The Nur (Light) of Imamat

A portrait of Prince Karim Aga Khan IV during his enthronement in Geneva, Switzerland after his grandfather, His Highness the Aga Khan III, passed away on July 11, 1957. Photo by Philippe Le Tellier/Paris Match via Getty Images.

A portrait of Prince Karim Aga Khan IV during his enthronement in Geneva, Switzerland after his grandfather, His Highness the Aga Khan III, passed away on July 11, 1957. Photo by Philippe Le Tellier/Paris Match via Getty Images.

The doctrine of Imamat has been central in Shia Islam since the designation by the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) of Hazrat Ali (a.s.) as his successor at Ghadir-Khumm. Among the various interpretations in Shia Islam, the Ismaili Muslims believe in the continuity of the Imamat through a living hereditary Imam descended from Hazrat Ali, through the prophet’s daughter Bibi Fatima (a.s). The current Imam of the Ismailis is His Highness the Aga Khan, who completes his 59th Imamat anniversary as the Ismaili community’s 49th Imam on July 11, 2016. To mark this occasion, we are pleased to provide short selections on the Imamat drawn from numerous writings of historians, theologians, philosophers and poets, Ismailis and non-Ismailis alike. But we begin, on this page, with a short piece prepared for younger readers, followed by a link to other pieces that includes the transliteration and translation of the Munajaat which is recited in many parts of the world specifically for the Imamat Day celebration.  

We wish Ismailis around the world Imamat Day Mubarak, and pray that the Imamat of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, may continue for several more years beyond the celebration of his Diamond Jubilee on July 11, 2017, which is now exactly 52 weeks away.

The Nur (Light) of Imamat

The sun is extremely important for all life on earth. It gives us light, warmth and energy. The sun however is not the final source of life. It is Allah who gives life to all living things. It is God who has created the sun and the stars and everything that is in the universe.

The Quran teaches that Allah is the Light of the Heavens and the Earth. Allah guides mankind towards Him through His light. While Allah has created the physical light, He has also provided mankind another kind of light.

Allah says in the Quran:

“O Mankind! Truly there has come to you a proof from your Lord, and We have sent down to you a clear Light.” (Chapter 4, Verse 174)

What is this special light that Allah refers to, which guides and makes things clear? For Shia Muslims, this light is the Light of Imamat. The Shias refer to it as the Nur of Imamat. Nur means light. The Nur of Imamat is a spiritual light.

This spiritual light is with the Ahl al-bayt, the Imams from the Prophet Muhammad’s family. This light was with the first Shia Imam, Hazrat Murtaza Ali and, for Shia Imami Ismailis, it is now with their present 49th Imam, Shah Karim al-Husayni, His Highness the Aga Khan IV. The Imam guides his murids (followers) with his Nur.

The Imam’s Nur is not like ordinary light. It is a different light altogether. It is a spiritual light. Physical light, such as sunlight, helps everyone see things in the physical world. The Imam’s Nur guides his murids both in the spiritual and worldly aspects of their lives. Above all, the Imam’s Nur leads his followers towards inner peace and happiness.

Ever since the time of Hazrat Ali, the Ismaili Imams have guided their followers in succession, one after another. There have been forty-nine Imams up to the present time, but the Nur of Imamat is one, and it remains the same.

The Nur of Imamat is always there to guide through the physical presence of the Imam. The Imam holds his followers hands and leads them through both difficult and good times. He gives them guidance about how they should live in a particular time and place.

Just as the water of a river continues to flow, the line of Imamat never stops. That is, the Nur of Imamat is there to stay eternally.

One of the goals of the murid of the Imam should be to strive to come closer to the spiritual light of the Imam. This, one can do by fulfilling one’s material and spiritual responsibilities to the best of one’s ability. Praying regularly, living by the ethics of Islam, following the Imam’s guidance and thinking about Allah constantly can bring us closer and closer to the Nur of Imamat.

Source: Article adapted from multiple literary sources including the Ta’lim curriculum published by Islamic Publications, London.

____________

PLEASE CLICK: The Munajaat and Imamat As Depicted Through the Ages in Ismaili and non-Ismaili Writings

IMAMS ARE SHIPS OF SALVATION

Feluccas on the Nile in Aswan. The ship occupies a unique position in the Islamic tradition. The Qur’an counts it among the ayat (miracles) of God and devotes twenty-eight verses enumerating its benefits to mankind. For Shaykh Khudr, a contemporary of the Ismaili Imam Nizar, Imams are the Ships of Salvation. Please click on image for numerous selections on Imamat.

Date posted: July 10, 2016.

_________________

Intezaar, 11th July 2016 Leading to 11th July 2017: The Guiding Light of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan

Diamonds Faceted Jubilee_s

BY SHARIFFA KESHAVJEE

This Imamat Day
O Mawla

Is a promise for a thirsty heart
Innumerable will be the facets of the Diamond Jubilee
As we in anticipation await humble of heart
Make us worthy of this blessing
O Mawla a prayer rises from my heart

At the feet of Shah Sultan Mahomed Shah
An innocent babe in naive anticipation
Your guiding light has lit the path
Path eased with access to health education
Let knowledge lead us to sat bhudhi
O Mawla a prayer emanates from my heart

Your protective shade sent light
Throughly the windows of our schools
Your wisdom in wise words led every step
Your vision sent us succour with words of hope
Your guiding hand gave hope after Uganda
A prayer of gratitude leaves my heart

Still you guide us through the bridge of River Panj
Through Syria to the Hindu Kush
From East To the West in every direction
Your helping hand O Mawla opens our heart
This four day life journey is so ephemeral
It is enriched by the Light of
Your Ever-present Noor- e-Ali

Oh Mawla we look towards thee
With empathetic hearts our face turns
To the Alfa and Omega of our life
Your ishara with vision and ‘aql
Enables door upon door to open up for us
To guide us into that which is the qalb
To beckon a prayer from our heart

O Mawla make us worthy of the trust you place
In our actions which often trip
In our words which wisdom oft lack
Keep us balanced in din and dunya
We pray from our heart

O Mawla our hands are raised
All ready to receive the pearls
Of wisdom, vision , love and ever caring hand
We are in intezaar of your
Diamond Faceted Jubilee
A prayer of gratitude leaves my heart

As we await let our zikr lead to fikr
Cleanse our hearts so it may sing
The praise of all human and sentient beings
Our life will be the lighter for
The aid you have given in years before
We beseech in prayer from
Our heart

Let our intellect understand unity
That we are all from One Soul
Let us internalise this oneness
So that our heart is prepared
In joyful presence to celebrate the Jubillee
A prayer from each heart

Lead us to fana through forgiveness to transcend
So we stand worthy of the many faceted diamond
In word and in deed in intention and action
O Mawla all this so we can raise
Our hands with a prayer from the heart

Our heads are held up high for you are our pride
As we are yours to fly your flag
Up high in all direction proud the world over
O Alfa O Omega the Ever-present
O Mawla we beseech that this
Diamond Faceted Jubillee
Be a diamond of Almas
Is our prayer rendered from the heart

Date posted: July 9, 2016.

_____________

Diamond Photo: Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

Glossary of terms used in the poem:

  • Almas – Muslim baby name, also means diamond.
  • Alpha and Omega – the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
  • din and dunya – sacred and profane, religion and world.
  • fana – annihilation of the self.
  • fikr -contemplation, deep thought and reflection.
  • Imamat Day – the day an Ismaili Imam succeeds as his community’s spiritual leader by the designation (nass) of his predecessor.
  • ishara – sign, gesture.
  • Mawla – Master. Here the reference is to the current 49th Imam, Mawlana Shah Karim al-Hussaini, His Highness the Aga Khan, whose 60 years of reign will be celebrated on July 11, 2017.
  • Noor-e-Ali – Light of Ali (or the Light of Imamat).
  • qalb – heart
  • sat budh – pure knowledge or understanding of true essence or true nature of things.
  • Shah Sultan Mahomed Shah (d. 1957) – the 48th Imam of the Nizari Ismailis.
  • zikr – remembrance of Allah, form of special devotion.

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.

_______________

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.

The Month of Ramadhan: A New Leaf Everyday for a Better World

Note from the editor: “A New Leaf Everyday” is a compilation by Simerg of verses from the Holy Qur’an, the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him) and excerpts from speeches and farmans of Ismaili Imams (or their family members) that are pertinent to the message on a different leaf which has been presented (almost) everyday on this page since the start of the month of Ramadhan on June 6, 2016.  The photos of the leaves were either taken by us during our visits to the Aga Khan Foundation’s Together-Ensemble mobile exhibition, which is currently on a cross-Canada tour, or sent to us by the exhibition’s tour manager, François Grenier, to whom we express our deep gratitude. The leaf messages were penned down by visitors to the exhibition.

(IX): CHARITY

Together-Ensemble8 year old Hannah Saikaley’s wants to help by “Donating food, money, drinks and clothes and by cleaning the earth.”

“And perform the prayer, and pay the alms; whatever good you shall forward to your souls’ account, you shall find it with God; assuredly God sees the things you do.” — Holy Qur’an, 2:110, Sura Al-Baqarah (The Cow), Translation by A.J. Arberry.

“Those who believe and do deeds of righteousness, and perform the prayer, and pay the alms — their wage awaits them with their Lord, and no fear shall be on them, neither shall they sorrow.” — Holy Qur’an, 2:277, Sura Al-Baqarah (The Cow), Translation by A.J. Arberry.

“If you publish your freewill offerings, it is excellent; but if you conceal them, and give them to the poor, that is better for you, and will acquit you of your evil deeds; God is aware of the things you do.” — Holy Qur’an, 2:271, Sura Al-Baqarah (The Cow), Translation by A.J. Arberry.

“Charity obliterates sins just as water extinguishes fire…Save yourself from the (Hell) Fire even with half a date (to be given in charity); and if you do not find a half date, then with a good pleasant word.” — Traditions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.), 570 CE – 632 CE

“Do not feel ashamed if the amount of charity is small…Charity and alms are the best remedy for ailments and calamities…If you want to pray to Allah for better means of subsistence, then first give something in charity” — Hazrat Ali (a.s.), 599 CE -661 CE, 1st Shia Imam.

Date posted: June 17, 2016.

Recommended: Please visit Qur’anic Corpus for several parallel translations of the Holy Qur’an in English, verse by verse.

_______________

(VIII). BE NICE

“A kind word with forgiveness is better than almsgiving followed by injury. Allah is Absolute, Clement.” — Holy Qur’an, 2:263, Sura Al-Baqarah (The Cow), Translation by M. Pickthall.

“The servants of the All-merciful are those who walk in the earth modestly and who, when the ignorant address them, say, ‘Peace'” — Holy Qur’an, 25:63, Sura al-Furqan (The Criterion), Translation by A.J. Arberry.

“When a (courteous) greeting is offered you, meet it with a greeting still more courteous, or (at least) of equal courtesy. Allah takes careful account of all things.” — Holy Qur’an, 4:86, Sura An-Nisa (The Women), Translation by Yusuf Ali.

Ramadhan - A New Leaf Everyday - VIII To be nice

“The believer does not defame, abuse, disparage, nor vilify…The strong person is not he who has physical strength but the person is strong if he can control his anger.” — Traditions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.), 570 CE – 632 CE

“You should not speak ill of other religions or ridicule anybody” — His Highness the Aga Khan III, (1877-1957), 48th Ismaili Imam, Precious Pearls, #66, Page 47, Ismailia Association for Pakistan.

“Keep to forgiveness (O Muhammad), and enjoin kindness, and turn away from the ignorant.” — Holy Qur’an, 7:199, Sura Al-A’raf (The Heights), Translation by M. Pickthall.

“The best deed of a great man is to forgive and forget…Courtesy costs nothing, but buys everything.” — Hazrat Ali (a.s.), 599 CE -661 CE, 1st Shia Imam.

“You should be united. Our religion preaches that we should let bygones be bygones. Even if one harms you, you should forgive him.” — His Highness the Aga Khan III, Precious Pearls, #85, Page 57, Ismailia Association for Pakistan.

“I would also like you also to remember that you should at all times live within the spirit of Islam. This means that you are brothers and sisters and that whenever any one of you has difficulties, troubles or needs help or wants guidance, you should always help each other.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam, Gujranwalla, Pakistan, November 26, 1964, Farman Mubarak, Ismailia Association Pakistan, Part II, Pg. 22.

“You must be humble, as it is one of the greatest [forms of] worship.” — Hazrat Ali (a.s.).

Date posted: June 15, 2016.

___________________

(VII). HELPING PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD
Ramadhan - A New Leaf Everyday - VII Serving Around the World

Reflection(s) from Aga Khan Foundation’s mobile exhibition Together-Ensemble which is currently on a cross-country Canada tour.

“I have been impressed by recent studies showing the activity of voluntary institutions and not-for-profit organisations in Canada to be among the highest in the world. This Canadian spirit resonates with a cherished principle in Shia Ismaili culture — the importance of contributing one’s individual energies on a voluntary basis to improving the lives of others.

“This is not a matter of philanthropy, but rather of self-fulfillment — ‘enlightened self-fulfillment’.

“During my Golden Jubilee — and this is important — six years ago Ismailis from around the world volunteered their gifts, not only of wealth, but most notably of time and knowledge, in support of our work. We established a Time and Knowledge framework, a structured process for engaging an immense pool of expertise involving tens of thousands of volunteers. Many of them traveled to developing countries as part of this outpouring of service — one third of those were Canadians. Their impact has been enormous in helping us to achieve best practice standards in our institutions and programmes, making us we hope an even better partner for Canada!” — His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam, Ottawa, Canada, February 27, 2014.

~~~~~

“In the Shia Ismaili Muslim tradition, voluntary service to others is viewed as an integral and positive part of daily life, and never as a burdensome obligation or an elective activity. Service is a means for each individual to actualise Islam’s ethics of inclusiveness, of compassion, of sharing, of the respect for life, and of personal responsibility for sustaining a healthy physical, social, and cultural environment.

“Generosity is fundamental to this concept of volunteerism: generosity of material resources, of time, of thought and of knowledge. The importance of the donation of time and financial resources is widely recognised. The other two elements are not. Thought helps others to help themselves. Knowledge enables the educated to provide technical information to the less educated on how to meet their own needs better and serve others.” — Princess Zahra Aga Khan, Edmonton, Canada, August 25, 1998.

Date posted: June 13, 2016.

____________

(VI). HOW TO MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE
Ramadhan - A New Leaf Everyday - VI Make World A Better Place

Reflection(s) from Aga Khan Foundation’s mobile exhibition Together-Ensemble which is currently on a cross-country Canada tour.

“If our animosities are born out of fear, then confident generosity is born out of hope. One of the central lessons I have learned after a half century of working in the developing world is that the replacement of fear by hope is probably the single most powerful trampoline of progress.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam, Germany, May 20, 2006.

“The effective world of the future will be one of pluralism, a world that understands, appreciates and builds on diversity. The rejection of pluralism plays a significant role in breeding destructive conflicts, from which no continent has been spared in recent decades. But pluralist societies are not accidents of history. They are a product of enlightened education and continuous investment by governments and all of civil society in recognising and celebrating the diversity of the world’s peoples.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, Oslo, Norway, April 7, 2005.

Date posted: June 11, 2016.

_______________

(IV) AND (V). POVERTY AND BEING HELPFUL: ISLAM’S CLEAR MESSAGE WITH AN EXAMPLE FROM THE LIFE OF THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD (MAY PEACE BE UPON HIM)

Ramadhan - A New Leaf Everyday - IV Less Poverty and How to Help

Reflection(s) from Aga Khan Foundation’s mobile exhibition Together-Ensemble which is currently on a cross-country Canada tour.

“…A state of poverty is a state of deprivation with respect to health and nutrition, education and security, housing and credit, and all the other conditions which are essential to human well-being.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam, Berlin, Germany, November 13, 2007.

“Our duty is to try to free people from poverty. And to me, poverty means being without hope of ever controlling one’s own destiny. This means condemning one’s children and grandchildren to unacceptable living conditions.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, November 27, 2007, Madagascar.

“Islam has a very clear message about the different forms of generosity. There is that with regard to the poor, which takes the form of gifts. But the recipient remains poor. There exists a second form of generosity that contributes to growing the independence of the person. This concept, in which the goal is to make the person the master of their destiny, is the most beneficial in the eyes of Allah” [see example from the life of Prophet Muhmmad, below – ed]. — His Highness the Aga Khan, Interview L’Express, July 4, 2007.

~~~~~~~~~

Firewood

It is related that when an Ansar (Helper) came to Prophet Muhammad and begged from him, he asked him whether he had nothing in his house. When the Ansar said that he had a piece of cloth, which he used for wearing as well as for spreading on the ground, and a wooden bowl from which he drank water, the Prophet told him to bring them to him, and when he did so he took them in his hand and asked, “Who will buy these?” When a man offered a dirham, the Prophet asked twice or thrice. “Who will offer more than a dirham?” and the Prophet gave them to a man who offered two dirhams. He then took the two dirhams and giving them to the Ansari he said, “Buy food with one of them and hand it to your family, and buy an axe with the other and bring it to me.”

When he bought the axe, Prophet Muhammad fixed a handle on it with his own hand and said, “Go gather firewood and sell it, and don’t let me see you for a fortnight.” The man went away and gathered firewood and sold it. When he had earned ten dirhams he came to the Prophet and bought a garment with some of them and food with others.

Date posted: June 9/10, 2016.

_______________

(III). TOGETHER AND PARTNERSHIP

Ramadhan - A New Leaf Everyday - III Together-Unity
Reflection from Aga Khan Foundation’s mobile exhibition Together-Ensemble which is currently on a cross-country Canada tour.

“And obey Allah and His messenger, and dispute not one with another lest ye falter and your strength depart from you; but be steadfast! Lo! Allah is with the steadfast.” — Holy Qur’an, 8:46, Sura Al-Anfal (The Spoils of War), Translation by M. Pickthall.

~~~~~~

“One event which I witnessed was a boxing match between two Ismaili boys – one African, one Asian. I saw a good fight and, at the end, I think each of them thought he had won….At the end of this sporting event, the two boys shook hands and stood together to be photographed. To me this symbolised the partnership between different races which I am convinced is the only condition of peace and prosperity….I most strongly urge the Ismaili community to work hand in hand with all other citizens” — His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam, Kampala, Uganda, Ceremonial installation (Takhtnashini), October 25, 1957.

“With humility, tolerance and respect for each other, by honest work and straight dealings, you will earn the true friendship of your fellows…By the way you conduct your daily lives, by the compassion you show to your fellow men and women, and above all by your faith in God – you will ultimately be judged” — His Highness the Aga Khan, Takhtnashini, Mumbai, March 11, 1958.

Date posted: June 8, 2016.

_____________

(II). NATURE AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Ramadhan - A New Leaf Everyday

“It is He who sent down out of heaven water, and thereby We have brought forth the shoot of every plant, and then We have brought forth the green leaf of it, bringing forth from it close-compounded grain, and out of the palm-tree, from the spathe of it, dates thick-lustered, ready to the hand, and gardens of vines, olives, pomegranates, like each to each, and each unlike to each. Look upon their fruits when they fructify and ripen! Surely, in all this are signs for a people who do believe.” — Holy Qur’an, 6:99, Sura An-An’am (The Cattle), Translation by A.J. Arberry.

~~~~~~

“The Qur’an refers very often to nature as a reflection of Allah’s power of creation, and it says, look at the mountains, the rivers, the trees, the flowers, as evidence of Allah’s love for the people whom He has created. Today, I look at the environment and I say to you, I believe Allah is smiling upon you, and may His smile always be upon you.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam, speaking in a mountainous setting in Badakhshan in 1995.

“There are many, many interpretations of Islam within the wider Islamic community, but I think one on which there is greatest consensus, is the fact that we are trustees of God’s creation, and we are instructed to seek to leave the world a better place than it was when we came into it. Therefore, the question is: What is a ‘better place’, in physical terms? And that ‘better place’, in physical terms, clearly means trying to bring values into environments, buildings and contexts, which make the quality of life better for future generations than it is today.” — His Highness the Aga Khan in an interview with Robert Ivy, Editor in Chief, Architectural Record, conducted on August 31, 2001, at Aiglemont, France.

~~~~~~

“Islam is fundamentally in its very nature a natural religion. Throughout the Quran God’s signs (Ayats) are referred to as the natural phenomenon, the law and order of the universe, the exactitudes and consequences of the relations between natural phenomenon in cause and effect. Over and over, the stars, sun, moon, earthquakes, fruits of the earth and trees are mentioned as the signs of divine power, divine law and divine order.” – His Highness the Aga Khan III (1877 – 1957), 48th Ismaili Imam.

Date posted: June 7, 2016.

_____________

(I) UNITY OF OUR HUMAN RACE

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

From the mobile exhibition Together-Ensemble currently on a cross-country Canada tour. My better world includes….”God created man from One Soul. Everybody should help each other.”

“Mankind, fear your Lord, who created you of a single soul, and from it created its mate, and from the pair of them scattered abroad many men and women; and fear God by whom you demand one of another, and the wombs; surely God ever watches over you.” — Holy Qur’an, 4:1, Sura an-Nisa  (The Women), Translation by A.J. Arberry.

~~~~

“…As you build your lives, for yourselves and others, you will come to rest upon certain principles. Central to my life has been a verse in the Holy Qur’an which addresses itself to the whole of humanity. It says: “Oh Mankind, fear your Lord, who created you of a single soul, and from it created its mate, and from the pair of them scattered abroad many men and women.

“…I know of no more beautiful expression about the unity of our human race — born indeed from a single soul.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam, February 27, 2014, Parliament of Canada.

~~~~

“All men, rich and poor, must aid one another materially and personally. This fraternity is absolute, and it comprises men of all colours and all races: black, white, yellow, tawny; all are the sons of Adam in the flesh and all carry in them spark of the Divine Light. Everyone should strive his best to see that this spark be not extinguished but rather developed to that full Companionship-on-High.” — His Highness the Aga Khan III (1877-1957), 48th Ismaili Imam.

Date posted: June 6, 2016.

_______________

The Miraj: A Powerful Metaphor for Our Spiritual Journey by Jehangir Merchant

While ascent (al-ma’arij) in its simple meaning gives a clue to the upward direction of the Prophet’s journey, it proclaims very emphatically that if God has placed man on this earth, He has also set up a ladder for man to climb up to Him. No wonder Allah calls Himself the Lord of the Ways of Ascent (Dhu ’l-ma‘arij).” —  Read More of Esoteric Interpretation of the Prophetic Tradition ‘I Have a Time with God’ (li ma’a Allah waqt)

It is believed that Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) prayed at this mosque (which is in the basement of present day Al Aqsa Mosque) before he took the night journey to heaven. Photo: Muslim Harji, Montreal, PQ. Copyright.

It is believed that Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) prayed at this mosque (which is in the basement of present day Al Aqsa, see next photo) before he took the night journey to heaven. Photo: Muslim Harji, Montreal, PQ. Copyright. Please click on image for article on Miraj.

A view of old Jerusalem with the Dome of the Rock in the foreground. Photo: Muslim Harji, Montreal, PQ. Copyright.

A view of old Jerusalem with the Dome of the Rock as the centerpiece. Photo: Muslim Harji, Montreal, PQ. Copyright.

 

Date posted: Tuesday, May 3, 2016.

______________

German Scientists Unearth Text of Avicenna’s 11th Century Supernova SN 1006 Surveillance

An important note to our readers: The website is undergoing maintenance and format changes over the next few days. The pages may look different each time you visit Simerg, and we ask you to bear with us during this temporary phase.

Chandra's image of SN 1006 shows X-rays from multimillion degree gas (red/green) and high-energy electrons (blue). In the year 1006 a "new star" appeared in the sky and in just a few days it became brighter than the planet Venus. We now know that the event heralded not the appearance of a new star, but the cataclysmic death of an old one. It was likely a white dwarf star that had been pulling matter off an orbiting companion star. When the white dwarf mass exceeded the stability limit (known as the Chandrasekhar limit), it exploded. Material ejected in the supernova produced tremendous shock waves that heated gas to millions of degrees and accelerated electrons to extremely high energies.

Chandra’s image of SN 1006 shows X-rays from multimillion degree gas (red/green) and high-energy electrons (blue). In the year 1006 a “new star” appeared in the sky and in just a few days it became brighter than the planet Venus. We now know that the event heralded not the appearance of a new star, but the cataclysmic death of an old one. It was likely a white dwarf star that had been pulling matter off an orbiting companion star. When the white dwarf mass exceeded the stability limit (known as the Chandrasekhar limit), it exploded. Material ejected in the supernova produced tremendous shock waves that heated gas to millions of degrees and accelerated electrons to extremely high energies. Photo and caption: Wikipedia.

Editor’s note: Just over a thousand years ago, the stellar explosion known as Supernova SN 1006 was observed and recorded by Fatimid astronomer Ibn Ridwan (see Aliza Moledina’s piece Ibn Ridwan and Supernova 1006). Scientists have now studied a text by Avicenna which describes the explosion in his Kitab al-Shifa (Book of Healing), a masterpiece written in several volumes that tackles Earth sciences, logic, philosophy, physics, mathematics, astronomy, music, psychology and theology. The report on the findings that appears below is taken from the April 24th, 2016, issue of the popular Russian science magazine http://www.sputniknews.com. The explanation of the findings by German scientists in Avicenna’s Book of Healing may be read at the Astronomical Notes Journal by clicking on http://arxiv.org/pdf/1604.03798v1.pdf.

For the first time, scientists have studied a text by noted tenth century polymath Ibn Sina (known as Avicenna in Latin), in which the scholar described observations of a supernova in the year 397 of the Islamic Hijri calendar, calculated as 1,006 AD.

Ibn Sina (980-1037 AD) was a Persian physician and philosopher who is regarded as the most famous and influential of the medieval Islamic world’s philosopher-scientists.

The German scientists who studied Ibn Sina’s account believe it was written when he was in present-day Iran, Turkmenistan or Uzbekistan, most probably the latter. They translate his description of the supernova’s form, direction and appearance.

Ibn Sina wrote that the object was “tailless,” which distinguished it from the more common transient objects, comets with tails.

The new star was “getting fainter and fainter until it disappeared,” and that it “became fainter and disappeared,” he wrote.

“At the beginning it was towards a darkness and greenness, then it began to throw out sparks and then it became more and more whitish.”

To mark the 1,000th birth anniversary of the most influential of Islam’s philosopher-scientists, UNESCO minted this commemorative medal in 1980.  Designed by sculptor-medallist Victor Douek, the obverse depicts a scene showing Avicenna surrounded by his disciples.

To mark the 1,000th birth anniversary of the most influential of Islam’s philosopher-scientists, UNESCO minted this commemorative medal in 1980. Designed by sculptor-medallist Victor Douek, the obverse depicts a scene showing Avicenna surrounded by his disciples. Photo: UNESCO/N. Burke. Copyright.

His Arabic-language report is one of several historical observations of supernovas that have helped scientists in their understanding of these celestial events, and adds to previous information about the supernova in 1006 AD from observers in Yemen, Morocco, China and Japan.

Contemporary scientists have also provided today’s astronomers with information about supernova sightings in 1054 (from Eastern Asia and Arabia), 1181 (Eastern Asia), 1572 and 1604 AD (the latter two sighted in Eastern Asia and Europe).

“Historic reports can deliver the date of the observation (hence, the age of the supernova remnant and, if existing, of the neutron star) together with a light curve (hence, possibly the supernova type), sometimes the color and its evolution, and the position of the supernova,” the scientists explained in their paper, which can be viewed by clicking http://arxiv.org/pdf/1604.03798v1.pdf.

Date posted: May 1, 2016.

Please also read Aliza Moledina’s Ibn Ridwan and Supernova 1006 

________________

Hazrat Ali (a.s.): “Have a Tender Heart, as Tender as a Fistful of Green Grass”

MAWLANA HAZAR IMAM ON HAZRAT ALI

His Highness the Aga Khan

“This is a time of new freedoms, but it is also one in which new choices must be made wisely. In exercising freedom and making choices, our institutions must be guided, as they have been in the past, by the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace of Allah be upon him), and the tradition of our tariqah, which is the tradition of Hazrat Ali: A thinking Islam and a spiritual Islam – an Islam that teaches compassion, tolerance and the dignity of man – Allah’s noblest creation.” — His Highness the Aga Khan on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Aga Khan Foundation, May 14, 1992.

___________

THE BLESSED

Blessed is one
who is humble regarding himself,
whose livelihood is good,
whose inner thoughts are virtuous,
whose character is good,
who spends the surplus from his wealth
and removes superfluity from his speech,
who keeps his evil away from people — Hazrat Ali

___________

THE KALAM-I MAWLA OF HAZRAT ALI

A page from a manuscript of Kalam-i Mawla. The Institute of Ismaili Studies collection.

Hazrat Ali’s aphorisms and wise counsels got translated into numerous languages across the Muslim world. The Kalame Mawla is a moving poetic rendition of his teachings in Hindustani. The work exhorts the believers to observe virtues such as brotherhood, honesty and generosity. The image shown above is from the manuscript  collection at the Institute of Ismaili Studies and written in a beautiful Khojki hand in Bombay. It was copied in 1908 samvat/1851 by Khoja Alahrakhea Koriji.

~~~~~~~

Titles of Hazrat Ali in Kalam-i Mawla

  1. Shah-e Awliya (verses 2 & 182) – the Lord of the friends (of God)
  2. Sahib-e Zulfiqar (verse 15) – Master of (the sword) Dhulfiqar
  3. Wali Maqbul (verse 34) – the accepted friend (of God)
  4. Sahib-e Israr (verse 98) – Master of the (spiritual) mysteries or secrets
  5. Kawsar-e Saqi (verses 102 & 107) – the pourer (of water) at the Pond of Kawthar (in Paradise)
  6. Shah-e Dul Dul Sawar (verses 113 & 130) – the rider of (the horse) Dul Dul; etc.

~~~~~~~

Thoughtful Teachings of Hazrat Ali from Kalam-i Mawla

Have a tender heart,
as tender as a fistful of green grass;
be not arrogant and stiff as a tree
upright in a forest;

A tree is toppled in a storm,
but grass bends and sways happily with the wind. — 8:67

When the boat of the heart comes upon a storm,
change direction, and lead it to the shore — 6:47

Gold remains in this world but right conduct (adab) enable you to meet your lord — 3:16

Be as soft as silk — 8:16

The best of wealth is that which is spent in the Name and way of the Lord — 4:22

The waters of a river do not turn back; neither does one’s age — 7:234

___________

INVOCATION
Nade Ali

Photo: The Trustees of the British Museum. Copyright.

Nadi Ali, Nadi Ali, Nadi Ali
Nadi Aliyyan mazhar al-ajaib
Tajidahu aunan lakafin-nawaib
Kullu hammin wa ghammin
sayanj-i Ali Bi wilayatika
Ya Ali, Ya Ali, Ya Ali

Call Ali, Call Ali, Call Ali
Call Ali who is the manifestation of marvels;
You will find him your helper in calamities.
Every anxiety and grief will come to an end
Through your friendship,
O Ali, O Ali, O Ali.

Date posted: April 19, 2016.

________________

The Work of the Ismaili Imamat at a Glance, and the Most Famous Logos of the Aga Khan Development Network

University of Ottawa confers an Honorary Degree on His Highness the Aga Khan

“His Highness has used his own faith background to speak directly to the goodness of all people.” — President Alan Rock, University of Ottawa, January 13, 2012. Photo: University of Ottawa. Copyright.

For over 60 years the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), under the leadership of His Highness the Aga Khan, the 49th hereditary Imam of the Ismailis in direct lineal descent of the Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him), has been building institutions and delivering essential services by creating schools and hospitals, newspapers and electricity generation plants, and social programmes of all kinds. These services have helped improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people of all races and faiths in places as varied as Cairo, Kabul, Delhi and Bamako.

We provide an organizational chart highlighting the breadth of the work of the Ismaili Imamat, and compile a piece about the most identifiable emblems, logos and seals of the AKDN.

Please click on image to enlarge

Work of Ismaili Imamat and AKDN

Credit AKDN*

~~~~~~

FAMOUS LOGOS, SEALS AND EMBLEMS OF AKDN AGENCIES AND INSTITUTIONS

1. Aga Khan University (AKU)

aku-seal

The Seal of Aga Khan University is a visual representation of the principles which underlie the founding of the University. The circular form of the Seal, with its different levels of imagery contained in concentric circles, has its visual roots in the rosettes of early Islamic periods. The circle also symbolises the world and reflects the international presence of the University.

At the centre of the Seal is a star, or sun. Light is a universal symbol for the enlightenment that education provides.The light emanating from the star is also symbolic of Nur (Divine light).

The star incorporates 49 points to commemorate the University’s founding by His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan. The outer ring circumscribes a Qur’anic ayat rendered in classic thuluth script and reads as follows:

“And hold fast, All together, by the rope
Which God (stretches out for you),
And be not divided among yourselves,
And remember with gratitude
God’s favour on you:
For ye were enemies
And He joined your hearts
In love, so that by His grace
Ye became brethren” — Sura 3, Ayat 103.

2. Aga Khan Foundation (AKF)

akf-logos

In every language there are idioms and proverbs illustrating the importance of the right hand as an instrument of human skill, achievement and caring.

The Aga Khan Foundation logo is based on the right hand, and represents the humanitarian and positive philosophy underlying the Foundation and its activities.

In Islam, the hand has a number of meanings: its shape reflects its comprehensive and positive character, while its constituents represent the five principles of Islam and the five senses of the human body. The stylized fingers represent “Allah” in the Kufic script, and the interlacing beneath the fingers correspond to the anatomy of the hand and also delineates the sign, which in Chinese stands for Wisdom.

The logo of the Aga Khan Foundation was designed by Mr. Zahoor-ul-Akhlaq of Pakistan.

3. Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS)

Aga Khan Health Services

Photo: Isabelle Prondzynski. Copyright.

The emblem of the Aga Khan Health Services shown on the cup and saucer represents health care and compassion. The crescent is an ancient icon which, when used in red, has become the equivalent of the International Red Cross. The three-crescent design in its simple, poetic form creates an internal space symbolising how institutions and programmes using the symbol surround, attend and care for those in need.

4. Aga Khan Award for Architecture (AKAA)

AKAA Logo

The logo of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture was designed by Karl Schlamminger, a German Muslim of the Shia tradition.

The Name of Allah in Kufic script, reflecting Itself and repeating Itself, forms the basis of the logo design.

Date posted: April 7, 2016.

___________________

*For original chart and related material please visit the Aga Khan Development Network link at http://www.akdn.org/publications/2015_akdn_overview.pdf.

On Legal Debates, Ismaili Hermeneutics and the Etiquette of Borrowing in the Fatimid Empire: An Interview with Devin Stewart on al-Qāḍī al-Nuʿmān

“…In the Ismaili tradition, al-Qāḍī al-Nuʿmān is the most famous author…He debated this Ḥanafī jurist about ijtihād and thought that he’d won, and then he heard afterwards that the man had written a fascicle still arguing his point against al-Qāḍī al-Nuʿmān. So then he thought: I really need to write a serious refutation to put an end to this…” — Professor Stewart, Emory College, Atlanta, USA.

PLEASE CLICK: An Interview with Dr. Devin Stewart of Emory College on Translating the Fatimid Ismaili Jurist al-Qāḍī al-Nuʿmān

Qadi Numan's Disagreements of the Jurists by Devin StewartM. Lynx Qualey, an Arabic literature blogger based in Egypt, conducted an interview with Professor Devin Stewart of Emory College on the Fatimid jurist Qadi al-Nu’mān, who served four Ismaili Imams for more than sixty years. The interview is based on Disagreements of the Jurists, one of the foundational legal texts of Ismaili Islam, which was translated recently by Dr. Stewart. Among other interesting matters, Qualey asks Professor Stewart about why al-Nu’mān’s book is important in understanding Islamic legal traditions and the Fatimid Empire, why medieval scholars thought it was classier not to cite their sources, and why a minority tradition would feel the need to conform to the shape of the majority….Read the interview.

Date posted: March 26, 2016.

Sea of Gold: An Exhibit of Newfound Fatimid Treasures in Caesarea

In February 2015, divers off the coast of Caesarea spotted by chance a group of gold coins lying on the seabed. They immediately alerted marine archaeologists of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), who conducted a salvage excavation at the site and recovered more than 2,580 Fatimid coins of pure (24 karat) gold weighing a total of 7.5 kg.

Please click on the image to view an on-line exhibit of the discovery.

Please click on the image to view an on-line exhibit of the discovery.

The coins date from the mid-9th to the early 11th century CE. They were minted by the Fatimid caliphs of Egypt, and include dinars minted in al-Qayrawan, on the Tunisian coast, by Imam al-Mahdi (AH 297–322 = 910–934 CE), the founder of the Fatimid caliphate as well as a much larger collection belonging to the Fatimid caliphs Imam Al-Hakim (AH 386–411 = 996–1021 CE) and his successor Imam Al-Zahir (AH 411–427 = 1021–1036 CE).

Following the discovery, an exhibition was held from June to December 2015 at the Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Archaeology Wing of The Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Some very interesting data and information about the Fatimid coins was also posted on the Museum’s website, which includes topics such as the inscription on the coins, the coin’s purchasing power, the script, and the purity of the coins. We invite our readers to visit the website by clicking on http://www.imj.org.il/exhibitions/2015/caesarea/ or on the image shown above.

Date posted: March 4, 2016.

________________