Artistic Expressions: The Covid-19 Lockdown Inspired Skin Surgeon Nizarali Makan to Take Up Painting – We Have a Selection of His Works

My name is Nizarali R.V. Makan. I am 73 years old and a recently retired Dermatologist and Skin Surgeon. I was born in Zanzibar, and attended the Aga Khan Nursery, Primary and Secondary Schools there, followed by post-secondary education in Dar es Salaam. I received my college, medical school education and postgraduate specialty and fellowship training in the United States, and practiced medicine for nearly forty years in Orange County, California, and Bellingham, Washington.

Ismaili artist series by Simerg
Nizarali Makan

I started painting during the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, never having used a paint brush before, except for a single course in painting at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver, B.C.

Over the past several decades I have been blessed to serve Ismaili institutions in the United States and Canada. As a young physician in the pre-TKN days (1987), I served as guest consultant in dermatology at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi, and visited Gilgit and Hunza under the auspices of the Aga Khan Health Services Pakistan. In latter years, I served as both Regional and National Convener for the Institute of Ismaili Studies London. My wife Nazira is from Kampala, Uganda, and we have three children. My hobbies, besides painting, include piano and astrophotography. I am pleased to share a selection of my modest works of art with readers of Simerg, and invite you to view more of my paintings on my Facebook page.

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Please click on images for enlargements

Paintings by Nizarali Makan

Zanzibar street by Nizar Makan, artistic expression by Ismailis, Simerg
“My Street.” Acrylic on canvas, 16” x 20”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2021).

Artist’s note on “My Street”: I was born and grew up in Stone Town, Zanzibar, down the narrow alley from the Ismaili Jamatkhana, and a stone’s throw from the Bohra Masjid and the Mehfil e-Abbas of the Khoja Shia Ithnasheri community. That is why my late mother, who passed away at the age of fifty-two when I was 15 years old, used to make fun of me when I was little — that my faith was Ismaili, my shortcut to the other side of the Zanzibar streets went through the alley of the Mehfil-e Abbas, and with a Maulidi cap at Idd I could easily pass as a Bohra.

Parents Ismaili Artistic expressions by Nizar Makan Simerg
“Parents”, acrylic on canvas, 24” x 18”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2021).

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Boats cacophony of colours by Nizar Makan, artistic expression by Ismailis, Simerg
“Cacophony of Colours”, acrylic on canvas, 18” x 24”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2021).

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Bride by Nizar Makan, artistic expression by Ismailis, Simerg
“The Bride”, acrylic on canvas, 20” x 16”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2021).

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Clay by Nizar Makan, artistic expression by Ismailis, Simerg
“Clay“, acrylic on canvas, 16” x 20”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2021).

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My children Ismaili Artistic expressions by Nizar Makan Simerg
“Children”, acrylic on canvas, 20” x 16”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2021).

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Taj Mahal by Nizar Makan Ismaili artistic expressions simerg
“Story of Love”, acrylic on canvas, 20” x 16”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2020).

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Cosmic communication by Nizar Makan, artistic expression by Ismailis, Simerg
“Cosmic communication”, acrylic on canvas, 16″ x 12”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2020).

Artist’s note on “Cosmic communication”: It is said that God endowed Prophet Dawud (David), a shepherd, with the most beautiful and melodious voice, such that when he sang the Psalms, birds and animals would pause to listen. This painting is a rather simplified representation and reminder of that mystical communication and cosmic bond between all of God’s creatures. After all, we are all interconnected and made up of the same stardust, and our physical bodies are like garments to be shed some day.

Venice by Nizar Makan Simerg Ismaili artistic expression
“Venice, the city of romance, drama and intrigue”, acrylic on canvas, 18” x 24”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2021).

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“Rocks shaped by Water” by Nizar Makan, artistic expression by Ismailis, Simerg
“Rocks shaped by Water”, acrylic on canvas, 16” x 20”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2021).

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Aga Khan Development Network, AKDN logos by Nizar Makan Ismaili artistic expressions Simerg
“AKDN”, acrylic on canvas, 16” x 20”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2021).

A note by the artist on “AKDN”: Each AKDN, Jamati and Apex agency or entity within the Ismaili Imamat has its own unique logo that powerfully represents its goal and objective. In this painting, I have sought to artistically render the logos that I have come across over the past several years onto the Ismaili Flag. I hope to provide meaning of logos in a future piece. Hyperlinks are provided for logos whose meanings have already appeared in Simerg or its sister websites Barakah and Simergphotos.

Column 1 (top to down): Aga Khan Park (Toronto, Canada), Focus Humanitarian Assistance, Aga Khan Health Services, Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance; and Aga Khan Music Awards;

Column 2: Aga Khan Trust for Culture, The Ismaili Centre London (UK), University of Central Asia, The Ismaili Centre Lisbon (Portugal), and Aga Khan Agency for Habitat;

Column 3: Personal Standard or Crest of Mawlana Hazar Imam (top portion), The Ismaili Centre Vancouver (Canada); The Ismaili Magazine, Crest (repeat), and Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development;

Column 4: Personal Standard or Crest of Mawlana Hazar Imam (full), and World Partnership Walk (an initiative of The Aga Khan Foundation);

Column 5: Crest (repeat), The Ismaili Centre Dubai (United Arab Emirates), information about the logo not known, and the Seal of the Aga Khan University (also see HERE with explanations of 3 other logos);

Columns 6: Aga Khan Museum (Toronto), The Ismaili Centre Dushanbe (Tajikistan), Aga Khan Foundation, The Ismaili Centre Toronto, and Aga Khan Centre London (UK); and

Column 7: The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London (UK), Aga Khan Education Services, Aga Khan Planning and Building Services, The Aga Khan Academies, and Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

External Links: For more works of art by Nizarali Makan please visit his Facebook page.

Date posted: August 16, 2022.

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We welcome feedback/letters from our readers. Please use the LEAVE A REPLY box which appears at the bottom of this page or click on LEAVE A COMMENT. Your feedback may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation. We are unable to acknowledge unpublished letters.

The editor invites Ismaili artists to submit a selection of their paintings and other works of art for publication in Simerg. Please submit images, preferably a maximum 8 objects in Jpeg (1200 x 900) along with your profile to the editor Malik, at mmerchant@simerg.com.

Artistic Expressions: Mobina Marani Presents Beautiful Portrait Paintings of Mawlana Hazar Imam and Members of Her Family

By MOBINA MARANI (nee JAMANI)

My name is Mobina, and I live in Crystal Beach, a lakefront community in Fort Erie, located some 180 kilometres from Toronto, Canada. I was born in Kampala, Uganda, and developed an interest in art at a very early age. After leaving Uganda, I attended an art school in England where I learned to work with many mediums, including paint, metalwork, and ceramic, amongst others.

After marrying Nizar Marani and having two beautiful daughters Zahra and Zaynah, and buying a pharmacy which I owned with my husband for almost 30 years, my artistic endeavours were put on hold.

Ismaili artist Mobina Marani Simerg artistic expressions
Ismaili artist Mobina Marani

It was not until almost 40 years later, shortly after the birth of my first granddaughter, Amarah, that I was inspired to pick up a paintbrush again and find time to dedicate to my artistic expressions. Over the ensuing years, I completed portraits of all my immediate family members. Earlier this year, I rendered a painting of Mawlana Hazar Imam from one of his numerous portrait photographs that were taken during the Diamond Jubilee Year in 2017-2018. I hope to continue expressing myself artistically in the years to come, and fulfill an interest that began in my early childhood.

I would like to express my thanks to Simerg for introducing Ismaili artists such as myself to the worldwide Ismaili community and readers of this website.

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Please click on images for enlargements

Portrait Paintings by Mobina Marani

Ismaili artist Mobina Marani Simerg artistic expressions, Aga Khan portrait
Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan. Acrylic on composite wood 13″ x 17″, January 2022. Painting by Mobina Marani, Crystal Beach, Ontario, Canada. Mobina rendered her painting from the original official photo shown immediately below.
One of several portrait photos of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, taken during his Diamond Jubilee Year (2017-2018).
Ismaili artist Mobina Marani Simerg artistic expressions
Amarah, first granddaughter. Acrylic, 16″ x 20″, May 2018. Painting by Mobina Marani, Crystal Beach, Ontario, Canada.
Ismaili artist Mobina Marani Simerg artistic expressions
Grandson, Aaran. Acrylic, 16″ x 20″, October, 2018. Painting by Mobina Marani, Crystal Beach, Ontario, Canada.
Ismaili artist Mobina Marani Simerg artistic expressions
Husband, Nizar, at 15. Acrylic, 13 3/4″ x 17 1/2″, January 2019. Painting by Mobina Marani, Crystal Beach, Ontario, Canada.
Mobina Marani, Ismaili artist, Simerg Visual expressions
Daughter, Zahra. Acrylic, 19 1/2″ x 15 1/2″, September 2019. Painting by Mobina Marani, Crystal Beach, Ontario, Canada.
Mobina Marani, Ismaili artist, Simerg Visual expressions
Aunt, Nurumasi, at 100! Acrylic, 16″ x 20″, March 2020. Painting by Mobina Marani, Crystal Beach, Ontario, Canada.
Ismaili artist Mobina Marani Simerg artistic expressions
Grandson, Jordan. Acrylic and wool (hat), 10″ x 10″, April 2020. Painting by Mobina Marani, Crystal Beach, Ontario, Canada.
Ismaili artist Mobina Marani Simerg artistic expressions
Daughter, Zaynah. Acrylic, 16″ x 18″, February 2021. Painting by Mobina Marani, Crystal Beach, Ontario, Canada.

Date posted: May 31, 2022.

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We welcome feedback/letters from our readers. Please use the LEAVE A REPLY box which appears at the bottom of this page or click Leave a comment. Your feedback may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation. We are unable to acknowledge unpublished letters.

The editor invites Ismaili artists to submit a selection of their paintings and other works of art for publication in Simerg. Please submit images of no more than 8 objects in Jpeg (1200 x 900) along with your profile to the editor Malik, at mmerchant@simerg.com.

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Compendium of Ismaili Artists

By MALIK MERCHANT
Publiser/Editor, Simerg

Ismaili artist compendium, Simerg, Editor Malik Merchant
Please click on image to download compendium

Some 8 years ago, we produced a beautiful PDF publication entitled “A Compendium of Ismaili Artists from Around the World” that can be downloaded HERE. It contained a short profile and one work of art for each of the 33 different Ismaili artists from around the world who wanted to be featured in the compendium. As much as we wanted to publish an expanded edition of the compendium featuring many more Ismaili artists, we are sorry to note that the response was disappointing despite a major announcement on this platform as well as pertinent social media pages. We are keen to publish an expanded edition of the compendium provided we can, at the least, double up on the original number of 33 artists that were featured in the first edition. There are hundreds of Ismaili artists around the world, judging from their participation during the Golden and Diamond Jubilee celebrations of Mawlana Hazar Imam held in 2007-08 and 2017-18 respectively. We therefore urge Ismaili artists to review the entries in the first edition, and send their details for the compendium accordingly to Malik Merchant at mmerchant@simerg.com. Please do not ask us to prepare your profiles by submitting your elaborate CV or resume or asking us to visit your website to prepare the profile. We need the information from you, based on the format in the compendium; each artist will be allotted one page in the compendium that will include a brief profile and one image. Read the compendium!

A Welcome Poem for Mawlana Hazar Imam for the Opening of the Aga Khan Park

REFLECTIVE POOLS IN THE GARDEN,
WELCOME TO THE PARK

IMG_1815 Aga Khan Museum ParkBy Navyn Naran

The park has been busy with many preparations,
t’was a sunny bright day and the place was a-buzz,
No honey bees in sight, trees, crisp in their posture
Readying for the performance, the opening of the park.

Excitement and interest, can be seen and be heard
At the museum and center, delightful and clean
The beauty and grace and calculated thought
In art, materials sustainable, masterpieces sought.
Today clouds flirt in our skies, but hearts are filled,
the sun is watching, the ground freshly tilled.
Welcome my Mawla, welcome to your park!

Welcome, my Mawla
Welcome to this garden.
The outdoors “where God IS”,
as you, hidden in my heart.
The green is yet young,
as is my soul’s quiet space,
the roots stretching free,
a new baby unfurling in perfect place.

Water pools, invite clarity and clear thought,
peace, contemplation facing east, west, south and north,
in this space, feeling happy, your Love’s blessing, you are near,
there is pleasure, here is Grace,
we come to play, pray, see and hear.
in ice cold, and thunderstorm, we are healed in this space,
i come here seeking freshness, spaciousness from the “rat-race”,
i have danced, skipped and run across the green grass, and the paths,
we are awed at the care and beauty shared,
marble, light, skill and art.

a haven of peace, in the contours of this garden
now thawed in the sunlight, now moist earth, not hardened.
These young shrubs, balanced sensually
‘twixt museum and spiritual center,
like twine intermingling, as we exit and enter.
As the double-stranded DNA bonded by electronic attraction,
magnetic forces of creation spiral energies, radiant interaction

Welcome your Highness, Prince Amyn, Prince Hussain
Welcome to your park, again and again,
Your gait and your mission, your arms lifted as your greet
your smile brings barakah,
and our hearts feel complete.
What have you not given, not improved which lives?
all cultures, all peoples, one earth, many tribes
in such  gardens we seek time, a place to unwind
a reflection, and rest enjoying the child in our mind.

As santoor plucks a melody, expressive, a lilt,
And rabab strums a movement, brown-orange bridging rifts,
An edge igniting spirit, mysteries of the mind
so the garden offers expansion and life of a necessary kind.

It is in this I the garden gives to life,
Welcome to your Park,
It is in this eye, the garden lifts my heart
Welcome to my Park
Every eye wishes to meet your eye.
Welcome to Our Park
Welcome your Highness, welcome to our hearts.

Date posted: May 25, 2015.

Copyright: Navyn Naran/Simerg. 2015.

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Navyn Naran

Navyn Naran

About the writer: Dr. Navyn Naran was born in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, to Anaar and Badrudin Naran. After beginning her high school in the UK, her family immigrated to the USA where she has lived since. Dr. Naran went to medical school at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, MA. She currently works in the Paediatric field.

A Fine Balance: An Anthology of Poetry by Yasmin Hasan

Yasmin Hasan’s poems span two decades covering numerous themes based on her life experiences. In fact, she composed one as her life hung in the balance during a serious illness. Another one was written during the Golden Jubilee of Mawlana Hazar Imam and, more than a decade earlier, she had composed one after Mawlana Hazar Imam’s visit to the UK Jamats in 1994, an event which she says has filled her life with inner barakah. Simerg invites Ismaili authors to submit their poems for publication on this website. Please visit Art|Poetry.

PLEASE CLICK: Fine Balance: An Anthology of Poetry by Yasmin Hasan

One of Yasmin Hasan's poems is dedicated to her grandson, Kian, pictured above. Please click on photo for her anthology. Photo: Yasmin Hasan.

One of Yasmin Hasan’s poems is dedicated to her grandson, Kian, pictured above. Please click on photo for her anthology. Photo: Yasmin Hasan.

Joint Simerg-Ismaili Artists Collaboration Results in Compendium of Ismaili Artists from Around the World

Simerg with the support of Ismaili artists from around the world is pleased to release the first official version of A Compendium of Ismaili Artists, following a preview version that was circulated about a month ago. The new publication profiles more than thirty Ismaili visual artists from around the world – professionals and non-professionals alike. The compendium will be updated on a monthly basis, and we invite unlisted artists to submit their profiles with an image from one of their art works to simerg@aol.com. Please download or view the exciting new publication by clicking on A Compendium of Ismaili Artists or on the following image:

Please click on image to download compendium

Please click on image to download compendium

The Jamatkhana in Toronto — “A Seed of Faith Planted…” by Shariffa Keshavjee

The Jamatkhana Toronto

The “Muqarnas” is a finely crafted corbelled ceiling whose skylight provides a subtle transition from the outside to the serene Jamatkhana inside.

BY SHARIFFA KESHAVJEE

A thousand years and  more
A seed of faith planted
In Khadak in Mumbai
Transplanted to many soils
India, Pakistan, Afghanistan
Bagamoyo, Zanzibar, Mombasa
Now the park on Wynford Drive

The murid murshid seed
Planted and transplanted

Now sacred space of meeting
People, stories, histories
Identities, languages
Fused, bonded, shared
Nascent unity love and care
For the highest potential
Nurturing and flourishing

The murid murshid seed
Nurtured flourishes

When  open arms welcome
Pluralism of mind and heart
Where ideas take root
A Mission is in bloom
The intellect soars
The vision expands
In the park in Canada

The murid murshid  spark
A strong foundation

A screen made from ribbons of steel separates the anteroom from the prayer hall.  It repeats an 8 sided pattern exhibiting a geometric tool used by Muslim artists to create order and rhythm for contemplation.

When vision, mission, ideas
Empathetic understanding
In harmonious symphony rise
The universe conspires
The crucible swells
Then there is alchemy
In Toronto in the park

The murid murshid love
Consecrated to Thee

A park, ineffable light, a sacred space,
Where nature, man, knowledge
Come together in unison
Of mind, body and spirit
Of dialogue and collaboration
A mosaic of cultures, languages
Inspiring hope and harmony

The murid murshid bond
Reaches out to man and nature

Circle of infinity encompasses
A Jamatkhana for supplication
The jamat comes together
To submit in humility before the Divine
The hymnal voice rising into the dome
Reaching heavenward ascending
To arrive into the silence  of the heart

The murid murshid bond
Reverberating beyond time

Inside the Jamatkhana, the central skylight panel descends to a white translucent onyx block.

The sound of prayer ascends
Reaches a crescendo
From the dome to beyond
Through the crystal clear
To the Divine Light matrix
Into the heart of  Divinity
Enlightened luminescence

The bond of murid murshid
Sets free the heart of man

Those who come together in dialogue
Those who contemplate and reflect
Welcome to the open arms of wonder
Sacred space, the crucible
That transmutes base to pure
That nurtures and gives flight
To the wings of the souls

The soul of murid to murshid
Transcends human understanding

Had we but wings
We would fly in the sky
To search  for the light
Neither of North, South
East and West
To flutter and land
In the windowsill
Of the Divine Master

Where murid murshid
Blend and Unite

Date posted: Monday, September 22, 2014.

Copyright: Shariffa Keshavjee/Simerg. 2014.

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The images shown in the poem may be clicked for enlargement. Image captions are as follows:

Top image – The “Muqarnas” is a finely crafted corbelled ceiling whose skylight provides a subtle transition from the outside to the serene Jamatkhana inside. Photo: Copyright Gary Otte.
Centre image – A screen made from ribbons of steel separates the anteroom from the prayer hall.  It repeats an 8 sided pattern exhibiting a geometric tool used by Muslim artists to create order and rhythm for contemplation. Photo: Copyright Gary Otte
Bottom image – Inside the Jamatkhana, the central skylight panel descends to a white translucent onyx block. Photo: Copyright Shai Gil.

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About the writer: Shariffa Keshavjee is  a philanthropist and an entrepreneur with an objective to help women empower themselves. Raised in Kisumu, she considers herself a “pakaa” Kenyan. She is now based in the nation’s capital, Nairobi. Her other interest is in visual arts where she delights in painting on wood, silk  and porcelain using water colours, oils and acrylics. She also likes writing, especially for children, and bird watching.

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Feedback: We welcome feedback/letters from our readers. Please click Leave a comment or submit your letter to simerg@aol.com. Your feedback may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation. We are unable to acknowledge unpublished letters.

A Gift….September 12, 2014

EXCITEMENT IN THE AIR

by Navyn Naran

zr6_8015-crop

There is excitement, magic in the air.
the Imam has arrived,
the buildings are washed and rewashed with rain,
the winds have combed out snarls and veils
Gray, opaque clouds, as if cotton wool
had been soaked in water
and strewn over the ceiling here.
ahh, cloudbreak.

In the horizon, a peek of baby blue,
tinged with light cream;
the clouds moving elsewhere.
Leaves green, having just been cleansed
by buckets of water overnight,
freshly manicured, ready to welcome
Him to Wynford Drive.
It’s as of the whole area has
returned from a morning jaunt,
refreshed and nicely sore,
rejuvenated for this day!

Prince Karim (left) posing for a birthday photo with his uncle, Prince Sadruddin, and his younger brother Prince Amyn

Which Day?
This day, the 12th of September 2014,
Prince Amyn Mohamed Aga Khan’s Birthday
He was born within a year of the Imam,
adoring the brother he followed as a child.
Whatever Karim does, this ginger colored head
and Trustworthy, Loyal Heart, wanted to do
an adoring brother, he could only be
as Ali to Muhammad, attached:
The elders remember him; a playful, sweet child,
a flair, a flamboyance, detailed care.

As specialized cardiac cells continuously fire ,
beat by beat, and in rhythm,
Prince Amyn, a shadow-like of the Form,
as the gardener of the Master’s land
in His highest esteem.
No laurels; much humor and style.
and it is on this very day, a historic gift to the globe .
77 Wynford Drive on this 77th Birthday.

photo 2

The Aga Khan Museum. The Ismaili Centre. The Park.
In the present, a present,
and presence of leaders, donors, volunteers
and a very Special Eye.
Who’d have thought it in Uganda in 1970?
Who’d have thought it in Canada in 2000?
this is not a facade to name or number,
it is to be understood.
For some perhaps piece by piece.
For others, a space for contemplation.
For opening the eyes.

I remember the barren, grey dirt being overturned,
the harsh, cold winters, icy,
unthawing, unrelenting,
when yellow hatted men worked tirelessly,
from below ground up.
Pieces of structure in an architect’s mind,
in the Architect’s Mind, comes alive.
Work. Many hours and stressors,
much negotiated and coordinated.

Shah Nameh s

One would never know.
Simple lines, soft color and a
sense of cleanliness and peace.
Magnificent.
Day or night. Lights enter and open,
leave everything behind.
Enter. Come. Ayez…

Come reflect, details of the shahnameh,
the kufic script in a Blue Qur’an,
the magic of art and calligraphy.
Rest a while, be seated. Read.
in the hush of the quiet,
only footsteps of men and women,
children and elders, absorbing.
Perhaps it is only history. Past.
If the skills and beauty compose a piece,
this civilisation is to be included,
to be modeled, continued.
Pluralistic.

It is a day of celebration. Come, Enter, Ayez…

Copyright: Navyn Naran/Simerg

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“A FABULOUS, GLORIOUS GIFT BY HIS HIGHNESS”

By Malik Merchant
Editor, Simerg

Alex Sarris. Photo" Malik Merchant/Simerg.

Alex Sarris. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

Alex Sarris, the facility operator at the site of the Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre and their Park was a few feet away from me. He was discussing with one of his colleagues a hitch that had occurred and which could possibly take a few hours to resolve. I was tantalized by the breathtaking Museum and the Centre that I had earlier walked through as a member of the media invited for the pre-opening review. The view of the two buildings on either side of the Park was stunning. The architectural contrast and splendour could only  be truly appreciated when looking at them from the Park. The calm water of the pond in front of me soothed me. I listened to Alex as I took my final bites of a deliciously chunky roast beef sandwich that had been served to the media earlier at the museum as part of a light lunch. I had wrapped it and tucked it in my computer bag. I was hungry enough again after walking through the museum galleries and the Ismaili Centre! Food! Yes, the ultimate delight when deliciously served!

Part of main exhibition hall, Aga Khan Museum. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg

Part of main exhibition hall, Aga Khan Museum. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg

I thought about the challenges Alex and his team faced during the years they had worked  at the site, under some harsh winter weather! How might have these workers coped, I wondered, like many hundreds and thousands of workers who work on outdoor construction projects. But here was a frustrating delay less than 48  hours before its opening by His Highness the Aga Khan. There was also so much work being done both outside and inside the buildings, I would have thought the opening day was  still several weeks away. Alex soon left  his colleague brimming with confidence and with a cheerful face. I called him aside, and asked him to describe what he saw around him and how he felt. He looked at the two buildings and the park and said, “Fabulous, glorious, a gift by His Highness the Aga Khan befitting a united society cooperating and working together to advance the ideals of pluralism.”

The Park and the Ismaili Centre. Photo:  Malik Merchant/Simerg.

The Park and the Ismaili Centre. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

“And what about the final few hours to finish the job?” I asked him. He replied, “Two days of diligent working will bring the site up to the highest standards established by His Highness.”  He had greeted me earlier with “Ya Ali Madad” and departed with “Mubaraki to all Ismailis and to all Canadians on this unique occasion.” In all these years, I have not learnt more than 2 or 3 French or Spanish words but I knew Alex had learnt quite a few new words from the on site ‘Ismaili dictionary’ when he had used, in reference to the hitch, the word “mushkil-asaan,” an Arabic phrase used in Ismaili prayers meaning resolution of difficulty. He was seeking a resolution to his immediate problem as well any other outstanding issues that they all faced collectively as a team.

I was grateful for his openness and humility, and was touched and inspired by his cheerful and positive outlook. I bid this wonderfully articulate person good bye, as he graciously permitted me to take his photo with my mobile! 

Date posted: Friday, September 12, 2014.

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Compendium of Ismaili Artists from Around the World: A Simerg Initiative

Simerg is delighted to introduce a preview edition of the long awaited arts compendium of Ismaili artists. The publication currently profiles 19 Ismaili visual artists from around the world, and more entries will be added as we hear from Ismaili artists – professionals and non-professionals alike. We ask that artists submit a brief profile and an image from one of their art pieces for inclusion in the next updated version of this unique “directory.” The updated version, which will be designated as the first official edition, will be published on October 1, 2014. To download or view the preview version of the compendium, please click on the image below.

TO VIEW/DOWNLOAD PDF PLEASE CLICK ON IMAGE

Ismaili Artist Compendium Cover with Thumbnails

The Light of Imamat Continues to Shine Forever – “Light Upon Light” by Ikhwan Allani

Ikhwan Allani of Toronto, Canada, is fascinated by the beauty of poetry, especially in the expression of mystical knowledge and devotion. In this poem, he illustrates a technique to embed an esoteric aspect of the Ismaili tariqah through a universal medium such as poetry. Please click on Light Upon Light or on the image below.

Image credit: Irfan Lakhani/Saniya Hussain. Copyright. Please click on image for "Light Upon Light" by Ikhwan Allani.

Image credit: Irfan Lakhani/Saniya Hussain. Copyright. Please click on image for “Light Upon Light” by Ikhwan Allani.

Spring, Let My Eye Twinkle in Your Joy

SPRING HITHER

By Navyn Naran

do i hear the trickle of spring?
do i see this first dawn welcoming the first warmth?
the peering of the shoot,
and  tenacity of the hidden root,
a glimpse of the sniffing, soft nose of the cotton-tailed rabbit..
delightful!
Nature is all-knowing

220px-Cucumber_leaf

how did the world turn one day from winter to spring?
how did just the right distance from the sun bring warmth to our earth?
how did this One Gesture bring us shanti,
laughter to the cold temperature of many hearts?
color to paint, and fragrance into flowers?
how can man imbue this Grace into his own beating pump?
ejecting  warmth, joy and
shared abundance into his breath ?
bridging smiles and hands for his own Spring
— and so the Spring of the world?

is it possible?
One Soul?
from One Soul!
a verse spoken over and over..who hears?
“words without thoughts never to heaven go”

you were aware of this once as a child i know it
knowledge of machinations of man’s world
has surely tainted your innocence!

Bank_Hall_Snowdrops

the winter has teased its Time further ,
— hark; Spring follows hence;
the rotation continues uninterrupted.
sshhh….do you see its entrance  ?
first, the barren vineyard treetops
bear the lightest green, then tinge of pink,
and maybe next week, crimson.
doesn’t a lover spontaneously touch his love with the softest kiss?
O spontaneous spring, surprise me!

hark, listen to the child,
truthfully telling all-
secrets his parents want to hide

Tree_Roots_at_Riverside

so spring tells all;
transparent,
as the eye ,
transilluminated be!
hide not my friend, verdantly let go.

sshhh! do i hear it coming?
the trickle of spring?
come hither and let my eye twinkle  in your joy.
radiance!
that, is the dress in which I will robe
Spring!
Spring! welcome
to our One World

Date posted: Sunday, April 13, 2014.

Copyright: Navyn Naran.

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