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.

______________________

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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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

~~~~~~~

“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.

__________________

To the Memory of Roshan Thomas and Zeenab Kassam

The Energy of Roshan and Zeenab

The deaths of Roshan and Zeenab in Kabul at the hand of terrorists have touched the hearts of thousands around the world.

The deaths of Roshan and Zeenab in Kabul at the hand of terrorists on the eve of Navroz have touched the hearts of thousands in Afghanistan, Canada and all around the world.

By Navyn Naran

how were you born?

who is your mother?
whose child are you?
who bears a child?
a woman.

we, are all children.
children of the One,
“Who begets not , nor is He begotten
and there is none like unto Him”
so speaks the faith.

It is about the children,
our children,
each child, one child, any child
all the children

you, were a child
and are still;
a body, with a Spirit Breathed into you,
and your ‘child becomes the Man’

on a new moment and new day,
The Movement stirs,
is it the Wind of the Universe
pushing forward Time?
Giving Life and Taking Life Away

a woman bears a child
The Blessing comes to her,
and she, is the mother.
a teacher, teaches children
inculcates knowledge
to respect
and understand Allah’s Creation
spiritual and physical.
Why?
so that “we may leave this world
a better place than the way
we find it”
does not the Qur’an says:
“and whoseover takes a life,
it is as if he has destroyed all humanity”?

and the Prophet (s.a.s) has said;
“And Paradise lies
at the foot of the Mother”
then what is it you are
trying to achieve?

A Child. A Spark
of the Almighty’s Hand
Lo!
“an oil, neither of the east , nor of the west,
whose Light glows forth, though no fire touched it.”
Who?
Allah!
“Light upon light” the Noor says.

Roshan was light, Zeenab, a flowering plant

the mothers of children of the world
“she was more than a mother”
“her body may have died but the values
will only be stronger”
mother of her own children
mothers of belief and tenacity
mothers of courage and love..

as water flows, a child grows
plants reach high, lit from Greater than the sky..
what will you teach them, these children?
what will you share with them, the values?
how will you train them, the principles?

Rahim, Rishma, Karim, Sameera,
Karim-Aly and family,
children

know this:
E=MC2
“the energy of the Universe is in one mustard seed”…
the Energy of Roshan and Zeenab
is now faster than the speed of light

Squared

Revised: Saturday, April 5, 2014.

Copyright: Navyn Naran

______________

Author’s note: This poem in written to the Taliban in the context that each of them was born to and through a mother. Each was a child in time, and still is their mother’s child. The poem is best acted out and the various stanzas are to be read by children and adult children of different ages…this should invoke a feeling of an individual’s journey in time and a realization that killing one human is as if “one destroyed entire humanity,” including oneself. This, the taliban are doing. The energy they believe they want to overthrow, through the children they destroy, will be  transcended to a greater Force because it is Blessed through Allah.

________________

To read more about Roshan Thomas and Zeenab Kassam and the recent tragedy in Kabul, please visit http://ismailimail.wordpress.com, a definitive resource of news about the Ismaili community. We welcome your tribute to Roshan and Zeenab; please click Leave a comment or if you encounter a technical difficulty send your message to simerg@aol.com, subject: Roshan Thomas and Zeenab Kassam.

 

Poems for Salgirah: The Noor of Imamat Breathing with the Trillion Stars….and OOops (the Optimistically Out of Poverty Society) by Navyn Naran

ThE NOOR OF IMAMAT….OOops

By Navyn Naran

The arc of the Milky Way hangs over the imposing mountain fortress of Alamut in this starry scene. Photo: Babak Tafreshi. Copyright.

The arc of the Milky Way with over 100 thousand million stars hangs over the imposing mountain fortress of Alamut in this starry scene. Photo: Babak Tafreshi. Copyright.

Find your space, under a trillion stars
In the crystal quiet of the night,
no thoughts, no bars,
Breathe softly, abreast of a beating heart,
Under the open night sky, atop a mountain’s peak,
Where all is still, the breath and the heart’s beat.

A hum of air, quiet, warm,
Dark blue, black and milky way’s starry storm
a smattering of stars, incandescent light
hura and oil before any concern of dawn.
Breathing with the pulse of oceans and earths,
Under heaven of stars, as if asleep, but alert,
feel the ebb and flow in the breath of the world

din and duniya, Ya Ali
In desert sand under a diamond sky, Ya Ali
Peace it is, Ya Ali,
The Noor of Imamat born, Ya Ali
Breathing with the trillion stars, Ya Ali
Under dome of the hearth, You as me.

Hazar Imam, your firmans are pearls
the essence of the word, an individual learns
on your Birthday we reflect on Peace and Truth
on that which is not seen, that which will soothe.

OOops!

i will bow before you, and begin my poem.
let’s twirl under the sunshine,
optimistically
see all the wealth around us;
out of poverty comes sunlight
and “where hope takes root” paths emerge.

lift up your eyes and walk out of poverty.
in your very mind, exit poverty.
and if there is poverty of health and you can’t walk,
then move passionately, breathe deeply, sing from your heart

poverty in wealth?
a greater wealth than the wallet, is in our connection
recognizing one another is an unspoken place
look not always above you; look also below
gratefulness is greater than wealth

and if wallets are full,
is there an emptiness of heart? of mind? the poverty of love?
bridge our smiles, consult, listen to each other….

but walk, yes do walk.
walk out of poverty of respect. Leave.
“even the ants greet one another before they begin”
respect is greater wealth.

walk also out of the poverty of knowledge.
moving out of poverty, i may apply the information
no matter how minute or detailed.
stand solidly, grounded
walk out of lack of stability
one brick after another, consistently, as putty between the bricks

and in poverty of truth
speak heart and mind to self, if no other.
rich in your truth, there, is wealth.

you whistle and sing, and here
there is no poverty. rise, rise, further

poverty of ethics?
command over self a discipline and grace,
barakah will visit you, at its patient pace

poverty of generosity? i see it not,
naught to offer, sit with me here and drink water…refresh
smile and the world will smile at you, abundant generosity
simple living with high thinking.

walk.
let’s always walk.
out of poverty, i trust?
yes, yes…optimistically out of poverty,
a must.

in this quiet of night , in the softness and peace of morning snow,
Full of the magic of creation
there is physical, the obvious and the unknown
You hold the rope of being.

And this is a manifest world,
of the eye and the seeing
as in the surface of the ocean.
surface, recognised well, by surface.
and beyond? entire worlds and realities, hidden

there lie truths
and through the physical Imam
lies Truth
tis a journey
a truer reality, hidden batin

A birthday, the celebration of a physical reality
of a spiritual Being in a physical world.

Date posted: Friday, December 13, 2013

____________________

About the author: 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 went to medical school at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, MA. She currently works in Paediatric Critical Care.