Don Mills Jamatkhana in Thorncliffe Park, Simerg via Urban Toronto via ImaraImara

Latest News: Major Proposal for Redevelopment of Don Mills Ismaili Jamatkhana in Thorncliffe Park

“Toronto’s Thorncliffe Park neighbourhood has long been a welcoming starting point for immigrants to Canada. Now, IMARA National, on behalf of the city’s Ismaili community, is proposing to replace their existing facilities on Overlea Boulevard with an architecturally adventurous redevelopment that better suits the growing community’s needs” — Anthony Teles writing for Urban Toronto, February 2, 2023.

Introduced by MALIK MERCHANT

In a post dated January 21, 2023, Simerg reported about a new Ismaili Cultural Centre housing and Jamatkhana that is being proposed in Port Moody, British Columbia. In the introductory piece we also provided a link to an excellent piece on the website of Anthem Properties containing renditions of the building and other pertinent details.

Now, two weeks after the Port Moody article and as Toronto along with the rest of Ontario is gripped with some of the coldest temperatures recorded, we are pleased to provide a link to a report by Anthony Teles in Urban Toronto under the heading Ismaili Community Centre and Jamatkhana Proposed for Redevelopment in Thorncliffe Park (please click on the link to read Anthony’s report that includes more renditions of the Jamatkhana building as well as other important details.)

Ismaili Cultural Centre Thorncliffe Jamatkhana
Looking southeast from William Morgan Drive to the Don Mills, Ismaili Community Centre and Jamatkhana, as designed by architects-Alliance for IMARA National, an Ismaili institution that oversees the development of Ismaili Jamatkhanas in Canada. Click on photo for full report in Urban Toronto

In its coverage, Urban Toronto notes that the site is where the Don Mills Jamatkhana is currently located in a one-storey building, in a vibrant multi-cultural neighbourhood, Thorncliffe Park, north of the Don Valley Parkway and south of Eglinton Avenue. The author of this post, Malik, is familiar with the location. It is a 7-10 minute drive to the Ontario Science on Don Mills Road and then another 3-5 drive to the Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Museum on Wynford Drive, the block now ceremoniously called the Aga Khan Boulevard. These locations will be served by a new Light Rail Transit (LRT) railway line later this year. The LRT station near the Museum is aptly named Aga Khan Park & Museum (see photograph, below.)

Aga Khan Park and Museum LRT STATION, SIMERG NEWS
The new Aga Khan Park & Museum station on Toronto’s Light Rail Transit (LRT) on Eglington Line, as pictured during its contruction phase; September 2020. Photograph: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

The Don Mills and the York Mills areas of Toronto have the highest concentration of Ismailis in Canada. Within a radius of 5-10 kms from the Ismaili Centre on 49 Wynford Drive or Aga Khan Boulevard, there are currently three Jamatkhanas — the Don Mills, which would be replaced with the new project, East York and Willowdale. Of course there are several other Jamatkhanas in the Greater Toronto region including Richmond Hill in the north, Scarborough in the east and Etobicoke, Brampton and Mississauga in the west. There is also a Jamatkhana catering to the Ismaili community in the downtown area.

Date posted: February 4, 2023.
Last updated: February 6, 2023 (formatting and typos.)

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Related: Please click Anthem Properties: Rental housing tower with Jamatkhana cultural hub proposed for Port Moody

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 SimergphotosThe editor may be reached via email at mmerchant@simerg.com.

Ismaili Cultural Centre, Port Moddy, News, Simerg

New Ismaili Cultural Centre Being Proposed for Port Moody, British Columbia – Details and Excellent Artistic Renderings

Introduced by MALIK MERCHANT

According to Wikipedia, “Port Moody is a city in British Columbia, Canada, and a member municipality of the Metro Vancouver Regional District. It envelops the east end of Burrard Inlet and is the smallest of the Tri-Cities, bordered by Coquitlam on the east and south and by Burnaby on the west.”

A new Ismaili Cultural Centre housing a Jamatkhana is being proposed in the city to replace the one further to the west that had to close down due to structural problems. Veteran journalist Mario Bartel presents a report dated January 18, 2023 in TRICITY News about the proposed cultural centre that would also include a 12-sorey residential rental tower. Please read Bartel’s report by clicking HERE or on image below.

Also, click on Anthem Properties: Rental housing tower with Jamatkhana cultural hub proposed for Port Moody for an excellent presentation of the proposed Ismaili Cultural Centre, including maps, street views and a number of artistic renderings.

Ismaili Cultural Centre, Port Moddy, News, Simerg
Artistic rendering of the proposed Ismaili Cultural Centre to be located at 3180 St. Johns Street, Port Moody, British Columbia, Canada. Photograph: IBI Group/Anthem Properties.

Date posted: January 21, 2023.

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Related: Please click Anthem Properties: Rental housing tower with Jamatkhana cultural hub proposed for Port Moody

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 SimergphotosThe editor may be reached via email at mmerchant@simerg.com.

ozina Ramji's book “Cooking with Mom.” Published by Litfire, September 2018, 122 pp. Available as paperback and hardcover.

Simerg’s Series on Books by Ismaili Authors: “Cooking with Mom,” by Rozina Ramji of Edmonton Honours Her Mom’s Mouth Watering Recipes

By MALIK MERCHANT

Simerg’s series entitled “Books by Ismaili Authors” continues with Rozina Ramji’s “Cooking with Mom.” We follow the same Q/A format as our earlier presentations of books written by Shamim Murji (Brampton), Mahmoud Hirji (Toronto), Zul Premji (Calgary), Azim Jiwani (Vancouver), Naznin Rahemtulla Hébert (Montreal), Shairoz Lakhani (London, UK), Shelina Shariff Zia (New York), Ali Lakhani (Vancouver), Nizar Sultan (Toronto), Nargis Fazal (Vancouver), Nazlin Rahemtulla (Vancouver), Azmina Suleman (Calgary), Alnasir Rajan (Mississauga), Shafeen Ali (USA), Mansoor Ladha (Calgary), Zeni Shariff (Toronto) and Shamas Nanji (Edmonton). We encourage Ismaili authors from around the world to participate in this series, regardless of when their books were published. See details of the series HERE and submit your responses accordingly to Simerg’s editor, Malik, at mmerchant@simerg.com.

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Simerg’s Interview with Rozina Ramji

“Be it briyani, masala fish, kuku paka (from main dishes), dal, moong curry, sonia (from basic recipes), or dhokra, fried masala cassava, chicken samosas (from snacks), you will now be able to make these from the step-by-step method given. Mom’s Caramel Pudding is delicious and worth attempting” — Excerpt from back cover, “Cooking with Mom”, by Rozina Ramji

Rozina Ramji's book “Cooking with Mom.” Published by Litfire, Books by Ismaili authors, simerg series

Simerg: What is behind the naming of the title of the book?

Rozina Ramji: To leave a legacy of my Mom’s cooking which the family has enjoyed for decades. Cooking has been a big part of our family culture and I have memories of the ladies (Grandmas, Aunts, and Mom) all cooking together, sharing techniques and conversing with each other. The cookbook was to cook with Mom and sharing time with her. I didn’t want to lose Mom’s recipes. The book is a great way to thank Mom and honour her and, thus, the title “Cooking with Mom.”

Simerg: Why would you want me or my family members to read the book, and what will we all learn from it?

Rozina: You’ll learn about the key recipes from African/Indian blend as well as common foods that are usually served in most homes that come from East Africa. With the step-by-step method to the recipe and the photos, anyone wishing to cook will easily create it.

[The editor recommends that readers read Rozina Ramji’s beautiful and inspiring introduction to “Cooking with Mom” – see image, below, and click on it for enlargement]

Rozina Ramji's introduction to "Cooking with Mom." Photograph: Rozina Ramji, Edmonton. Books by Ismaili authors by Simerg.
Rozina Ramji’s introduction to “Cooking with Mom.” Photograph: Rozina Ramji, Edmonton. Please click on image for enlargement

Simerg: What inspired you to write Cooking with Mom?

Rozina: I remember my son and daughter asking me to make chicken samosas and shrimp curry that my Mom makes. I realized that it didn’t turn out like Mom’s. It’s at that point I decided I wanted to cook with Mom and learn about the ingredients, the steps to each recipe and any tips and tricks she could share.

In this way and with the backing of my children and other younger members of my family, I decided to write Cooking with Mom. It is fully illustrated, and I think even novices and those who find cooking somewhat daunting will be inspired to start cooking with the recipes I have provided in the book. I also invite expert cooks who specialize in other forms of cooking — Canadian, North American as well as ethnic — to explore and to try some of recipes that I have provided.

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Article continues below

Rozina Ramji's book “Cooking with Mom.” Published by Litfire, Books by Ismaili authors, simerg series
Cover page of Rozina Ramji’s book “Cooking with Mom.” Published by Litfire, September 2018, 122 pp. Available as paperback and hardcover.

Praise for Cooking with Mom

“The Cooking with Mom cookbook is one of the most interesting in my home library! The recipes are easy to understand, and the pictures are very helpful; they depict not only the finished dishes but also key steps in the preparation process. Packed with 41 recipes, the book is divided into 7 categories covering the gamut of Indian cuisine: main dishes, curries, rice dishes, east Indian bread, snacks, sweet things and drinks. I love the chicken biryani and my husband is wild about this particular recipe. My husband is not the most proficient person in the kitchen, but he did a credible job with the kheer (rice pudding.) We both enjoy Indian food and can’t wait to try out more of the recipes. Whether you’re an accomplished meal maker or a just a novice starting out in Indian cuisine, you won’t go wrong with this book!” — Joan Sinclair

Cooking with Mom by Rozina Ramji, cookbook, African Indian and fusion, Simerg Ismaili authors series
A 2-page spread from Rozina Ramji’s “Cooking with Mum” illustrating how to make the famous East African kachori (potato balls). Photograph: Rozina Ramji, Edmonton.

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Simerg: How can I purchase the book and what are its available formats?

Rozina: First of all, Cooking with Mom can be ordered directly from the publisher Litfire. You can also acquire it from major on-line stores such as Amazon, Indigo and Barnes and Nobles, among many other booksellers. The book is available both in paperback and hardcover.

Simerg: How did you find a publisher for the book?

Rozina: I was making inquiries about publishing and happened to talk to someone from LitFire publishing. They were very encouraging and told me about the support they provide. I felt comfortable.

Simerg: Did you hire an editor, an illustrator or did you do all the work by yourself?

Rozina: While I was cooking with my Mom, I took photos of everything and wrote down every recipe. Then the family tried to create food while following the recipe and asked questions. In this way, I tried my best to perfect the steps. My sister Bilkis along with my husband Alnasir helped with the book’s editing.

Simerg: Which was your first book and how many have you written?

Rozina: Cooking with Mom is my first book. I would love to write a sequel with other delicious recipes not included in the first.

Simerg: How long did it take you to write Cooking with Mom from start to finish and to begin marketing it?

Rozina: It took a year. I had been wanting to write a cookbook with Mom for several years but this dream only materialized in 2018.

Simerg: Tell us something more about your book.

Rozina: The cookbook has mouthwatering recipes that are not difficult to make like biryani, masala fish, dal, vegetable curries and then snacks like chicken samosas, dhokras, kebabs, sweet thaplas etc. Some drinks that are popular like kadho, lassi, sherbets and masala chai are also included. This is a book everyone will be able to follow, and those who do not cook will say that they now love to cook.

Date posted: November 11, 2022.

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Get your own copy of Rozina Ramji’s Cooking with Mom. Order it from the publisher Litfire or other major on-line stores such as Amazon, Indigo and Barnes and Nobles. We welcome feedback from our readers. Please click LEAVE A COMMENT. Your letter may be edited for length and brevity and is subject to moderation.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rozina Ramji Cooking with Mon, books by Ismaili authors, special series Simerg
Rozina Ramji (left), and sister Bilkis Jiwa with their mom Gulshan Jiwa (centre).

Born and raised in Uganda, Rozina Ramji was pursuing her higher secondary education in the UK, when her parents, Pyarali and Gulshan Jiwa, were forced to flee Uganda following Idi Amin’s 1972 decree expelling South Asians from the country. Rozina’s parents settled in Edmonton and went on to open grocery stores that, among other items, sold ethnic groceries from around the world. Rozina joined her parents in Edmonton in 1973 and pursued a degree majoring in Education at the University of Alberta. She then commenced a long career in teaching with the Edmonton Public School Board, where she taught general subjects as well as math/science to students from SK to Grade 12. At the same time, she became engaged within her Ismaili Muslim community by volunteering in Ismaili institutions in numerous capacities, including giving Baitul Ilm (BUI) classes to Ismaili children and youth. Also, Rozina and her husband Alnasir were appointed to officiate as Kamadiani and Kamadia of the Edmonton Ismaili Headquarters Jamatkhana. She has two children; her son is a doctor while her daughter has completed her master’s program in Dispute Resolution. Indeed, it was at her children’s insistence that Rozina decided to write “Cooking with Mom” and she remains grateful to them for their inspiration.

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Calling all Ismaili Authors

We encourage Ismaili writers to introduce their books in a similar format as has been done in the post above. Please also see the series launch article and submit your responses to Malik at mmerchant@simerg.com. All submissions will be acknowledged. If a writer has published multiple books, each book will be highlighted in a separate article, and not combined with other books into one post. All writers should include a brief profile with a portrait photo.

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Links to the Ismaili Authors’ Series (in chronological sequence, oldest article first):

  1. “Justice Bertha Wilson Pushes the Boundaries of Humanity” by Shamas Nanji (series start, February 10, 2021)
  2. “Little One, You Are The Universe” by Zeni Shariff (February 25, 2021)
  3. “Memoirs of a Muhindi” by Mansoor Ladha (March 6, 2021, and see also 15, below, by the same author)
  4. “To Be One With God: Seven Journeys to the Meaning of Life” by Shafeen Ali (March 25, 2021)
  5. “Invisible Birthmarks” by Alnasir Rajan (April 13, 2021)
  6. “IN THE NAME OF JUSTICE – Portrait of a ‘Cowboy’ Judge” by Azmina Suleman (April 28, 2021)
  7. “RSVP Rice and Stew Very Plenty” by Nazlin Rahemtulla (May 28, 2021)
  8. “Coughdrops” by Nargis Fazal (June 12, 2021)
  9. “The Roots and the Trees” by Nizar Sultan (June 25, 2021)
  10. “Faith and Ethics: The Vision of the Ismaili Imamat” by M. Ali Lakhani (July 4, 2021)
  11. “Nairobi Days by Shelina_Shariff Zia (July 21, 2021)
  12. “Shine Brighter” by Shairoz Lakhani (December 8, 2021)
  13. “This is My Life” by Naznin Rahemtulla Hébert (February 26, 2022)
  14. “Humanizing Medicine – Making Health Tangible” by Dr. Azim Jiwani (March 9, 2022)
  15. “A Portrait in Pluralism: Aga Khan’s Shia Ismaili Muslims” by Mansoor Ladha (June 8, 2022, and see also 3, above, by the same author)
  16. “Malaria Memoirs: My Life Journey as a Public Health Doctor in Tanzania” by Dr Zul Premji (June 30, 2022)
  17. “Monkey Tales and Other Short Stories” by Mahmoud Hirji (September 10, 2022)
  18. “Bloom! A Story of Diversity and Understanding” by Shamim Murji (October 27, 2022)
  19. “Cooking with Mom” by Rozina Ramji (November 11, 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.

The editor may be reached via email at mmerchant@simerg.com.

Historical Valentine’s Cards from The Henry Ford

Introduced by MALIK MERCHANT

For Valentine’s day today, Monday February 14, Simerg’s sister website presents some extraordinary Valentine’s Day cards from the Digital Collections of The Henry Ford, dating back to the 1850’s. Please click Simerg Photos or on the image below.

In this referral post, our two images reflect our wish that world leaders will make every effort to seek out peace. The world is looking extremely dangerous at the moment with conflicts everywhere, that are multiplied even more with the challenges we have all faced over the last two years dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Leaders — please seek to bring conflicts to an end.

Please click on image for more photos.

Date posted: February 12, 2022.

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Before leaving this website please take a moment to visit 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. The editor of the 3 websites, Malik, may be reached at mmerchant@barakah.com.

New Ismaili Jamatkhana and Community Centre in Mumbai Nominated as Building of the Year in Religious Buildings Category of ArchDaily’s 2022 Awards

Compiled by MALIK MERCHANT
Publisher/Editor SimergSimergphotos and Barakah


UPDATE (February 19, 2022): With over 100,000 votes cast during the last three weeks, ArchDaily has announced the 2022 ArchDaily Building of the Year Awards. The new but yet to be opened Ismaili Jamatkhana and Community Centre in Mumbai was nominated for the award in the religious building category (see story below) but did not come out as the winner. Readers can meet the winners for all the categories by clicking on Winners.

Our attention has been drawn by a reader to ArchDaily’s 2022 building awards, in which a new yet to be opened Ismaili Jamatkhana and Community Centre in Mumbai has been nominated as one of the buildings for the award in the religious buildings category. The following piece is compiled from Archdaily, NUDES (the website of the Jamatkhana’s design company), and a recent Mumbai Diary column in the e-paper Mid-Day — Ed.

For the 13th consecutive year, ArchDaily, the most visited architecture website worldwide, is asking its readers with the responsibility of recognizing and rewarding the projects that are making an impact in the profession with ArchDaily’s 2022 Building of the Year Awards. The nomination phase began on January 25th, 2022 and ends on February 9th, 2022, following which five projects per category that also includes religious buildings will move into the finalists stage, starting February 9th and ending on February 17th. Thus readers will be filtering over 4,500 projects down to just 15 stand-outs.

One of the candidates nominated for the award in the religious buildings category is the Ismaili Jamatkhana & Community Centre located in the neighbourhood of Oshiwara in the western suburban region of Mumbai.

No firm date has yet been established for the Jamatkhana’s opening. The building was designed by city based architectural firm NUDES, whose principal Nuru Karim has worked on a host of institutional projects both in competition/ schematic design and design development stages.

A collection of some 20 photographs of the Jamatkhana and Community Centre taken by Nazim Lokhandwalla are posted on the ArchDaily website.

Ismaili Jamatkhana and Community Centre, Mumbai, 2022 Nomination for Archdaily award in religious buildings category
Ismaili Jamatkhana and Community Centre, Mumbai, India. Photo: Nazim Lokhandwalla/Via Archdaily. Please click on image for more photos on Archdaily.

Writing in the Mumbai Diary column of mid-day under the title All eyes on Oshiwara’s new architectural wonder, the diarist quotes Nuru Karim as saying, “The Jamatkhana and Community Centre design explores the relationship between light, Islamic geometrical patterns, and built form to create an experiential space”. Karim goes on to explain that Islamic geometrical patterns are analysed to develop arrays of multi-sided polygons, thereby creating “Mashrabiya,” that stems from “Ashrab,” meaning “to drink.” The diarist further notes that the term which was originally defined as a space to drink water, evolved later as a space to cool water stored in earthen pots.

We invite all our readers to visit the page highlighting nominations for religious buildings, learn more about the features of the buildings and cast their votes for the building that impresses them the most. The voting for the Ismaili Jamatkhana may be submitted HERE. Readers who wish to vote are required to create an Archdaily email account or sign in via their Google or Facebook account.

Date posted: February 4, 2022.
Last updated: February 19, 2022 (see announcement at top, re : Winners)

Featured photo at top of post: Ismaili Jamatkhana and Community Centre, Mumbai, India. Photo: Nazim Lokhandwalla/Via Archdaily. Please click HERE for more photos of the project on Archdaily.

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Before leaving this website please take a moment to visit 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.

Afghanistan: The Bacha Posh Tradition That Allows Girls to Access the Freedom of Boys

Insights from Around the World

At not quite 8 years old, Sanam is a bacha posh: a girl living as a boy. One day a few months ago, the girl with rosy cheeks and an impish smile had her dark hair cut short, donned boys’ clothes and took on a boy’s name, Omid. The move opened up a boy’s world: playing soccer and cricket with boys, wrestling with the neighborhood butcher’s son, working to help the family make ends meet — READ MORE OF THIS ARTICLE BY ASSOCIATED PRESS AT VOICE OF AMERICA

bacha posh Afghan Tradition Allows Girls to Access the Freedom of Boys
A photo of Najieh dressed as a boy at a young age lies in a grass, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021. Please click on image to read full article. Photo: Associated Press.

Date posted: January 16, 2022.

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Before leaving this website please take a moment to visit 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.

Recent Posts on Simerg’s Sister Websites: Prince Hussain Aga Khan, Princess Yasmin, Prince Sinan, Prince Sadruddin, and Latest Imamat News

Important Notice to Readers of Simerg, Simergphotos and Barakah

Effective January 13, 2022, no new posts will be published in Simerg and its two sister websites Barakah and Simergphotos until the first week in February. The editor is on the move, and hopes to resume publication on Friday, February 4, 2022. During this period, readers are invited to access hundreds of articles via the Table of Contents pages of Simerg, Barakah and Simergphotos. Thank you.

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We invite our reader’s to enjoy the following recent pieces on Simerg’s sister websites Barakah and Simergphotos. Please click on the hyperlink or corresponding image to read article.

1. 7 Seas: A Special Film Presentation by Prince Hussain Aga Khan

Please click on image for Prince Hussain

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2. Latest News on Mawlana Hazar Imam and Members of His Family

Please click on image for latest news on Mawlana Hazar Imam

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3. Princess Yasmin Aga Khan Turns 72 and Her Dedication to the Alzheimer’s Association for 40 Years

Please click on image for Princess Yasmin

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4. Prince Sinan Aga Khan is 5, and the Meaning of Sinan

Please click on image for Prince Sinan

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5. The Bellerive Room: Prince Sadruddin’s Ceramic Collection

Bellerive Room, Aga Khan Museum, Toronto. Photo: Malik Merchant Simerg Princess Sadruddin and Princess Catherine
Please click on image for Bellerive

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6. The Editor Bids Farewell to Ontario with Beautiful Photographs

Please click on image for farewell

Date posted: January 13, 2022.

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The Fragrance of Spring

By FARAH TEJANI

Open your doors and let the honeyed fragrance of Spring,
Enter your household while the seraphic birds sweetly sing,
All life is born again now that the gruelling winter is done,
Raise hands and praise Allah under the melting rays of the sun.

Navroz Mubarak, the New Year begins,
We welcome it with wonder and repent for our sins,
Three hundred million of us over three thousand years,
Jubilantly celebrate with sacred songs and with cheers.

A new chapter to read, a new seed to plant,
For abundance and prosperity a sacred prayer we chant.
On Navroz we strengthen bonds and our families unite,
Exchanging human values, our wishes with foresight.

Envisioning the New Year to bring with it Peace,
And for all calamities and ill health to immediately cease.
We dance and we sing sacred Ginans from our Pirs
Qasidas and Garbis unite and cohere.

In harmony with Nature we must strive to exist,
If not pandemics like COVID-19 will sadly persist,
But if we take it in stride as a hard lesson learned
We will appreciate the respect that Nature truly yearned.

We all share a common fate and must aim to erase,
All discrimination and hatred and truly embrace,
Love, tolerance and respect for all of mankind,
So that cultural diversity will not be undermined.

We pray for global peace and international cooperation
For we are all in the Ummah from nation to nation.
Let nothing divide us and bring us to fight,
Let us instead hold and value for tomorrow is in sight.

What was dead becomes alive, let the festivities begin,
Intricate henna designs are dyed on our skin,
We receive our roji and take our Navroz wishes,
For barakat and abundance and we enjoy festive dishes.

It is that time of year, tulips spring out from the soil
A hearty true effort from a burdensome winter’s toil,
Shadowed they waited for this day to emerge,
Colors in splendour they burst and they surge.

Spring blossoms are shedding their soft petals in few,
The buds are just opening thinly covered in dew,
Moist raindrops with sunlight the perfect combination,
To bring creation forth in a renewing sensation.

Take notice of Kudrat and all the miracles of Mawla,
His Bounty is Ever-Present, Al-Hamdu l’illah.
The Spring breeze whispers through the meadows and the trees,
And there is flitting and buzzing of butterflies and bees.

The animals all awaken from a dazed winter’s sleep,
The goats, the chickens and the sheep,
The horses, the donkeys, the rabbits, and the squirrels,
All the animals arise for the Navroz’ precious pearls.

So arise and awaken to the Navroz, our New Year,
And welcome all customs with good heart and good cheer,
United we stand and divided we fall,
The Ummah prevails and respectfully unites us all.

Date posted: March 18, 2021.

Copyright © Farah Tejani, Vancouver.

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Farah Tejani graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia in May of 1997 and earned top Honors for her Thesis on Short Fiction. She has published a collection of short stories “Make Your Own Chai, Mama’s Boy!” dealing with different dilemmas South Asians face. Farah also wrote and co-directed her stage play, “Safeway Samosas,” which won “The Best of Brave New Playwrights Award” in July 1995. Her short story , “Too Hot” won third place in the “Canada-Wide Best Short Fiction Award” and was read at The Vancouver Writers Festival. Currently, Farah is working on Childrens’ stories and a collection of poetry called, “Elastic Embrace” to be published in 2021.

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.

Please also read Farah’s previous contributions to Simerg and its sister website Barakah by clicking on the following links:

Mrs. Merchant;
The Light of Ali (in Barakah.com)
The Great Sacrifice
In Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Eyes (in Barakah.com);
Celebrating the Aga Khan Museum;
Mystic Moon; and
A Mother’s Plea, Forest Cries, and Heaven’s Curtain

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.

Aga Khan Museum

Wow! The Aga Khan Museum Reopens to the Public on Saturday, June 27, 2020

by MALIK MERCHANT

When I am in Toronto, I walk through the Aga Khan Park virtually every day. I take the east entrance, and first walk around to the Ismaili Centre, sit on a bench by tree number 49, and if it’s evening time I contemplate. Often, I read newspapers. The other day I read my month’s supply of the Toronto Star and the Sunday New York Times — 4 hours under glorious sunshine, but protected by the shade of trees.

Ismaili Centre Toronto Dome
Ismaili Centre, Jamatkhana dome. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg.

Then, as I cross a small pathway by the majestic dome of the Ismaili Jamatkhana, I see the Museum 200 metres away, where a lone guard stands by the main entrance. Is he bored? I wonder. Thousands have been, for many many weeks. The Museum’s on-line programming has kept us going. But we miss the inside — the actual exhibits, the shop, the samosas at the café, the Diwan restaurant, the courtyard with its many performances, the design, colours and architecture of the building, the Bellerive Room, and the tunnel entrance downstairs that we walk through when we are parked underground! Yes, we do miss so many things, inside and outside the museum building, beautifully thought out by His Highness the Aga Khan and his younger brother Prince Amyn. The children especially love water, and the 5 ponds are empty. The geese who used to fly into the ponds in glorious harmony at around 6:00 AM have to take their bathing somewhere else — it’s truly a joy to watch them bathing in an acrobatic manner! Absolutely magical! For the rest of us, who walk by the 5 ponds or sit on the benches, there is no running water to soothe our senses! But all this changes on Friday, June 26!

Aga Khan Museum and Aga Khan Park
Aga Khan Museum and Aga Khan Park. Photo: Aga Khan Museum.

Museum supporters have just received an email from the Aga Khan Museum’s Development Manager, Caroline Chan, inviting them to a special Friends and Patrons day on Friday, June 26, 2020, before it opens to the general public on Saturday June 27!

The supporters will be the first to see the Museum’s Sanctuary and Chrysalis exhibitions, which both explore the many dimensions of sanctuary, immigration, and migration. The guests have been invited to enjoy a complimentary beverage and cookies at the Courtyard Café and take in the summer blooms at the Aga Khan Park!

Aga Khan Museum, Sanctuary exhibition.
Sanctuary exhibition hall. Photo: Aga Khan Museum.

In line with provincial health directives, the visit will be a little different from what we have been accustomed to in the past. Special health and safety protocols have been put in place including a tool to conduct self-assessment for coronavirus, wearing of face masks, availability of hand sanitization stations and social distancing.

Carolin’es invitation ends with the slogan “Welcome back to where we all belong!”

In addition, the Aga Khan Museum’s CEO, Henry Kim, issued a statement on the reopening. Here are excerpts from his statement:

Dear friends, 

I would like to thank you for your patience and ongoing support during these challenging times. With restrictions on gatherings gradually easing, I am pleased to let you know that the Museum will reopen on June 27, 2020. As we rebuild our lives and livelihoods over the next few months, I do hope you can look to the Museum as a source of hope and inspiration. 

The safety of our visitors is our primary focus, and our intention is to make your return a safe and enjoyable experience. We have instituted a number of measures designed to protect you and our staff, so that during your visit, you can see beautiful art, be moved by learning, and enjoy live performances worry-free. 

As your hosts, we have a duty to ensure your health and safety — it is our highest priority……

The world has changed, and so have we. Reflecting what we have gone through together over the last few months, we have redrawn our programs for the remainder of the year and created Rebuild 2020, our commitment to reconnect and reinvigorate communities through the arts. Please do visit our website for more information on the many programs we have created to reignite your curiosity and spark your imagination. 

Whether you explore online or plan to visit in-person, you are welcome at the Aga Khan Museum. We cannot wait for your return.  

With gratitude, 

Henry S. Kim
Director and CEO, 
Aga Khan Museum 

Mr. Kim, I can assure you we have missed you more than you have missed us! It is us who can’t wait to get into the beautiful and inspiring space, which His Highness the Aga Khan created for millions to enjoy some 6 years ago!

Date posted: June 23, 2020.

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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We welcome feedback/letters from our readers. Please use the feedback box which appears below. If you don’t see the box please click Leave a comment . Your comment may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation. We are unable to acknowledge unpublished letters.

Malik Merchant Publisher Editor Simerg Barakah and Simergphotos

Malik Merchant is the founding publisher/ editor of Simerg (2009), Barakah (2017) and Simergphotos (2012). A former IT consultant, he now dedicates his time to small family projects and other passionate endeavours such as the publication of this website. He is the eldest son of the Late Alwaez Jehangir Merchant (1928-2018) and Alwaeza Maleksultan Merchant, who both served Ismaili Jamati institutions together for several decades in professional and honorary capacities. His daughter, Nurin Merchant, is a veterinarian based in Ottawa. Malik may be contacted at Simerg@aol.com.

The Nature of Prayer: Significance of the Tasbih, and carrying it to practice the faith by calling on the name of Allah, Muhammad, Ali or the names of Imams

T'The Nature of Prayer'  by Nurin Merchant. Golden Jubilee art for His Highness the Aga Khan's Golden Jubilee
‘The Nature of Prayer’ is a 14″ x 10″ mixed media acrylic painting on canvas. Secured on the canvas with gesso, a strong glue, are a handmade tasbih (prayer beads), and 3 dried leaves bearing the Arabic inscriptions reading from bottom to top, Allah, Muhammad and Ali. The whole piece represents keeping the memory of Allah, and making sure that every day there is in our minds the presence of our faith in our hearts and souls which in itself is a prayer, hence the title of the painting ‘The Nature of Prayer’. This work was Nurin Merchant’s contribution for Colours of Love, an art and culture initiative by the Ismaili Council for Canada in 2008 during the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan.

By DR. V. A. LALANI
with additional material by MALIK MERCHANT

In response to a recent piece on the impact of Jamatkhana closures, we were pleased to receive a very inspiring recommendation from Omar Kassam of Vancouver who suggested that we slowly recite the Surah Al-Fatihah while we spend 20 seconds thoroughly washing our hands – the #1 health guideline during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Such is the nature of prayer –- that we can seek out small moments of 1 second, 5 seconds or 20 seconds to the remembrance of God, to exalt Him, and to seek His help. The Surah is regarded as one of greatest Surahs in the Holy Qur’an, along with Surah Al-Ikhlas. The wisdom and prayers contained in this small seven verse Surah are absolutely remarkable.

There are many other opportune moments that we have throughout the day, and Mawlana Hazar Imam has often recommended to us to carry the tasbih with us –- in our pockets or handbags –- and seek out moments of happiness by calling on the name of Allah, Hazrat Ali, Prophet Muhammad or the names of the Imams. He has also asked us to invoke these names during any difficulty we are facing.

What is tasbih and what are its origins in Islam?

The Arabic word tasbih means to exalt God, praise God or to pray to God. It is supererogatory prayer, that is, an act which is considered to be good and beyond the call of duty, and not something that is strictly required.

The word tasbih is also given to the beads strung together in the form of a circle which are used in the process of praying.

The tasbih consists of a string of beads that is looped into a circle. The two ends are passed through a larger, decorative bead where they are tied or woven into a knot. This is the starting point of a tasbih.

Almost all the religions in the world today possess some form of this object which differ a little in size, number and arrangement of beads. Calling it by different names (for example, rosary, in Christianity), they make use of it for the purpose of reciting the name of the deity in whom they believe.

Although tasbih is a constant companion and an object of daily use by the believers, its origin, development and purpose has remained so obscure to most of us that I shall discuss some of the details of this small, but important object.

Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest!”Holy Qur’an, 13:28

It is said that the first tasbih (supererogatory prayer) was given by the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.S.) to his beloved daughter Hazrat Bibi Fatima (A.S.), the wife of Hazrat Mawla Murtaza Ali (A.S.). This comprise of the praises of Allah, namely, Allahu Akbar (Allah is Great), Subhan Allah (Glory be to Allah) and Al-Hamdu-lillah (All praise is due to Allah). Each of these was to be recited thirty-three times in succession. This is known as Tasbih-e Bibi Fatima.

In the absence of any circular object like the present day tasbih, it is said that Bibi Fatima used to recite these praises taking help of thirty-three stones of dates or thirty-three pebbles.

Later on, as it was found to be very inconvenient to keep loose stones or pebbles, or have to collect them when needed, it was probably decided to string together thirty-three stones of dates or some such object to make a rosary giving it a circular appearance. At a later period, at the point where the knot was tied, a more decorative, larger bead was added, forming what we recognize as the tasbih today. Tasbih prayer beads are made of various materials, including different stones, sterling silver, wood, etc.

The larger bead at the tasbih’s crown is called imam which means ‘a leader’ and it is so called because all recitations start at this point. Imam leads and all the other small beads follow.

In the ordinary Islamic tasbih, the number of beads varies widely from 99 to 102. The 99 bead tasbih may have 2 extra small beads as dividers, after each group of 33 beads. The 102 bead tasbih used in some tariqahs is divided in parts of 12, 22, 34, 22 and 12. Then, of course, we have the commonly used smaller tasbih with 33 beads that is considered in conformity with our Holy Prophet Muhammad’s original conception of tasbih.

As in the 99 bead tasbih, the 33 bead also carries 2 extra beads after each 11 beads, as dividers. The extra small beads act as an informer when the required number of recitations are completed. These are called mui’zin in Arabic which means ‘an informer’ (like the informer who calls Muslims to prayer). In the Indian sub-continent, these two beads are called banga, bangi or bango which all mean ‘a caller’ or ‘an informer’.

Tasbihs
A selection of tasbihs produced during the Diamond Jubilee (left) and Golden Jubilee celebrations of Mawlana Hazar Imam. Photo: The Ismaili.

Among the numerous memorabilia objects that were produced for Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2007 and 2017, the tasbih was the most sought after item. The Diamond Jubilee tasbihs came with a finely-detailed floral pattern interwoven with intricate and diverging leaves inspired by a Fatimid wood carving. The 33 bead Golden Jubilee tasbihs came in twenty-three varieties of semi-precious stone with the top stem adapted from a 16th century alam (emblem or standard).

“O believers, remember God oft and give Him glory at the dawn and in the evening” —
Holy Qur’an, 33:41-42

The last and most important point about tasbih is its purpose. The purpose of tasbih is quite evident and that is to remember Allah.

Over the past 35 years, Mawlana Hazar Imam has sought to encourage us to keep the remembrance of our faith as an integral part of our daily life, and to seek from this remembrance spiritual happiness on an ongoing basis. His most recent reference regarding using the tasbih for calling out the name of Allah, the name of Prophet Muhammad, or Hazrat Ali was in a Farman Mubarak that he made in India in 2018 (see page 144, para. 3, in Diamond Jubilee Farman Mubarak book)

While we all face and feel the effects of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic with the rest of humanity, let us all recall the message that Mawlana Hazar Imam conveyed to us at the commencement of the Diamond Jubilee year, when he said that the faith of our forefathers would help us to face life’s challenges in times of crisis and rapid changes (see page 12, para. 2, in Diamond Jubilee Farman Mubarak book).

“Sitting, sleeping, going about, take the Lord’s name, take the Lord’s name” —
Ginan, Pir Hasan Kabirdin

An illustrious piece of advice regarding our faith comes from none other than our illustrious forefather Pir Hasan Kabirdin, composer of hundreds of Ginans that have illuminated millions of Ismailis over the past seven centuries. In the second verse of Dur Desh Thee Aayo Vannjaaro, he says: “Sitting, sleeping, going about, take the Lord’s name, take the Lord’s name.” (Translation, Aziz Esmail, in his Scent of Sandalwood)

Ginan Dur Desh…sung by Late Shamshu Bandali Haji. Credit: Ginan Central

Carrying the tasbih with us will act as reminder for us to contemplate on the names of Allah, the Prophet and the Imams during any moment in our lifetime. That is the nature of prayer.

Date posted:  April 6, 2020.

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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This piece contains material from the March 1986 issue of Al-Misbah magazine published by the Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Board for the United Kingdom (ITREB). The magazine, like all other religious magazines published by ITREB in numerous countries around the world, ceased publication in the early 1990’s.

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We welcome feedback/letters from our readers. Please use the feedback box which appears below. If you don’t see the box please click LEAVE A COMMENT. Your comment may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation. We are unable to acknowledge unpublished letters.