Live Event from Houston – Prince Amyn Aga Khan on the New Ismaili Center Commissioned by His Highness the Aga Khan

Ismaili Center Houston

Prince Amyn Aga Khan has arrived in Houston to review the progress of the new Ismaili Centre, commissioned by his older brother, His Highness the Aga Khan, the 49th Hereditary Imam of the Ismaili Muslims. Shortly after his arrival, the Prince was bestowed with an Honorary Citizenship of the City of Houston by Houston’s Mayor, the Honorable Sylvester Turner.

On Thursday, August 11, the Prince will be joined by Mayor Turner, at a luncheon with civil society leaders and elected officials, where they will share reflections on the Ismaili Center. The event will be streamed live on the Ismaili TV at the following times:

Please click on image for enlargement

Date posted: August 10, 2022.

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Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. Also visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah, dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan, and Simergphotos for beautiful photographs on diverse themes including nature and culture.

Simerg’s editor Malik Merchant may be reached via email at mmerchant@simerg.com.

The Aga Khan as a Junior at Harvard: “My College Room Mate Rules 10 Million”

His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Imam of Ismaili Muslims graduated from Harvard University in 1959. History. Photograph: © Hank Walker/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images. Please click on photo for article by John Fell Stevenson.

By John Fell Stevenson

“Karim impressed me when first we met as freshmen because he had a purpose — he wanted to help people. It wasn’t adolescent sentimentality or showing off: he meant it; and he has meant it ever since….I was able to observe K’s study habits at close quarters. He worked hard, was almost always the last to bed and first to rise. When he was assigned a paper, we would seldom see him except when he rushed into the living room to get more books. I took one course with K that year and I must confess that I came to rely heavily on his excellent notes” — READ MORE

Date posted: August 5, 2022.

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Please See Our Table of Contents and Visit Simerg’s Two Sister Websites

Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. Also visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah, dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan, and Simergphotos for beautiful photographs on diverse themes including nature and culture.

Simerg’s editor Malik Merchant may be reached via email at mmerchant@simerg.com.

“Memories of a Ugandan Refugee: Encounters of Hope from Kampala to Vancouver” by Jalal Jaffer; Reviewed by Atlanta’s Nizar Motani

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Memories of a Ugandan Refugee: Encounters of Hope from Kampala to Vancouver By Jalal Jaffer, Q.C.
336 pp. FriesenPress, 2022
US$ 29.99 (Hardcover), US$ 19.99 (Paperback) and US$ 6.99 (eBook) as listed on the publisher’s website FriesenPress; also available at Amazon.ca (Hardcover, C$ 33.70; Paperback, C$ 26.57; Kindle C$ 8.91); and at Indigo.ca (as a Kobo Ebook for C$ 8.99). Note: Various formats of the book may sell for less. Please also see Jalal Jaffer’s website for more options to purchase.
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[Nizar Motani’s review of Jalal Jaffer’s Memoirs comes to us for publication close to the 50th anniversary of the announcement on August 4, 1972 by Idi Amin to expel Asians from Uganda; the decree took effect on August 9th. The early major settlement of the first group of Ugandan Asians in Canada has been listed by Carleton University’s special Uganda Asian’s project as follows: Vancouver (1,034); Montreal (480); Toronto (440); Winnipeg (205); and Ottawa (124) — Ed.]


BOOK REVIEW BY NIZAR MOTANI, PhD

Being a diarist since his schooldays; a gifted writer and a poet; a voracious reader; a disciplined life of service, gratitude and contentment with its rewards; and a firm belief that the Divine hand has always been on his shoulder, Jalal Jaffer would be expected to chronicle an exceptional memoir. And he has done it splendidly!

His life story is centered on three overlapping, intertwining, love stories, which beautify and fortify each other. The first love story is about the wonderful family he was born into and his abiding deeply reciprocal love for his parents and eight siblings.

Besides his biological family, he developed a special bond with his spiritual father, the present 49th hereditary Shia Imami Ismaili Muslim Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan IV. However, its foundation was serendipitously laid in his predecessor’s spiritual rein, when the 48th Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan III, named him Jalaluddin, at age sixteen days, during his visit to Kisumu, Kenya, in 1945!

The final love story is about his own biological family, in Vancouver, Canada, after his marriage with Shamshad P.K. Pirani, which remarkably was performed by the 49th Imam, in February 1972, at Kampala, Uganda, Jamatkhana — just six months before Idi Amin’s mass Asian Expulsion order of August 4.

Jalaluddin’s name got shortened to Jalal, who has “tried to traverse through life with prayers and conviction that the Divine hand is, and has always been, on my shoulders to help me, guide me and protect me” (p. 1X). The Divine hand can be seen throughout his autobiography. It came to his rescue when he seriously injured his left hand in an accident, at age six, helping to turn this tragedy into a lifelong triumph, which enabled him to excel at everything; it was at the hotel in Bangkok where two young students he kindly invited into his hotel room to learn about their lives and dreams for the future,  instead they drugged and robbed him but could not kidnap or kill him; it was evident at the beach in Karachi where he and his young son, Jamil, could have drowned; and throughout his and his family’s lives.

The Foreword by Dr. Farouk Mitha and The Prologue by the author whet the readers’ appetite for the thirty-three chapters that follow. In the interest of brevity this review will highlight only the most salient aspects of the three love stories, mentioned earlier.

His abiding love for his families (parents’ and his own) is poetically portrayed in Chapter 29: Loving Family and Friends, and Chapter 32: Encounters. ”My encounter with my parents must rank as the most impactful experience and the highest form of learning in my life” (p 299). His biological father passed away at the age of 96. At the lunch after the funeral, Alwaez Sultanali Nazerali delivered a poignant eulogy describing Ali Jaffer Esmail as a saintly person: “an angel in human form”. Jalal has beautifully translated and summarized it in English (p. 297).

Memoirs of a Ugandan Refugee Jalal Jaffer
“Memories of a Ugandan Refugee” by Jalal Jaffer, 336 pp., FriesenPress, First Edition 2022. Amazon.ca (Hardcover, C$33.70; Paperback, C$ 26.57, Kindle C$ 8.91); and at Indigo.ca (as a Kobo Ebook for C$ 8.99); book may sell for less. Also, visit the website of Jalal Jaffer.

Since their auspicious February 20, 1972 marriage, Shamshad, his beloved “Sham”, and the author, Jalal, have been on many adventurous honeymoons. In a poem titled The Lioness’ Journey, he shares his special love and appreciation for Sham, his bride, wife and partner (p.178-180). Such poetic expressions of his love, for all, appear frequently enhancing the value of this alluring autobiography.

An equivalent of a professional knighthood, Queen’s Counsel (Q.C.), was conferred on him in 2016. It was a great honor and he can and does proudly exhibit it. However, his heart was given to seva (service), in any capacity, at any level, to his murshid (his spiritual leader, the Aga Khan) and to his fellow murids (devotees).

To his amazement, he was blessed with eighteen years of seva at local, national, and international levels (1987-2005). “I was far from exhausted, but my cup was full. I had been blessed to have had these enormously important leadership positions for such a long period…shukar” (p. 210).

For his seva in “these enormously important leadership positions,” which were Imamat-appointed, he reaped enormous “once in a lifetime” meva (reward/blessing, recognition): an invitation to the majestic Diamond Jubilee Homage Ceremony at Aiglemont, France, on July 11, 2017, followed by special seating at the Darbar in Lisbon, Portugal, on July 11, 2018. Both these historic events inevitably moved Jalal to capture his feelings and thoughts in two trademark poems.

Chapter 24: Politics, describes his “insatiable appetite for world affairs and politics” from his childhood days. Of all the conflicts and turmoil engulfing the world, he was sufficiently outraged by the Israeli brutality and inhumanity towards the defenseless Palestinians in the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip. This led him to chide the “chosen people’ in a “short poem” called I Wonder (p. 220-221). It is a subtle  poem but readers will judge its “length” as Jalal’s concept of “short” and “a few words” is uniquely his own!

Two paragraphs to indicate his and his bride’s love, friendship, and respect for their friends will end this not-so-short a review. Chapter 31 captures the astonishing natural beauty of Khorog, Tajikistan, and the surrounding Pamir Mountains and some of its inhabitants. They were guests of Shamim and Iqbal Talib who for almost a decade were engaged in boosting the local economy and had established a spacious second home with ideal accommodation for the rare guests who venture out to Khorog. The Talibs’ unforgettable hospitality competed with the high mountains, and the Jaffers left with fabulous memories and new knowledge of this exotic Ismaili enclave.

However, on another occasion of honoring friendships, he was distinctly derailed when some friends asked him to emcee the wedding of their children. He remembers saying “a few words” that he has recounted over seven meandering pages (271-278)! His captive audience may have endured or even enjoyed his “few words” but his readers could skim through this aberration and enjoy the rest of this memorable memoir.

Date posted: July 30, 2022.
Last updated: July 31, 2022.

Correction: In our earlier version of this post, the title of the book was incorrectly referred to as “Memoirs of a Ugandan Refugee….”; the correct title is “Memories of a Ugandan Refugee….” which is now reflected in this latest update of the post.

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Contributor

Nizar A. Motani has a doctorate from the University of London (SOAS) in African history, specializing in British colonial rule in East Africa. He has been a college professor at Bowdoin College (Brunswick, ME) and Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo, MI). He was the first Publication Officer at the Institute of Ismaili Studies (London, UK). He now lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Dr. Motani’s previous pieces on Simerg and its sister website Barakah are: 

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Please visit Simerg’s Table of Contents and its Sister Websites

Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. Also visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah, dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan, and Simergphotos.

Simerg’s editor may be reached via email at mmerchant@simerg.com.

Photos: Driving Through the Scenic Backcountry Gravel Hwy 742, the Smith-Dorrien Trail, in Kananaskis Country

Malik Merchant subjects his Mazda 6 Sedan through 60 kms of rough gravel road, the Hwy 742 or the Smith-Dorrien Trail, to experience some stunning mountain scenery and wildlife in Alberta’s spectacular Kananaskis region. Please click HERE or on photo below to read his report of a memorable 3 hour trip that ended with the greatest rib-eye steak in his life at the Rustica restaurant in Canmore, with the magnificent Three Sisters Mountains smiling on him. Kananaskis is a very short drive from Calgary, and having made 3 trips to the region in as many days (!) Merchant highly recommends everyone to discover this beautiful section of Alberta that brims with natural beauty, easy to moderate to the most strenuous hiking trails as well as great wildlife!….. Read More

A memorial bench at Sprays Lake Reservoir on Hwy 742, the Smith-Dorrien Trail, that starts at the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada. Please click on image for full report and photographs

Date posted: July 27, 2022.

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REVIEW SIMERG’S TABLE OF CONTENTS AND VISIT ITS SISTER WEBSITES

Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. Also visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah, dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan, and Simergphotos. Reach the editor, Malik, at mmerchant@simerg.com

Momentous Day for Ismaili Mountaineer Samina Baig As She Scales K2 — “The Savage Mountain” — with 4 Other Muslim Female Climbers; 5 More Ismailis in Team Also Reach Summit

“We are extremely proud to announce that Samina Baig, with her strong Pakistani team, successfully summited the world’s most fascinating and dangerous mountain known as the savage mountain” — Statement by Samina Baig’s Team

Introduced by MALIK MERCHANT
Publisher/Editor BarakahSimerg and Simergphotos

Rahim and Zahra Aga Khan with Ismaili mountaineers
Mountaineer-siblings Samina and Mirza Ali Baig present a memento to Princess Zahra and Prince Rahim at an institutional dinner hosted by the Ismaili Council for Pakistan during their visit to Pakistan in May 2016. Photograph: Rahil Imtiaz Ali/The Ismaili

Just over nine years ago, on May 19, 2013, at precisely 7:40 am, Samina Baig became the first Pakistani woman to reach the peak of the world`s highest mountain, Everest, and proudly place on it the flag of Pakistan as well as that of the Ismaili community. She spent 10 minutes on the summit as her mentor, trainer and proud older brother, Mirza Ali Baig, watched her unique accomplishment from a few hundred metres away, not wishing to scale the peak until a later date, to give the singular honour of the summit’s ascent to his beloved sister. Samina and Mirza then granted Simerg an exclusive interview which can be read HERE.

Samina Baig Mt Mckinley Alaska Simerg
Mirza Ali and his sister Samina Baig hoist the Ismaili Flag after reaching the summit of North America’s highest mountain, Mt. McKinley, in Alaska, on June 28, 2014. Photo: Malik Mirza/Samina Baig.

Samina’s accomplishments over the years have been many, and we have just learned that today, Friday July 22, 2022, Samina has scaled K2. Here are excerpts from a report by Ayaz Gul of the Voice of America (VOA).

Female Climbers From Pakistan, Iran Make History by Scaling K2

Voice of America’s Urdu channel carried a dispatch about Samina Baig and her brother, Mirza Ali in a news segment in 2011 after she had climber a 6300m peak near Hunza in Northern Pakistan, which was then was named after her. Photo: Samina Baig’s Facebook page.

By AYAZ GUL
(Voice of America, July 22, 2022)

[Note: The photographs accompanying this post are from Simerg’s archives and other external sources that are credited, and are not part of the latest VOA report by Ayaz Gul; his full report may be read on the VOA website HERE. The following are excerpts from Gul’s report – Ed.].

The first female climbers from Pakistan and Iran on Friday reached the top of K2, the world’s second-highest peak, at 8,611 meters [28,251.31 ft] above sea level known as the “savage mountain.”

Two Pakistanis, Samina Baig and Naila Kiyani, Iranian Afsaneh Hesamifard, Lebanese-Arab Nelly Attar and Bangladeshi Wasifa Nazreen, were among the five women who achieved the milestone, said a spokesman for the Alpine Club of Pakistan.

“They are also the first Muslim mountaineers to have scaled K2,” Karrar Haidri told VOA.

Baig and Hesamifard have already summited the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest, in Nepal.

“We are extremely proud to announce that Samina Baig, with her strong Pakistani team, successfully summited the world’s most fascinating and dangerous mountain known as the savage mountain,” Baig’s team said in a statement.

“Grateful and blessed that K2 allowed her to stand atop this incredible mountain.”

Pakistani government officials and foreign diplomatic missions, including the U.S. embassy, in Islamabad took to Twitter to congratulate the Pakistani women climbers for setting foot on the world’s second-highest mountain.

“A momentous day and achievement for Pakistani women!” the U.S. embassy said.

K2 has gained its reputation as the savage mountain among international climbers. It has one of the deadliest records, with most climbers dying on the way down. Only a few hundred have successfully reached its summit, while Everest has been scaled more than 9,000 times. The rocky mountain is also known as the deadliest of the five highest peaks in the world because about one person dies on K2 for every four who reach the summit.

While the sheerness of the slopes and overall exposure create a technically challenging climb, mountaineers say weather is always “the great opponent” on K2 year-round.

Pakistan hosts five of the 14 highest peaks on Earth, including K2; eight others are in Nepal, including Everest, and one along the border of Nepal and the Tibetan region of China.

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K2
K2 North Ridge. Photograph: Kuno Lechner, Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Gari Khan writes from Pakistan:

Along with Samina Baig, 5 other Ismailis were also part of her team that completed the climb on Friday, July 22, 2022 at 7:42 AM. The complete list of Ismailis, all from Shimsal (Hunza), is as follows:

  1. Samina Baig
  2. Eid Muhammad
  3. Bulbul Karim
  4. Ahmed Baig
  5. Rizwan Dad
  6. Waqar Ali

The seventh person in the team, Hussain Sadparda, is from Skardu and not an Ismaili.

Shimsal: Village located in Gojal Tehsil of Hunza District, in the Gilgit–Baltistan region of Pakistan. It lies at an altitude of 3,100 m above sea level and is the highest settlement in the district; Skardu: City located in Gilgit−Baltistan, Pakistan, and serves as the capital of Skardu District and the Baltistan Division. Skardu is situated at an elevation of nearly 2,500 metres in the Skardu Valley, at the confluence of the Indus and Shigar Rivers (in formation from Wikipedia).

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Breathtaking Video: K2 – The World’s Most Dangerous Mountain | Eddie Bauer

“K2 is a savage mountain that tries to kill you.” That is how climber George Bell described the infamous peak after the first American expedition in 1953–forever giving the mountain its nickname–The Savage Mountain. Sixty-six years later, Eddie Bauer mountain guides Adrian Ballinger and Carla Perez aim to summit the 8611-meter peak and join a community of explorers fewer in number than those who have been to outer space. Even more incredible, they both will attempt the feat without the use of supplemental oxygen. Every step of the way the team faces hazardous conditions, terrifying setbacks, and crushing misfortunes. But as Ballinger puts it, “I’ll go until the mountain tells me I can’t go anymore.”

Date posted: July 22, 2022.
Last updated: July 23, 2022 (new information from Gari Khan, and video added)

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REVIEW SIMERG’S TABLE OF CONTENTS AND VISIT ITS SISTER WEBSITES

Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. Also visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah, dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan, and Simergphotos. Reach the editor, Malik, at mmerchant@simerg.com

The Lancet: Alcohol Consumption Carries Significant Health Risks and No Benefits for Young People; Ismaili Imams Have Advised Their Jamats to Stay Away from Facile Social Habits

By MALIK MERCHANT
Publisher/Editor BarakahSimerg and Simergphotos

Over the past week, the media around the world has taken note of an important worldwide study published in the July 14, 2022 issue of The Lancet (see News Release) which says that the consumption of alcohol in any amount carried significant health risks and no benefits to young people. The Lancet is among the world’s oldest and best-known general medical journals. Some of the headlines in the media, with links to detailed reports (that are accessible without a subscription), were as follows:

  • Alcohol is never good for people under 40, global study finds (The Guardian)
  • Alcohol, Even in Moderation, Carries Health Risks for People Under 40 (Healthline)
  • No amount of alcohol is healthy if you’re under 40, study says (CNN)
  • Drinking just 3 cans of beer a week may be linked to cognitive decline (Medical News Today)
  • Young people should not drink’: World study challenges alcohol guidelines (Global News)
  • Drinking Any Amount of Alcohol Isn’t Good for People Under 40, New Global Study Finds (People Magazine)
  • Sobering new study says that those under age 40 shouldn’t drink alcohol at all (Fox News)

In October 2018, when Canada legalized the recreational use of marihuana, we expressed our concern on the matter, and asked the Ismaili Jamat and its youth to seek to be wary, and apply principles of good health in our daily lives, in view of the very easy access to the drug, and temptations to try it out.

Both Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan III and Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, have articulated their feelings and concerns about social habits and their harmful effects during their Imamat. When speaking to the Transvaal Muslim League in the Johannesburg City Hall on August 12, 1945, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah asked his Muslim audience to avoid alcohol at all costs. He said:

“The greatest danger, to every Muslim citizen — I have not the least hesitation in saying it — is alcohol. Time has shown that it is an injury to you; an injury to your person; an injury to your health. It is forbidden because it carries greater evil than good. Believe me, in a community like yours, alcohol is a very grave danger. Once you got into the alcohol habit, I do not know where it would lead you. A handful, here and there, of the weak, or of the unhappy, find their way to this terrible poison. Avoid it at all costs. Avoid it, I say, for in this country you cannot afford to lose one man.”

Speaking to the Jamat and addressing the youth in particular the present 49th Imam has said:

“In the past I have said to you, do not squander your money on social habits which are of no interest and which are harmful and I have mentioned smoking, I have mentioned drinking. I now add to the list drug-taking. I say to you today, and particularly the younger generation, use your energy, use your imagination, use your strength, but do not waste it. Do not waste it in drinking, in smoking cigarettes, in eating, in smoking drugs or whatever it may be. This is not for our Jamat. I say to you stay a healthy Jamat and face the problems without wasting your energy and time and money on these other habits. Remember this is a matter of importance, because these habits can weaken the Jamat.” — Mawlana Hazar Imam, Dar es Salaam, November 11, 1970 [1]

And:

“Do not abandon the overall principle of good health, of good morality which Islam has taught all the members of its faith. To the young, I say, remember that one day you will be parents, and ask yourselves if you will authorize your children to participate in certain habits which are prevalent in the Western World, and I am sure the answer will be in the vast majority, no. Because our Jamat is a strong Jamat, and I want you to be absolutely clear in your minds that when you come to another society, you must have the wisdom to absorb that which is good and to ignore or reject that which would be detrimental to you or to your family.” — Mawlana Hazar Imam, August 3, 1969 in London, England [2]

With a reputable journal such as The Lancet now suggesting that young people should not drink, we urge the Ismaili youth and its young professionals to avoid alcohol at all costs, and seek to abide by Mawlana Hazar Imam’s guidance to the younger generation: “Use your energy, use your imagination, use your strength, but do not waste it. Do not waste it in drinking, in smoking cigarettes, in eating, in smoking drugs or whatever it may be.”

During his Takht Nashini visit to Kampala, Uganda, on October 27, 1957, Mawlana Hazar Imam said:

“My Beloved Spiritual Children,

Your care and welfare will always be my concern. I am certain that you and your children, will benefit if you follow the advice I have given you.”

Throughout his Imamat of 65 years, Mawlana Hazar Imam has always sought that the characteristic of the Jamat should be such that we should seek at all times for the best in worldly matters and the best in spiritual matters, and that so long as the Jamat continued in this search for the best in both the worlds and followed his Famans we would always have a happy and prosperous future. (Dacca, December 8, 1964).

Date posted: July 21, 2022.

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Notes:

[1, 2] – Farman quotes from archives and notes of the Late Alwaez Jehangir Merchant (1928-2018) on social habits. See also this article Applying Good Principles in our Daily Living.

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REVIEW SIMERG’S TABLE OF CONTENTS AND VISIT ITS SISTER WEBSITES

Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. Also visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah, dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan, and Simergphotos. Reach the editor, Malik, at mmerchant@simerg.com