We convey Salgirah Mubarak to all Ismailis and friends of the Ismailis on the occasion of the 81st birthday of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, who is currently visiting Pakistan on the occasion of his Diamond Jubilee. He became the 49th Ismaili Imam on July 11, 1957, and has now served the community for sixty years. At the age of 81, His Highness is the oldest serving Imam in Ismaili history, since the time of the first Imam, Hazrat Ali (a.s.). We are pleased to publish on http://www.barakah.com an account of the Darbar of the Aga Khan that took place on Sunday, December 10, 2017, in Aliabad, Hunza. The piece was specially contributed for Barakah by Faqir Ullah Khan of Hunza.
Latest updates were applied at 1:52 AM, on Tuesday, December 12, 2017. Seven news items were added on Sunday, December 10, 2017, and four more in the last 24 hours including a series of Tweets by Marvi Memon, who met Prince Karim Aga Khan and Princess Zahra at the Prime Minister’s House (see the Minister’s Tweets under December 8).
The purpose of this post is to provide links to media coverage of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee visit to Pakistan. We we will make an effort to ensure that we skip on links that have repetitive information!
Newspaper reports suggest the following darbar attendances in Gilgit-Baltistan: 150,000 in Yasin (Ghizr District) and 100,000 in Aliabad (Hunza District). Also, original estimates for Chitral, 2 locations — Booni and Garam Chashma – were 140,000.
Monday, December 11, 2017
Entrance of a Darbar gate in Hunza decorated with traditional hats and flowers.
Front page of Gilgit’s Urdu newspaper, dailybaadeshimal.com, that extensively covers Hazar Imam’s visit to Yasin and Hunza. First column, second photo down, shows Hazar Imam greeting Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan, with his wife in centre. Mir Ghazanfar belongs to the ruling family of Hunza. He is the son of Last Mir of Hunza, Muhammad Jamal Khan. See more photos of Hazar Imam with the Mir and his wife, below.
(c) Photos with Governor Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan
Mawlana Hazar Imam with Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan and his wife. The Mir currently holds the office of Governor of Gilgit-Baltistan. He was appointed to the position of governor on November 24, 2015 by the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif.
(d) Gilgit arrival, a Gbee News Twitter video (must watch, photos with children)
(b) Helicopter departure video (from town of Chitral to Booni)
(c). Booni pre-darbar photos
Tens of thousands of people pack the Didargah in Booni, Chitral, on December 9, before the arrival of Mawlana Hazar Imam for the Darbar. Photo: Pamir Times/Shuja Raza.
(d) Flight Delay in Islamabad: “The C130 aircraft in which he was supposed to fly could not takeoff from Islamabad in time. The AKF Helicopter Wing however took over and proved its worth by promptly dashing over to Islamabad in marginal weather and ferried the Imam and his entourage to grace Chitral and allay the anxiety of tens of thousands of the waiting faithful at Garam Chashma and Booni. Due to the four hour delay in scheduled departure from Islamabad and extended ceremonies at both the Deedar Gahs, the Imam decided to stay overnight in Chitral” — Excerpt from ChitralNews.com
“Volunteers from the community have been working day and night for weeks on, to clean the area and upgrade roads and prepare two grand ‘deedar gahs’ (congregation areas) at Booni and Garam chashma, which will hold thousands of disciples of the Imam of the Ismailia community. Ismailis from all over Chitral with their women folk and children have converged on Booni and Garam Chashma the two venues where the Ag Khan would address his followers. The scathing cold has not deterred the faithful to brave the weather and catch a glimpse of their Imam.” — Excerpt from Chitralnews.com
(c) Media Coverage
December 9th issue of Pakistan Tribune, Twin Cities Section. See story below.
Marvi Memon, aged 45, is a Pakistani politician who serves as the Minister of State/Chairperson of the Benazir Income Support Programme. She has been a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan since 2013 as a member of Pakistan Muslim League.
Leadership is not about what u accomplish alone n the me me me but how u inspire others around u 2smile2b productv n2 want2accomplish more
A young boy from Chitral presented a bouquet of flowers to Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan on December 7, 2017. What then followed is a brief conversation the boy will remember all his life.
HUNZA’S FAQIR ULLAH KHAN in a special report for Barakah provides a lively update with great photos of the Darbar preparations that are underway in Aliabad, Hunza. Read his wonderful piece and share it with all your friends…..MORE
The excitement for the didar has spilled into every corner of Hunza. There will be more Jamati members participating in this Darbar than ever before. The entire registration process began some months ago and this has proceeded very well. The spirit of the Jamat and volunteers particularly in central Hunza is extremely high. The darbar task force members are active at each of the villages. Transportation, crowd control, accommodation and lodging have become major challenges. Jamats living in remoter areas will start moving to Aliabad at least 4 days before darbar…..MORE
INTRODUCTION: On February 18, 1976, His Highness the Aga Khan, Mawlana Hazar Imam, accompanied by Begum Salimah Aga arrived in Pakistan for a month long visit that included several mulaqats with Ismailis around the country. During the visit they both attended numerous public and private events and engagements and Mawlana Hazar Imam announced the creation of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. The first cycle of the award ceremony was held at the beautiful Shalimar Gardens in Lahore in 1980.
The extended 1976 visit also co-incided with Pakistan hosting the Seerat Conference over a 10 day period at which eminent scholars from around the world spoke in Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar and Karachi on various aspects of the life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him). When the Aga Khan was invited by Mowlana Kausar Niazi, Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Religious Affairs, to preside over the Seerat gathering that took place in Karachi on March 12, 1976, he noted at the beginning of his presidential that he felt both trepidation and joy at the opportunity, “trepidation because few subjects could be more awe inspiring for any Muslim to speak on, joy as few subjects could give greater happiness to be involved with.”
As hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world prepare to celebrate the life of the Prophet on the occasion of his birth anniversary that falls on the 12th of Rabi al-Awwal — between November 29 and December 3, 2017 — no piece would be more befitting for the auspicious anniversary than the inspiring and insightful words spoken at the Seerat Conference by the direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad himself. We are pleased to present the following excerpts from 49th Ismaili Imam’s Seerat speech, following which we have included the audio of the speech.
The Aga Khan on Allah’s Last Messenger
His Highness the Aga Khan giving his Presidential Address at the Seerat Conference in Karachi on March 12, 1976. Photo: The Ismaili.
A request to the conference
“Few conferences can have gathered so many men of outstanding intellect, who have devoted so much time and wisdom to the study of Islam and the life of the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him….I will begin by making a request: One hundred and seventy two eminent scholars from forty-eight countries have gathered in Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar and Karachi to present the results of their research and reflection on various aspects of the life of the Holy Prophet. From all these exchanges, from all the private debates which have preceded and succeeded the presentation of each paper, will have come an immense range of new thoughts, new ideas and new understanding of the Prophet’s life. I sincerely request that you have available to all Muslims a complete printed record of these papers and the subsequent debates.”
Responsibilities of rich Muslim countries
“The poorer countries of Islam have ahead of them years of increasingly hard work if they wish to progress materially to acceptable standards of every day life. The richer countries, especially those that have new means, will rapidly find that this wealth, blessing that it is, will impose upon them heavy new responsibilities. They will have to administrate this wealth wisely, in the best interest of their citizens, but also keeping in mind that they have a heavy responsibility to their less well endowed brother Muslim countries, and indeed to the human race at large. Thus it is my profound conviction that Islamic Society in the years ahead will find that our traditional concept of time, a limitless mirror in which to reflect on the eternal, will become a shrinking cage, an invisible trap from which fewer and fewer will escape.”
Holding firm the ship of life: Answers in the Qur’an and the Prophet
“I have observed in the Western world a deeply changing pattern of human relations. The anchors of moral behaviour appear to have dragged to such depths that they no longer hold firm the ship of life: what was once wrong is now simply unconventional, and for the sake of individual freedom must be tolerated. What is tolerated soon becomes accepted. Contrarily, what was once right is now viewed as outdated, old fashioned and is often the target of ridicule.”
“In the face of this changing world, which was once a universe to us and is now no more than an overcrowded island, confronted with a fundamental challenge to our understanding of time, surrounded by a foreign fleet of cultural and ideological ships which have broken loose, I ask, “Do we have a clear, firm and precise understanding of what Muslim Society is to be in times to come?” And if as I believe, the answer is uncertain, where else can we search then in the Holy Qur’an, and in the example of Allah’s last and final Prophet?
“There is no justification for delaying the search for the answer to this question by the Muslims of the world, because we have the knowledge that Islam is Allah’s final message, the Qur’an His final book and Muhammed His last Prophet. We are blessed that the answers drawn from these sources guarantee that neither now, nor at any time in the future will we be going astray. As the demands on his time increase, every Muslim will find it more and more difficult to seek for himself the answer to the fundamental question of how he should live his life for it to be truly Muslim. It is men such as you who will have to bring forth the answers, answers which will have to be practical and realistic in the world of today and tomorrow. Rather than let force of circumstance impose upon us through our default in not having suitably prepared ourselves for the future, ways of life which are not or should not be ours, we must ourselves design the path we should tread.”
Bearing fruits in the diverse Muslim world
“In seeking to define what our Islamic Society should be in times ahead, 50 and 100 and 200 years hence we should, I believe, be aware that the Muslims of this world cover such an amazing range of historical, ethnic and cultural backgrounds that a completely monolithic answer may not be found. I am convinced on the other hand, that we do want to avoid so much diversity that our Muslim countries are in conflict amongst themselves or that they are so divided that they are incapable successfully of facing common enemies, be they cultural, religious, national or otherwise. This is why I so applaud Pakistan for having organized the first Muslim Summit Conference, and now this Seerat Conference, for it is only through dialogue, personal contacts and continuous exchanges that the great diversity of cultures, knowledge, outlook and resources can be co-ordinated and brought to bear fruit for the Muslim world.”
Greatest opportunity for Muslim unity is now
“Let me return, now, to the question of what Muslim Society should seek to be in the years ahead. Islam, as even non-Muslims have observed, is a way of life. This means that every aspect of the individual’s daily existence is guided by Islam: his family relations, his business relations, his education, his health, the means and manner by which he gains his livelihood, his philanthropy, what he sees and hears around him, what he reads, the way he regulates his time, the buildings in which he lives, learns and earns.
“I cannot think of any time in Islamic history when Muslims have had a greater opportunity to unite, and to ensure that the society in which they live is that which they have defined and chosen for themselves.
“Not only are all forms of human communication easier than ever before in history, but rarely, if ever has the Muslim world had such means to ensure its future. Conferences such as this seeking inspiration from the life of the Holy Prophet could render no greater service to Islam than to assist in defining what steps can be taken, where, and how, to ensure that our people can live in the years ahead in greater peace, greater prosperity and in an Islamic Society which will not be overrun or simply taken by surprise, by forces, pressures or concepts which are totally alien and may damage us irretrievably.”
Searching for a solution through eminent men and women
“In our search for a solution, I am convinced that we must call upon our own men and women, who have achieved positions of eminence anywhere in the world, and persuade them to return, for us to benefit from their knowledge, their learning and their work. All too often in my journeys I have met or learnt of outstanding Muslim scholars, doctors, scientists, and architects who have remained abroad, or who, when they do come home, have failed to receive the support and encouragement necessary for them to bring to their nations’ benefit their Muslim outlook on key areas of modern progress.
“Any meaningful human endeavour, any original thinking, any authentic research, will require moral encouragement and material support. This we must provide, not only during the individual’s initial years of learning, but equally when he leaves the restricted life of his academic centre to enter into the wider world of national or international activity.”
The inspiring life of the Holy Prophet
“The Holy Prophet’s life gives us every fundamental guideline that we require to resolve the problem as successfully as our human minds and intellects can visualise. His example of integrity, loyalty, honesty, generosity both of means and of time, his solicitude for the poor, the weak and the sick, his steadfastness in friendship, his humility in success, his magnanimity in victory, his simplicity, his wisdom in conceiving new solutions for problems which could not be solved by traditional methods, without affecting the fundamental concepts of Islam, surely all these are foundations which, correctly understood and sincerely interpreted, must enable us to conceive what should be a truly modern and dynamic Islamic Society in the years ahead.”
Audio of the Aga Khan speech made at the Seerat Conference
Date posted: November 30, 2017.
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Note: This article also appears on http://www.barakah.com, a special Simerg project to celebrate 60 years or the Diamond Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan.
Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, waves goodbye at Montreal airport at the end of his recent visit to Canada. Photo: The Ismaili/Moez Visram.
By SHIRAZ PRADHAN
It is natural that as we reflect and interiorize the joys of sights and sensations of mulaqats with Mawlana Hazar Imam including the most recent ones in Toronto and Montreal, the post-mulaqat vacuum may create a sense of post-padhramni sadness or what we call blues. The chores and demands of daily life which are put in abeyance during the anticipatory period of the mulaqat, once again begins to claim our attention and the bliss of mulaqat may begin to fade from the minds of some. The “presence” that had given joy to the heart begins to fade. These are the precursors to the onset of a sense of sadness. Lose not hope. There is a remedy. Glittering gems are scattered around to light our path, away from the blues. Let me explain.
In his commentary on the Visionary Recitals of Avicenna [1, 2], the renowned Orientalist Henry Corbin has recognized an essential bridge that gives rise to religious or mystical/spiritual consciousness. Corbin call this the faculty of Active Imagination. What does this term “Active Imagination” mean? In ordinary language, Active Imagination is the sum total of our mental faculties with imagination as its chief driver that allows us to configure the existence of a spiritual universe as a concrete reality. Without it the existence of such universes becomes doubtful. Visionary Recitals of Avicenna are renowned for promoting the realm of this Active Imagination which allow the flowering of spiritual symbolism in the heart that prepares it for an adventure into the unknown.
Sufism recognizes two different conditions of consciousness on the mystical path: the first of these known as al-Hal is a state of consciousness which is transient or passing. It could be a state of sadness, ecstasy, happiness or any other state dictated by the mind. Pir Sadardin’s epic granth Buj Niranjan (Chapter 20, Verse 4) describes such a state when a soul, intoxicated in divine love, vacillates between state of happiness and sadness:
Kabuek hanse aur kabuek rove Kabuek lag piya gal sove……(4)
Sometimes she cries, at others she laughs
Sometimes she is as if in embrace of the beloved……(4)
The other condition known as al-Maqam is a permanent station achieved by the desire and effort of the seeker and grace from above. These stations (pl. maqaamat) are necessary stages of progress along the path to spiritual enlightenment. At a deeper level, Active Imagination is at work in the attainment of the various states and stations of the path. The aim of those who are on the esoteric path is not to get bogged down in the transient, passing states but to steadfastly continue on the path to the encounter with the Higher Reality.
With this background we turn our attention to the post padhramni sadness we referred to earlier and to its cure(s). One Ginan that help us in this regard is Aji Hete Sun Milore Mara Munivero.  The beauty of this Ginan is that it does not require a complex philosophical project or spiritual mumbo-jumbo to deliver a simple elixir for the heart. The messages it conveys are profound truths of spiritual search and the practical engagement of the Active Imagination. The verses of our interest are 4, 5 and 8.
The key points of verse 4 are that Lord’s name is pure and divine; that one needs to invoke Him by this “Name” with regularity; that His “presence” is mingled intimately with the heart just as fragrance is an intimate essence of the flower.
Aji Paak saajeb ji nun naam chee Tene jampi-e saas ussas Dur ma dekho dil maahe vase Jem chaampa phool mahe vaas……(4)
Divine is the “Name” of the Lord
Invoke this “Name” with regularity,
Do not see Him far, He is intimately mingled in your heart
Just as fragrance is intimate with the Flower……(4)
Verse 5 reinforces what has been stated in Verse 4 and exemplifies and demands the engagement of the Active Imagination in the practice of the invocation of the “Name.” It states that every atom of the body is imbued with the divine presence.
So, in essence the “presence” never left! It is always there. The last line of the verse capitulates one of the remedies to counter the sadness: Perform devotion with the understanding that He, the Lord is always seated in the heart.
Aji rome rome maaro Shaah vase, Ane antar nahi ek til Evun jaanni bhgaataai kij-e Shaah partake bethaa dil……(5)
The Lord is mingled with every atom of your body.
Do not harbor delusion that you are separate from him
Perform your devotion with the knowledge that
He is forever seated in your heart……(5)
Faith is the ultimate essence of Active Imagination. In verse 8 of Hetesun Milore Mara Munivero we see this at play:
Aji raini ajvari chaand sun, ane divas ajvaro sur Tem Ghat ajvaro Iman sun……(8)
This verse provides an added, joyful ingredient to the uplifting elixir provided by verses 4 and 5. It states that just as night is lighted by the moon and sun lights the day, so faith lights the heart. And such a heart is in continual bliss of rain of Nur (light).
What these verses of the Ginan indicate is that the “presence” of the Imam never left the heart. It is always there. A combination of faith and Active Imagination provides a continual reinforcement of the “presence.” But this requires the necessary action of continual remembrance with the understanding that He is ever present in the heart.
Date posted: November 29, 2017.
. Avicenna and the Visionary Recital, translated from the French by Willard R. Trask, Bollingen Series, LXVI, 1960. . All the World an Icon: Henry Corbin and the Angelic Function of Beings by Tom Cheetham, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, California, 2012. Available also as a Kindle book. .http://ginans.usask.ca/.
Shiraz Pradhan, in parallel with his work as an international engineering consultant, has contributed for several years to furthering religious education among the Ismaili community in the UK, Canada, USA and Japan. He is the author of several articles published on this website and was a regular contributor to UK’s flagship Ismaili magazine, Ilm. Currently he is concluding the script of a full-length play of the 10th Century trial of the Sufi Saint Mansur al-Hallaj in Baghdad based on historical facts.
Mubaraki to the Ontario jamat, mubaraki to the volunteers and mubaraki to the leadership; and Mawlana Hazar Imam “Amen” for your immense love, care and blessings, as well as for assuring us that you are always with us!
By ABDULMALIK J. MERCHANT
Qur’anic ayat inside front page of Mulaqat Canada 2017 information booklet.
I have arrived in Montreal! It’s Sunday evening. I can see the Palais des congrès de Montréal from the 10th floor of the apartment I have rented. The Palais des congrès, or the Convention Centre as it is also known, is in the north end of Old Montreal. This is a gigantic place and is capable of holding multiple events simultaneously. It is where the Ottawa jamat will be joining with the jamat of the Quebec and Maritime Provinces to undergo an experience of the kind the Ontario jamats have gone through in the last 72 hours or so. A total of approximately 12,000 murids, divided into 2 equal seatings, will be meeting with their beloved Imam on Tuesday, November 21st. The Quebec jamat is overwhelmingly of Afghan origin. I will be huddled with them and I am looking forward to that. I am confident their spirit, their kindness, their discipline and their voices of devotion will uplift me immensely.
My spirit is growing with each minute that passes by. Text messages and emails are coming from everywhere describing the joyful didars in Toronto. Murids of all ages are overwhelmed. A friend wrote to me: “It was very special; everyone is very happy and feeling blessed, it has been amazing; it has been amazing because of the superb organization and also the Jamat was very disciplined!”
Another family friend of Portuguese origin wrote to me and others: “You were in our thoughts and prayers. You were remembered individually and (we) submitted prayers for all deceased members, your families and relatives, the world Jamat as well as the entire humanity!”
There are other inspiring narratives that I keep on receiving, and they all share the same sentiments, including the great discipline of the jamat; the active participation in the intezari program because of the wonderful items that were selected for recitation and the high calibre of reciters. Their messages mention the intense interaction of the Jamat with the Imam as he walked around to shower his Noorani rain and blessings on the jamat.
The messages circulating the earth carry with them the blessings that Hazar Imam asked the jamats in Toronto to convey to their families (Amen, I respond most joyously and happily); his blessings on the volunteers for their superb work (they would get to their duty positions well before the halls opened, as early as 4:30 or 5 am); the blessings for the deceased souls of our family members; the Imam’s hopes for brotherhood and a spirit of unity around the world; his guidance to the youth on the importance of education, prayers for the Jamats facing unrest and for mushkil aasan; his advice to us asking us to adopt best practices in our lives; his desire to end poverty in the jamat. And of course there were instances of humour and laughter.
Table of contents in Mulaqat Canada 2017 information booklet produced by Ismaili institutions, one each for Montreal and Toronto mulaqats. Shown is the bilingual Montreal edition.
Taufiq Karmaili (right) with a team of local Ismaili singers performing at a devotional evening in Montreal. Photo: Copyright Muslim Harji.
Mulaqat Canada 2017 information booklet produced by Ismaili institutions, one each for Montreal and Toronto mulaqats.
In Ottawa, I witnessed how well coordinated the leadership and the volunteers are with their Quebec counterparts. I attended on Friday an overview of preparations that are underway in Montreal. I was stunned! Everything has been thought of! Now imagine, the Toronto mulaqat hosted more than twice as many! The preparations leading to the mulaqat have been intense in all ways one can imagine. The registration process that got underway as soon as the visit was announced on October 27, was efficient, as was the delivery of the entrance cards this week; devotional evenings with the singing of qasidas, ginans and songs have set the tone for one of a kind spiritual experience; waezes have illuminated us on matters concerning discipline and importance of didar. Nothing has been overlooked or left out including regular notifications through jamati announcements and special Al-Akhbar newsletters as well as updates on the downloadable iiCanada app – and all this in a matter of weeks. This is awesome, an unbelievable accomplishment, and I await my chance in about 40 hours! I will remember everyone just as I was remembered by others during their mulaqats in Toronto!
Earlier today, I trusted the snow ploughs and salt trucks to make my trip to Montrael a safe one after last night’s freezing rain. I may get lost entering through one of the many entry points at the Palais des congrès. I may be a few hundred meters from the main mulaqat meeting point. But I know the volunteers will be there to guide me and thousands like me to our intended destination. Therefore I will go worry free and stress free!
I have an abundance of faith in the Jamat, in the volunteers and in the leadership at all levels to make this holy encounter potentially the most memorable one for me in my life. I say potentially because they have done their work, the remaining preparations are on my – and our – part. My preparations with prayers, supplications and a few hundred salwaats in the time that is remaining will assist me for that joyful experience that everyone in Toronto had in the holy presence of Mawlana Hazar Imam, inshallah.
We congratulate the Ontario Jamat, and ask for your prayers that the 12,000 strong souls that will be gathered in Montreal will have as beautiful a didar as you experienced. MUBARAKI. And thank you for uplifting and inspiring us through everything you have done.
Having photographed His Highness the Aga Khan several times over the past decades, the Ismaili spiritual leader always struck me as an affable gentleman with his charismatically warm demeanour. This year alone, I attended two of his events. The award ceremony this past week, on November 15, at the beautiful Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat on Sussex Drive in Ottawa was distinctively different…CLICK TO SEE PHOTOS BY JEAN-MARC CARISSE
Please click on image to read Jean-Marc Carisses’s exclusive piece for Barakah.