BBC Travel: A New Road to China for Ismailis Living in Afghanistan’s Inaccessible Wakhan Corridor

Once an isolated region barely touched by the hands of time, Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor stands on the brink of great change with the building of a new road linking it with China. Study map below and click on the map or HERE to read BBC’s new photo travel piece by Simon Urwin.

Wakhan Corridor Map University of Texas.
The Wakhan Corridor is an area of far north-eastern Afghanistan (or Badakhshan) which forms a land link or “corridor” between Afghanistan and China. The Corridor separates Tajikistan in the north from Pakistan in the south. Along with Mazar-e Sharif (Afghanistan), Dushanbe (Tajikistan’s capital) and Ishkashim (which borders Badakhshan of both Afghanistan/Tajikistan) which are all circled in red, the map also shows the Panj River. It is a tributary of the Amu Darya. The river is 1,125 km long and forms a considerable part of the Afghanistan – Tajikistan border. Map: Adapted from University of Texas. Annotated by Simerg. Please click on map for BBC article. Caption includes material from Wikipedia.

Date posted: July 3, 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.

Nurin Merchant’s Photos of the 2021 Tulip Festival in Ottawa, with the Aga Khan Park’s Perspective on the Venerated Flower

Nurin Merchant gets to Dows Lake on a sunny day to photograph some of the 300,000 tulips that are planted there, making it the biggest tulip festival in Canada. She incorporates into her piece some excellent material prepared by the Aga Khan Park on the origins and significance of the tulip, one of the most venerated flowers in Islamic culture, to make her photo essay truly informative and and educational….PLEASE CLICK HERE OR ON IMAGE BELOW FOR PHOTO ESSAY

Please click on photo for Nurin’s photo essay on tulips.

Date posted: May 6, 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.

Photo of the Day: Easter and Sacred Christian Spaces and Objects

On April 4, 2021, Christians observe Easter Sunday, and we bring you a selection of photos related to Easter and the Christian faith captured by Montreal’s Muslim Harji during his travels around the world. Please click Photo of the Day or on the image below for more photos.

Stone of Anointing Jerusalem Easter Muslim Harji Simerg and Simergphotos
The Stone of Unction, also known as the Stone of Anointing, is just inside the entrance of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and is believed to be the place where the body of Jesus Christ was laid down after being removed from the crucifix and prepared for burial. Photo: © Muslim Harji, Montreal, PQ, Canada. Click on image for more photos.

Date posted: April 4, 2021.

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DOORS By Shiraz Bandali, Simergphotos

“DOORS” of Morocco, Spain and Portugal Through the Lens of Late Shiraz Bandali: A Tribute to an Ismaili Photographer

Shiraz Bandali (1959-2016)
Shiraz Bandali (1959-2016)

Shiraz Bandali of Edmonton, Canada, passed away at the age of 56. A passionate photographer, he captured “DOORS” during a family trip to Morocco, Portugal and Spain, and shared them with Simergphotos. We pay a tribute to Shiraz through his beautiful collection. Please click DOORS or on the image below.

"DOORS" by Shiraz Bandali Simerg
“DOORS” by Shiraz Bandali. Please click on image to see collection.

Date posted: April 2, 2021.

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From Dawn to Dusk at the Aga Khan Park, Ismaili Centre and Aga Khan Museum: A Collection of Superb Photos

Mawlana Hazar Imam His Highness the Aga Khan’s vision, creativity and thought followed by action makes him a talisman for the Ismaili community and for millions around the entire world. For Simerg’s Malik Merchant, Mawlana Hazar Imam’s three projects in Toronto, among hundreds of others around the world that benefit humanity at large, attest to his brilliant leadership. Malik spent a few hours from dawn to dusk at the grounds of the Aga Khan Museum, the Aga Khan Park and the Ismaili Centre to bring you a collection of marvellous photos. View the complete collection by clicking SIMERGPHOTOS or the image below.

Aga Khan Museum Aga Khan Park and Ismaili Centre
Please click on image for photos.

Date posted: January 19, 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.

Simerg – 2020 in Pictures and Words: Blessings from His Highness the Aga Khan; Photos from Private Collections; and Tributes to Deceased

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

His Highness the Aga Khan, Mawlana Hazar Imam, Talikas 2020, Simerg and Barakh
Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, pictured at the Diamond Jubilee Darbar in Kenya. Photo: The Ismaili

TALIKAS AND BLESSINGS FROM MAWLANA HAZAR IMAM

March 2020

Please click: Mawlana Hazar Imam sends Talika on the occasion of Navroz with special blessings for mushkil asan, and prayers for the Jamat’s health and well-being

Please click: Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, showers his paternal and maternal blessings on his spiritual children around the world in light of the present crisis 

April 2020

Please click: Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, sends message to his spiritual children around the world on Covid-19, with blessings for their protection from difficulty; multiple translations including Farsi, Dari, Arabic, Urdu, Gujarati and Russian

May 2020

Please click: Mawlana Hazar Imam’s loving and inspiring Talika on the occasion of Eid ul-Fitr shows his concern for his spiritual children in all facets of their lives 

July 2020

Please click: Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, sends Talika Mubarak to Ismailis around the world on the occasion of his 63rd Imamat Day

November 2020

Please click: Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, in his message on November 2, 2020, tells his spiritual children “there is no room for complacency” over the risks posed by the coronavirus “for sometime to come” and send his blessings for mushkil-asan

December 2020

Please click: In Talika Mubarak on the occasion of his 84th birthday, Mawlana Hazar Imam asks us to draw comfort from the practice of our faith, appreciates the excellent work of volunteers, and conveys his paternal maternal blessings to the world wide Jamat

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PASSINGS

The following tributes/obituaries appeared in Simerg in 2020. Some of the deceased may have died before 2020.

Passings Simerg 2020 Year in Review
Top row (left to right): Mahebub Rupani, Nazeer Ladhani, Amirali Gillani, Salima Arthurs, Sultan Methanwalla, Goulzare Foui, Amirali Nagji; bottom row (left to right): Alnoor Ramji, Shamshu Jamal, Zubeda Jamal, Sultanali Mohamed, Razia Jamal, James Wolfensohn and Madatali Jamal. Image collage: Malik Merchant / Simerg.

Please click: Mahebub Mohamed Juma Rupani

Please click: Nazeer Ladhani

Please click: Shamshu Jamal

Please click: Missionary Amirali Gillani

Please click: Alnoor Ramji, Goulzare Foui, Amirali S. Nagji, Sultan Piroj Maknojiya Methanwala, Salima Wanda Arthurs

Please click: Madatali Merali Jamal, Razia Jamal, Zubeda Ebrahim Jamal

Please click: James D. Wolfensohn

Please click: Alwaez Sultanali Mohamed

Please also click: Benjamin Mkapa (d. July 2020. As Tanzania’s President from 1995-2005, the late Benjamin Mkapa strongly supported the work of the Ismaili Imamat in his country as well as abroad. The support that he gave is clearly illustrated in a special piece about him in Barakah, a blog dedicated to Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan)

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HISTORICAL PHOTOS OF MAWLANA HAZAR IMAM AND HIS FAMILY, IMAMAT PROJECTS AND OTHER EVENTS

2020 Year Simerg photos Aga Khan and Projects
Please click on image for 2020 stories and accompanying photos

Please click: Top photo selections from our 2020 stories: Mawlana Hazar Imam and his family, Covid-19 impact, Aga Khan projects, the four seasons, and other events

Date posted: December 27, 2020.
Last updated: December 28, 2020.

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We welcome feedback from our readers. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or, if you don’t see the box, please click Leave a comment. Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

Aga Khan Park, Ismaili Centre and Aga Khan Museum on a Snowy Xmas Day

With more than 10 cms of overnight snow, affirming December 25, 2020 as white Xmas, Malik Merchant put on his winter boots, in addition to wearing warm clothes, and headed to his favourite spot armed with a fully charged camera, an orange and an apple (to keep the doctor away)! Someone’s genuine love for winter, however, put Malik behind in second place, as a cheerful looking snowman had already been constructed…..MORE

PLEASE CLICK: Simergphotos at Aga Khan Park, Ismaili Centre and Aga Khan Museum on Christmas Day 2020 or on image below

Snowman at Aga Khan Museum Malik Merchant
Please click on image for photo essay

Date posted: December 26, 2020

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Mouth Watering Ismaili Owned Restaurants in Vancouver with an East African Touch

Introduced by MALIK MERCHANT
Editor/Publisher Simerg, Barakah and Simergphotos

Established as the news, lifestyle, and entertainment weekly in Vancouver for 50 years, the weekly Georgia Straight is an integral part of the active urban West Coast lifestyle with over 816,000 unduplicated readers/visitors print and website per week.

Recently, the paper published an overview of four Ismaili owned restaurants known for their distinct East African based Indian cuisines. The restaurants highlighted in the paper with corresponding website links are Ember Indian Kitchen, Jambo Grill, Simba’s Grill and Cayenne Bistro.

Missing in the Straight report are two restaurants that the editor of Simerg frequents whenever he visits Vancouver. These are the award winning Safari Snack House on Canada Way located near the Burnaby Lake Jamatkhana, known for its delicious black kebabs, and James Street Café & Grill, also on Canada Way, but closer to the Ismaili Centre Vancouver. Straight’s review can be read by clicking HERE or on the following image.

Please click on image for Straight.com article on Ismaili owned restaurants in Vancouver

We take this opportunity to invite owners of Ismaili restaurants in Canada and the USA specializing in South Asian, East African and Central Asian cuisine to write to us with a comprehensive 100-200 word overview of their restaurant, a picture of the restaurant as well as a photo of their most popular dish, along with a link to their website. Simerg will be most happy to provide a listing of their established eatery in a future piece. The description submitted should be accurate and complete, as any material that needs an extended amount of editorial changes will not be accepted for publication. Please write in confidence to Malik Merchant at Simerg@aol.com.

Date posted: October 22, 2020.

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We invite our readers from around the world to submit feedback on their favourite Ismaili owned restaurants — in any part of the world! Please complete the submission form below or click on Leave a comment.

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.

Aga Khan Park

Let Storms Beware

Karim H. Karim’s beautiful poem is followed by a brief note from the editor as well as some pictures that he set off to take at Toronto’s Aga Khan Park, shortly after he had been inspired by the poem.

 By KARIM H. KARIM

(Dedicated to all who are sad)

Sweetest are the songs
That we sing in sorrows;
Tears swell in our eyes
Even when joy overflows.

Naïve folk fear the thorns
Where flowers do flourish,
Fresh with hues of hope.

Dawn’s light is nearest
When sadness is darkest,
Sings the black night
In stars’ silent twinkle.

Embrace the aching pain,
Learn to laugh a little
And to comfort others.

Let storms beware
That we are lighting
The lamps of love.

Date posted: October 20, 2020.
Last updated: October 22, 2020.

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(Based on Shankardas Shailendra’s (1923-1966) “Hain Sabse Madhur Wo Geet,” which evokes Percy Shelley’s (1792-1822) line “Our sweetest songs are those that tell of the saddest thought.”)

Karim H. Karim Carleton University
Karim H. Karim

About the author: Karim H. Karim is the Director of the Carleton Centre for the Study of Islam and a Professor at Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communication.

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Editor’s note: I was truly feeling sad earlier today (October 20), thinking about my daughter and my mother whom I haven’t visited for several months due to Covid-19. I was lonely, and also worried about my health in these uncertain times! My friend Karim H. Karim who is nearly 450 kms from me must have sensed that. I was waiting for another article from him altogether, not a piece dedicated for those who are sad. In my reply to his humble submission, I told him I would review it in a few days time! However, I decided to read it straight away, and his piece truly cheered me up. And in that moment of becoming a lot less sad, I gained some energy and headed to my favourite place! Yes, the Aga Khan Park, with two incredible buildings, the Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Museum around it — gracious gifts from Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan.

Admittedly, I haven’t been to the Park for a number of weeks, passing by it only in my car. The photographs that I took during my visit to the Park, represent my joyous moments, that I owe to Karim’s beautiful rendition. As I walked to the park, I was reminded of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s quote where he says that if one has faith, one may be worried, one may at times feel sad but one will never be unhappy. How true! Enjoy the photos, which were inspired by the poem.

Note: The following photos — and more — can be viewed in larger format at Simerg’s special photo blog. Please click Bidding Farewell to Vibrant Autumn Colours at Aga Khan Park. If you haven’t visited the blog please click Simergphotos for an outstanding collection of photo essays!

The Flag of the Ismaili Imamat
The flag of the Ismaili Imamat by maple trees at the peak of autumn colours. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg.
A close up of autumn colours on a maple tree at the Aga Khan Park. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg.
Aga Khan Museum and Aga Khan Park
The Aga Khan Museum building as seen from the edge of the Aga Khan Park at the Wynford Drive bridge over the Don Valley Parkway. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg.
Big Heech Aga Khan Museum
The famous Big Heech sculpture by the north end of the Aga Khan Museum, with maple trees in the background exhibiting their fall colours. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg.
Aga Khan Park
A gorgeous view of the dome of the Ismaili Jamatkhana, with rich autumn colours at the Aga Khan Park adding to the beauty of entire area. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg.
Aga Khan Park Autumn Foliage Malik Merchant
Beautiful trees with rich autumn colours at the Aga Khan Park. To the left and not shown is the dome of the Ismaili Centre. See previous photo. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg
Ismaili Jamatkhana Dome and Aga Khan Park
A close up of the Ismaili Jamatkhana dome with a maple tree rich in autumn colours in the foreground. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg.
Evergreen Brick Works
A view of CN Tower from the Evergreen Brick Works located in the Don River Valley on 550 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, a 10 minute drive from the Aga Khan Park. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg.
Red maples Aga Khan Park
A beautiful view of red maple trees lined up at the edge of the Aga Khan Park along Wynford Drive, from the Aga Khan Museum (near end) to the Ismaili Centre. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg
Red Maples Aga Khan Park
Red maples reach the peak of their fall colours at the Aga Khan Park, with a view of the Ismaili Jamatkhana dome at left. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg.
Aga Khan Park, Flags of Canada and the Ismaili Imamat
From left to right, flags of the Ismaili Imamat, the City of Toronto, the Province of Ontario and Canada, with its famous Maple Leaf. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg.

Date posted: October 20, 2020.
Last updated: October 21, 2020 (new link).

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We welcome feedback from our readers. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or, if you don’t see the box, 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.

Short Videos: Ismailis Keep Unique Culture Alive on Roof of the World; and 2 Canadians Bike Through Wilderness of the Pamirs

In the 11th century, Nasir Khushraw came to the Pamirs, and brought the Shiite Ismaili branch of Islam to the region. Today, two religious traditions 2000-3000 years apart, continue to co-exist in a remote corner of the earth. Watch the short cultural video in RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty by clicking HERE or on image below. Next, watch a video of two Canadians, Christian Meier and Peter Gaskill, taking on the remote Pamir landscape on their bicycles.

Video: Ismailis Keep Unique Culture Alive

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Video: Canadians Christian Meier and Peter Gaskill Ride Through the Pamirs

Suggestion: Watch Tajikistan video in full screen mode.

Date posted: October 18, 2020.

Featured photo at top of post: Narrow and winding roads from Khorough to Raushan in the Pamirs. Photo: © Muslim Harji. Please also see Harji’s photo essay Landscapes of Tajikistan.

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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.