Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Expresses Indebtedness to His Highness the Aga Khan for Contributing $10 Million for Flood Victims; Sharif Has Telephone Conversation with Prince Rahim, the Aga Khan’s Eldest Son

Photo Credit: Featured photograph at top of post — the Government of the UK.

In a Tweet dated September 4, 2022, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has expressed his indebtedness to Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, for contributing US $10 million for relief efforts following the severe flooding in Pakistan. He said on his Twitter page:

“Deeply indebted to His Highness the Aga Khan for contribution of $10 million for the flood victims in Pakistan. In a telephonic chat with Prince Rahim Aga Khan today, I requested His Highness to play his role in raising awareness about flood situation in international community.”

The announcement of the contribution was also reported in the media. Bol News in a report dated September 4, said:

“The son of Prince Karim Agha Khan, Prince Rahim telephoned Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and conveyed the message of good wishes of Prince Karim Agha Khan to him.

“The prince also expressed his sorrow over the losses of human lives and properties and devastation caused by the floods….All institutions of the Agha Khan Development Network have been instructed to fully participate in relief and rehabilitation activities in flood-hit areas.”

On Tuesday August 30, 2022  the United Nations and Pakistan issued an appeal for $160 million in emergency funding to help millions affected by record-breaking floods that have killed more than 1,150 people.

The websites of the Aga Khan Development Network and the Ismaili community both published the following press release regarding the Ismaili Imamat’s donation to Pakistan’s flood relief efforts.

Ismaili Imamat Donates US $10 Million to Pakistan Flood Relief Efforts

Lisbon, Portugal, September 4, 2022: The Ismaili Imamat has announced it will be donating US$10 million to support relief efforts following the severe flooding in Pakistan. $5m will be donated directly to the Government of Pakistan while a further $5m will be provided to the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) agencies in the country, which are engaged in the relief efforts.

The donation comes following a discussion on Sunday between the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Shahbaz Sharif, and Prince Rahim Aga Khan, Chair of AKDN’s Environment and Climate Committee and eldest son of His Highness the Aga Khan, the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims.

Prince Rahim said “I am deeply concerned about the impact of the current floods in Pakistan, which have been intensified by the effects of climate change. These floods, and the many other weather events we are experiencing around the world, require us all — governments, businesses, communities, and individuals — to redouble our efforts to combat the climate crisis which threatens to engulf us.  The institutions of the Ismaili Imamat have been mobilised to support the government in its relief and rehabilitation efforts.”

During the discussion, the Prime Minister expressed appreciation on behalf of the people and Government of Pakistan for the unwavering support of the Ismaili Imamat and the AKDN institutions.  He also expressed his deepest respects for the work that the AKDN institutions have been delivering in Pakistan since its independence.

The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat and FOCUS are AKDN’s lead response agencies for relief efforts. To date over 8,000 people have been successfully evacuated from affected areas while more than 4,000 families have been provided with food packages since the start of the flooding. Healthcare camps have been set up in several parts of the country by the Aga Khan University and Aga Khan Health Service where over 2,000 flood affected people have been given assistance.

HBL Bank and Jubilee Life Insurance, both part of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development portfolio, have been active supporters in the relief efforts providing food rations and waterproof tents to over 12,000 families. Additionally, social safety payments by the Government of Pakistan are being disbursed to over 1 million people through HBL’s Konnect platform.

AKDN Helicopter operations have also been assisting in rescue missions and supporting the delivery of food items and medicines to remote areas in Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan.

Date posted: September 4, 2022.


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Pakistan’s Deluge: NASA Story Compares Satellite Images from August 4 and 28; and Links to Aga Khan University and Focus Humanitarian Donation Pages

Featured Image at top of post: The floods in Pakistan have turned plains into seas. The featured image shows the district of Qambar on August 4, 2022 (left) and on August 28 (right). The following piece has been adapted from the NASA website. To read the article on NASA that contains additional information and features, please click Devastating Floods in Pakistan – Ed.]

Story by SARA E. PRATT
NASA Earth Observatory Images by JOSHUA STEVENS

using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey and VIIRS data from NASA EOSDIS LANCEGIBS/Worldview, and the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS).

Since mid-June 2022, Pakistan has been drenched by extreme monsoon rains that have led to the country’s worst flooding in a decade. According to Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority, the floods have affected more than 33 million people and destroyed or damaged more than 1 million houses. At least 1,100 people were killed by floodwaters that inundated tens of thousands of square kilometers of the country.

Satellite Image August 4, 2022

The Floods in Pakistan Satellite Images from NASA

Satellite Image August 28, 2022

The Floods in Pakistan Satellite Images from NASA

The false-color images above were acquired by the Operational Land Imagers aboard the Landsat 8 and Landsat 9 satellites on August 4 and 28, respectively. The images combine shortwave infrared, near infrared, and red light (bands 6-5-4) to better distinguish flood waters (deep blue) beyond their natural channels.

The worst flooding occurred along the Indus River in the provinces of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, and Sindh. The provinces of Balochistan and Sindh have so far this year received five to six times their 30-year average rainfall. Most of that arrived in summer monsoon rains.

Across the country, about 150 bridges and 3,500 kilometers (2,200 miles) of roads have been destroyed, according to ReliefWeb. More than 700,000 livestock and 2 million acres of crops and orchards have also been lost.

Satellite Image August 31, 2022

The Floods in Pakistan Satellite Images from NASA

The image above (the white rectangle denotes the area shown in the Landsat overview in the previous images), acquired by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the NOAA-20 satellite on August 31, 2022, shows the extent of flooding in the region. The image uses a combination of near-infrared and visible light to make it easier to see where rivers are out of their banks and spread across floodplains.

The immense volume of rain- and meltwater inundated the dams, reservoirs, canals, and channels of the country’s large and highly developed irrigation system. On August 31, the Indus River System Authority authorized some releases from dams because the water flowing in threatened to exceed the capacity of several reservoirs.

In the southern reaches of the Indus watershed, the deluge has turned plains into seas. The following two detailed images show the districts of Qambar and Shikarpur in Sindh province, which from July 1 to August 31 received 500 percent more rainfall than average.

Qambar and Shikarpur Districts on August 4 and August 28

The Floods in Pakistan Satellite Images from NASA
Qambar on August 4, 2022 (left) and on August 28 (right). Also shown as feature image at top of this post
The Floods in Pakistan Satellite Images from NASA
Shikarpur on August 4, 2022 (left) and on August 28 (right).

The effect of the monsoon rains has been compounded by the continued melting of Pakistan’s 7,000 glaciers. The country holds the most glacial ice found outside the polar regions. Climate warming and recent heat waves have precipitated several glacial-outburst floods. In the rugged northern part of the country, the combined rain and meltwater has turned slopes into hill torrents.

On August 30, the Pakistani government declared a national emergency and, with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, called for international aid for humanitarian relief efforts.

Pakistan last faced such dramatic and widespread flooding in 2010.

Date posted: September 2, 2022.
Last updated: September 2, 2022 (6 AM EDT, see correction note below)

Correction: The title in the original version of the post suggested that all the images shown above were taken by NASA satellites. As is very clear in the story, the images are from more than one source, and the title has been revised accordingly. The editor apologizes for the oversight.


(profiles and profile photos from NASA website)

Sara Pratt NASA Pakistan Floods Story
Sara Pratt

Sara Pratt has been a science writer for the NASA Earth Observatory since 2021. She is a former senior editor of EARTH Magazine, and her work has appeared in Eos, Oceanus, NOVA, and Discover. She also has editorial experience in science educational publishing. Sara holds a bachelor’s degree in geology and environmental studies from Penn and dual master’s degrees in earth & environmental science journalism from Columbia. She enjoys writing about any aspect of earth science but is most interested in coastal and marine geology, oceanography, and climate science.

Sara lives in Colorado, where she enjoys skiing, hiking, camping, and touring the geology of the West and the National Parks with her husband and two children.

Joshua Stevens NASA Pakistan Floods Satellite Images
Joshua Stevens

Since 2015, Joshua Stevens has been the lead visualizer of the NASA Earth Observatory. He has researched and taught cartographic design, geovisual analytics, and remote sensing for more than a decade. He was the lead author of the 2012 update to the online geography textbook, Mapping Our Changing World. His work has been featured by a variety of media, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, National Geographic, and the Discovery Channel.

Joshua was an NSF IGERT Fellow in big data social science at The Pennsylvania State University, where he pursued a Ph.D. in geography. He also earned a master’s in geography and a bachelor’s degree in geographic information science at Michigan State University. Joshua is a member of the North American Cartographic Information Society, and he enjoys geocaching, photography, and spending time with his wife and two children.



1. The Aga Khan University: Flood Response Fund

2. Donate Now: Focus Humanitarian Canada; USA; and UK and Europe

3. The Ismaili: Jamati and AKDN institutions mobilise in response to Pakistan floods

4. Focus Humanitarian’s Response to Flooding in Pakistan

5. Simerg: Aga Khan University Sets Up Pakistan Flood Response Fund as UN Secretary General Declares “Pakistan is Awash in Suffering”


We welcome feedback/letters from our readers; please click Leave a comment. Your feedback may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation. We are unable to acknowledge unpublished letters.

Simerg’s editor Malik Merchant may be reached via email at

Aga Khan University Sets Up Pakistan Flood Response Fund as UN Secretary General Declares “Pakistan is Awash in Suffering, People Facing a Monsoon on Steroids”; Please Donate in Pakistan’s Hour of Need


Seal of the Aga Khan University
Seal of the Aga Khan University

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in Pakistan has mobilised its agencies to provide relief to those affected by the catastrophic floods in Pakistan. The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat’s early warning system and a team trained Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers helped safely evacuate more than 8,000 people in the catastrophic floods.

The Aga Khan University has set up a Flood Response Fund. Please click HERE and joins hands with the AKU in supporting the citizen’s of Pakistan in their hour of need. Your contribution can be made in any one of the following currencies: Pakistani Rupee, US and CDN Dollars, British Pound, Euro, and United Arab Emirates Dhirham.

Again, click DONATE NOW to make your donation via the website of the Aga Khan University.


[Much of the material that follows below is reproduced from reports by Voice of America’s Lisa Schlein who is based in Geneva. Her full reports on the floods can be read HERE and HERE — Ed.]

“Pakistan is Awash in Suffering”

“Pakistan is awash in suffering. The Pakistani people are facing a monsoon on steroids — the relentless impact of epochal levels of rain and flooding,” warned U.N. Secretary General (UNSG) Antonio Guterres in a pre-recorded video message (read transcript). He continued, “Millions are homeless, schools and health facilities have been destroyed, livelihoods are shattered, critical infrastructure wiped out, and people’s hopes and dreams have been washed away.” The U.N., together with the Pakistani government, launched a $160 million flash funding appeal on Tuesday, August 30, simultaneously in Islamabad and Geneva. Guterres said the U.N.’s flash appeal will help provide 5.2 million people with food, water sanitation, emergency education, protection and health support in the South Asian nation.

Story continues below

Displaced people float belongings salvaged from flood-hit homes through a flooded area, on the outskirts of Peshawar, Pakistan. Photogrpah: AP via the Voice of America “Day in Photos

The UNSG said that South Asia is one of the world’s global “climate crisis hotspots” and people living in these hotspots are 15 times likely to die from climate impacts. “Let’s stop sleepwalking towards the destruction of our planet by climate change. Today, it’s Pakistan. Tomorrow, it could be your country,” Gutteres warned. Torrential rains have been pounding Pakistan since June. The government estimates some 33 million people have been affected and that more than 1,000 have died, among them hundreds of children. Jens Laerke, spokesman for the U.N. office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs, said nearly one million homes have been damaged, and more than 700,000 livestock lost in what is seen as the worst flooding in decades.

“Some 500,000 people displaced by the floods are sheltering in relief camps, with many more living with host families,” he said. “Access to assistance is difficult due to the flooding and landslides, with around 150 bridges washed away and nearly 3,500 kilometers of roads damaged.”

Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), leading the country’s response in coordinating assessments and directing humanitarian relief to affected people, has listed 72 out of the country’s 160 districts as calamity-hit. More than 33 million residents there have been affected, tens of thousands of others displaced, with massive losses inflicted on key cash crops. Pakistani officials informed Tuesday’s event that the economic impact of the flooding could reach at least $10 billion, and may require years to rehabilitate victims. Some countries, including China, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, have already sent cargo planes that are carrying tents, food, medicines and other relief supplies, and rescue teams. More relief aid is on the way, according to Pakistani officials.

Story continues below

Displaced families line up to receive food as they take refuge on a roadside after fleeing their flood-hit homes in Sohbat Pur city, a district of Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province, Aug. 30, 2022. Photogrpah: AP via the Voice of America.

The International Rescue Committee anticipates a sharp increase in food insecurity and a severe impact on the national economy. “Our needs assessment showed that we are already seeing a major increase in cases of diarrhea, skin infections, malaria and other illnesses,” the group said in a statement.

Pakistan is home to more than 7,000 glaciers, but experts warn rising global temperatures are causing them to melt fast, creating thousands of glacial lakes. The South Asian nation says it is responsible for only less than 1% of greenhouse gas emissions but listed among the top ten countries suffering from the climate change effects.

The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) said it was working closely with Pakistani authorities to help assess the flood damage using remote sensing and satellite imagery to support prioritization of humanitarian responses. “The unprecedented and early heatwave this year also accelerated the melting of glaciers in the Himalaya, Hindu Kush and Karakoram mountain ranges, creating thousands of glacial lakes in northern Pakistan, around 30 of which could cause a deluge,” said Mohsin Hafeez, the country representative for the IWMI.

In the meantime, the World Meteorological Organization forecasts the heavy rains are set to continue. WMO spokeswoman Clare Nullis said the worst rainfall in decades follows the worst drought in decades, and the worst heatwave in decades. “Even before the latest flooding incident, Pakistan and northwest India had been witnessing above average monsoon rainfall.…This is the footprint of climate change,” she said. “The weather is becoming more extreme.”

The World Health Organization warns of disease outbreaks, such as cholera and diarrhea because of the flooding and lack of safe drinking water. WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said at least 888 health facilities have been damaged, including 180 that have been destroyed. He said this will make it difficult for anyone affected to receive treatment.

“All the noncommunicable diseases will severely lack support,” he said. “People cannot reach health facilities for simple things like diabetes. Women in pregnancy or giving birth have immense problems having safe access to health facilities or even having safe hygiene situations.”

The country is in a state of emergency, with Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman describing the situation as a climate-induced humanitarian disaster. She tweeted on August 28: “Pakistan has never seen an unbroken cycle of monsoons like this. 8 weeks of non-stop torrents have left huge swathes of the country under water. This is no normal season, this is a deluge from all sides, impacting 33 million plus people, which is the size of a small country.”



The Aga Khan University has set up a Flood Response Fund. Please click DONATE NOW and joins hands with the AKU in supporting the citizen’s of Pakistan in their hour of need. Your contribution can be made in any one of the following currencies: Pakistani Rupee; US and CDN Dollars; British Pound; Euro; and United Arab Emirates Dhirham.

Date posted: August 31, 2022.


We welcome feedback/letters from our readers. Please click on Leave a comment. Your feedback may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation. We are unable to acknowledge unpublished letters. Simerg’s editor Malik Merchant may be reached via email at

“Symphony of Courage”: A Documentary of the Dramatic Journey of Afghan Music Students From Kabul to Qatar to Lisbon

Voice of America’s (VOA) 52 DOCUMENTARY is a new documentary series that connects you with the global community through human interest stories. The compelling films allow you to explore new places via spectacular visuals and brilliant storytelling, empowering you to engage with the world in new ways. To watch previews of the 52 DOCUMENTARY series, click HERE. We are pleased to share one such documentary, “Symphony of Courage”, that premiered on VOA+ on August 24, 2022.

About Afghanistan Symphony of Courage: The Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM), the first of its kind, closed down in August 2021 as its members faced fear for their futures as musicians under the Taliban. Founded in 2010, ANIM was renowned for its inclusiveness. It became a symbol of a new Afghanistan, with boys and girls studying together and performing to full houses in the United States and Europe. Dr. Ahmad Sarmast, the institute’s founder and leader, fearing that music was not welcome in Afghanistan under Taliban, teamed up with famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and worked tirelessly to secure safe passage out of the country for the institute’s nearly 300 students, including its all-female orchestra  whose 250 members range in age from 12 to 20.

“Symphony of Courage” follows the dramatic journey of two students and sisters, Farida and Zohra, as they navigate life in hiding under the Taliban rule, and eventually made their escape to Qatar and eventually to Lisbon, Portugal, where they are free to make music once again. ​

Date posted: August 30, 2022.


We welcome feedback/letters from our readers. Please click on Leave a comment. Your feedback may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation. We are unable to acknowledge unpublished letters.

Simerg’s editor Malik Merchant may be reached via email at

There is No One Islamic Interpretation on Ethics of Abortion, but the Belief in God’s Mercy and Compassion is a Crucial Part of any Consideration

By ZAHRA AYUBI, Dartmouth College

As a scholar of Islamic ethics, I’m often asked, “What does Islam say about abortion?” — a question that has become even more salient since the U.S. Supreme Court reversed 50 years of constitutional protection for the right to get an abortion in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling on June 24, 2022.

This question really needs to be reframed, because it implies a singular view. Islam isn’t monolithic, and there is no single Islamic attitude about abortion. The answer to the question depends on what kinds of Islamic sources, scriptural, legal or ethical, are applied to this contemporary issue by people of varying levels of authority, expertise or religious observance.

Muslims have had a long-standing, rich relationship with science, and specifically, the practice of medicine. This has yielded multiple interpretations of right and wrong when it comes to the body, including ideas about and practices surrounding pregnancy.

Islamic frameworks for thinking about abortion

The typical framing of the question of whether abortion ought to be legal hinges upon American Christian debates about when life begins. Muslims who get abortions don’t always ask “when does life begin?” to ascertain Islamic positions on the matter. Rather, as my research in the Abortion and Religion project and forthcoming book “Women as Humans” has found, Muslims who get abortions generally consider under what circumstances abortion would be permitted in the Islamic tradition.

Further, the Quranic verses and hadith – recorded sayings of the Prophet Muhammad — are not about abortion per se, nor the moment when life begins or whether abortion is akin to taking a life. Instead, they are descriptions for people to reflect on God’s miracle of what happens in the womb, or rahm in Arabic, which is part of God’s mercy and compassion.

It is often a deeply theological discussion about human actions in context of God’s will, omnipotence and omniscience when it comes to life and death. The dialogue often yields answers that are specific to the person’s cosmic and religious beliefs about God’s nature and mercy and their circumstances in the abortion decision-making process.

Many contemporary Muslim jurists and bioethicists point to specific verses in the Quran as well as hadiths with descriptions of the stages of human gestation that are mapped onto the pregnancy timeline in the contemporary abortion debate. The often-cited Quranic verses are 23:12-14: “And indeed We created humankind from an essence of clay. Then We placed him as a sperm-drop in a resting place firm; then We created the sperm-drop into a clinging substance, then We created the clinging substance into an embryonic lump, then We created from the embryonic lump bones, then We clothed the bones with flesh, then We produced it as another creation. So blessed is God, the best of creators.”

Then there is the hadith in which Prophet Muhammad describes what happens in the womb: “The human being is brought together in the mother’s womb for forty days in the form of a drop of fluid, and then becomes a clot of thick blood for a similar period, and then a piece of flesh for a similar period. … Then the soul is breathed into him. …”

These scriptural traditions divide the pregnancy timeline into stages. Muslim jurists consider the 120-day mark of ensoulment (40 days x 3 stages), when God is believed to blow life into the fetus, as the point at which the fetus becomes a legal entity with financial rights. The fetus is believed to have inheritance rights; it can leave an inheritance to its siblings or other kin if it dies, or provide its parents with blood money in the event of a violent action against the mother.

While reference to the scriptural tradition might be enough for many Muslims, some might look to the Muslim legal tradition for precedence. Premodern jurists’ inquiries into stage of pregnancy were mainly to settle questions such as what inheritance laws might come into effect in the event of fetal death. They weren’t asking when life begins to settle abortion questions. And even as they touched on the question of legal personhood of a fetus, they ruled on a case-by-case basis rather than through blanket pronouncements.

Contemporary jurisprudence

Most Muslim jurists and bioethicists today argue that abortion before 120 days of pregnancy is permissible on certain grounds and after this term in cases of mortal danger to the mother. When it comes to abortion, the Islamic legal principle of preservation of life is universally interpreted to mean the mother’s life. Other grounds for abortion vary depending on school of thought but include health concerns for mother or fetus and sometimes include unintended pregnancy, depending on the circumstances of how the pregnancy came about.

Since maternal health can be a nebulous category, acceptance of mental health reasons for abortion may depend on whether people take mental health itself seriously. Concerns might include the mental capacity of a mother to care for herself or a child, or potential suicidal thoughts that put the mother’s life at risk.

Financial affordability is generally frowned upon as a reason for abortion because God is seen as provider, but still accepted in some schools of thought, as the tradition generally promotes mercy above else.

Regardless of contemporary jurists’ positions on the subject, however, Muslims who pursue abortion often do so based on their broad Islamic understanding of God’s compassion rather than in consultation with religious authorities who might act as gatekeepers.

American Muslims post-Dobbs

Part of Islamic discourse’s nuance about abortion is the result of a long relationship between medicine and Islamic thought. For American Muslims, that history is overshadowed by the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the heavy dominance and influence of one Christian view as the only American view on abortion.

There is often a global assumption, which is held by many Muslims as well, that Muslim rules about gender and women’s rights are stricter than dominant Christian American ones. There have been many problematic comparisons of the Dobbs decision and Sharia. Some have called it “Christian Sharia” to characterize the ruling and abortion bans nationwide as religious, yet in doing so they draw on anti-Muslim sentiment and stereotypes of Islam as uniquely gender oppressive.

When American Muslims themselves mirror evangelical Christian views on abortion, however, it may be a form of virtue signaling or out of ignorance of Muslims’ rich historical relationship with medicine.

Even in so-called religiously conservative Muslim countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, laws on abortion are much more liberal than in U.S. states banning abortion. Legally, not only is the life of the mother always prioritized, but because the idea that ensoulment occurs at 120 days is taken seriously, abortion before that point may, and often does, take place in a variety of circumstances such as rape, serial births, mental health issues, untimeliness of pregnancy, etc.

Many American Muslims are speaking in support of the right to abortion. Organizations such as the American Muslim Bar Association, Heart to Grow and Muslim Advocates have issued statements about abortion in Islam and published information on American Muslims’ rights to abortion. The one prevailing commonality among these and diverging Islamic views on abortion is the Islamic concept of God’s mercy and compassion.

Date posted: August 28, 2022.


Source of article and author

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. To read Zahra Ayubi’s article at source, please click The Conversation – Original Article.

Zahra Ayubi,
Zahra Ayubi

About the write: Zahra Ayubi is a scholar of women and gender in premodern and modern Islamic ethics.  She specializes in feminist philosophy of Islam and has published on gendered concepts of ethics, justice, and religious authority, and on Muslim feminist thought and American Muslim women’s experiences. Her first book, Gendered Morality: Classical Islamic Ethics of the Self, Family, and Society (Columbia, 2019) rethinks the tradition of Islamic philosophical ethics from a feminist critical perspective. Developing a lens for a feminist philosophy of Islam, Ayubi analyzes constructions of masculinity, femininity, and gender relations in classic works of philosophical ethics by Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazali, Nasir-ad Din Tusi, and Jalal ad-Din Davani. She interrogates how these thinkers conceive of the ethical human being as an elite male within a hierarchical cosmology built on the exclusion of women and nonelites. She calls for a philosophical turn in the study of gender in Islam based on resources for gender equality that are unlocked by feminist engagement with the Islamic ethical tradition.


Simerg invites ethicists, bioethicists as well as scholars within the Ismaili Muslim community to respond to this piece or submit their articles on the subject of abortion in Islam. We also invite our readers to provide their thoughtful feedback on Zahra Ayubi’s piece by clicking on Leave a comment. Please cite specific material from Ismaili Muslim and other related Islamic traditions that may be relevant to the subject.

Simerg’s editor Malik Merchant may be reached via email at

Readings on His Highness the Aga Khan: Part 1 in a Weekly 5 Part Series

Featured photo above: The Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, the oldest humanities research institute in Canada, on May 20, 2016 conferred an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters upon His Highness the Aga Khan, in recognition of his work to advance, and advocate for, pluralistic societies across the globe. Richard Alway, Praeses of the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies congratulates the Aga Khan upon conferring the honorary degree. Photo: AKDN/Zahur Ramji.


Readings on the Aga Khan Simerg and Barakah
The Aga Khan

Times of India: What is our most precious asset as human beings?

The Aga Khan: A value system that is both time-resistant and time-adaptable.

Times of India: And the worst?

The Aga Khan: Killing, indeed all violence. Going by the record of the last 50 years, this is what offends me most.” (READ MORE )


Readings on the Aga Khan Simerg and Barakah
M. Hamilton Morgan

In this vast tapestry of the interaction of Muslims with each other, and with other cultures and faiths, there is one tradition that unfailingly continues the progressive heritage of classical Islam — profoundly intellectual, open, tolerant, pacific — and in particular one leader who has made it especially attuned to the many difficulties of the world today. That would be Ismailism and its revered Imam, the current Aga Khan IV — Michael Hamilton Morgan (READ MORE)


Readings on the Aga Khan Simerg and Barakah
James Wolfensohn

“….It is the extraordinary sense of humanity that he [the Aga Khan] has. The great depth of real feeling for real people wherever they find themselves in society. He is a holy man. He is the leader of his faith. He’s a man who represents the very best in Islam.” — James Wolfensohn (READ MORE)


Readings on the Aga Khan Simerg and Barakah
Andrew Kosorok

As Imam for the Nizari Ismailis, the Aga Khan’s responsibility and sacred calling is to provide for the security of his people, guide them in interpretation of the Faith, and do everything possible to ensure for them a worthwhile quality of life….the Aga Khan sees his responsibility in a more expansive way.  If good can be done for the sake of the Ismaili family, that good is also extended to the areas within which the Ismailis are found — and by extension, to the world — Andrew Kosorok (READ MORE)


Readings on the Aga Khan Simerg and Barakah
Mohamed Arkoun

“If we speak with our children with heresiographic mind we are totally lost. We are totally away from the humanistic representation like His Highness the Aga Khan is insisting to have among us. So this is a very important issue on which we have all to reflect and to develop our endeavor.” — Mohamed Arkoun (READ MORE)


Readings on the Aga Khan Simerg and Barakah
Nizar Motani

The Aga Khan projects Islam’s best principles and practices. Consequently, many like-minded institutions have rewarded him with an impressive range of honors, elevating him to the status of a distinguished, globally respected visionary leader — Nizar Motani (READ MORE)


Date posted: August 24, 2022.


We welcome feedback/letters from our readers. Please click on Leave a comment. Your feedback may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation. We are unable to acknowledge unpublished letters.

Simerg’s editor Malik Merchant may be reached via email at

Artistic Expressions: The Covid-19 Lockdown Inspired Skin Surgeon Nizarali Makan to Take Up Painting – We Have a Selection of His Works

My name is Nizarali R.V. Makan. I am 73 years old and a recently retired Dermatologist and Skin Surgeon. I was born in Zanzibar, and attended the Aga Khan Nursery, Primary and Secondary Schools there, followed by post-secondary education in Dar es Salaam. I received my college, medical school education and postgraduate specialty and fellowship training in the United States, and practiced medicine for nearly forty years in Orange County, California, and Bellingham, Washington.

Ismaili artist series by Simerg
Nizarali Makan

I started painting during the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, never having used a paint brush before, except for a single course in painting at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver, B.C.

Over the past several decades I have been blessed to serve Ismaili institutions in the United States and Canada. As a young physician in the pre-TKN days (1987), I served as guest consultant in dermatology at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi, and visited Gilgit and Hunza under the auspices of the Aga Khan Health Services Pakistan. In latter years, I served as both Regional and National Convener for the Institute of Ismaili Studies London. My wife Nazira is from Kampala, Uganda, and we have three children. My hobbies, besides painting, include piano and astrophotography. I am pleased to share a selection of my modest works of art with readers of Simerg, and invite you to view more of my paintings on my Facebook page.


Please click on images for enlargements

Paintings by Nizarali Makan

Zanzibar street by Nizar Makan, artistic expression by Ismailis, Simerg
“My Street.” Acrylic on canvas, 16” x 20”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2021).

Artist’s note on “My Street”: I was born and grew up in Stone Town, Zanzibar, down the narrow alley from the Ismaili Jamatkhana, and a stone’s throw from the Bohra Masjid and the Mehfil e-Abbas of the Khoja Shia Ithnasheri community. That is why my late mother, who passed away at the age of fifty-two when I was 15 years old, used to make fun of me when I was little — that my faith was Ismaili, my shortcut to the other side of the Zanzibar streets went through the alley of the Mehfil-e Abbas, and with a Maulidi cap at Idd I could easily pass as a Bohra.

Parents Ismaili Artistic expressions by Nizar Makan Simerg
“Parents”, acrylic on canvas, 24” x 18”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2021).


Boats cacophony of colours by Nizar Makan, artistic expression by Ismailis, Simerg
“Cacophony of Colours”, acrylic on canvas, 18” x 24”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2021).


Bride by Nizar Makan, artistic expression by Ismailis, Simerg
“The Bride”, acrylic on canvas, 20” x 16”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2021).


Clay by Nizar Makan, artistic expression by Ismailis, Simerg
“Clay“, acrylic on canvas, 16” x 20”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2021).


My children Ismaili Artistic expressions by Nizar Makan Simerg
“Children”, acrylic on canvas, 20” x 16”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2021).


Taj Mahal by Nizar Makan Ismaili artistic expressions simerg
“Story of Love”, acrylic on canvas, 20” x 16”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2020).


Cosmic communication by Nizar Makan, artistic expression by Ismailis, Simerg
“Cosmic communication”, acrylic on canvas, 16″ x 12”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2020).

Artist’s note on “Cosmic communication”: It is said that God endowed Prophet Dawud (David), a shepherd, with the most beautiful and melodious voice, such that when he sang the Psalms, birds and animals would pause to listen. This painting is a rather simplified representation and reminder of that mystical communication and cosmic bond between all of God’s creatures. After all, we are all interconnected and made up of the same stardust, and our physical bodies are like garments to be shed some day.

Venice by Nizar Makan Simerg Ismaili artistic expression
“Venice, the city of romance, drama and intrigue”, acrylic on canvas, 18” x 24”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2021).


“Rocks shaped by Water” by Nizar Makan, artistic expression by Ismailis, Simerg
“Rocks shaped by Water”, acrylic on canvas, 16” x 20”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2021).


Aga Khan Development Network, AKDN logos by Nizar Makan Ismaili artistic expressions Simerg
“AKDN”, acrylic on canvas, 16” x 20”, by Nizar Makan, Burnaby B.C. (2021).

A note by the artist on “AKDN”: Each AKDN, Jamati and Apex agency or entity within the Ismaili Imamat has its own unique logo that powerfully represents its goal and objective. In this painting, I have sought to artistically render the logos that I have come across over the past several years onto the Ismaili Flag. I hope to provide meaning of logos in a future piece. Hyperlinks are provided for logos whose meanings have already appeared in Simerg or its sister websites Barakah and Simergphotos.

Column 1 (top to down): Aga Khan Park (Toronto, Canada), Focus Humanitarian Assistance, Aga Khan Health Services, Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance; and Aga Khan Music Awards;

Column 2: Aga Khan Trust for Culture, The Ismaili Centre London (UK), University of Central Asia, The Ismaili Centre Lisbon (Portugal), and Aga Khan Agency for Habitat;

Column 3: Personal Standard or Crest of Mawlana Hazar Imam (top portion), The Ismaili Centre Vancouver (Canada); The Ismaili Magazine, Crest (repeat), and Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development;

Column 4: Personal Standard or Crest of Mawlana Hazar Imam (full), and World Partnership Walk (an initiative of The Aga Khan Foundation);

Column 5: Crest (repeat), The Ismaili Centre Dubai (United Arab Emirates), information about the logo not known, and the Seal of the Aga Khan University (also see HERE with explanations of 3 other logos);

Columns 6: Aga Khan Museum (Toronto), The Ismaili Centre Dushanbe (Tajikistan), Aga Khan Foundation, The Ismaili Centre Toronto, and Aga Khan Centre London (UK); and

Column 7: The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London (UK), Aga Khan Education Services, Aga Khan Planning and Building Services, The Aga Khan Academies, and Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

External Links: For more works of art by Nizarali Makan please visit his Facebook page.

Date posted: August 16, 2022.


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The editor invites Ismaili artists to submit a selection of their paintings and other works of art for publication in Simerg. Please submit images, preferably a maximum 8 objects in Jpeg (1200 x 900) along with your profile to the editor Malik, at

Emerald Ponds, a Grizzly Family of Four, Jagged Mountains and More: An Unforgettable Day on Hwy 40 in Alberta’s Kananaskis Country

After about an hour’s driving (appx 80 kms) from Calgary on the Trans Canada Hwy you are ready for a lifetime experience as you drive through the paved Alberta Hwy 40 or the Kananaskis Trail. Malik Merchant has seen wildlife on the path on every trip he has made over the last few weeks; he now shares photographs that he took on his most recent trip. Please click HERE or on the image(s) below for his latest story, and also visit his photoblog Simergphotos for more of his beautiful experiences in and around Calgary.

Grizzlies Kananaskis Country, Hwy 40
Grizzlies, Kananaskis Trail (Alberta Hwy 40). Please click on photo for story and more photos.
Wedge Pond, Kananaskis Country, Hwy 40
Wedge Pond, Alberta Hwy 40. Please click on photo for story and more photos.

Date posted: August 15, 2022.


Gifts from Amin by Shezan Muhammedi synopsis on Simerg

Forthcoming Book: “Gifts From Amin – Ugandan Asian Refugees in Canada” by Dr. Shezan Muhammedi

The latest issue (August-September 2022) of Canada’s History magazine, established in 1920 as The Beaver, carries an excellent 8 page article by Ottawa’s Dr. Shezan Muhammedi under the title “Sitting on Fire” based on his forthcoming book “Gifts From Amin – Ugandan Asian Refugees in Canada,” which is due o be released in September 2022 by the University of Manitoba Press. Shezan holds a Ph.D from the University of Western Ontario and is a policy analyst with the Canadian Federal Government and an adjunct research professor in the Department of History at Carleton University in Ottawa.

August 4, 2022 marked the 50th anniversary of President Idi Amin’s announcement in 1972 that all Ugandan residents of South Asian descent, whether citizens or not, had ninety days to leave the country, creating an international humanitarian crisis. Among those affected by the decree, which came into effect a few days later on August 9, 1972, were Shezan’s own mother and family who arrived in Canada in the fall of 1972 along with thousands of other Ugandan Asian refugees. Shezan’s piece in Canada’s History may be accessed by subscribers of the magazine.

The University of Manitoba has put out the following brief on Shezan’s Gifts From Amin:

Giftys from Amin by Shezan Muhammedi University of Manitoba Press
Gifts From Amin: Ugandan Asian Refugees in Canada” by Shezan Muhammedi. Published by the University of Manitoba Press, forthcoming (September 2022), pp. 288.

“In August 1972, military leader and despot Idi Amin expelled Asian Ugandans from the country, professing to return control of the economy to “Ugandan citizens.” Within ninety days, 50,000 Ugandans of South Asian descent were forced to leave and seek asylum elsewhere; nearly 8,000 resettled in Canada. This major migration event marked the first time Canada accepted a large group of predominantly Muslim, non-European, non-white refugees.

“Shezan Muhammedi’s Gifts from Amin documents how these women, children, and men — including doctors, engineers, business leaders, and members of Muhammedi’s own family — responded to the threat in Uganda and rebuilt their lives in Canada. Building on extensive archival research and oral histories, Muhammedi provides a nuanced case study on the relationship between public policy, refugee resettlement, and assimilation tactics in the twentieth century.

“As the numbers of forcibly displaced people around the world continue to rise, Muhammedi’s analysis of policymaking and refugee experience is eminently relevant. The first major oral history project dedicated to the stories of Ugandan Asian refugees in Canada, Gifts from Amin explores the historical context of their expulsion from Uganda, the multiple motivations behind Canada’s decision to admit them, and their resilience over the past fifty years.”

The book may be pre-ordered at and

Date posted: August 14, 2022.


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 for beautiful photographs on diverse themes including nature and culture. Simerg’s editor Malik Merchant may be reached via email at

Ismaili Centre Houston Imara Aga Khan Simerg

The Ismaili Center Houston: Reflections by Prince Amyn Aga Khan and Mayor Sylvester Turner

“The Ismaili Center is intended to be a resource for all Houstonians as a place to come together with local, national, and international partners to enhance the vibrant nature and rich cultural tapestry of this city” — Prince Amyn Aga Khan (READ MORE ON BARAKAH)

Houston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner introduces Prince Amyn Aga Khan to Houston Police Department Chief Troy Finner. Please click on photo to read report.

“The Ismaili Center Houston will be a magnificent building, both physically — with its landmark architecture, picturesque gardens, and ingenious design — and societally speaking, through its impact on Houston, across Texas, and throughout the United States” — Honourable Sylvester Turner, Mayor of Houston (READ MORE ON BARAKAH)

Prince Amyn Aga Khan in Houston to review the development of the Ismaili Center Houston
Prince Amyn Aga Khan is joined by Greater Houston Partnership President and CEO Bob Harvey, and Performing Arts Houston CEO Meg Booth as they hear remarks from Mayor Sylvester Turner. Please click on photo to read report.

Date posted: August 13, 2022.


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 for beautiful photographs on diverse themes including nature and culture. Simerg’s editor Malik Merchant may be reached via email at