A Proposal to Enhance the Wonderful Ideal of “One Jamat” for the Diamond Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan

“As you have seen from recent days, here in Karachi, but also in other parts of Pakistan, the Jamat that has been here comes from many different countries, speaks many different languages, comes from different backgrounds, cultural backgrounds, but remember, please remember, that you are one Jamat; that you recognise the same Imam of the Time.” Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, Karachi, Pakistan, October 27, 2000.

Ismaili Portrait by Matthieu Palley

“..remember, please remember, that you are one Jamat; that you recognise the same Imam of the Time…” Ismaili girls hold the photo of their beloved Imam as they celebrate the anniversary of the Aga Khan’s visit to their village in the Pamirs in the 1990s. 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 girls, dressed in bright atlas silk fabric with crowns on their heads, were going out to dance. Photo: Matthieu Paley. Copyright.

More than 12 years ago in early 2004, the editor of this blog, with the assistance of his father Alwaez Jehangir Merchant, submitted to the Ismaili leadership a proposal for the celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan’s Golden Jubilee, which was still 3 years away (July 11, 2007). The proposal did not find any traction but today we find a hash tag #OneJamat floating around, perhaps resulting from the momentous Ismaili Jubilee Games that were held in Dubai recently. The games brought thousands of Ismaili athletes from all over the world together in a spirit of friendship and brotherhood, and exemplified the spirit of “One Jamat” that Mawlana Hazar Imam or His Highness has spoken about throughout his Imamat.

I am happy to share with readers of this website the original proposal entitled “One Jamat” with a view that some of the components described in the proposal have the potential to enhance the notion of “One Jamat” even further beyond the Jubilee Games, as we prepare to celebrate 60 glorious years of Imamat or the Diamond Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan on July 11, 2017. By coincidence, a few days earlier on July 1, Canada will be marking its 150th Anniversary of Confederation. For the past three years, the Canadian Government has been soliciting ideas from Canadians on how the country should celebrate its historic 150th birthday. With the recent announcement that Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee will be celebrated on July 11, 2017, it is hoped that the Ismaili leadership around the world will seek to engage with their respective constituents on ways to make the Diamond Jubilee a unique event in the life of each and every Ismaili living in the world today.

During his Golden Jubilee visits between July 11, 2007 and December 13, 2008, His Highness the Aga Khan, stressed on three matters to the worldwide Ismaili community:

  • The importance of forming business and professional partnerships in order to strengthen and sustain the economic well-being of the community, in favour of taking an individualistic approach which has been the mind-set of the Ismailis for decades;
  • Eliminating poverty wherever it exists in the jamat by coming up with specific poverty alleviation projects and programs; and
  • Addressing the needs of  the aging members of the jamat.

The “One Jamat” proposal, below, does not deal with any of these 3 critical and important issues, but over the next several months this website will propose ways to address these key areas of concern mentioned by Mawlana Hazar Imam during his Golden Jubilee (and even in the preceding decades). We hope readers will submit their feedback.

For example, there is no doubt that meetings and conferences have been held since the Golden Jubilee on ways to form business and professional partnerships, but each professional or business entity within the institutional framework has then taken its own path. No concrete steps have been taken to bring individuals, professionals and businesses together on a global scale, through an enterprise like Monster Worldwide, that would have an incredible impact on the world wide jamat in every aspect of human endeavour, and thus significantly strengthen the “One Jamat” ideal! A future article will elaborate on this internet idea for greater collaboration and cooperation between individuals, professionals and businesses around the world that would significantly improve the economic and social status of the jamat.

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“ONE JAMAT”

A Proposal to Celebrate the Golden Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan (1957-2007)

Prepared and submitted in 2004 by Abdulmalik J. Merchant
with the assistance of

Alwaez Rai Jehangir A. Merchant

“As you have seen from recent days, here in Karachi, but also in other parts of Pakistan, the Jamat that has been here comes from many different countries, speaks many different languages, comes from different backgrounds, cultural backgrounds, but remember, please remember, that you are one Jamat; that you recognise the same Imam of the Time.” Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, Karachi, Pakistan, October 27, 2000.

“ONE JAMAT” – PRELIMINARY REMARKS

Under the rubric “One Jamat”, this proposal articulates a number of ideas for celebrating, in a meaningful manner, Mawlana Hazar Imam’s fifty glorious and magnificent years of Imamat. “One Jamat” will bring the richness and diversity of the Ismaili world and the accomplishments of our beloved 49th Imam to the forefront of a world-wide audience. The notion, inspiration and motivation for “One Jamat” comes from farmans that Mawlana Hazar Imam has made where he has often used the term “One Jamat” (see the extract cited on the beginning of this proposal).

There will be many ideas on how the Jubilee can be celebrated. In our proposal to inculcate and enshrine the notion of “One Jamat” into the hearts and minds of the Jamats around the world, and with a view to making the notion of “One Jamat” viable and sustainable, we have identified seven themes, and have proposed seven projects to implement these themes, with an emphasis on social, educational and cultural dimensions. The themes and projects proposed hereunder are in engagement with the past, present and future of Ismaili communities worldwide.

Over the past few years, personal and institutional initiatives and encounters have contributed towards a realization of the ‘Unity in Diversity’ within the Jamat. However, the vitality of the notion of “One Jamat” can be fully realized only by and with the active participation of Jamats globally. A critically important factor in this participation is for Ismailis to become better informed and educated about the different social and cultural contexts within which they live around the world. This view is based on a statement made by Mawlana Hazar Imam in an address he delivered at the Prince Claus Conference in Amsterdam in September 2002:

“Development  is  sustainable  only  if  the  beneficiaries  become, in  a  gradual manner, the  masters  of  the process. This means that initiatives cannot be contemplated exclusively in terms of economics, but rather as an integrated program that encompasses social and cultural dimensions as well.”

How can we best celebrate this event to make it an enduring and enriching event? How can we be educated and, at the same time, be entertained? How can we pay our tribute to the phenomenal achievements of Mawlana Hazar Imam for the Jamat?  What legacy will we leave behind so that our beloved 49th Imam and the Jamat of the 20th and 21st centuries are thought of centuries hence?

“ONE JAMAT” – SEVEN THEMES

The following seven themes [1] will provide the controlling framework for “One Jamat”:

1. Peoples, Places, Culture and Tradition

This theme will examine the composition of the Jamat. Where are the Jamats located? Why are they located where they are? This study of human-environment interactions will assist individuals as they create their spatial views and geographic perspectives of the world. This theme will also describe ways in which languages and literature, music and art serve as expressions of tradition and culture and influence behavior of people living within a specific geographical region.

2. Community Ideals and Practices

What is the ethos of the Jamat as promulgated by Mawlana Hazar Imam? How are the values of compassion and generosity exemplified in our institutions and in individuals? Why is honorary service such a critical component in our lives? How are these ideals practiced around the world? What are its origins? How can we sustain this most wonderful aspect of our Ismaili tariqah? What is the role of din (the spiritual) and dunya (the temporal) and how are they interwoven into our ideals, ethics and practices?

3. Spiritual Power, Authority and Governance

This theme will seek to explore and address questions such as: What is Imamat? What forms does it take? What is legitimate authority in Shia Islam? How does the Imam create, maintain, and change institutions? How does the Imam govern the Jamat? How does he delegate responsibilities and what are his expectations of the leadership? What is the role of the Ismaili constitution, and how has it evolved and changed?

4. Time, Continuity and Change

Knowing how to read and reconstruct the past will allow one to develop a historical perspective and to answer questions such as: Who am I? What happened to the Jamat in the past and what challenges did it face? What contribution has the Imamat and the Jamat made in the spheres of human endeavor? How am I connected to those in the past? How has the Jamat changed and how might it change in the future?

5. Education, Meritocracy and the Role of Intellect

What are the educational trends of today and tomorrow and how is the Jamat adapting to the technological society and careers of the future? Why are meritocracy and education, including lifelong education, so critical and vital for our survival and security? What is the notion of meritocracy and how does it complement our belief system? How can we preserve our fundamental values and beliefs in a world that is rapidly becoming one technology-linked?

6. Individuals, Groups and Institutions

This theme will address questions such as: What is the role of institutions in Jamats around the world?  How am I influenced by institutions and how do they benefit me? How do institutions change? How can I play a positive role in institutional change? What is the contribution of the women and youth in Jamati and Imamat institutions? In addition, the role of Imamat institutions as civil society groups that seek to tackle in a coherent, collaborative and structured way the problems and needs of the citizens of the countries in which they are engaged in will be examined. How are the Muslim values of ethics, concern and generosity implemented within a context that not only values pluralism and individual liberties but also respects the citizen’s own vision of the common good?

7. Production and Consumption – Ismailis in the Modern World

This theme will explore how individuals and Jamats in both the rural and urban centers meet their daily needs and build for the future. If they are farmers, what do they produce and how is the production organized? How do they organize themselves in their own areas of expertise?  How are they competing and preparing in the global economy? What opportunities are available?

“ONE JAMAT” – SEVEN PROJECTS

“One Jamat” will be implemented through a series of seven ground breaking projects and will encompass all of today’s communications media. These projects will be an unprecedented accomplishment even by modern standards of entertainment and knowledge transmission. The seven themes briefly mentioned above will form the programming framework for the projects as the case may apply. The seven suggested projects are:

1. DVD

The “One Jamat” DVD (approximately 3 hours in duration), accompanied by a music CD (60 to 75 minutes in length), will seek to diffuse and educate through images, voices and music the notion of “One Jamat.” The DVD’s overall objective will be to provide education and entertainment of the highest quality through a thematic presentation of ideas, thoughts and music. It will feature Ismailis of all ages and from all walks of life (artists and musicians, singers and storytellers, writers and thinkers, school children and teachers, leaders and volunteers, seniors, business people and professionals). This component of “One Jamat” would, in some ways, resemble the award winning CD/DVD production 1 Giant Leap produced by Jamie Catto and Duncan Bridgeman which was released in 2002 by Palm Pictures, with the theme “Unity in Diversity.”

2. Television/Radio Documentary Series

This project will be immense in scope, similar to the BBC/PBS series by Professor Mazrui entitled “The Africans.” A seven-part series, “The Ismailis,” would be produced for television and radio audiences around the world. A fully illustrated book would accompany this series. With a special foreword by Mawlana Hazar Imam, the text and stunning pictures will seek to capture the spirit of the Ismaili Jamats around the world and will put into perspective our rich history, culture and tradition.

3. Ismaili Ensemble and the One Jamat Festival

This project will bring together an ensemble of Ismaili musicians and singers along with other artisans from all traditions of the Jamat, who will perform live in front of Ismaili and non-Ismaili audiences in selected cities around the world. This will culminate with the “One Jamat” festival, similar to the highly successful  annual Silk Roads Festival held in Washington D.C., that will showcase and present works of art, cultural and musical events from around the Ismaili world. Artisans will have the opportunity to market their unique products to hundreds of thousands of visitors to the festival. The Ismaili Imamat and the Aga Khan Development Network will also feature prominently and there will be linkages to participating galleries and museums.

4. Leadership Conference

This project will bring together the Ismaili world’s leadership and future leaders from universities, business, labor, government, NGOs, civil society groups, education and the cultural sectors for a unique experience aimed at broadening their perspectives on work, career trends, leadership, their communities, and their respective Jamats. Participants will represent Ismailis from different countries, different perspectives and different careers. All will share one thing in common: they will be high potential individuals expected to achieve senior leadership positions in their organizations and communities. Participation will be open to all Ismaili youth and professionals. This one to two week brainstorming event will open up to a world of ideas, knowledge and experience and will pave future goals for the Jamat based on Mawlana Hazar Imam’s hidayat (guidance).

5. International Competition

Ismailis, young and old, from around the world will be invited to participate in a series of competitions on the notion of “One Jamat” wherein different art forms (pottery, woodwork, painting, sculpture, metalwork, etc.), as well as literary expressions (poetry, music, etc.) will be encouraged. A panel of judges comprising Ismaili and non-Ismaili individuals will select the winning entries, and these will be showcased on other related projects, such as museum exhibitions and the “One Jamat” festival.

6. Museum Exhibitions

A series of exhibitions (in Toronto, for example at the Aga Khan Museum, as well as in major cities throughout the world) will be inaugurated with a view to providing the Jamat and the general public about the accomplishments of the Ismaili Imamat. The ethos of the Ismaili Imamat and its institutions and the pluralistic nature of the community under the leadership of a living and manifest Imam will be communicated via visual and interactive displays, text, and short films. Exhibitions of manuscripts and objects from different periods of Ismaili history will be organized with selected museums worldwide.

7. Web Site

An official web site OneJamat.com [2] will complement all the above projects. In addition, it will keep Jamats worldwide informed about the events and news pertaining to the Jubilee celebrations. The web site will be a repository of music, sounds and images that could not be included in the DVD/CD, such as interviews and footage. It will be a long term commitment, extending beyond the Jubilee Year, as the notion of “One Jamat” continues to evolve and is understood and experienced through other dimensions of the Jamats’ lives.

CONCLUSION – MEETING THE “ONE JAMAT” CHALLENGE

“One Jamat” will be enriching, entertaining, educational. It will be an historical experience befitting the accomplishments of our 49th Imam. We will be leaving a magnificent legacy – that of having inculcated the ethic of “One Jamat” for ourselves and for future generations. The celebrations marking the Jubilee through the projects mentioned will enhance each individual’s experience of this unique occasion. It will be an opportunity to involve Ismaili youth from around the world to become engaged in its planning and implementation. New talents in the Jamat will develop; art and culture will be fortified as artists are inspired. These will be assets to the Jamat for the challenges that lie ahead.

“One Jamat” will be an unprecedented collaboration that will include the Imamat, its institutions, and a large number of Jamati and non-Jamati members from around the world. It will need to address and overcome many technical and logistical challenges and hurdles. We have an intellectual heritage, and the modern Jamat must meet the challenges of the time.

Date posted: Friday, September 2, 2016.

Copyright: Abdulmalik Merchant and Jehangir A. Merchant.

Note: This proposal was submitted to the Ismaili leadership in 2004, before any plans had been formalized to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan. The Golden Jubilee celebrations were held from July 11, 2007 until December 13, 2008.

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[1] Some of the material listed in the seven themes was inspired and extracted from a social studies section in a  paper at galileo.org. 

[2] The editor had reserved this domain name, with numerous variations, after this proposal was submitted. It has since been acquired by another individual when the editor overlooked the expiry date of extending the domain name.

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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We welcome your feedback. Please click Leave a comment

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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We invite your feedback and comments. Please click Leave a comment.

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.

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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.