Aga Khan Park Ismaili Flag Birds

Video: The Beautiful Sounds of Birds at the Aga Khan Park and a Quick 360° Tour of Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Jamatkhana in Toronto

No creature is there crawling on the earth, no bird flying with its wings, but they are nations like unto yourselves. We have neglected nothing in the Book; then to their Lord they shall be mustered. — Holy Quran, 6:38 (Translation by A.J. Arberry)

The birds, you will recall [in Attar’s great poem, the Conference of the Birds] in huge quantities went in search of the Simurgh, the ideal and perfect king. After many tribulations, thirty of them do reach the end of the journey and come to the gate of the Supreme Majesty. The Chamberlain tests them and then opens the door and they sit on the masnad, the seat of the Majesty and Glory — His Highness the Aga Khan, Lahore, Pakistan October 23, 1980 (read speech)

The sounds of birds chirping at Aga Khan Park thrills and brings joy to Malik Merchant, and he takes the following short video which also takes you around the front section of the Aga Khan Park with views of the Ismaili Jamatkhana and the Aga Khan Museum. After watching the video presentation, please visit Simergphotos for great photo essays.

Note: See correction notes at bottom of this page.

A short presentation of the lovely sounds of birds at the Aga Khan Park with a quick 360° tour of the surrounding projects of His Highness the Aga Khan. Video: © Malik Merchant/Simergphotos.

Corrections:

(1) At the end of the video, I have referred to the Ismaili Jamatkhana dome as the dome of the Ismaili Centre. The Headquarters Ismaili Jamatkhana is an extension of the Ismaili Centre Toronto but also part of it. The Jamatkhana is a unique building in its own right. My commentary should have therefore referred to the dome as that of the Ismaili Jamatkhana, as it did in the earlier part of the video.

(2). The Green and Red flag used by Ismailis for decades was once upon a time referred to as “MY FLAG.” This is no longer in usage, officially at least. I have however mistakenly referred to it as the “Flag of the Ismaili Imamat” in the video report as well as in many other articles and photos on this and other sister websites. The flag without the monogram or crest (taj) of the Ismaili Imamat should simply be referred to as “The Ismaili Flag” as mentioned in the Ismaili Constitution. The flag inscribed with the monogram is only used during Mawlana Hazar Imam’s visits, at official signing agreements where he is present, on his planes, and at the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat Building in Ottawa. The Ismaili Flag on Wynford Drive does not include the crest but is replaced with a flag bearing the crest whenever Mawlana Hazar Imam visits the site; it is then referred to as the Ismaili Imamat Flag.

Date posted: March 31, 2021.

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We welcome feedback from our readers. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or click Leave a comment. Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

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.

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, Made Navroz March 21, 2021, the Most Joyous Navroz in My Life, and I Will Tell You Why

By MALIK MERCHANT
Publisher/Editor  SimergphotosBarakah and Simerg

Along with photos captured on Navroz, March 21, 2021, the founding editor and publisher of this website and two sister websites simergphotos and barakah, shares his feelings about the second consecutive Navroz celebrated in isolation, and provides his perspective and feelings on why he felt the 2021 Navroz became the most joyous Navroz in his life. Please click MORE or on photo below for his reflective piece and beautiful photos published in Simergphotos.

Birds fly past the Ismaili Jamatkhana on Navroz, March 21, 2021. Please click on photo for reflective article and more photos.

Please read ARTICLE.

Date posted: March 22, 2021.

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Aga Khan Museum, Ismaili Jamatkhana, spectacular spring beauty Simergphotos Malik Merchant

Photos: Spring Energy at Aga Khan Park, Ismaili Centre and Aga Khan Museum

Please click HERE or on image below for spectacular photos of the sky and the Aga Khan Park grounds as captured by Malik Merchant during his recent walk through his favourite space in Toronto

Aga Khan Park sunset sky Simerg Malik Merchant
All ablaze as the sinking sun lights up the horizon and the sky west of Aga Khan Park and Ismaili Centre. Click on image for more photos. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Camera: Olympus E-M10, 14-42mm.

Date posted: March 15, 2021.

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Daytime Moon Photos at His Highness the Aga Khan’s Unique Projects in Toronto

Malik Merchant sights the daytime moon as he drives along the Don Valley Parkway, and immediately heads to the Aga Khan Park, the Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Museum to enjoy nature at its best. Please read article in Simergphotos.

Daytime Moon, Ismaili Centre, Aga Khan Park
Please click on image for story and photos.

Date posted: March 4, 2021.

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At Simerg, Barakah and Simergphotos: 1946 Aga Khan Diamond Jubilee Medal, 1957 Aga Khan Pemba Visit, Hazrat Ali, Aga Khan Park, Ismaili Authors and Mrs. Merchant

1946 His Highness the Aga Khan Diamond Jubilee

Photographs and story of a historical gold medal that was presented to a British Colonial Officer at the Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubilee in 1946 (READ ARTICLE).

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Ismaili Authors: Zeni Shariff

Little One, You Are the Universe by Ismaili author Zeni Shariff of Toronto Canada

Toronto based Ismaili artist and author introduces “Little One, You are the Universe,” the latest of her three books, by answering a series of short question (READ ARTICLE).

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1957 Pemba Visit by His Highness the Aga Khan

Kamruddin Rashid and Shah Abdulla, both originally from Pemba, share their rare photo collection of His Highness the Aga Khan’s 1957 historical visit to the towns of Chake Chake and Wete in the Island of Pemba (READ ARTICLE).

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Ginan for Hazrat Ali’s Birth Anniversary

The unforgettable (Late) Alwaez Shamshu Bandali Haji inspires us with selected Ginanic verses as we commemorate the birth anniversary of Hazrat Ali (a.s.), the 1st Shia Imam (READ ARTICLE).

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Calligraphy, Hazrat Ali Quotes and Imamat for Yawm-e Ali

Hazrat Ali Calligraphy by Karim Ismail

Karim Ismail of Toronto creates a beautiful calligraphy in commemoration of Hazrat Ali’s birth anniversary. The post includes inspiring quotes by Hazrat Ali and his direct descendant His Highness the Aga Khan, the 49th Hereditary Imam of Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims. There is also a calligraphy of the prayer of Nadi Ali (READ ARTICLE).

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Aga Khan Park on Valentine’s Day

Ismaili Jamatkhana Dome.

Close to his heart, the Aga Khan Park is where Malik Merchant heads to for a Valentine’s Day celebration (READ ARTICLE).

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Ismaili Authors: Shamas Nanji

Justice Bertha Wilson Pushes the Boundaries of Humanity" by Edmonton based Shamas Nanji

Edmonton based Ismaili author and philosopher answers a series of question about his book Justice Bertha Wilson Pushes the Boundaries of Humanity through which readers will learn about the Canadian past from outside the boxes of patriarchy and whiteness (READ ARTICLE).

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Passings: Mrs. Merchant

Mrs. Merchant

Creative writer Farah Tejani pens a poetic tribute to the iconic Ismaili religious education teacher and missionary Alwaeza Maleksultan Merchant who passed away recently at the age of 89 (READ ARTICLE).

Date posted: February 27, 2021.

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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.

Close to my Heart On a Perfect Valentine’s Day: The Aga Khan Park, the Ismaili Jamatkhana Dome and the Aga Khan Museum

By MALIK MERCHANT
Publisher/Editor SimergBarakah and Simergphotos

Aga Khan Museum
A view of the Aga Khan Museum’s main entrance bloc on February 14, 2021. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg.

I couldn’t have asked for a better and happier February 14, 2021. I woke up very early to complete an exclusive photo piece of Mawlana Hazar Imam His Highness the Aga Khan’s visit to Pemba on November 18, 1957. Looking out of the atrium windows across my living room facing North-West, I knew the sun was rising on the South-East side. It was -9°C and there was absolutely no wind. I had been cooped up inside for the past few days and wanted some fresh air. I brewed Colombian Supremo Coffee that I had purchased earlier during the week at St. Lawrence Market, filled a huge steel mug that keeps beverages boiling hot for about an hour, and headed to “What a Bagel” bakery on York Mills and Leslie, which was spewing out fresh hot bagels the minute I arrived there. “Give me a really hot one,” I said, and asked the ever-smiling server to make me a vegetarian sandwich. “Not toasted,” I reminded her, as many who come to the shop insist on having their order toasted, even if they are fresh from the oven.

I jumped into my car, turned it on with a low heat setting and enjoyed the bagel and coffee. What next? A visit to my Valentine, and I am sure that makes my readers curious. A meeting, maybe, at the Aga Khan Park?

Aga Khan Park Flags of Canada, ontario province, city of toronto and ismaili imamat simerg
So still was the wind at Aga Khan Park on February 14, 2021, that the flags of the Ismaili Imamat, the city of Toronto, the province of Ontario and Canada were unmoved! It was a beautiful day to savour at the Park in -5°C Celsius. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.
Ismaili Centre
Ismaili Centre main entrance with the Jamatkhana dome at left under blue skies on February 14, 2021. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

Who might that “lucky” Valentine be? In the absence of my lovely daughter who is several hundred kilometres away and my beloved mother who passed away only three weeks ago, I turned to my constant companions for several months — the Ismaili Jamatkhana dome, the Aga Khan Museum and the Aga Khan Park where I have experienced so much happiness and inspiration. I adore being there. Can one make non-human object(s) around you as your Valentine for February 14th? Not by the definition of Valentine’s, but I contrived one just for myself!

His Highness the Aga Khan. Photo: © John MacDonald, Ottawa
His Highness the Aga Khan. Photo: © John W. MacDonald, Ottawa.

I cannot thank anyone but Mawlana Hazar Imam for his vision in conceiving and building three extraordinary spaces for the enjoyment of people in Toronto and everyone around the world. I am one of the lucky ones, who gets to visit the grounds as and when I like. February 14, 2021 was a very special day. There was beautiful light snow on the ground, the sky was blue and sunny, it wasn’t cold and the flags stood still in the absence of any windshield factor!

I FaceTimed my daughter Nurin to show her the beautiful environment that surrounded me. My face, she could see, had lit up.

Ismaili Jamatkhana Dome.
The dome of the Toronto Ismaili Headquarters Jamatkhana captured under sunny blue skies on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2021. The glass niche in the centre of the circular wall faces the direction of Kaba where all Muslims face for prayers. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.
Aga Khan Museum Valentine's Day
A man walks by one of the snow covered ponds at the Aga Khan Park, with the Aga Khan museum in full view under sunny blue skies. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.
Aga Khan Park Aga Khan Museum Ismaili Jamatkhana Valentine's Day 2021 Simerg
A family with children walk on the Aga Khan Park trail under sunny blue skies on February 14, 2021. The dome of the Ismaili Jamatkhana at left reflects a rare white cloud in the sky, and the Aga Khan Museum building can be seen further away. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg,
cn tower aga khan park simerg downtown toronto
A close up view of the CN Tower from the south east end of the Aga Khan Park on February 14, 2021. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.
Big Heech Aga Khan Museum
The Big Heech Sculpture located in front of the Aga Khan Museum’s main entrance bloc. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.
Aga Khan Museum and Ismaili Jamatkhana dome Simerg Valentine's Day Photo
A view of the Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Headquarters Jamatkhana dome from the grounds of Aga Khan Park. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.
Ismaili Jamatkhana dome Simerg
An amazing reflection of a rare cloud on the dome of the Ismaili Jamatkhana on an otherwise clear blue sky on February 14, 2021. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

After spending a good measure of my morning at the Aga Khan Park, I returned home to continue working on the Pemba photo essay for the remainder of the day, while many others would be enjoying their Valentine’s day with their partners in creative settings necessitated by Covid-19.

Date posted: February 14, 2021.

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This post is also repeated on Simerg’s sister photo website with larger photos and other minor changes. Please click On a Perfect Valentine’s Day, the Aga Khan Park, the Ismaili Jamatkhana Dome and the Aga Khan Museum Came Even Closer to My Heart

We welcome feedback from our readers. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or click Leave a comment. Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

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.

January 1, 2021: Simerg Wishes All its Readers Many Happy Returns for the New Year; and We Collectively Express Our Gratitude for Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Blessings

Festive Lights Ottawa Simerg Nurin Merchant
Ottawa downtown, December 31, 2020, lit during the festive holiday season. Greetings at top and bottom are mine and not part of original photo. Photo: Nurin Merchant / Simerg.

By NURIN MERCHANT

My dad arrived at the grounds of the Aga Khan Park on the evening of December 31, hoping to take photos of the setting sun for the last time in 2020. Unfortunately, he was a little bit late to see the setting sun as it had gone under cloud cover. Pointing his camera to the west towards and beyond the unique dome of the Toronto Headquarters Ismaili Jamatkhana situated on 49 Wynford Drive, he was able to capture photos of the clouds that were glowing white from the sunlight. The Jamatkhana lights at the base of the dome were already on, and the scene was quite beautiful. Snow that had covered the grounds on December 25, Christmas day, had melted with warmer temperatures and rain on days that followed. Small patches of snow were scattered throughout the Park.

Sun set New Years Eve Aga Khan Park and Ismaili centre
A couple chat on a bench across one of the 5 ponds at the Aga Khan Park on a cool December 31, 2020 evening, as the setting sun in the horizon, at right of picture, casts its lights on clouds covering it. The majestic dome of the Ismaili Jamatkhana is seen at left of picture, with its circular base lights turned on. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg.
Flags of Ismaili Imamat, Canada, Ontario and Toronto at Aga Khan Park on December 31, 2020.
The flags of Canada (nearest), the province of Ontario, the city of Toronto and the Ismaili Imamat flutter on a cool and windy December 31, 2020 evening at Aga Khan Park, while the setting sun in the horizon casts its light across clouds covering it. The Ismaili Centre building is seen at left of the flags. The dome of the Ismaili Jamatkhana is not in view in this photo, but see preceding photo. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg.

I was 440 kms away in Ottawa watching Ismaili TV. Then a few hours later, before midnight, I headed to downtown Ottawa to seek out that extra bit of new year feeling in the year of the Covid-19 pandemic. Auckland, Sydney, Bangkok had already celebrated the start of 2021 with incredible fireworks. Ottawa stopped the new year fireworks many years ago but there have been exceptions with shows at Parliament Hill on rare occasions. Ottawa is one of the world’s coldest capital cities, but it doesn’t feel that way this year, and there has also been very little snow. Toronto, I think, has seen more of it.

Some marvellous decorations on Wellington Street made me feel that 2021 was finally here. I am glad I went to downtown. So with these photos, some embellished with new year greetings, my dad and I along with members of our family convey our best wishes for the new year to all our readers and friends, with many happy returns.

December 31, 2020: Holiday season lights decorate Ottawa, corner of Elgin and Wellington Streets. Festive artwork at top of photo are mine. Photo: Nurin Merchant / Simerg

We remain humble and grateful to Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, for his constant care and guidance, and for showering all his spiritual children around the world with his most affectionate loving blessings for good health and happiness, spiritual progress, worldly success, strength of faith and unity, as well as best loving blessings for mushkil-asan. He has also said to us that we are all in his heart, in his thought and in his prayers.

Aga Khan Museum Sunrise January 1 2021
Sunrise Aga Khan Museum January 1, 2021, camera facing SE. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg.

Date posted: January 1, 2021.

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Nurin Merchant with her bunny, Pistachio.

Dr. Nurin Merchant received her veterinary medicine degree with distinction from the Ontario Veterinary College (University of Guelph) in 2019, and now works as a veterinarian in the Ottawa region. Born and raised in Ottawa, Nurin completed her international baccalaureate (IB) program at Colonel By Secondary School before proceeding to the University of Guelph for an undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences which she passed with Honours. She then pursued veterinary medicine in the same school. Nurin enjoys hiking, loves nature and, of course, animals. She is also an artist. She paints, sculpts as well as designs and makes greeting cards during her spare time. She has two lovely bunnies named Pistachio and Canela, which she acquired from animal care and rescue facilities a few years after the death of her first rabbit, Wobbles. She assists her dad Malik with the publication of this website and two other blogs Simergphotos and Barakah.

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At Aga Khan Museum, young and old alike share messages of hope for 2021 and beyond: No deadly virus, cleaner water, happiness and freedom for all, unity, no wars, vaccine for Covid-19, and more

MALIK MERCHANT
Publisher/Editor  SimergphotosBarakah and Simerg

Please click on images for enlargement

Messages of Hope at Aga Khan Museum Wall Simerg
Aga Khan Museum portraits of resilience, togetherness and hope: Photo: Malik Merchant /Simergphotos. Please click on image for enlargement.

Before its latest shutdown due to provincial regulations, Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum gave visitors an interesting opportunity to pen their heartfelt wishes on one of several beautiful pre-designed tiles available at the museum bookstore, and post them onto a large panel prominently placed by the beautiful courtyard. The theme of the project was “Blossom Together Community Tile Wall.”

Community wall messages of hope Aga Khan Museum Simerg Malik Merchant
Section of panel (see inset, bottom right) highlighting purpose of the community wall. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simergphotos.

The cards contained the following themes that visitors could write about: “I hope the future will be …”; “I will make the world better by …”; “I hope ….“; and “My hope for the world is …” Here is a selection of images that I was able to capture. As I glanced at the tiles, I was encouraged by the wishes of hope that I read, several of which related to the current pandemic. It is with these feelings of the young and old alike who expressed themselves on the museum wall that we enter 2021, with the hope that new Covid-19 vaccines which have been developed will become game changers in bringing the pandemic under control.

Messages of Hope Aga Khan Museum
Aga Khan Museum portraits of resilience, togetherness and hope: Photo: Malik Merchant /Simergphotos. Please click on image for enlargement.

We wish all our readers a happy new year.

Date posted: January 1, 2021.
Last updated: January 2. 2021 (minor centre image change, thumbnail inset added)

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This post has been adapted from the original version first published on December 31, 2020 at Simergphotos.

We welcome feedback from our readers. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or click Leave a comment. Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

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Simerg – 2020 in Pictures and Words: Blessings from His Highness the Aga Khan; Photos from Private Collections; and Tributes to Deceased

Prepared by MALIK MERCHANT
(Publisher-Editor SimergBarakah, and Simergphotos)

His Highness the Aga Khan, Mawlana Hazar Imam, Talikas 2020, Simerg and Barakh
Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, pictured at the Diamond Jubilee Darbar in Kenya. Photo: The Ismaili

TALIKAS AND BLESSINGS FROM MAWLANA HAZAR IMAM

March 2020

Please click: Mawlana Hazar Imam sends Talika on the occasion of Navroz with special blessings for mushkil asan, and prayers for the Jamat’s health and well-being

Please click: Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, showers his paternal and maternal blessings on his spiritual children around the world in light of the present crisis 

April 2020

Please click: Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, sends message to his spiritual children around the world on Covid-19, with blessings for their protection from difficulty; multiple translations including Farsi, Dari, Arabic, Urdu, Gujarati and Russian

May 2020

Please click: Mawlana Hazar Imam’s loving and inspiring Talika on the occasion of Eid ul-Fitr shows his concern for his spiritual children in all facets of their lives 

July 2020

Please click: Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, sends Talika Mubarak to Ismailis around the world on the occasion of his 63rd Imamat Day

November 2020

Please click: Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, in his message on November 2, 2020, tells his spiritual children “there is no room for complacency” over the risks posed by the coronavirus “for sometime to come” and send his blessings for mushkil-asan

December 2020

Please click: In Talika Mubarak on the occasion of his 84th birthday, Mawlana Hazar Imam asks us to draw comfort from the practice of our faith, appreciates the excellent work of volunteers, and conveys his paternal maternal blessings to the world wide Jamat

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PASSINGS

The following tributes/obituaries appeared in Simerg in 2020. Some of the deceased may have died before 2020.

Passings Simerg 2020 Year in Review
Top row (left to right): Mahebub Rupani, Nazeer Ladhani, Amirali Gillani, Salima Arthurs, Sultan Methanwalla, Goulzare Foui, Amirali Nagji; bottom row (left to right): Alnoor Ramji, Shamshu Jamal, Zubeda Jamal, Sultanali Mohamed, Razia Jamal, James Wolfensohn and Madatali Jamal. Image collage: Malik Merchant / Simerg.

Please click: Mahebub Mohamed Juma Rupani

Please click: Nazeer Ladhani

Please click: Shamshu Jamal

Please click: Missionary Amirali Gillani

Please click: Alnoor Ramji, Goulzare Foui, Amirali S. Nagji, Sultan Piroj Maknojiya Methanwala, Salima Wanda Arthurs

Please click: Madatali Merali Jamal, Razia Jamal, Zubeda Ebrahim Jamal

Please click: James D. Wolfensohn

Please click: Alwaez Sultanali Mohamed

Please also click: Benjamin Mkapa (d. July 2020. As Tanzania’s President from 1995-2005, the late Benjamin Mkapa strongly supported the work of the Ismaili Imamat in his country as well as abroad. The support that he gave is clearly illustrated in a special piece about him in Barakah, a blog dedicated to Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan)

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HISTORICAL PHOTOS OF MAWLANA HAZAR IMAM AND HIS FAMILY, IMAMAT PROJECTS AND OTHER EVENTS

2020 Year Simerg photos Aga Khan and Projects
Please click on image for 2020 stories and accompanying photos

Please click: Top photo selections from our 2020 stories: Mawlana Hazar Imam and his family, Covid-19 impact, Aga Khan projects, the four seasons, and other events

Date posted: December 27, 2020.
Last updated: December 28, 2020.

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Rays of Hope: Greetings from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Blessings from the Aga Khan, the Covid-19 Vaccine and the Inspiring Crescent Moon

By MALIK MERCHANT
(Publisher-Editor SimergBarakah, and Simergphotos)

Prime Minister’s Greetings

I am among the millions of Canadian who have received “Season’s Greetings” from the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, and his wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau. Their message in a card filled with family photos reads: “Let’s cherish the bonds of love, family and friendship, near or far. We are one big Canadian family. We will have each other’s backs and hearts in the moments when it’s needed the most. We will pull through together!”

Click on photos for enlargements

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with members of his family. Credit: Greeting card
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with members of his family. Credit: Greeting card issued by Justin Trudeau; collage prepared by Simerg / Malik Merchant.

I thank the Prime Minster for the greetings as well as for seeking to ease the burden for millions of Canadians who are living through one of the most challenging periods in the nation’s history. He has tried to work across party lines both federally and provincially as well as with mayors around the country to bring relief and hope during the Covid-19 pandemic. Through his spontaneous briefings, he has kept the country united. He has recognized the work of the front-end workers, whose spirit and dedication for our well-being during the pandemic will remain in our hearts forever.

The Aga Khan’s Messages

In addition to the Prime Minister’s message, within my own Ismaili community, His Highness the Aga Khan, or Mawlana Hazar Imam as we affectionately and respectfully address him, has sent us messages also known as Talikas, throughout the pandemic year. He has given is guidance, blessed us with his prayers and singled out volunteers for their extraordinary work, offering them his “best affectionate blessings.” In the latest message on the occasion of his 84th birthday which was celebrated on December 13, 2020 by millions of Ismailis, either remotely or in person in Jamatkhanas that were open, His Highness referred to the encouraging development of vaccines and asked his community members to “be guided by the advice and directives of their health authorities to benefit from the protection these vaccines will provide.” I am confident that the Ismaili community will seriously participate in the vaccination program. It was gratifying to watch the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, created by the husband-and-wife team of Dr. Ugur Sahin and Dr. Özlem Türeci, being administered to long-term care workers at the Ottawa Hospital’s civic campus on the morning of Tuesday, December 15, an occasion which prompted a visit from the Prime Minister.

Mawlana Hazar Imam Online?

In addition to the Talika’s that are now being read by Ismailis and non-Ismailis alike, my hope is that we will soon be able to hear and see the Imam speaking and addressing about the challenges that we have gone through, and on “building for the future from a position of strength and wisdom.” With Jamati visits now possibly a thing of the past for sometime to come, the digital media offers us the opportunity to see and hear the Imam at opportune times to make that connection even stronger. My own daughter, when she was a student some years ago, and other youth recognizing that Mawlana Hazar Imam cannot be travelling to every Jamat in the world on a regular basis, raised the possibility of the youth of the Jamat being particularly singled out and being spoken to by the Imam for his guidance on numerous aspects of their lives on an annual basis via an online platform. This interaction with their beloved Imam would help increase their awareness about their future responsibilities and paths to success, as well as their greater and more meaningful involvement with the Jamat and its institutions.

Story continues below

A view of the Ismaili Jamatkhana dome across the ponds of the Aga Khan Park, with the sun setting in the west end of Toronto. A jet plane leaves a white trail in the sky and, in this photo, cloud cover does not provide a clear view of the crescent moon. See next photo.Photo: Simerg / Malik Merchant.

A Walk for Inspiration and Hope

Buoyed by the message of hope in Mawlana Hazar Imam’s most recent Talika and the Prime Minister’s greeting, I decided to walk over to my favourite place in the world — none other than the site of the Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Park that has added value to my life over the past several months of the pandemic. The grounds were empty of people. There was a dusting of snow on the ground, while some parts of the USA had already seen several inches of snow. Armed with a compass, I knew the 3 day old new moon, still in its beautiful crescent state, was exactly above me but cloud cover prevented me from seeing it clearly. Patience is a good virtue to have, and we have all built that over the pandemic months.

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Ismaili Centre Jamatkhana Dome Simerg
The crescent moon emerges from the clouds over the dome of the Toronto Headquarters Ismaili Jamatkhana located at 49 Wynford Drive. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg.

The Crescent Moon and Covid-19 Impacts

After about 30 minutes, as the clouds drifted away, the crescent moon came to my full view. Being in the earlier stages of development, the crescent moon reminded me of the blessed night of Chandraat (new moon night) that fell on Monday, December 14th, and which Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, the 48th Imam, had told us would bring us spiritual peace and happiness. Some prayers on the blessed night of Chandraat are also dedicated to the souls of the deceased. That reminded me of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Talika of December 11 for the occasion of his birthday in which he gave his best loving blessings for the souls of all his ruhani (deceased) spiritual children, and his prayers for the eternal peace and rest of their souls. My thoughts turned to the thousands of souls who have departed this world during the pandemic, most often without the presence of their families around them or not having ceremonies that they would normally have had.

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Scotiabnak Wynford Drive and Aga Khan Museum Simerg
Scotia Bank building, at left of Aga Khan Museum, with Aga Khan Park ponds at foreground. Photo: Simerg / Malik Merchant.

Then, as I walked away from the Ismaili Centre towards the Aga Khan Museum, the Scotia Bank building with its red logo at the top came to my view. It raised my consciousness of the financial impact Covid-19 has had on the livelihood of millions of individuals and their families, as well as businesses.

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Aga Khan Museum, the Park, Ismaili Centre, Flags and the crescent moon, Simerg
The Aga Khan Museum (left), the Ismaili Centre Jamatkhana dome, the crescent moon over highrises, and the flags of Canada, Ontario, Toronto and the Ismaili Imamat. Photo: Simerg / Malik Merchant.

As I began my homeward walk, I turned around and in a single shot captured the glory of nature, the iconic spaces that the Aga Khan has built in a country that values and respects diversity and pluralism, and the flags of Canada, the Province of Ontario, and the City of Toronto flying in unison, alongside the flag of the Ismaili Imamat.

And Greetings from Simerg

Big Heech, Ismaili Centre, Aga Khan Park, Jamatkhana dome, Simerg Malik Merchant
The Big Heech sculpture outside the Aga Khan Museum and the Toronto Headquarters Jamatkhana dome on the night of December 18, 2020. Photo: Simerg / Malik Merchant.

Thus with this small collection of photographs and messages of hope from the Aga Khan and the Prime Minister, the ingenuity of the human mind in developing a vaccine in record time, the dedication of front-line workers in alleviating the sufferings of millions upon millions of people, I send my SEASONS GREETINGS filled with hope to all Canadians as well as friends subscribers and supporters of Simerg and its sister websites Barakah and Simergphotos. My family joins me in wishing everyone happiness.

Date posted: December 18, 2020.
Last updated: December 19, 2020 (new photo added).

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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.

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Malik Merchant of Simerg Barakah and Simergphotos
Simerg’s Malik at Aga Khan Museum courtyard.

Malik Merchant is the founding publisher/editor of this website, Simerg (2009), as well as two other blogs Simergphotos (2012) and Barakah (2017). Formerly an IT consultant, he now dedicates his time to family projects and his 3 websites. He is the eldest son of Alwaez Jehangir Merchant (1928-2018) and Alwaeza Maleksultan Merchant who both served Ismaili Jamati institutions for several decades in Mozambique, Tanzania, Pakistan, the UK and Canada in both professional and honorary capacities as teachers and missionaries. Malik’s daughter, Dr. Nurin Merchant, assists him as an honorary editor of the three websites. She received her veterinary medicine degree with distinction from the Ontario Veterinary College (2019, University of Guelph) and now works as a veterinarian.