Rachael Kohn: Hello, this is “The Ark”, and I am Rachael Kohn. A thousand years ago a Persian poet defied the conventions of the day. His name was Nasir Khusraw, an Ismaili Muslim, a branch of Shi’a Islam. Instead of lavishing praise on the sultan or his horse, he praised learning and spiritual purity…..Click to read the Australian broadcaster’s interview with Nasir Khusraw specialist Alice Hunsberger
1. THE OTTAWA JAMATKHANA
Hundreds of Ismailis come by the busloads and personal automobiles to visit Ottawa during the summer months – for many the primary destinations are the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat Building and the beautiful new Ottawa Jamatkhana which opened exactly a year ago, on July 19, 2013. The visitors marvel at the Ottawa Jamatkhana’s spacious facilities for spiritual practices as well as the space it offers for social interaction and cultural programmes, including religious education classes.
As the Ottawa Jamat marks its first anniversary in the new Jamatkhana we repost on this page a link to Farouk Noormohamed’s statement and photos of the lovely building.
Speaking of Ottawa, local architect Kristopher Benes names his favourite building in the city, and we provide a link to a piece about Ottawa’s iconic Sussex Drive which is home to the Delegation Building.
Check out all the readings below and enjoy your summer in Ottawa, Canada’s Capital!
2. MY FAVOURITE OTTAWA BUILDING
By Kristopher Benes
As an architect I often get asked to name my favourite Ottawa building! Being a fan of minimalism I was often hard pressed to find anything non-residential that came immediately to my mind –- until that is, when the Ismaili Imamat Delegation building was completed in 2008.
Modern architecture often draws criticism for being too stark, extreme in its simplicity. However, it is its ability to highlight the world around us that I find to be so beautiful in modernism.
The clarity with which the play of shadows for instance may fall upon a crystal white surface allows architecture to behave as an ever-changing canvas, a reflector if one prefers, of what is going on all around. When the sun moves across the sky, the shadows dance along the building’s surfaces and when the sky takes on a different shade, the building glows in a completely different light.
Light can be a wonderful paint brush for those blank walls; it does not need any more complexity than that. And obviously, Fumihiko Maki, the building’s design architect, understands light better than I ever could hope to (after all he has won a Pritzker Prize for his contributions and has enjoyed a career spanning some 50 years).
I think it is this understanding of light and an ability to shape it so beautifully which speaks to me most about the Ismaili Imamat Delegation Building.
3. ICONIC SUSSEX DRIVE
Date posted: Saturday, July 19, 2014.
“Be careful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single soul….” – Holy Qur’an, 4:1
“Instability is infectious, but so is hope. And that it is why it is so important for us to carry the torch of hope as we seek to share the gift of pluralism….Profound expressions about our common humanity are embedded in the world’s great religious traditions, including my own…” — His Highness the Aga Khan, Lisbon, June 12, 2014.
“In Ismaili poetical literature comprising of Ginans and Qasidas, some of the most profound philosophical thoughts and sublime mystical insights are very tersely and beautifully expressed in verses. Moreover, this poetic literature effectively emphasizes the renewal and strengthening of the spiritual relationship between each murid (follower) in the community and Kamil Murshid (The Perfect Guide), Hazar Imam (The Living Imam)….
“The tradition of reciting the Munajat, Ya Ali Khuba Mijalas, began over a hundred years ago. It was recited in various jamati gatherings (mijalas) by Ismailis in many parts of the world to commemorate the enthronement of their 48th Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah, the late Aga Khan III (1877 – 1957). Continuing with this tradition, this Munajat, with slight variations, is now recited on the occasion of the anniversary of the ascension of Shah Karim al-Husseini (His Highness the Aga Khan IV) as the 49th Imam of The Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims….”
Please click: The Munajat – Ya Ali Khuba Mijalas
In History in Quotations, which reflects five thousand years of World History, authors M. J. Cohen and John Major write as follows:
‘He of whom I am the Mawla (patron), Ali is his Mawla. O God, be the friend of him who is his friend and be the enemy of his enemy.’
“This became the proof text for the Shia claim that Ali, the Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law, was the Prophet’s rightful successor after the Prophet’s death in 632. The meaning of Mawla here probably implies the role of patron, lord or protector.”
The authors then sum up by stating that through the use of the term Mawla, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) was giving Mawlana Ali (a.s.) the parity with himself in this function. Dr. Aziz Kurwa, a long serving member of the Ismaili community, takes us to the beginning of Islamic and Ismaili history and imaginatively constructs the role he played as a volunteer on that eventful and historic occasion, a day which was described by one of our readers as “an introduction to a new world order”. Aziz Kurwa was among the thirty-one who contributed to Simerg’s highly acclaimed series I Wish I’d Been There.
Please click on image below or: Volunteering at the Dawn of the Age of Imamat
“I don’t read or write but I am very interested in animal husbandry and I have always worked hard on the farm. It was my dream for my children to be educated so I worked hard and provided for their education…” — Guljon Bibi
This is a fascinating collection of autobiographical tales told by women from the Ismaili village of Shimshal, in the remote Karakoram mountains. On the eastern border of Pakistan, the women of Shimshal live peaceful lives of extreme hardship and good-humoured tolerance.
“…This tale belongs to ages past. It goes back to the era of Hazrat Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s.), our third Imam, from whose veins was to ensue the Divine Line of the Imams. He was the Imam who, on the battlefield of Karbala, received the nass of Imamat from his father, Hazrat Imam Hussain (a.s.) with the blessing: “Through you the line of Imamat will continue till the Day of Judgment…”
“….What we admire in you above all is the fact not that you have a modernised religion, but that you have been able to integrate a modern outlook with religion so that religion has been allowed its true role which is not merely to provide an all-embracing explanation of the universe but also to furnish the fundamental solutions of the problems which life poses us…”
In 1910 a young man in twenties went to see the 48th Ismaili Imam, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan III (1877 – 1957), in Bombay at his Walkeshwar bungalow. Fortunately, he got the opportunity to have a personal audience with the Imam of the time. When asked for the purpose of his visit, he said (in Urdu) “Ya Mawla, I am a Shamsi Ismaili from Multan and wish that Mawlana Hazar Imam give me a Muslim name…..”