Volunteers are the backbone of the Ismaili community. From the very young to some of the oldest members of the jamat, volunteers are always present to support whatever work they are called upon to do. Montreal’s Muslim Harji offers a photo insight into the exceptional work of Ismaili volunteers at a jamati feast…. More
Compiled and prepared by Abdulmalik J. Merchant Publisher-Editor, Simerg.com
As Canada pays its respect to the volunteers by marking the week of April 6, 2014, as Volunteer Week, we bring you some very rare historical quotations on service and voluntary work which appeared in a special Ismaili Volunteers, Scouts and Guides Souvenir published in 1954 to jointly commemorate the 48th Ismaili Imam’s Platinum Jubilee and the 35th anniversary of His Highness the Aga Khan’s Bombay Volunteer Corps.
WORK NO WORDS
“Today I will give you a small motto and that is “Work No Words”. Labour for the welfare of others is the best way of improving ourselves, because results are sure and certain. If you work for yourselves, you are never happy. This is not a new idea, but this is an outcome of the experience of thousands of years of history.” — 48th Ismaili Imam, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan (1877-1957)
DISCIPLINE AND SERVICE
My dear Hazar Imam’s Spiritual Child,
I enclose the photo which you ask for the Souvenir Number of the Ismaili Volunteers, Scouts and Guides.
My message to the Volunteers, Scouts and Guides is:
“I ask you all to remember the great opportunities you have for discipline and service in your organization. Discipline is very important in life, and by making good use of the training you now have, you are laying the foundations for useful and happy lives. I send my loving thoughts and best wishes to you all.”
Yours affectionately, Om Habibeh, Mata Salamat The Begum Aga Khan (1906-2000)
“Your patriotism and loyalty must be sincere, active, and productive. Please follow this advice, be industrious and hardworking. The work done for the good of the community is always noble and verily we are taught that all good deeds shall be compensated four-fold.” — His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan (the present 49th Ismaili Imam)
“Itmadi Sabzali has revealed his spiritual power to thousands of people. He was the standard-bearer of the devotees. He passed away leaving a permanent void in this world but his soul has attained salvation.
“Itmadi Sabzali has rendered such service to us that after his death we have given him the status of Pir. If others also render like service, they too shall attain such a status. During the period of 54 years of my Imamat, to only one person have I given this status.” — Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan
ONE BIG FAMILY
“Every Ismaili, man and woman, and child should grow up with the feeling and certain knowledge that they are a member of one great family, powerful and respected throughout the world, beyond the hills and across the seas…If each person is aware of this fact, it will give them extra courage and self-assurance.” — Prince Aly S. Khan (1911-1960)
RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE RICH
“I would suggest that the richer and more fortunate a man is, the more he should be thinking of others and not himself. It is the duty of rich Ismailis to think of their poor brethren and give them a much-needed lift in life.” — Prince Aly S. Khan
“I have great pleasure in enclosing my photograph and congratulate Pirmahomed V. Madhani and the various members of the Volunteer Corps for the excellent services they have rendered to their Imam and their brother Ismailis.” — Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan (1933-2003)
RAISING THE BANNER OF FAITH
“The future of Ismailism depends on those of your age and mine. Are we to follow the example of those who in Egypt, in Iran and in Sind, on different occasions by their faith and devotion, raised the banner of the Hazar Imam till the whole world saw its light? I say, Yes. For we young men must not fail where our fathers succeeded so gloriously.” — Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan
LESSONS FROM HISTORY
“Ismailis under Imams did great things in past. With same devotion, unity, obedience and discipline – and no jealousy – similar occasions will arise for greater deeds.” — Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan
PERFORM YOUR BEST
“Everyone must follow the ideal of performing the greatest amount of work and service to the Ismaili faith. I, therefore, expect every Ismaili to consider the work allotted to him his sacred duty to perform to the best of his abilities, and to do utmost. He who serves me most becomes nearer to me.” — Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan
“Young people ought to be explained that besides lucrative jobs, there should be aim of service to the community.” — Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan
A man’s chief capital is time and that if he wastes time, he wastes his greatest asset which can never be recouped.” — Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan
THE FOLLOWING IS THE 1954 VOLUNTEER PLEDGE OF LOYALTY TAKEN BEFORE A CANDIDATE WAS ADMITTED AS AN ISMAILI VOLUNTEER
“Believing in the Omnipresence of God, I hereby solemnly give this pledge To ever remain faithful And leave no stone unturned to serve Mawlana Hazar Imam, our community, our country, and our volunteer corps.”
Date posted: Friday, April 11, 2014.
Note: With the exception of the image of the cover page, the last photo shown, none of the portrait thumbnail photos shown in the piece belong to the souvenir.
All quotations taken from “Ismaili Volunteers , Scouts and Guides Souvenir in Commemoration of His Royal Highness Prince Aga Khan’s Platinum Jubilee and Completion of 35 Years of His Highness the Aga Khan’s Bombay Volunteers Corps” published by Lt. Col. Pirmohamed Madhani, 1954. The rare copy of the souvenir was submitted to Simerg by Mr. Noordin Babul and family, originally of Lourenço Marques (now Maputo), Mozambique, and now residing in Texas.
We wish you a lifetime of “enlightened self-fulfillment”
The President of His Highness the Aga Khan Ismaili Council for Canada, Malik Talib, issued the following message through the community’s weekly newsletter “Al-Akhbar” as the country marks the National Volunteer Week from April 6-12:
“On behalf of the Canadian institutions and the entire Jamat, I wish to express our deepest appreciation and gratitude for the voluntary service rendered by Ismaili volunteers across Canada. Whether you are an Ismaili Volunteer who wears a uniform with pride, an individual who quietly takes care of our Jamatkhana spaces, a non-badged volunteer like myself serving within our institutions, a volunteer who has gifted a Time and Knowledge Nazrana (TKN) during Golden Jubilee, or you volunteer externally in civil society, you are a beacon of Islamic ethics, values, and a shared humanity.
“In today’s age of social technology and digital connection, knowledge is more abundant and time feels increasingly scarce, making voluntary service in Canada particularly challenging. Yet, as we seek to balance our material and spiritual obligations under the pressures of modern-day life, we create space in our lives to serve across many boundaries and frontiers. We do this as Canadian Ismailis living the values of Islam and those of Canada. The Governor General of Canada, The Right Honourable David Johnston calls Canada “a smart and caring nation.” Mawlana Hazar Imam spoke with pride about this in Parliament:
“The 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’.”
“As Canada celebrates National Volunteer Week from April 6-12, it is the perfect opportunity to acknowledge the value and contribution of all volunteers who give of their precious time, talent or material resources day after day to improve people’s lives. In the days ahead, we will celebrate this beautiful tradition of leadership and service. To the countless people who volunteer, both visibly and silently, we wish you a lifetime of “enlightened self-fulfillment”.
“Once again to all Ismaili Volunteers in Canada, thank you for helping to improve the quality of life for Jamati members everywhere and make Canada a better place for all. I encourage everyone in the Jamat to join me in expressing respect and appreciation to our volunteers for all they do to make a positive impact in our lives.”
Please also click on the following links to read stories about Ismaili volunteers in Canada and around the world:
- Gulamhusen Alibhai Jamani — An Ismaili Farmer Who Has Served the Mahuva Jamat All His Life
- His Highness the Aga Khan’s Visit to India: For His Ismaili Followers and Volunteers, “A Dream Come True” and “An Experience of Being Lifted Away to Another World”
- Stories of Ismaili Volunteers: An Eye Surgeon’s Courageous Journey to Chitral for His Nazrana of Time and Knowledge to Mawlana Hazar Imam
- The Spirit of the Ismaili Volunteers at an Extraordinary Place
- Volunteers, the Unsung Heroes of the World-Class 2008 Ismaili Golden Jubilee Games Celebrating the 50th Imamat Anniversary of His Highness the Aga Khan
- Rajabali Mecklai, 85, Serves the Vancouver Ismailis and Community at Large with Dedication and Distinction
“The car door was left open waiting for him to sit in, but Hazar Imam was instead moving around the compound as if unwilling to leave the premises…..This is a sight that is difficult to erase from the mind” — Toral Pradhan
A spontaneously written piece in recognition of the enormous amount of work the Ismaili volunteers do, day in day out. Please click The Spirit of the Ismaili Volunteers at an Extraordinary Place
Previous in the series:
The 2008 Golden Jubilee Games held in Kenya to commemorate His Highness the Aga Khan’s 50th Imamat anniversary ranks among the most ambitious events staged by the Ismaili community in recent years, and its success is due to the tireless efforts and sacrifices of some 1,200 volunteers from around the world. Mohib Ebrahim takes a look behind the scenes and uncovers the story of the volunteers that made the Games in Kenya such a resounding success….Click Volunteers, the Unsung Heroes
Previous post in Simerg’s special series on Ismaili volunteers: Rajabali Mecklai, 85, Serves the Vancouver Ismailis and Community at Large with Dedication and Distinction
“…When the early Ismaili immigrants began arriving in East Africa from the Indian Sub-Continent in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, much work needed to be done in the socio-economic factors of the community’s life…..you are among the ones I particularly wish to particularly thank for the roles you played in securing the future of the Jamat in East Africa…”
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