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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Mawlana Hazar Imam in His Navroz Talika Emphasizes Covid-19 Vaccination, Prays that the New Year will Herald a New Beginning and Gives Blessings for Fulfilment of All Our Wishes

The following Talika Mubarak from Mawlana Hazar Imam in English is reproduced from The Ismaili, the official website of the Ismaili community. Official translations in French, Portuguese, Farsi, Arabic, Urdu, Gujarati, Tajik, and Russian can be read at our sister website Barakah. The Talika is followed by recitations of Ginans Sahebe Farman Lakhi Mokalea and Navrozna din Sohaamna.

Mawlana Hazar Imam His Highness the Aga Khan’s Talika Mubarak to Ismailis

18th March 2021

My dear spiritual children,

On the occasion of Navroz, the 21st of March 2021, I send my most affectionate paternal maternal loving blessings to all my beloved spiritual children of my worldwide Jamat.

My family joins me in wishing you all Navroz Mubarak. 

I send my most affectionate loving blessings to all the spiritual children who have submitted services and sent messages of congratulations and good wishes on this occasion.

With the success in producing effective vaccines and other forms of treatment, human societies around the world are looking with a sense of hope and optimism to emerging from the current Covid-19 pandemic.

At this time, I recommend that all my murids should accept to be vaccinated in accordance with the directives of their respective health authorities as soon as the vaccines are offered — as indeed I have done already. It is also my wish that my Jamat should avoid any complacency, and that every murid should continue exercising personal responsibility to ensure protection from the virus.  

In particular, my Jamat should not give credence to any misinformation regarding the vaccination process, and comparisons between the different officially sanctioned vaccines that are now available.

I have requested the AKDN health care facilities to extend maximum support and assistance to the government authorities in the effective roll-out of the vaccination programme. 

In these troubled times, it is my prayer that Navroz will herald a new beginning, with greater resilience, strength and unity in my Jamat to overcome all forms of difficulty. While the Jamatkhanas will continue to be re-opened as the situation improves, I wish my Jamat to keep in mind the importance I attach to our historic tradition of personal, private prayer.

I send my most affectionate loving blessings for mushkil-asan, and for my Jamat’s wellbeing, good health, safety and security. I also give my best loving blessings for barakah in your spiritual and material lives, and for the fulfilment of all your wishes.

You are all particularly in my heart, in my thoughts, and in my prayers at this time.

Yours affectionately,

Aga Khan

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Shukrana and Supplication

We submit our humble gratitude to our beloved Mawlana Hazar Imam for his Talika Mubarak to the world wide Jamat on the occasion of Navroz, March 21, 2021, and submit the following supplications from verse 1 of Pir Hasan Kabirdin’s Ginan Sahebe Farman Lakhi Mokalea:

“O brother! Listen, My Lord Ali has written and sent a Farman. The beloved Lord has remembered this servant today with kindness in his heart”

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Ginan Recitation

Ginan Sahebe Farman Lakhi Mokalea sung Shamshu Bandali Haji. Credit: Ginan Recitals (usask.ca)

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Navroz Ginan Recitation and Link to Explanation

Ginan Navrozna din Sohaamna sung by Mumtaz Bhulji. Credit: Ginan Recitals (usask.ca)

Read Ginan article HERE.

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Navroz Mubarak

Conceived and created by Toronto artist Karim Ismail, this calligraphy represents the greeting Navroz Mubarak in Eastern Kufi. Image: © Karim Ismail.

Date posted: March 21, 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.

Sun’s Crossing of Equator at 5:37 A.M. EDT on March 20, 2021 Heralds Start of Spring in Northern Hemisphere, and Celebration of Navroz, the Iranian New Year

“Awaken, the morning Nowruz breeze is showering the garden with flowers” — Saadi

According to the popular reference book The Old Farmer’s Almanac, Saturday, March 20 marked the start of the spring season in 2021 in the Northern Hemisphere. The sun crossed the equator line heading north at 5:37 A.M. EDT. This event is referred to as the spring equinox or the vernal equinox when the length of day and night is nearly equal in all parts of the world. The Southern Hemisphere is exactly the opposite, as it marked the start of its autumn season.

The spring equinox can occur as early as March 19 or as late as March 21 at Greenwich. For hundreds of millions of people living in Iran, Afghanistan, and the Kurdish regions of Iraq, Turkey and Syria, and throughout Central Asia, in many parts of Pakistan and India, as well as among diasporic communities living around the world. the spring equinox is celebrated as Navroz or New Year. This is the second consecutive year when Navroz celebrations are going to be restrained due to travel restrictions and other measures that have been put in place to halt the spread of coronavirus or Covid-19.

Spring Equinox Earth on March 20, 2011 at 6:12 a.m. local time. NASA
The Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager (SEVIRI) on EUMETSAT’s Meteosat-9 captured this view of Earth from geosynchronous orbit. The image shows how sunlight fell on the Earth on March 20, 2011 at 6:12 a.m. local time. Photo: NASA image by Robert Simmon

In Iran, the festivities end 13 days after March 21 with Sizdeh Bedar when people head for open fields, plains, parks and riversides to picnic, taking with them the sabzeh they had meticulously grown. There, they throw the sabzeh into the river or the fields, to symbolise giving back to nature (please read Scheherezade Faramarzi’s excellent article in Middeast Eye).

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Navroz Mubarak

“Nauryz, Navruz, Nawrouz, Nevruz, Nooruz, Novruz, Nowrouz, Nowruz – this celebration of the arrival of spring is as rich in names as it is in traditions. No matter what name you call it by, this shared festivity has brought communities together across countries and regions for more than 3,000 years” Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO

Navroz Mubarak calligraphy Persian New Year by Karim Ismail Simerg.com
Navroz Mubarak in Eastern Kufi, © Karim Ismail, Toronto.

My daughter Nurin joins me in wishing all our readers as well as everyone around the world NAVROZ MUBARAK. In a sense, we convey this greeting through the beautiful calligraphic rendition shown above that was designed for 2021 by Toronto’s artist Karim Ismail. We thank him for his permission to reproduce his designs on Simerg and its sister websites.

We sincerely hope and pray that the crushing burden of the pandemic that we have lived through for the past 12 months eases, and that life begins to return to normal in the coming weeks and months, as more and more people around the world are vaccinated against Covid-19. However, we must continue to remain alert, and follow the guidelines given by our respective health authorities to avoid spikes in the number of coronavirus illnesses.

Navroz, Nawruz, Norooz, Nauryz, Navruz, Nawrouz Mubarak!

Nevruz, Noroz, Nooruz, Novruz, Nowrouz Mubarak!

Date posted: March 20, 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.

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.

Navroz Books for Your Children to Enjoy

Compiled and prepared by MALIK MERCHANT
(Publisher-Editor, BarakahSimerg and Simergphotos)

With March 21, 2021 only ten days away, Simerg is pleased to compile this list of Navroz books for children. The books will give families opportunities to experience the different aspects of the great cultural tradition of Navroz. All the books listed here can be delivered as early as next week!

Books on Nowruz, Nourooz, Navroz, Persian New Year
Paperback, 48 pages, pub. Arshan Publishing. English.

This book, like others listed below, receives a high score on Amazon. Gail Hejazi, a teacher in Princeton, New Jersey, was inspired to write this book when her daughter was in kindergarten and the teacher invited parents to come in and share their holiday traditions with the class. One reviewer notes that the book is engaging and gives the reader a chance to read and experience all aspects of Persian New Year. Check out the book at Amazon.ca and other worldwide Amazon websites including Amazon.com. Book available for delivery in North America within days with Prime membership (30 day free trial available)! For the UK, please click HERE.

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Books on Nowruz, Nourooz, Navroz, Persian New Year
Paperback, 110 pages, English.

Nowruz, also Navroz, Norooz, Nawruz, Noruz etc. is a time to freshen your home, plant new seeds, cook a feast, give gifts to friends, and welcome the brand-new year! The book invites you to learn about and celebrate the Persian New Year with Leila and her family. Normally celebrated by more than 300 million people across Central and Southern Asia as well as all around the world, our celebrations of Nowruz in 2021 are going to be limited due to Covid-19 restrictions that are in force around the world, preventing open family and community gatherings as in the past. This book by Solmaz Parveen, a second generation Persian American who has a long-standing obsession with puzzles and games, is a fun activity book that in these times will allow family members to explore the traditions surrounding Nowruz while encouraging creativity and learning. The book has over 100 pages filled with word and number games, drawing and doodling activities, mazes, coloring pages, and more. Check out book at Amazon.ca and other worldwide Amazon websites including Amazon.com. Book available for delivery in North America within days!

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40 pages, Hardcover, Penguin Young Readers Group, English.

New for 2021, this picture book celebrating Persian New Year and the tradition of Haft-Seen is by Missouri based award-winning author Adib Khorram. Haft-seen is a Nowruz tradition in Iran where families gather around a specially prepared holiday table to make wishes for the coming months. The book is illustrated by Zainab Faidhi, a conceptual artist, illustrator, animator, and architect whose work includes the feature film The Breadwinner, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. The book is available at the Chapters-Indigo website as well as at Amazon.ca and its worldwide websites including Amazon.com. Book available for delivery in North America within days!

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Books on Nowruz, Nourooz, Navroz, Persian New Year
36 pages, Kindle, Paperback, English.

Graphic designer Mojgan Roohani’s passion for children’s books gradually took her deeper and deeper into the realms of storytelling and book illustration. The idea for her book published in 2018 was in her mind for many years and evolved from Nowruz to Nowruz as her children grew up and passed from preschool to kindergarten to elementary school and beyond! They and their teachers always wanted something cultural and colorful to share in the classroom along with one of the activities such as decorating eggs or preparing to grow a dish of green shoots! So Mojgan felt great joy that she finally was able to complete her labor of love! Check out the book at Amazon.ca and other worldwide websites including Amazon.com. Book available for delivery in North America within days!

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Books on Nowruz, Nourooz, Navroz, Persian New Year
33 pages, Paperback, large print, English

Ellie Frad explains the Persian ancient ceremony of the Nourooz for children age 3-5 through Grace, a character who loves to learn about everything. In this book, Grace gets familiar with Haft-seen, a Nourooz tradition in Iran where families gather around a specially prepared holiday table to make wishes for the coming months. Items on the table refer to new life and renewal, and they are based around the number seven. Grace seeks to learn about the elements of Haft-seen and the book also teaches its readers a few words in the Farsi language. The book has been recommended for toddlers because of its nice pictures, and some have found it adorable to read it out aloud. Check out the book at Amazon.ca and other worldwide websites including Amazon.com. Book available for delivery in North America within days!

Date posted: March 11, 2021.

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Do you have a book to recommend for Navroz that is not listed in this post? Please submit your recommendations by completing the feedback form below or by clicking on Leave a comment.

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.

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.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wishes His Highness the Aga Khan Salgirah Mubarak and thanks him for his outstanding leadership and bringing people together

December 13, 2020
Ottawa, Ontario

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, issued the following statement marking the birthday of His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan:

“Today, we join Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims in Canada and around the world to celebrate the 84th birthday of their spiritual leader, His Highness the Aga Khan.

“A global humanitarian, the Aga Khan has made it his mission to build a better, more peaceful world. In a year where we have seen inequalities compounded by the effects of a global pandemic, His Highness has continued to work to help reduce poverty, advance gender equality, and improve health care and education. Whether through his Global Centre for Pluralism in Canada or the Aga Khan Development Network, his tireless efforts have helped make Canada, and the world, more inclusive. 

“The Aga Khan shares many of the values Canadians hold dear, including kindness, compassion, and respect for diversity. In a world often fraught with division, His Highness has continually worked to bring people together. His unwavering dedication to helping others is an inspiration to us all. For these reasons, he was named an honorary Canadian citizen and invested as an honorary Companion of the Order of Canada.

“Today, Sophie and I thank the Aga Khan for his outstanding leadership. We wish him continued health and happiness on this special day and for years to come.

“Salgirah Khushiali Mubarak!”

Date posted: December 14, 2020.

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Featured photo at top of this post: His Highness the Aga Khan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are seen engaged in a warm conversation during their meeting at Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 17, 2016. Photo: © Jean-Marc Carisse.

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.

A Special Birthday Message from His Highness the Aga Khan, and the Significance of His Birthday for Ismailis

On the occasion of his 84th birthday or Salgirah on December 13, 2020, His Highness the Aga Khan has sent a special message, traditionally referred to as a Talika, to his followers around the world. The Talika is published HERE in English, French, Portuguese, Farsi, Arabic, Gujarati, Tajik, Urdu and Russian.

We have an insightful article for our readers on the significance of the Aga Khan’s birthday. To read it, please click HERE or on the Salgirah Mubarak greeting shown below.

We convey Salgirah greetings to our readers, Ismailis and non-Ismailis alike, and wish everyone and their families happiness and success as well as courage, strength and good health — especially in the present time of a global pandemic. We further hope and pray for the fulfillment of all your wishes. Ameen.

Salgirah Aga Khan Birthday, 13 December 2020, Simerg
The calligraphy in this beautiful Salgirah Mubarak greeting celebrating the 84th birthday (Salgirah) of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, was created by Karim Ismail of Toronto, and represents the Aga Khan’s name “Nur Mawlana Shah Karim al Hussaini” in Fatimid Kufi script. Please click on image to read article on significance of Salgirah.

Date posted: December 12, 2020.

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Traditions of the Prophet Muhammad on the Pumpkin, as the Aga Khan Museum Uses it to Decorate its Courtyard

By MALIK MERCHANT
Editor/Publisher SimergBarakah and Simergphotos

The Aga Khan Museum is one of the few museums in Toronto that has been able to implement Covid-19 protocols and make the museum safe for its visitors. The visiting times were revised this past week, and it is now open from Thursdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

In recent weeks, Simerg and its sister websites have produced a superb collection of photos of the Museum, the Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Park, which divides the two magnificent buildings. Readers have been uplifted to see the photos of the 3 magnificent projects, built by Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, under the full moon, crescent moon, as well as at the peak of the autumn foliage season.

Aga Khan Museum Courtyard Pumpkin Decoration Simerg Malik Merchant
Aga Khan Museum Toronto Courtyard decorated with pumpkins. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg.

On a fine day, there is no better place in the museum than to be sitting in its open air courtyard, while enjoying a delicious cup of latte.

October 23, 2020 was one such day. It actually felt like summer, with blue skies and very warm temperatures. The magnificent courtyard was a perfect place for my morning coffee as well as a late breakfast — an egg salad croissant, slightly grilled. I was thrilled to enter the courtyard, and noticed pumpkin decorations in one corner of the courtyard. Of course, pumpkins are to be seen everywhere at this time of the year. It is one of the most popular desserts served during Thanksgiving holidays in Canada (October 12, 2020) and the USA (November 26, 2020), and I wondered how the food was viewed in Islam. My little bit of research led me to numerous traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.S.) on the pumpkin, and I am delighted to post adaptations of some that I read.

“I saw the Prophet being served with soup and containing gourd (pumpkin or squash) and cured meat, and I saw him picking and eating the pieces of gourd.” — Bukhari Volume 7, Book 65, Number 348.

It is related that a sailor once invited Prophet Muhammad to eat some food that he had prepared. Anas bin Malik who accompanied the Prophet, noted that the Prophet was served barley bread and a soup with pumpkin in it. The Prophet keenly ate the pumpkin around the dish, and from that day Anas made it his favourite food. Traditions also note that whenever a a dish of bread, meat and broth was presented to the Prophet and it contained pumpkin, the Prophet would pick up the pumpkin because he really liked it, and made the heart strong. Other Muslim traditions note that the pumpkin increases brain function and brain strength.

Ibn Ridwan, in a medical treatise written during the Fatimid period, recommended the pumpkin as a diet for healthy living along with several other fruits and vegetables such as celery, carrots, lentils and cucumbers.

Interestingly, there is also a general consensus among scholars about the Arabic word yaqteen that is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an. They say that it refers to the pumpkin — a food that nourished and helped heal Prophet Yunus (A.S.), after he was cast into the wilderness while he was sick (see Qur’an, 37:144-146, at Corpus Quran English Translation).

The website healthline mentions that pumpkin is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and is incredibly healthy. Moreover its low calorie content makes it a weight-loss-friendly food. It goes on to add that “its nutrients and antioxidants may boost your immune system, protect your eyesight, lower your risk of certain cancers and promote heart and skin health.”

After about an hour at the museum’s courtyard, I could not return home without walking around the Aga Khan Park. As I looked up in the blue sky above the Ismaili Jamatkhana dome, I saw two birds beautifully gliding at the dome’s left. I was left wondering: Were they turkey vultures, eagles or hawks? Alas, I wasn’t carrying a powerful lens to get a better and sharper close-up.

Please click on photo for enlargement

Headquarters Jamatkhana Toronto at the Ismaili Centre, with birds overhead.
Two birds seen gliding at left of the dome of the Toronto Headquarters Ismaili Jamatkhana, part of the Ismaili Centre. Click on image for enlargement. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg.

Returning to the museum’s courtyard on Sunday October 25, offered a much different kind of experience, as the temperature had dropped from Friday’s 22°C to only 8°C. But the museum had that in mind too! Blue lounge blue chairs had been placed in the courtyard, with portable fireplaces where visitors mingled with their family members over light refreshments.

Aga Khan Museum Courtyard
Visitors keep warm at a portable fireplace at the Aga Khan Museum’s courtyard as temperatures take a dip on Sunday, October 25. 2020. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg.

The overall experience at the three Aga Khan projects during recent weeks has been overwhelming.

As we all seek good health, I dedicate this post to the humble pumpkin which supports heart and eye health, and boosts immunity, among other benefits.

And, without the pumpkin’s presence in the museum’s courtyard, it may have never occurred to me to search out the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.S.) that have showed that he really liked the pumpkin. For 2020, Muslims around the world will celebrate his birth anniversary — the Milad un Nabi — between October 28-30. It is an appropriate time to learn more about his inspiring life and leadership as well as his faith in God whom he served as the last messenger for 23 long and devoted years, bringing to Muslims the blessing of the Holy Qur’an.

Date posted: October 24, 2020.
Last updated: October 25, 2020 (new photo/information 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.

We welcome feedback from our readers. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or, if you don’t see the box, please click Leave a comment. Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

Recitations of Pir Sadardin’s Ginan Eji Anand Anand, with a note on Eid al-Ghadir

By MALIK MERCHANT
Publisher/editor BarakahSimerg and Simergphotos

If there is one Ginan that gets an entire Jamatkhana congregation immediately connected and singing in unison with joy and unbounded happiness, it has to be Pir Sadardin’s Ginanic composition of 7 verses, Eji Anand Anand Kariyo.

Eji Anand Anand is one of the first Ginans every Ismaili child learns at home and memorizes. You can sing it on any occasion or on any day, and if you have arrived in the Jamatkhana with a feeling of sadness or worry, then those worries and apprehension disappear on hearing the first line! It is arguably the most inspiring Ginan, and I personally crave for its recitation. It is good for me, any day any time. Here two beautiful recitations of the Ginan:

Eji Anand Anand Kariyo by BUI Ginans 1. Credit: http://ginans.usask.ca/recitals/500370.

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Eji Anand Anand Kariyo by Shamshu Bandali Haji. Credit: http://ginans.usask.ca/recitals/500370.

Though short, Eji Anand Anand incorporates key messages: the recognition of the Imam of the Time, the importance of unity, that good actions and deeds reap rewards, and the importance of service to the Imam of the Time. The Ginan reminds its listeners about the physical presence of the Imam of the Time, who at the time it was written, was located very far away in Iran. Therefore it has a congratulatory undertone to it. In other Ginans, the Pirs promised their listeners that the Imam would one day arrive at their doorstep in India, referred to as Jampu Dipma. It took several hundred years for that promise to be fulfilled, but it did happen in the 19th century when the 46th Imam, Mawlana Shah Hassanali Shah (a.s.), Aga Khan I, set both feet on Indian soil.

Commemorating Aga Khan's first visit to Badakhshan in 1995
Young Ismaili ladies proudly display a decorated frame holding a photo of their beloved 49th Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan. The was was taken in Alichur , a village at an altitude of 4000 metres which is comprised mainly of Ismailis. The photo was taken during Didar (Invitation) – a celebration that takes place on 28th of May every year to commemorate the anniversary of the Aga Khan’s visit to Badakhshan. During the celebrations the villagers dress up, dance outdoors to the accordion and drums and sing ginane (religious songs), which tell of him being their Noor (light). The photograph was taken as these ladies, dressed in bright atlas silk fabric with crowns on their heads, were going out to dance. Photo: © Matthieu Paley.

The same could be said for the Central Asian Jamats in the autonomous region of Gorno-Badakhshan, who physically had the mulaqat of the Imam of the Time centuries after they accepted the teachings of the revered Ismaili Da’i Pir Nasir Khushraw and other dais of his tradition, and became Ismailis. Mawlana Shah Karim was the first Imam to have visited Central Asia in centuries. His historical visit took place in 1995, and was commemorated with joy and happiness, as shown in the photo of young Ismaili ladies holding a photo of Mawlana Hazar Imam.

History in Quotations by Cohen and Major
With 9,000 chronological quotations arranged in 90 thematic chapters, this huge treasury of quotations is bursting with historical gems, including a reference to the famous tradition of the Prophet Muhammad, “He of whom I am the Mawla, Ali is his Mawla.”

However, the recognition of the Imam goes back hundreds of years before the time of Pir Sadardin and Nasir Khushraw. The era of the Divine Institution of Imamat began with the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad at Ghadir-Khumm when he declared, by Divine Commandment, that Hazrat Ali was to be his successor. In the book “History in Quotations”, which reflects five thousand years of World History, the authors M. J. Cohen and John Major write as follows: “Muhammad said: ‘He of whom I am the Mawla (patron), Ali is his Mawla. O God, be the friend of him who is his friend and be the enemy of his enemy.’ This became the proof text for the Shia, who claim that Ali, the Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law, was the Prophet’s rightful successor after the Prophet’s death in 632. The meaning of Mawla here probably implies the role of patron, lord or protector.” The authors sum up by stating that, through the use of the term Mawla, Muhammad was giving Ali the parity with himself in this function.

Iran Stamps and coins Ghadir Khumm Eid Simerg and Barakah
Images of some stamps and coins issued by the Islamic Republic of Iran between 1990 and 2010 commemorating the Eid-e-Ghadir. The inscriptions include the Shahada, Qur’anic ayats and the declaration made by Prophet Muhammad at Ghadir Khumm, “Mun Koontu Mawla, Fa Hada, Aliyun Mawla” meaning “He of whom I am the Mawla Ali is also the Mawla.”

Coming back to the present time, the affirmation of the Institution of Imamat to the world at large has been made by Mawlana Hazar Imam on numerous occasions but none as succintly as in the following two remarks made by him at the Parliament of Canada in 2014 and in an interview in 2010 with the French journal Politique Internationale:

“The Ismaili Imamat is a supra-national entity, representing the succession of Imams since the time of the Prophet Muhammad” — Parliament, 2014

and

“The religious leadership of the Ismaili Imam goes back to the origins of Shia Islam when the Prophet Muhammad appointed his son-in-law, Ali, to continue his teachings within the Muslim community. The leadership is hereditary, handed down by Ali’s descendants, and the Ismailis are the only Shia Muslims to have a living Imam, namely myself.” — Politique, 2010

Aga Khan Parliament of Canada Simerg and Barakah
Mawlana Hazar imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, seen addressing at the House of Commons Chambers to both the houses of Canadian Parliament on Thursday, February 27, 2014. Photo: The Office of the Prime Minister of Canada.

On this auspicious occasion of Eid al-Ghadir falling on August 7, 2020, let us rejoice in the knowledge that for 1388 years, Ismailis in a multitude of settings and practicing different traditions, have been guided by the Rope of Imamat, and that the Noor of Imamat, through the physical manifestation of the Imam of the Time, has lit our path to clarity so that we may obtain spiritual and worldly satisfaction.

Date posted: August 6, 2020.

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An expanded version of this post can be read at Barakah.

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