Ismaili Heritage and Traditions: Fascinating Insights into Early Recordings of Ginans and Geets

By ALNOOR JEHANGIR MERCHANT

Simerg’s recent post titled Awesome and Rare Collection of Ismaili Ginans with Music at the British Library and a number of related online contributions, especially Aly Sunderji’s sharing of the equally rare and exceptional audio recordings of devotional songs produced in Tanganyika in 1946 commemorating the Diamond Jubilee of Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah, Aga Khan III (link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqxUDlY_pis&index=1&list=PL8-KGtAvEpq5s1nBIplLQA3j1RDptQ5GJ) is an opportune moment to add some further remarks on the recordings of ginans and geets* produced during the first half of the 20th century. It is hoped that these remarks and, more particularly, the recordings themselves, will provide an impetus in documenting and preserving the diversity of the Ismaili community’s musical heritage and traditions.

Original disc labels of four ginan recordings that are part of a digitization project being carried out by the British Library (clockwise from top left): Satgur miliya mune aje composed by Bibi Imam Begum and sung by Rama and Rahim Ali; Ho jire mara hansa composed by Pir Sadardin; Ab teri mohobat lagi composed by Pir Shams; and Marna hai zarur composed by Pir Imam Shah and all sung by Master Juma Kakali. Images: The British Library (collage by Simerg).

It is difficult to give a precise dating as to when the ginans digitised by The British Library as part of their Endangered Archives Programme (EPA) Project were originally recorded. The ‘Young India’ record label which, according to the British Library catalogue, published these recordings was established around 1935 and continued for approximately 20 years; thus, the recordings should be dated to the period 1935-1955. An examination of the images of the disc labels, however, provides additional information that seems to have been overlooked in the cataloguing process.

On three of the ginan recordings, the disc label states ‘Ismailia Record’, along with the following: Manufactured by National Gramophone Record Manufacturing Company, Bombay, India [and] Sole Distributers [sic], The King Record Company, Kalbadevi, Bombay. The ‘Ismailia Record’ ginan recordings are in the voice of Master Jumma Kakali. On the fourth ginan recording, the disc label states ‘Best Ismaili Record’, along with the following: Manufactured for the Bombay Record Company by the National Gramophone Record Company Limited, Bombay.

As all four ginan recordings do not mention ‘Young India’ on the disc label, it may be that ‘Ismailia Record’ and ‘Best Ismaili Record’ were independent record producers. Unfortunately, the disc labels do not contain any information on the date of production of the records. However, according to Hussain Jasani, who has undertaken some research, there is evidence to suggest that these recordings were produced during 1938. According to Jasani, one of the volumes of the community’s magazine, Ismaili, published during that year, refers to these recordings. [Paper presented by Hussain Jasani, “Preserving Community Heritage; The Oldest-known Ginan (Audio) Recordings”, IIS Alumni Association, European Chapter Group, Annual Meeting, London, 29th September 2017].

Are these the earliest recordings, musical or otherwise, of ginans? In her essay titled “Sacred Songs of Khoja Muslims: Sounded and Embodied Liturgy and Devotion”, (published in: Ethnomusicology, 48, 2 [Spring/Summer 2004]: 251-270), Amy Catlin-Jairazbhoy suggests that a number of ginan recordings made by the Dutch ethnomusicologist and pioneer in the study of South Asian music, Arnold Adriaan Bake, are the earliest. She states (p. 256):

“Probably the earliest ginan recordings were made by Arnold Bake in Karachi in 1939. These as yet unpublished field recordings were sung individually by teenaged boys, presumably found at the Karachi jama‘at (community) school.”

Three of Bake’s Karachi recordings dated 11 March 1939, which he catalogued as ‘Khoja devotional song’ have been identified as:

  • Satgur avya kai apne dwar, sung by a 14-year old boy, Karim Ali Muhammad
  • Hamdil khaleq, sung by a 14-year old boy, Rahim Ali Muhammad
  • Haq tu pak tu, sung by Sadulli M. Abdulla.

Jasani’s research suggests that the Bombay recordings, and not the Karachi ones, are the earliest. While the ginan recordings produced (most likely in 1938) as part of the ‘Ismailia Record’ and ‘Best Ismaili Record’ labels or those in the Bake collection (recorded in March 1939) may be among the earliest, it would not be out-of-place to suggest that there could be earlier recordings of ginans, musical or otherwise, which remain to be ‘discovered’.

It is known that sound recordings from South Asia began to be produced at the turn of the 20th century, with the earliest known dating to around 1899. The foremost researcher of early Indian sound recordings is Michael Kinnear. His two books, The Gramophone Company’s First Indian Recordings 1899-1907 (Bombay, 1994) and The Gramophone Company’s Indian Recordings 1908-1910 (London, 2000) document not only the history of the Gramophone Company and its successor companies’ activities in India, as well as the recording expeditions it undertook in the country, but the two volumes also provide complete listings of all known and traceable recordings taken on those expeditions. In one of his other encyclopaedic works titled The 78 RPM Record Labels of India (Apollo Bay, 2016), Kinnear covers all known record labels and histories of the companies from 1899 to the late 1960s. Perhaps, an analysis of the listings contained in Kinnear’s works will lead to the identification of ginan recordings from the first decades of the 20th century. Another important resource could be the various magazines published within the Ismaili community at the time. The Society of Indian Record Collectors may also be an avenue worth exploring. Indeed, it is from the collection of one of the members of the Society of Indian Record Collectors, Suresh Chandvakar, that some of The British Library’s ginan recordings have been digitised.

With respect to the recordings of geets, little research has been carried out. Ali Asani, in the chapter ‘The Git Tradition: A Testimony of Love’ in his work titled Ecstasy and Enlightenment: The Ismaili Devotional Literature of South Asia (London, 2002) writes (p. 71):

“The tradition of composing gits, as we know in its present form, has been associated particularly with Nizari Ismaili communities of South Asian origin….Unfortunately, we know precious little about its development. As is the case with many folk traditions that have been orally transmitted, its historical origins are quite obscure. Moreover, the gits themselves have never been systematically collected and documented.”

In his essay, Asani predominantly refers to geet recordings from the 1980s onwards. And, Amy Catlin Jairazbhoy, states that the Khoja geet emerged “at some uncertain time in the twentieth century” (p. 262). In her essay titled “Songs of Praise: the Git Tradition of the Nizari Ismaili Muslims”, in Gujarati Communities Across the Globe: Memory, Identity and Continuity, ed. by Sharmina Mawani and Anjoom A. Mukaddam (Stoke-on-Trent, 2012), pages 59-78, Sharmina Mawani writes that “few authors have focused on gits…. and the way in which this creative form of expression has flourished from one generation to another” (p. 59). Although her discussion focuses on post-1960 geets, Mawani does refer to a geet by Fateh Ali Ismail Ibrahim titled Aayi Aayi re Sakhi written specifically for the Diamond Jubilee of Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah in 1946, the original lyrics and tune of which “were inspired by the joyous and celebratory nature of the occasion” (pp. 71-72). Indeed, one of the recordings placed online by Aly Sunderji is of this geet (please click https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-GnZn4UC7A&index=5&list=PL8-KGtAvEpq5s1nBIplLQA3j1RDptQ5GJ)

The audio recordings shared by Aly Sunderji of devotional songs produced in Tanganyika in 1946 commemorating the Diamond Jubilee of Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah provide us with important information on the geet tradition. And, significantly, in Suresh Chandvakar’s collection, there are a number of recordings that are also most certainly part of this tradition, but which are slightly earlier date-wise.

Original disc labels of geet recordings that are part of a digitization project being carried out by the British Library. Images: The British Library (collage by Simerg).

An examination of the listing of the individual recordings from Chandvakar’s collection identifies five enigmatic entries: Aavo Sultan Raj, Golden Jubilee Part 01, Golden Jubilee Part 02, and two listed as Captain Lakhpati. Further, the disc labels on these recordings provide some fascinating information. The disc label for Aavo Sultan Raj states: Compiled by ‘Best Ismaili Record’; the disc labels for Golden Jubilee and Captain Lakhpati state: Compiled by ‘Captain Lakhpaty’. This, undoubtedly, refers to Abdullah Jaffer Lakhpati, who is considered among the founders of the H. H. the Aga Khan Bombay Volunteer Corps, and who was also a versatile poet and artist. It is known that Lakhpati was appointed as Captain of the Volunteer Corps in February 1936. With this reference date, as well as upon listening to the recordings, it is clear that these geets were most likely composed to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah, Aga Khan III, in 1935-36. To date, therefore, these are the earliest musical recordings of geets.

As to the performers, Ahmed Dilawar and Prabhakar, it has not been possible, as yet, to locate any further information on these individuals. It is likely that the various publications issued by the community, such as Ismaili and Fidai, could shed more light on these specific compositions and the performer(s), as well as on the tradition and history of geets.

One final point: All the disc labels of the ginan and geet recordings identified in this article and that posted previously share a common feature. What may be considered as the ‘Headline’ banner in the top half of the disc label is either an illustration depicting an image of Imam Sultan Mohamed Shah in the centre with the red and green Ismaili standard on either side, or the Imamat Crest in the centre, again with the Ismaili standard on either side. Does this not suggest that the recordings were officially produced for circulation?

All the ginan and geet recordings, (links to the geets are provided hereunder), along with Aly Sunderji’s sharing of the Diamond Jubilee geets, provide a fascinating insight into the historical development of this tradition, and allow us to reflect anew on this musical heritage.

Link to Aavo Sultan Raj

http://sounds.bl.uk/World-and-traditional-music/Young-India-record-label-collection/025M-CEAP190X7X07-008ZV0

Link to Golden Jubilee Part 01

http://sounds.bl.uk/World-and-traditional-music/Young-India-record-label-collection/025M-CEAP190X7X06-001ZV0

Link to Golden Jubilee Part 02

http://sounds.bl.uk/World-and-traditional-music/Young-India-record-label-collection/025M-CEAP190X7X06-002ZV0

Link to Captain Lakhpati

http://sounds.bl.uk/World-and-traditional-music/Young-India-record-label-collection/025M-CEAP190X7X06-003ZV0

Link to Captain Lakhpati

http://sounds.bl.uk/World-and-traditional-music/Young-India-record-label-collection/025M-CEAP190X7X06-004ZV0

Date posted: October 1, 2017.
Last updated: October 5, 2017 (additional source(s) added by the author, Alnoor Merchant, in paragraph referencing Sharmina Mawani’s essay).

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*The term used to describe a devotional ‘folk song’ is git; however, the more commoner spelling form, geet, is used in this article.

About the author: Alnoor Jehangir Merchant is an independent researcher on Ismaili studies, and a specialist advisor on rare books, coins, photographs and objets d’art relating to the worlds of Islam.

We welcome your feedback. To leave a comment please click LEAVE A COMMENT. If you encounter a technical issue, send your comment to Simerg@aol.com, Subject: Ginans and Geets.

 

 

The Imamat and Didar of Hazar Imam

“With hope I stand at thy door, O Ali! And sincerely beg of thee, bless me with thy holy didar, O great lord and benefactor! At thy feet I fall to prostrate”….MORE

PLEASE CLICK: Simerg’s Imamat and Didar Series (pdf)

The Jamat of Hunza accept the gracious didar (glimpse) of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, as he visits the Princely State in the Northern Areas of Pakistan in 1960. Photo: Abdul M. Ismaily (papa jaan). Copyright.

“I was taken near the place where from I saw the bright Light of the Prophethood. My eyes were dazzled by the Light. I shed tears of joy and felt as if I was looking at the face of the Prophet of Allah and of the Commander of the Faithful, Hazrat Ali. I prostrated myself before the one who is the fittest person to bow to. I wanted to say something, but I was awe-struck.”….MORE

The Jamat of Hunza accept the gracious didar (glimpse) of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, as he visits the the Northern Areas of Pakistan in 1960. Photo: Abdul M. Ismaily (Papa Jaan). Copyright.

Date posted: September 28, 2017.

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Awesome and Rare Collection of Ismaili Ginans with Music at the British Library

1935-1955: Truly Inspiring Recordings of Ab Teri Mohabat, Marna Hai re Jarur, Ho Jire mara Hansa, Satgur miliya mune aaj and Bhajan

(Material compiled from the British Library, Endangered Archives Project)

A Young India gramaphone record. Photo: The British Library,

Simerg has come across an extremely rare collection of ginans that were recorded on 78-rpm shellac gramophone records in Mumbai, India between 1935-1955. The ginans accompanied by music are part of a huge collection of almost 1427 original film, music, classical music, folk music, publicity and educational material that have so far been digitized by the  British Library in London, England as part of their Endangered Archives project. A 24 month grant of £21,300 (sterling pounds) for this project was awarded to an independent researcher, Dr. Suresh Chandvankar, in 2008.

During 1930-55, the British and German record manufacturing companies were well established and had a major share of disc manufacturing in India. The ‘Young India’ record label was an ‘indigenous’ effort at record production by ‘The National Gramophone Record Manufacturing Company Ltd. Bombay’ and during the twenty year period produced 10,000 titles on hundreds of 78-rpm shellac gramophone records in Mumbai. Mainly amateur and upcoming artists were recorded under the ‘Young India’ label. The company ceased to function in 1955 so these recordings were never reissued on audio tapes and CDs. Hence, the British Library felt it important and relevant to preserve these invaluable recordings and the associated documents.

Clockwise from top left: A Young India disk; Young India sign; a collector; and a collection of Young India record. Photos: British Library, Endangered Archives.

The repertoire covered music from different regions of India and sung in many different languages. During the long tenure of over twenty years, Indian citizens witnessed several important events such as the movement and struggle for freedom, Indian Independence in 1947, World War II and the beginning of the romantic period of independent India. This was also reflected in the records produced. Thus, there are speeches of great leaders, ballads, skits and dialogues on a number of subjects depicting changing social and political situations.

In late 1948, the ‘National Gramophone Record’ factory at Wadala was experiencing both technical and financial problems which severely curtailed its production capacity. The situation worsened slowly and by late 1955, the factory had closed down with stocks left over at the factory sold off at greatly reduced prices to a number of agencies. With time, the records and catalogues were either destroyed or scrapped. Slowly, all the material related to this company began to disappear.

It is estimated that over 1,000 records are available in the private collections of record collectors, located in Mumbai, Ahmadabad, Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata, and are only available on 78-rpm breakable shellac discs. In addition, over 100 catalogues, booklets and record sleeves are held by private collectors and it is possible to collect or borrow them for this project. These have never been sold commercially, with the result that very few copies have survived to the present.

Through the British Library project endangered archival material pertaining to ‘Young India’ record label will be restored, digitised and thus preserved for posterity.

The project succeeded in locating and digitising over 725 discs (1450 songs) of the ‘Young India’ record label. A large number of catalogues and advertising material was located at many places and more than 1,000 digital images have been taken of documents and disc labels. This will form a very valuable reference source for researchers in the future.

Here are the links to the recitation of Ginans performed by numerous individuals including Master Jumma, Rama, Kumari, and Rahemali.

(Note: Once you are on the British Library page when you have clicked on a Ginan link below, remain on that page and click under Related Items to listen to other Ginans – you need not use the back arrow to return to this page for links to other recordings).

Two recordings of Ab Teri Mohabat

Two recordings of Marna Hai re Jarur 

Two recordings of Ho Jire mara Hansa 

Recording of Satgur miliya mune aaj

Recording of Bhajan, Aavo Sultan Raj (possibly of Ismaili origin) 

Date posted: Sunday, September 24, 2017, 03:45 am

Last updated: September 24, 2017, 03:51 am) – Correction: In the first version of this post it was incorrectly mentioned on the title and elsewhere in the article that the archives are at the British Museum. The Endangered Archives Project is an initiative of the British Library and not the British Museum. We apologize for this oversight.

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We welcome your feedback. Please click Leave a comment. Do you have any information about Master Jumma, Rama, Kumari, Rahemali, and others who were involved in the singing of the ginans? Let us know! If you encounter any technical issues in submitting your comment, please send your feedback to Simerg@aol.com, Subject: Ginan archives.

Essay on His Highness the Aga Khan by Michael Morgan, author of “Lost History”

The following article is reproduced from http://www.barakah.com, a website with the theme “His Highness the Aga Khan: A Visual and Textual Celebration, 1957-2017.”

Karim Aga Khan: Modern Personification of Historical Islamic Rationalism, Charity and Peace

Lost History: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Scientists, Thinkers and Artists by Michael Hamilton Morgan with a Foreword by Jordan`s King Abdullah II.Lost History: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Scientists, Thinkers and Artists by Michael Hamilton Morgan with a Foreword by His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan.

BY MICHAEL HAMILTON MORGAN

When I published my book “Lost History” in 2007, only 6 years after the attacks of 9/11 and while the US and allies were still fighting wars in the ancient Islamic treasure-houses of Iraq and Afghanistan, I thought that non-Muslims were finally beginning to be open to the breadth and depth — and global debt owed — to historical Muslim culture.

My publishers and editors — while firmly supportive of the book — had been privately concerned that the book might trigger angry reactions both from conservative Muslims and from Islamophobes.

Their concerns were not borne out. Contemporary antagonists on both sides chose to ignore my historical discussions, or to focus on other disputes. My argument showing how much the modern digital world owes to the ancient Muslim-sponsored thinkers in Baghdad, Aleppo, Isfahan, Cairo, Palermo, Cordoba, Bukhara, Isfahan, Delhi and many other cities was well received. The surprise to me was how well received it was in the Muslim world, being translated into languages like Arabic and Indonesian, as well as for faraway non-Muslim readers in Japan and even Korea.

If only that modest success could have been sustained. But then came the continuing disintegration of Iraq and Syria, the rise of ISIS, floods of refugees and horrific Islamophobic political demagoguery in both Europe and the US. It was as though one beheading could erase all the slow progress made in getting non-Muslims to understand that ISIS and its fellow travelers were not the spokesmen for the faith of Islam that most Muslims know and practice — or that history teaches us.

Perhaps there is no hope of counteracting the sensationalism of terrorism with a book…or even a parade of books. Perhaps the only way is through decades — or even centuries — of hard work in the areas of education, scientific research, medicine, public works, charity, economic development and entrepreneurship.

Believe it or not, those are the behavioral pillars of historical Muslim culture. Though most non-Muslims don’t realize, it was those pillars and others that made Muslim culture the single most progressive force in the world from about 650 to 1500 of the current era. Those pillars seeded the European Renaissance and Enlightenment and gave us things like the algorithm, data mining, evidence-based medicine, universities, hospitals, psychotherapy, modern optics, space travel and a thousand other things that we think come exclusively from the West.

And it would be dishonest to say that all those things were purely Muslim-generated. Instead, they were Muslim sponsored — the fruits of a vision of Islam that opened its intellectual doors to all good ideas and thinkers, no matter where they came from or which deity they worshipped. In hadith, the Prophet Mohammad is quoted as saying, “even if ye must go to China, seek knowledge,” and “The ink of the scholar is holier than the blood of the martyr”. These were the scriptural guides that drove these centuries of invention and discovery.

In fact, I argue that Islam was the most intellectual of the three Abrahamic faiths, and perhaps of any religion in human history. For hundreds of years, mainstream Islam taught that the secrets of God’s universe could be unlocked with reason and logic — that those intellectual tools were in fact keys to divine revelation. Classical Muslim thinkers saw no contradiction between reason and divine revelation — for them, logic and revelation were one and the same. Unfortunately, that lesson seems lost now, even in that direct product of the European Enlightenment, the United States, where state legislatures and US Senators argue that science should be ignored when it comes to climate change and Darwin’s theory of evolution. On top of that, no one remembers that Darwin had been previewed by Al Jahiz’ theory of natural selection in Baghdad 1,000 years earlier.

This ancient Muslim religious devotion to science, ideas, openness and empirical evidence has indeed been obscured in the mainstream. In the West, the loss of this connection has come from the hard separation of science from faith, and both have suffered. Faith for many in fundamentalist Christianity has become an anti-intellectual thing, when there need not be such a dichotomy. On the scientific side, the compartmentalization of Western intellectual tradition means that science has become very secular. Career scientists are generally uneasy to have their faith mixed into science: many see the two as directly contradictory.

And in the Muslim world, incomplete popular understanding of the faith of Islam has weakened understanding of the importance of logic and reason to the Islamic tradition.

But some have always been quietly swimming against that popular tide of prejudice and misunderstanding. Whether they will be able to offset the currents of ignorance and mistrust that dominate the media and politics remains to be seen — but it is certain that among those most directly touched by their work, the lesson of logic, reason, openness and peace is resonating.

In this vast tapestry of the interaction of Muslims with each other, and with other cultures and faiths, there is one tradition that unfailingly continues the progressive heritage of classical Islam — profoundly intellectual, open, tolerant, pacific — and in particular one leader who has made it especially attuned to the many difficulties of the world today.

That would be Ismailism and its revered Imam, the current Aga Khan IV.Aga Khan portrait by Jean Marc CarisseAs a minority within a minority of Islam, Ismailism does not enjoy hundreds of millions of followers. Its adherents today number about 15 million — though they are dispersed to many corners of the world — South and Central Asia, Africa, Canada and elsewhere. This is only a drop in the ocean of greater Islam that may number 1.6 billion worldwide.

Additionally, Ismailism is not well understood, even by mainstream Shiites, much less majority Sunnis. In some ways its situation is similar to Christian misunderstanding of Judaism, which is hugely outnumbered by its Christian and Muslim descendants. Like Judaism with its pogroms and anti-Semitism, Ismailism has suffered historical persecution at the hands of the majorities. As with Jews in the Holocaust, Ismailis in the 13th century were even threatened with extermination, first at the hands of the Sunni majority and then at the hands of the Mongol invaders of Persia. For centuries, Ismailis survived in Persia and elsewhere either in mountaintop redoubts or underground and or in nearly permanent exile.

But to the benefit of today’s world and many millions of people, the Ismailis have not been exterminated or absorbed. In some ways, their intellectualism may have been intensified by the centuries of persecution. Today, the Aga Khan and the Ismailis have bent over backward — and at great risk — to nurture the elements of progressive Islam that changed the world 1000 years ago.

The fruit of all this historical tumult is the Ismailism of today, and the Aga Khan. He and his followers continually remind the world that quiet good work can be more powerful than loud rhetoric and sensational acts, that the intellect and reason are the keys to progress, that openness and tolerance heal the world, and that peace is the expression of the divine on earth.

Since the Aga Khan was crowned in 1957, he has devoted his time, energy, fortune and the efforts and contributions of his followers to major global efforts in education, economic development, entrepreneurialism, charity, medicine and other fields.

By no coincidence, all these fields are at the core of classical Muslim culture and greatness. They have done more for the world than blind piety and xenophobia ever could.

His Highness was explicit on the powerful intellectual tradition of Islam when interviewed by Der Spiegel in 2006:

SPIEGEL: Does Islam have a problem with reason?

Aga Khan: Not at all. Indeed, I would say the contrary. Of the Abrahamic faiths, Islam is probably the one that places the greatest emphasis on knowledge. The purpose is to understand God’s creation, and therefore it is a faith which is eminently logical. Islam is a faith of reason.

And His Highness has spent his lifetime walking the talk of that. Through global institutions like the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), he has founded and inspired multiple initiatives like the Aga Khan University, the University of Central Asia, the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, the Aga Khan Foundation, the Aga Khan Health Services, the Aga Khan Education Services, the Aga Khan Planning and Building Services, and the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance. One of the companies where AKFED is the main shareholder is Serena Hotels Group.

The Aga Khan Development Network, which coordinates the activities of over 200 agencies and institutions, employs approximately 80,000 staff, the majority based in developing countries. AKDN is dedicated to improving living conditions and opportunities for the poor, without regard to their creed, ethnicity or gender. The AKDN’s annual budget for non-profit development activities in 2010 was estimated to be US$625 million. The network operates in more than 35 of the poorest countries in the world

Each one of these efforts would merit articles longer than this. But one that should be singled out and explained is the AKDN’s business activities like Serena Hotels.

Many coming from the Christian tradition will find a religious group’s investment in business puzzling to say the least. That is because Christianity, unlike Islam, has always had an ambivalent view of business. Witness Jesus’ statement, “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of needle, than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Islam never had that antipathy to business, owing in large part to the Prophet himself, who was aided in promoting his religious vision after marrying caravan entrepreneur Khadija. Although Islam has strong requirements to devote a share of one’s wealth to public charity and to the faith, it has never had the antipathy to commerce that Christianity did.

Although many in the West have argued that business can be a force for change, few have explicitly based their business activities in religious faith. I would argue that the Aga Khan has showed that religiously-inspired business can be a progressive force in society, by creating jobs, spreading wealth, providing needed services, stimulating economic growth and higher tax revenues and social progress.

Aga Khan at the opening of the Kampala Serena and photos of the Serena Lodges at Lake Manyara and Serengeti National ParksHis Highness the Aga Khan and His Excellency President Museveni speak to Mr Expedito Wakibulla at the opening of the Kampala Serena Hotel. Mr. Wakibulla is a renowned Ugandan wood carver, whose artworks are used extensively throughout the Kampala Serena. Shown at the left are the Serena Lodges at Lake Manyara (top) and Serengeti National Parks. Photos: AKDN/Gary Otte.

His efforts in education — for how can logic and reason advance without education — are equally admirable. Founded in 1983 by Prince Karim Aga Khan IV, Aga Khan University launched a medical college and a teaching hospital in Pakistan. The university grew to be international, and in 2004 established a teaching hospital in Nairobi and in 2016 another one in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. In 2002, the university established a campus in London dedicated to the study of the Muslim Civilizations. In 2015, the university established the Institute for Human Development. In 2016, the university launched the East African Institute. The university’s clinical laboratories in Karachi are the only in Pakistan to be accredited by the College of American Pathologists.

The university’s campus in Karachi is ranked among the top universities in Asia and among the top 300 in the world for medicine. Pakistan ranks the university as the top medical school in Pakistan. The university runs one of the world’s largest networks of accredited teaching hospitals, with 14 hospitals in Pakistan, East Africa and Afghanistan. In 2016, these hospitals treated an estimated 1.75 million patients.

But there’s more to this story. The University of Central Asia (UCA) was founded in 2000. The Presidents of Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Kazakhstan and the Aga Khan signed the treaty establishing this secular, not-for-profit, private university. The Presidents are Patrons of UCA and His Highness the Aga Khan is the Chancellor.

Aga Khan reviews progress of University of Central Asia's Naryn Campus in 2014. The campus was inaugurated in October 2016.His Highness the Aga Khan, the Chancellor of the University of Central Asia (UCA), accompanied by Kyrgyzstan’s Minister for Education Mr Kanat Sadykov, Naryn Governor Mr Amanbay Kayipov, Mayor Mr Rakhat Adiyev, the Akim of the Naryn District Zhanboev Tugolbai and UCA leadership as the delegation reviewed the first campus of UCA in Naryn in November 2014. The campus was inaugurated by the Aga Khan on October 19, 2016. Photo: AKDN/Gary Otte.

UCA’s mission is to foster the socio-economic development of Central Asia, particularly its mountain societies, while helping the peoples of the region preserve and draw upon their rich cultural heritages as assets for the future. The university is advancing construction of three campuses in Khorog, Tajikistan; Tekeli, Kazakhstan and Naryn, Kyrgyz Republic (which was inaugurated in October 2016).

The three campuses, hosting academic, administrative, residential, library, cultural and athletic facilities, will serve almost 4000 students, faculty and staff.

Let us hope that all these noble efforts will finally begin to undermine the mis-named “clash of civilizations” and the mis-named “Islamic terrorism”. We will not know for some time.

This article started by referring to the deep misunderstanding in the world and even among Muslims about what Islam is and what Islam has given to the world. ISIS and fellow travelers continue to steal the headlines with their acts of violence. But the Aga Khan showed us the way out of this fog of ignorance in the same interview with Der Spiegel. I will close the article with his words:

SPIEGEL: “The West (will stand) against the Rest” wrote Professor Samuel Huntington in his famous book “Clash of Civilizations.” Is such a conflict, such a clash inevitable?

Aga Khan: I prefer to talk about a clash of ignorance. There is so much horrible, damaging, dangerous ignorance.

SPIEGEL: Which side is responsible?

Aga Khan: Both. But essentially the Western world. You would think that an educated person in the 21st century should know something about Islam; but you look at education in the Western world and you see that Islamic civilizations have been absent. What is taught about Islam? As far as I know — nothing. What was known about Shiism before the Iranian revolution? What was known about the radical Sunni Wahhabism before the rise of the Taliban? We need a big educational effort to overcome this. Rather than shouting at each other, we should be learning to listen to each other. In the way we used to do it, by working together, with mutual give-and-take. Together we brought about some of the highest achievements of human civilization. There is a lot to build on. But I think you cannot build on ignorance.

Date posted on Simerg: September 19, 2017.

Copyright: Michael H. Morgan/Simerg. 2017.

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Michael Hamilton MorganInternational speaker, author, business advisor and award-winning former U.S. diplomat Michael Morgan currently advises companies in the U.S., Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia-Pacific seeking capital and partnerships — in industries like energy, infrastructure, telecom, pharmaceuticals, entertainment, sports and real estate. Morgan is a member of the Advisory Board of Proximera Fund/Fuchs Group (www.fuchsgroup.com) in Luxembourg, CBT Fund in Shanghai and is Head of Investor Relations at Aseare Health (www.aseare.com).

Since 2007, Morgan has been a keynote speaker at the Arab Business Council, British Parliament, World Economic Forum, U.S. Treasury, Georgetown University, UCLA, University of Virginia, the Mohammed bin Rashid Foundation in Dubai, the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, the Asia Society and many other venues.

Morgan’s 2007 book Lost History: the Enduring Legacy of Muslim Scientists, Thinkers and Artists (National Geographic/Random House) has reached thousands of readers around the world, and has been translated into Arabic, Indonesian, Urdu, Bosnian, Japanese, Korean and other languages. Morgan received Egypt’s Presidential award for the Arts & Sciences in 2008. Morgan’s 2002 book Collision with History: the Search for John F. Kennedy’s PT 109 has been optioned as a feature film by Atmosphere Entertainment in Hollywood.

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Prince Amyn Muhammad Aga Khan is 80 years old: A thank you letter to the Prince

Dear Prince Amyn, we have witnessed and continue to witness with immense happiness your enormous love, loyalty and respect for our beloved Hazar Imam. Throughout your life, you have been by his side as his trusted supporter, loyal advisor and confidant. You continue to be an epitome of inspiration in the service of the Imam, the Institution of Imamat, worldwide Jamats” — READ MORE

Please click on image to read Azeem Maherali’s thank you letter to Prince Amyn Aga Khan. Photo: Khizr Hayat Collection.

Date posted: September 13, 2017.

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Total Solar eclipse on August 21: One of Nature’s most awe inspiring sights; watch ScienceCast and follow live coverage

On Monday, August 21, 2017, all of North America will be treated to an eclipse of the sun. Anyone within the path of totality can see one of nature’s most awe inspiring sights – a total solar eclipse. This path, where the moon will completely cover the sun and the sun’s tenuous atmosphere – the corona – can be seen, will stretch from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. Observers outside this path will still see a partial solar eclipse where the moon covers part of the sun’s disk. NASA will cover the eclipse live from coast to coast, beginning at noon EDT.

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THE ISLAMIC WORLD AND ASTRONOMY

Islamic astronomy became the western world’s powerhouse of scientific research during the 9th and 10th centuries AD, while the Dark Ages engulfed much of the rest of the western world. The works by Ptolemy, Plato, and Aristotle were translated, amplified upon and spread throughout the Muslim world. Al-Khwarazmi developed the first tables trigonometric functions (ca 825 AD) which remained the standard reference well into the modern era. Al-Khwarazmi was known to the west as “Algorizm” and this is, in fact, the origin of the term ‘algorithm’. Al-Khwarazmi’s calculations were good to five places, allowing for unprecedented precision in astronomy and other sciences. At Antioch, Muhammad al-Batani (ca 850 AD) began with Ptolemy’s works and recalculated the precession of the equinoxes, and produced new, more precise astronomical tables. Following a steady series of advances in Islamic trigonometry, observations by Ibn Yunus of lunar and solar eclipses were recorded in Cairo ca 1000 AD. Ibn Yunus is regarded as one of the greatest observational astronomers of his time. The pace of Islamic science and scholarship eventually slowed down in the 11th and 12th centuries. Many great books and great ideas of the Islamic Age lay fallow for hundreds of years until they were finally translated into Latin and fueled the European revolution in thinking and the birth of science as we know it today. [1]

FATIMID ASTRONOMER IBN YUNUS

The Fatimid astronomer Ibn Yunus (950-1009), was one of the greatest astronomers of medieval Islam and the most important astronomer of medieval Egypt. He recorded both the lunar and solar eclipses in Cairo.  As a young man he witnessed the Fatimid conquest of Egypt and the founding of the new city of Cairo in 969. In the period up to the reign of 15th Ismaili Imam and 5th Fatimid Caliph, Mawlana al‐ʿAzīz (975–996), he made astronomical observations that were renewed by Mawlana al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, who succeeded Imam al‐ʿAzīz in 996 at the age of 11. Ibn Yunus wrote a major astronomical handbook called Al-Zij al-Hakimi al-kabir (The Great Hakimi astronomical table) which he dedicated to Imam al-Hakim. Although Ibn Yunus’ handbook was widely used in Islam, and his timekeeping tables survived in use in Cairo into the 19th century, his work only became known in the West less than 200 years ago. [2]

Yunus expressed the solutions in his Zij without mathematical symbols, but Delambre noted in his 1819 translation of the Hakemite tables that two of Ibn Yunus’ methods for determining the time from solar or stellar altitude were equivalent to the trigonometric identity 2cos(a)cos(b) = cos(a+b) +cos(a-b) identified in Johannes Werner’s 16th-century manuscript on conic sections. Now recognized as one of Werner’s formulas, it was essential for the development of prosthaphaeresis and logarithms decades later. [3]

Date posted: August 19, 2017.

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Islamic astronomy and Ibn Yunus sections compiled from the following sources:

[1]. https://science.ksc.nasa.gov/
[2]. Ibn Yunus – McGill University
[3]. Ibn Yunus – Wikipedia

Bruno Freschi on Aga Khan’s Vision

Bruno Freschi, one of North America’s most honored architects, built the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre in Burnaby, BC, for His Highness the Aga Khan.

PLEASE CLICK: His Highness the Aga Khan, an inspired vision of architecture

In Barakah’s unique visual and textual portrayal of His Highness the Aga Khan, Freschi provides remarkable insights into the thought processes that were used to conceive the beautiful Jamatkhana. Please click on link or image below to read the piece.

The architect Bruno Freschi shared the above message with Simerg. It was penned down by His Highness the Aga Khan in a special commemorative volume celebrating the opening of the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre located in Burnaby, Canada. Please click for Freschi’s essay.

Date posted: July 29, 2017.

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The Ismailis’ unmeasurable love for their 49th Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan

BY ABDULMALIK MERCHANT

The Youtube link to the Diamond Jubilee Tribute Song to Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, is one you can play repeatedly and keep on enjoying forever. The expression of love for Mawlana Hazar Imam is visible on each musician’s face, and this is what is most inspiring about this video. What we might say is our “unmeasurable love” for Hazar Imam becomes even more unfathomable to grasp when we read what Hazar Imam said to his jamat (community) during his visit in 1964 to Pakistan that “my love for my Jamat is a lot stronger than yours can ever be for me and I would like you to remember this….When I leave, each and everyone of you will be in my heart, in my prayers, in my thoughts and you must remember that Imam loves you more, much more than you can ever love him and you must be strong in this knowledge.” Unmeasurable unmeasurable love indeed! We are all recipients of his care and barakah, 1000fold, nay a million fold….Happiness forever to all Ismailis.

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Please also visit http://www.facebook.com/1000fold, a page dedicated to the Visual and Textual Celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan, with a corresponding website, http://www.barakah.com.

Date posted: June 8, 2017.

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My Mum’s Pick! A Must Read Story About a Former Child Soldier Transformed by Education

INTRODUCED BY ABDULMALIK MERCHANT

Mrs. Merchant with Nazim Rawji

Malek Merchant, 85, with her former student and Dar es Salaam neighbour Nazim Rawjee pictured outside the Ismaili Centre in Burnaby. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

My mum is an avid reader. She is 85 but doesn’t look her age when you see her glowing face; she is often interrupted with “he is your brother” before she gets a chance to introduce me to anyone as her son! I feel embarrassed but it also makes me proud for her! Her facial skin is soft and supple;  “Oil of Olay,” I tell all my friends as her secret to a good skin! She spends a lot of time everyday on her Ipad. I go to her aid mostly when she wants to visit my website — otherwise she is okay!

Today, for a change, I gave her my copy of Africa Renewal, a UN magazine that I have been receiving for the past few years on a regular basis and that I collected from my mailbox during my recent trip to Ottawa. She read the two issues I gave her cover to cover in a span of a few hours, and while on the story about Mohamed Sidibay, a former child soldier who attributes his success to education, she started reading it loudly because she was so inspired by it. She wanted me to hear it. It was distracting for me, but her reading the story aloud intrigued me and grabbed my attention. Here it is, below. It is “MY MUM’S PICK” and everyone, young and old alike, must read it! Don’t I wish she owned Chapter’s Indigo! “Heather’s Pick” would then become “Malek’s Pick” and she would even offer bigger discounts on her top picks! And she would personally be at different stores telling the visitors what to read!

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REMINISCENCES OF A FORMER CHILD SOLDIER

“My biggest fear was children, high on drugs, wielding AK-47 rifles…The war stole my childhood and left me orphaned and homeless. In Sierra Leone, children barely old enough to tie their own shoelaces committed most of the atrocities. I was one of those children. I learned to refill a bullet chamber instead of an ink cartridge, and I mastered the “skill” of spraying a wall with lead before I could write 1, 2, and 3.”

BY MOHAMED SIDIBAY

Mohamed Sidibay

Mohamed Sidibay. Photo: Africa Renewal.

My name is Mohamed Sidibay and I was born in Sierra Leone, a beautiful country on the coast of West Africa.

When I had barely reached five years of age, we were engulfed in a civil war. Kidnapped by rebels, I lived in a world where my captors made me fear not God but children, high on drugs, wielding AK-47 rifles taller than them, and forced to kill or be killed.

I was one of those child soldiers and I lived in a world where your best friend could kill you because his own life depended on it.

I witnessed murder for the first time when I was only five years old. In 1997 the civil war had reached my village. It was only after I was forcibly taken away from our house that I got a sense of the evil that would befall me. The man I would later come to call General took my parents’ lives before my eyes. That was the beginning of my encounter with war.

Years passed and one night I fled to Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. It was one of the longest nights of my life. I slept on a wooden bench too small for my tall frame. I spent most of the night fighting off mosquitoes and trying to stay warm. When I woke up, I had white, salty residue on my face as a result of hours of crying. I wished things were different.

Shunned by community

sierra_leone_sm_2016

Sierra Leone, University of Texas Map, 2016.

An Italian priest gave me shelter and connected me to an NGO that links students and teachers worldwide through technology. This is where I started my education and was soon sponsored to join a primary school in Sierra Leone.

The war stole my childhood and left me orphaned and homeless. In Sierra Leone, children barely old enough to tie their own shoelaces committed most of the atrocities. I was one of those children. I learned to refill a bullet chamber instead of an ink cartridge, and I mastered the “skill” of spraying a wall with lead before I could write 1, 2, and 3. At the time, the more youthful we appeared, the more gruesome the carnage we inflicted.

Although the civil war eventually ended in 2002, a new struggle for reintegration had just begun for me. My former community shunned me, the worst punishment a close-knit community could exact on a repentant child soldier. Elders derided me for my shamelessness, and my peers were vicious towards me.

One day something unexpected happened. A complete stranger told me the truth I did not want to hear: I had the power to create my own destiny if I could get education. But how could I do that when at the age of ten I could not read or write? Where would I begin? I wondered whether education would help me forget my experience with killing in war. Would it end my nightmares?

We know all wars eventually end, but the scars and burden may last forever. But that’s life, right? Things do not always turn out the way we wish.

Transformation

In 2007, at the age of 14, I was invited to talk about my experience as a child soldier at two American universities. What was meant to be a short trip became a permanent stay after I refused to board my plane home. I ran away from the airport in New York with only $40 in my pocket, an iPod Nano, my passport, a white-dotted pair of jeans and an orange shirt.

I stayed because America had given me hope. I lived in Maplewood, New Jersey, where I enrolled in high school. At the age of 14, I was preparing to attend high school for the first time in a community that was completely different from the one I had known. Reconciling the new life with the past continued to be a challenge.

I never imagined graduating from high school, let alone becoming a university graduate. Education has offered me choices, chances and challenges.

Education can enable the unfortunate to rise up and know the world. I am now dedicating my life to advocacy and service through my work with the Education Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity and the My Hero Project.

I appreciate the gift of education. I believe that even if we give people the whole world, that world could crumble. But if we give them an education, they can rebuild their world.

Date posted: June 2, 2017.

Note: Mohamed Sidibay has since graduated from George Washington University.

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CREDIT:

Mohamed Sidibay, “United Nations Africa Renewal.” The complete story with the photo of Mohamed Sidibay is reproduced from Africa Renewal, Special Edition 2017, page 30. Please visit http://www.un.org/africarenewal.

We welcome your feedback. Please click Leave a comment.

Short readings to build your knowledge on Ismaili theology, esoterics and history

“THE ISMAILI IMAMAT REPRESENTS THE SUCCESSION OF IMAMS SINCE THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD” — HIS HIGHNESS THE AGA KHAN, 2014

Aga Khan Golden Jubilee Visit to Canada Vancouver

INTRODUCTION TO THE SERIES

Mawlana Hazar Imam Shah Karim al Hussaini, His Highness the Aga Khan (pictured above), in direct lineal descent from the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) through Hazrat Ali (a.s.) and Hazrat Bibi Fatima (a.s), is the 49th Imam of the Ismaili Muslims. From the time of the first Imam Ali, who was designated and appointed as such by the Holy Prophet, the Imams of the Ismaili Muslims have ruled over territories and peoples in various areas of the world at different periods of history in accordance with the Islamic precepts and ethics of unity, brotherhood, justice, tolerance and goodwill. The Ismaili Imam is therefore not only concerned with the material advancement and the improvement of the quality of life of his Ismaili followers, but also that of other Muslim communities and societies at large in which they live.

In accordance with historical and theological works and the teachings of their Imams, the Ismailis believe that each Imam is the bearer of the Light of Imamat (or Nur). This (spiritual) Light is with the Ahl al-bayt (i.e. the Imams from the Prophet Muhammad’s family). This Nur was with the first Shia Imam Ali and, for Shia Ismailis, is now with their present 49th Imam. Every Imam guides his followers during his time through the Nur of Imamat.

The Nur of Imamat is always there to guide through the physical presence of the Imam. The Imam holds his followers hands and leads and protects them in both difficult and good times. He shows them how they should live in a particular time and place. Just as the water of a river continues to flow, the Hereditary line of Imamat from Hazrat Ali never stops. That is, the Imam is always physically present and manifest on this earth. According to Shia tradition, the Imam is the threshold through which God and the creatures communicate. He is thus a cosmic necessity, the key and the center of the universal economy of the sacred: “The earth cannot be devoid of an Imam; without him, it could not last an hour. If there were only two men left in the world, one of them would be the Imam.”

One of the goals of each Ismaili is to strive to come closer to the spiritual light of the Imam. One can do so 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 strengthens the Ismailis’ spiritual bond with their Imam, and through his Light, brings them closer to Allah.

In the coming days, weeks and months Simerg will endeavour to provide different perspectives on the Imamat and Ismaili contributions to Islamic culture and thought from various literary works on Ismaili philosophy, theology and history.

Beatific Vision of the Imam

The [Imam’s] beatific vision is of two kinds: one a physical meeting with the Imam and the other a spiritual recognition of his essence [Nur], through which God is recognized.

Speaking of the second of these, Pir Sadr al-Din, in his ginan [religious hymn] “Sakhi māhā pad keri vāt koek jānere”, writes:

Friend! None but a few know of the exalted station. Indeed, they alone recognize it who have found the true guide.

Friend! Within the heart, at the confluence of the three spiritual rivers, there is an imperishable light. There – a shimmering effulgence, pearls are showered.

Friend! I completely lost consciousness of my physical self when my meditation mounted the empyrean, bursting forth.

Friend! I beheld the place of the lofty throne, I saw the seven islands, the nine continents.

Friend! The religious scriptures and books cannot fathom this, for there is neither day there, nor night, neither sun, nor shade.

Friend! My Lord is not such that He can be spoken of. He is to be seen – for He is indescribable, and nameless.

Friend! How sweet is that Lord, indescribable, nameless. Says Pir Sadr al-Din, truly, with my own eyes, I have seen Him!

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Dazzled by the Light of Imamat

When Ismaili missionary al-Mu’ayyad-din Shirazi had left Shiraz in Persia for Fatimid Egypt, he was very hopeful that he would get the opportunity to see the Imam-Caliph Mustansir-bi-Allah, but at the same time he had also feared the intrigues of the ministers who did not permit any man of learning to see the Imam personally, unless he complied with their dictates and acknowledged their superiority.

On reaching Egypt he experienced all that he had feared. He was lodged in a small house and his visits to the court were short and limited to prevent him from seeing the Imam.

Disappointed, he finally decided to leave Egypt and wrote as follows to Tastari, one of the most powerful persons in the Fatimid State:

“I have not come to Egypt to seek wealth or gain any position. The promptings of my faith have brought me here. I have come to visit the Imam and not the Vaziers and their officials. Unfortunately, these people stop me from having a look at my Imam and now I am returning disappointed.”

The sudden death of Tastari gave al-Mu’ayyad another opportunity to renew his efforts to get some time to be in the holy presence of the Imam and with some help was finally able to pay respects to the Imam. Describing his experience, he writes:

I was taken near the place where from I saw the bright Light of the Prophethood. My eyes were dazzled by the Light. I shed tears of joy and felt as if I was looking at the face of the Prophet of Allah and of the Commander of the Faithful, Hazrat Ali. I prostrated myself before the one who is the fittest person to bow to. I wanted to say something, but I was awe-struck.

I tried to speak but my tongue refused to move. People asked me to say what I wished to say. I could say nothing. The Imam said, ‘Leave him. Let his fear and awe subside’.

After this, I rose. I took the holy hand of the Imam, placed it on my eyes and on my chest and then kissed it. I left the place with immense joy.

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Imam Mu’izz’s Arrival in Cairo

In 969 CE, Imam al-Mu‘izz, “an excellent planner, an efficient organiser and a statesman amply talented in diplomacy,” with the help of his general Jawhar Siqilli, acquired Egypt peacefully.

During this time the building of the new city of Cairo began and in 970 CE the foundation for the al-Azhar mosque was laid. The Imam himself arrived in Cairo in 973 CE in a very touching ceremony. His sons, brothers and uncles, and other descendants of Imam al-Mahdi, the first Fatimid caliph, made their entrance with him. Imam Mu’izz brought with him the coffins of his ancestors Imams al-Mahdi, al-Qa‘im and al-Mansur.

Stanley Lane-Poole’s description of Imam al-Mu‘izz may aid one to understand his successful reign:

He was a born statesman, able to grasp the conditions of success and to take advantage of every point in his favour. He was also highly educated, and not only wrote Arabic poetry and delighted in its literature, but studied Greek, mastered Berber and Sudani dialects, and is even said to have taught himself Salvonic … His eloquence was such as to move his audience to tears. To prudent statesmanship he added a large generosity, and his love of justice was among his noble qualities.

Cairo’s location between Africa and the Mediterranean ensured that it became a large, thriving commercial centre.

The greatness of the Fatimid Capital is described in the following words by Al-Muqaddassi, a notable medieval Arab geographer who lived in the tenth century.

Know that Baghdad was great in the past, but is now falling in ruins. It is full of troubles, and its glory is gone. I neither approve it nor admire it, and if I praise it, it is a mere convention. Fustat (today, part of old Cairo) is today where Baghdad was in the past, and I do not know of any greater city in all of Islam.

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Imams are our Spiritual Parents

In the Shia tradition, the teaching of the Imam (also referred to as the Ta’lim of the Imam) lights his follower’s path to spiritual enlightenment and vision.

The spiritual enlightenment or the elevation of the soul gained by following the Imam’s guidance is described in many works by Shia theologians, and is particularly evident in the Ginans, Qasidas and narrative accounts written by Ismaili Pirs and missionaries.

The following excerpt is from a work by the Ismaili missionary, Muayyad-din-Shirazi:

Look at the trouble your parents have taken from the days of your childhood in the growth of your bodies and in the improvement of your physical life on earth. But for the interest they took in you, you would not have been what you are.

Your souls are thousand times more important than your bodies. The Imams are your spiritual parents.

Avail yourselves of a few days of life which are at your disposal here and look after your spiritual elevation under the care of your spiritual parents.

Once you miss this opportunity, you will repent forever. You will not be given a second chance to set things right.

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Imam’s Favours Cannot be Counted

From a work by renowned Fatimid scholar and jurist, Qadi Numan. 

Let us make a short survey of their favours on us. We were ignorant of everything and were spiritually dead. They brought us back to life and showed us the path of wisdom. We were blind, they gave us the eyes to see for ourselves what is right and what is wrong.

We were groping in the dark, they showed us the light. We had lost the track, they showed us the way to salvation. We were lacking in knowledge, they gave us knowledge. We were falling in hell-fire, they picked us up and put us in the middle of righteous.

In short, they have done us the favours which we cannot count.

They have given us all that is good in this world and the world to come.  

Date posted: May 1, 2017.

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The material for this post was compiled and adapted from the following sources:

  1.  Preamble Of  the Ismaili Constitution;
  2. The Ismailis in the Middle Ages: A History of Survival, a Search for Salvation by Shafique N. Virani, Hardcover – May 3, 2007;
  3. Life and Lectures of Al Muayyad fid-din al Shirazi, edited by late Jawad Muscati and A.M. Moulvi, Ismailia Assocciation for Pakistan, 1950;
  4. The Divine Guide in Early Shi’ism by Mohamad Ali Amir-Moezzi, published by the State University of New York;
  5. Code of Conduct for the Followers of Imam by Qazi Noaman, translated by Prof. Jawad Muscati; and
  6. Ta’lim curriculum prepared for Ismaili children, published by Islamic Publications, London.

Note: Simerg has launched a sister website totally dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan. Please visit Barakah: “His Highness the Aga Khan A Visual and Textual Celebration”. Facebook page facebook.com/1000fold.