Eid ul-Fitr Should Foster Brotherhood in the Muslim Umma and Provide Spark of Hope For the Less Privileged

“A Muslim must play an active role in helping his family and the brotherhood of believers. The object is not to achieve status, wealth and power, but to contribute to society’s overall development. This implies moral responsibility to help the weaker, less fortunate members.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, Toronto, May 14, 1987. [1]

EID MUBARAK

ISS028-E-20073-NASA Photo

A new Moon occurs when all of the Sun’s light is reflected away from Earth, and the side of the Moon facing Earth is barely visible, as illustrated in the above photo. Sometimes the dark face of the Moon catches Earth’s reflected glow and returns that light. The phenomenon is called earthshine. This Astronaut Photograph was taken on July 31, 2011, on board the International Space Station and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center.

The festival of Eid, also known as Bairam or Eid Ramadan is one of the most joyous days in the Islamic calendar. It is an occasion for celebration and rejoicing for Allah’s Bounty upon mankind for His revelation of the Holy Qur’an during the month of Ramadan. It is also a time for individuals to express their gratitude to Allah for having given them the strength, courage and resilience to complete the fast, and thus fulfilling the duty enjoined upon them by Allah.

On this joyous occasion, we convey our heartiest felicitations and Eid Mubarak to all our readers as well as Muslims around the world, with the fervent hope and prayer that peace and harmony should prevail over many areas of the Muslim world afflicted by horrible conflicts, which are resulting in the loss of lives and contributing to unbearable hardships and struggles. The Islamic ethic of forgiveness, generosity, and peaceful co-existence and unity through dialogue are keys by which conflicts can be resolved, whereby every Muslim can aspire for a life of material and spiritual well-being and happiness.

The excerpts produced in this post from the Holy Qur’an and the hadith as well as from the farmans, writings and speeches of Hazrat Ali (a.s.) and Mawlana Hazar Imam (His Highness the Aga Khan) are foundation blocks for building harmonious societies around the world. The acts of charity and generosity mentioned in the quotes will facilitate those who are underprivileged to manage their own destinies, thereby leading them to a life of dignity, befitting Allah’s greatest creation.

PROFOUND TEACHINGS OF ISLAM

Conceptual image for the holy month of Ramadan and Eid al Fitr.

Conceptual image for the holy month of Ramadan and Eid al Fitr. Photo: Istockphoto

“It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards the East and the West, but righteous is the one who believes in Allah and the Last Day, and the angels and the Books and the prophets, and gives away wealth out of love for Him to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask and set slaves free.” — Holy Qur’an, 2:177

“And whatever good you may spend on others is for your own good, provided that you spend only out of a longing for God’s countenance.” — Holy Qur’an, 2:272

“You will not enter paradise till you believe, and you will not believe till you love one another. Let me guide you to something by doing which you will love one another: Salute and sundry among you.”  — Tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.)

“A great river is not made turbid by a stone. A religious man who takes to heart an injury is as yet, but shallow water. If any misfortune befalls you, bear with it, that by forgiving others you may yourself obtain pardon. O my brother! seeing that we are at last to return to earth, let us humble ourselves in ashes before we are changed into dust.” — Hazrat Bibi Fatima (a.s.). [2]

“…As the world gets smaller, it is fundamental that people should work together and not against each other, and try to be a little more generous than you have been in the past. If people have made mistakes, forgive them their mistakes. If people have harmed you, forget and forgive. Do not hold grudges. Do not turn around and say, ‘he hurt me yesterday, so I will hurt him today’. This is not the spirit of Islam…” His Highness the Aga Khan, Farman Mubarak, Mumbai, 1969, Precious Gems.

“…when you are studying the Qur’an, when you are studying the history of Imams, when you are studying the history of pre-Islamic Arabia, I would like you to take from this history that which will help you to live within the spirit of Islam. This means to live honestly, to live purely, to know that you are brothers and sisters, to be available at all times when one or the other needs help, to be generous, to be honest. These are the qualities which you can trace throughout Qur’an-e Shariff, throughout the life of the Prophet, throughout the lives of the Imams. And this is something which I would like you to follow, not only in letter but also in spirit, because it is this spirit which cannot be changed, and which I would like my spiritual children to understand fully…” Farman Mubarak, His Highness the Aga Khan, Karachi, November 29, 1964. [3]

“There are those who enter the world in such poverty that they are deprived of both the means and the motivation to improve their lot. Unless these unfortunate ones can be touched with the spark which ignites the spirit of individual enterprise and determination, they will only sink back into renewed apathy, degradation and despair. It is for us, who are more fortunate, to provide that spark.” —  His Highness the Aga Khan, speech, Housing and Development, Mumbai, January 17, 1983.

Date posted: July 6, 2016.

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References:

[1] Quoted in Ilm, July 1986, page 17.

[2] Ilm, Volume 13, Number 1, July 1990, page 45-46.

[3] Farman Mubarak Pakistan Visit 1964, published by the Ismailia Association for Pakistan, quoted also in Ilm, Volume 13, Number 1, July 1990, page 38.

This is a Video Not to be Missed! Incredible Outpouring of Joy in Pakistan for the Ismaili Jubilee Games Lantern

INTRODUCED BY SULTAN JESSA

From some of the densest urban areas to the remotest corners of this earth, the fanous or lantern of the second Ismaili Jubilee Games has been welcomed worldwide by hundreds of thousands of Ismailis with deep joy, and has generated an immense amount of interest for the  games that will commence in Dubai on July 22, 2016.

One of the most astonishing receptions for the lantern, as it travelled around the globe, was in Pakistan. The short video clip (please click above) is a testimony to how a symbol from Ismaili history dating back a 1,000 years has played such a significant role in heightening an awareness and interest for the games that in turn will deeply inspire the athletes to be the best they can at the week long Ismaili Jubilee Games.

To read complete article, please visit http://www.simergphotos.com.

Date posted: July 2, 2016.

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“Together-Ensemble”: The Aga Khan Foundation Exhibition on 18 Wheels is now in Vancouver

BY ABDULMALIK J. MERCHANT
Publisher-Editor, Simerg

The bus is travelling across Canada and offers perspectives of Global Development to thousands of Canadians. Photo: Aga Khan Foundation.

The bus is travelling across Canada and offers perspectives of Global Development to thousands of Canadians. Photo: Aga Khan Foundation.

Editors’ note: After being on the road for the past 12 months, the “Together-Ensemble” is now in Vancouver. The mobile exhibition, which has covered a distance of 19,000 kms, is housed in a 53-foot truck with over 1,000 square feet of exhibit space. It will be at the Ismaili Centre in Burnaby on May 26 and 27 from 1:00 pm until 5:00 pm, and at Stanley Park on Sunday, May 29 from 8:00 am until 2:30 pm when thousands of Canadians are expected to participate in the Aga Khan Foundation’s Annual World Partnership Walk. The following piece was written when the exhibition was launched in Ottawa in 2015.

“Development is ultimately about people, about enabling them to participate fully in the process and to make informed choices and decisions on their futures.” – His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam speaking in 2013, excerpt on a panel display at the exhibition.

Launched on April 27th, 2015, at the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat Building by the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, and Khalil Shariff, Chief Executive Officer of Aga Khan Foundation Canada, the collaborative exhibition of Global Development under the theme “Together” (French “Ensemble”) arrived at the city’s famed Le Breton neighbourhood, located by the new War Museum on Thursday, May 7, 2015 for a 7-day stop over.

I took an opportunity to visit the astonishing bus filled with educational and inspiring exhibits today (Sunday, May 10th), a much cooler day than the previous few days when the temperatures in the city had surged to 30 Celsius, not taking humidex into consideration. While thousands of local Ottawa residents and tourists were enjoying the marvellous and colourful annual tulip festival by Dow’s Lake, hundreds of parents with their children took to the Le Breton grounds to visit the Ottawa International Children’s Festival as well as take a tour of the exhibition in the “Together/Ensemble” bus, just metres away.

Before reaching the Aga Khan Foundation's magnificent Together bus, I was politely confronted by

Before reaching the Aga Khan Foundation’s magnificent Together bus, I was politely confronted by “a past British Monarch” who was measuring my loyalty to her rule. I excelled as a fine citizen, for which she offered to crown me with some kind of an Order named after the Ottawa’s River Parkway, a fine and scenic road running by the Ottawa River one hundred metres behind her! Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

The Together Exhibition Bus just metres away from activity tents set up for the Ottawa International Children's Festival. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

The Together Exhibition Bus just metres away from activity tents set up for the Ottawa International Children’s Festival. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

A youth takes the time to view the interactive global map and test out his knowledge. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg

A youth takes the time to view the interactive global map and test out his knowledge. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg

A panel introducing the work of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada and its founder, Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan. The Aga Khan Foundation offices around the world are now agencies within the Aga Khan Development Network, a global network created by His Highness the Aga Khan to serve millions on this planet in all areas of human endeavour. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

A panel introducing the work of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada and its founder, Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan. The Aga Khan Foundation offices around the world are now agencies within the Aga Khan Development Network, a global network created by His Highness the Aga Khan to serve millions on this planet in all areas of human endeavour. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

Children exchange their ideas and thoughts on global matters on these little leaves. They are invited to take away with them any leaf containing the though of another child. When the leaf is cut open at home it contains wild flower seeds that children can plant in their gardens. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

Children exchange their ideas and thoughts on global matters on these little leaves. They are invited to take away with them any leaf containing the thought of another child. When the leaf is cut open at home it contains wild flower seeds that children can plant in their gardens. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

A young child's aspirations and hopes for a better world:

A young child’s aspirations and hopes for a better world: “No hunger, child labour, everyone being treated equally.” Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

Another child, 8 year old Hannah Saikaley, describes her thoughts of helping others:

Another child, 8 year old Hannah Saikaley, describes her thoughts of helping others: “Donating food, money, drinks and clothes and by cleaning the earth.” Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

Another informative section of panels inside the bus. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

Another informative section of panels inside the bus. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

The centre panel is the actual width of the bus. The two side panels show the extensions for this bus, giving the exhibition space inside the bus the feel of an actual museum gallery. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg

The back of the Together-Ensemble Bus. The centre panel is the actual width of the bus. The two side panels show the collapsible exhibition extensions on the bus, giving the space inside the bus the feel of an actual museum gallery. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg

Inside the bus, an exhibit. Photo: Malik Merchant/Malik

Voices of Change exhibit inside the bus. Photo: Malik Merchant/Malik

The

The “Together-Ensemble” Exhibition Bus at the Le Breton neighbourhood at the Canadian War Museum grounds. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

A display inside the bus under the theme

A display inside the bus under the theme “Stronger Together.” Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg

Stephanie, coordinating the media on behalf of the Aga Khan Foundation, was eager to participate in an interview with me, though she felt before the interview that she was a little bit nervous. “Simerg is the first media I am talking to,” she explained. But any apprehension that she felt quickly dissipated as she enthusiastically explained the exhibition with all her charm and grace. Please watch her excellent interview by clicking on the link below.

Date first posted: Sunday, May 10, 2015.
Date updated: May 26, 2016.

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Please also visit the Aga Khan Foundation Canada Website http://www.akfc.ca for more details and schedules about the Global Development Exhibition, which will be touring Canada in 2015/2016.

This piece has been simultaneously published under a different format at Simerg’s photoblog. Please click Photoessay and Interview: Aga Khan Foundation’s Unique Global Development Exhibition on 18 Wheels

3 Rare and Memorable Photos of His Highness the Aga Khan’s 1966 Nairobi Primary School Visit @Simergphotos

GEMS IN YOUR ALBUMS OR ARCHIVES – A NOTE TO OUR READERS

Do your family albums or archives contain historic photos, documents, letters or other pieces of information that offer insights on recent and past Ismaili history? Many readers have found gems looking through old photo albums and their unique contributions can be viewed at our photoblog, http://www.simergphotos.com. We encourage you to do the same, and share your discoveries with readers of this website. Please write in confidence to simerg@aol.com with details of the hidden gem you found or had forgotten about, and we will reply within 24 hours.

PLEASE CLICK: A Former Standard 3 Ismaili Student of Aga Khan Primary School, Nairobi, Shares Memorable Photos of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s 1966 Visit to School

Aga Khan Primary School Nairobi Visit 1Please click on photo for story. Photo: Juby Sprake Collection, Vancouver, Canada. Special to Simergphotos.

Date posted: April 16, 2016.

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Exclusive Photos of Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan’s Visit to Dar-es-Salaam by Rai Abdul M. Ismaily @Simergphotos

Please click: Exclusive: Photos of Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan’s Visit to Dar-es-Salaam by the Late Abdul M. Ismaily (“Papa Jaan”)

Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, UNHCR, visit to Tanzania

Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan being greeted by President Shamshu Tejapr of the Ismailia Association for Tanzania during a visit to Dar-es-Salaam in the 1960’s. Please click on image for more photos of the Prince’s visit.

Date posted: March 16, 2016.

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Princess Yasmin Aga Khan on President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan Championing the Fight Against Alzheimer’s Disease

Editor’s note: On Sunday, March 6, 2016, Mrs. Nancy Reagan, who served at the White House as the First Lady during the term of her husband’s Presidential reign from 1981 until 1989, died of congestive heart failure at the age of 94 at her home in Los Angeles.

Newlyweds Ronald and Nancy Reagan, March 4, 1952.

Newlyweds Ronald and Nancy Reagan, March 4, 1952.

The Former First Lady, who once reminisced that “my life really began when I married my husband,” was the principal caregiver during President Reagan’s decade long twilight with Alzheimer’s disease. When the President first learned that he was diagnosed with  Alzheimer’s, he issued an open letter to the American people  on November 5, 1994 writing:

“I have recently been told that I am one of the millions of Americans who will be afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease. ….In opening our hearts, we hope this might promote greater awareness of this condition. Perhaps it will encourage a clearer understanding of the individuals and families who are affected by it….as the disease progresses, the family often bears a heavy burden. I only wish there was some way I could spare Nancy from this painful experience.”

Following this brave announcement of the diagnosis, Mrs. Reagan used her voice to represent families and increase awareness for Alzheimer’s disease. According to Newsweek magazine, the Former First Lady had also begun talking to Princess Yasmin Aga Khan about her husband’s Alzheimer’s. The princess, whose mother Rita Hayworth also had Alzheimer’s which contributed to the actress’s death at the age of 68, told Mrs. Reagan what to expect in the years to come: the mood changes, what it would be like when your loved one can no longer talk and doesn’t recognize you, how to care for someone who has grown incontinent, how to stimulate swallowing by patting the throat or touching the chin. Nancy was, “of course, devastated, but very brave,” Princess Yasmin told Newsweek.

In mourning the loss of Mrs. Regan last Sunday, the Alzheimer’s Association, of which Princess Yasmin Aga Khan is an Honorary Director, said that “The Alzheimer’s Association mourns the loss of first lady Nancy Reagan. Mrs. Reagan and President Reagan bravely shared his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease with the world in 1994….The public disclosure of their Alzheimer’s experience created an enormous and much-needed upsurge of interest in the disease…It was our honor to work with Mrs. Reagan over the years to raise awareness and inspire progress in Alzheimer’s research.”

The late President’s and Mrs. Regan’s advocacy in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease for more than 20 years had been noted much earlier by Princess Yasmin Aga Khan when President Reagan died in 2004. The Princess, daughter of Prince Aly Khan and Rita Hayworth and younger sister of the current 49th Ismaili Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, has striven for the past 30 years to raise awareness — and much-needed funds — through Alzheimer’s galas honouring her mother. Princess Yasmin’s efforts have raised over $68 million, which combined with other donations, have helped the Alzheimer’s Association make significant progress toward their mission to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease.

STATEMENT BY PRINCESS YASMIN AGA KHAN FOLLOWING THE DEATH OF PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN

The late 48th Ismaili Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, seated on a wheelchair with members of his family with his successor, the present Imam, Prince Karim Aga Khan, standing at extreme right. Others in the photo (l to r), grandson Prince Amyn Muhammad, and the late Imams two sons, the late Prince Sadruddin and Prince Aly Khan, who is seen holding his daughter Princes Yasmin Aga Khan Photo: Zul Khoja Collection, Ottawa.

The late 48th Ismaili Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, seated on a wheelchair with members of his family with his successor, the present Imam, Prince Karim Aga Khan, standing at extreme right. Others in the photo (l to r), grandson Prince Amyn Muhammad, and the Imam’s two sons, the late Prince Sadruddin and Prince Aly Khan, who is seen holding his daughter Princes Yasmin Aga Khan Photo: Zul Khoja Collection, Ottawa.

“In 1983, I was honored to join my fellow Alzheimer’s Association board members in the Oval Office when President Ronald Reagan first proclaimed November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Month. We talked with him about Alzheimer’s disease, and heard his concern for the need to support individuals with Alzheimer’s, their families and friends, and the need to eradicate the disease. In his proclamation, President Reagan said, “The emotional, financial and social consequences of Alzheimer’s disease are so devastating that it deserves special attention. Science and clinical medicine are striving to improve our understanding of what causes Alzheimer’s disease and how to treat it successfully. Right now, research is the only hope for victims and families.”

“As a member of the Alzheimer’s Association national board of directors and, as a family member who cared for my mother, Rita Hayworth, for so many years, I mourn the passing of former President of the United States Ronald Reagan and extend my own deepest sympathies to former First Lady Nancy Reagan and the Reagan family. President and Mrs. Reagan have been leading advocates in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease for more than 20 years, and millions of Americans have been helped by their dedication, compassion and efforts to support caregivers, raise public awareness about Alzheimer’s, and substantially increase our nation’s commitment to Alzheimer research. They proved their commitment again when they joined with the Alzheimer’s Association to create the Ronald and Nancy Reagan Research Institute, to advance scientific knowledge leading to treatments.

Princess Yasmin at Rita Hayworth Gala.png

Princess Yasmin, 2nd from right, at a recent Alzheimer’s fund raising annual gala held in the memory of her mother Rita Hayworth, who was afflicted with the disease. Photo: Alzheimer’s Association.

“The Alzheimer’s Association is honored that the Reagan family has designated the Association as one of three organizations they recommend to receive contributions in his name. Those who wish to donate to the Alzheimer’s Association’s Ronald and Nancy Reagan Research Institute, or to family support services, may visit http://www.alz.org. A fitting tribute to Ronald Reagan, his life and legacy, would be to join with the Alzheimer’s Association to create a world without Alzheimer’s disease. It is within our reach.”

Note: Princess Yasmin Aga Khan’s statement was reported by media wire sources, with credit to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Date posted: March 10, 2016.

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Egyptian President al-Sisi Meets His Highness the Aga Khan and Hails AKDN’s Work + Memorial Photo

Alaa Youssef, spokesperson for President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, said that the President met with Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, on Saturday, February 20, 2016,  and hailed the positive role played by the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) which he considered as an example of non-governmental organizations contributing to development in the society and creating jobs. President Sisi also praised the AKDN’s efforts in Egypt, especially in the area of childhood development. [1]

Please click on photos to enlarge

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, pictured with Egypt's President al-Sisi on February 20, 2016. Photo Credit: The Egyptian Presidency.

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, pictured with Egypt’s President al-Sisi on February 20, 2016. Photo Credit: The Egyptian Presidency.

The 49th Ismaili Imam said that he was looking forward to boosting the Network’s activities in various Egyptian cities, referring to AKDN’s projects in Aswan. He added that the foundation plans to finance more projects for the needy segments, especially in the health and educational sectors. His Highness the Aga Khan was in Egypt to deliver the keynote address at the Africa 2016 investment forum in Sharm el Sheikh. Thematic excerpts of the speech will appear on this website during the week of February 22, 2016.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (C) takes a memorial photo with other heads of state and government and the participating delegations during the Africa 2016 Business for Africa, Egypt and the World Forum in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, February 20, 2016. His Highness the Aga Khan is pictured second from right in the front row. The 49th Ismaili Imam will be giving a key note speech at the forum on Sunday, February 21, 2016 at approximately 9:00 am (Cairo Time). Photo Credit: The Egyptian Presidency.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (C) takes a memorial photo with other heads of state and government and the participating delegations during the Africa 2016 Business for Africa, Egypt and the World Forum in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, February 20, 2016. His Highness the Aga Khan is pictured second from right in the front row. The 49th Ismaili Imam will be giving a key note speech at the forum on Sunday, February 21, 2016 at approximately 9:00 am (Cairo Time). Photo Credit: The Egyptian Presidency.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi delivers his speech during the opening session of the African international business forum in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh in the South Sinai governorate of Egypt, 20 February 2016. Photo Credit: The Egyptian presidency.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi delivers his speech during the opening session of the African international business forum in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh in the South Sinai governorate of Egypt, 20 February 2016. Photo Credit: The Egyptian presidency.

We invite our readers to click on the following exclusive pieces published recently at Simergphotos:

Date posted: February 20, 2016.
Last updated: February 21, 2016.

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[1] Report compiled from the website of Egypt’s State Information Service, http://www.sis.gov.eg/en/.

Pakistan Visit 1961: Exclusive Photos of His Highness the Aga Khan, Mawlana Hazar Imam, by Abdul M. Ismaily

PLEASE CLICK: Exclusive: Photos of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Visit to Pakistan by the Late Abdul M. Ismaily (“Papa Jaan”)

Please click on image for exclusive photos by Abdul M. Ismaily

Please click on image for exclusive photos by Abdul M. Ismaily

Date posted: February 20, 2016.

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An Anecdote Illustrating the Wisdom and Judgement of His Highness the Aga Khan: “I was Serving No Ordinary Man” by the Late Michael Curtis

Aga Khan Photos by Azhar Chaudhry - 004

His Highness the Aga Khan being greeted by Mr. Michael Curtis of the Nation Group. Photo: Azhar Chaudhry. Sultan Jessa Collection.

Mr. Michael Curtis, a British Fleet Street editor and executive, was introduced to Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, just as he had been proclaimed the 49th Ismaili Imam by his grandfather, Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III.  His recruitment as a staff of His Highness was intended as a short term assignment as a speech writer and publicity organizer during a series of public appearances in Asia and Africa related to the Aga Khan’s installation as Imam. This brief assignment, however, grew into an engagement with His Highness that spanned several decades. The visionary Michael Curtis — who was noted by UK’s Guardian Newspaper as being 50 years ahead of his time in the paper’s obituary to the journalist — was asked to establish the Nation Media Group, which started publishing the Sunday Nation and subsequently the Daily Nation in Kenya, competing successfully with the existing colonial newspapers, the Tanganyika Standard and the East African Standard. At the culmination of the process of Africanising the Nation Group, Michael Curtis stepped down in 1977, after pioneering the introduction of the first web-offset presses installed outside the United States as well as increasing the Nation’s circulation to 165,000 and a readership reputed to touch three million.

Mr. Curtis moved to His Highness the Aga Khan’s Headquarters in Aiglemont, France, where he oversaw the Ismaili Imamat’s rapidly expanding non-denominational health and educational activities throughout South Asia and East Africa, until his retirement in 1994.

Michael Howard Curtis, who was born in Cambridge in 1920, died from cancer in 2004 at the age 84.

The following is an excerpt from a piece written by Mr. Michael Curtis for the Daily Nation’s special souvenir published on the occasion of His Highness the Aga Khan’s wedding in 1969 to Princess Salimah.

“I was Serving No Ordinary Man”

BY MICHAEL CURTIS (1920 – 2004)

It was 12 years ago in Dar-es-Salaam in October 1957. Prince Karim, His Highness the Aga Khan, was to be installed as successor to his grandfather in the first of a series of elaborate ceremonies to be held that year throughout Africa and Asia.

As personal aide to His Highness, I had gone ahead as part of an advance party and was greeted by the local leaders who told me that a serious problem had arisen. The only other such ceremony in living memory had taken place 72 years before in Bombay, when Aga Khan III had succeeded to the Imamate.

Not surprisingly, there was some doubt about the form the service would take and it seemed that an acute difference of opinion had arisen as to which verses of the Koran should be included. There was clearly nothing to be done but to await a ruling from the Aga Khan himself.

It was an unforgettable scene and took place in one of the state rooms of Government House where the Aga Khan was guest of the Colonial Governor at that time, the late Lord Twining. The Ismaili leaders were seated, as is their custom, cross-legged in a semi-circle around their young Imam and the two factions elaborated their different points of view.

To a non-Muslim the arguments were difficult to follow, but it was clear to me that a strong difference of opinion existed and that the Aga Khan would be called upon to resolve a ticklish point of theological doctrine.

This was the first occasion on which he had been called to exercise the responsibilities bequeathed to him by his grandfather. Still an undergraduate at Harvard, he looked very young, a trifle pale and tense as he listened to the rival claimants. There was a pause as they finished. Then the Aga Khan asked a question which obviously puzzled his followers. “Who,” he asked, “will recite the verses you wish me to decide upon?”

A chorus of voices assured him that a young man from Zanzibar had been procured for the recitation and that his fame as a psalmodist of the Koran was acclaimed far and wide.

“If that is so,” said His Highness, “let this young man suggest those verses in which his ability is most outstanding and thereafter I shall decide which particular chapters and verses will be selected.”

It was a solution that delighted everyone. The opposing factions accepted it gladly, for neither had lost face. The choirboy for certain would sing as he had never sung before — which in truth he did the following afternoon. It was a decision which reflected the instinctive simplicity of true wisdom and first revealed to me that I was serving no ordinary man.

I have related this tale before, and if I repeat it today it is because I know of no other anecdote which more aptly illustrates his wisdom and judgement.

Date posted: February 15, 2016.

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Profile of Mr. Michael Curtis compiled from Wikipedia, The Guardian and the Daily Telegraph. Please click on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Curtis_(journalist), and the references cited in the article.

In London Conference, His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam, Calls for ‘Islands of Stability’ in War-Torn Syria

In remarks made at an International Conference under the theme “Supporting Syria and the Region Conference”, in London, England, Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, today called for the establishment of ‘islands of stability’ in war-ravaged Syria that could provide areas of relative safety in the midst of conflict. The conference, co-hosted by Germany, Kuwait, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United Nations. was attended by representatives from sixty countries, including 30 world leaders.

“The situation in Syria is a close to hell as we are likely to find on this earth,” said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Referring to the Geneva meeting between the Syrian Government and the opposition parties that had broken down just a day earlier, he said the talks were “undermined by the continuous lack of sufficient humanitarian access, and by a sudden increase of aerial bombings and military activities within Syria”. He urged the warring sides to “get back to the table, not to secure more gains on the battlefields”.

Aga Khan 2016 Support Syria Conference London

Deploring the devastation in war-ravaged Syria, Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, called for the establishment of “islands of stability” to provide areas of relative safety in the midst of conflict. The 49th Shia Ismaili Imam, pledged $200 million towards achieving peace, stability, and reconstruction in the country.

The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, said that “if ever there was a moment to take a new approach to the humanitarian crisis in Syria surely it is now,” mentioning the huge number of Syrians who “fear they have no alternative than to put their lives in the hands of evil-people smugglers in search of a future”.

The following are the transcript and video of the remarks made by His Highness the Aga Khan at the Supporting Syria and the Region Conference.

Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim

Co-hosts of the Conference on Supporting Syria and the Region,

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I thank the co-hosts for organising this much-needed initiative to deepen the understanding of, and garner international support for the peoples of Syria, Alongside all those present here today, I am deeply distressed over the indiscriminate and widespread devastation of life and property, including that of irreplaceable cultural assets which are the manifestation of Syria’s stunningly rich pluralistic history.

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), which is the Ismaili Imamat’s global agency for supporting development, is fully engaged with the peace process under UN leadership, and is firmly committed to helping build a Syria that continues to respect pluralism, remains secular, and embarks on a political process led by Syrians.

AKDN’s development and humanitarian work in Syria began many years before the war. In the present situation, we have committed resources and efforts to ensure that Internally Displaced People receive humanitarian assistance, and are supported to sustain their livelihoods. We are taking two approaches:

First, we are supporting local community leaders, teachers, doctors, engineers and others to foster stability, protecting their families and their communities. We are thus building and strengthening civil society to take as much responsibility as possible for their own future.

Second, we are investing in communities, by supporting agriculture, income generation, early childhood education, schools, and hospitals. We also provide vocational training to create skills. Our goal is to sustain hope.

We aim to meet the urgent needs of the present, but where also possible to protect and strengthen the foundations for the future. We seek to create “islands of stability”, where there is public consensus, in the face of war. It is my conviction that “islands of stability” can be replicated wherever security permits. Investing in them will help prevent displacement of people and anchor communities that would otherwise flee as refugees.

Since the onset of conflict in 2011, AKDN has dedicated $50 million towards these endeavours in Syria and is now committing to increasing this investment to $200 million over the next four years. Our efforts will expand to wider areas of the country. Our goal is peace, stability, and reconstruction.

Thank you.

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Date posted: February 4, 2016.