The Life of Jehangir Merchant: Ismaili missionary who rendered long and dedicated services to the Jamat and the Imam-of-the-Time

PLEASE CLICK: “Life of Jehangir” – includes historical photographs of Mawlana Hazar Imam

Please click on image for “Life of Jehangir” in photos.

Date posted: September 11, 2018.

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Ghadir-Khumm by Late Alwaez Jehangir Merchant and the Imamat by Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness Aga Khan

NOTICE TO OUR READERS

This is to inform our readers that no new posts will be published on Simerg and its sister websites barakah and simergphotos, until the week of September 10, 2018. We invite our readers to click on  Table of Contents for links to hundreds of interesting pieces that have appeared on all the three websites.

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(The following post celebrates Id-e-Ghadir, a major festival in the Shia calendar which falls on 18th Dhul-Hijjah, Tuesday, August 28, 2018). 

For our highly acclaimed series “I Wish I’d Been There”, we invited historians, authors,  and educators as well as our readers to be fly on the wall and answer the question: What is the one scene, incident or event in Ismaili history you would like to have witnessed — and why? One of the thirty-one contributors for the series, Ismaili missionary, teacher and writer Late Jehangir Merchant, went back 1400 years to the beginnings of Islamic history and imaginatively constructed a picture of the iconic event when Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s) raised the hand of Hazrat Ali (a.s.) and declared, “He of whom I am the Mawla, Ali is also the Mawla!” Alwaez Jehangir’s skillful writing brings alive a pivotal time in human history. The long serving educator passed away recently at the age of 89, and will be greatly missed by all.

The Two Weighty Matters

By JEHANGIR A. MERCHANT (1928-2018)

A huge caravan of around 100,000 Muslim pilgrims, spread over many miles of the desert, is returning to Medina after completing the Hajj in Mecca. As it reaches Ghadir-Khumm, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) is commanded by Allah to deliver one of the last verses of the Holy Qur’an:

“O Messenger of Allah, make known what has been revealed to you from your Lord, for if you do not, you will not have conveyed His message. Allah will protect you from mankind.” (Holy Qur’an, 5 : 67)

00 Jehangir Merchant Portrait Queen Elizabeth Park Vancouver Cropped for Simerg

Jehangir Merchant (1928-2018)

The date is March 16, 632 C.E. A camp is then decreed at this valley, and the caravan gathers together in a vast open space. A platform is constructed from which the Prophet would speak.

The revelation of the verse renders this as one of the most unique messages in the Prophet’s entire mission. It is crucial, and failing to deliver the message will make his prophetic mission incomplete. The Prophet mounts the rudimentary platform with Hazrat Ali (a.s.) by his side. The murmuring in the crowd turns to a silence.

As the Prophet begins his speech, he pronounces the verse he has received from Allah. He then seeks a confirmation from the pilgrims as to whether he has indeed proclaimed all of God’s commands. They affirm this with a resounding voice. Looking up into the desert sky, the Prophet says, “O God! You be our witness to this day.”

“What could this be all about, with Ali on the stage beside the Prophet? A revelation of twenty three years nullified and judged incomplete without the announcement he is about to make!” I might have pondered, had I been there.

The Holy Prophet’s subsequent actions and words provide the context of Hazrat Ali’s presence on the stage. The Prophet takes Hazrat Ali by his hand and raising it pronounces in his high, clear and firm tone:

“He of whom I am the Mawla, Ali is also the Mawla. O Allah! Be the friend of him who is his friend and the enemy of him who is his enemy. O Allah! Help the one who helps Ali and forsake the one who forsakes Ali!”

This singularly important Message from Allah, and the words of the Prophet find further clarity as he adds the following pronouncement:

“I am leaving amongst you two weighty things after me, the Qur’an and my Progeny (ahl al-bayt). Verily, if you hold fast to them both you will never go astray. Both are tied with a long rope and cannot be separated till the Day of Judgement.” (Muslim, Vol. II, pg. 279)

With these pronouncements, the Prophet lays the foundation for a new Divine Order. The two weighty matters (thaqalain) – Allah’s final Book and the Holy Prophet’s progeny through Hazrat Ali – are new partners till the Day of Judgement.

Before descending from the pulpit, the Holy Prophet commands every one of the returning pilgrims to offer their baiyah (oath of allegiance) to Mawla Ali. Omar ibne Khuttab, who later became the second Caliph, was the first to congratulate and offer his baiyah to Mawla Ali saying:

‘‘Congratulations! Congratulations! O son of Abu Taleb, you have now become my Mawla (Master) and Mawla of every faithful man and every faithful woman.” (Ghazzali, Sirrul-Alameen)

Hearing the words of felicitations offered by Omar to Ali, our Holy Prophet asks him to address Ali not as ‘son of Abu Taleb’ but as Amirul-Mu’mineen (the Lord Commander of the faithfuls).

Thereafter, the pilgrims present offer their baiyah. The Prophet also commands them that on their return they ask those not present to acknowledge Ali as their Amirul-Mu’mineen.

This momentous event at Ghadir-Khumm, almost at the end of Prophet Muhammad’s successful mission as the Last and Final Prophet of Allah, culminates thousands of years of Divine Revelations through God’s appointed Messengers. And thus, the revelation:

“This day have I perfected your religion for you and have completed My favours upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” (Holy Qur’an, 5:3)

Thus, Ali becomes the guardian (Wali) and the master (Mawla) of all believing men and women, and the Prophet’s successor. Allah’s favours upon mankind are completed, and Islam becomes the perfect religion in His sight.

A bilateral Guardianship (al-Walaya) between Hazrat Ali and the Muslim community is established. Al-Walaya is so crucial that many generations later, the 4th Imam, Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) says:

“The last obligatory duty that Allah sent down was al-Walaya (adherence to the guardian designated by Allah). Then, He sent down the verse: ‘Today, I have completed your religion ….’” (Holy Qur’an, 5:3).

The oath of allegiance offered to Hazrat Ali at Ghadir-Khumm as well as the Qur’anic verse (48:10) concerning the bayah is too important to be ignored, and some five centuries later a thinking Nasir Khushraw, who is not yet an Ismaili, demands answers for questions that bother him:

“Why should later believers be deprived of this reward (of bayah)? What fault was it of theirs that they were not born in the time of the Prophet? Why should God allow that hand to disappear? There has to be someone at whose hand the oath to Allah can be pledged.”

Nasir Khusraw does not despair. His resolve and quest take him to Cairo where the hand of the Fatimid Imam al-Mustansir bi Allah (a.s.) awaits him.

The complete event at Ghadir-Khumm — the caravan halt arising for the revelation 5:67, the gathering at one location of widely dispersed pilgrims, the construction of a rudimentary platform, Allah’s Message revealed by our Holy Prophet Muhammad giving Hazrat Ali the parity with himself by ascribing him the attribute of Mawla as well as instructing Muslims to hold fast to both the Holy Qur’an and his progeny, the raising by the Holy Prophet of Hazrat Ali’s hand followed by the bayah to Hazrat Ali — make this a singular event for me and I Wish I’d Been There.

But, at the same time, my mind wonders about the events that followed soon after the spirit of our Holy Prophet took flight to the Blessed Companionship on High. About eighty days had passed since the event at Ghadir-Khumm, when our Holy Prophet had made Allah a witness to his call and had seen the bayah pledged to Hazrat Ali. Why now was there a doubt and unwillingness to accept Ali as their Mawla? And why did Omar, who was the first to offer bayah to Mawla Ali, declare his support for Abu-Bakr as the Caliph at Saqa-e-fae-bani Saa’ada?

Nonetheless, the Divine Plan of continual Guidance established at this epoch-making incident has continued to flourish uninterruptedly under Divine Protection for over 1400 years. This principle of direct hereditary descent of the Imam from the Prophet was championed centuries later by the Ismaili poet Nizar Quhistani, often with the support of the following Quranic verse:

“Allah did choose Adam and Noah, the family of Abraham, and the family of Imran above all people – offspring, one of the other, and Allah knows and hears all things.” (Holy Qur’an, 3:33-34)

Quhistani explained:

“We search for a union with the family of the Chosen (Prophet Muhammad). We search for the truth of son after son. We are totally obedient to his offspring, one of the other. There is no other thing we can add to this but itself. We endeavour in our faith so that we do not turn out to be faithless.”

Thus millions of murids over time have been beneficiaries of the Imams’ guardianship and today we feel this intimate loving care from our 49th Imam, Noor Mawlana Shah Karim al-Hussaini Hazar Imam.

I Wish I’d Been There for that epochal event of March 16, 632, when our beloved Prophet Muhammad laid the foundation for the Institution of Imamat which will stay with Mankind forever as affirmed by the Hadith Thaqalain and the Qur’anic verses mentioned above. To conclude, Allah declares in the Holy Qur’an:

“Their intention is to extinguish God’s Light (by blowing) with their mouths; But God has willed to spread His Light in all its fullness however hateful this may be to all who deny the Truth.” (Holy Qur’an, 61:8).

Copyright: Simerg.com

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His Highness the Aga Khan on the Imamat

Aga Khan Speaking at the Signing of Historic Agreement Seat of Imamat in Portugal

His Highness the Aga Khan

“…As you know, the Shi’a divided from the Sunni after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. Hazrat Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet, was, in Shi’a belief, named by the Prophet to be the Legitimate Authority for the interpretation of the faith. For the Shi’a today, all over the world, he is regarded as the first Imam.” [1]  His Highness the Aga Khan, Tutzing Evangelical Academy, May 20, 2006.

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“The religious leadership of the Ismaili Imam goes back to the origins of Shia Islam when the Prophet Muhammad appointed his son-in-law, Ali, to continue his teachings within the Muslim community. The leadership is hereditary, handed down by Ali’s descendants, and the Ismailis are the only Shia Muslims to have a living Imam, namely myself.” [2]

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“The Ismaili Imamat is a supra-national entity, representing the succession of Imams since the time of the Prophet. But let me clarify something more about the history of that role, in both the Sunni and Shia interpretations of the Muslim faith. The Sunni position is that the Prophet nominated no successor, and that spiritual-moral authority belongs to those who are learned in matters of religious law. As a result, there are many Sunni imams in a given time and place. But others believed that the Prophet had designated his cousin and son-in-law, Ali, as his successor. From that early division, a host of further distinctions grew up — but the question of rightful leadership remains central. In time, the Shia were also sub-divided over this question, so that today the Ismailis are the only Shia community who, throughout history, have been led by a living, hereditary Imam in direct descent from the Prophet. [3]

Date posted: August 27, 2018.

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Notes/References:

[1]. His Highness the Aga Khan, Tutzing Evangelical Academy, May 20, 2006. See Speech Archives.

[2].  Voices: “The Power of Wisdom” – His Highness the Aga Khan’s Interview with Politique Internationale

[3] In a Dynamic and Stirring Address to Members of the Canadian Parliament, His Highness the Aga Khan Shares His Faith Perspectives on the Imamat, Collaboration with Canada, the Muslim World Community (the Ummah), the Nurturing of Civil Society, Early Childhood Education, Voluntary Work, and the Unity of the Human Race

Read individual articles at  I Wish I’d Been There or download PDF.

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Kofi Annan (1938-2018): Excerpts from an introduction by His Highness the Aga Khan and rare letters from His Highness and Prince Sadruddin to the former Secretary General

Kofi Annan (1938-2018): A Statement by the Annan Family

Kofi Annan

Photo: Kofi Annan Foundation.

It is with immense sadness that the Annan family and the Kofi Annan Foundation announce that Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Laureate, passed away peacefully on Saturday 18th August after a short illness. His wife Nane and their children Ama, Kojo and Nina were by his side during his last days.

Kofi Annan was a global statesman and a deeply committed internationalist who fought throughout his life for a fairer and more peaceful world. During his distinguished career and leadership of the United Nations he was an ardent champion of peace, sustainable development, human rights and the rule of law.

After stepping down from the United Nations, he continued to work tirelessly in the cause of peace through his chairmanship of the Kofi Annan Foundation and as chair of The Elders, the group founded by Nelson Mandela. He was an inspiration to young and old alike.

Kofi Annan was a son of Ghana and felt a special responsibility towards Africa. He was particularly committed to African development and deeply engaged in many initiatives, including his chairmanship of the Africa Progress Panel and his early leadership of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

Wherever there was suffering or need, he reached out and touched many people with his deep compassion and empathy. He selflessly placed others first, radiating genuine kindness, warmth and brilliance in all he did. He will be greatly missed by so many around the world, as well as his staff at the Foundation and his many former colleagues in the United Nations system. He will remain in our hearts forever.

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Aga Khan Attends Kofi Annan’s Funeral

Kofi Annan Funeral

Surrounded by family, former Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s widow Nane pays final respects to her late husband in Accra, Ghana on 13 September 2018. Photo: UN Photo/Ben Malor.

The following report is adapted from http://www.Akdn.org.

His Highness the Aga Khan, at the invitation of the President of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo, on September 13, 2018 joined world leaders to pay tribute to former Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan.  Mr Annan was laid to rest at a State funeral in Accra, Ghana earlier on September 13.

The Aga Khan, Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims and founder of the Aga Khan Development Network, was accompanied by his daughter Princess Zahra Aga Khan.

Mr Annan was a friend of the family and a valued partner of the Aga Khan Development Network. In 2010, he was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Global Centre for Pluralism, founded by the Aga Khan in Ottawa Canada, in partnership with the Government of Canada. The Centre was created to advance positive responses to the challenge of living peacefully and productively together in diverse societies. 

His Highness thanked the Government of Ghana for bringing together dignitaries, friends and colleagues from around the world to honour Mr Annan’s accomplishments.

He paid tribute to Mr Annan’s service to the cause of peace and tolerance. “Kofi Annan fought for peace, dignity, and respect, traits which he embodied throughout his life’s work. Mr Annan was a unique leader, who, as Secretary General of the United Nations, as a member of the Elders and through the Kofi Annan Foundation, had an impact on world events which will be remembered for their contribution to help bring stability and hope to so many parts of the globe.  He was a remarkably generous individual and trusted friend.  He will be greatly missed.”

Princess Zahra, who served on the Board of Directors of the Global Centre for Pluralism with Kofi Annan, also expressed her deep sadness at the loss of the visionary leader.

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Excerpts from an introduction of Kofi Annan given by His Highness the Aga Khan

2013-05-Canada-6822_Aga Khan and Kofi Annan

His Highness the Aga Khan, Chairman of the Board of the Global Centre of the Pluralism (GCP), Kofi Annan, a member of the GCP Board with Secretary General of the GCP John McNee, shortly after Mr Anan delivered the Global Centre for Pluralism’s second annual Pluralism Lecture on May 24, 2013 at the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in Ottawa. Photo: AKDN.

MAY 24, 2013, OTTAWA: As you know, Kofi Annan retired from his official post [UN Secretary General] six years ago. But he has in no way retired from his role as an active global statesman – tirelessly working to foster peaceful dialogue around the world.

I remember vividly – and I know you do also – the role he played when violence erupted in Kenya after the 2007 election. He led the way in bringing clashing voices together, and the result was a successful power-sharing arrangement which ended the crisis and paved the way for major constitutional reform.

Now, six years later, another election in Kenya has recently come and gone – this time without major violence. I think we all have recognized and remembered – as the Kenyan people do – how important have been the foundations that Kofi Annan did so much to build in 2007.

We also recall the political violence in Cote D’Ivoire in 2011, when Kofi Annan, in his capacity as an Elder, once again pressed for resolution. And these dramatic moments are only particular examples of his continuing efforts – day by day and year by year – in the service of global harmony.

Our honoree also leads the Kofi Annan Foundation in dealing with critical global issues such as food security, governance, climate change, drug-trafficking and HIV/AIDS. And you may know as well about his leadership role in chairing the Africa Progress Panel.

The Panel – just this month – issued a deeply stirring report. Its study testifies eloquently to Africa’s profound potential for development, but it also squarely identifies the scourge of corruption, and calls powerfully for a new strengthening of transparency and accountability, nationally and internationally, in the public and private sectors alike.

In welcoming Kofi Annan this evening, I want to emphasize what his personal example has meant to all of us. He has truly been an inspiration, demonstrating the power of patience and persistence – of a willingness always to listen – and a refusal to give up hope.

Our Global Centre for Pluralism was founded here in Ottawa in 2006 to address what I believe is the central challenge of our time – learning to live peacefully and constructively in a highly diversified and rapidly shrinking world.

aga-khan-johnson-anan-and-clarkson

During the inaugural board meeting of the Global Centre for Pluralism in October 2010, His Highness the Aga Khan and the Board were hosted at Rideau Hall, the official Governor General’s residence in Ottawa. Shown in the picture are, from left to right, the then Governor General of Canada, David Johnston, his wife, Mrs. Sharon Johnston, the Aga Khan, former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, and the former Governor General, Adrienne Clarkson. Photo: AKDN/Denis Drever.

As Kofi Annan has taught us, pluralism requires constant dialogue, a readiness to compromise, and an understanding that pluralism is not an end in itself, but a continuous process.

The Global Centre for Pluralism was established in partnership with the Government of Canada, and was inspired in part by Canada’s experience as a highly diverse society. We want the Centre to be a place where we can all learn from one another about the challenges of diversity – and where we can share the lessons of successful pluralism.

And on evenings like this, we also help realize the Centre’s potential as a destination for dialogue, a place where we can exchange ideas with true champions of global pluralism, like Kofi Annan.

Ladies and Gentlemen, together with you, I eagerly look forward to hearing from the Centre’s honored Lecturer for 2013, Kofi Annan.

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The Aga Khan’s Letter to Kofi Annan: “The World’s Drug Problem Must Remain a Matter of Permanent Concern”

“…For all clear thinking individuals, wherever they may be, the world’s drug problem must remain a matter of permanent concern. With the density of the Ismaili population in Gorno-Badakhshan, in Afghan Badakshan, in Chitral and Hunza and elsewhere in South West Asia and Africa, the leaders of the Ismaili Community, its institutions and I, as the Imam, must be particularly concerned with this aggressive and damaging problem…” — Excerpt from Aga Khan’s letter to Kofi Annan. Please download complete letter in PDF format below.

Please click Letter to Kofi Annan from His Highness the Aga Khan

Also, please click Letter to Kofi Annan from Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan

Date posted: August 18, 2018.
Last updated: September 14, 2018.

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President de Sousa at Aga Khan’s Darbar in Lisbon: Remarks with a video clip

We now have, alhamdulillah, Portugal as our partner” — Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan

Please click on photo for Azeem Maherali’s article on remarks at Darbar in Lisbon.

The entire Diamond Jubilee Darbar in Lisbon of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, was filled with beautiful and surprising moments that will be deeply entrenched in everyone’s hearts, carrying indelible memories….Of course, as a murid of Mawlana Hazar Imam, every moment of his holy presence was touching and deeply inspiring. However the moment that particularly stood out for me was the Portuguese President’s surprise visit at the Darbar.Read Azeem Maherali’s personal account and watch a short video of the remarks made during the Darbar

Date posted: August 8, 2018

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Memories of the Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubilee in Lisbon

A modern day Ismaili pilgrimage

For those of us who had just had Darbar in London, we were still riding that wave. That Darbar itself was a magical experience. We all knew that Lisbon would be different, but no-one really knew quite what to expect. Many were changing summer plans to give themselves the opportunity to go, and many were basing their summer holiday around the Portugal Darbar. When it came to us, it just took my daughter to say — “How can we not go?”— school would be out for summer, and this was an opportunity of a lifetime….Read Rahim Hirji’s Memories of a modern day pilgrimage to Lisbon

Princes Hussain and Aly Muhammad at the Rays of Light Exhibition. Please click on photo for Rahim Hirji’s Memories of the Lisbon Diamond Jubilee.

Date posted: July 29, 2018.

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Aga Khan in Lisbon: Very important notes; this page will be updated regularly

JULY 6: Welcoming the Aga Khan at Jardim Amália Rodrigues

FRIDAY, JULY 6: After his arrival in Lisbon, Mawlana Hazar Imam’s motorcade will drive past Jardim Amália Rodrigues. Arrangements have been made for Ismailis to  safely gather and welcome him to Portugal for his Diamond Jubilee.

  1. Time: 3:30 P.M.
  2. Address: Jardim Amália Rodrigues
  3. Closest metro: São Sebastião (Red Line)
  4. Park Website: http://www.cm-lisboa.pt/equipamentos/equipamento/info/jardim-amalia-rodrigues

Date posted: July 5, 2018
Last updated: July 6, 2018, 12:28 A.M, Lisbon time (venue change)

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The Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubilee in Lisbon: Our arrival, and a suggestion for seeing the city on a vintage moto-sidecar

PLEASE CLICK: TAKE A MAJESTIC TOUR OF LISBON ON A VINTAGE MOTO-SIDECAR

Please click on image for article on touring Lisbon.

Date posted: July 5, 2018
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The Aga Khan and the public sphere: A Muslim leader’s discursive approach to address the worldly and the spiritual

PLEASE CLICK: Speaking to Post-Secular Society: The Aga Khan’s Public Discourse by Karim H. Karim

Please click on image for Aga Khan’s Public Discourse

His Highness the Aga Khan, the 49th Ismaili Imam of the Ismaili Muslims,  frequently delivers speeches in “post-secular” contexts on topics that include architecture, civil society, democracy, development, good governance, meritocracy, pluralism, public ethics, and Western-Muslim relations. Karim H. Karim of Carleton University  examines how the Muslim leader, engages discursively with the public sphere…READ FULL PIECE

Date posted: June 9, 2018

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Visit new blog “All things Lisboa:” The city hosting the Diamond Jubilee visit of His Highness the Aga Khan in July 2018

A point of of reference for everyone travelling to Lisbon to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan

PLEASE CLICK: http://www.allthingslisboa.wordpress.com

Please click on image to visit new blog

All Things Lisboa (http://www.allthingslisboa.wordpress.com), is a new blog by Barakah.com and Simerg.com to help you enjoy Portuguese culture during your visit to the city in July for what has been termed as the “highest point” of the Diamond Jubilee of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan. In the course of the coming few weeks, we will try to be your “humble guide” to Lisbon. Allthingslisboa will seek to provide ideas to enhance your experience of the historic city’s culture, sights and sounds as well as its tastes.

Through Allthingslisboa, we want to also keep you informed about what we officially hear from Ismaili Institutions about the on going developments, preparations and planned events for Lisbon.

For providers of tourism services and products for the Lisbon Diamond Jubilee, we welcome you to enjoy a FREE listing on the new blog! Details are provided on the blog.

Welcome to http://www.allthingslisboa.wordpress.com.

Date posted: Monday, April 23, 2018.

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