Shariff Alladina, Ismaili Ginana Reciter, Tanga, Tanzania, Simerg

1960s musical renditions by Shariff Alladina of 4 popular Ismaili Ginans including the Chhogaḍio, Bhāī Tīnī Vireṅ Jīuṅ Umeduṅ

By SAFDER ALLADINA

In my recent piece about my paternal grandparents Alladin and Prembai (see The Story of Tanga’s Alladin Bapu Family) I briefly noted that one of their sons Shariff Alladina (1910-1976), who happened to be my father, had a fine singing voice. I provided links to his Ginans that I had loaded into Soundcloud sometime ago (please click Shariff Alladina’s 4 Ginans, titled as Bapaji 1 thru 4 on Soundcloud). Ever since, I have been pressed for more information about my father as well as his interest in music and Ginans.

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Shariff Alladina’s parents, Alladin and Prembai. Photo: Safder Alladina.

My late father — shown at top of this post — was a business man of Tanga, Tanzania. He came from a musical family. Born in Kathiawar, India, Shariff was brought to Tanganyika in a dhow as a toddler of about two by his parents Alladin and Prembai. In 1930 Shariff married Zera, a Kachhi girl from Zanzibar. It was not very usual for Kathiawari and Kachhi to inter-marry but Saleh Harji, a close friend of Shariff, was able to negotiate the marriage with his niece Zera. She came from well-established families in Zanzibar. Her paternal and maternal grandparents were Mukhi and Kamadia of Zanzibar jamat on multiple times. Zera’s family story is documented in Zahir Dhalla’s piece A rare 100 year old family photo fills in a few blanks of Ismaili Khoja history in East Africa.

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Shariff and Zera Alladina Patney, Tanga Ginan Reciter Ismaili Simerg
Shariff and Zera Alladina Patney, 1930. Photo: Safder Alladina Collection.

There were many singers and musicians in the family. My father taught me to sing Jeere waala Paat madaviney chok puravo (a Ginan which is often recited on days when Ab-e-Shifa is partaken) when I was about 10 years old. Mukhi Habib Kassam, who sang the Ginans early in the evening, was so pleased with my singing that he gave me one shilling!

Every Sunday morning, there was a gathering in my house where musicians and music lovers would gather to listen to the singers and instrumentalists. Ustad Ismail Ragi was a local music master who attended these morning sessions of riyaz until he fell ill and the local businessmen got together to raise money to send him with his wife to India for medical attention.

In the 1960s the sessions were attended by Gangu, a harmonium player and Batuk, a young tabla player. The recordings of my father’s songs, including the four Ginans in Souncloud, came out of these sessions of riyaz on Sunday mornings. I was in the UK at the time.

Shariff Alladina recited the Ginans many times in the Jamatkhana. He also gave lectures in the Jamatkhana where he would introduce pieces of Ginans, Bhajans and Sufi poetry in between his speech. He tutored many young people in Tanga to sing Ginans including his daughters Malek, Shirin and Khatun. Khatun’s rendition of Hazrat Ali’s Mowlana Kalam was enjoyed by many.

With these few remarks contextualizing my father’s interest in the wonderful tradition of Ginans and music, I once again invite readers to click on Soundcloud for Shariff Alladina’s recitation of 4 Ginans as well as a Thumri.

The Ginans in Soundcloud, named as Bapaji 1, 2, 3, and 4, are as follows:

1. Bhāī tīnī vireṅ jīuṅ umeduṅ āsuṅ puṇīuṅ or sānjno chhogaḍio;

2. Sabhāgā is dhunīāṅdhe vich kiyā gin āve;

3. Sāmī rājo more manthī na vīsarejī; and

4. Moman man em jāṇjojī.

Ginans Central at the University Saskatchewan is an excellent resource for Ginans and Ginanic research, and I would suggest you visit the website and see items #140, #614, #751, and #464 corresponding to each of the 4 Ginans listed above that are in Soundcloud.

Date posted: July 20, 2020.

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.

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We welcome feedback/letters from our readers. Please use the feedback box which appears below. If you don’t see the box please click Leave a comment. Your comment may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation. We are unable to acknowledge unpublished letters

Safder Alladina has taught English as a Foreign Language in England, Japan and Portugal and English as a Second Language in England and Canada. In his 35 years of teaching, he has taught Early Years, Primary, Secondary and Adult classes; and developed and taught Teacher Education programmes at graduate and post-graduate levels at the University of North London, UK, and the University of British Columbia, BC. His research work is in Sociolinguistics. He has retired to a hobby farm in the interior of British Columbia where he does his writing under the pen name of S. Giga Patney.

His Highness the Aga Khan and Jehangir Merchant in Lourenco Marques, Mozambique

Ismaili doctrines of faith: Short lessons from the writings of Alwaez Jehangir Merchant: (1) Tawhid or Unity of God

Introduced by Malik Merchant
(Publisher-Editor,  Simerg, Barakah, and Simergphotos)

Alwaez Rai Jehangir Merchant (1928-2018) — picture above with Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan — is fondly remembered everyday single day by his beloved wife of 66 years, Alwaeza Raisaheba Maleksultan Jehangir Merchant, and all her family members.

He passed away 2 years ago on May 27, 2018 at approximately 1:15 AM. We pray that his soul may rest in eternal peace. Amen.

Jehangir  and Maleksultan Merchant
Jehangir and Maleksultan in front of a large
portrait photo of Mawlana Hazar Imam.

My dad was a prolific writer. In England, he edited the flagship Ismaili religious magazine, Ilm, for several years while he served with my mother with the Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Board (ITREB). His articles related to the faith, history, principles and doctrines of the Ismaili faith, along with insightful interpretations of Qur’anic verses, as well as moving narratives of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Mubarak visits to different parts of the world, richly contributed to the Jamats’ understanding of the faith. The closure of Ismaili religious magazines in the very early 1990’s created a significant void in the dissemination of religious material that was deemed to be “official.” I am referring here to insightful articles in monthly or quarterly magazines published by ITREBs around the world, and not to literary and scholarly books, which the Institute of Ismaili Studies has done a fantastic job of publishing over the past 30 years.

From the time this website, Simerg.com, was launched in 2009, Alwaez Merchant was able to devote time to editing and adapting his Ilm pieces for publication on this website for the benefit of readers on the World Wide Web. Links to those pieces are provided at the end of this article. Ill-health prevailed, and he was no longer able to fully complete the remainder of his Ilm pieces for publication on Simerg.

Ilm Ismaili religious magazine edited by Jehangir Merchant
Ilm magazine – one of Alwaez Jehangir’s magnificent contributions to the Ismaili literary scene. Jehangir edited and wrote extensively for the journal.

Now, I am going to take his unpublished essays from Ilm — many of which were quite lengthy — and share them as short pieces of learning over the coming weeks and months. We begin the Jehangir Merchant series, if I may call it that, with the Concept of Tawhid, which forms the first component in his essay entitled “Fundamental Aspects of Ismaili Doctrine.” It appeared in Ilm, Volume 7, Number 1 & 2, July-November 1981, pp. 2-12.

Tawhid

By (LATE) JEHANGIR A MERCHANT

Jehangir and Maleksultan Merchant, Ismaili missionaries
Jehangir and Maleksultan Merchant served the Imam of the Time and Ismaili institutions for more than 60 years.

In all Shi‘a tariqahs of Islam, Tawhid (belief in the Unity of God), Nubuwwah (Prophethood), Imamah (the Institution of the Divine Guide) and Qiyamah (Day of Judgement), are considered as the doctrines of the faith. My brief explanation of each of these 4 doctrines of faith for publication on Simerg are based on a much broader discussion that I provided on these subjects in my original article published in Ilm magazine, which also included a detailed historical background on the subject of Imamat.

The belief in the Unity of God (Tawhid) is the cornerstone of faith (Iman) for all Muslims.

It is articulated in the pronouncement: La ilaha ill-Allah: “There is no god but Allah.”

This doctrine of Unity of God is beautifully summarised in Sura Tauhid, popularly known as Suratul Ikhlas (112:1-4), which says: “Say, He Allah is One; Allah is Absolute, Independent. He did not beget nor He was begotten and there is none like unto Him.”

We know, however, that the Holy Qur’an, ascribes a number of attributes to Allah. God is spoken of as ar-Rahim (The Merciful), al-Wadud (The Loving), al-Sami (The Hearing), al-Barir (The Seeing) etc. The Qur’an also talks about Wajahullah (the Face of God), Yadullah (the Hand of God), and so on.

While there are numerous references which attribute human qualities to God in the Holy Qur’an, the scripture states in very plain words that Allah is above all material conceptions.

For example, the Qur’an says: “Vision comprehends Him not and He comprehends all vision.” (6:104) and “Nothing is like a likeness of Him.” (42:11)

The Unity of God (Tawhid) implies that God is One in His Dhat (essence) and One in His Sifat (attributes).

The concept of Tawhid appears in the works of many Ismaili dais (missionaries) and philosophers. Their works on the subject place an emphasis against anthropomorphising God, that is, giving human attributes to God.

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Fatimid coin Imam al-Zahir
The inscription in the inner margin of this Fatimid coin minted during the reign of Imam al-Zahir reads: la ilah illa / allah wahdahu / la sharik lahu; “no god but God, unique, He has no associate.” Photo: David Museum, Copenhagen.

God is declared in their works as One, Absolutely Transcendent, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient, Incomprehensible and a Quality-less Being. A Ginanic verse makes this clear:

La thi un dhat kahave, tanki baat kahi nav jai; Dubki le le gotha khave, Pir Paighambar tai na pavey

Translation:

The Dhat [essence] is from nothingness and nothing can be said about it. Pirs and Prophets delve deep in this knowledge but in vain.

The concept that God has no qualities difficult to grasp, because the human mind cannot comprehend a total lack of qualities, a concept which it has not experienced before. We cannot imagine a man, if we can for the moment call such a being a man, who has no colour, no shape, no size, no special existence, who is neither alive nor dead.

Hence, the notion that God is quality-less becomes unintelligible and the Qur’an, therefore, attributes a number of qualities to God. If we consider the qualities applied to God and examine them carefully we find that the grounds for all of these attributes lie in our own experience of this material world.

Pir Shiahbu’d-din Shah writes in his work Risala dar Haqiqati Din (True Meaning of Religion):

“…people speaking about God (Haqq) attribute to Him any such (perfections) as they can imagine. For instance, regarding blindness as a defect, they say about God that He sees everything. They regard ignorance as a defect, and thus say that God is All-Knowing. Thus, whatever they find in themselves as a vice and defect they attribute to God a perfection opposite to that. Most probably, even animals create their own God free from their own defects, ascribing to Him (the opposite) perfections. Imam Muhammad Baqir says that the tiny ant probably imagines his god as having two stings, because it regards the possession of only one sting as a defect.”

So, when the Qur’an attributes qualities to God, it is to help convey to man the idea of God and not that these terms express the true nature of God, or that they are perfect indicators to His Being.

Ismaili doctrine upholds the belief in a single transcendent Being, whose nature is beyond the comprehension of the human mind and who is inexplicable. This is because our definitions are based on our experiences of the material world, and these definitions cannot be applied to this Being.

Pir Shihabu’d-din Shah, again in his previously cited book, says:

“All that is beyond thy imagination, Is merely the limit of thy fantasy, not God. Wisdom can attain a knowledge of His Substance Only in the case if a piece of straw can sink to the bottom of the sea. And Imam Ja’far-as-Sadiq said: “What God is, Man cannot think: and what Man thinks God is not. Yet man lives by God, and God is nearer to him than himself.”

Thus, in the Doctrine of Tawhid, lsmailism completely avoids any form of anthropomorphism and remains purely monotheistic.

We will continue our next discussion on another Shia doctrine of faith, namely, Nubuwwah or Prophethood which will then be followed by Qiyama (the Day of Judgement) and Imamah (the hereditary leadership in Islam).

Date posted: May 27, 2020.

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.

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The following are links to Alwaez Jehangir Merchant’s articles that have been published on this website:

  1. Ghadir-Khumm and the Two Weighty Matters (a Simerg original, I Wish I’d Been There Series)
  2. An Esoteric Interpretation of the Mi’raj (adapted from Ilm magazine)
  3. The Establishment of the Fatimid Caliphate (adapted from Ilm magazine)
  4. The Parable of Moses and Khidr in the Holy Qur’an (adapted from Ilm magazine)
  5. Jehangir Merchant’s Thank You Letter to Da’i Al-Mu’ayyad al-Shirazi (a Simerg original, Thank You Series)
  6. Text and Explanation of “Eji Shah Islamshah Amne Maliya” (adapted from Ilm magazine)
  7. The Story of Noah’s Ark in the Holy Qur’an (adapted from Ilm magazine)
  8. A Translation and Brief Commentary of Pir Sadardin’s Ginan “Jem Jem Jugatsu Preet Kareva” (adapted from Ilm magazine)
  9. The Frontispiece of the Ismaili Jamatkhana in Mashhad, Iran (adapted from Ilm magazine)
  10. “One Jamat” (proposal, with Malik Merchant)
  11. The 1979 London Didar: The Experience (adapted from Ilm magazine)
  12. Imams Muhammad al-Baqir and Ja’far as-Sadiq on Love for the Imam (with Alnoor Bhatia, adapted from Ilm magazine)

Also see:

We welcome feedback/letters from our readers. Please use the feedback box which appears below. If you don’t see the box please click please click Leave a comment. Your comment may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation. We are unable to acknowledge unpublished letters.

Tributes to Ismailis who have passed away during the Covid-19 pandemic: Issue no. 1 of a multipart series

As announced a few days ago, we commence a special series of tributes to Ismailis as well as non-Ismaili members of Ismaili families who have passed away during the Coronavirus pandemic, either due to Covid-19 or any other cause. For details on submitting your tribute to a deceased family member or a very close friend, please read TRIBUTES and write to Malik Merchant at Simerg@aol.com; you must include your full name and contact information.

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Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un
“Surely we belong to God and to Him we return” — Holy Qur’an, 2:156

Alnoor Ramji
(Canada)

Submitted by Abdulrasul Allibhai Ramji and Lilly Ramji

Alnoor Ramji, Simerg
Alnoor Ramji, age 62 (d. April 14, 2020)

It was the beginning of March 2020. Alnoor’s 62nd birthday was just 3 weeks away. But he had cancer, and was in the last stages of his life. He did not let it control him. Rather, he coped with it, accepted it and carried on with his passion of raising funds for the Aga Khan Foundation’s annual World Partnership Walk (WPW). In each of the previous years, he had raised between $13,000 to $15,000. With all the passion that he had developed over the years for the work of the Imamat around the world, he started sending out a message that simply said, “Donate to WPW [World Partnership Walk].” For him, that would be the most cherished birthday gift anyone could ever give him. In a little more than 3 weeks, Alnoor raised $18,000.

He passed away on April 14, 2020, but not before the Mukhi and Kamadiasahebs of Toronto’s Headquarters Jamatkhana at the Ismaili Centre, made a conference call to him. He answered them with the greeting Ya Ali Madad. They bestowed Dua (prayers) on him, and Alnoor responded with the word “Amen” each time – a total of four times.

His funeral was held in Toronto on April 17, 2020. He leaves behind his parents, Abdulrasul Allibhai Ramji and Lilly Ramji. His two sisters, Nilam (Naushadaly) in Edmonton, Alberta, and Rubina (Craig) in Sydney, Nova Scotia, were both unable to attend the funeral.

Editor’s note: An obituary for Alnoor Ramji was published in The Toronto Star on April 17, 2020. Please click HERE to read the detailed piece.

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Goulzare Foui
(France)

Submitted by Nigar Ribault

Goulzare, France, Simerg
Goulzare Foui

« Ma chère Goulzare Foui, 

Vous m’aviez dit de ne pas m’inquiéter parce que vous aviez juste la grippe. Vous connaissiez si bien mon caractère angoissé : « mais qu’est ce qu’on va faire de toi avec ces angoisses mon petit ? ».

Et soudain, en quelques jours, vous avez été emportée par ce virus. 

Je vous appelle et je vous cherche depuis 40 jours que vous êtes partie … 

Et vous êtes là ! : 

Les roses ont fleuri et me font signe. Je vous vois Goulzare (Jardin fleuri) dans ces fleurs. Je vois votre beau sourire lumineux. J’entends votre voix dans le chant des oiseaux du printemps. Vous chantez comme un rossignol dans le grand jardin de Mowla Bapa.

Vous ne m’avez pas quittée : vous êtes dans mon cœur pour toujours et dans ce que vous m’avez transmis. Je vous aime ma Goulzare Foui. La petite sœur de mon papa. 

Votre Nigar »

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Translation by Dr. Nurin Merchant

My dear Goulzare Foui,

You told me not to worry, that it was just the flu. You knew my anxious character well — “what are we going to do with you and all of your anxieties my little one?”

And suddenly, in just a few days, this virus had taken you from us.

I call you, I seek you ever since the day you left us 40 days ago.

And there you are!

The roses have bloomed, giving me a sign. I see you Goulzare (flowery garden). I see your beautiful and radiant smile. I hear your voice in the song of the spring birds. You are singing like a nightingale in Mowla Bapa’s big garden.

You have not left me: you are here. Here in what you shared with and passed down to me, and forever in my heart. I love you my Goulzare Foui. My dad’s little sister. 

Your Nigar.

Translators note: In the translation, I have tried to keep the meaning of Nigar’s beautiful tribute to her aunt as best as I could.

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Amirali S. Nagji
(USA)

Submitted by Akberali Nagji

Tribute to Amir Nagji, Simerg
Amirali Nagji, age 78 (d. April 2, 2020)

Amirali Nagji passed away of natural causes on April 2, 2020 in Albuquerque, New Mexio, USA. He was 78. Originally from Mtwara, Tanzania, Amirali was very hardworking and generous; he was known for helping many people by giving free accommodation in his motel.

He served Jamati institutions for twenty years, and had also held the position of Mukhisaheb of Albuquerque Jamat.

Outside Ismaili institutions, he served seniors at a local hospital. His ever-smiling face and friendly demeanor provided comfort to many.

Amirali loved to travel and was fond of Bolywood music. As well as being a good dancer, he had a wonderful sense of humour, for which he was greatly admired.

He is survived by his wife Nurjehan, daughter Alia and her husband Shafin, and two grandchildren.

We pray that his soul may rest in eternal peace. Amen.

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Sultan Piroj Maknojiya Methanwala
(India)

Submitted by the families of Nazarali Kasamali Momin and Akbarali Kasamali Momin

Sultan Methanwalla, Simerg
Sultan P. M. Methanwala (d. May 16, 2020)

Sultan Bhai Piroj Maknojiya Methanwala passed away on May 16, 2020 in Vaishali Nagar Jogeshwari West, Mumbai.

He was a prominent leader both within and outside the Ismaili Jamat. He had served as the Mukhisaheb of the Jamat with great distinction, and was deeply loved by members of the Jamat.

He was also a life long social worker, and reached out to all communities to provide care and assistance.

He will be deeply remembered and missed by his family, the Vaishali Nagar Jamat and other communities whom he served selflessly.

May Mawla rest his soul in eternal peace and may Mawla give strength to his family members and the Jamat to bear the loss of a commendable leader of the Jamat. Amen.

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Salima Wanda Arthurs
(Canada)

Submitted by Shaida Hussein

Salima Wandra Arthurs, Simerg
Salima Wanda Arthurs, age 64 (d. April 24, 2020)

Salima Wanda Arthurs, 64 years old, passed away in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, on Friday April 24, 2020, the first day of Ramadhan, from cancer.

Her mum, Margaret, sister Linda, some friends and myself, Shaida Hussein, attended the funeral ceremony. Like other Ismaili funerals that take place during the current pandemic, the funeral and post burial ceremonies such as chaanta, last respects, samar and zyarat were conducted according to physical distancing and other guidelines that have been established by each province.

Salima  embraced the Ismaili Muslim faith in 1985, and was a committed volunteer in jamati (community) services. She contributed to the work of Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Board on the literature counter and served in the admissions committee, as well as participated in other institutional projects and programs. She was a humble and a compassionate person, and will be fondly remembered and missed by the Calgary Jamat as well as her family and friends.

We pray for her soul to rest in eternal peace. We also pray that Almighty God grants her family and friends the strength and courage to bear this loss.

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To submit a tribute to your family member who has passed away due to Covid-19 or any other cause, please read TRIBUTES and write to Malik Merchant at Simerg@aol.com; please include your full name and contact information.

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.

We welcome tributes from our readers to individuals portrayed in this piece. Please use the feedback box which appears below. If you don’t see the box please click Leave a comment.

Imam Hussein (A.S.) was martyred 1339 years ago

Imam Hussein Mosque Karbala, Library of Congress Photo
General view of the Imam Hussein Mosque in Karbala, Iraq. The photo was taken between September 26 and October 12, 1932. Photo: Matson (G. Eric and Edith) Photograph Collection / Library of Congress, Washingon D.C.

Imam Hussein (A.S.)

Introduced by Malik Merchant
(Publisher-Editor, Simerg, Barakah and Simergphotos)

Mawlana Hazar Imam Shah Karim al Hussaini, His Highness the Aga Khan, is the 49th Hereditary Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, and directly descended from Hazrat Ali (A.S.) and Imam Hussein (A.S.).

Imam Hussein began his reign as the 2nd Ismaili Imam* on the death of his father, Hazrat Ali (A.S.), on January 27, 661 CE who, 29 years earlier in 632 CE, had been publicly proclaimed by the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.S.) to be his successor at the famous event that took place at Ghadir Khumm.

The succession ended the cycle of the Divine Institution of Nubuwwah and ushered the world into a new era of the Divine Institution of Imamat. Thus, the Imams directly descended from the Prophet Muhammad, from Hazrat Ali to Mawlana Shah Karim, have continued to guide their murids (followers) in the ta’wil (interpretation) and talim (teaching) of the Holy Qur’an for the last 1387 years.

Imam Hussein was martyred in the Battle of Karbala on the 10th day of the Muslim month of Muharram, or October 10, 680, at the age of 54, and was succeeded to the Hereditary throne of Imamat by Imam Zainul Abideen (A.S.).

The Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle, and thus shorter than the 365 day solar calendar by roughly 11 days. This year (2019), the 10th day of Muharram falls on or around September 9/10, almost 1339 years since the Imam’s tragic death at the hands of Yazid’s army. Please click to read more about Imam Hussein and Karbala from Muslim and non-Muslim historians and scholars.

Date posted: September 9, 2019.

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*Note: In the Shia Imami Nizari Ismaili tradition Imam Hussein’s brother, Hazrat Hassan (A.S.), is not counted as an Imam, whereas in other Shia Muslims he is considered as the second Imam which then makes Imam Hussein the 3rd Imam.

Available from Simerg: Prince Hussain Aga Khan’s “Diving Into Wildlife”

“From the first Costeau film I saw and the fish I started keeping at the age of five, the first octopus and cuttlefish that squirted ink at me….I knew I couldn’t, wouldn’t stop exploring the sea” — Prince Hussain Aga Khan, from foreword to his book Diving Into Wildlife.

“The work of Hussain Aga Khan is visual poetry created in the sea that seduces the viewer to discover her mysteries and leads people to care. And when people care, change becomes possible” — Brian Skerry

As readers may be aware, we had offered for sale through this website, a very limited number of signed as well as a Special Edition of signed and numbered copies of Prince Hussain Aga Khan’s  book Diving Into Wildlife containing a collection of extraordinary underwater photographs taken by the Prince in recent years in  the Maldives, Tonga, Malaysia, Bahamas, Mexico and Egypt. The entire proceeds from the sales were submitted to Prince Hussain’s organization called Focused on Nature (FON), whose mission is to “assist in the conservation and protection of threatened and endangered species, as well as habitat conservation efforts when and where possible.”

FON fulfills its mission by providing grants to projects around the world which the FON team has identified and vetted as having immediate impacts in wildlife conservation, protection, preservation, and education. The money that is distributed by FON to deserving organizations is raised by either direct contributions to FON or from the sale of unique and fine objects including limited edition photographs, art, clothing articles and books such as “Diving Into Wildlife.”

We have just received a very limited number of signed copies and have a few unsigned copies remaining in stock. The sales from these books will continue to support the work of FON. We encourage interested individuals who were not able to acquire a signed copy to consider purchasing the unsigned copy of this beautiful volume by Prince Hussain Aga Khan.

The signed and unsigned copies are being offered in North America at US$125.00 and US$30.00 respectively + a shipping/packaging cost of US$25.00. Each shipment will be trackable through the website of Canada Post. Request for orders for delivery outside of North America will be forwarded to FON for shipment from Europe, provided the book is still available.

HOW TO PURCHASE THE BOOK

Payment Methods:

  1. Paypal: Simergbooks has been verified by Paypal. To purchase a copy, please send a request to Simergbooks@aol.com, and an invoice will be generated from Paypal provided we have the book in stock. In view of the limited quantities, payment should then be received within 24 hours after the invoice.
  2. Email Transfer: To purchase a copy, please send a request to Simergbooks@aol.com. Once we have confirmed that a book is available, we will request you to submit a payment via email transfer. In view of the limited quantities payment should then be received within 24 hours after the invoice.

SIMERG’S EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE (ANIMAL VOYAGE)

My son was delighted with the excellent photography by Prince Hussain. We as a family will cherish this volume (Animal Voyage) for a long time. Once again, thank you for making this book available in North America and your outstanding customer service and support. Shamim Rajan, Richmond Hill, Ontario.

This is a beautiful piece of work!! The service was excellent. Very quick, safe and efficient turnaround and follow up. I recommend everyone to have a copy. — Nazir Alibhai, Markham, Ontario

“Outstanding customer service, superfast delivery, and the book is great addition to any library.”  — Yaar, Toronto.

Date posted: April 27, 2017.
Last updated: December 23, 2018.

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The Meaning of Sinan, the Name of the Second Prince Welcomed by Prince Rahim and Princess Salwa Aga Khan

 

Report compiled by Abdulmalik Merchant
Poem by Shariffa Keshavjee

In a special talika (written message) read out in Ismaili jamatkhanas on Friday, January 13, 2017, Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, informed his world-wide community that Princess Salwa gave birth to a baby boy named Sinan in London, England, on January 2, 2017. The Princess is married to Prince Rahim Aga Khan, the 49th Ismaili Imam’s oldest son. The couple was married in a nikah ceremony in September 2013, and their first child Prince Irfan was born in Geneva, Switzerland, on 11 April, 2015.

Prince Rahim has an older sister, Princess Zahra, and two brothers younger than him, Prince Hussain and Prince Aly Muhammad.

Mawlana Hazar Imam, Prince Rahim with Prince Irfan, and Princess Salwa at the 80th birthday celebration. Photo: The Ismaili/Zahur Ramji.

Princess Salwa and Prince Rahim, who is holding Prince Irfan, pictured recently during the 80th birthday celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan (right) held in Aiglemont. Photo: The Ismaili/Zahur Ramji.

“Prince Sinan’s birth has brought immense joy to our family,” wrote Mawlana Hazar Imam in the talika, and added that “We are most touched by your kind thoughts and prayers over the period leading to Sinan’s birth.” In the talika, he conveyed his affectionate loving blessings to his followers, whom he addresses as his spiritual children.

Hello magazine reported the birth of Prince Sinan as the world’s first royal baby of 2017!

We rejoice with our thousands of readers around the world on the wonderful news of the birth of Prince Sinan, and join with jamats around the world to congratulate Mawlana Hazar Imam, Prince Rahim and Princess Salwa as well as their son Prince Irfan, and all the members of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s and Princess Salwa’s families.

We sincerely hope and pray that the birth of Prince Sinan may bring immense barakah to jamats worldwide. We also pray for Prince Sinan’s long life and wellbeing.

The Meaning of Sinan

Sinan is an Arabic name for boys meaning spearhead. It is derived from the root word S-N-N which is used in the Qur’an. Sinan is pronounced [(SI)mple] + [(NA)p + (N)ew] with emphasis on the second syllable. Wikipedia mentions that the name might also be related to the Ancient Greek name Sinon.

In Ismaili history, the name Sinan is associated with the revered personality of Rashid al-din Sinan, one of the greatest and most valiant of the Syrian Isma’ili da’is of the thirteenth century A.C.

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A Child

By Shariffa Keshavjee

A miracle, a gift today a child that comes to us
Our bending is of gladness in the archers hand to us
He loves the arrow that flies, the bow so stable for us
The archer sees the mark upon the path for us
Bends it with his might, the arrow goes far for us

The name of Sinan brings the memory of
Aleppo and Masyaf to us
His philosophy as dai forever imprinted on us
The balance of the zahir and batin as it come to us
A reciprocal social relationship of balance within us
Weaving a tapestry of din-dunia

In this our Diamond Jubilee year, your birth bring to us
Great tidings of gladness and joy within us
Our many faceted diamond is aglow for us.

Date posted: Saturday, January 14, 2017.

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We welcome readers’ feedback. Please click Comment. If you run into difficulties submitting your feedback, please email it to simerg@aol.com.

This compiled piece contains material from the following sources:

[1] http://quranicnames.com/meaning-of-sinan-arabic-name//
[2] http://www.theismaili.org
[3] http://www.wikipedia.org

See also:

Simerg’s Highly Popular Articles Over the Years: (1) 7 Great Pieces Including Daman’s Khoja Ismailis, Rumi’s Snake Catcher Story and Aga Khan’s Road to Happiness

BY ABDULMALIK MERCHANT
Publisher/Editor, Simerg

On an occasional basis, Simerg will be drawing its readers’ attention to popular pieces published on this website over the past almost eight years. Likewise, in the course of this series I shall be informing readers about many extraordinary pieces that have not received the readership they deserve. For now, here are links to 7 pieces with more than 9,000 views each. Other popular articles will be mentioned, 7 at a time, in the coming year.

(for articles, please click on links or photos)

11,000 Views

1. PLEASE CLICK: A Brief History of the Khoja Ismaili Community in Daman, India, from the Portuguese Period to the Present by Toral Pradhan, first published October 7, 2013.

The original Daman jamatkhana, above, and a neighbouring Parsee house, below. The jamatkhana was closed in the 1960′s due to its condition.

Old jamatkhana – Daman Khoja history.

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9,000 Views

2. PLEASE CLICK: Two Tales from Rumi: The Snake-Catcher and the Serpent & The Elephant and the Travellers by Zayn Kassam, March 3, 2011.

Illustration by Fatima Hirji. Copyright.

Rumi’s Snake Catcher Story.

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12,000 Views

3. PLEASE CLICK: “The Power of Wisdom” – His Highness the Aga Khan’s Interview with Politique Internationale, August 18, 2010.

His Highness the Aga Khan. Photo Credit: Politique Interntional

Aga Khan Interview: Power of Wisdom.

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15,800 Views

4. PLEASE CLICK: Timeline of His Highness the Aga Khan’s Awards and Honour by Mohib Ebrahim, January 2010.

Aga Khan Timeline

Aga Khan Timeline

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31,000 Views

5. PLEASE CLICK: The Story of Noah’s Ark in the Holy Qur’an by Jehangir Merchant (Revised), Originally published on October 6, 2011.

Noah's Ark.

Noah’s Ark.

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20,000 Views

6. PLEASE CLICK: The Road to Happiness and The Concept of Life by His Highness the Aga Khan III, November 14, 2009.

Road to Happiness

Road to Happiness

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11,000 Views

7. PLEASE CLICK: The Preamble Of “The Constitution of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims”, December 10, 2010.

Preamble Ismaili Constitution

Preamble Ismaili Constitution

We wish to record our deep appreciation to thousands of readers who visit Simerg and its sister websites regularly and send us feedback, and to all our contributors for the great articles and photo essays that they have submitted for publication for the reading pleasure and enjoyment of our readers around the world — we have gained richly from their knowledge and the fresh insights they have provided.

We wish everyone a very happy and prosperous new year.

At the same time we pray for peace in lands where there are brutal conflicts resulting in loss of life and unimaginable injuries, and where people, especially children, have to endure pain and sorrow everyday.

Date posted: Friday, December 30, 2016.
Last updated: December 31, 2016 (2:35 am EST, corrected stats).

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Simerg Special Photo Feature: His Highness the Aga Khan Meets Prime Minister Trudeau at Parliament Hill by Award Winning Photographer Jean-Marc Carisse

Photographs: Jean-Marc Carisse, http://www.carissephoto.com
Text compilation: Abdulmalik Merchant, Editor, Simerg

Please click on photos for enlargement

WITH PRIME MINISTER

His Highness the Aga Khan looks straight at the camera as he greets Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday, May 17, 2016, at the Office of the Prime Minister located at the Centre Block of Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Photo: Jean-Marc Carisee. Copyright.

His Highness the Aga Khan looks straight at the camera as he greets Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday, May 17, 2016, at the Office of the Prime Minister located at the Centre Block of Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Photo: Jean-Marc Carisee. Copyright.

His Highness the Aga Khan, the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, was warmly received by Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday, May 17, 2016, with the words “It’s always a pleasure to welcome a dear friend to Canada, a dear friend to my family as well.” The Prime Minister added that they would discuss “pluralism, diversity and all the things that Canada can contribute to offering more peace and stability in the world.”

His Highness the Aga Khan and Prime Minister Trudeau are seen engaged in a warm conversation during their meeting at Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 17, 2016. Photo: Jean-Marc Carisse. Copyright.

His Highness the Aga Khan and Prime Minister Trudeau are seen engaged in a warm conversation during their meeting at Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 17, 2016. In the background are the flags of the Ismaili Imamat with the gold Imamat crest in the centre, and the iconic Maple Leaf of Canada.  Photo: Jean-Marc Carisse. Copyright.

Award winning photographer Jean-Marc Carisse, who took the pictures shown on this page, noted in his email to Simerg that His Highness the Aga Khan’s greeting with the Prime Minister started at approximately 4:13/4:14 pm ET. At 5:05, His Highness walked in the South corridor of Centre Block and observed the portraits of former Prime Ministers Paul Martin and then Jean Chrétien (see photo, below). At 5:07, he entered his car. According to Mr. Carisse, “the Aga Khan was his usual charming personae and pleasantly smiled throughout his Parliamentary visit.”

Over the next few days, Simerg will be presenting more photos as well as reports relating to His Highness the Aga Khan’s current visit to Canada, which began with his arrival in Ottawa on Monday May 16, 2016. He was accompanied by his younger brother, Prince Amyn Aga Khan. His itinerary for the current visit includes delivering the opening remarks at the Global Centre for Pluralism’s Annual Lecture and being awarded with an honorary degree by the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies. Both these events will take place in Toronto this week.

We express our deep gratitude to Jean-Marc Carisse for sharing the wonderful photos with readers of Simerg.

His Highness the Aga Khan glances with interest at an oil painting by Christan Nicholson of former Canadian Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien as he walks past it with leaders of the Ismaili community in the South corridor of Centre Block shortly after his meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday, May 17, 2016. Photo: Jean Marc Carisse. Copyright.

His Highness the Aga Khan glances with interest at an oil painting of former Canadian Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien, shortly after his meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday, May 17, 2016.  Accompanying him are Kate Bourke, the protocol coordinator, and leaders of the Ismaili community. Photo: Jean Marc Carisse. Copyright.

His Highness the Aga Khan walks happily in the corridor of the Parliament Building following his meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday May 17, 2016. He is accompanied, among others, by Ismaili leaders Shafik Sachedina and the President of the Aga Khan Council for Canada, Malik Talib. Photo: Jean-Marc Carisse. Copyright.

His Highness the Aga Khan walks happily in the corridor of the Parliament Building following his meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday May 17, 2016. He is accompanied, among others, by protocol coordinator, Kate Bourke and Ismaili leaders Shafik Sachedina and President Malik Talib of the Aga Khan Council for Canada. Photo: Jean-Marc Carisse. Copyright.

His Highness the Aga Khan has a broad smile as he prepares to leave the Parliament Building after his meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday, May 17, 2016. In the picture with him are Ismaili leaders Shafik Sachedina, based at the Ismaili Imam’s headquarters in Aiglemont, France, President Malik Talib of the Aga Khan Council for Canada, and Mahmoud Eboo, the Aga Khan Development Network's Resident Representative to Canada. Photo: Jean-Marc Carisse. Copyright.

His Highness the Aga Khan has a broad smile as he prepares to leave the Parliament Building after his meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday, May 17, 2016. With him in the picture are protocol coordinator, Kate Bourke (left), Shafik Sachedina (right), based at the Ismaili Imam’s headquarters in Aiglemont, France, President Malik Talib (top left) of the Aga Khan Council for Canada, and Mahmoud Eboo (centre), the Aga Khan Development Network’s Resident Representative to Canada. Photo: Jean-Marc Carisse. Copyright.

 

His Highness the Aga Khan outside the Parliament Building just before his departure after his meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday, May 17, 2016. Photo: Jean-Marc Carisse. Copyright.

His Highness the Aga Khan outside the Parliament Building just before his departure after his meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday, May 17, 2016. Photo: Jean-Marc Carisse. Copyright.

His Highness the Aga Khan returns a farewell wave to well-wishers, as his car departs Parliament Hill following his meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday, May 17, 2016. Photo: Jean-Marc Carisse. Copyright

His Highness the Aga Khan returns a farewell wave to well-wishers, as his car departs Parliament Hill following his meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday, May 17, 2016. Photo: Jean-Marc Carisse. Copyright

Date posted: May 17, 2016.
Last updated: May 18, 2016 (15:51 EST)

Photos: Copyright Jean-Marc Carisse, http://www.carissephoto.com.

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We welcome your feedback. Please click Leave a comment

Related Video of the welcome by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:

Also see: Exclusive Photos by Jean-Marc Carisse: “Victorious Trudeau”, His Highness the Aga Khan and Liberal MP Yasmin Ratansi

Simerg Collection: Prince Hussain Aga Khan’s “Diving Into Wildlife” – A Rare Opportunity for Readers to Acquire Signed Copies of the Book

“From the first Costeau film I saw and the fish I started keeping at the age of five, the first octopus and cuttlefish that squirted ink at me….I knew I couldn’t, wouldn’t stop exploring the sea” — Prince Hussain Aga Khan, from foreword to the book Diving Into Wildlife.

Front Cover Diving Into Wildlife by Hussain Aga Khan

“The work of Hussain Aga Khan is visual poetry created in the sea that seduces the viewer to discover her mysteries and leads people to care. And when people care, change becomes possible” — Brian Skerry

BY ABDULMALIK J. MERCHANT
Publisher/Editor, Simerg

In 2015, Prince Hussain Aga Khan published his latest book, Diving Into Wildlife, a collection of extraordinary underwater photographs taken by the Prince in the Maldives, Tonga, Malaysia, Bahamas, Mexico and Egypt.

Diving Into Wildlife is published under the auspices of Focused on Nature (FON), an agency founded and established by Prince Hussain to “assist in the conservation and protection of threatened and endangered species, as well as habitat conservation efforts when and where possible.”

Focused on Nature seeks to fulfill this mission by providing grants to projects around the world which the FON team has identified and vetted as having immediate impacts in wildlife conservation, protection, preservation, and education. The funds distributed by FON to deserving organizations are raised by either direct contributions to FON or from the sale of unique and fine objects including limited edition photographs, art, clothing articles and books such as Diving Into Wildlife.

It gives us great pleasure to inform our readers that the Office of Prince Hussain has made available to Simerg copies of Diving Into Wildlife, as follows:

1. SPECIAL EDITION LIMITED NUMBERED AND SIGNED BY PRINCE HUSSAIN AGA KHAN

Prince Hussain personally signed and numbered sixty copies of Diving Into Wildlife as a special edition for worldwide distribution. Out of these sixty copies, Simerg has been assigned 12 copies, with numbers in the 20-34 range. Each limited numbered special edition is enhanced by an embossed logo of FON and includes a 9″ x 6″ unique photo insert.

Each of the 12 numbered and signed copies is being offered at US$285.00 (plus packaging and shipping of US$25.00, and applicable GST/PST/HST taxes in Canada), and only within North America. Each shipment will be trackable through Canada Post’s website.

As only 12 numbered and signed copies are available, a limit of one copy of this signed/limited numbered edition will be made available to any single individual. We shall try and process orders strictly as they are received via email requests.

The name of each purchaser of this special limited numbered edition copy will be submitted to FON. We therefore request buyers to provide their full name and address for submission to FON.

2. COPIES OF DIVING INTO WILDLIFE SIGNED BY PRINCE HUSSAIN AGA KHAN

Fifty copies of Diving Into Wildlife, personally signed by Prince Hussain, have also been made available to Simerg.

Each of the fifty signed copies is being offered at US$125.00 (plus a packaging and shipping cost of US$25.00, and applicable GST/PST/HST taxes in Canada), and only within North America. Each shipment will be trackable through Canada Post’s website.

The name of each purchaser of this signed copy will be submitted to FON. We therefore request buyers to provide their full name and address for submission to FON.

The pricing of both the special numbered and signed copies, as well as the signed copies, has not been requested by the author or the publisher, but is an initiative of Simerg.

As readers will recall, some seven years ago, Simerg offered both signed and unsigned copies of Prince Hussain’s book of animal photos entitled Animal Voyage. Prince Hussain had dedicated the book to Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, and the proceeds from the sale of Animal Voyage went to the Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Fund for the Environment. In a personally signed copy of the book, Prince Hussain thanked the publisher and editor of Simerg for assisting the fund by placing a large order.

Similarly, with Diving Into Wildlife, Simerg will contribute all proceeds (excluding packaging/postage/taxes) to FON. This initiative to ask a premium for numbered/signed copies and to submit this premium to FON has not been requested by the author or the publisher, but is a personal one.

A GREAT HONOUR

It is a great honour for Simerg to offer these special limited editions signed by Prince Hussain, and Simerg is delighted to support the work of Focused on Nature.

3. UNSIGNED COPIES OF DIVING INTO WILDLIFE

In addition to the special numbered/signed edition of Diving Into Wildlife, Simerg has also received copies of the unsigned edition. Interested individuals who are not able to acquire a signed copy may wish to consider purchasing the unsigned copy of this beautiful volume. Or, indeed, those who have acquired a copy of the special numbered/signed edition may wish to acquire a copy of the unsigned edition as a gift.

The unsigned copies are being offered at US$30.00 (plus a packaging and shipping cost of US$25.00, and applicable GST/PST/HST taxes in Canada), and only within North America. Each shipment will be trackable through Canada Post’s website.

All request for orders for delivery outside of North America will be considered, and these will be forwarded to FON for shipment from Europe, provided the book is still available.

HOW TO PURCHASE THE BOOK

Payment Methods:

Paypal: Simergbooks has been verified by Paypal. To purchase a copy, please send a request to  simergbooks@aol.com and an invoice will be generated from Paypal provided we have the book in stock in North America. In view of the limited quantities, payment should then be received within 24 hours after the invoice.

Email Transfer: To purchase a copy via email fund transfer, please send a request to simergbooks@aol.com. Once we have confirmed to you via email that a book is available, we will request you to submit a payment via email transfer. In view of the limited quantities payment should then be received within 24 hours after the invoice.

Note: Prices listed for the different versions of the book are in US dollars. For Canadian orders, the exchange rate in effect will be used to establish the purchase price in Canadian dollars.

BOOK DETAILS

Back Cover Photos Diving Into Wildlife by Hussain Aga Khan

“Diving Into Wildlife” by Hussain Aga Khan, published by Focused on Nature, June 2015, has a foreword by Prince Hussain Aga Khan, and is introduced by Brian Skerry, a world-renowned photojournalist specializing in marine wildlife and underwater environments. The 70 page hardback has a landscape format, appx. 13.25″ x 8.75″ (33cm x 22cm), and features 41 photos. ISBN: 978-2-35137-052-0.

SIMERG’S EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE

Over the years, Simerg has offered numerous collection items including Prince Hussain’s Animal Voyage and limited edition Golden Jubilee Stamp Frames to a very high level of customer satisfaction. Here are comments from some of our readers:

“My son was delighted with the excellent photography by Prince Hussain. We as a family will cherish this volume for a long time. Once again, thank you Simerg for making this book available in North America and your outstanding customer service and support.” Shamim Rajan, Richmond Hill, Ontario

“This is a beautiful piece of work!! The service was excellent. Very quick, safe and efficient turnaround and follow up. I recommend everyone to have a copy.” Nazir Alibhai, Markham, Ontario

“Thank you so much for the shipment – I received it today! I am impressed at how quickly the transaction went from the time of my order to the delivery. Great job!!” Zarah K.

We look forward to serving our readers with the same high level of satisfaction as before, with Prince Hussain Aga Khan’s new book “Diving Into Wildlife.”

Date posted: Monday, March 28, 2016.
Last updated: December 23, 2018.

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To reserve, purchase or inquire about Diving Into Wildlife, please write to simergbooks@aol.com.

We welcome your comments. Please click Leave a comment.

Prince Rahim Aga Khan On How Muslims Can Harness the Creativity of Our Knowledge Society to Impact Humanity

On the occasion of Prince Rahim Aga Khan’s 44th birthday on Monday, October 12, 2015, we are pleased to produce excerpts from his commencement address that he delivered at the Graduation Ceremony of the Institute of the Ismaili Studies held in London, England, in September 2007.

Prince Rahim and Princess Salwa on their wedding day on August 31, 2013. Photo: TheIsmaili / Gary Otte.

Prince Rahim Aga Khan and Princess Salwa on their wedding day on August 31, 2013. They have one child, son Prince Irfan, who was born on April 11, 2015. Photo Credit: TheIsmaili /Gary Otte. Copyright.

Prince Rahim is the eldest son of the 49th hereditary Ismaili Imam, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, the direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and Begum Salimah Aga Khan. Prince Rahim graduated from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, in 1990, and from Brown University in the United States in 1995. Based at the Secretariat of His Highness at Aiglemont, north of Paris, France, Prince Rahim is an executive Director of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development — the economic development arm of the Aga Khan Development Network.

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Islam Enjoins Us To Make a Positive and Visible Impact on the World

“…Absolutist, exclusivist, and rejectionist claims to the truth, especially to religious truth, are increasingly heard from all quarters. Rather than seeing religion as a humble process of growth in faith, some people presume to claim that they have arrived at the end of that journey and can therefore speak with near-divine authority…”

Prince Rahim Aga Khan delivering his commencement address for the Graduation Ceremony of the Institute of Ismaili Studies held at the Ismaili Centre in London in 2007.

Prince Rahim Aga Khan delivering his commencement address at the Graduation Ceremony of the Institute of Ismaili Studies held in London in 2007 at the Ismaili Centre.

BY PRINCE RAHIM AGA KHAN

I am thrilled to join the graduation ceremony in honour of those completing the IIS [Institute of Ismaili Studies] Graduate Programme in Islamic Studies and Humanities. To you, to your families and to all those who have helped you in this achievement, I say mash’Allah.

I am convinced that the institutions of the Imamat and of the Jamat could benefit directly from the contribution of each of you, either in a professional or a voluntary capacity. Such a contribution would certainly be in keeping with the ethic of our faith that makes it incumbent upon each of us to use our blessings –- be they material or intellectual –- to assist our families, to serve the Jamat and the Ummah, and to help improve society, and indeed, all of humanity. The Jamat and its institutions need young and dynamic women and men like you, who are able to draw on the rich heritage of our past, and on the best educations of the present, to address the challenges of the future.

Education, international studies and diplomacy, non-profit leadership, media, development, law, and regional studies will all be among the most relevant fields of expertise in the decades ahead. This will be particularly true in the developing world.

I was impressed to learn that amongst you are represented five different nationalities, as are several diverse cultural traditions of our Jamat. I am certain that this diversity has enhanced your classroom experience, and I am confident that it will have given you a deeper appreciation of the meaning and value of diversity itself.

We are all aware that we live in a world where diversity is often evoked as a threat and, more particularly, where diversity in the interpretation of a faith can be seen as a sign of disloyalty. This phenomenon is sometimes perceived to apply principally to Muslims, but it also exists in other societies. Absolutist, exclusivist, and rejectionist claims to the truth, especially to religious truth, are increasingly heard from all quarters. Rather than seeing religion as a humble process of growth in faith, some people presume to claim that they have arrived at the end of that journey and can therefore speak with near-divine authority.

Unfortunately, in some parts of the Muslim world today, hostility to diverse interpretations of Islam, and lack of religious tolerance, have become chronic, and worsening, problems. Sometimes these attitudes have led to hatred and violence. At the root of the problem is an artificial notion amongst some Muslims, and other people, that there is, or could ever be, a restricted, monolithic reality called Islam.

Our Ismaili tradition, however, has always accepted the spirit of pluralism among schools of interpretation of the faith, and seen this not as a negative value, but as a true reflection of divine plenitude. Indeed, pluralism is seen as essential to the very survival of humanity. Through your studies you have known the many Qur’anic verses and hadiths of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that acknowledge and extol the value of diversity within human societies. You all know, I am sure, the hadith to the effect that differences of interpretation between Muslim traditions should be seen as a sign of the mercy of Allah.

It should also be clear to anyone who has studied Islamic history or literature, that Islam is, and has always been, a quest that has taken many forms. It has manifested itself in many ways — in different times, amongst different peoples, with changing and evolving emphases, responding to changing human needs, preoccupations, and aspirations.

Even during the early centuries of Islam, there was diversity of intellectual approaches among Muslims. Today, however — both outside the Islamic world and inside it — many people have lost sight of, or wish to be blind to, Islam’s diversity, and to its historical evolution in time and place along a multitude of paths. It befalls us, then, to help those outside the Muslim World to understand Islamic diversity, even as we provide an intellectual counterpoint to those within Islam who would reject it.

I hope that you, as graduates of this programme, will include this message in your own ways in the years ahead, through your work and your words, by your attitudes, by your actions, and by example.

The untrue and unfair, but increasingly widespread equating of the words “Islam” and “Muslim” with “intolerance”, sometimes even with the word “terrorism”, could lead some Muslims to feel despair, indignation, or even shame. To me, however, the current global focus on the Muslim world, and on Islam itself, presents a golden opportunity for us to educate and enlighten, while actively exemplifying the counterpoint I mentioned before. To my eyes, it creates an opportunity, and an even-greater obligation for us to make a positive and visible impact on the world – on culture and art, science and philosophy, politics and ecology, among others.

In order to respond to this opportunity, it will be crucial to reverse another damaging consequence of intolerance, which has been the dissuasion of many Muslim populations from seeking access to what has been called the Knowledge Society. Without an acceptance of diversity, without the ability to harness the creativity that stems from pluralism, the very spirit of the Knowledge Society is stifled. We must encourage, I believe, that Muslims of all communities come together, working collaboratively to tap into the vast endowment of knowledge available today, and without which progress is, if not halted, at least deferred. This cannot be done in the absence of open-mindedness and tolerance.

Implicit in this approach is the need for humility, which is also a central Muslim value. We must all search for the answers to the challenges of our generation, within the ethical framework of our faith, and without pre-judging one another or arbitrarily limiting the scope of that search. Like the great Muslim artists, philosophers and scientists of centuries past, we must enthusiastically pursue knowledge on every hand, always ready to embrace a better understanding of Allah’s creation, and always ready to harness this knowledge in improving the quality of life of all peoples.

As you look towards the future, I hope that you will remember that intellectual pursuits should, wherever possible, seek to address the universal aspirations of humankind, both spiritual and concrete. Those aspirations, for our generation more than for any before, are intertwined in a single global community.

It can be overwhelming at times to ponder the vast array of new problems which seem to multiply in this globalised world.

These include the implications of new technologies and new scientific insights, raising new ethical and legal questions. They include delicate and complex ecological issues, such as the great challenge of climate change. They include matters ranging from the widening gap between rich and poor, to issues of proper governance and effective, fair, and representative government, and to the spread of rampant consumerism and greed, at the expense of others, or of our environment. In some communities, illiteracy and innumeracy are not only continuing problems but are even growing problems. And our challenges also include the increasing difficulty of nurturing pluralism in the face of strong normative trends – finding ways to accommodate our differences – even as hugely differing peoples find themselves in much closer contact with one another.

You have been engaged in studies, some of which analysed the achievements of past Muslim civilisations. What I hope you have come to see is that understanding past Muslim achievements, traditions, values, and ethics should also have equipped you exceptionally well to address the great emerging issues of our own times.

As you now graduate into this challenging world, you will be taking with you the hopes of those who founded, and of those who now drive this study programme. Their central hope is that you will become global leaders in a variety of fields, bearing with you as you go, and applying always, the open-mindedness of our tradition, and the ethics of our faith.

Date posted: Monday, October 12, 2015.

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