A Brief Reflection on the Late Premier Bill Davis and His Highness the Aga Khan’s 1978 and 1983 Visits to Toronto During His Premiership

Zahir Dharsee was already settled in Toronto when Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, visited Canada in 1978 and 1983. Bill Davis was Ontario’s Premier during the two visits and Zahir reflects on his leadership as well as the warmth with which he welcomed the Aga Khan, the 49th Hereditary Ismaili Imam and direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.S.) Please click HERE or on photo below to read Zahir’s historical recollection, published in Barakah.

Bill Davis and Aga Khan
Premier Bill Davis receives Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, at Queen’s Park on November 20, 1978. Please click on photo for story.

Date posted: September 28, 2021.

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A Visit to the Rooftop Terrace of the Ismaili Centre Toronto: Views of the Jamatkhana Prayer Hall’s Crystalline Glass Dome

What we dedicate today is what we identify as an Ismaili Centre — a building that is focused around our Jamatkhana, but which also includes many secular spaces…..And soaring above it all is the great crystalline dome that you have observed, through which light from the prayer hall will provide a glowing beacon, symbolising the spirit of enlightenment that will always be at the heart of the Centre’s life.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, Opening Ceremony of Ismaili Centre Toronto, September 12, 2014.

Simerg’s Malik Merchant visits the rooftop terrace of the Ismaili Centre, and comes as close as possible to the unique dome of Toronto Headquarters Jamatkhana located on 49 Wynford Drive. Click HERE or on image below to see photos of the dome and the area surrounding the Ismaili Centre.

Crystalline glass dome of the Ismaili Headquarters Jamatkhana Toronto
Please click on image for photo essay

Date posted: September 28, 2021.

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Taliban Takeover: (1) Advisory from Ismaili Institutions Says Majority of Jamati Members Safe and Continuing with Normal Life; and (2) Afghanistan Helpline Set Up

Introduced and compiled By MALIK MERCHANT
Publisher/Editor SimergBarakah and Simerg Photos

Advisory

An advisory posted in English and Farsi on the official website of the Ismaili community on the latest situation in Afghanistan, says that there are very few civilian casualties involving members of the Jamat, and the majority of them are safe and continuing with normal life. The advisory notes that the Jamat has been advised to remain calm, and not give in to panicked reactions, and that Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, is giving constant guidance and direction to the Jamati leadership in addressing the developments that are taking place in the country.

The advisory asks each family to remain in charge of their homes and dwellings wherever they are located. It also notes that Ismaili and AKDN institutions remain safe, and have not come under any undue pressures, and that in accordance with Mawlana Hazar Imam’s guidance, all our institutions continue to operate as normal.

In an earlier post, that will continue to be updated with reliable information as well as analysis from external non-Jamati sources, we referred to an article that appeared in the on-line edition of Coquitlam’s Tricity News in which Malik Malikzada had mentioned to the newspaper’s reporter, after having spoken to his cousin living in Kabul, that Ismailis in Afghanistan Were Asked to Stay Home and not Panic. That piece of news brought immense relief to us at Simerg as well as our readers from around the world, and we are now pleased to note the official institutional statement in this regard.

Afghanistan Helpline

Al-Saha the communications newsletter of the UK Ismaili National Council has released the following statement in its latest issue (Please read official web version HERE):

“As the unfolding situation in Afghanistan continues to be of concern, the UK and Europe Helpline has been extended for any member of the Jamat that has any concerns or questions. If you live in the UK or Europe, please call the Helpline on 0208 191 0911, Option 2, or email nam@iiuk.org in the first instance. If you have any friends or family that live in Afghanistan who require help and support, please advise them to contact the Afghanistan National Council on +93793014401.

“The Jamat is advised to be vigilant about recent possibly fraudulent activity pertaining to the current crisis in Afghanistan. Please be cautious of fundraising campaigns claiming to support Afghans in need or other advertised services promising to speed immigration processes from Afghanistan. Some of these schemes may be fraudulent and illegal. The Jamati Institutions are working together to support the Jamat. Please direct contributions to FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance via the website ……. if you wish to support those who have been affected by crisis or displacement, including the Jamat in Afghanistan. Thank you for your continued support.”

Prayers

We join Jamati members from around the world and pray for the safety and well-being of the Jamat in Afghanistan as well as the nation at large. We pray for a united Afghanistan in the days and months ahead.

Reader’s Feedback

Please read Comments Received and, if you wish, contribute your reflections, thoughts, insights and eye-witness accounts of the situation in Afghanistan. Names of contributors will be withheld on request, and Simerg and its sister websites never publish or reveal email addresses of individuals who provide feedback.

Date posted: August 20, 2021.
Last updated: August 21, 2021 (Afghanistan helpline section added).

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We invite our readers to submit their reflections, thoughts and prayers on the situation in Afghanistan 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.

Must See Video: Bruno Freschi Provides Great Insights Into the Making of the First Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre in Canada, and Reflects on His Highness the Aga Khan

Introduced by MALIK MERCHANT
Publisher/Editor SimergBarakah and Simerg Photos

I first met met Bruno Freschi, the architect of the Ismaili Centre Vancouver, in Washington D.C., when Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, was awarded the Vincent Scully Prize in January 2005 at the National Building Museum. After meeting him at the door, I politely intruded into a conversation the Aga Khan Council Canada President, Firoz Rasul, was having with Fumihiko Maki, the Japanese architect of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat Building in Ottawa (December 2008), and the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto (September 2014), and introduced Bruno to the President. So for the first time two great architects from different ends of the world met each other. We are truly proud of what both have done for the Ismaili Imamat and the Ismaili community.

Aga Khan at the National Building Museum Washington DC
Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, Charles Correa, Robert Ivy and Martin Filler in a panel discussion on “Design in the Islamic World and Its Impact Beyond”, on January 25, 2008 at the National Building Museum, Washington, D.C. Photo: © Nicky Lubis. Special to Simerg.
Bruno Freschi, OC
Bruno Freschi, OC
Aga Khan at National Building Museum seminar
Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan pictured during a panel discussion at the seminar “Design in the Islamic World and Its Impact Beyond” held at the National Museum Building in Washington, D.C., January 25, 2005. Bruno Freschi in an interview with Simerg noted as follows about Mawlana Hazar Imam: “An excellent design critic and intellectually generous in the pursuit of design ideas”. Photo: © Special to Simerg.

Later that evening before the ceremonies were over — and also later in my interview with him — Bruno told me that he met Mawlana Hazar Imam who thanked him for building the Jamatkhana in Vancouver which he said was one of his most favoured buildings. At the time, Bruno was based in the US capital.

Aga Khan message to Bruno Freschi
His Highness the Aga Khan’s appreciative note to Mr. Bruno Freschi for his “remarkable achievement”. Message written in the architect’s personal volume of the Ismaili Centre Souvenir publication. Image: Bruno Freschi Collection, 1985.

A few years later when Bruno was back in Vancouver but still travelling, I met him for the second time shortly after launching Simerg in the spring of 2009. My daughter had travelled with me to visit my parents in Vancouver. Bruno happened to be in town and was available one evening for dinner at the famous VJ’s restaurant.

VJs Vancouver Bruno Freschi and the Merchants
(From left, anti-clockwise) Bruno Freschi, Jehangir Merchant (d. May 2018), Nurin Merchant and Malik Merchant at the famous VJs in Vancouver, March 2009.

My dad joined us for a fantastic meal with Bruno, and what an evening it turned out to be. Among other matters, and in a setting of a great ambience, our conversation also centered around the magnificent Jamatkhana building that he had designed. That evening’s conversation along with subsequent text exchanges then became part of Simerg’s though provoking interview with Bruno Freschi, that includes several unique photos.

Jehangir Merchant, Ismaili teacher, writer and missionary at Ismaili Centre Vancouver
Jehangir Merchant pictured in front of the fountain in the beautiful courtyard of the Ismaili Centre and Jamatkhana, Vancouver, designed by Bruno Freschi. It was designated as the Darkhana Jamatkhana by Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan. Both Jehangir and his wife, Maleksultan, attended the Darkhana Jamatkhana every single day, and found immense comfort and happiness within the Jamatkhana space and the building’s overall interior and exterior environment. This photo was taken a few months before Alwaez died in May 2018 at the age of 89. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.
Mohib Ebrahim, Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre
A beautiful night view of the courtyard of the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre, Vancouver, with the fountain in the foreground and the Jamatkhana entrance forming the backdrop. The Jamatkhana was designed by Vancouver’s Bruno Freschi and opened in 1985 by Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in the presence of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan. Photo: © Mohib Ebrahim. 2014. For a superb collection of photos of the Ismaili Centre by Mohib, please click HERE
Mrs. Merchant at Ismaili Centre Vancouver with neighbour Nazim Rawji
Mrs. Merchant (d. January 2021) pictured with Nazim Rawji, her former 1960/1970’s neighbour from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, outside the courtyard of the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre in Vancouver during an event marking the 59th Imamat Day of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan. The building was designed by architect Bruno Freschi, and opened in 1985 by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in the presence of Mawlana Hazar Imam. Photo: Malik Merchant. July 2016.

I invite readers to read Simerg’s insightful interview with Bruno, and to also watch a fantastic program hosted by journalist Zahra Premji in Ismaili Canada’s series Summer Reflections. The video, below, must not be missed as it provides Bruno Freschi’s rare and unique glimpses into the making of this absolutely beautiful building which was opened in September 1985. His admiration and respect for Mawlana Hazar Imam is deeply touching.

I have always enjoyed being around Bruno because of his humble qualities and for sharing inspiring insights into the work of the Ismaili Imamat. I was delighted to meet him again at a much different VJ’s some years later just before the Diamond Jubilee of Mawlana Hazar Imam. He then contributed a thought provoking article The architecture of empathic pluralism: His Highness the Aga Khan, an inspired vision of architecture for Barakah, a website dedicated to Mawlana Hazar Imam and members of his family. Then, after my dad passed away, I met him once more when my mum was with me at a daytime event at the Ismaili Centre. She was very happy that she had finally met the person who designed the Jamatkhana that both she and my dad had visited every single day for years and years. The Jamatkhana had provided them with spiritual happiness and comfort as well as strength in their daily lives, like it has for thousands and thousands of Ismailis living in Vancouver as well as visitors from around the world.

We thank you Bruno for creating a beautiful space to which we all enter (go in) with anticipation and leave (go out) with an immense amount of happiness and hope. We return to it over and over again. Your insight into the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre will make us think more about the building you painstakingly designed for us, working together side by side with our beloved Imam to see its total and full completion.

The Ismaili Canada Conversation with Bruno Freschi

Note: To skip the pre-show of songs and music, please start the video at approximately the 13 minute mark to watch Zahra Premji’s excellent and extensive interview with Bruno Freschi, the architect of the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre in Vancouver.

To skip songs and watch Ismaili Centre program and interview with Bruno Freschi, please begin at 13 minute mark.

Date posted: August 14, 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.

Photo Essay: Celebrating the Ismaili Flag and the Personal Standard of His Highness the Aga Khan Through 70+ Historical and Memorable Photos from Around the World

An artistic rendition of the Ismaili Flag. Please click on image for photo essay.

Under the new Ismaili Constitution that was ordained by Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, in 1986 — and revised in 1998 — the popular flag of the Ismailis that had been referred to by many Ismaili Jamats around the world for decades as the “My Flag” officially acquired a new name, “The Ismaili Flag.” There was no specific Imamat flag before 1986 — the “My Flag” with its red and green colours was used during ceremonial and other events where Hazar Imam was present. But with the new constitution, the crest (or taj) of Mawlana Hazar Imam was incorporated into the “The Ismaili Flag” and this flag with the crest is referred to as the “Personal Standard of Mawlana Hazar Imam.” Barakah’s photo essay seeks to explain the colours red and green in “The Ismaili Flag” and, through dozens of photos from around the world, illustrates the usage of the “Personal Standard of Mawlana Hazar Imam.”

Read and share Barakah’s post by clicking on Celebrating the Ismaili Flag and the Beautiful Personal Standard of Mawlana Hazar Imam; the Ismaili Ethos of Valour and Peace Are Representative of the Flag’s Red and Green Colours.

Flag of the Ismaili Imamat Aga Khan portrait by Jean-Marc Carisse
Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, poses in front of his Personal Standard bearing the gold crest of the Imam. Photo: © Jean-Marc Carisse, Ottawa. Please click on photo for photo essay

Date posted: August 7, 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 62nd Year of the Imamat of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan:(I) Lisbon’s Diamond Jubilee Darbar

Barakah’s multi-part pictorial series on the 61st thru 64th years of Mawlana Hazar Imam His Highness the Aga Khan’s reign as the 49th Hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims continues with a new post highlighting his Diamond Jubilee Celebrations in Lisbon, Portugal, that culminated with a Grand Darbar on July 11, 2018 in the presence of more than 40,000 Ismailis from around the world. Earlier on the same day, the Henrique Mendonça Palace, acquired by the Ismaili Imam a few years earlier, was ordained as the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat, and designated by His Highness as the Diwan of the Ismaili Imamat. Please click HERE or on image below for exceptional photos as well as excerpts from 3 exclusive eyewitness accounts of the Lisbon Jubilee celebrations.

Aga Khan on steps of Henrique Mendonça Palace
Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, pictured on his 61st Imamat Day anniversary, July 11, 2018, with members of his family and leaders of the Ismaili community on the steps of Henrique Mendonça Palace, which was ordained as the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat and at the same time designated as The Diwan of the Ismaili Imamat by Mawlana Hazar Imam. Please click on image for a fantastic pictorial post of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in Lisbon.

Date posted: August 2, 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.

His Highness the Aga Khan’s Messages to His Ismaili Muslim Spiritual Children Around the World Since March 2020

Simerg’s sister website, Barakah, has created a special new Talika page with links to all the Talikas (written messages) that Mawlana Hazar Imam has sent to his Jamats around the world since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Talika page will be updated whenever a new Talika is received from Mawlana Hazar Imam. However, for a start we are also providing the links to all the Talikas from March 2020 to Current (July 2021) hereunder; they are listed in reverse chronological order:

JULY 2021

In a Wide Ranging Imamat Day Talika, Mawlana Hazar Imam Sends Blessings for the Souls of His Deceased Spiritual Children, the Jamats Around the World as Well as Everyone Involved in Combatting Covid-19; Tells Jamats Not to Hesitate in Getting Vaccinated and Expresses Happiness At Two Recent Events in Universities That He Has Built – Barakah

MARCH 2021

In Navroz Talika, Mawlana Hazar Imam tells Jamats that he has been vaccinated against Covid-19, recommends that Jamats do the same without giving credence to comparisons between officially sanctioned vaccines, and gives blessings for barakah in our spiritual and material lives with prayers that Navroz will herald a new beginning – Barakah

DECEMBER 2020

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

NOVEMBER 2020

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

JULY 2020

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

MAY 2020

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

APRIL 2020

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, sends message to his spiritual children around the world on Covid-19, with blessings for their protection from difficulty; text in 10 languages – Barakah

MARCH 2020

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

Mawlana Hazar Imam sends talika on the occasion of Navroz with special blessings for mushkil asan, and prayers for the Jamat’s health and well-being – Barakah

Date posted: July 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.

Video: His Highness the Aga Khan and the Vision Behind the Aga Khan Historic Cities Program by Cameron Rashti

The Edinburgh International Culture Summit held virtually from August 24-26, 2020 brought together the world’s leading minds in the fields of culture, the sciences and politics to discuss issues which effect nations around the world. Cameron Rashti, the Director of Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme, Aga Khan Trust for Culture, was one of the participants and reflected on “Culture in Vibrant Communities” providing interesting insights into the goal and purpose of the Aga Khan Historic Cities programs in Central Asia, the Middles East, South Asia, and Africa.

As well as watching Rashti’s 14:41 minute Youtube presentation, below, may we suggest that readers also click on STORIES and ARTISTS IN CONVERSATION IN THE AGE OF COVID which are two other important and inspiring components of the Edinburgh International Culture Summit website.

Date posted: July 16, 2021.

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Cameron Rashti

Cameron Rashti joined the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) in 1994. A graduate of Dartmouth College, Pratt Institute and Columbia University, he is a registered architect in the USA and the UK. Prior to joining the Trust, he held senior positions on major architectural and urban redevelopment projects in New York (1979-89) and in London (1989-94), as Vice President of Perkins & Will International. On behalf of AKTC, Rashti oversees a portfolio of diverse urban conservation and redevelopment projects in historic cities and heritage sites across the Middle East, Central and South Asia, and the Far East and teams of dedicated professionals in each location. He has served since 2010 as Delegate of the President of the Foundation of Chantilly, mandated with the safeguarding and redevelopment of the Domaine de Chantilly. Rashti has coordinated and contributed to a series of publications produced with Prestel on the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme’s work and development models.

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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.

Raising an Awareness of the Mandate, Mission and Accomplishments of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan

As Ismaili Muslims prepare to commemorate the 64th Imamat Day anniversary of their 49th Imam on July 11, 2021, we bring you these fine piece by Ismaili and non-Ismaili authors that provide a rich account of the work of His Highness the Aga Khan in different areas of human endeavour. The first piece by Shiraz Nasser is a narrative that provides an Ismaili perspective of the facets that he sees where Mawlana Hazar Imam has touched the lives of Ismailis and non-Ismailis alike. It is a great introductory piece by which to recall the Imam’s accomplishments, and to begin studying the life of the Imam in more depth. To read each piece, click on the image or its hyperlinked caption. You will be taken to Barakah, a website dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan, members of his family and the Ismaili Imamat.

1. ARTICLE BY SHIRAZ NASSER

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2. ARTICLE BY AUSTIN BUKENYA

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3. EXCERPTS FROM THE AGA KHAN’S SPEECHES

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4. ARTICLE BY MOHAMMED ARKOUN

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5. TRIBUTE BY LÉOPOLD SÉDAR SENGHOR

Date posted: July 6, 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.

Simerg’s Special Series on Books by Ismaili Authors: “Faith and Ethics: The Vision of the Ismaili Imamat” by M. Ali Lakhani of Vancouver – a Must Read in Preparation for Mawlana Hazar Imam His Highness the Aga Khan’s 64th Imamat Day on July 11, 2021

by MALIK MERCHANT
Publisher/Editor SimergBarakah and Simergphotos

Simerg’s series entitled “Books by Ismaili Authors” continues with Canadian writer M. Ali Lakhani’s book “Faith and Ethics: The Vision of the Ismaili Imamat”. We follow the same Q/A format as our recent presentations of books written by Nizar Sultan, Nargis Fazal, Nazlin Rahemtulla, Azmina Suleman, Alnasir Rajan, Shafeen Ali, Mansoor Ladha, Zeni Shariff and Shamas Nanji. We invite Ismaili authors around the world to participate in this series, regardless of when their books were published. See details of the series HERE and submit your responses to Simerg’s editor, Malik, at Simerg@aol.com.

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

M. Ali Lakhani: The book is the first major survey of the ideas of His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, based on his public statements over the last six decades. It illustrates how the ethos of the Ismaili Imamat is derived from the principle of tawhid, what the Imam calls an “all-encompassing unity” which is the essence of the faith of Islam. Ethics is the way of translating faith into action, of bringing our faith into the world; which is why the Imam defines ethics as the bridge between faith (din) and the world (duniya). The title of my book reflects this principal theme.

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

Lakhani: The book will, it is hoped, explain the key messages of the Ismaili Imam to both Ismailis and to non-Ismaili audiences. It addresses the themes of, for example, tradition and modernity, the modernist ethos, Islam and the West, cosmopolitanism and pluralism, and harmonizing identity and belonging through culture.

Simerg: What inspired you to write the book?

Lakhani: I was invited by the Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS) to write the book in order to expand on the ideas of my essay, published in volume 34 of my journal, Sacred Web titled ‘Living the Ethics of One’s Faith: The Aga Khan’s Integral Vision’. (Read article)

I have also spoken about these ideas at the Royal Asiatic Society (for the Temenos Academy) and have written about them for the Doha International Centre in an article titled ‘Integral Pluralism as the Basis for Harmony: The Approach of His Highness The Aga Khan’ (Read article).

Article continues below

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M. Ali Lakhani’s “Faith and Ethics: The Vision of the Ismaili Imamat” examines how the ideas and actions of the 49th Ismaili Imam, Prince Karim Aga Khan, provide an Islamic response to the challenges that face Muslims in the modern era.

Jacket of M. Ali Lakhani's "FAITH AND ETHICS: The Vision of the Ismaili Imamat," 272 pp, I.B. Tauris and the Institute of Ismaili Studies; December 2017, Illustrated edition, Feb. 28 2018, Ismaili authors series Simerg
Jacket of M. Ali Lakhani’s “FAITH AND ETHICS: The Vision of the Ismaili Imamat,” 272 pp, I.B. Tauris and the Institute of Ismaili Studies; December 2017, Illustrated edition, Feb. 28 2018.

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

Lakhani: The book was published by the IIS and IB Tauris in 2017, and is available in hardcover format from Amazon Canada, and as a Kobo Ebook at Chapters-Indigo. Both the Kindle and hardcover editions are also available at Amazon.com, and Barnes and Nobles has the book available in hardback as well as a NOOK book. Prices vary from store to store.

[The book may be eligible for delivery within Canada in your area by July 7, 2021; please click Amazon Canada, free delivery is available with Amazon prime membership; the other option is to purchase it as an ebook, as noted above — Ed.]

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

Lakhani: The book was commissioned by the publisher, the IIS. I accepted the commission on condition that it would be my independent work of scholarship, free of any influence regarding its content by the IIS. 

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

Lakhani: I handpicked the illustrations, including the splendid cover illustration, whose marvelous original is housed at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, and which depicts the ethical human being, a major theme of the book (as I explain in the text).

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Praise for Ali Lakhani’s Book

Lakhani’s lengthy discussion of the Aga Khan’s cosmopolitan approach to modern conflict simultaneously has the wider application of demonstrating to outsiders that Islam in the orthodox, Quranic sense is a religion of unity and justice, not of persecution and oppression…. Islam as presented in the Quran and by the Muslim sages is anything but pitiless and fanatical; it is joyful, intellectually rigorous and compassionate….The Aga Khan’s ethical teachings as presented in this book are especially applicable to the challenges presented by religious pluralism and to encouraging dialogue between religious perspectives, and to calm down reactions to polemics between religious people and secularists, but less so for conflict resolution that requires shared epistemological and ontological principles…. Lakhani’s book is valuable for the insight it offers into Islam’s rich pluralistic and tolerant tradition.” — Andrew Frisardi, American writer whose essays and reviews have appeared in numerous U.S. magazines and journals, including the Atlantic Monthly, Hudson Review, the New Republic and the New Yorker (Read full review)

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

Lakhani: This was my third published book of a total of four books by me. It was an honor to have this book published by the IIS on the occasion of the Imam’s Diamond Jubilee.

My other three publications are:

The Sacred Foundations of Justice in Islam contains my First Prize essay on Imam Ali from the 2001 Imam Ali International Conference. That essay and Dr. Reza Shah Kazemi’s Second Prize essay were hailed by Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr to be among the best writings in English on Imam Ali.

The Timeless Relevance of Traditional Wisdom contains many of my writings on metaphysics, religion, philosophy, tradition and modernity, gathered from my biannual book-form journal, Sacred Web: A Journal of Tradition and Modernity (www.sacredweb.com).

When the Rose Blooms (The Matheson Trust, London, 2021), my latest book, is a collection of spiritual aphorisms which I wrote more than three decades ago. The book includes beautiful illustrations which were designed by Nigel Jackson.

Synopsis of the Book

Shi`i Ismaili Muslims are unique in following a living, hereditary Imam (spiritual leader), whom they believe to be directly descended from the Prophet Muhammad. The Imam’s duty has been to guide his community with Islamic principles that apply to the needs of the time.

In this insightful book, M. Ali Lakhani examines how the ideas and actions of the current Ismaili Imam, and fourth Aga Khan, Prince Karim al-Hussaini, provide an Islamic response to the challenges that face Muslims in the modern era. Prince Karim’s programmes, implemented mainly through the broad institutional framework of the Aga Khan Development Network, are aimed at improving the quality of human life among the disadvantaged, regardless of their religion or ethnicity. Addressing global issues ranging from healthcare and education to culture and civil society, the Aga Khan’s initiatives are founded on core Islamic principles and values. This book is the first to provide an extensive survey of the Aga Khan’s aspirations, showing how the values of integrity and dignity are at the forefront of his work, with the traditional Muslim concepts of cosmopolitanism and social justice guiding his response to the stark challenges of the modern age.

At a time when criticisms and misrepresentation surrounding Islam abound, Faith and Ethics explores the religion’s universal principles and values, which the author believes can make a positive impact both among Muslims and non-Muslims. The book will be of special interest to scholars researching Islam, Muslim faith and ethics and the Ismailis, and to general readers wanting a deeper understanding of Islam.

Date posted: July 4, 2021.

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M. Ali Lakhani editor sacred web ismaili author  of Faith and Ethics: The Vision of the Ismaili Imamat, Simerg series on Ismaili authors
M. Ali Lakhani

M. Ali Lakhani, QC, graduated from Cambridge University and has been practising as a barrister in Vancouver for the last forty years. Interested in applying metaphysics to modern world issues, in 1998 he founded Sacred Web: A Journal of Tradition and Modernity, a leading journal in the field that has published articles by the Prince of Wales, the Dalai Lama, Karen Armstrong, Huston Smith, Seyyed Hossein Nasr and William C. Chittick, among others.

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Calling all Ismaili Authors

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

The Ismaili Authors’ Series so far (in chronological sequence, oldest article first):

  1. “Justice Bertha Wilson Pushes the Boundaries of Humanity” by Shamas Nanji (series start, February 10, 2021)
  2. “Little One, You Are The Universe” by Zeni Shariff (February 25, 2021)
  3. “Memoirs of a Muhindi” by Mansoor Ladha (March 6, 2021)
  4. “To Be One With God: Seven Journeys to the Meaning of Life” by Shafeen Ali (March 25, 2021)
  5. “Invisible Birthmarks” by Alnasir Rajan (April 13, 2021)
  6. “IN THE NAME OF JUSTICE – Portrait of a ‘Cowboy’ Judge” by Azmina Suleman (April 28, 2021)
  7. “RSVP Rice and Stew Very Plenty” by Nazlin Rahemtulla (May 28, 2021)
  8. “Coughdrops” by Nargis Fazal (June 12, 2021)
  9. “The Roots and the Trees” by Nizar Sultan (June 25, 2021)
  10. “Faith and Ethics: The Vision of the Ismaili Imamat” by M. Ali Lakhani (July 4, 2021)

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