This map reveals the status of the telegraph network as it existed in the U.S. in 1853

19 December in World History: In 1846, Canada’s First Telegraphic Message; In 1961, India’s Invasion of Goa; Plus Samuel Morse and the Aga Khan on the Power of Instant Communication

By MALIK MERCHANT
Publisher/Editor SimergBarakah and Simergphotos

December holds many significant historical memories for me. The month is of particular importance for Ismailis around the world. On December 13, 1936 Mawlana Shah Karim al Hussaini Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Hereditary Imam of the Shia Imami Muslims was born in Geneva, Switzerland. Ismailis celebrated their Imam’s 85th birthday (or Salgirah) last week and presented him with two beautiful porcelain vases. My dad Jehangir, who died in May 2018, was born on exactly the same day in 1928. Were he alive, he would have celebrated his 93rd birthday this year.

Also in December, in 1961 India annexed the Portuguese territories of Goa, Daman and Diu, in what the Portuguese called an invasion, while the Indians called it a liberation. A consequence of this action by India was that all its citizens in Mozambique, a Portuguese colony, were interned for more than 5 months in a camp located a few miles outside Lourenço Marques (now Maputo). My parents, Jehangir and Malek Merchant, were the only Ismailis in Mozambique carrying Indian passports, and were severely affected by this measure. My dad was taken to the camp with 5,000 other Indian citizens. Being a teacher, he was able to conduct special classes for young children and other students during his stay. During the same month, my mother gave birth to my brother Alnoor (pictured below with our parents). She was thus spared from the camp, and was looked after at a hospital for the entire period that my dad was in internment. Then, following their release from internment, Indian nationals were asked to leave the country within 90 days. My parents left for Tanzania (then Tanganyika), where they continued their service to the Imamat and Jamati institutions as religious education teachers and honorary missionaries.

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Alnoor Merchant and Jehangir and Malek
Alnoor, centre, pictured with his parents Jehangir and Malek Merchant, during the Silver Jubilee visit of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, to London, England in July 1983. Photo: Jehangir Merchant Family Collection.

Going much further back in history, December 19, 1846 marked the inauguration of the telegraph in Canada, with a line from Toronto to Queenston carrying the first message. A plaque marking this historic day has been placed outside on the entrance wall of St Lawrence Market located in Toronto’s Front Street (see photo, below).

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Plaque commemorating the inauguration of the telegraph in Canada on December 19, 1846, Malik Merchant, Simerg
Plaque commemorating the inauguration of the telegraph in Canada on December 19, 1846, on the front entrance wall of Toronto’s St Lawrence Market; December 18, 2021. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

It may be noted however, that the first telegraphic message was sent by its inventor, Samuel Morse, two years earlier in May 24, 1844 which simply read: “What God Wrought?” He credited the message to his friend’s daughter, Annie Ellsworth, who found it in the Bible. It is an expression of awe for God [for inspiring the invention].

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When decoded, this paper tape recording of the historic message transmitted on May 24, 1844 by Samuel F. B. Morse reads, “What hath God wrought?” Morse sent it from the Supreme Court room in the U.S. Capitol in Washington to his assistant, Alfred Vail, in Baltimore. Photo: US Library of Congress.
This map reveals the status of the telegraph network as it existed in the U.S. in 1853
Telegraph stations in the United States, the Canadas & Nova Scotia, 1853. This map reveals the status of the telegraph network as it existed in the U.S. in 1853, only nine years after the first message, shown in the previous image. By this time, only one state east of the Mississippi, Florida, was not connected by telegraph. The legend on the left offers the list of message rates from Pittsburgh. By 1861, telegraph lines crossed the American continent; by 1866, the transatlantic cable connected America and Europe. Credit: Chas. B. Barr, Pittsburgh, Pa. Wegner & Buechner lith., 1853. Col. map 59 x 85 cm. Scale ca. 1:4,200,000 Geography and Map Division, via US Library of Congress.

Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah was a frequent user of the telegraphic services. On December 29, 1948, he sent a telegram conferring Count Jindani with the title of Diwan for his great services. There are numerous other examples of telegraphic messages that the late Imam sent to Ismaili individuals and institutions. A few from Ismaili magazines appear on this website.

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A telegram from Mawlana Sultan Muhammad Shah, Aga Khan III, 48th Imam of the Ismailis, conferring the title of Diwan on (Count) Gulamhussein Mohamed Naser Jindani.
A telegram from Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan conferring the title of Diwan on (Count) Gulamhussein Mohamed Naser Jindani. Photo: Mohamed Jindani Collection, London, UK.

In a brief historical overview on communications technology as they have evolved over the last few hundred years, a piece on the website of Elon University states:

“The printing press was the big innovation in communications until the telegraph was developed. Printing remained the key format for mass messages for years afterward, but the telegraph allowed instant communication over vast distances for the first time in human history. Telegraph usage faded as radio became easy to use and popularized; as radio was being developed, the telephone quickly became the fastest way to communicate person-to-person; after television was perfected and content for it was well developed, it became the dominant form of mass-communication technology; the internet came next, and newspapers, radio, telephones, and television are being rolled into this far-reaching information medium.”

In response to the invention of the telegraph, Charles F. Briggs and Augustus Maverick wrote in their 1858 book “The Story of the Telegraph”:

“Of all the marvelous achievements of modern science the electric telegraph is transcendentally the greatest and most serviceable to mankind … The whole earth will be belted with the electric current, palpitating with human thoughts and emotions … How potent a power, then, is the telegraphic destined to become in the civilization of the world! This binds together by a vital cord all the nations of the earth. It is impossible that old prejudices and hostilities should longer exist, while such an instrument has been created for an exchange of thought between all the nations of the earth.” (emphasis added)

Morse, however, had anticipated much earlier that a communications technology such as the one he had invented could be misused. In a letter to Francis O.J. Smith in 1838, Morse wrote:

“This mode of instantaneous communication must inevitably become an instrument of immense power, to be wielded for good or for evil, as it shall be properly or improperly directed.”

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Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, delivering Brown University’s Ogden lecture on March 10, 2014.

Looking at the power the internet holds today, how accurate was Morse! And let’s elaborate on this by studying what Mawlana Hazar Imam has said with regard to the innovation of technologies and different disruptive forces that are at play. In his March 10, 2014 Stephen Ogden Lecture at Brown University, he said:

“We often think about technological innovation as a great source of hope for the world. We hear about how the internet can reach out across boundaries, helping us all to stay in touch, and giving us access to information from every imaginable source.

“But it is worth remembering that the same affirmations have greeted new communication technologies for centuries, from the printing press to the telegraph to television and radio. Yet in each case, while many hopes were fulfilled, many were also disappointed. In the final analysis, the key to human cooperation and concord has not depended on advances in the technologies of communication, but rather on how human beings go about using – or abusing – their technological tools.

“Among the risks of our new communications world is its potential contribution to what I would call the growing “centrifugal forces” in our time – the forces of “fragmentation.” These forces, I believe, can threaten the coherence of democratic societies and the effectiveness of democratic institutions.

“Yes, the Information Revolution, for individuals and for communities, can be a great liberating influence. But it also carries some important risks.

“More information at our fingertips can mean more knowledge and understanding. But it can also mean more fleeting attention-spans, more impulsive judgments, and more dependence on superficial snapshots of events. Communicating more often and more easily can bring people closer together, but it can also tempt us to live more of our lives inside smaller information bubbles, in more intense but often more isolated groupings.

“We see more people everywhere these days, standing or sitting or walking alone, absorbed in their hand-held screens. But, I wonder whether, in some larger sense, they are really more “in touch?” Greater “connectivity” does not necessarily mean greater “connection.”

“Information travels more quickly, in greater quantities these days. But the incalculable multiplication of information can also mean more error, more exaggeration, more misinformation, more disinformation, more propaganda. The world may be right there on our laptops, but the truth about the world may be further and further away.”

Mawlana Hazar Imam then discusses some of the conflicts that are taking place in the world today, and asks, “How can we respond to such tendencies?” He says:

“The response, I would emphasise today is a thoughtful, renewed commitment to the concept of pluralism and to the closely related potential of civil society. A pluralist commitment is rooted in the essential unity of the human race. Does the Holy Qur’an not say that mankind is descended from “a single soul?” In an increasingly cosmopolitan world, it is essential that we live by a “cosmopolitan ethic,” one that addresses the age-old need to balance the particular and the universal, to honour both human rights and social duties, to advance personal freedom and to accept human responsibility.”

Please read Mawlana Hazar Imam’s complete speech by clicking HERE, in which he recommends ways to overcome the challenges of miscommunication and misinformation we are dealing with.

Date posted: December 18, 2021.

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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 Heavenly Ismaili Jamatkhana at Night; and Changing Face of Nature at Morningside and Aga Khan Parks

Hopefully, you did not miss photos of the rich autumn colours at Aga Khan Park, when autumn foliage peaked around November 5, 2021. If you missed the post, please click HERE.

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About a week later, as trees started losing their leaves, Malik Merchant happened to be at the grounds of Aga Khan Park at night, and captured the beauty of the heavenly Ismaili Jamatkhana dome through lit-up trees, moments before the lights in the prayer hall went out. See the beautiful photos HERE.

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The face of nature changed once again, as more and more trees shed their leaves and lost much of the autumn foliage. For one last time Malik Merchant visited Morningside Park, and also made his customary pilgrimage to the Aga Khan Park. His story and spectacular photos are HERE.

Date posted: November 18, 2021.

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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. Please also visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah and Simergphotos.

Autumn Photos: Blazing Red Maples at Aga Khan Park

Introduced by MALIK MERCHANT
(Publisher-Editor Barakah, Simergand Simergphotos)

What truly instilled in me a love for nature? I had taken it for granted in Africa! But on a New Moon Night (Chandraat or Chaand Raat; Bengali, Urdu etc.) in Salt Lake City, Utah, during the 3rd week of November 1979, I looked up at the sky with the Wasatch Mountain range around me. There I spotted the beautiful crescent on a clear evening!

Chandraat as Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III, 48th Hereditary Imam of Ismaili Muslims, said is a night that will generate immense happiness and peace. In anxious moments of arriving in a new city to work as a trainee computer programmer, the sighting of the New Moon is exactly what I needed. I have loved nature ever since that day.

Yesterday, November 5, in Canada and in many other parts of the world, Ismailis marked the Night of the New Moon with special prayers of Salwaat and the prayers of Bibi Fatimah — the beloved daughter of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.S.) and wife of the first Shia Imam Hazrat Ali (A.S.) from whom Ismaili Imams are directly descended. Thousands of Ismailis around the world attended their respective Jamatkhanas while many others prayed at home due to Covid-19 procedures in place. I spent hours during the day time taking photos — I was even more excited and energized, because of the significance of the day.

Please click HERE or on image below to view a small collection from hundreds of nature photographs I took, mostly with my Olympus OM-D EM10, between November 3 and 5, 2021 in Toronto’s forests and parks.

Blazing Aga Khan Park
Please click on image for story Blazing Aga Khan Park and photos from Parks and Forests in Toronto.

Date posted: November 6, 2021.

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Simergphotos Presents Nature Photos Inspired by the Writings of Aga Khan III

Malik Merchant recently set out to capture pertinent pictures that would be reflective of the writings of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III, on the glories of nature and the purpose of life. From the joys of watching beautiful moon and sun rises to the struggles that living things have to endure to sustain themselves as well as to multiply, Malik was lucky enough to experience moments he was seeking out for his new piece in Simergphotos.

A painting of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah by N.B. Dewji that appeared in a voluminous journal called Rahe Rast, published in 1948-49 under the supervision of Dar es Salaam’s iconic religious education teacher Karim Master. Please read Rahe Rast article.

The photo post has been prepared to mark the 144th birth anniversary of the longest reigning Imam in Ismaili history, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III. Born on November 2, 1877 in Karachi, he became the 48th Ismaili Imam in August 1885 at the age of 7. He passed away on July 11, 1957 after a reign of 71 years, the longest in Ismaili history, handing the Hereditary Imamat that originated with Hazrat Ali (a.s.), the first Shia Imam, to his grandson Mawlana Shah Karim al Hussaini, His Highness the Aga Khan IV. Prince Karim is now in his 65th year of Imamat. Please click SIMERPHOTOS or on any of the two images on this page for a beautiful collection of nature photos as well as quotes on nature and the realities of life by Aga Khan III.

Please click on image for NATURE PHOTOS reflecting the wisdom of Aga Khan III.

Date posted: November 1, 2021.

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Stunning Nature Photos from Aga Khan Park: The Majestic Hawk, Honey Bees, Russian Sage and the Beautiful Hibiscus

See Nurin and Malik Merchant’s extraordinary photos of their visit to Aga Khan Park. Nurin notes that with 6 summer weeks remaining, make the most by visiting the Park or other gardens and trails where you live. Then of course, we will all see the arrival of autumn that will offer us spectacular fall colours!

Please click INCREDIBLE ENCOUNTERS AT AGA KHAN PARK or on image below

Broad-winged hawk at Aga Khan Park, August 7, 2021. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simergphotos. Please click for photo essay.

Date posted: August 9, 2021.

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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.

Aga Khan Park and East Don Trail: Amazing Nature Photos & Videos You Must Not Miss by Malik Merchant

The ponds are flowing at Aga Khan Park, bringing stillness and calmness to our minds. The geese are beating their wings as they bathe in their favourite pond. Then, it is amazing to see them take off on the shortest and safest runway in the world with two majestic buildings — the Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Museum — built by Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, in full view! It is a wonderful sight. Intimacy and procreation are nature’s gift — the mallards and frogs are captured in their act, facing confrontations — yes, see the videos! Watch a tiny turtle walk to a pond of water, overcoming obstacles along the way. There are photos too to make the article complete.

I am providing a sample video, below, one of several I have included in Simergphotos where you will get a fuller taste of my extraordinary encounter with nature at Aga Khan Park and the exciting East Don Trail. This is a post you don’t want to miss! Show it to your children; they will love it.

Canadian geese at pond in Aga Khan Park, as they lift off. Click to watch video, and click Simergphotos for full story, more videos as well as photos

To see full post with extraordinary photos and videos please click Simergphotos.

Date posted: June 5, 2021.

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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.

Ottawa Tulip Festival 2021

Ottawa’s Dazzling Tulip Show; and Quiet Moments at the Global Centre for Pluralism with His Highness the Aga Khan’s Reflections on Water, the Ottawa River and the Centre’s Garden

Following Nurin Merchant’s fantastic photos of tulips at the start of the Ottawa’s annual tulip festival, her dad Malik decided to visit the dazzling tulips at Dow’s Lake, Rideau Falls Park and Major Hill’s Park during an important family related visit to Ottawa more than 2 weeks later, when the festival was winding down! He was surprised that so many hundreds of thousands of tulips were still in full bloom.

He was also able to spend beautiful moments at the Global Centre for Pluralism located by the Ottawa River, about which Mawlana Hazar Imam His Highness the Aga Khan reflected during the Centre’s opening ceremony 4 years ago. Click HERE or on photo below to view the beautiful tulip photos on Simerg’s sister website Simergphotos as well as to read Mawlana Hazar Imam’s inspiring quotes on Water and the Ottawa River.

Tulips as far as the eyes can see. Please click on image for Ottawa’s grand tulip show and the Aga Khan’s reflections on water and the Ottawa River.

Date posted: May 24, 2021.

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Photos and Video: A Gift for Eid ul-Fitr – The Birth of 6 Goslings at the Ismaili Centre Toronto on the Blessed Day of Chandraat

By MALIK MERCHANT
Publisher/Editor SimergBarakah and Simergphotos

Editor’s note: Please click Simergphotos for a vastly updated version of this post.

Newly hatched goslings at the Ismaili Centre Toronto. May 12, 2021. Photo: © Malik Merchant/Simerg. Click on image for enlargement.

The female goose I had photographed so many times in the weeks before I travelled to Vancouver lay on her eggs for around 28 days. No food, no drinks, no wandering around!

She had to find a perfect spot to protect her nest from animals and human interference, and that she did at a shrub just outside the South East wall of the Ismaili Centre. What a strategy — uncomplicated and safe!

A new family. Proud parents with their newly born goslings outside the Ismaili Centre and the Ismaili Headquarters Jamatkhana Toronto. May 12, 2021. Photo: © Malik Merchant/Simerg. Click on image for enlargement.

The eggs hatched on the morning of Wednesday May 12, as per the security guard who was present at the nesting site when I met him. My plan was to actually go to Edward Gardens for a long walk but instead of travelling straight on Wynford Drive to reach Don Mills Road, I “lost my senses” and ended in the parking lot of the Aga Khan Museum. I couldn’t have been happier, with what I saw and came away with.

I would call it “A Miracle of Life” and it took place at the end of Ramadhan, and on the day of the sighting of the new moon that Ismaili Muslims celebrate as Chandraat as per the wishes of their 48th Imam, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan (1877-1957). He bestowed the night on the Ismailis for the inner peace and happiness it would bring. For me seeing this phenomenon of birth, and looking at the tiny goslings was an incredible and joyous event. I consider it as the most appropriate gift of Eid ul-Fitr. Enjoy the photographs.

The beautiful Aga Khan Museum Building. May 12, 2021. Photo: © Malik Merchant/Simerg. Click on image for enlargement.
Children play on the courtyard of the Ismaili Centre Toronto. May 12, 2021. Photo: © Malik Merchant/Simerg. Click on image for enlargement.
The Ismaili Headquarters Jamatkhana Toronto, an extension of the Ismaili Centre. May 12, 2021. Photo: © Malik Merchant/Simerg. Click on image for enlargement.
Photo: © Malik Merchant/Simerg.
The female goose seen by the shrub at the Ismaili Centre where she nested her eggs for a period of around 28 days. May 12, 2021. Photo: © Malik Merchant/Simerg.
The mother goose on the nest with her new family of six goslings at the Ismaili Centre Toronto. May 12, 2021. Photo: © Malik Merchant/Simerg. Click on image for enlargement.
Newly hatched goslings at the Ismaili Centre Toronto. May 12, 2021. Photo: © Malik Merchant/Simerg. Click on image for enlargement.

VIDEO OF THE NEW FAMILY

To my fellow brothers and sisters in the Ismaili community, I share with you the following message that Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, conveyed to us a year ago on the occasion of Eid ul-Fitr:

“It is my wish that my Jamat should look to the future with hope and courage, in keeping with its age-old tradition of unity, generosity and mutual support which has at all times enabled it to move forward to a position of enhanced strength and resilience, from generation to generation.

“My spiritual children should always remain mindful that it is the principles of our faith that will bring peace and solace in these times of uncertainty. I am with my Jamat at all times, and each of you, individually, is always in my heart, in my thoughts and in my prayers.

“I send my most affectionate paternal, maternal loving blessings to all my Jamat – for happiness, good health, confidence and security in your lives ahead, and for mushkil-asan.”

My daughter Nurin joins me in conveying all readers of Simerg, Barakah and Simergphotos Eid Mubarak with best wishes and prayers for good health; long lives and success in all walks of life.

Date posted: May 13, 2021.
Last updated: May 14, 2021 (link to updated version of post, click HERE)

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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.

Weeping Cherry flowers at Aga Khan Park

Photo of the Day: Aga Khan Park’s Beautiful Weeping Cherries

Malik Merchant returns to Aga Khan Park after a 3-week absence, and sees visitors excitedly taking photos of masses of pink flowers behind the Aga Khan Museum. A young boy goes from one weeping cherry tree to another to feel the soft petals of the blossoming trees, a dog owner has her beautiful 1 year old dog, Cice, pose in front of a tree, a bird perches on top of one while a robin wanders around pecking on grass around the trees. And as Malik finally leaves the site of the Aga Khan Park via the east side, he captures a stunning shot of the Aga Khan Museum under a lovely blue sky! Click here for story and photos

Aga Khan Park weeping cherry
Cice poses for a photo for her owner Dana McIvor in front of a weeping cherry tree at Toronto’s Aga Khan Park. May 8, 2021. Please click on image for more photos and story.

Date posted: May 10, 2021.

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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.

Hussain Aga Khan with his father and Portuguese President in Lisbon

Prince Hussain Aga Khan celebrates his 47th birthday on April 10, 2021 and Barakah presents stories of his passion, love and care for sea animals

I stayed with her [Hawksbill Turtle] for an hour; she let me closer and closer in. By the end of the dive she was eating 60 centimeters from my leg — Prince Hussain Aga Khan….READ MORE

Hussain Aga Khan Marine Creatures Barakah and Simerg
Please click on photo for article and photos.

Date posted: April 9, 2021.

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