Farhad Daftary and Zayn Kassam Institute of Ismaili Studies, New, Simerg

Zayn Kassam Appointed New Director of the Institute of Ismaili Studies as Farhad Daftary, Who Has Dedicated His Life to Ismaili Scholarship, Retires from Management Roles

Compiled and prepared by MALIK MERCHANT
Publisher/Editor Simerg, Barakah and Simergphotos

The websites of the Institute of Ismaili Studies and the Ismaili community, The Ismaili, have jointly announced the appointment of Dr. Zayn Kassam as the new Director of the Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS), following the decision by Dr. Farhad Daftary to retire from his management roles, which included serving as the co-director of the IIS for the past 12 years.

Dr. Daftary will continue his scholarly research, writing and teaching activities at IIS indefinitely. As appropriate recognition of Dr. Daftary’s contributions to IIS and his long service of 34 years, Dr Daftary has been conferred the lifetime title Director Emeritus when he relinquishes his current role and will be appointed to the IIS Board of Governors. In this way, IIS staff, students and other stakeholders will continue to benefit directly from his knowledge, wisdom and guidance.

Story continues below

Aga Khan, Illustrated History of the Ismailis, Farhad Daftary, Gilden Jubilee, News Simerg
Professor Azim Nanji (centre), then Director of the Institute of Ismaili Studies, and his successor Dr Farhad Daftary (left) present Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, with a copy of The Ismailis: An Illustrated History on July 4, 2008 during his Golden Jubilee visit to the United Kingdom. Photo: Gary Otte

Following a thorough and extensive international search process undertaken by the Board of Governors which considered internal and external candidates, Professor Zayn Kassam of Pomona College in California has been appointed as the next Director to succeed Dr Daftary with effect from January 2023. Professor Kassam is a highly accomplished scholar and academic leader and has spent the last 27 years in a variety of positions at Pomona College in California. Her profile page on the College’s website reads as follows:

“Zayn Kassam is the John Knox McLean Professor of Religious Studies at Pomona College, Claremont, California. A graduate of McGill University (Ph.D. 1995), she teaches courses on mysticism, gender, literature, ethics, and the environment.

“She has lectured widely on gender issues in the United States, Canada, and Britain. She has been honored with three Wig Awards for Distinguished Teaching at Pomona College, as well as an American Academy of Religion Excellence in Teaching Award.​

Story continues below

Zayn Kassam new director of the Institute of Ismaili Studies, news Simerg
Zayn Kassam, who will succeed Farhad Daftary as the new Director of the Institute of Ismaili Studies in January 2023. Photo: Pomona College.

“Kassam is the author of Introduction to the World’s Major Religions: Islam (2006), and editor of Women and Islam (2010) and Women in Asian Religions (2018). She is also the section editor for Islam for the volume on Islam, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism for the Encyclopedia of Indian Religions (2018).

“She has chaired the department of religious studies at Pomona College, and has coordinated the programs in gender and women’s studies, Asian studies and Middle Eastern studies. She is currently the director of the Pacific Basin Institute. She serves on several national editorial boards, including the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion and the Journal of the American Academy of Religion.”

Simerg congratulates Dr. Zayn on her new appointment, and wishes Dr. Daftary good health and success in all his scholarly endeavours as he continues to serve the IIS in the years to come.

The Ismailis: An Illustrated History
Book that was presented by Dr. Farhad Daftary to Mawlana Hazar Imam during his Golden Jubilee visit to London in July 2008. See photo at beginning of post (without jacket cover)

While the IIS has been in existence since December 1977, it was not until Dr. Daftary joined the Institute that we began seeing a significant increase in the number published texts, short papers and monographs on Ismaili and Shia Studies in particular, and Islamic studies in general. As well as his own books, Dr. Daftary’s fervour for Ismaili history, philosophy and culture, encouraged other specialty scholars in the field of Ismaili studies to submit their scholarly research for publication through the IIS. Among the books that Dr. Daftary published himself or as a co-author or editor of numerous volumes, we would like to mention a few of them: The History of the Ismailis, A Short History of the Ismailis, The Assassin Legends: The Myth of the Ismailis, Historical Dictionary of the Ismailis, The Ismailis: Their History and Doctrines, The Shia World, A History of Shia Islam, The Ismailis: An Illustrated History, Islam: An Illustrated Journey and, most recently, The Ismaili Imams: A Biographical History. (We invite you to visit IIS Listing of Publications and also Amazon.)

With regard to Zayn Kassam, in addition to some the works mentioned in her profile, we are pleased to share links to two pieces that she contributed to Simerg:

1 Two Tales from Rumi: The Snake-Catcher and the Serpent and The Elephant and the Travellers
2. Henry Corbin and his Understanding of Ismailism

In their announcement, the IIS notes:

“The Board thanks Dr Daftary for his many years of service to IIS, congratulates him on his appointment to the Board of Governors and wishes him continued success in his new role as well as welcoming Professor Kassam as the incoming Director of IIS.”

Date posted: September 22, 2022.


We welcome feedback from our readers. Please click Leave a comment. Your letter may be edited for length and brevity and is subject to moderation.

Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. Also visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah, dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan, and Simergphotos. The editor may be reached via email at mmerchant@simerg.com.

Canadians Mourn the Passing of an Extraordinary Sovereign, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (1926 – 2022): Statements by the Governor General of Canada and the Prime Minister of Canada

Publisher/Editor SimergBarakah and Simergphotos

Simerg has learnt with deep sadness that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II ( April 21, 1926 – September 8, 2022) has passed away at the age of 96. Like hundreds of millions of people around the world who adored the Queen and what she represented, we deeply mourn her death and pray that she may Rest in Eternal Peace. We have compiled the following piece from numerous sources including Wikipedia ,the Voice of America and a statement on her passing made by the Governor General of Canada. In the coming days, we hope to publish a special piece dedicated to the British Monarchy and its strong historic bond with the Ismaili Imamat and the Ismaili Muslim community.

Queen Elizabeth was Britain’s longest reigning monarch, and during her reign worked with 15 British prime ministers, beginning with Winston Churchill. She served as head of state for both Labour and Conservative governments in the UK, following the modern royal tradition of remaining neutral on political matters. When the Her Majesty became the Queen in 1952, she was the monarch and head of state of seven independent states: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon. Over the ensuing years, many countries under British rule became independent and the realm of the monarchy changed. Later, many of the newly independent became republics. Canada along with 14 other nations continued to regard the British monarch as its Head of Statement. With the passing of the Queen, the new sovereign is King Charles.

Queen Elizabeth helped lead her country through the aftermath of World War II, the Cold War, economic booms and busts, strife in Northern Ireland, the creation of the European Union and Brexit. Admired for her dedication to her job, Queen Elizabeth was seen by many Britons as a pillar of strength for the country at a time when the nation was navigating its diminishing world power.

Earning the distinction of Britain’s longest reigning monarch on September 9, 2015, tHer Majesty the Queen characteristically went about her daily duties, which included opening a new railway in Scotland, barely mentioning the distinction. “Inevitably, a long life can pass by many milestones; my own is no exception,” she said at the ceremony.

As a young royal, Princess Elizabeth was placed directly in line for the throne when her uncle, Edward VIII, abdicated in 1936 in order to marry an American divorcee. Her father, George VI, inherited the role of head of state, and led the monarchy from 1936 to his death in 1952. Princess Elizabeth was on a tour in Kenya when she learned of her father’s death. She was just 25 years old at the time and only four years into her marriage to navy Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, a Greek prince, whom she wed at age 21. Married to Prince Philip, for 73 years, the prince was often by the queen’s side, or the two paces behind at official events that is required by royal protocol. The Queen hailed Prince Philip after his death as her “strength and stay” throughout their marriage and her reign. The couple had four children, Charles, born in 1948 (who now becomes the King), Anne, born in 1950, Andrew in 1960 and Edward in 1964.

Article continues below


Queen Elizabeth II dies at age 96, Simerg, News
Please click on photograph for Voice of America’s special photo gallery on the life of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II (d. September 8, 2022).
A rare photograph of Queen Elizabeth II with Maryland governor Theodore McKeldin (right) and University of Maryland president Wilson Homer "Bull" Elkins (left), at a Maryland Terrapins vs. the North Carolina Tar Heels football game in College Park, Maryland. Photograph: Leffler, Warren K. Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington.
A rare photograph of Queen Elizabeth II with Maryland governor Theodore McKeldin (right) and University of Maryland president Wilson Homer “Bull” Elkins (left), at a Maryland Terrapins vs. the North Carolina Tar Heels football game in College Park, Maryland. Photograph: Leffler, Warren K. Created/Published on October 19, 1957. Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington.

Supporters of the queen say she was instrumental in helping the monarchy to survive in Britain when the institution had been abandoned in many countries around the world. Known for her pragmatism and unshowy dedication to the job, the queen came to personify Britain in the eyes of many. Through her steadfast presence at countless events representing her country, she earned the respect of large majorities in Britain as well as popularity abroad, becoming one of the world’s most recognizable figures. Britain’s Express newspaper reported in 2020 that the Queen had traveled more than a million miles, calling her “the most traveled head of state of all time.” The report said she had visited 110 countries, with her longest trip a 44,000-mile tour of the Commonwealth in 1953.

In 2002, the Queen traveled more than 40,000 miles to celebrate her Golden Jubilee — 50 years on throne — including visits to the Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand and Canada as well as 70 towns and cities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Some of her travels were diplomatic milestones for Britain, including her visit to West Germany in 1965, the first official visit by a British royal to Germany since 1913. The trip marked the 20th anniversary of the end of WWII. In 1986, the queen became the first visit British monarch to visit the Chinese mainland, and 25 years later she became the first British monarch in 100 years to travel to the Republic of Ireland.

She earned praise for her speech in Ireland in 2011, saying that her visit “reminds us of the complexity of our history, its many layers and traditions, but also the importance of forbearance and conciliation. Of being able to bow to the past, but not be bound by it.”

The queen was a patron of more than 500 charities in Britain. Research from the Charities Aid Foundation released in 2012, when the monarch celebrated 60 years on the throne, showed that Queen Elizabeth had helped organizations raise nearly $2 billion.

Canadians may note that the Queen’s reign of 70 years encompassed the mandates of 12 Canadian prime ministers and 13 governors general. She undertook 22 official visits to Canada, where she professed her love for our county again and again. She was a steadfast presence during some of the most tumultuous times of our lives, and most recently gave comfort to so many during the pandemic.

We reproduce below statements issued by the Governor General of Canada and the Prime Minister of Canada


Statement by the Governor General of Canada

September 8, 2022

Today, my husband, Whit, and I join all Canadians in mourning the passing of our extraordinary sovereign, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Her Majesty The Queen was, in equal measures, compassionate, dedicated, humble, engaged and wise. She believed in service to her people above all, and inspired so many with her dedication to the Crown.

For many of us, we have only ever known one Queen.

When I was growing up, my grandmother revered The Queen, as did so many in the Arctic. She would tell us stories about Her Majesty, about her role and her commitment.

Her Majesty’s warm welcome when we spent time with her earlier this year was a profound moment in our lives and a memory we will cherish forever.

Her reign encompassed the mandates of 12 Canadian prime ministers and 13 governors general. On 22 occasions, she undertook official visits to Canada, where she professed her love for our county again and again. She was a steadfast presence during some of the most tumultuous times of our lives, and most recently gave comfort to so many during the pandemic.

On behalf of all Canadians, I offer deepest condolences to the members of the Royal Family, who grieve the loss of a loving mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

Mary Simon


Live Statement from the Governor General

September 8, 2022

Hello, bonjour, [Inuktitut greeting].

Today, we mourn the loss of our Queen of Canada, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

In countless languages around the world, people are sharing solemn words of remembrance. Today, in Inuktitut, I add to these tributes.

[In Inuktitut] On behalf of all Canadians, I extend my condolences to Her Majesty’s family. We honour her memory. 

On behalf of all Canadians, my husband, Whit, and I offer our condolences to the Royal Family on the loss, not just of a queen, but of a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.  

Her Majesty cared about people, about our well-being. This was clear every time we spoke. She cared about Canada, and all the unique stories that make up our beautiful country.

She learned our stories as she visited every corner of Canada during her many Royal Tours. She called Canada her “second home.”

Her Majesty celebrated our achievements, reassured us in difficult times and inspired us with her steadfast dedication to service.

Until her final days, she remained engaged and committed to her country, to the Commonwealth and to her family. With her passing, we mourn the end of an era.

I’m proud to have represented Her Majesty as governor general. Following my appointment, Her Majesty said to me: “be gentle with yourself.” I’ve come to understand her words to mean that while we should work hard on the issues that matter, we should also take time to pause. To be patient. To lead with understanding and respect.

I can see the wisdom in these words.

To the entire Royal Family and to a Commonwealth in mourning, our thoughts are with you.

The memories of The Queen will always have a place here, in Canada. Her second home.

Thank you. Merci. MiigwetchNakurmiik.


Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada

September 8, 2022
Ottawa, Ontario

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II:

“It is with the heaviest of hearts that we learned of the passing of Canada’s longest-reigning Sovereign, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

“For most Canadians, we have known no other Sovereign. Queen Elizabeth II was a constant presence in our lives. Time and again, Her Majesty marked Canada’s modern history. Over the course of 70 years and twenty-three Royal Tours, Queen Elizabeth II saw this country from coast to coast to coast and was there for our major, historical milestones.

“She would proclaim ‘it was good to be home’ when returning to her beloved Canada. She was indeed at home here, and Canadians never ceased to return her affection.

“Her Majesty vowed to devote her life to the service of the Commonwealth and its people. On behalf of all Canadians, I thank Queen Elizabeth II for honouring this vow and for a lifetime of service.

“Her Majesty’s reign spanned so many decades – a period when we came into our own as a confident, diverse, and forward-looking country. It is her wisdom, compassion, and warmth that we will always remember and cherish.

“Today, a page has not only been turned, but a chapter in our shared history has drawn to a close. I know Her Majesty’s service to Canada and Canadians will forever remain an important part of our country’s history. The coming days will be a period of mourning for Canadians, as it will be for all Commonwealth citizens, ending with a national day of mourning when a commemorative service will be held to mark the passing of our Sovereign.

“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I express our heartfelt condolences to members of the Royal Family during this most difficult time.”

Date posted: September 8, 2022 (16:42 EDT.)
Last updated: September 8, 2022 (19:00, EDT, added Governor General’s live statement.)


We invite our readers to submit their thoughts and tributes to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II who has passed away at the age of 96. Please 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. Simerg’s editor Malik Merchant may be reached via email at mmerchant@simerg.com

World Premiere 90 Days by Salim Rahemtulla article in Simerg

Salim Rahemtulla’s “90 Days” is Set for World Premiere September 8 in Vancouver – the Play Tells the Story of an Ismaili Muslim Family’s Forced Exodus from Uganda 50 Years Ago

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Uganda’s former dictator, Idi Amin, expelling the 80,000-member Asian community. Vancouver’s Salim Rahemtulla, who never set out to be a playwright, is releasing a special play “90 Days” that tells the story of an Ismaili Muslim family’s forced exodus from Uganda in 1972. Salim Rahemtulla’s father waited until two days left before the deadline before getting the remaining family members out of the country. He made this decision after Amin signalled his intention to disperse all Asians left in Kampala to other parts of the country. It was a harrowing experience for his father and mother. “They didn’t even know where they were going,” Rahemtulla says. “They were told on the plane…and they ended up in Malta — my parents and my two younger brothers. One brother ended up in Austria” — PLEASE READ MORE IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT

90 Days By Salim Rahemtulla Western Gold Theatre
Poster announcing the world premiere in Vancouver of a new play 90 Days.

A Brief Statement on “90 Days”


“I started writing the play three years ago and my goal was to have it completed and performed for the 50th anniversary of the Uganda Expulsion. The play is set in 1972 in Kampala, and Idi Amin, then President of Uganda, has had a dream he should expel all Asians from the country and give them 90 Days to leave. Yusuf Rahim, a Kampala shopkeeper, is disbelieving of the order and refuses to uproot his wife and two children. He decides to stay. As the family navigates the uncertainties of the ninety days that follow and come into conflict with each other about what to do, the dangers of staying in Kampala become too clear to ignore. As the family makes hard choices about whether to seek asylum in countries that do not want them, the traumatic expulsion is brought to life through the lens of a modest Ismaili family grappling with the pains of separation and tearing themselves away from a country they thought was home.”

Writing to his friends around the world, Salim says:

“I hope you can come to Vancouver and celebrate the play with me and my family and all the wonderful people at Western Gold Theatre and the very talented and experienced cast, the director and all others involved in the staging of this play.”

For more details and to purchase tickets please visit the website: www.westerngoldtheatre.org. The Western Gold Theatre focuses on sharing and celebrating the talents of senior professional theatre artists. In conjunction with the performances, the theatre is also presenting a series of supplementary educational and social activities under the umbrella term, Recounting 90 Days.

Date posted: September 8, 2022.


As a note to our readers, Salim Rahemtulla and his daughter Zahida worked together to prepare The Aga Khan’s View of the World for our sister website Barakah during the Diamond Jubilee of Mawlana Hazar Imam.

We welcome feedback/letters from our readers. Please 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. Simerg’s editor Malik Merchant may be reached via email at mmerchant@simerg.com

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Expresses Indebtedness to His Highness the Aga Khan for Contributing $10 Million for Flood Victims; Sharif Has Telephone Conversation with Prince Rahim, the Aga Khan’s Eldest Son

Photo Credit: Featured photograph at top of post — the Government of the UK.

In a Tweet dated September 4, 2022, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has expressed his indebtedness to Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, for contributing US $10 million for relief efforts following the severe flooding in Pakistan. He said on his Twitter page:

“Deeply indebted to His Highness the Aga Khan for contribution of $10 million for the flood victims in Pakistan. In a telephonic chat with Prince Rahim Aga Khan today, I requested His Highness to play his role in raising awareness about flood situation in international community.”

The announcement of the contribution was also reported in the media. Bol News in a report dated September 4, said:

“The son of Prince Karim Agha Khan, Prince Rahim telephoned Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and conveyed the message of good wishes of Prince Karim Agha Khan to him.

“The prince also expressed his sorrow over the losses of human lives and properties and devastation caused by the floods….All institutions of the Agha Khan Development Network have been instructed to fully participate in relief and rehabilitation activities in flood-hit areas.”

On Tuesday August 30, 2022  the United Nations and Pakistan issued an appeal for $160 million in emergency funding to help millions affected by record-breaking floods that have killed more than 1,150 people.

The websites of the Aga Khan Development Network and the Ismaili community both published the following press release regarding the Ismaili Imamat’s donation to Pakistan’s flood relief efforts.

Ismaili Imamat Donates US $10 Million to Pakistan Flood Relief Efforts

Lisbon, Portugal, September 4, 2022: The Ismaili Imamat has announced it will be donating US$10 million to support relief efforts following the severe flooding in Pakistan. $5m will be donated directly to the Government of Pakistan while a further $5m will be provided to the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) agencies in the country, which are engaged in the relief efforts.

The donation comes following a discussion on Sunday between the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Shahbaz Sharif, and Prince Rahim Aga Khan, Chair of AKDN’s Environment and Climate Committee and eldest son of His Highness the Aga Khan, the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims.

Prince Rahim said “I am deeply concerned about the impact of the current floods in Pakistan, which have been intensified by the effects of climate change. These floods, and the many other weather events we are experiencing around the world, require us all — governments, businesses, communities, and individuals — to redouble our efforts to combat the climate crisis which threatens to engulf us.  The institutions of the Ismaili Imamat have been mobilised to support the government in its relief and rehabilitation efforts.”

During the discussion, the Prime Minister expressed appreciation on behalf of the people and Government of Pakistan for the unwavering support of the Ismaili Imamat and the AKDN institutions.  He also expressed his deepest respects for the work that the AKDN institutions have been delivering in Pakistan since its independence.

The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat and FOCUS are AKDN’s lead response agencies for relief efforts. To date over 8,000 people have been successfully evacuated from affected areas while more than 4,000 families have been provided with food packages since the start of the flooding. Healthcare camps have been set up in several parts of the country by the Aga Khan University and Aga Khan Health Service where over 2,000 flood affected people have been given assistance.

HBL Bank and Jubilee Life Insurance, both part of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development portfolio, have been active supporters in the relief efforts providing food rations and waterproof tents to over 12,000 families. Additionally, social safety payments by the Government of Pakistan are being disbursed to over 1 million people through HBL’s Konnect platform.

AKDN Helicopter operations have also been assisting in rescue missions and supporting the delivery of food items and medicines to remote areas in Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan.

Date posted: September 4, 2022.


We welcome feedback/letters from our readers; please 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.

Simerg’s editor Malik Merchant may be reached via email at mmerchant@simerg.com.

Ismaili Centre Houston Imara Aga Khan Simerg

The Ismaili Center Houston: Reflections by Prince Amyn Aga Khan and Mayor Sylvester Turner

“The Ismaili Center is intended to be a resource for all Houstonians as a place to come together with local, national, and international partners to enhance the vibrant nature and rich cultural tapestry of this city” — Prince Amyn Aga Khan (READ MORE ON BARAKAH)

Houston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner introduces Prince Amyn Aga Khan to Houston Police Department Chief Troy Finner. Please click on photo to read report.

“The Ismaili Center Houston will be a magnificent building, both physically — with its landmark architecture, picturesque gardens, and ingenious design — and societally speaking, through its impact on Houston, across Texas, and throughout the United States” — Honourable Sylvester Turner, Mayor of Houston (READ MORE ON BARAKAH)

Prince Amyn Aga Khan in Houston to review the development of the Ismaili Center Houston
Prince Amyn Aga Khan is joined by Greater Houston Partnership President and CEO Bob Harvey, and Performing Arts Houston CEO Meg Booth as they hear remarks from Mayor Sylvester Turner. Please click on photo to read report.

Date posted: August 13, 2022.


Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. Also visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah, dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan, and Simergphotos for beautiful photographs on diverse themes including nature and culture. Simerg’s editor Malik Merchant may be reached via email at mmerchant@simerg.com.

Latest News on Prince Rahim Aga Khan’s Visit to Mozambique, and for Navroz Photos of the Beautiful Headquarters and Westwinds Jamatkhanas in the Foothills of Canadian Rockies

The following are referral links to two new posts on Simerg’s sister websites Barakah and Simergphotos. Please click on them, read the posts and share them with your friends and relatives around the world.

Please click: Prince Rahim Aga Khan in Mozambique

Prince Rahim Aga Khan, Mozambique, Simerg
Please click on image for latest updates on Prince Rahim’s visit to Mozambique.


Please click: Navroz Mubarak — Two Beautiful Jamatkhanas in Calgary

Calgary Headquarters Jamatkhana, Simerg
Please click on image for Calgary Jamatkhanas

Date posted: March 19, 2021.


Afghanistan Update: Aga Khan Cultural Services Launches Social Media Pages to Monitor on Potential Dangers to Country’s Cultural Heritage

We invite you to read Melissa Gronlund’s report in the September 23 edition of The National on the news that Aga Khan Cultural Services (Afghanistan) has recently launched Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages that will be a repository of verified information on potential dangers to heritage landmarks in Afghanistan.

We produce, below, excerpts on the subject from the Facebook page of Aga Khan Culture Services Afghanistan, which is part of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.

Photo: Aga Khan Cultural Services Facebook Page. Please click on image to read Melissa Gronlund’s report in The National.



16 September 2021, Gereshk, Helmand: “According to sources, local authorities approved the demolition of sections of the perimeter fortifications at the historic fortress in the city of Gereshk (origins dating back to the 8th century) using heavy machinery. The news was posted on social media and stated that the destruction paved the way for the construction of a new madrassa building.”

17 September 2021: “Following criticism by local inhabitants and on social media, the demolition was halted and Ahmadullah Wasiq, Deputy Head of the Taliban Cultural Commission, stated in an interview with Radio Azadi that “this is a historic fortress and is part of Afghanistan’s history and when news of its destruction reached the elders, it was stopped.”


15 September 2021, Kabul: Low and high ranking members of the Taliban frequently visit the Chihilsitoon garden in Kabul, the rehabilitation of which was funded by the German government, surrendering their weapons as required by garden operations. To date they have not imposed restrictions on who can visit the garden which includes large numbers of women and young girls.

For more news and other developments, please click Aga Khan Cultural Services – Afghanistan | Facebook.

Date posted: September 24, 2021.


We have created a special page on Afghanistan where you will find links to all our posts published on Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover. Please click AFGHANISTAN.

Afghanistan Update: “We are Operational and We Will Do More” – Aga Khan Foundation Makes Inspiring Statement at Humanitarian Conference Convened by UNSG António Guterres in Geneva on September 13

Prepared and compiled by MALIK MERCHANT
(Publisher-Editor, BarakahSimerg and Simergphotos)

This post was updated multiple times during the day, beginning with the announcement and link to the live coverage of the UN Conference on Afghanistan held in Geneva. We now conclude this post with a recording as well as the full text of the statement that was delivered this morning at 10:30 AM by Michael Kocher of the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) in response to the UN Secretary General’s worldwide appeal to support Afghanistan’s humanitarian needs. We regret that the first few words of the statement were not recorded. The event commenced at 8:00 AM and concluded at 1:45 PM (all times stated New York/Toronto EDT).

Featured photo at top of post: Michael Kocher, General Manager, Aga Khan Foundation, attending the Afghanistan humanitarian conference in Geneva, Palais des Nations, September 13, 2021. Photo: UN Photo/Violaine Martin.

Audio of Aga Khan Foundation Statement: AKDN Says it is Operational in Afghanistan and Asks World Community to Learn from its Experiences in the Country

Please listen to AKF Statement made at the Afghanistan High Level Ministerial Conference on September 13, 2021.


Important note from the editor: The content of the text produced below from the AKDN website is not the exact transcript of the speech that you heard Michael Kocher deliver. Participants to the conference were frequently reminded to limit their statements to 3 minutes, and the time taken to read the speech below would have taken at least a minute longer. The (revised) speech delivered by Mr. Kocher was compact and touched on all the points that are stated in the statement below.

Speech Delivered by Michael Kocher

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network are honoured and privileged to convey our abiding commitment to the peoples of Afghanistan.

This allegiance is enduring. It is founded on the most profound respect for Afghanistan’s many traditions and the bonds of our shared humanity. AKDN’s work and its aim of improving the quality of life of all communities it seeks to serve is premised on the ethical principles of Islam, which promote peace and harmony.

With that ideal in mind, we wish to thank the United Nations for convening the international community at this critical juncture in the country’s history.

For more than three decades, we have stood with the people of Afghanistan. We take this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment, which remains unshaken.

During this time, and today, we listen to and support people at the community level to help them realise their individual and collective aspirations for a better life – coming together to find solutions that are sustainable, acceptable and deliverable.

In the process, AKDN has provided life-saving medical treatment and healthcare to millions of mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers; helped educate hundreds of thousands of boys and girls; built rural infrastructure including roads, bridges, and irrigation canals; assisted families in improving household incomes; helped to preserve cultural heritage; strengthened community preparedness and resilience in the face of natural disaster and climate change; and brought connectivity and enhanced communications to many corners of the country.

Our experience teaches us that determined, transparent and inclusive engagement, led and driven by Afghans in their communities, can and does succeed. Indeed, it is the only method to bring real and lasting change.

That is a lesson we urge the international community to heed, and to act with compassion and foresight. For now is the time to engage, to stay in dialogue, and to continue on the path to mutual accommodation – to establish lasting peace, opportunity and prosperity.

Now is certainly not the time to turn our back on decades of progress. Or on the two-thirds of the country under the age of 25, a generation that has grown up under the shadow of war but with determined hopes of a better life. Their dreams and aspirations remain intact in Afghanistan, and we owe them the dignity – the promise – of standing together with them and their communities as they face the future.

For conditions are dire.

As we hear today, the economic situation in Afghanistan is bad and worsening. The banking system is non-functional. Rampant unemployment is increasing. Resources are desperately needed for food, medicine, education and other essential services. Healthcare facilities in many areas may close in a matter of days, in the midst of a pandemic. 18 million people are already in extreme need, with a similar number at risk. That suggests virtually the entire country could be without adequate healthcare, without enough food, and without sufficient livelihoods.

As a long-standing partner of Afghanistan and its people, we draw attention to the need for urgent, corresponding measures:

  • Restoring the banking system to facilitate international transfers, allowing much-needed financial support and access to markets;
  • Authorising direct support without delay to the providers of healthcare and education;
  • Arranging robust and inclusive food aid and work programmes to stave off desperation; and
  • Unblocking assistance already authorised for direct support to the Afghan population, providing relief today, as well as the tools and means to reduce dependency on such relief in the future.

We join others in underscoring that these measures be taken quickly and decisively if we are to avert a sustained crisis of shocking regionally-destabilising proportions. We urge here as well that the international community not abandon Afghanistan’s longer-term development, as the consequences of doing so would be profound.

Today we require collectively focused attention on the urgency of humanitarian action. Today and going forward, our actions must be meaningfully humane.

Thank you.


“The Taliban takeover must not mean the end of international aid to Afghanistan” — The Guardian, UK

“Time is of the essence if the immediate balance of payments crisis is not to balloon into a catastrophe. The Americans and Europeans must exploit every legal loophole to get aid into the country. In this they will find willing partners in those international NGOs that enjoy highest prestige among ordinary Afghans, and which, through judicious handling of Taliban officials in the country’s far-flung provinces, enjoy cooperative relationships with its new rulers.

“This is the kind of aid that works: projects like those of the Aga Khan Development Network, the Bangladeshi NGO Brac and the International Rescue Committee that pride themselves on assisting Afghans to meet their own demands – for piped water, for instance, a clinic for young mothers, or a fruit tree nursery – employing mainly locals, watchful of waste and corruption, and working with whoever is in power.” — Read Christopher de Bellaigue’s article in the Guardian


The Geneva Conference on Afghanistan

Earlier news (compiled from UN Press Release): United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has called the international community to join him in Geneva, in person and virtually, on Monday September 13, 2021 to express solidarity with the people of Afghanistan and pledge tangible support to address their critical humanitarian needs.

Afghanistan’s children, women and men have faced decades of conflict and deprivation. Recent developments have increased their vulnerability. A severe drought is ruining the upcoming harvest and hunger is rising. The economy is grinding to a halt with cash in short supply. Concern for the rights of women and girls is rising. Afghans urgently need food, medicine, health services, safe water, sanitation, and protection.

UN agencies and non-governmental partners have launched a Flash Appeal seeking US$606 million for the remainder of the year to bring vital relief to 11 million people. International and Afghan humanitarian organizations are on the ground and can deliver in a rapidly changing context. They need fast and flexible funding and sustained access into and around Afghanistan. And all aid workers, including women, must be assured of their safety and freedom of movement. Swift action and support from the international community is vital to ensure humanitarians can rapidly provide basic and essential services for the Afghan people.

That is the objective of the High-level Ministerial Meeting on the Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan.

The event and press conference will be webcast live on UN TV commencing at 8:00 AM New York time.

For further details on UN website click HERE.

Date posted: September 13, 2021
Last updated: September 13, 2021 (01:22 PM)


Afghanistan Update: Ismaili Drives For Afghan Refugees in Chicago Area Fill 4 Trucks With Resettlement Supplies

Ismaili CIVIC

This is an update to our recent post Ismaili CIVIC to Host Supply Drive For Afghan Refugees at 3 Chicago Jamatkhanas on September 4 which referred to an article by Tom Robb in Journal & Topics.

Tom Robb now reports in the September 8 edition of Journal & Topics that the drive on September 4 at the Jamatkhanas resulted in the donation of supplies that filled four large U-Haul trucks. Donors came through the Glenview Ismaili Jamatkhana alone at the rate of 25 to 30 cars per hour. To read Tom Robb’s report click HERE or on image below.

Ismaili CIVIC donation drive
Mountains of kitchen supplies, diapers, and other donated home goods, filling two long U-Haul trucks were collected at the Glenview Ismaili Jamatkhana and organized by Ismaili CIVIC volunteers for Afghan refugees Saturday, Sept. 4. Other donation sites made similar collections in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood and in Naperville. (Tom Robb/Journal photo). Click on photo for full story.

Date posted: September 8, 2021.


We have created a special page on Afghanistan where you will find links to all our posts published on Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover. Please click AFGHANISTAN.