The Beautiful Gift Presented to Mawlana Hazar Imam, and a Reflection for His 85th Birthday on a Gorgeous Blue Sky Morning

Publisher/Editor SimergBarakah and Simergphotos

I went to bed late last night and my eyes did not open for me to be able to attend this morning’s (December 13, 2021) Baitul Khayal Salgirah Majlis for Mawlana Hazar Imam’s 85th birthday. When I woke up at 5:45 am and looked out, the skies in Toronto were covered with clouds, except in the horizon where it was clear. The weather forecast had called for a clear sunny day, and trusting it I set forth in my car for the Port Union Waterfront Park. When I reached there, the sky situation was reversed. The horizon was cloudy but the skies above me were clear. Really, nothing can beat the twilight when there are some clouds in the horizon.

Sunrise Port Union Waterfront Park
Shortly after sunrise, Lake Ontario, Port Union Waterfront Park, Toronto, 7:51 AM, December 13, 2021. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

I reached the Park 45 minutes before sunrise. The clear waters of Lake Ontario and strong waves added to my excitement and anticipation of the sunrise. When the sun rose at exactly 7:42 AM, 147 million kilometres from earth, it created a beautiful streak on the clouds that were in the horizon. Birds flew around joyfully.

Porcelain vases Aga Khan birthday present Simerg Malik Merchant
Porcelain vases presented to Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, on his 85th birthday on December 13, 2021. Photo: The Ismaili.

Before I had left home, I had read the Ismaili piece about the world wide Jamat presenting Mawlana Hazar Imam with the 85th birthday gift consisting of a pair of porcelain vases made in the nineteenth century in Paris. The article mentions that the vases “are decorated with elaborate Islamic Persian motifs of gilt scrollwork, arabesques, and stylised flowers in heightened relief against a pale lavender background.”  It further says: “The lavender colour of the vases is extremely unusual — changing according to the light under which it is placed, from purple/grey in daylight to pale pink in artificial light.” I thought about this gift and wondered as I was taking photos of the twilight and the sunrise, how the vases might look if they were placed on a piece of rock near where I was standing, with the morning sunlight shining on them.

Ismaili Flag at Aga Khan Park. Play video and also listen to Nashid al Imamah. Video by Malik Merchant/Simerg, December 13, 2021. The Nashid played by the 116th Army Band during Mawlana Hazar Imam’s arrival in Atlanta, USA, 2018, for his Diamond Jubilee.
The crystalline dome of the Ismaili Headquarters Jamatkhana, Toronto, December 13, 2021. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.
The crystalline dome of the Ismaili Headquarters Jamatkhana under blue skies, Toronto, December 13, 2021. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

Driving back home, the sun was now higher up, and the sky was blue everywhere without a cloud in sight. How could I not stop at the Aga Khan Park to see my favourite objects — the Ismaili Flag and the Ismaili Jamatkhana dome? The flag was shining under the sunlight, and the dome was particularly inspiring under blue skies. Seeing the flag, I felt particularly proud and recollected the recording of the Nashid al Imamah played by the USA 116th Army Band when Mawlana Hazar Imam arrived in Atlanta for his Diamond Jubilee visit in 2018. I took a video of the Ismaili flag and incorporated the recording of the Nashid into the video (watch video above).

Lourenço Marques, 1958: Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) and current 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims is seen taking a keen interest as Alwaez Jehangir explains the Gujarati history texts that were used to impart religious education to Ismaili youth in Mozambique. Photo: Jehangir Merchant Family Collection.

Today, as Mawlana Hazar Imam celebrates his 85th birthday, my beloved late papa Jehangir would have turned 93. He died in May 2018 at the age of 89. And of course I remembered my late mum Malek (Mrs. Merchant), who would write loving cards for him on his birthday. Together, they had served the Imam of the Time, the Jamat and its institutions for more than 60 years. I did one thing at Port Union Waterfront Park. I walked an extra 174 steps, the sum of the two birthdays my family is celebrating today. Fortunately, I have good recollections of my childhood. When I was very little, aged less than 5 years and in Lourenço Marques (now Maputo), I one day asked my dad very innocently, how come Mawlana Hazar Imam was much younger than him. And his reply was that the age of the Imam was immaterial because he is the bearer of the Noor of Imamat, and all the Imams are the same because they have the same Light. He also gave me a little history lesson that Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah was only 7 when he became the Imam in August 1885. That faith and belief have been with me ever since, and you can read more about the philosophical and historical perspective on the Noor of Imamat HERE.

Happy Salgirah Mubarak to Ismailis around the world.

Date posted: December 13, 2021.


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