Photographs and Letters of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, from the Archives of the Late Mr. Frank Pattrick of the Daily Nation

PLEASE CLICK: Letters and Photographs of His Highness the Aga Khan from the Family Archives of the Late Mr. Frank Pattrick

His Highness the Aga Khan, Mawlana Hazar Imam, with Mr  Frank PattrickPlease click on image for letters, photo and story.

Date posted: Sunday, July 3, 2016.

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This is a Video Not to be Missed! Incredible Outpouring of Joy in Pakistan for the Ismaili Jubilee Games Lantern

INTRODUCED BY SULTAN JESSA

From some of the densest urban areas to the remotest corners of this earth, the fanous or lantern of the second Ismaili Jubilee Games has been welcomed worldwide by hundreds of thousands of Ismailis with deep joy, and has generated an immense amount of interest for the  games that will commence in Dubai on July 22, 2016.

One of the most astonishing receptions for the lantern, as it travelled around the globe, was in Pakistan. The short video clip (please click above) is a testimony to how a symbol from Ismaili history dating back a 1,000 years has played such a significant role in heightening an awareness and interest for the games that in turn will deeply inspire the athletes to be the best they can at the week long Ismaili Jubilee Games.

To read complete article, please visit http://www.simergphotos.com.

Date posted: July 2, 2016.

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Supplications of Imam Zayn al-Abidin

“Recite: In the Name of thy Lord who created, created Man of a blood-clot. Recite: And thy Lord is the Most Generous, who taught by the Pen, taught Man that he knew not.” — Holy Qur’an, Sura al-Alaq, 96:1-5, translation by A.J. Arberry.

An Egyptian calligraphy of the first lines of Sura Al-Alaq (The Clot) – 96th sura of the Holy Qur’an. Verses 1-5 of the sura form the first revelation received by Prophet Muhammad at the Cave of Hira. Photo: Wikipedia.

An Egyptian calligraphy of the first lines of Sura Al-Alaq (The Clot) – the 96th sura of the Holy Qur’an. Verses 1-5 of the sura form the first revelation received by Prophet Muhammad at the Cave of Hira. Photo: Wikipedia.

Compiled and prepared by Abdulmalik Merchant
Publisher/Editor, Simerg

Laylat al-Qadr is the auspicious night during the month of Ramadhan when the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) first received the revelation of the Holy Qur’an, thereby conferring upon him the mantle of Prophethood at the age of forty. The following verse from the Holy Qur’an describe the loftiness of this night:

“Lo! We revealed it on the Night of Power. What will convey unto you what the Night of Power is! The Night of Power is better than a thousand months. The angels and the spirit descend therein, by the permission of their Lord, with all decrees. Peace it is until the rising of the dawn.” — 94:5

The Shia Ismaili Muslims observe Laylat al-Qadr on the 23rd night of Ramadan, in keeping  with traditions received through Hazrat Ali (a.s.) and Hazrat Bibi Fatimah (a.s.), and the Imams of the Fatimid dynasty. It is a night of special prayers of supplication to thank God for  His Blessings, to petition Him for the forgiveness of our sins, to plead for things for ourselves and our families, and to pray for others. In the Qur’anic verse, 40:60, God says: “Your Lord has said: Supplicate Me and I will respond to you.” A tradition of the Prophet speaks of supplication as the weapon of the man of faith, the centrepole of religion and the light of the heavens and the earth. When the first Shia Imam Hazrat Ali was asked which speech was the best in God’s eyes, he replied: “A great amount of dhikr (remembrance of God), pleading and supplication.” His great grandson, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) said: “God loves nothing better than that His servants ask from Him.”

As we mark Laylat al-Qadr, we bring you a selection of supplications attributed to Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin (a.s.), who succeeded Imam Husayn (a.s.) after he was martyred in the Battle of Karbala. Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin’s severe illness at the time of the battle disabled him from bearing arms, and moreover Imam Husayn had also refused him to take part in the battle as he was to be the next Imam.

Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin is known as the ‘Ornament of the Worshipers’ and ‘the Imam of the Carpet’ because of the time he spent in prayer. His prayers and supplications have been brought together under the title The Prayers of Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin or As-Sahifa Al-Sajjadiyya, and are impressive for their spirit of devotion.

A SELECTION OF SUPPLICATIONS OF IMAM ZAYN AL-‘ABIDIN

O God,
bless Muhammad and his Household,
respond to my supplication, come near my call,
have mercy on my pleading,
listen to my voice

O God,
take to Yourself, from my soul
what will purify it. And leave for my soul
which will set it right, for surely,
my soul will perish unless you protect it.

O God,
bless Muhammad and his Household,
clothe me in Thy well-being,
wrap me in Thy well-being,
fortify me through Thy well-being,
honour me with Thy well-being,
free me from need through Thy well-being,
donate to me Thy well-being,
bestow upon me Thy well-being,
spread out for me Thy well-being,
set Thy well-being right for me,
and separate me not from Thy well-being
in this world and the next!

O God, I ask pardon from Thee for
the person wronged in my presence
whom I did not help,
the favour conferred upon me
for which I returned no thanks,
the evildoer who asked pardon from me
and whom I did not pardon,
the needy person who asked from me
and whom I preferred not over myself,
the fault of a believer which became evident to me
and which I did not conceal,
and every sin which presented itself to me
and which I failed to avoid.

O God,
bless Muhammad and his Household.
Ward away [evil] from me, by Your gentleness,
feed me through Your favor,
reform me through Your generosity,
heal me through Your goodness,
shade me in Your shelter,
and wrap me in Your pleasure,
and give me success to reach
the most guided of affairs
when affairs confuse me.

O Reliever of worry!
O Remover of grief!
O Merciful in this world and the next
and Compassionate in both!
Bless Muhammad and his Household,
relieve my worry,
and remove my grief!

O God,
bless Muhammad and his Household,
provide us with the day’s good companionship
and preserve us against parting from it badly
by doing a misdeed
or committing a sin, whether small or great!

O God,
bless Muhammad and his Household
and make this
the most fortunate day we have known,
the most excellent companion we have accompanied,
and the best time in which we have lingered!

Thou art All-kind with immensity,
the Forgiver of the great,
and Thou art more merciful
than every possessor of mercy!
So bless Muhammad and his Household,
the good, the pure, the chosen, the most distinguished!

So bless Muhammad and his Household,
open for me, my Lord, the door of relief
through Thy graciousness,
break from me the authority
of worry by Thy strength,
confer the beauty of Thy gaze
upon my complaint,
let me taste the sweetness
of benefaction in what I ask,
give me from Thyself mercy
and wholesome relief,
and appoint for me from
Thyself a quick way out!

O God,
bless Muhammad and his Household,
empty my heart for Thy love,
occupy it with remembering Thee,
animate it with fear of Thee
and quaking before Thee,
strengthen it with beseeching Thee,
incline it to Thy obedience,
set it running in the path
most beloved to Thee,
and subdue it through desire
for what is with Thee
all the days of my life!

O God,
bless Muhammad and his Household,
rid me of envy,
encircle me against sins,
make me abstain from things unlawful,
give me not the boldness of disobedient acts,
assign me love for that which is with Thee
and satisfaction with that
which comes to me from Thee,
bless me in
that which Thou providest me,
that which Thou conferrest upon me,
and that through which Thou favourest me,
and make me in all my states
safeguarded, watched,
covered, defended,
given refuge, and granted sanctuary!

Make my tongue utter Thy praise,
Thy thanksgiving, Thy remembrance,
and Thy excellent laudation,
and expand my heart
toward the right goals of Thy religion!

God, lower before them [my parents] my voice,
make agreeable to them my words,
make mild before them my temper,
make tender toward them my heart,
and turn me into their kind companion,
their loving friend!

O God,
thank them for my upbringing,
reward them for honouring me,
and guard them as they guarded me in my infancy!

O God,
I ask from Thee the best in Thy knowledge,
so bless Muhammad and his Household
and decree for me the best!

O Reliever of worry!
O Remover of grief!
O Merciful in this world and the next
and Compassionate in both!
Bless Muhammad and his Household,
relieve my worry,
and remove my grief!

O God,
bless Muhammad and the Household of Muhammad,
take my soul while it is firm in sincerity,
cut off my need for this world,
make my desire for what is with Thee
become a yearning to meet Thee,
and give me true confidence in Thee!

O God,
some rise in the morning
having trust or hope in other than Thee.
I rise in the morning,
and Thou art my trust and my hope in all affairs,
so decree for me those which are best in outcome
and deliver me from misguiding trials,
O Most Merciful of the merciful!

O God, O He Who
singled out Muhammad and his Household for honour,
appointed them the heirs to the prophets,
sealed with them the executors and the Imams,
taught them the knowledge of what has been
and what remains to be,
and made the hearts of the
people incline toward them!

Bless Muhammad and his Household, the pure,
and act toward us with that of which Thou art worthy
in religion, in this world, and in the next world!
Thou art powerful over everything.

Date posted: June 26, 2016.

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The material for this reading was compiled from the following sources:

  1. Hazrat Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq, Ilm, Volume 8, Number 1 (July – November 1982).
  2. https://www.al-islam.org/sahifa-al-kamilah-sajjadiyya-imam-zain-ul-abideen/supplications.
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Sahifa_al-Sajjadiyya.

Young Ismaili Girls and Boys Inspire Hundreds at Soccer Camp in Burnaby as They Welcome the Ismaili Jubilee Games Lantern, the Fanous, in a Spirit of Friendship and Unity

PLEASE CLICK: The Ismaili Jubilee Games’ Lantern is Welcomed to the Ismaili Centre and the Children’s Soccer Camp in Burnaby

Please click on photo for story and more photos.

Please click on photo for story and more photos.

Date posted: Monday, June 20, 2016.

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A Beautiful Ceremony at the Ismaili Centre in Burnaby: Welcoming the Ismaili Jubilee Games Lantern

PLEASE CLICK: The Ismaili Jubilee Games’ Lantern Roadshow Comes to the Ismaili Centre in Burnaby

Please click on image for story and photos

Please click on image for story and photos. Photo: Simerg Collection. Copyright.

Date posted: June 19, 2016.

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The Month of Ramadhan: A New Leaf Everyday for a Better World

Note from the editor: “A New Leaf Everyday” is a compilation by Simerg of verses from the Holy Qur’an, the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him) and excerpts from speeches and farmans of Ismaili Imams (or their family members) that are pertinent to the message on a different leaf which has been presented (almost) everyday on this page since the start of the month of Ramadhan on June 6, 2016.  The photos of the leaves were either taken by us during our visits to the Aga Khan Foundation’s Together-Ensemble mobile exhibition, which is currently on a cross-Canada tour, or sent to us by the exhibition’s tour manager, François Grenier, to whom we express our deep gratitude. The leaf messages were penned down by visitors to the exhibition.

(IX): CHARITY

Together-Ensemble8 year old Hannah Saikaley’s wants to help by “Donating food, money, drinks and clothes and by cleaning the earth.”

“And perform the prayer, and pay the alms; whatever good you shall forward to your souls’ account, you shall find it with God; assuredly God sees the things you do.” — Holy Qur’an, 2:110, Sura Al-Baqarah (The Cow), Translation by A.J. Arberry.

“Those who believe and do deeds of righteousness, and perform the prayer, and pay the alms — their wage awaits them with their Lord, and no fear shall be on them, neither shall they sorrow.” — Holy Qur’an, 2:277, Sura Al-Baqarah (The Cow), Translation by A.J. Arberry.

“If you publish your freewill offerings, it is excellent; but if you conceal them, and give them to the poor, that is better for you, and will acquit you of your evil deeds; God is aware of the things you do.” — Holy Qur’an, 2:271, Sura Al-Baqarah (The Cow), Translation by A.J. Arberry.

“Charity obliterates sins just as water extinguishes fire…Save yourself from the (Hell) Fire even with half a date (to be given in charity); and if you do not find a half date, then with a good pleasant word.” — Traditions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.), 570 CE – 632 CE

“Do not feel ashamed if the amount of charity is small…Charity and alms are the best remedy for ailments and calamities…If you want to pray to Allah for better means of subsistence, then first give something in charity” — Hazrat Ali (a.s.), 599 CE -661 CE, 1st Shia Imam.

Date posted: June 17, 2016.

Recommended: Please visit Qur’anic Corpus for several parallel translations of the Holy Qur’an in English, verse by verse.

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(VIII). BE NICE

“A kind word with forgiveness is better than almsgiving followed by injury. Allah is Absolute, Clement.” — Holy Qur’an, 2:263, Sura Al-Baqarah (The Cow), Translation by M. Pickthall.

“The servants of the All-merciful are those who walk in the earth modestly and who, when the ignorant address them, say, ‘Peace'” — Holy Qur’an, 25:63, Sura al-Furqan (The Criterion), Translation by A.J. Arberry.

“When a (courteous) greeting is offered you, meet it with a greeting still more courteous, or (at least) of equal courtesy. Allah takes careful account of all things.” — Holy Qur’an, 4:86, Sura An-Nisa (The Women), Translation by Yusuf Ali.

Ramadhan - A New Leaf Everyday - VIII To be nice

“The believer does not defame, abuse, disparage, nor vilify…The strong person is not he who has physical strength but the person is strong if he can control his anger.” — Traditions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.), 570 CE – 632 CE

“You should not speak ill of other religions or ridicule anybody” — His Highness the Aga Khan III, (1877-1957), 48th Ismaili Imam, Precious Pearls, #66, Page 47, Ismailia Association for Pakistan.

“Keep to forgiveness (O Muhammad), and enjoin kindness, and turn away from the ignorant.” — Holy Qur’an, 7:199, Sura Al-A’raf (The Heights), Translation by M. Pickthall.

“The best deed of a great man is to forgive and forget…Courtesy costs nothing, but buys everything.” — Hazrat Ali (a.s.), 599 CE -661 CE, 1st Shia Imam.

“You should be united. Our religion preaches that we should let bygones be bygones. Even if one harms you, you should forgive him.” — His Highness the Aga Khan III, Precious Pearls, #85, Page 57, Ismailia Association for Pakistan.

“I would also like you also to remember that you should at all times live within the spirit of Islam. This means that you are brothers and sisters and that whenever any one of you has difficulties, troubles or needs help or wants guidance, you should always help each other.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam, Gujranwalla, Pakistan, November 26, 1964, Farman Mubarak, Ismailia Association Pakistan, Part II, Pg. 22.

“You must be humble, as it is one of the greatest [forms of] worship.” — Hazrat Ali (a.s.).

Date posted: June 15, 2016.

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(VII). HELPING PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD
Ramadhan - A New Leaf Everyday - VII Serving Around the World

Reflection(s) from Aga Khan Foundation’s mobile exhibition Together-Ensemble which is currently on a cross-country Canada tour.

“I have been impressed by recent studies showing the activity of voluntary institutions and not-for-profit organisations in Canada to be among the highest in the world. This 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’.

“During my Golden Jubilee — and this is important — six years ago Ismailis from around the world volunteered their gifts, not only of wealth, but most notably of time and knowledge, in support of our work. We established a Time and Knowledge framework, a structured process for engaging an immense pool of expertise involving tens of thousands of volunteers. Many of them traveled to developing countries as part of this outpouring of service — one third of those were Canadians. Their impact has been enormous in helping us to achieve best practice standards in our institutions and programmes, making us we hope an even better partner for Canada!” — His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam, Ottawa, Canada, February 27, 2014.

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“In the Shia Ismaili Muslim tradition, voluntary service to others is viewed as an integral and positive part of daily life, and never as a burdensome obligation or an elective activity. Service is a means for each individual to actualise Islam’s ethics of inclusiveness, of compassion, of sharing, of the respect for life, and of personal responsibility for sustaining a healthy physical, social, and cultural environment.

“Generosity is fundamental to this concept of volunteerism: generosity of material resources, of time, of thought and of knowledge. The importance of the donation of time and financial resources is widely recognised. The other two elements are not. Thought helps others to help themselves. Knowledge enables the educated to provide technical information to the less educated on how to meet their own needs better and serve others.” — Princess Zahra Aga Khan, Edmonton, Canada, August 25, 1998.

Date posted: June 13, 2016.

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(VI). HOW TO MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE
Ramadhan - A New Leaf Everyday - VI Make World A Better Place

Reflection(s) from Aga Khan Foundation’s mobile exhibition Together-Ensemble which is currently on a cross-country Canada tour.

“If our animosities are born out of fear, then confident generosity is born out of hope. One of the central lessons I have learned after a half century of working in the developing world is that the replacement of fear by hope is probably the single most powerful trampoline of progress.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam, Germany, May 20, 2006.

“The effective world of the future will be one of pluralism, a world that understands, appreciates and builds on diversity. The rejection of pluralism plays a significant role in breeding destructive conflicts, from which no continent has been spared in recent decades. But pluralist societies are not accidents of history. They are a product of enlightened education and continuous investment by governments and all of civil society in recognising and celebrating the diversity of the world’s peoples.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, Oslo, Norway, April 7, 2005.

Date posted: June 11, 2016.

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(IV) AND (V). POVERTY AND BEING HELPFUL: ISLAM’S CLEAR MESSAGE WITH AN EXAMPLE FROM THE LIFE OF THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD (MAY PEACE BE UPON HIM)

Ramadhan - A New Leaf Everyday - IV Less Poverty and How to Help

Reflection(s) from Aga Khan Foundation’s mobile exhibition Together-Ensemble which is currently on a cross-country Canada tour.

“…A state of poverty is a state of deprivation with respect to health and nutrition, education and security, housing and credit, and all the other conditions which are essential to human well-being.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam, Berlin, Germany, November 13, 2007.

“Our duty is to try to free people from poverty. And to me, poverty means being without hope of ever controlling one’s own destiny. This means condemning one’s children and grandchildren to unacceptable living conditions.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, November 27, 2007, Madagascar.

“Islam has a very clear message about the different forms of generosity. There is that with regard to the poor, which takes the form of gifts. But the recipient remains poor. There exists a second form of generosity that contributes to growing the independence of the person. This concept, in which the goal is to make the person the master of their destiny, is the most beneficial in the eyes of Allah” [see example from the life of Prophet Muhmmad, below – ed]. — His Highness the Aga Khan, Interview L’Express, July 4, 2007.

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Firewood

It is related that when an Ansar (Helper) came to Prophet Muhammad and begged from him, he asked him whether he had nothing in his house. When the Ansar said that he had a piece of cloth, which he used for wearing as well as for spreading on the ground, and a wooden bowl from which he drank water, the Prophet told him to bring them to him, and when he did so he took them in his hand and asked, “Who will buy these?” When a man offered a dirham, the Prophet asked twice or thrice. “Who will offer more than a dirham?” and the Prophet gave them to a man who offered two dirhams. He then took the two dirhams and giving them to the Ansari he said, “Buy food with one of them and hand it to your family, and buy an axe with the other and bring it to me.”

When he bought the axe, Prophet Muhammad fixed a handle on it with his own hand and said, “Go gather firewood and sell it, and don’t let me see you for a fortnight.” The man went away and gathered firewood and sold it. When he had earned ten dirhams he came to the Prophet and bought a garment with some of them and food with others.

Date posted: June 9/10, 2016.

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(III). TOGETHER AND PARTNERSHIP

Ramadhan - A New Leaf Everyday - III Together-Unity
Reflection from Aga Khan Foundation’s mobile exhibition Together-Ensemble which is currently on a cross-country Canada tour.

“And obey Allah and His messenger, and dispute not one with another lest ye falter and your strength depart from you; but be steadfast! Lo! Allah is with the steadfast.” — Holy Qur’an, 8:46, Sura Al-Anfal (The Spoils of War), Translation by M. Pickthall.

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“One event which I witnessed was a boxing match between two Ismaili boys – one African, one Asian. I saw a good fight and, at the end, I think each of them thought he had won….At the end of this sporting event, the two boys shook hands and stood together to be photographed. To me this symbolised the partnership between different races which I am convinced is the only condition of peace and prosperity….I most strongly urge the Ismaili community to work hand in hand with all other citizens” — His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam, Kampala, Uganda, Ceremonial installation (Takhtnashini), October 25, 1957.

“With humility, tolerance and respect for each other, by honest work and straight dealings, you will earn the true friendship of your fellows…By the way you conduct your daily lives, by the compassion you show to your fellow men and women, and above all by your faith in God – you will ultimately be judged” — His Highness the Aga Khan, Takhtnashini, Mumbai, March 11, 1958.

Date posted: June 8, 2016.

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(II). NATURE AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Ramadhan - A New Leaf Everyday

“It is He who sent down out of heaven water, and thereby We have brought forth the shoot of every plant, and then We have brought forth the green leaf of it, bringing forth from it close-compounded grain, and out of the palm-tree, from the spathe of it, dates thick-lustered, ready to the hand, and gardens of vines, olives, pomegranates, like each to each, and each unlike to each. Look upon their fruits when they fructify and ripen! Surely, in all this are signs for a people who do believe.” — Holy Qur’an, 6:99, Sura An-An’am (The Cattle), Translation by A.J. Arberry.

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“The Qur’an refers very often to nature as a reflection of Allah’s power of creation, and it says, look at the mountains, the rivers, the trees, the flowers, as evidence of Allah’s love for the people whom He has created. Today, I look at the environment and I say to you, I believe Allah is smiling upon you, and may His smile always be upon you.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam, speaking in a mountainous setting in Badakhshan in 1995.

“There are many, many interpretations of Islam within the wider Islamic community, but I think one on which there is greatest consensus, is the fact that we are trustees of God’s creation, and we are instructed to seek to leave the world a better place than it was when we came into it. Therefore, the question is: What is a ‘better place’, in physical terms? And that ‘better place’, in physical terms, clearly means trying to bring values into environments, buildings and contexts, which make the quality of life better for future generations than it is today.” — His Highness the Aga Khan in an interview with Robert Ivy, Editor in Chief, Architectural Record, conducted on August 31, 2001, at Aiglemont, France.

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“Islam is fundamentally in its very nature a natural religion. Throughout the Quran God’s signs (Ayats) are referred to as the natural phenomenon, the law and order of the universe, the exactitudes and consequences of the relations between natural phenomenon in cause and effect. Over and over, the stars, sun, moon, earthquakes, fruits of the earth and trees are mentioned as the signs of divine power, divine law and divine order.” – His Highness the Aga Khan III (1877 – 1957), 48th Ismaili Imam.

Date posted: June 7, 2016.

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(I) UNITY OF OUR HUMAN RACE

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

From the mobile exhibition Together-Ensemble currently on a cross-country Canada tour. My better world includes….”God created man from One Soul. Everybody should help each other.”

“Mankind, fear your Lord, who created you of a single soul, and from it created its mate, and from the pair of them scattered abroad many men and women; and fear God by whom you demand one of another, and the wombs; surely God ever watches over you.” — Holy Qur’an, 4:1, Sura an-Nisa  (The Women), Translation by A.J. Arberry.

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“…As you build your lives, for yourselves and others, you will come to rest upon certain principles. Central to my life has been a verse in the Holy Qur’an which addresses itself to the whole of humanity. It says: “Oh Mankind, fear your Lord, who created you of a single soul, and from it created its mate, and from the pair of them scattered abroad many men and women.

“…I know of no more beautiful expression about the unity of our human race — born indeed from a single soul.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam, February 27, 2014, Parliament of Canada.

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“All men, rich and poor, must aid one another materially and personally. This fraternity is absolute, and it comprises men of all colours and all races: black, white, yellow, tawny; all are the sons of Adam in the flesh and all carry in them spark of the Divine Light. Everyone should strive his best to see that this spark be not extinguished but rather developed to that full Companionship-on-High.” — His Highness the Aga Khan III (1877-1957), 48th Ismaili Imam.

Date posted: June 6, 2016.

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With His Highness the Aga Khan As Role Model, Ismaili Educators Provide Hope for Marginalized Children in Nairobi

“A great school will educate its students not merely to be personally successful but also to use their gifts to build their communities and enhance the common good to levels beyond our dreams.” – His Highness the Aga Khan, Mombasa Aga Khan Academy Inauguration, December 20, 2003.

PLEASE CLICK: A Civil Society Endeavour: Ismaili Educators Helping Educate Marginalised Children in Nairobi

Please click on photo for story

Please click on photo for story

Inspired by His Highness the Aga Khan’s messages on education, a team of dedicated Ismaili educators set out to establish a school in Nairobi for poor children to give them a head start. Their vision is in keeping with the ethic of generosity in Islam, which is explained by Mawlana Hazar Imam as follows:

“Islam has a very clear message about the different forms of generosity. There is that with regard to the poor, which takes the form of gifts. But the recipient remains poor. There exists a second form of generosity that contributes to growing the independence of the person. This concept, in which the goal is to make the person the master of their destiny, is the most beneficial in the eyes of Allah.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, L’Express interview, July 4, 2007.

PLEASE CLICK: A Civil Society Endeavour: Ismaili Educators Helping Educate Marginalised Children in Nairobi

Date posted: June 12, 2016.

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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.

Muhammad Ali (1942 – 2016), the Greatest, Dies at the Age of 74 – Quotes, Book Excerpts and NYT Video

“A part of me has gone…he was the greatest human being I have ever met…Muhammad Ali was beautiful…He was a brave American…A brave man of the world…He was real…Boxing was too small for him…He is a part of mankind…God bless Muhammad Ali’s family” — George Foreman in an interview with BBC upon hearing of Muhammad Ali’s death.

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Tweet Hanna Ali

Ali’s daughter, Hana, wrote in a tweet that Ali was surrounded by his children in his final moments. They held his once powerful hands. They hugged and kissed their 74-year-old father. They chanted Islamic prayer. Hanna Ali wrote that the children tried to stay strong. Some whispered in his ear.

“You can go now. We will be okay. We love you. Thank you. You can go back to God now.”

After Ali’s organs failed, his daughter wrote in the tweet, his heart continued to beat for another 30 minutes: “A true testament to the strength of his Spirit and Will!”

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PLEASE ALSO CLICK: Lessons from the Life of “the greatest,” Heavyweight Hero Muhammad Ali.

Muhammad Ali~~~~~

AN EXCELLENT NEW YORK TIMES VIDEO

MUHAMMAD ALI: “What’s My Name?”

New York Times Video What's in my Name

Please click on image to see a comprehensive video of the legend

Muhammad Ali, the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time and one of the best known figures of the 20th century, has passed away at the age of 74, after being admitted to a  Phoenix area  hospital for a respiratory ailment. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1984, four years after his retirement, but he went on to lift the Olympic Flame in 1996.

Ali was responsible for some of the most legendary moments in the ring. His incomparable work ethic, his  revolutionary techniques, and fearlessness towards standing up for his beliefs, all contributed to the legend that was Muhammad Ali.

As we mourn his death, we publish some of the lessons that Hanna Ali, one of his seven daughters, shared in her book “More Than A Hero” published in 2000, in which she offered an intensely personal look at one of the most revered men on the face of the earth. The book serves as an inspirational reminder that we can all achieve greatness. To read excerpts from the book, please click Lessons from the Life of “the greatest,” Heavyweight Hero Muhammad Ali.

His funeral will take place in his birth town , Louisville, Kentucky.

Date posted: June 3,  2016.
Last updated: June 4, 2016.

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Phenomenal Photos of Yellowstone, The World’s First Ever National Park @Simergphotos

The National Geographic Magazine, the BBC and Simerg have something in common! We are all currently featuring Yellowstone National Park. Simerg presents a random selection of absorbing images taken by Nurin Merchant that illustrate the diverse character of the park, a 3,500 square mile reserve that sits atop a volcanic hot spot!

PLEASE CLICK: A Phenomenal One-of-a-Kind Experience in Yellowstone, the World’s Very First National Park, Through the Lens of Nurin Merchant

Please click on image.

Please click on image.

 Date posted: June 2, 2016.

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