Editor’s note: In 1991, Ali M. Rajput of Birmingham, England, set out on an extraordinary mission to serve the Jamat in Badakhshan. To this day – he is now 86 – he travels to Tajikistan every year to give his best to the community there. A Khalifa* in Khorog has responded to Dr. Rajput’s contribution, and submitted a moving letter to Simerg. This is produced below, along with Dr. Rajput’s response. A brief profile of Dr. Rajput follows the inspiring exchange between the two.
Ya Ali Madad!
(An English translation follows)
Bag-i bihisht-O- sa-ya-i- tuba va qasri huur; Ba khak-i ku-i doust braber name-kunam
Farhang va hasti-i- her insanyat az mahnavist va ehtiqad-i- u khabar medihad, chun insaniyat ba vujud-i hasti-i-khesh hasti-i- aalam-i- ruhaniyat va hasti-i Parvardigar-i-aalamiyan ra dar vujud-i -digaran niz rushan va bedar mesazad.
Khudovand dustdar-i-kase-ast, ki onho dustan-i kheshavandan-i-khesh astand va hej goh az kheshavandan nameburand va pauvasta ba onha hastand.
Dar zumrai chunin duston, baradaran, kheshan, nazdikan va ustadan va Aaliman va danandagon va ruhaniyan doktori muhtaram Ali Mohammad Rajput, ki mu’allim va khesh her khonavodai Badakhshoni ast, mebashad.
Az saal-i-1991 A.M.Rajput yke az se nafaron bud, ki shamal-i foram va sada-i- nagma va nayi bi-hishtosoi aalami ruhoniyat va mahbubiyati Mavlono Hozirimomro baroi mardumi sharifi Badakhshoni Tojikiston ovard va sadoi nakhustin nagmae, ki az zaboni Doktar A.M.Rajput baromad in bud; barodarton va khoharoni ruhonii aziz, Imomi movy shumo ba shumo salom va duoi khairi padarona va modaronai khudro firistod va guft; shumo dar fikru duoi Mavloi khud hasted, muborak bod ba shumo.
Imruz doktari muhtaram ba sinni 87 qadam zada istodaast vale dar chashmi ahli ilm va ruhoniyat khelo javon ast va khidmat ba mazhab va shogirdonash monandi javonmardi fidokor davom dodaast.
In az ruhoniyat va muhabbati u ast, ki ba in sinn-u -sal ba khidmati jamohati Tojikiston ker saal qadam ranja mekunad.
Dar nazari man (hamchun yake az kalifahai shahri Khorug) khidmati Doktar Ali Mohammad Rajput khidmati shoyon ast, ki asriho idoma khohad yoft.
Yake az shahodatha-i-khidmati U in ast, ki ba har mintaqai durdasti Badakhshan agar meravi az khurd to buzurg ba U muhabbati qavi dorand.
Daana ba her diyar aziz-u mukarram ast –
La’nat be on diyar, ki na-dan bu-vad aziz –
Man bray ustad-i aziz-am salamati me-khaham ,ki jam’at-i Badakhshan ba U niyazmand ast!
Ya Ali Madad!
The garden of Paradise, the shade of its tree (Tuba), and the palace of Huur; I will not equate it to the dust of the land where my beloved resides.
Culture and existence of each person is an indicator of the true religious faith and the deeper nature of himself. Each person by virtue of his own existence demonstrates the existence of the Creator of the Universes in his example of his behaviour towards the entire humanity.
God loves those who love the Ahl-al-Bayt family, and are never separated from them and always remain connected with them.
Dear friends, brothers and sisters, teachers: Dr. Rajput is one of such individual, who is a teacher and a friend of every Badakhshani household.
Since 1991, Dr. Rajput was one of the representatives, who brought the sweet and heavenly spirituality and love for our Imam for us Badakhshanis. And the first sentence which Dr. Rajput said was:
‘Dear spiritual brothers and sisters! Ours and Your Imam has sent you His paternal, maternal blessings and Dua’s and He says that you are in your Mawla’s thoughts and prayers . Congratulations!!’
Today, Dr. Rajput is nearly 87 years of age, but in the circle of the learned and spiritually aware he is very young, and his service to religion and his students has continued like that of a young fidai.
This is due to his spirituality and love – that at this age he comes here regularly serving the Tajikistan Jamaat.
As one of the Khalifa’s of Khorog, in my view, Dr. Rajput’s service is the service so worthy that it will hopefully be felt for centuries.
One of the indications of his service is that whichever corner of Badakhshan he travels, both young and old have great deal of love towards Dr. Rajput.
The wise one is dear and is respected in every country.
Cursed is the country where an ignorant is respected.
I wish for my dear teacher’s health; the Badakhshan Jamat needs him.
With affectionate thoughts
27 November, 2010
A REPLY FROM A.M. RAJPUT
December 6, 2010
My Dear Khalifa Hashrat Shah,
Ya Ali Madad
I thank you for your kind and generous remarks regarding my humble contributions to our Tajik Jamats. I would really prefer the position of humility, doing service to our Jamat, following the Firmans of Mawlana Hazar Imam to the letter.
We, each Ismaili has an assignment from our Imam and we must carry it out in absolute sincerity, to the best of our ability. I believe that it was my destiny that I was torn out from my land of birth and the comfortable living environment of UK and was grafted into totally different surroundings. I accept my destiny with all my heart. I have discovered my new brothers and sisters, my sons and daughters and my grand children. What I lost, I have indeed been given back ten fold. It is all due to His blessings and nothing else. We are only pawns on the chess board; the play master is Him who makes a move. Please accept me as one of your own kith and kin. I want to live in Badakhshan, as a Badakhshani in every sense of the word.
Blessed be the New Year day of the year 1991, when the Imam of the current age, Mawlana Shah Karim al-Hussaini, summoned me to Aiglemont and bestowed upon me an assignment of Tajikistan and, after the audience with the Imam, I recalled the following couplet from Nasir Khusraw:
“Bar jan-i-man chun Noor-i-Imam-i-Zaman be-taaft: Lail-us-srar budam-O-Shams-uz-Zuha shudam”
“When the Noor-i-Imamat glowed upon my heart; I was the darkest night and I turned into a shining Day.”
Khalifa Jan, we both have our assignments; let us carry them out until the last day of our earthen life.
Sapurdam be tu maaya-i-khesh ra; Tu dani hisab-i-kam-O-besh ra
I have presented to you all that I have; now, you work out whether I have come to the required standard.
Dr. Ali Mohammad Rajput
Date article posted on Simerg: December 5, 2010.
Last updated: December 6, 2010.
*The Khalifa: Ali M. Rajput has provided the following brief explanation of the role of the Khalifa:
The Government of Soviet Union had appointed a Khalifa with the agreement of the local population of each area. The duty of a khalifa was to look after the religious rites of their population regarding birth, death, marriage etc for which the Khalifa was paid by the State. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the old system remained operational with certain modifications. An Ismaili Khalifa is appointed by the Imamat Department of the country. Badakhshan has over 100 Khalifas of which the city of Khorog has about 20. Our Jamatkhana is located in the district of UPD of Khorog – its Khalifa Hashrat Shah, is a handsome young man of about 40 years of age. He is very well educated in Quranic Exegesis, Islamic thought and Ismaili history. I admire our Khalifa for looking over his catchment’s area for their spiritual needs well.
I have the pleasure of knowing most of the Khalifas operating within Tajikistan and outside, such as Sinkiang in China, Kyrgystan or Moscow.
About Ali Mohammad Rajput: He was born on Navroz, 21st March, 1924, in Kalianwala, a small village where his father had built the first Jamatkhana in 1910. After completing his early education in a local village school, he pursued his University education at Lahore where he qualified with a Masters degree in Math and Statistics. In 1954, he had a unique opportunity to have a Mulaqat with Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah who asked him to go to the United Kingdom for further studies at the Imam’s expenses. During his journey to London he met the Imam once again at Yakimour which he says “left a vivid and lasting impression on my life.” He completed his PhD in 1957 in Mathematical Statistics and began teaching the subject in Birmingham. He retired from his university teaching career in Birmingham in 1983 and decided to pursue a Masters Degree in Islamic which he completed in 1985. He has since devoted much of his life to a better understanding of his faith and service to the Ismaili community. In 1991, the current Imam asked him to visit his headquarters in Aiglemont, where Dr. Rajput was assigned to go on a mission to Tajikistan in March, 1991.
Ever since that time he has been in the service of the people of Badakhshan, where he works as a professor Emeritus at the University of Khorog.
Please read the following articles by Dr. Rajput on this Web site:
My Climb to ‘Sacred’ Alamut, Where Every Stone Tells a Story
Yakimour 1954: A Golden Moment for an Aspiring Student – An Audience with the 48th Ismaili Imam, Aga Khan III
A Unique Moment in the Life of the Punjab Jamat
The Ismaili Khalifa has been mentioned by Yaacov Ro’i’s in his work “Islam in the Soviet Union: from the Second World War to Gorbachev.” Electronic images of the relevant pages, 422-424, can be read by clicking:
The exchange of letters between Dr. Rajput and Khalifa Hashratsho show the links of two of the Imam’s Murids from two different cultural and geographical background.
I have been touched by the love and affection between each other as well as the common spiritual bonds that they carry – the recognition of the Imam of the Time.
What really matters is their love for Ahl al-Bayt and the progeny of Muhammad (SAWS).
Dr. Rajput has indeed done a very good job, and continues to do so even now.
As is known, the Tajiki Ismailis don’t have Jamatkhanas and sometimes it is simply good to go and pray as community together. Normally, we pray with our families together at home; sometimes I personally want to pray alone, and often I prefer being with lots of people and pray.
Rajput’s house is always opens for everybody in Badakhshan. I wish him many happy returns of the day. May Allah bless him always with His loving hands! Omin.
Inspiring conversation, however there is a slight misunderstanding about the role of Khalifa where the author states that the Khalifas were appointed by Soviet State, which never was the case. Khalifas were always persecuted by the Soviet state, and were neither paid by the state nor community. There were many Khalifas who were imprisoned and punished, but did not stop their volunteer service for community.
I do not wish to go into a deeper discussion on the matter, and would leave the Khalifa to shed light on the subject. During the times of the Soviet Union, the Khalifas were expected to show support for the Government with respect to the concept of “no GOD” and “no religion” and if any Khalifa did not conform, he was severely punished. We now live in happier times, and religion is free to be practiced.
Dr Ali Muhammad Rajput is right that they were oppointed by the Soviet authorities, and at least the appointed khalifa must have a confirmation from local municipal government that he is carrying out the job. They were under control of the state, no doubt, during the Soviet time and they paid certain taxes to the state. Khalifa always received during Soviet time material and financial support from the Jamat that they were serving. But nevertheless through tradition they kept the Ismaili thought alive, despite the fact that by the time of the Soviet Union collapsed very few of them were aware of the true Ismaili thought. By that I mean they had poor knwoledge about their faith, but still continued to keep to the true path.
Nevertheless, the work that Dr Alimuhammad Rajput has been doing for the Jamat here is great and admirable for our well being spiritually and for the development of the Jamat generally.
I quite agree with the comments made above. I enjoyed the exchange of letters and the quotes. Let me say that the Soviet Union provided good opportunities in terms of education for Tajiki Ismailis, but again during their rule the Jamats were not contact with the Imam of the Time. The Khalifas had to make the rituals very hidden, due to Soviet secularism.
We in india were very eagar to know about our Ismali brothers and sisters in Tajikistan and how they practice the faith.