Special Series: Ismaili Expressions on the Imamat — (IV) Contemporary Poetry and a Thank You Letter to the Person of the Institution of Imamat

His Highness the Aga Khan: Ceremonial installation, Kampala, Uganda

His Highness the Aga Khan: Ceremonial installation, Kampala, Uganda

On July 11, 2015, which coincides with the 25th day of Ramadan, Ismailis around the world are celebrating the 58th Imamat Anniversary of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan.

The poetry and thank you letter produced in this post are expressions of gratitude and love the Ismailis carry in their hearts for their Imam of the Time. Such expressions have resonated throughout Ismaili history, because Ismailis affirm the Principle of the Unity of Imamat, that is the belief and understanding that each Imam, from the time of Hazrat Ali (a.s.), is the bearer of the Noor (Light) of Imamat; he is the same irrespective of his own age or the time he lives in.

On this happy and momentous day, we convey Imamat Day Mubarak to all our readers, and wish everyone barakah (happiness) and success in all aspects of life.

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MY ULTIMATE DESIRE

عندما تأتي يأتي النور

Victoria Niema Alhaj

Victoria Niema Alhaj

عندما تأتي يأتي النور
إمامي أنت مولانا
معك نشعر بالسعادة والامان
أنت إمامي
أنت حبيبي
أحب أن أراك دائما
لك حبي ياشاه كريم

By Niema Victoria Alhaj

O my Imam
when you come
comes the Nur.

You’re our Mawla,
and you give us
happiness and protection.

O Shah Karim,
you are my beloved Imam,
and to see you
is my ultimate desire.

Niema was born in Stockholm, to Syrian parents. Niema knows many Arabic qasidas and Qur’anic surahs by heart. She also has many talents including composing poetry, writing short stories, painting, and sports.

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KALEIDOSCOPE OF FAITH

By Zainul Nasser

Takhtnashini in Nairobi
An event so momentous,
So significant
My heart is filled with wonder
And childish piety

Giving Bay’ah in Mombasa
Hazar Imam’s gentle hand
On my bowed shoulder
Benign, protective

The kaleidoscope is set
In simple, comforting patterns
Glowing brightly throughout childhood

Religion is woven
Through our lives
Jamatkhana as familiar
As our homes
Pictures of Hazar Imam
Surround us
A constant, reassuring presence

Childhood ends
And with it certainty
New ideas, new experiences
Overwhelm me
For a while, my inattentive soul
Loses its way
The familiar patterns
Seem blurred and distorted

But I am blessed
At Palace Gate we students
Sit at Hazar Imam’s feet
So fortunate
In this small, intimate setting
Hazar Imam’s gaze
Seems to rest on me
Infinitely understanding, infinitely merciful

My struggling soul is rewarded
Focus is restored
The patterns in the kaleidoscope
Acquire coherence, depth and sparkle

And over the years
The colours dim or brighten
But the patterns remain steady
And my hopeful soul
Journeys on
Towards
Imamat day

We come together
In joyous anticipation
Our hearts beguiled
By fervent Zikr tasbis, qasidah
And the rousing ‘Munajat’

We are shown
Hazar Imam’s untiring efforts
To help the needy
To bring hope and harmony and beauty
Everywhere
A shining beacon in a time of darkness
Our hearts sing with pride
We are inspired
We are humbled

And we are blessed
With the Irshad
So caring and compassionate
So full of love, wisdom and goodness

The kaleidoscope clicks
Into perfect symmetry
The colours polished to a lustrous luminescence
The child in me
Exults in the jewelled splendour
My imperfect soul
Is filled with gratitude
At this gift, this grace
And prays for it to last.

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Zainul Nasser (nee Karmali ) was born in Mombasa and grew up there. She came to the U.K. as an undergraduate and has lived here ever since. Zainul has an Honours degree in English from Bristol University and a Postgraduate Degree in Education. She taught English in secondary schools in Birmingham for several years. She also served on various committees including Education and Women’s activities. Zainul is married with three grown up children. She now lives in Sutton Coldfield, indulging her passion for reading and

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THE SPIRIT WITHIN

Ayat and Rope

By Moez Mitha

To the Rope of Imamat,
we must remember to hold strong,
With this Rope as our guide,
we will never go wrong.

From our spiritual responsibilities,
we must never go astray,
The balance between din and duniya
we should uphold everyday.

We love our Hazar Imam and in our hearts
he is always near,
Magnificent are the works of our Imam
and to him we must show
That with our time and knowledge
the further we will be able to go.

We live in a world where we sometimes forget
how fortunate we really are,
And even the smallest of contributions
can help people go so far.

Moez Mitha

Moez Mitha

Our Mawla, he guides, he leads the way
and to us he always says,
“Remember your prayers and
take your
tasbih any time during the day.”

In this year some of us may see
that it’s time to make a new start,
But in doing so we must show
that our allegiance is from the heart.

When it’s time for the Day of Judgment,
there’s something we all know,
Physically we will cease to exist
and to Him our spirit we must bestow.

Mawlana Hazar Imam has often reminded
us of our key role:
“In the practice of your faith,
you should seek to enlighten your soul.”

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THANK YOU LETTER TO THE PERSON OF THE INSTITUTION OF IMAMAT

INTRODUCTION: The following traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s) speak about the Person of the Institution of Imamat: “I am leaving amongst you two weighty things after me, the Qur’an and my Progeny (ahl al-bayt). Verily, if you hold fast to them both you will never go astray. Both are tied with a long rope and cannot be separated till the Day of Judgement,” and, “He of whom I am the Mawla, Ali is also the Mawla.”

Thus, the Person of the Institution of Imamat is the direct descendant of Hazrat Ali (a.s.). The preamble of the Shia Imami Ismaili Constitution states: “Mawlana Hazar Imam Shah Karim al Hussaini, His Highness Prince Aga Khan, in direct lineal descent from the Holy Prophet (s.a.s.) through Hazrat Mawlana Ali (a.s.) and Hazrat Bibi Fatima (a.s), is the Forty-Ninth Imam of the Ismaili Muslims.”

In Simerg’s special series dedicated to Thanking Ismaili Historical Figures, Dr. Aziz Kurwa, a retired medical practitioner and a long serving member of the Ismaili community in the United Kingdom, gives his “heartfelt thanks” to the Person of the Institution of Imamat who is responsible for guiding the Ismaili community through the ages, since the time of the first Imam, Hazrat Ali (a.s.). The wisdom of the Imam has inspired and motivated individuals such as Pir Sadardin, Pir Nasir Khusraw and Hasan bin Sabah, and continues to nourish the present-day Jamat.

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Wa Kulla Shay’in Ahsayanhu Fi Imamim-Mubin

(Holy Qur’an, Sura Yaseen, 36:12)

May it Please the Person of the Institution of Imamat,

Thank you for blessing us with an understanding of the miracle and gift of the Person of Imamat, that we may more fully appreciate the miracles of Allah, and our place in His creation. The Person of Imamat is endowed with Knowledge and Wisdom that Allah has bestowed through centuries and the Imam-e-Zaman guides those who believe in Him with the benefit of this wisdom and knowledge .

This wisdom is for the benefit of the murids of the Imam and the Ummah; it is for the individual to access this wisdom and knowledge, and he who uses this wisdom benefits himself as well. Any person can access this but it is according to his or her understanding and ability to use that knowledge for good deeds to be achieved.

I am particularly conscious of this and whenever possible I give shukhrana to Allah for allowing me to learn and to implement the Imam’s guidance. The Imam carries the wisdom and knowledge of the ages and allows us to access this knowledge. It is our duty to acknowledge this and be thankful for the inspiration to act according to the wisdom and knowledge we acquire. As a humble servant of the Imam, I am most grateful for this barakah and constantly pray that I am inspired by it.

Throughout the ages there have been Ismaili Heroes who had the good fortune to access this wisdom and if they were alive today, they would also sing their thanks.

Thus, Pir Nasir Khusraw would be thanking the Fatimid Imams for the esoteric knowledge that led him to Central Asia, to train the murids in Ismaili gnosis, and to write literature and poetry filled with a deep understanding of the Imamat—from which, even today, we draw our inspiration.

Dai Hasan ibn Sabah would have been thankful to the Imam of the time for the initiative to establish the kingdom of Alamut, to train a group of fidai to protect the Ismaili dawa, to establish the programme of talim from which we are benefitting even now—and many such innovations.

Pir Sadardin and other Nizari Pirs, leaders of all those who are now Ismailis of Satpanth tradition in the Indian sub-continent—they would be thanking Imam Islam Shah and other Imams for inspiring them and sending them on such a marvellous journey.

In these modern times, all those who have led the whole Ismaili Jamat with their selfless service must express deep gratitude for the guidance and inspiration from Hazrat Imam Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah and Imam-e-Zaman. These good works and service have been extended through National Councils, Tariqah Boards and the Institute of Ismaili Studies, AKDN Hospitals, Universities, academies and Financial Institutions, all primarily led by honorary members who have been blessed by Imamat inspiration.

By this inspiration, and with hard intellectual effort, we, the Jamat, have come into the most ambitious and envious position in the World to benefit peoples in all countries in the developing world—with no discrimination. All such excellent volunteers are thankful for the guidance from the Imamat and its Institutions. They are the heroes for whom we are thankful, and the heroes in their turn thank the ultimate source of knowledge that is the Divine Institution of Imamat.

The list goes on and will continue to be extended as long as there is an Ismaili Imam to guide the murids. The uniqueness of Ismaili tariqah comes from its thriving on centuries of cumulative knowledge and wisdom, through which all of mankind may be blessed—because of the guidance of the Imams.

Thank you, with all my heart,

Dr. Aziz Kurwa,
London, England.

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Dr. Aziz Kurwa

About the writer: Aitmadi Dr. Aziz Rajabali Kurwa has served the Ismaili jamat in numerous capacities. In brief, he was appointed in 1979 by Mawlana Hazar Imam as the President of the Ismailia Association for the United Kingdom. A true visionary, as Ismailia Association’s chief, Dr. Kurwa developed the concept of Baitul Ilm during the Silver Jubilee of Mawlana Hazar Imam, which to this day continues to have a tremendous impact on the U.K. Jamat. Dr. Kurwa and his wife, Aitmadibanu Shirin Aziz Kurwa, reside in London.

“Work No Words” by His Highness the Aga Khan, and Other Rare Ismaili Historical Quotes on Service

Compiled and prepared by Abdulmalik J. Merchant Publisher-Editor, Simerg.com

As Canada pays its respect to the volunteers by marking the week of April 6, 2014, as Volunteer Week, we bring you some very rare historical quotations on service and voluntary work which appeared in a special Ismaili Volunteers, Scouts and Guides Souvenir published in 1954 to jointly commemorate the 48th Ismaili Imam’s Platinum Jubilee and the 35th anniversary of His Highness the Aga Khan’s Bombay Volunteer Corps.

WORK NO WORDS

His Highness the Aga Khan III, Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah (1877 - 1957)

“Today I will give you  a small motto and that is “Work No Words”. Labour for the welfare of others  is the best way of improving ourselves, because results are sure and certain. If you work for yourselves, you are never happy. This is not a new idea, but this is an outcome of the experience of thousands of years of history.” —  48th Ismaili Imam, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan (1877-1957)

DISCIPLINE AND SERVICE

My dear Hazar Imam’s Spiritual Child,

I enclose the photo which you ask for the Souvenir Number of the Ismaili Volunteers, Scouts and Guides.

My message to the Volunteers, Scouts and Guides is:

“I ask you all to remember the great opportunities you have for discipline and service in your organization. Discipline is very important in life, and by making good use of the training you now have, you are laying the foundations for useful and happy lives. I send my loving thoughts and best wishes to you all.”

Yours affectionately, Om Habibeh, Mata Salamat The Begum Aga Khan (1906-2000)

NOBLE WORK

The New Prince Karim Aga Khan IV in Switzerland after the passing away of  the Aga Khan III.

“Your patriotism and loyalty must be sincere, active, and productive. Please follow this advice, be industrious and hardworking. The work done for the good of the community is always noble and verily we are taught that all good deeds shall be compensated four-fold.” — His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan (the present 49th Ismaili Imam)

PIR SABZALI

Pir Sabzali (1871 - 1938) - bestowed with the title of a Pir by Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan.

“Itmadi Sabzali has revealed his spiritual power to thousands of people. He was the standard-bearer of the devotees. He passed away leaving a permanent void in this world but his soul has attained salvation.

“Itmadi Sabzali has rendered such service to us that after his death we have given him the status of Pir.  If others also render like service, they too shall attain such a status. During the period of 54 years of my Imamat,  to only one person have I given this status.” — Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan

ONE BIG FAMILY

Aga Khan III Platinum Jubilee in India, officiated by son Prince Aly Khan

“Every Ismaili, man and woman, and child should grow up with the feeling and certain knowledge that they are a member of one great family, powerful and respected throughout the world, beyond the hills and across the seas…If each person is aware of this fact, it will give them extra courage and self-assurance.” — Prince Aly S. Khan (1911-1960)

RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE RICH

“I would suggest that the richer and more fortunate a man is, the more he should be thinking of others and not himself. It is the duty of rich Ismailis to think of their poor brethren and give them a much-needed lift in life.”  — Prince Aly S. Khan

EXCELLENT SERVICE

Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan

“I have great pleasure in enclosing my photograph and congratulate Pirmahomed V. Madhani and the various members of the Volunteer Corps for the excellent services they have rendered to their Imam and their brother Ismailis.” — Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan (1933-2003)

RAISING THE BANNER OF FAITH

“The future of Ismailism depends on those of your age and mine. Are we to follow the example of those who in Egypt, in Iran and in Sind, on different occasions by their faith and devotion, raised the banner of the Hazar Imam till the whole world saw its light? I say, Yes. For we young men must not fail where our fathers succeeded so gloriously.” — Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan

LESSONS FROM HISTORY

This thoughtful study of the late Aga Khan was done in clay by his late wife, the Begum Aga Khan. Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

“Ismailis under Imams did great things in past. With same devotion, unity, obedience and discipline – and no jealousy – similar occasions will arise for greater deeds.”  — Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan

PERFORM YOUR BEST

“Everyone must follow the ideal of performing the greatest amount of work and service to the Ismaili faith. I, therefore, expect every Ismaili to consider the work allotted to him his sacred duty to perform to the best of his abilities, and to do utmost. He who serves me most becomes nearer to me.” — Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan

YOUTH RESPONSIBILITIES

“Young people ought to be explained that besides lucrative jobs, there should be aim of service to the community.” — Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan

TIME

A man’s chief capital is time and that if he wastes time, he wastes his greatest asset which can never be recouped.” — Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan

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PLEDGE
Front Cover of 1954 Souvenir

Front Cover of 1954 Souvenir. Photo: Noordin Babul

THE FOLLOWING IS THE 1954 VOLUNTEER PLEDGE OF LOYALTY TAKEN BEFORE A CANDIDATE WAS ADMITTED AS AN ISMAILI VOLUNTEER

“Believing in the Omnipresence of God, I hereby solemnly give this pledge To ever remain faithful And leave no stone unturned to serve Mawlana Hazar Imam, our community, our country, and our volunteer corps.”

Date posted: Friday, April 11, 2014.

Note: With the exception of the image of the cover page, the last photo shown, none of the portrait thumbnail photos shown in the piece belong to the souvenir.

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All quotations taken from “Ismaili Volunteers , Scouts and Guides Souvenir in Commemoration of His Royal Highness Prince Aga Khan’s Platinum Jubilee and Completion of 35 Years of His Highness the Aga Khan’s Bombay Volunteers Corps” published by Lt. Col. Pirmohamed Madhani, 1954. The rare copy of the souvenir was submitted to Simerg by Mr. Noordin Babul and family, originally of Lourenço Marques (now Maputo), Mozambique, and now residing in Texas.

For Canada’s Volunteer Week, Aga Khan Council President Malik Talib Tells Ismaili Volunteers, “You Are a Beacon of Islamic Ethics”

We wish you a lifetime of “enlightened self-fulfillment”

Malik Talib

Malik Talib

The President of His Highness the Aga Khan Ismaili Council for Canada, Malik Talib, issued the following message through the community’s weekly newsletter “Al-Akhbar” as the country marks the National Volunteer Week from April 6-12:

“On behalf of the Canadian institutions and the entire Jamat, I wish to express our deepest appreciation and gratitude for the voluntary service rendered by Ismaili volunteers across Canada.  Whether you are an Ismaili Volunteer who wears a uniform with pride, an individual who quietly takes care of our Jamatkhana spaces, a non-badged volunteer like myself serving within our institutions, a volunteer who has gifted a Time and Knowledge Nazrana (TKN) during Golden Jubilee, or you volunteer externally in civil society, you are a beacon of Islamic ethics, values, and a shared humanity.

The badge of the Ismaili Volunteer Coorps with the slogan "Work No Words". Photo: Abdul Shivji, Ottawa.

The badge of the Ismaili Volunteer Coorps with the slogan “Work No Words”.  Photo: Abdul Shivji, Ottawa.

 
“In today’s age of social technology and digital connection, knowledge is more abundant and time feels increasingly scarce, making voluntary service in Canada particularly challenging.  Yet, as we seek to balance our material and spiritual obligations under the pressures of modern-day life, we create space in our lives to serve across many boundaries and frontiers. We do this as Canadian Ismailis living the values of Islam and those of Canada.  The Governor General of Canada, The Right Honourable David Johnston calls Canada “a smart and caring nation.” Mawlana Hazar Imam spoke with pride about this in Parliament:

His Highness the Aga Khan at the Parliament of Canada

His Highness the Aga Khan at the Parliament of Canada

“The Canadian spirit resonates with a cherished principle in Shia Ismaili culture – the importance of contributing one’s individual energies on a voluntary basis to improving the lives of others. This is not a matter of philanthropy, but rather of self-fulfillment – ‘enlightened self-fulfillment’.”

“As Canada celebrates National Volunteer Week from April 6-12, it is the perfect opportunity to acknowledge the value and contribution of all volunteers who give of their precious time, talent or material resources day after day to improve people’s lives. In the days ahead, we will celebrate this beautiful tradition of leadership and service. To the countless people who volunteer, both visibly and silently, we wish you a lifetime of “enlightened self-fulfillment”. 

“Once again to all Ismaili Volunteers in Canada, thank you for helping to improve the quality of life for Jamati members everywhere and make Canada a better place for all.  I encourage everyone in the Jamat to join me in expressing respect and appreciation to our volunteers for all they do to make a positive impact in our lives.”

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Please also click on the following links to read stories about Ismaili volunteers in Canada and around the world:

Photo Essay: Karim Master’s Original Copy of “Fidai” Magazine Published in 1936 to Commemorate the Golden Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan

Karim Master’s Original Copy of “Fidai” Magazine Published in 1936 to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan

Please click on image for photo essay on Fidai magazine

Please click on image for photo essay on Fidai magazine

The Story of an Ismaili Farmer Who Has Served the Mahuva Jamat All His Life by Salman Bheriyani

“The jamatbhai…was blind and for ‘wudu’ he used to draw water from a nearby well.  Gulamhusen made sure that he was there to help the jamatbhai in the daily ritual. Through acts such as this, Gulamhusen began to serve the jamat of the town”….Read More

Long serving Ismaili, 77 year old farmer Gulamhusen Alibhai Jamani of Mahuva, India, with a  medal that was presented him during Volunteer Day. Please click on image for story.

Long serving Ismaili, 77-year-old farmer Gulamhusen Alibhai Jamani of Mahuva, India, with a medal that was presented to him to recognise volunteers. Please click on image for story.

Simerg’s Volunteer Series (previous stories):

We invite contributions for the series. Please click STORIES OF ISMAILI VOLUNTEERS.

An Account of His Highness the Aga Khan’s Recent Visit to India: For Ismaili Followers and Volunteers, “An Experience of Being Lifted Away to Another World” by Toral Pradhan

“The car door was left open waiting for him to sit in, but Hazar Imam was instead moving around the compound as if unwilling to leave the premises…..This is a sight that is difficult to erase from the mind” — Toral Pradhan

PLEASE CLICK: His Highness the Aga Khan’s Visit to India: For His Ismaili Followers and Volunteers, “A Dream Come True” and “An Experience of Being Lifted Away to Another World”

Please click on image for article by Toral Pradhan.

Please click on image for article by Toral Pradhan.

Stories of Ismaili Volunteers: Badrudin Kurwa’s Courageous Journey to Chitral for His Nazrana (Gift) of Time and Knowledge to Mawlana Hazar Imam

This is a fascinating story of faith and courage by an eye-surgeon who decided to travel to Chitral, Pakistan, and give the precious gift of an eyesight to individuals who thought they would never see again. Simerg invites individuals to come forward and share their stories as part of its 4th anniversary series dedicated to Ismaili volunteers, badged as well as non-badged.

PLEASE CLICK: An Ismaili Eye Surgeon’s Courageous Journey to Chitral

Badrudin Kurwa, right, performing a cataract surgery in Chitral, Pakistan. Please click on image to read article.

Badrudin Kurwa, right, performing a cataract surgery in Chitral, Pakistan. Please click on image to read article. Photo: Badrudin Kurwa Collection.

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Post of patients following cataract surgery by Dr. Badrudin Kurwa in Chitral, Pakistan. Please click for article.

Post op patients following cataract surgery by Dr. Badrudin Kurwa in Chitral, Pakistan. Please click on image for article. Photo: Badrudin Kurwa Collection.

To contribute to series, please click STORIES OF ISMAILI VOLUNTEERS

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Stories of Ismaili Volunteers from Around the World: Spirit at Darkhana by Jalal Jaffer

A spontaneously written piece in recognition of the enormous amount of work the Ismaili volunteers do, day in day out.  Please click The Spirit of the Ismaili Volunteers at an Extraordinary Place

Simerg Special Series - Stories of Ismaili Volunteers. Piece by Jalal Jaffer

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