Aga Khan’s Inspiring Interview on PBS Religion & Ethics Newsweekly is Worth Revisiting (Now Includes Transcript)

This Interesting and Well Presented PBS Program is Worth Watching [and Rewatching]

Click on image or on any text below for link to interview/transcript.

INTRODUCED BY ABDULMALIK MERCHANT

With an Advisory Aboard consisting of distinguished educators and scholars representing different faiths, the Religion & Ethic Newsweekly of PBS has set itself apart by providing distinctive, cutting-edge news coverage and analysis of national and international events in the ever-changing religious world. “The show has become something of a blueprint for how to accurately report on religion,” noted the Des Moines Register.

This fairly accurate perspective on the Ismaili faith and its hereditary leader, His Highness the Aga Khan, was provided by PBS in a comprehensive and extraordinary ten minute program featuring segments from an interview with the Ismaili Imam as well as insights from numerous individuals familiar with Ismaili history and the work of the Aga Khan. All in 10 minutes! Readers who didn’t watch the episode when it was aired in 2015 should not miss the program, and  those who have already seen it should see it again, as the special PBS feature was updated this year, and now includes a transcript. Please click  anywhere on this text for interview and transcript. For the extended interview please click on the next photo, below.

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Now Watch the Extended Interview

pbs-aga-khan-interview-2Date posted: Wednesday, November 30, 2016.

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How an Athlete at the Ismaili Jubilee Games Became a Hero to a Young Boy

Adnan Dahlvani of the USA Basketball Team had a deep impact and inspired 8-year old Riyaan Maherali to follow him to every basketball that he played in. Read Riyaan’s story, where he explains why he will never forget Adnan for the rest of his life.

PLEASE CLICK: Riyaan Maherali: My Ismaili Jubilee Games Hero – Adnan Dahlvani of Team USA Blue

Please click on image for story.

Please click on image for story.

Date posted: August 15, 2016.

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Your Opportunity to Acquire a Highly Acclaimed Beautiful New Book About the People and Food of the Pamirs

Co-Author holding "With Our Own Hands"Frederik van Oudenhoven happily displaying the 688 page book “With Our Own Hands” that he co-authored with Jamila Haider. Photo: Facebook page, PamirFoodandLife

“Those of us reading this book several thousand miles away from the Pamir Mountains cannot fail to be moved by the celebration of human diversity and dignity. I hope this book will act as a spur to other such works, and to the preservation and celebration of other such ancient cultures, wherever they are in the world” — HRH The Prince of Wales in Foreword to “With Our Own Hands.”

“These mountains [the Pamirs] have had a strong influence on the culture and practices surrounding the Pamiri Ismaili faith. While 15 millions Ismaili Muslims live around the world, the Pamir mountains is the only region in the world where they form a majority of the population.” — Excerpt from “With Our Own Hands,” page 382.

A book that began as a simple 30 page recipe book to fulfill a promise to a grandmother has grown to a magnificent volume of almost 700 pages telling the cultural and agricultural history of the Afghan and Tajik Pamirs, one of the world’s least known and most isolated civilizations. Through the lens of local recipes, essays and stories, and accompanied by the work of three award-winning photographs, “With Our Own Hands” describes Pamiri food and its origins, people’s daily lives, their struggle and celebrations. Simerg carried a special feature on the making of the book (see link at end of this post). The highly acclaimed and award winning work by Frederik van Oudenhoven and Jamila Haider was beautifully featured on BBC a few weeks ago. Jamila Haider says that everyone who has seen the book, has asked how to get one.

12316071_440190226178538_2484686561241700908_nThe authors ensured that each of the 1800 communities of the Pamirs received a copy of “With Our Own Hands.” In this photo, schoolgirls in the Bartang valley are standing with a copy of the book. The authors have noted that they were received time and time again with the warmest hospitality one could ever imagine. Photo: Facebook page, PamirFoodandLife.

ACCOLADES FOR THE BOOK

“This…may be one of the most beautiful books I have ever read..!” — Frénk van der Linden.

“People touch the book and stroke it, and it is as if there is no distance between them and the pages…it’s very touching to see.” – Facebook comment

In size, rigor and thoughtfulness [this book] has become a touching piece of art.” — Geerdt Magiels, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

TO BUY “WITH OUR OWN HANDS”

WOHcover1s

We take great delight in informing our readers that with great luck and timing, we have managed to obtain a few copies of “With Our Own Hands” that were in stock in North America. We are grateful to the book’s Canadian distributors, the UBCpress, for making 21 copies of the book available to us. The book is out of stock at Amazon.com, but numerous sellers are offering the book from US$120.00 and up. Simerg is offering the book to interested Canadian readers on a first-come first-served basis at Cdn$85.00 per copy plus taxes/shipping/insurance (which will vary across Canada). The book may be reserved/purchased as follow:

NOTE: We wish to inform our readers that the book is sold out. Request a copy by writing to simergbooks@aol.com, and we will notify you as soon as we have more information from the book’s distributors in North America about its availability in Canada.

Payment Methods:

Paypal: Simergbooks has been verified by Paypal. To purchase a copy of “With Our Own Hands”, please send a request to  simergbooks@aol.com and an invoice will be generated through Paypal provided we still have the book in stock. You can then pay via Paypal. In view of the limited quantities, payment should be received within 24 hours after the invoice.

Email Transfer: To purchase a copy via email fund transfer, please send a request to simergbooks@aol.com. Once we have confirmed to you via email that we have the book in stock, we will request you to send the payment via email transfer. In view of the limited quantities payment should be received within 24 hours after the invoice.

AN EXTRAORDINARY BOOK FOR YOUR HOME

This book will remain for a long time on your family’s shelf by virtue of its extraordinary quality and for its portrayal in a respectable manner of the food, culture and traditions of the beautiful people of the Pamirs.

Date posted: Sunday, August 7, 2016.
Last updated: Monday, August 22, 2016.

NOTE: We wish to inform our readers that the book is sold out. Request a copy by writing to simergbooks@aol.com, and we will notify you as soon as we have more information from the book’s distributors in North America about its availability in Canada.

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Related: With Our Own Hands – A Celebration of Food and Life in the Pamir Mountains of Afghanistan and Tajikistan

Premji Vaghela, Now a Centenarian, Shares Early Memories of Cricket in Dar-es-Salaam and a Rare Historical Photo of His Highness the Aga Khan

Editor’s note: Naren Varambhia, an avid reader of Simerg residing in London, England, recently brought to our attention a piece on cricket which Premji Vaghela had contributed for a “Dar-es-Salaam Jambo Reunion” that took place in Toronto, Canada, on August 9-10, 1997.

Mr. Premji Vaghela is now a hundred years old and lives in Toronto, Canada: Photo: Premji Vaghela Collection. Copyright.

Mr. Premji Vaghela is now a hundred years old and lives in Toronto, Canada: Photo: Premji Vaghela Collection. Copyright.

We are pleased to publish this highly interesting piece after contacting Mr. Vaghela’s sons, Rajnikant and Niranjan of London and Toronto respectively. We learnt from them that their beloved father has been living in Toronto since 1985, and that the family celebrated his 100th birthday last December! We offer our good wishes to Mr. Vaghela and his entire family for this blessing of a long life.

Both Rajni and Niru mentioned that they have stayed in touch with several Dar-es-Salaam cricketers, including Ismaili cricketers Hasnu Kalyan, Mamda Kassam and Badru Bhamji who played for the Aga Khan Club and Tanzanian national cricket squad for many years.

We are indebted to Mr. Vaghela’a family for this memorable and historical piece, which includes a very rare photo of the 48th Imam of Ismaili Muslims, His Highness the Aga Khan, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, meeting cricketers Mamda Kassam and Premji Vaghela, among others, at Dar-es-Salaam’s Gymkhana cricket ground.

Mr. Premji Vaghela was awarded the cup on the left for scoring 150 runs in a cricket match. The plaque on the right was given to him for his contribution to the Hindu Sports Club. Photo: Premji Vaghela Family Collection. Copyright.

Mr. Premji Vaghela was awarded the cup on the left for scoring 150 runs in a cricket match. The plaque on the right was given to him for his contribution to the Hindu Sports Club. Photo: Premji Vaghela Family Collection. Copyright.

My School Days and Cricket

BY PREMJI VAGHELA 

I was born in Dar es Salaam in 1915 when the British were bombing Dar, when it was under German rule, and the people took shelter in the Jangwani Creek.

I started playing cricket bare-footed at the age of seven with a tennis ball and a locally made wooden bat. Dar streets were our  playgrounds and street lamp posts or dust-bins were our wickets. Those days, in the early twenties, the streets were safe to play in as there were no cars — only rickshaws. Few cars were seen after 1931.

I studied in a Gujarati school called Lokmanya Tilak Memorial School, where Arya Sukh Shanti Lodge is presently situated. After 1918, Tanganyika was called British Protected Territory. The Indian Central School (ICS) was built by the Government in 1929. All the teachers were recruited from India. All the students — boys and  girls — from Tilak school were transferred to this new school. The first headmaster of the new school was Mr. N. O. Mody, a very strict disciplinarian He introduced cricket in the school. It was this school that supplied the most cricketers to all the communal teams in Dar-es-Salaam till 1960.

I earned my name as a bowler and batsman. My first century came in 1932 against the Punjebhai Club (later known as the Aga Khan Club). We did well in the League Tournament. In the knockout tournament in 1934, the school came in the final against the British Gymkhana Club. I scored 150 runs and we piled up a huge score of over 300 runs. We won the knock-out Cup.

In 1932, Mr. A.A. M  Isherwood, then the Director of Education, donated a cup called the “Isherwood Cup”* (see note below) for cricket to be competed by the schools in Dar. There were only two schools at that time: the ICS and the Aga Khan School. We won the trophy  in 1932. It was a coincidence that in 1956 — almost after 25 years —  my son Rajni, when he was school captain, brought the same trophy home. I left the school in 1935. The school had a very good reputation in cricket.

Please click on photo for enlargement

His Highness the Aga Khan (1877 - 1957), 48th Imam of Ismailis, meeting with Mamda Kassam, Premji Vaghela and others at the Gymkhana Cricket Ground in Dar-es-Salaam. Photo: Premji Vaghela Family Collection. Copyright.

His Highness the Aga Khan (1877 – 1957), 48th Imam of Ismailis, meeting with Mamda Kassam, Premji Vaghela and others at the Gymkhana Cricket Ground in Dar-es-Salaam. Photo: Premji Vaghela Family Collection. Copyright.

In 1936, I joined the Indian Sports Club. At that time there were few teams competing in the League Tournament – the “Sachu Pira Shield”. One of the conditions of League matches was that whichever team won for three consecutive years, would retain the Shield forever. In 1936, 1937 and 1938, the Indian Sports Club were the winners and won the Shield permanently. Today, the Shield is on  display in G.M. Sulemanji’s Hardware shop window on Independence Avenue (then Acacia Avenue).

Many young and promising players were coming out from the school, and there were not sufficient teams to accommodate them.  Consequently, the Indian Sports Club was split into two communal teams: the Hindus and the Bohras. The Goans, the Ithnasharis and the Aga Khan teams were already there. By 1940, many other teams cropped up; Punjab Sports Club, the Maratha Mandal, Sinhalese Sports Club  and Malabar Sports Club were new additions. Customs Sports Club and the P.W.D. also joined the cricket competition. The Khalsas and the Goans were the main hockey rivals.

On match days, the whole Asian population turned out on the Gymkhana and the Government Service cricket grounds which were adjacent to each other. The whole atmosphere was like festivals. Machunga (oranges), makai (corn), madafu (coconut), sekela-bafela jugu  (fried-boiled peanuts) and ndhizi (plantains) were always in demand.

I must also mention names of two Englishmen: Mr. F. H. Woodrow, the Director of P.W.D, and Mr. Hudson, the Commissioner of Customs and Excise. They both took keen interest in promoting cricket. There were not enough cricket grounds in Dar then. Mr. Woodrow gave the P.W.D. ground, and Karimjee donated the Bohra’s ground. I consider it only fair to mention the name of Seth Abdulkarim Y.A. Karimjee, of the wealthy and philanthropic Karimjee Jivanjee family. He always supported the cause of cricket  in Dar. He was a good cricketer himself and a thorough sportsman. He was kind, helpful and unassuming.

I should not also forget the grand old man, Count Kassum Sunderji Samji, who donated trophies to cricket and tennis competitions in Dar. He always supported sports one way or the other.

Cricket was the most popular sport in Dar. The competitors were keen and played in high spirit. Sometimes, the communal tension was high, particularly when the Hindus and the Aga Khan Clubs were playing. At times the police were called to control the overenthusiastic supporters of both sides! However, on and off the field, the personal relationship between the players was always cordial and friendly.

Cricket was also played in Mwanza, Tabora, Dodoma, Moshi and Tanga. Cricket was particularly popular in schools and carried on by kids playing in the streets.

Perhaps the most enjoyable competition, for almost all cricketers, was when Dar and Zanzibar used to visit each other every year in early August. Every alternate year we used to play in Zanzibar and vice versa. Many tourists used to accompany the teams and create considerable excitement and jubilation, just like a big festival!

In order to strengthen their side during the final or critical stage in the competition, it was a practice among certain teams to import players from Zanzibar, Mombasa and other centres, during the weekends. Such practices later on were banned by the Dar-es-Salaam Cricket Association.

Unfortunately, the status of cricket has changed considerably due to various reasons: shortage of cricket grounds, lack of encouragement in schools and the high cost of cricket gear·. Considering all these factors, I think cricket will eventually die out in Dar. This is the unfortunate reality of life.

During my cricket career in Dar-es-Salaam, I scored five centuries and taken a great many wickets. These were, undoubtedly, the happiest years of my life.

Date posted: June 5, 2016.

Copyright: Premji Vaghela.

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*The Isherwood cup was played in Dar for many years until the late 1960’s. The editor of this blog played in the Isherwood cup for Shabaan Robert from 1967-1969, and featured prominently in the school’s victories during the 3 year period. Pranlal Divecha and Tahir along with Ismaili brothers Shiraz and Abdul Sumar were the top ranked players for Shabaan Robert when they shockingly defeated the favourites Aga Khan Secondary in the 1965 semi-finals/finals. All four went on to play for the Tanzanian squad. Prior to 1965, the cup was dominated for several years by Aga Khan School, whose arch rival was Azania School, located near Muhimbili Hospital. All rounder John Solanki was one of the most well-known players for Aga Khan Secondary — the all-rounder went on to play for England’s county team, Glamorgan, during the 1970’s. By 1971, the Isherwood cup became a non-entity, as there wasn’t any competitive spirit or interest left in the game at the school level. We will be happy to receive an update on the state of Tanzanian school cricket today, and whether the Isherwood has been revived– ed. 

Share your cricket memories of Dar-es-Salaam and other parts of East Africa. Click Leave a comment or write/send photos to Simerg@aol.com. All correspondence will be promptly acknowledged.

What is the state of cricket in Dar-es-Salaam today? Has cricket become a mainstream sport? Please submit your feedback at Leave a comment.

“Together-Ensemble”: The Aga Khan Foundation Exhibition on 18 Wheels is now in Vancouver

BY ABDULMALIK J. MERCHANT
Publisher-Editor, Simerg

The bus is travelling across Canada and offers perspectives of Global Development to thousands of Canadians. Photo: Aga Khan Foundation.

The bus is travelling across Canada and offers perspectives of Global Development to thousands of Canadians. Photo: Aga Khan Foundation.

Editors’ note: After being on the road for the past 12 months, the “Together-Ensemble” is now in Vancouver. The mobile exhibition, which has covered a distance of 19,000 kms, is housed in a 53-foot truck with over 1,000 square feet of exhibit space. It will be at the Ismaili Centre in Burnaby on May 26 and 27 from 1:00 pm until 5:00 pm, and at Stanley Park on Sunday, May 29 from 8:00 am until 2:30 pm when thousands of Canadians are expected to participate in the Aga Khan Foundation’s Annual World Partnership Walk. The following piece was written when the exhibition was launched in Ottawa in 2015.

“Development is ultimately about people, about enabling them to participate fully in the process and to make informed choices and decisions on their futures.” – His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam speaking in 2013, excerpt on a panel display at the exhibition.

Launched on April 27th, 2015, at the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat Building by the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, and Khalil Shariff, Chief Executive Officer of Aga Khan Foundation Canada, the collaborative exhibition of Global Development under the theme “Together” (French “Ensemble”) arrived at the city’s famed Le Breton neighbourhood, located by the new War Museum on Thursday, May 7, 2015 for a 7-day stop over.

I took an opportunity to visit the astonishing bus filled with educational and inspiring exhibits today (Sunday, May 10th), a much cooler day than the previous few days when the temperatures in the city had surged to 30 Celsius, not taking humidex into consideration. While thousands of local Ottawa residents and tourists were enjoying the marvellous and colourful annual tulip festival by Dow’s Lake, hundreds of parents with their children took to the Le Breton grounds to visit the Ottawa International Children’s Festival as well as take a tour of the exhibition in the “Together/Ensemble” bus, just metres away.

Before reaching the Aga Khan Foundation's magnificent Together bus, I was politely confronted by

Before reaching the Aga Khan Foundation’s magnificent Together bus, I was politely confronted by “a past British Monarch” who was measuring my loyalty to her rule. I excelled as a fine citizen, for which she offered to crown me with some kind of an Order named after the Ottawa’s River Parkway, a fine and scenic road running by the Ottawa River one hundred metres behind her! Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

The Together Exhibition Bus just metres away from activity tents set up for the Ottawa International Children's Festival. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

The Together Exhibition Bus just metres away from activity tents set up for the Ottawa International Children’s Festival. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

A youth takes the time to view the interactive global map and test out his knowledge. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg

A youth takes the time to view the interactive global map and test out his knowledge. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg

A panel introducing the work of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada and its founder, Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan. The Aga Khan Foundation offices around the world are now agencies within the Aga Khan Development Network, a global network created by His Highness the Aga Khan to serve millions on this planet in all areas of human endeavour. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

A panel introducing the work of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada and its founder, Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan. The Aga Khan Foundation offices around the world are now agencies within the Aga Khan Development Network, a global network created by His Highness the Aga Khan to serve millions on this planet in all areas of human endeavour. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

Children exchange their ideas and thoughts on global matters on these little leaves. They are invited to take away with them any leaf containing the though of another child. When the leaf is cut open at home it contains wild flower seeds that children can plant in their gardens. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

Children exchange their ideas and thoughts on global matters on these little leaves. They are invited to take away with them any leaf containing the thought of another child. When the leaf is cut open at home it contains wild flower seeds that children can plant in their gardens. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

A young child's aspirations and hopes for a better world:

A young child’s aspirations and hopes for a better world: “No hunger, child labour, everyone being treated equally.” Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

Another child, 8 year old Hannah Saikaley, describes her thoughts of helping others:

Another child, 8 year old Hannah Saikaley, describes her thoughts of helping others: “Donating food, money, drinks and clothes and by cleaning the earth.” Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

Another informative section of panels inside the bus. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

Another informative section of panels inside the bus. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

The centre panel is the actual width of the bus. The two side panels show the extensions for this bus, giving the exhibition space inside the bus the feel of an actual museum gallery. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg

The back of the Together-Ensemble Bus. The centre panel is the actual width of the bus. The two side panels show the collapsible exhibition extensions on the bus, giving the space inside the bus the feel of an actual museum gallery. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg

Inside the bus, an exhibit. Photo: Malik Merchant/Malik

Voices of Change exhibit inside the bus. Photo: Malik Merchant/Malik

The

The “Together-Ensemble” Exhibition Bus at the Le Breton neighbourhood at the Canadian War Museum grounds. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

A display inside the bus under the theme

A display inside the bus under the theme “Stronger Together.” Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg

Stephanie, coordinating the media on behalf of the Aga Khan Foundation, was eager to participate in an interview with me, though she felt before the interview that she was a little bit nervous. “Simerg is the first media I am talking to,” she explained. But any apprehension that she felt quickly dissipated as she enthusiastically explained the exhibition with all her charm and grace. Please watch her excellent interview by clicking on the link below.

Date first posted: Sunday, May 10, 2015.
Date updated: May 26, 2016.

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We invite your feedback and comments. Please click Leave a comment.

Please also visit the Aga Khan Foundation Canada Website http://www.akfc.ca for more details and schedules about the Global Development Exhibition, which will be touring Canada in 2015/2016.

This piece has been simultaneously published under a different format at Simerg’s photoblog. Please click Photoessay and Interview: Aga Khan Foundation’s Unique Global Development Exhibition on 18 Wheels

“With Our Own Hands” – An Intriguing Cookbook from the Pamirs by Frederik van Oudenhoven & Jamila Haider

“It doesn’t often happen that one needs to find superlatives to describe a book. For ‘With Our Own Hands’, an entirely unique book about the hard life and beautiful culture in the Pamir Mountains, it is inevitable. In size, rigor and thoughtfulness [this book] has  become a touching piece of art.” — Geerdt Magiels, Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

PLEASE CLICK The Story of a Beautiful and Intriguing Cookbook from the Pamirs

Co-Author holding "With Our Own Hands"Frederik van Oudenhoven with his multi-year effort “With Our Own Hands.”  Please click on image for story about the award-winning book.

“This…may be one of the most beautiful books I have ever read..!”– Frénk van der Linden….Read More

“You know…the design really is perfect – people touch the book and stroke it, and it is as if there is no distance between them and the pages. The book pulls them into their own world…it’s very touching to see.” — Facebook Friend….Read More

With a foreword by HRH The Prince of Wales, authors Frederik van Oudenhoven and Jamila Haider provide an intimate portrait of the Afghan and Tajik Pamiri people and the forbidding mountains that are their home. Through the lens of ancient recipes, stories and essays, and accompanied by the work of three award-winning photographers, the book tells about Pamiri food and agricultural traditions, people’s daily lives, their struggles and celebrations.

With Our Own Hands appears in a single three-language edition, with English, Dari and Tajik. The choice to make a book in which these three languages are combined was inspired by the authors’ commitment to return a copy to each of the 1800 communities, schools and libraries in the Pamirs. Read More

Interview: Sultan Jessa, Order of Canada

“Established in 1967 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Order of Canada is the cornerstone of the Canadian Honours System, and recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. The Order recognizes people in all sectors of Canadian society. Their contributions are varied, yet they have all enriched the lives of others and made a difference to this country.” — Governor General’s website.

SultanJessa_GGAdrienneClarksonAbove: Sultan Jessa with Her Excellency Adrianne Clarkson, the former Governor General of Canada, at the event marking the presentation to him of the Order of Canada. Below: l to r – Sultan Jessa with His Highness the Aga Khan and Begum Salima Aga Khan; interviewing Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan; and members of Sultan Jessa’s family with Prince Amyn Aga Khan at family farm in Tanzania. Photos: Sultan Jessa Collection, Montreal. Please click on images for more photos and full story.

SultanJessa_CollageDate posted: April 22, 2016.

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On Legal Debates, Ismaili Hermeneutics and the Etiquette of Borrowing in the Fatimid Empire: An Interview with Devin Stewart on al-Qāḍī al-Nuʿmān

“…In the Ismaili tradition, al-Qāḍī al-Nuʿmān is the most famous author…He debated this Ḥanafī jurist about ijtihād and thought that he’d won, and then he heard afterwards that the man had written a fascicle still arguing his point against al-Qāḍī al-Nuʿmān. So then he thought: I really need to write a serious refutation to put an end to this…” — Professor Stewart, Emory College, Atlanta, USA.

PLEASE CLICK: An Interview with Dr. Devin Stewart of Emory College on Translating the Fatimid Ismaili Jurist al-Qāḍī al-Nuʿmān

Qadi Numan's Disagreements of the Jurists by Devin StewartM. Lynx Qualey, an Arabic literature blogger based in Egypt, conducted an interview with Professor Devin Stewart of Emory College on the Fatimid jurist Qadi al-Nu’mān, who served four Ismaili Imams for more than sixty years. The interview is based on Disagreements of the Jurists, one of the foundational legal texts of Ismaili Islam, which was translated recently by Dr. Stewart. Among other interesting matters, Qualey asks Professor Stewart about why al-Nu’mān’s book is important in understanding Islamic legal traditions and the Fatimid Empire, why medieval scholars thought it was classier not to cite their sources, and why a minority tradition would feel the need to conform to the shape of the majority….Read the interview.

Date posted: March 26, 2016.

His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam, is a Champion of Diversity and Compassion and Inspires Millions, Says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

His Highness the Aga Khan is greeted by Justin Trudeau as he arrives in Ottawa, Canada, to celebrate his Golden Jubilee in 2008. At that time, Mr. Trudeau was a Member of Parliament in his riding in the Province of Quebec. He won the Liberal leadership in 2011, and after winning the recent Federal Elections held in October, he was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Canada on November 4th 2015. A day earlier he visited the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat Building on Sussex Drive in Ottawa - see photo below. Photo: The Ismaili.

His Highness the Aga Khan is greeted by Justin Trudeau as he arrives in Ottawa, Canada, to celebrate his Golden Jubilee in 2008. At that time, Mr. Trudeau was a Member of Parliament in his riding in the Province of Quebec. He won the Liberal leadership in 2011, and after winning the recent Federal Elections held in October, he was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Canada on November 4th 2015. A day earlier he visited the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat Building on Sussex Drive in Ottawa – see photo below. Photo: The Ismaili.

The Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, issued the following statement on December 13, 2015, on the 79th birthday of His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan:

“Today, we celebrate the birthday of His Highness the Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, who has dedicated his life to the promotion of peace, pluralism, and compassion around the world.

“For over fifty years, the Aga Khan has been an inspiration to millions, working tirelessly to improve the health and education of those living in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries. As a global humanitarian leader, he has worked with many partners – including Canada – to implement vital programs that advance long-term solutions to poverty, illiteracy, and disease.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with AKDN Representative Dr. Mahmoud Eboo (left) and the President of the Aga Khan Ismaili Council for Canada, Malik Talib, at the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in Ottawa on November 3, 2015, the day before he was sworn in as the Prime Minister. Photo: The Ismaili.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with Aga Khan Development Netork (AKDN) Representative Dr. Mahmoud Eboo (left) and the President of the Aga Khan Ismaili Council for Canada, Malik Talib, at the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in Ottawa on November 3, 2015, a day before he was sworn in as Prime Minister. Photo: The Ismaili.

“I have seen first-hand the Aga Khan’s commitment to the ideals of diversity and inclusion. As a nation, we are proud His Highness was granted honourary Canadian citizenship for the leadership he has shown to advance development, pluralism, and tolerance – values that are at the core of our national identity.

“The world needs champions of diversity and compassion. Today, we are delighted to thank our good friend, the Aga Khan, for all that he has done to help those in need, and wish him good health, happiness, and peace on this special day.”

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“Happy Birthday to the Hazar Imam” – Yasmin Rattansi, MP Don Valley E.

Marc Carisse 2005 0607 203

His Highness the Aga Khan, MP Yasmin Ratansi and External Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew (July 2004 – February 2006). Photo: Jean-Marc Carisse. Copyright.

“Mr. Speaker, I take this opportunity to thank the constituents of Don Valley East for re- electing me to Parliament.

“My riding is proud to house three architectural jewels of Toronto: the Aga Khan Museum, the lsmaili Centre, and the Aga Khan Park built in Canada by His Highness the Aga Khan with his own funds.

“On December 13, His Highness will be celebrating his 79th birthday. I rise today in the House to pay a special tribute to a remarkable human being. His tireless efforts in building bridges across the globe, his commitment to eradicating poverty and ignorance for millions of people, irrespective of race or religion, through the AKDN network are unparalleled.

“I was fortunate to have worked with His Highness in establishing the Global Centre for Pluralism here in Ottawa.

“Happy birthday to the Hazar Imam. May all who come in touch with him benefit from his integrity, humility, honesty, and courage to do good.”

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A Message and Tweets from the Premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne, and Arif Virani, MP Parkdale–High Park.

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Mawlana Hazar Imam graciously accepts the standing ovation he receives after completing his speech at the opening of the Aga Khan Park in Toronto on May 25, 2015. With him is the Premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne Aga Khan Message

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….and a Tweet from the 2 Ismaili Mountaineers, Mirza Ali and Samina Baig, who conquered the “Seven Summits”, i.e. the highest mountain in each of the 7 continents

Date posted: December 13, 2015.
Last updated: December 14, 2015 (Message from Ontario Premier)

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“ISIL does not speak for Islam” — President Barack Obama asks Americans not to define acts of terror as a war between America and Islam

Excerpts from a rare White House Oval Office address delivered by President Barack Obama on Sunday, December 6, 2015.

President Obama

“the vast majority of terrorist victims around the world are Muslim. If we’re to succeed in defeating terrorism we must enlist Muslim communities as some of our strongest allies, rather than push them away through suspicion and hate…just as it is the responsibility of Muslims around the world to root out misguided ideas that lead to radicalization, it is the responsibility of all Americans  — of every faith —  to reject discrimination”

Good evening. On Wednesday [December 2, 2015 – ed.], 14 Americans were killed as they came together to celebrate the holidays. They were taken from family and friends who loved them deeply. They were white and black; Latino and Asian; immigrants and American-born; moms and dads; daughters and sons. Each of them served their fellow citizens and all of them were part of our American family.

“I know that after so much war, many Americans are asking whether we are confronted by a cancer that has no immediate cure….we are cooperating with Muslim-majority countries —  and with our Muslim communities here at home  — to counter the vicious ideology that ISIL promotes online.”

…The victims were brutally murdered and injured by one of their coworkers and his wife…it is clear that the two of them had gone down the dark path of radicalization, embracing a perverted interpretation of Islam that calls for war against America and the West…this was an act of terrorism, designed to kill innocent people.

President Obama

As Commander-in-Chief, I have no greater responsibility than the security of the American people. As a father to two young daughters who are the most precious part of my life, I know that we see ourselves with friends and coworkers at a holiday party like the one in San Bernardino. I know we see our kids in the faces of the young people killed in Paris. And I know that after so much war, many Americans are asking whether we are confronted by a cancer that has no immediate cure.

…Since the attacks in Paris, we’ve surged intelligence-sharing with our European allies. We’re working with Turkey to seal its border with Syria. And we are cooperating with Muslim-majority countries — and with our Muslim communities here at home — to counter the vicious ideology that ISIL promotes online.

“Muslim leaders here and around the globe have…to speak out against not just acts of violence, but also those interpretations of Islam that are incompatible with the values of religious tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity.”

….My fellow Americans….Let me now say a word about what we should not do.

…. We cannot turn against one another by letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam….ISIL does not speak for Islam. They are thugs and killers, part of a cult of death, and they account for a tiny fraction of more than a billion Muslims around the world — including millions of patriotic Muslim Americans who reject their hateful ideology. Moreover, the vast majority of terrorist victims around the world are Muslim. If we’re to succeed in defeating terrorism we must enlist Muslim communities as some of our strongest allies, rather than push them away through suspicion and hate.

President Obama

That does not mean denying the fact that an extremist ideology has spread within some Muslim communities. This is a real problem that Muslims must confront, without excuse. Muslim leaders here and around the globe have to continue working with us to decisively and unequivocally reject the hateful ideology that groups like ISIL and al Qaeda promote; to speak out against not just acts of violence, but also those interpretations of Islam that are incompatible with the values of religious tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity.

“It is our responsibility to reject religious tests on who we admit into this country. It’s our responsibility to reject proposals that Muslim Americans should somehow be treated differently. Because when we travel down that road, we lose.”

But just as it is the responsibility of Muslims around the world to root out misguided ideas that lead to radicalization, it is the responsibility of all Americans — of every faith — to reject discrimination. It is our responsibility to reject religious tests on who we admit into this country. It’s our responsibility to reject proposals that Muslim Americans should somehow be treated differently. Because when we travel down that road, we lose. That kind of divisiveness, that betrayal of our values plays into the hands of groups like ISIL. Muslim Americans are our friends and our neighbors, our co-workers, our sports heroes — and, yes, they are our men and women in uniform who are willing to die in defense of our country. We have to remember that.

“…no matter who you are, or where you come from, or what you look like, or what religion you practice, you are equal in the eyes of God and equal in the eyes of the law.”

My fellow Americans, I am confident we will succeed in this mission because we are on the right side of history. We were founded upon a belief in human dignity — that no matter who you are, or where you come from, or what you look like, or what religion you practice, you are equal in the eyes of God and equal in the eyes of the law.

President Obama

Let’s not forget that freedom is more powerful than fear; that we have always met challenges — whether war or depression, natural disasters or terrorist attacks — by coming together around our common ideals as one nation, as one people. So long as we stay true to that tradition, I have no doubt America will prevail.

Thank you. God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.

Date posted: December 7, 2015.

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To watch and read the full transcript of President Obama’s speech please visit The White House.