Aly Sunderji: Snow and Souls

Aly Sunderji wants to start a society of Ismaili poets from diverse backgrounds

Aly Sunderji wants to start a society of Ismaili poets from diverse backgrounds

Profile: A Culinary Artist by profession, and a poet and lyricist by interest, Aly Sunderji’s poetic inspirations have come from the literary works of the Sufi Mystics. The Author of  “A Spirit to be Reckoned With” he is currently working on his next chapbook which is expected to be published in late 2010. 

Most recently, Aly produced an audio CD with several young Ismaili artists to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan. The CD was titled An Ode to Shah Karim. Some of the texts can be read at

Aly’s poetic compositions have been featured on a a number of websites including, and he has also made appearances on radio and television.

Aly has presented his works at Indigo and Chapters, two Canadian mega bookstores, as well as The Word on the Street, the Vancouver Public Library and the Round House Community Centre. He is also known in the Ismaili community as a Ginan instructor for all ages. He plans to start a society for Ismaili poets around the world called Mehfil-e-Shauraa (“A Gathering of the Poets”). He hopes that through this initiative, Ismaili poets and song writers who write in a multitude of languages will come together in a united brotherhood to showcase their talent.

Since 2006 Aly has been a member of The World Poetry Café – Radio Show and reading series founded by Ariadne Sawyer and Alejandro Mujica-Olea. He thanks Farah Moolji Nazarali for giving him the initial push to get involved and publish his first chapbook. Anyone interested in being a part of Mehfil-e-Shauraa can email Aly directly at

Aly’s  Facebook page is at:


Snow and Souls…


Aashaji Paap amaara utaaro Swaami ame chhiye(n) goonehgaar ji

Darshan tamaara jab hi me(n) dekhya taare chhuta sarve janjaal

Hari anant anant hari anantejo Swaami Shah anantejo ant tu(n)hi jaaneji.. .

(Verse 63 of Ginan Anant Akhaado, composed by Ismaili missionary, Pir Hasan Kabirdin*)


The snow falls and settles in a powdery untouched pile, pure not but a finger print

Feet stomp, tires spin, branches shed.

The pure and bright is now the tormented and muddy

The snow seeks a cover up…

The snow once again sprinkles down and masks the charred remains of the muddy mess.

One can say it’s a pure and cleansed field of snow but is it?

It will only be pure when the light of the radiant sun shines upon it and melts away the muddled mess that blindly seems to be its reality.


The soul is one with its mate, in its dhikr, in its purity and love; I am the epiphany of my mate

My own hand takes a slip in judgment and the luminous hand of my lover has left me, I have been left with my slippery hand that I cannot grasp onto as I am but a sinful blameworthy maiden.

The once annihilated is now the suffocated and dreary…

The soul seeks to cover up the darkest secrets… as if the beloved knows no better

The body the soul is trapped in was a glimmering light, but now a foggy gaze has came upon it, a dim mist has rained upon it.

I see the body, and I am convinced that their soul has reached annihilation, I’m only human, what better do I know?

The soul will only be once again pure when the light of the radiant reality, with its merciful and surreal glance shines upon it, burns away all the blasphemy and darkens and enters it into the realm of realism…

Oh the epiphany of the being that takes neither shape nor form, Oh the haqiqat of my ‘ibaadat, Oh Shah Karim al-Husayni, Indeed I have lost my sobriety just by taking your name… the name that has no name…

Indeed I am but the beauty of ‘Aly…



* Anant Akhaado is a popular encyclopedic granth (long ginan) of the Ismaili Missionary, Pir Hasan Kabirdin, son of Pir Sadr al- Din. The Ginan consists of 500 verses.  Among the topics  covered in the Ginan are Imamat, spirituality and prayers, the importance of virtues such as  patience, tolerance and good actions, and the importance of tithing. The ginans of Pir Hasan Kabirdin are especially remarkable for their plaintive, ardent quality. Living in the 15th century, he spent most of his life in the town of Ucch, to the south of Multan. The tradition describes him as a man with a serious, forbearing outlook and great strength of character. This makes him the first figure in the tradition to be sketched with a degree of personal (as opposed to archetypal or mythical) detail. Also interesting are reports of his reputation as a holy man not just among his followers, but among other local communities. Thus the Suhrawardi Sufi order reckoned him as one of their own Pirs.

Explanatory note adapted from (web site of Alwaez Kamaluddin Ali Muhammad and Alwaeza Zarina Kamaluddin of Pakistan), and (website of  The Institute of Ismaili Studies – IIS –  London).

Please visit the IIS website to listen to selected verses of this and other Ginans composed by a number  of  Ismaili Pirs.


Other compositions by Aly Sunderji:
Aly Sunderji: “Within the Strand of Saffron” and “Dripping with Sins”


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