Simerg in 2016: Photo Blog Published Rare Photos from Hazar Imam’s 59 Year Reign and Great Travelogues and Stories

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Prince Amyn Muhammad and Princess Zahra applaud as the birthday cake is presented to Mawlana Hazar Imam. Photo: The Ismaili/Zahur Ramji.

A marvellous end to 2016! Mawlana Hazar Imam is applauded by members of his family as a cake is presented to him for his landmark 80th birthday, making him the oldest serving Imam in Ismaili history. The celebration was held at his home in Aiglemont, France, on Friday December 16, 2016. Photo: The Ismaili/Zahur Ramji.

By Abdulmalik Merchant
(editor/publisher Simerg, Simerphotos, and Barakah)

SIMERGPHOTOS commenced the year with the publication of rare photographs that had never been released or seen before! The late Papa Jaan’s treasure trove of photographs of  Mawlana Hazar Imam’s historic first visit to Hunza, was brought to our attention by  Montreal’s Muslim Harji, and with the  family’s support we published more photos that Papa Jaan (Abdul M. Ismaily, 1926-1981) took during Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Visit to Pakistan and Uganda as well as Prince Sadruddin’s Visit to East Africa. Sultan Jessa, who worked at the Daily Nation, then shared with us a set of his colleague Azhar Chaudry’s photos of the Aga Khan’s Visits to East Africa!

Muslim Harji’s name is on the lips of all our readers! He has never failed to take stunning photographs during his countless trips around the world, and his Central Asian photo essay series from 2015 overflowed into 2016 with Tajikistan’s Stunning Landscapes. Harji later would overwhelm our readers with  Photographs about Sacred  Spaces and, with the year about to end, he brilliantly captured Montreal’s Celebration of the 80th Birthday of Mawlana Hazar Imam. With regard to the birthday celebration we showed Mawlana Hazar Imam Being Gifted with a Unique Piece  of Art Created by Ismaili Artist Gulgee.

Even as he approached — and now has completed — his 80th birthday (December 13), a record for any Imam in Ismaili history, Mawlana Hazar Imam tirelessly visited many parts of the world. We have photos of his  Parliament Hill Visit in Ottawa by Jean-Marc Carisse , the visit to Portugal Where He Introduced Officials of the Imamat  and His visit to Egypt for a Business for Africa Forum. He also attended and awarded prizes in the UAE to The 2016 Winners of Aga Khan Award for Architecture. We decided to relive a Ten minute 2015 PBS episode about His Highness the Aga Khan  and we know that many readers visited PBS.

We received a few pleasant surprises along the way with Juby Sprake of Vancouver offering three very sweet photos of Hazar Imam’s 1966 visit to the Nairobi Aga Khan Primary School. Linda Baxter, a niece of the late Mr. Frank Pattrick, who worked for the Daily Nation, kindly sent Letters and Photographs of His Highness the Aga Khan from her family collection.

12 year old Renaye Tejani bakes cookies for charity and spreads joy in Mumbai, India.

12 year old Renaye Tejani bakes cookies for charity and spreads joy in Mumbai, India.

Nurin Merchant had visited Yellowstone, the world’s very first national park, some 5 years ago with her dad (author of this post) and decided to do a photo summary about Her One-of-a-Kind Experience in Yellowstone. Her grandparents came up with Photos of Mawlana Hazar Imam and Prince Alykhan’s visit to Mozambique where they had both served during the 1950’s.

Family members sent us inspiring stories about their children. Readers were charmed with Renaye Tejani  of Mumbai Spreading Joy Through Baking. The Maherali family in Atlanta had taken their two sons to Dubai for the Ismaili Jubilee games where Riyaan Maherali met a basketball player who touched his heart. Not to be overlooked was the story about the Welcome Celebration of the Jubilee Games Lantern at the Children’s Soccer Camp in Burnaby.

Members of the  Ismaili community are active everywhere in supporting initiatives for a better world, and we were immensely proud to record the inspiring work of Ismaili Educators helping with Marginalized Children in Nairobi. We also showcased thousands of  Canadians participating in the Annual World Partnership Walk in Vancouver.

Ali Karim, like Muslim Harji, is an intrepid traveller and he undertook a momentous journey with his wife Dilshad to China and Northern Pakistan along the old Silk Road. His travelogue began in Shanghai, and he then proceeded to Urumqi, Turpan and Kashgar before he finally reached his last stop in China in Tashkurgan where he met an Ismaili family. His remarkable account with stunning photographs of Ismailis in Northern Hunza is a must read for everyone who hasn’t yet read the post! We have one final Hunza episode from Karim coming up within the next fortnight.

Passu, Hunza. Ali Karim. Copyright.

Passu, Hunza. Ali Karim. Copyright.

Mawlana Hazar Imam mentioned in his remarks during the celebration of his 80th birthday, that he feels he is half his age! Therefore, we look forward to celebrating his Diamond Jubilee in 2017, with a prayer and a hope that he will remain in good health, and that all communities around the world will continue to benefit from his wisdom and his selfless work that has had such a major impact on marginalized communities around the world, especially in Asia and Africa. Mawlana Hazar Imam’s support of major development projects through his network, including Ismaili institutions and the Aga Khan Development Network, has always been  underpinned by the  Qur’anic ethic and principle that everyone is “born out of a single soul.”

We wish all our readers around the world a New Year filled with good health, peace, happiness and success in all their endeavours, and particularly pray for a peaceful world!

Individual Links to Our Treasure Trove of Photos

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