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Perspectives on the International Art Gallery at the Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations in Lisbon

Introduced by ABDULMALIK MERCHANT

Ways of Seeing and Ways of Knowing – A conversation with Zainub Verjee

As one of the anchor programs of the Jubilee International Arts Festival in Lisbon, International Art Gallery (IAG) was located at the famous Portuguese National Pavilion. My experience visiting the Gallery was captivating. Led by Zainub Verjee, the Director of the International Art Gallery, her visionary work of bringing such International Art Gallery to reality was not only a success but set a new standard for any successive iteration of the Festival. In total, 129 artworks were exhibited with participation of 135 artists from 29 countries.

Zainub Verjee is an accomplished leader in the art and culture sector and has shaped culture policy at all levels of governments and contributed to building of cultural institutions and organizations in Canada and internationally. She is also an accomplished writer, critic, curator, contemporary artist and public intellectual. She is invited to speak nationally and internationally, on cultural policy, contemporary art and cultural diplomacy. Her art work has been shown at the Venice Biennale, Museum of Modern Art, NY, Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, Portland US, and resides in private and public collections (Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada).

In continuation of this interview, there is going to be an on-going series on this blog and will seek to contextualize the numerous artworks for the benefit of everyone who attended the IAG in Lisbon as well as readers of this blog who will be seeing images of the artworks.

Here are some excerpts of my conversation with her:

Abdulmalik Merchant: What was the vision of the International Art Gallery?

Zainub Verjee: As part of the vision of the International Art Gallery we not only wanted to offer the visitors and the Jamat an international standard of Visual Arts Exhibition, we also wanted to encourage the visitors to understand how one experiences an Art Gallery, how Visual Arts is spoken about, and how to developVisual Arts Literacy.

More importantly, it was to break the commonly held understanding that an Art Gallery = Exhibition! Actually, an art gallery is composed of many things of which exhibition is one part!

The nuanced aspect of the setting up the International Art Gallery was also to make a differentiation between Public Relations model of visual display (eg: Rays of Light), a trade fair model of visual display (eg: Art Trade Fair) etc and allow the Jamati members to experience and negotiate the difference appropriately. The larger part of the educational objective of IAG was to build cultural literacy. Thus, the Jamati member is able to optimize their experience when they visit Art Galleries / Art Museum and learn the protocols of doing so.

AM: The site of International Art Gallery could not have been better for such an historic event. How was your experience of the Portuguese National Pavilion?

ZV: I still cannot believe that we had an opportunity and privilege to put up this exhibition at the International Art Gallery in the Portuguese National Pavilion!

The Portuguese National Pavilion is an imposing work of modern architecture designed by the famous Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza who is the winner of the Pritzker Prize, akin to Nobel of Architecture!

Apart from the beauty of the building, we were faced with the challenge of the huge body of disparate artworks and vastness of the space. The space was not an homogenous one but a multiple combination with different room sizes and some open grand halls and a dark enclave. Further we wanted to know how best we can ensure that the visitor invariably will be overwhelmed and may get lost in the scope of the exhibition. Keeping that in mind our Curator devised a spatial strategy of dividing the whole exhibition into four zones or sections. They were called Sala Rio (River Room), Sala Lago (Lake Room), Sala Oceano (Ocean Room) and Sala Dois Raven (Room of Two Ravens). These were Portuguese names and connected to local history and context. For eg: the Sala Dois Raven was our way of acknowledging the local legend of St. Vincent and the story of two ravens which we see on the coat of arms of the City of Lisbon.

Thus, at the International Art Gallery, the exhibition was divided into these four spatial division and each division had its own story. But at the same time in order to keep the visitor engaged with the entire exhibition we ensured through curatorial strategies of display of the artworks that these four stories emerging from four zones merged into one to make the narrative of the exhibition. This was facilitated by creating four conceptual categories – Imagination, Heritage, Community and Identity – which offered a vessel to hold these disparate works together. They were like the four wheels of a vehicle on which a visitor toured the exhibition!

AM: So, what was the big picture of the International Art Gallery?

ZV: Various element of the IAG were put in place to help Jamat understand that Art gallery doesn’t equal to an exhibition. A commonly held mistaken notion that is! That’s why, the IAG was like a full-fledged “institutions” that was brought together with a complete set of services and programming that one can get in an international art gallery.

For instance, the IAG had a well-staffed with teams covering Visitor Services, a Knowledge Production (Education and Programming), Exhibition Design, Logistics that covered Art Shipping, Art Handling and Art Registrar components, and also, Marketing and Special Events work streams. In addition, we had the overarching Operations and Finance streams. What I am implying here is that the International Art Gallery that you experienced was like walking into an established Art Gallery. International standards and best practices were observed, be it the temperature levels in Exhibition Halls or Art handling protocols or Art Condition Reports or Art Shipping or the labels or the way finding or wall texts or the public programming! Not to forget that there were Mentoring sessions and Master Classes!! I can give you full program, in case you don’t have one.

Jamati artists were exposed to an international slate of Curators, Scholars, Artists and many of them have communicated to me as to how critical and game-changing this experience has been for them.

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A view of “Refugees,” a sculpture by Gulzar Quintino. See close up below.

AM: What kind of impact did they have?

ZV: Some have decided to change their academic and professional pursuits and shift towards Art History, Visual Arts or Architecture instead of pursuing professions such as law or accountancy. There were some young volunteers on the Art Handling team who discovered a whole new professional field of Art Handling. Another one said, “I never thought so much thinking and detailed planning and process goes behind Exhibition Installation.” He continued “I have a new found respect for Art Galleries, Artists and Artworks.”

For many artists it was a first time their artwork was being shown in a professional art exhibition, let alone at an international level! For such artists, this show was a real shot in the arm! They had this wonderful opportunity through Mentoring sessions and Masterclasses where they could discuss their artworks, practice…..what they should do and not? These interactions with renowned slate of international artists, curators and scholars was the biggest opportunity of all! Most important was to get a chance to bond as artists of the global Jamat!

AM: You mentioned art gallery is a site of knowledge production. Could you explain?

ZV: An art gallery is a site of knowledge production and it is one of the crucial, and if I may add, very few such sites where public pedagogy is deployed. The point I am making is that Knowledge Production is not limited to an education institution but it occurs at multiple site in our society. For instance, at the International Art Gallery, in addition to the Exhibition did you know there was an elaborate public programming and especially for artists there were Master classes and Mentoring sessions?

Talking of the public programming, three Keynotes were delivered by eminent Curators, Art Historians and Scholars who were invited Faculty and Guests of International Art Gallery from around the world.

During the three panels a range of themes were discussed passionately [see special panel feature below, following interview – AM].

As much the demanding engagement was there for a viewer in the Gallery. It is in these discussions, the viewing of the artworks, the tours, and other programming modalities that the Art Gallery created an experience and an apparatus for the discovery of new knowledge.

AM: Moving on to the exhibition, can you give help us understand how should we see the artworks and make meaning?

ZV: Let me give you an example. Recently we heard about how a young Swedish girl protested to stop the deportation of Afghani Refugees. Let’s look at how some of the artists at the International Art Gallery in Lisbon were engaged with this issue. In one of the evocative and powerful rooms of the Sala Rio section of the Art Gallery, we see the foregrounding of the refugee crisis. Gulzar Quintino’s sculpture titled Refugees deeply moves the viewer. Placed in the centre of the room, it holds and defines the centrality of the crisis: the contemporary condition.

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International Art Gallery: “Refugees,” sculpture by Gulzar Quintino.

On the wall, the series of photographs retain the disembodied element and yet documentary relevance of the ravages of war in Syria. This is a moving work ironically titled Full of Life by Yamam Alshaar (Salamieh, Syria). From a happy and united family in the first photograph, the sequence details the ravages, losses, and despair wrought by war as the family unit is broken up and left bereft. Hope for a better life and the return of the father drives this family, but the poverty, instability, and effects of war leave marks that only the children, as the last surviving hope, manage to transcend.

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International Art Gallery: “Full of Life,” photographs by Yamam Alshaar.

More poignant element in this room is how Anish Kapoor, the British sculptor, is brought into conversation with Gulzar’s and Yamam Alshaar’s works. We see his quote on the wall opposite Yamam’s artwork and it reads:

“We are demanding creativity of others, recognising that those who leave their country and go on a journey across the water full of danger or who walk hundreds of miles across land are also making a creative act.”

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International Art Gallery: “The Return,” woodwork by Awos Ward.

And as our gaze shifts out of this dialogue one sees a statue. As if like an astute observer standing by the side listening in this conversation, we see the sculpture, a woodwork titled The Return, by Awos Ward (Ghent, Belgium). Made from Azobe wood the sculpture plays with the materiality reflecting the long and enduring processes of preservation; symbolizing an individual’s struggle to find peace and preserve an ethical set of values in the face of adversity.

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Three Panels and Keynotes at International Art Gallery

Inaugural Panel: HOMELAND AND DIASPORA – ART AND ARTIST

Shaheen Merali Keynote Speech

Shaheen Merali delivering the Keynote of the inaugural panel.

In these times of increased mobility and our histories of migrations, where is our home? Or what is home? This panel offered an engaging exploration of the creative tension between Homeland and Diaspora and how this tension impact the artists and their art. The panel discussed how this creative tension is the driving force of the contemporary art. The panel consisted of Zainub Verjee (opening remarks), Shaheen Merali (keynote), and Rosemin Keshvani, Niranjan Rajah, Zarina Bhimji (panelists) with Yasmin Jiwani as the moderator.

Yasmin Jiwani and panel

From left to right: Yasmin Jiwani moderating the panel with Shaheen Merali, Rozemin Keshvani, Niranjan Rajah and Zarina Bhimji.

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Premier Panel: ARTISTS’ JOURNEY – ROLE OF ARTIST IN OUR SOCIETY

Sara Diamond

President Dr. Sara Diamond, OCAD University, delivering the Premiere Keynote.

This panel had the President of OCAD University, Dr. Sara Diamond, from Toronto, Canada, an eminent artist, inventor, and scholar who delivered the keynote on what it is to be an artist and why artists are critical to our society. Her keynote encouraged the panelists for further discussions on the role of artist in society and what their individual journeys have been.

Artists Journey panel

The panelists on Artists’ Journey: Role of artist in our society were (left to right) Shamina Senaratne, Ilyas Kassam, Dr. Sara Diamond, Amin Gulgee, Christian Bernard Singer, João Ludovice and Rozemin Keshvani as the moderator.

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Power Panel: WILL PLURALISM SET THE AGENDA FOR GLOBAL ART?

Faisal Devji

Faisal Devji , a Critic, Historian and Professor at Oxford University, delivering the keynote address.

This panel explored the important role of Pluralism in our anxiety ridden world. Pluralism seeks to balance by demanding that society actively embraces difference.

An exciting panel consisting of international thought leaders, senior artists, art historians and critics spoke on this topic that explored the promise of pluralism in art.

Panelists discussed how artists and contemporary art are engaging with issues of the times and whether it saw the prospects of Pluralism to be the force of future that shapes the global art debate. The panelists were Niranjan Rajah, Zarina Bhimji, Bryan Mulvihill, Pedro Gadanho (Director of Museum of Art, Architecture & Technology, Lisbon), and was moderated by Narendra Pachkhede.

Pedro Gedanho and others

Pedro Gadanho (Director of Museum of Art, Architecture & Technology, Lisbon) offering an insightful observation as the other panelists (from left to right) keenly listen: Bryan Mulvihill, Niranjan Rajah, Pedro Gadanho, Zarina Bhimji and Faisal Devji.

Sara Diamond engaging with audience member IAG panel Lisbon

Dr. Sara Diamond seen here engaging with a member of the audience.

IAG Lisbon artist asking question

Artist from audience asking question to the panelists.

To be continued……

Date posted: August 14, 2018.

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Zainub Verjee

Zainub Verjee is an accomplished leader in the art and culture sector and has shaped culture policy at all levels of governments and contributed to building of cultural institutions and organizations in Canada and internationally.

A trailblazer of her generation, Zainub is a mentor and role model for generations. Fueled by passion, vision, and a staunch conviction about art as public good, Zainub advanced vital interests of artists, and created spaces and access for artists across different disciplines in Canada.

Zainub is also an accomplished writer, critic, curator, contemporary artist and public intellectual. At the forefront of the two decades of cultural politics of the 1980s and 1990s in Canada, Zainub was the co-founder and Festival director of the critically acclaimed In Visible Colours: An International Film/Video Festival & Symposium for Third World Women and Women of Colour (1988–90). She is invited to speak nationally and internationally, on cultural policy, contemporary art and cultural diplomacy.

Zainub has published in numerous academic, cultural and critical fora including, Leonardo Journal (MIT), Kinesis, Parallelogram, Fuse, Horizon, Canadian Art Magazine, Journal of Art and the Public Sphere etc.

Currently Zainub is the Executive Director of Ontario Association of Art Galleries, Toronto.

Among many appointments to Boards, she is proud of her work at the B.C. Arts Board that led to the legislation B.C.Arts Act and the formation of the institution B.C. Arts Council. Among others, currently she sits on the Advisory Board of ArtsBuild Ontario, national steering Committee of Cultural Human Resources Council and is the Chairperson of the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre. She was invited as an expert for the Opening and Closing ceremonies of Vancouver Olympics 2010.

Her art work has been shown at the Venice Biennale, Museum of Modern Art, NY, Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, Portland US, and resides in private and public collections (Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada).

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Barakah welcomes your feedback. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or send your comment to simerg@aol.com. Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

For links to all the posts please click on Table of Contents. Also join/like Barakah at http://www.facebook.com/1000fold and follow us at http://twitter.com/simerg.

This website, Barakah, is a special project by http://www.Simerg.com and is dedicated to the textual and visual celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan.

 

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Joyful photos from His Highness the Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in Lisbon through the lens of Muslim Harji

The editor’s dilemma is what to select from hundreds of photos that are made available through the kindness and generosity of a passionate and great photographer. Montreal’s Muslim Harji has contributed significantly to this blog since the commencement of the Diamond Jubilee as well as to its sister blogs, simerg and simergphotos, over the past 8 years. We have selected the following to provide a glimpse and capture the beauty of the magnificent Diamond Jubilee celebrations in Lisbon in July 2018. For more photos by Muslim Harji, please visit his Flickr page  (see link on his profile, below). 

The Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubilee in Lisbon

By MUSLIM HARJI

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The symbol of Global Unity. A free standing Diamond Jubilee motif at Park of Nations, the venue where tens of thousands of Ismailis gathered to celebrate Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee for 7 days. Photo: Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

It’s exactly a month since we celebrated the Diamond Jubilee Darbar of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, on July 11, 2018, in Lisbon. When we arrived in the beautiful city of Lisbon, it was buzzing with joy and happiness. Ismailis from every corner of the Globe were to be seen everywhere — in hotel lobbies, corner stores, buses, metros, trams, restaurants, cafes, tourist sites and of course at the  Park of Nations (Parque das Nações), the primary site of the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations. At the closing time of each night, the Oriente Metro station and all the carriages would be jam packed with Ismailis! I have never seen anything like this before.

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Red Line metro carriage is packed with happy Ismailis as they depart Oriente station for a night’s rest after an eventful day at the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations. Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

The epic Diamond Jubilee celebration in Lisbon, the closing out of the incredible year of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s 60th year of Imamat, was truly a memorable and historic experience for everyone who was there; I will personally cherish it in my heart, mind, and soul for the rest of my life. This event was a testament to the diversity and beauty of our community, and we should all take comfort in the fact that our community is flourishing around the world.

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Volunteers guiding senior Ismailis. Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

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Volunteers: The pride of the Ismaili community around the world. Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

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Proud youth of the Jamat. Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

Close to 45,000 murids from every corner of the planet came together as “ONE JAMAT” and celebrated the event for seven straight days.

The Diamond Jubilee celebrations would not have been possible without the help of the Portuguese volunteers and hundreds of  international volunteers, some of whom had arrived weeks earlier to help plan and organise this event for all of us to enjoy. They were kind, gentle and compassionate.

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A view of Park of Nations (Parque das Nações) where the Diamond Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan was celebrated in Lisbon. Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

At the same time, the hospitality and warmth of the Portuguese leadership and jamat were remarkable and their ability to plan an innovative and forward-thinking event on such a large scale was truly impressive. I am delighted to share these photos with readers of Barakah.

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One of the 5 entrances at the venue of the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations in Lisbon. Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

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The registration desks where electronic wrist bands for entry to the grounds were issued. Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

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Digitized wrist bands for gaining entry to the grounds. Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

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Transportation within the mela grounds. Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

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A family takes advantage of the transportation to take them to events at the mela grounds. Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

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A view of the Altice Arena which hosted the Diamond Jubilee concerts and the Talent show. Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

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A banner displaying one of two major concerts that were held at the Altice Arena. The evening show on July 10 was a sell out and a special afternoon show was added to accommodate the overflow. The first concert, Kings of Rythm, featuring Algerian Cheb Khaled was held on July 5. Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

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Concert in progress at the Altice Arena. Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

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Ismaili talent performing at the Altice Arena. Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

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Ismaili talent performing at the Altice Arena. Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

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Mehndi (Henna) artists at work. Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

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Be warned, no high fives, please! Seniors with fresh Henna tattoos. Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

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The ever busy memorabilia counter. Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

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Nothing less than joy. Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

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When the food court is full, enjoy biryani on stairs at the Altice arena. Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

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Indifferent to the gorgeous dress and suit, eating in comfort on stairs of the Altice Arena. Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

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Visitors at the International Arts Gallery. Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

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Artists and visitors at the International Arts Gallery. Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

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A pipe band performance. Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

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Happy faces from around the world. Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

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Happy faces from around the world. Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

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Happy faces from around the world. Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

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Happy faces from around the world. Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

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Happy faces from around the world. Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

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Ismailis visit Palacete Henrique De Mendonça, the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat which Hazar Imam proclaimed as the Diwan of the Ismaili Imamat on July 11, 2018. Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

Thank you!

Date posted: August 11, 2018.

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Muslim and Nevin HarjiMuslim Harji has been acclaimed for his wonderful photo essays for this blog as well as its sister websites Simerg.com and Simergphotos.com. He and his wife Nevin have lived in Montreal for over 35 years, where they raised two children and ran a successful business. Upon retiring in 2004, Muslim and Nevin started to explore the world. All told, together and individually, they have visited almost 50 countries around the globe, and plan to continue fostering their love for travelling the world.

For more photos of Lisbon, please click https://www.flickr.com/gp/134574605@N03/u6B8G6.

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Barakah welcomes your feedback. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or send your comment to simerg@aol.com. Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

For links to all the posts please click on Table of ContentsAlso join/like Barakah at http://www.facebook.com/1000fold and follow us at http://twitter.com/simerg.

This website, Barakah, is a special project by http://www.Simerg.com and is dedicated to the textual and visual celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan.

Portugal President’s surprise Darbar visit in Lisbon: A highpoint during Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee; includes video clip

By AZEEM MAHERALI

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Mawlana Hazar Imam receives President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa upon his arrival to the Darbar hall in Lisbon. Photo: The Ismaili/Vazir Karsan.

The entire Diamond Jubilee Darbar in Lisbon on July 11, 2018, the 61st Imamat Day 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. Who would have imagined that Mawlana Hazar Imam with his family would visit all the three halls where the Jamats were seated and spend so much time at the Darbar; that in each of the halls he would graciously speak to the Jamat and ask us, as his dais, to convey his blessings to our families and Jamats around the world; and that the Darbar would be filled with so much laughter and happiness as well as applause. Mawlana Hazar Imam made it all happen! For those who were not present in Lisbon, I would recommend Zafeera Kassam’s narrative of the Darbar which has been acclaimed by readers from around the world.

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. As I came to learn later, the President was deeply touched by the discipline of the Jamat and the adoration of the Jamat for their beloved Imam. The salwats for the Imam rang out from thousands of lips, and I begin to wonder what the President may have personally felt at this highly charged atmosphere.

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Mawlana Hazar Imam speaks at the Darbar in Lisbon on July 11, 2018, calling the visit of Portugal’s President as an unexpected blessing. Members of his family are seen applauding.

Mawlana Hazar Imam termed the visit by His Excellency Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa as “an unexpected blessing.” The mood was euphoric among the approximately 42,000 Ismaili faithfuls from 45 countries who were witnessing an unprecedented event in modern Ismaili history.

Before making way to the Darbar hall, Mawlana Hazar Imam introduced the esteemed President to members of the Noorani family (Prince Amyn, Princess Zahra, Prince Rahim and Princess Salwa, Prince Hussain, Prince Aly Muhammad, Miss Sara Boyden, and Master Iliyan Boyden) as well as  members of the Ismaili Leaders International Forum (LIF) who represent the global jamat.

There were warm and sincere sentiments exchanged in the Darbar hall as the President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa brought greetings from the Portuguese people.

The President’s inspiring message of shared hopes and aspirations for a progressive partnership were reinforced as the President proclaimed “I feel, I’m sure, that Portugal has become your home forever.” Mawlana Hazar Imam concluded his own remarks with “We now have — alhamdulillah — Portugal as our partner.” There were applauses everywhere.

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The President of Portugal congratulates Mawlana Hazar Imam on the occasion of his Diamond Jubilee during the Darbar in Lisbon on July 11, 2018.

The President’s profound message of solidarity and gratitude for Mawlana Hazar Imam and the Jamat is as follows:

“Few words, very much felt in this historical moment of the Diamond Jubilee of Your Highness and Spiritual Leader of this so meaningful community and millions and millions spread across all continents.

“Portugal, home of peace and universal understanding congratulates Your Highness for the Jubilee and also for the constant contribution to peace, tolerance, dialogue, social commitment, plus building a better world.

“Portugal, always a grateful nation, marks Your Highness’ choice to host the Seat of the Imamat Ismaili at Palacete Henrique de Mendonça in Lisbon, Your Highness’ support, among us and all over the world, to development, to justice, to the fight against poverty and inequality.

“Portugal welcomes, with open arms, those who arrive, greets the dear thousands of believers of the Ismaili Community, including the 7000 Portuguese, that day after day, endlessly work with competence and social solidarity.

“All of this, much in line with a verse of the Qu’ran, namely:

‘Righteousness is not that you turn your faces to the east or the west, but is in one’s faithful God, the prophets and the book; despite love for it, righteousness is in giving wealth to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveller, those who ask for help.’

“May all of you as well as all of us pay tribute to Your Highness and your family on this historic day and be welcome to Portugal.

“I feel, I’m sure, that Portugal became your home forever.”

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A video clip from the Darbar in Lisbon

Date posted: August 8, 2018.

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About the writer: Azeem Maherali, originally of Ottawa, Canada, is currently based in Atlanta, Georgia.

Barakah welcomes your feedback. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or send your comment to simerg@aol.com. Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

For links to all the posts please click on Table of Contents. Also join/like Barakah at http://www.facebook.com/1000fold and follow us at http://twitter.com/simerg.

This website, Barakah, is a special project by http://www.Simerg.com and is dedicated to the textual and visual celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan.

‘A diamond is forever’: In honour of His Highness the Aga Khan, Portugal Postal Service releases a unique souvenir sheet embedded with a 1.24mm genuine diamond – a family keepsake for generations to come

By ABDULMALIK MERCHANT
(Publisher/Editor Barakah, Simerg and Simergphotos)

This close up photo shows a 1.24mm diamond on the Portugal Postal Service’s Souvenir Sheet issued for Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee. The value of this commemorative sheet is  euros 20.00. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant.

The Diamond Jubilee memorabilia store located by the entrance to the exhibition space was one of the busiest places during the week long Darbar celebrations at Park of Nations (Parque das Nações) in Lisbon. The queues at the store got even longer when an  announcement was made that the store would also be selling a diamond embedded  stamp commemorative sheet that it had received from the Portuguese Postal Services  (CTT).

Within a day, as I found out from an enthusiastic sales volunteer, more than 1000 units of the sheet were sold at the store, out of a total of 7000 that had been manufactured.  I acquired 2 sets at 20 euros each, and have become one of the thousands of proud owners of this magnificent diamond embedded “memorabilia”.

What a fantastic idea by CTT to come up with this unique object honouring Hazar Imam. As the saying goes “a diamond is forever.” To the “thoughtfully wise” at CTT I say on behalf of every Ismaili: ‘We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for honouring our beloved Imam in such a wonderful and unique manner.”

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Prime Minister António Costa unveils the official Diamond Jubilee commemorative postage stamp in the presence of Mawlana Hazar Imam, as Francisco Lacerda, CEO of CTT (Portugal Postal Services), and Raul Moreira, Head of Philately for CTT, look on. Photo: The Ismaili/Nazim Lokhandwala.

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Mawlana Hazar Imam signs a special commemorative issue of the Diamond Jubilee postage stamp, as Francisco Lacerda, CEO of CTT (Portugal Postal Services), and Raul Moreira, Head of Philately for CTT, look on. Photo: The Ismaili/Nazim Lokhandwalla.

The CTT stamp was unveiled on July 8, 2018 during a luncheon the Prime Minister of Portugal, António Costa, hosted for Mawlana Hazar Imam. The event was attended by Mawlana Hazar Imam’s younger brother, Prince Amyn Aga Khan, the Portuguese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Augusto Santos Silva, the Mayor of Lisbon, Fernando Medina, as well as CTT’s CEO, Francisco Lacerda, and its Head of Philately, Raul Moreira.

Portugal’s Prime Minister, António Costa and Mayor of Lisbon, Fernando Medina, with Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan,  and his brother, Prince Amyn Aga Khan, at Foz Palace following a presentation by the Prime Minister to His Highness of commemorative limited edition First Day Diamond Jubilee stamps issued by the Postal Service of Portugal. Photo: AKDN.

A close up of the Portugal Post’s souvenir sheet commemorating the Diamond Jubilee of Mawlana Hazar Imam. A genuine 1.25mm diamond is affixed on the souvenir sheet at the location we have marked with an arrow. See close-up of diamond at start of article.

On July 9, 2018, CTT launched the entire philatelic issue. This issue consists of a stamp with a face value of € (euro) 0.91 (125,000 copies) and a souvenir sheet, which has  two versions: One with a value of € 2 and 50 thousand copies and another one of only 7 thousand copies, with a diamond of 1.25 mm, at a price of € 20. Also, on sale are a first day cover with the stamp with a value of € 1.69 and a first day cover with a souvenir sheet with a value of € 3.21. We have provided a link to the CTT’s on-line shop at the bottom of this post, where you may be able to purchase these items (subject to availability). The website does not list the diamond sheet of € 20, making me wonder if all 7000 sheets have been sold!

 On July 10, 2018, the CTT Facebook page was updated with the following image:

Set image on CTT’s Facebook page.

A downloadable PDF file explaining the stamp’s features along with a profile of Mawlana Hazar Imam in both Portuguese and English was released by CTT on its website. To download this informative file, please click Pag diptica_sua_alteza_aga_khan_2018.

In releasing the stamp, CTT explains:

“Prince Karim Aga Khan is the 49th hereditary Imam (spiritual leader) of Muslims Shia Imami Ismailis. According to 1400 years of Muslim tradition, the Imam is not only spiritual guide, but also leads the effort to improve the safety and quality of their lives and all those with whom they share their destiny, regardless of their creed, gender or ethnicity . It was in this context that the Aga Khan Development Network was created, which has been present in Portugal since 1983 through the Aga Khan Foundation.

“In 2015, His Highness Aga Khan signed an agreement with the Portuguese Republic on the establishment of the formal headquarters of Imamat Ismaili (a supranational entity representing the succession of the Imams since the time and in the progeny of Prophet Muhammad ) in Portugal. The Palacete Henrique de Mendonça, in Lisbon, will become the world headquarters of Imamat Ismaili and will operate according to the rules of a foreign diplomatic delegation. In Europe, Portugal has one of the largest concentrations of Muslim Ismailis.

“This philatelic issue consists of a stamp with a face value of € 0.91 (125,000 copies) and a stamp with a stamp, which will have two versions. One with a value of 2 € and 50 thousand copies and another one of only 7 thousand copies, with a diamond of 1.25 mm, at a price of € 20.

“The first day obliterations will be made at the Restauradores stores in Lisbon, Muncipio do Porto, Zarco in Funchal and Antero de Quental in Ponta Delgada.”

~~~~~~~~~

CTT set commemorating the Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubilee

Stamp (referred to as set), face value Euro 0.91.

___________

First day cover with set (stamp); face value Euro 1.69.

___________

Souvenir sheet without diamond; face value Euro 2.00.

First day cover with souvenir sheet; face value Euro 3.21.

________________

Portugal CTT Aga Khan Brocuhre with Set and Souvenir Sheet 4.43 Euros

Brochure with set and souvenir sheet; face value Euro 4.43.

________________

Link to CTT on-line store to purchase Diamond Jubilee set and associated philatelic objects

PLEASE CLICK: Purchase collection of His Highness the Aga Khan set at CTT

Click on image to purchase Ag Khan set on CTT on-line store.

Date posted: August 2, 2018.

___________________

Barakah welcomes your feedback. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or send your comment to simerg@aol.com. Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

For links to all the posts please click on Table of ContentsAlso join/like Barakah at http://www.facebook.com/1000fold and follow us at http://twitter.com/simerg.

This website, Barakah, is a special project by http://www.Simerg.com and is dedicated to the textual and visual celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan.

 

50+ magnificent photos of His Highness the Aga Khan with the President of Portugal at Belem Palace, National Palace of Queluz, and Palacete Henrique de Mendonça

Barakah is pleased to present this superb collection of more than 50 photos of His Highness the Aga Khan from the website of the President of the Republic of Portugal, Dr. Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. The President honoured him at Belem Palace and the National Palace of Queluz as well as visited the future Seat of the Ismaili Imamat at the invitation of His Highness to see the renovations that are underway at Palace Henrique de Mendonça. A link to audio remarks made by President Marcelo is provided after the photos.

180709-PRMRS-11-MFL-0302-0954

Audiência ao Príncipe Aga Khan, Líder Espiritual (Imam) dos Muçulmanos Shia Ismaili, no Palácio de Belém/Audience to Prince Aga Khan, Spiritual Leader (Imam) of Muslims Shia Ismaili, at the Palace of Belém. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

09:07:2018: O Presidente Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa recebeu, em audiência no Palácio de Belém, o Príncipe Aga Khan, que se encontra em visita oficial a Portugal por ocasião das celebrações do Jubileu de Diamante, que assinala 60 anos enquanto Líder Espiritual (Imam) dos Muçulmanos Shia Ismaili.

Após ter sido recebido pelo Presidente da República no Pátio dos Bichos, local onde foram executados os hinos, o Príncipe Aga Khan tirou a fotografia oficial e assinou o Livro de Honra na Sala das Bicas.

Depois da apresentação das delegações na Sala Dourada, o Presidente Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa reuniu-se a sós com o Príncipe Aga Khan na Sala de Audiências. A reunião foi mais tarde alargada às respetivas delegações

Google translate:

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa received Prince Aga Khan, who is on an official visit to Portugal on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, which marks 60 years as the Spiritual Leader (Imam) of the Shia Muslims Ismaili.

After being received by the President of the Republic at Pátio dos Bichos [1], where the hymns were performed, Prince Aga Khan took the official photograph and signed the Book of Honor in the Sala das Bicas. [1]

After the presentation of the delegations in the Golden Room, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa met alone with Prince Aga Khan in the Hearing Room. The meeting was later extended to the respective delegations.

180709-PRMRS-01-MFL-0031-9761

Audiência ao Príncipe Aga Khan, Líder Espiritual (Imam) dos Muçulmanos Shia Ismaili, no Palácio de Belém/Audience to Prince Aga Khan, Spiritual Leader (Imam) of Muslims Shia Ismaili, at the Palace of Belém. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-02-MFL-0063-9790

Audiência ao Príncipe Aga Khan, Líder Espiritual (Imam) dos Muçulmanos Shia Ismaili, no Palácio de Belém/Audience to Prince Aga Khan, Spiritual Leader (Imam) of Muslims Shia Ismaili, at the Palace of Belém. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-03-MFL-0114-0834

Audiência ao Príncipe Aga Khan, Líder Espiritual (Imam) dos Muçulmanos Shia Ismaili, no Palácio de Belém/Audience to Prince Aga Khan, Spiritual Leader (Imam) of Muslims Shia Ismaili, at the Palace of Belém. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-04-RO-0003-6346

Audiência ao Príncipe Aga Khan, Líder Espiritual (Imam) dos Muçulmanos Shia Ismaili, no Palácio de Belém/Audience to Prince Aga Khan, Spiritual Leader (Imam) of Muslims Shia Ismaili, at the Palace of Belém. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-05-MFL-0166-0886

Audiência ao Príncipe Aga Khan, Líder Espiritual (Imam) dos Muçulmanos Shia Ismaili, no Palácio de Belém/Audience to Prince Aga Khan, Spiritual Leader (Imam) of Muslims Shia Ismaili, at the Palace of Belém. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-06-RO-0009-6366

Audiência ao Príncipe Aga Khan, Líder Espiritual (Imam) dos Muçulmanos Shia Ismaili, no Palácio de Belém/Audience to Prince Aga Khan, Spiritual Leader (Imam) of Muslims Shia Ismaili, at the Palace of Belém. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-07-RO-0012-8616

Audiência ao Príncipe Aga Khan, Líder Espiritual (Imam) dos Muçulmanos Shia Ismaili, no Palácio de Belém/Audience to Prince Aga Khan, Spiritual Leader (Imam) of Muslims Shia Ismaili, at the Palace of Belém. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-08-MFL-0212-0932

Audiência ao Príncipe Aga Khan, Líder Espiritual (Imam) dos Muçulmanos Shia Ismaili, no Palácio de Belém/Audience to Prince Aga Khan, Spiritual Leader (Imam) of Muslims Shia Ismaili, at the Palace of Belém. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-09-MFL-0230-9823

Audiência ao Príncipe Aga Khan, Líder Espiritual (Imam) dos Muçulmanos Shia Ismaili, no Palácio de Belém/Audience to Prince Aga Khan, Spiritual Leader (Imam) of Muslims Shia Ismaili, at the Palace of Belém. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-10-MFL-0258-9851

Audiência ao Príncipe Aga Khan, Líder Espiritual (Imam) dos Muçulmanos Shia Ismaili, no Palácio de Belém/Audience to Prince Aga Khan, Spiritual Leader (Imam) of Muslims Shia Ismaili, at the Palace of Belém. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-11-MFL-0302-0954

Audiência ao Príncipe Aga Khan, Líder Espiritual (Imam) dos Muçulmanos Shia Ismaili, no Palácio de Belém/Audience to Prince Aga Khan, Spiritual Leader (Imam) of Muslims Shia Ismaili, at the Palace of Belém. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-12-MFL-0367-0979

Audiência ao Príncipe Aga Khan, Líder Espiritual (Imam) dos Muçulmanos Shia Ismaili, no Palácio de Belém/Audience to Prince Aga Khan, Spiritual Leader (Imam) of Muslims Shia Ismaili, at the Palace of Belém. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-13-MFL-0433-9926

Audiência ao Príncipe Aga Khan, Líder Espiritual (Imam) dos Muçulmanos Shia Ismaili, no Palácio de Belém/Audience to Prince Aga Khan, Spiritual Leader (Imam) of Muslims Shia Ismaili, at the Palace of Belém. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-14-MFL-0457-9948

Audiência ao Príncipe Aga Khan, Líder Espiritual (Imam) dos Muçulmanos Shia Ismaili, no Palácio de Belém/Audience to Prince Aga Khan, Spiritual Leader (Imam) of Muslims Shia Ismaili, at the Palace of Belém. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-15-MFL-0465-9956

Audiência ao Príncipe Aga Khan, Líder Espiritual (Imam) dos Muçulmanos Shia Ismaili, no Palácio de Belém/Audience to Prince Aga Khan, Spiritual Leader (Imam) of Muslims Shia Ismaili, at the Palace of Belém. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-16-MFL-0553-1049

Audiência ao Príncipe Aga Khan, Líder Espiritual (Imam) dos Muçulmanos Shia Ismaili, no Palácio de Belém/Audience to Prince Aga Khan, Spiritual Leader (Imam) of Muslims Shia Ismaili, at the Palace of Belém. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-18-MFL-0674-0076

Audiência ao Príncipe Aga Khan, Líder Espiritual (Imam) dos Muçulmanos Shia Ismaili, no Palácio de Belém/Audience to Prince Aga Khan, Spiritual Leader (Imam) of Muslims Shia Ismaili, at the Palace of Belém. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-19-MFL-0733-0135

Audiência ao Príncipe Aga Khan, Líder Espiritual (Imam) dos Muçulmanos Shia Ismaili, no Palácio de Belém/Audience to Prince Aga Khan, Spiritual Leader (Imam) of Muslims Shia Ismaili, at the Palace of Belém. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-20-MFL-0781-1178

Audiência ao Príncipe Aga Khan, Líder Espiritual (Imam) dos Muçulmanos Shia Ismaili, no Palácio de Belém/Audience to Prince Aga Khan, Spiritual Leader (Imam) of Muslims Shia Ismaili, at the Palace of Belém. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-21-MFL-0808-1205

Audiência ao Príncipe Aga Khan, Líder Espiritual (Imam) dos Muçulmanos Shia Ismaili, no Palácio de Belém/Audience to Prince Aga Khan, Spiritual Leader (Imam) of Muslims Shia Ismaili, at the Palace of Belém. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

__________________

His Highness the Aga Khan at Palácio Nacional de Queluz

09.07.2018: O Presidente Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa ofereceu um jantar, no Palácio Nacional de Queluz, [2] em honra do Príncipe Aga Khan, que se encontra em visita oficial a Portugal.

Google translation:

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa offered a dinner at the National Palace of Queluz in honor of Prince Aga Khan, who is on an official visit to Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-RO-0007-6503

Jantar oferecido pelo Presidente da República em honra do Príncipe Aga Khan, no Palácio Nacional de Queluz/Dinner hosted by the President of the Republic in honor of Prince Aga Khan at the National Palace of Queluz. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-RO-0009-6515

Jantar oferecido pelo Presidente da República em honra do Príncipe Aga Khan, no Palácio Nacional de Queluz/Dinner hosted by the President of the Republic in honor of Prince Aga Khan at the National Palace of Queluz. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-RO-0011-6524

Jantar oferecido pelo Presidente da República em honra do Príncipe Aga Khan, no Palácio Nacional de Queluz/Dinner hosted by the President of the Republic in honor of Prince Aga Khan at the National Palace of Queluz. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-RO-0012-6533

Jantar oferecido pelo Presidente da República em honra do Príncipe Aga Khan, no Palácio Nacional de Queluz/Dinner hosted by the President of the Republic in honor of Prince Aga Khan at the National Palace of Queluz. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-RO-0015-6578

Jantar oferecido pelo Presidente da República em honra do Príncipe Aga Khan, no Palácio Nacional de Queluz/Dinner hosted by the President of the Republic in honor of Prince Aga Khan at the National Palace of Queluz. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-RO-0016-6587

Jantar oferecido pelo Presidente da República em honra do Príncipe Aga Khan, no Palácio Nacional de Queluz/Dinner hosted by the President of the Republic in honor of Prince Aga Khan at the National Palace of Queluz. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-RO-0018-6625

Jantar oferecido pelo Presidente da República em honra do Príncipe Aga Khan, no Palácio Nacional de Queluz/Dinner hosted by the President of the Republic in honor of Prince Aga Khan at the National Palace of Queluz. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-RO-0022-6652

Jantar oferecido pelo Presidente da República em honra do Príncipe Aga Khan, no Palácio Nacional de Queluz/Dinner hosted by the President of the Republic in honor of Prince Aga Khan at the National Palace of Queluz. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-RO-0026-6744

Jantar oferecido pelo Presidente da República em honra do Príncipe Aga Khan, no Palácio Nacional de Queluz/Dinner hosted by the President of the Republic in honor of Prince Aga Khan at the National Palace of Queluz. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-RO-0027-6757

Jantar oferecido pelo Presidente da República em honra do Príncipe Aga Khan, no Palácio Nacional de Queluz/Dinner hosted by the President of the Republic in honor of Prince Aga Khan at the National Palace of Queluz. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-RO-0028-6776

Jantar oferecido pelo Presidente da República em honra do Príncipe Aga Khan, no Palácio Nacional de Queluz/Dinner hosted by the President of the Republic in honor of Prince Aga Khan at the National Palace of Queluz. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-RO-0031-6823

Jantar oferecido pelo Presidente da República em honra do Príncipe Aga Khan, no Palácio Nacional de Queluz/Dinner hosted by the President of the Republic in honor of Prince Aga Khan at the National Palace of Queluz. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-RO-0034-6861

Jantar oferecido pelo Presidente da República em honra do Príncipe Aga Khan, no Palácio Nacional de Queluz/Dinner hosted by the President of the Republic in honor of Prince Aga Khan at the National Palace of Queluz. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-RO-0037-6885

Jantar oferecido pelo Presidente da República em honra do Príncipe Aga Khan, no Palácio Nacional de Queluz/Dinner hosted by the President of the Republic in honor of Prince Aga Khan at the National Palace of Queluz. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-RO-0046-7025

Jantar oferecido pelo Presidente da República em honra do Príncipe Aga Khan, no Palácio Nacional de Queluz/Dinner hosted by the President of the Republic in honor of Prince Aga Khan at the National Palace of Queluz. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-RO-0052-9099

Jantar oferecido pelo Presidente da República em honra do Príncipe Aga Khan, no Palácio Nacional de Queluz/Dinner hosted by the President of the Republic in honor of Prince Aga Khan at the National Palace of Queluz. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-RO-0062-7091

Jantar oferecido pelo Presidente da República em honra do Príncipe Aga Khan, no Palácio Nacional de Queluz/Dinner hosted by the President of the Republic in honor of Prince Aga Khan at the National Palace of Queluz. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-RO-0067-7158

Jantar oferecido pelo Presidente da República em honra do Príncipe Aga Khan, no Palácio Nacional de Queluz/Dinner hosted by the President of the Republic in honor of Prince Aga Khan at the National Palace of Queluz. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-RO-0079-7226

Jantar oferecido pelo Presidente da República em honra do Príncipe Aga Khan, no Palácio Nacional de Queluz/Dinner hosted by the President of the Republic in honor of Prince Aga Khan at the National Palace of Queluz. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-RO-0081-7247

Jantar oferecido pelo Presidente da República em honra do Príncipe Aga Khan, no Palácio Nacional de Queluz/Dinner hosted by the President of the Republic in honor of Prince Aga Khan at the National Palace of Queluz. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-RO-0082-

Jantar oferecido pelo Presidente da República em honra do Príncipe Aga Khan, no Palácio Nacional de Queluz/Dinner hosted by the President of the Republic in honor of Prince Aga Khan at the National Palace of Queluz. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-RO-0083-9173

Jantar oferecido pelo Presidente da República em honra do Príncipe Aga Khan, no Palácio Nacional de Queluz/Dinner hosted by the President of the Republic in honor of Prince Aga Khan at the National Palace of Queluz. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-RO-0084-9209

Jantar oferecido pelo Presidente da República em honra do Príncipe Aga Khan, no Palácio Nacional de Queluz/Dinner hosted by the President of the Republic in honor of Prince Aga Khan at the National Palace of Queluz. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-RO-0085-7283

Jantar oferecido pelo Presidente da República em honra do Príncipe Aga Khan, no Palácio Nacional de Queluz/Dinner hosted by the President of the Republic in honor of Prince Aga Khan at the National Palace of Queluz. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-RO-0086-9267

Jantar oferecido pelo Presidente da República em honra do Príncipe Aga Khan, no Palácio Nacional de Queluz/Dinner hosted by the President of the Republic in honor of Prince Aga Khan at the National Palace of Queluz. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-RO-0089-7347

Jantar oferecido pelo Presidente da República em honra do Príncipe Aga Khan, no Palácio Nacional de Queluz/Dinner hosted by the President of the Republic in honor of Prince Aga Khan at the National Palace of Queluz. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-RO-0098-7521

Jantar oferecido pelo Presidente da República em honra do Príncipe Aga Khan, no Palácio Nacional de Queluz/Dinner hosted by the President of the Republic in honor of Prince Aga Khan at the National Palace of Queluz. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-RO-0101-7541

Jantar oferecido pelo Presidente da República em honra do Príncipe Aga Khan, no Palácio Nacional de Queluz/Dinner hosted by the President of the Republic in honor of Prince Aga Khan at the National Palace of Queluz. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

180709-PRMRS-RO-0103-7563

Jantar oferecido pelo Presidente da República em honra do Príncipe Aga Khan, no Palácio Nacional de Queluz/Dinner hosted by the President of the Republic in honor of Prince Aga Khan at the National Palace of Queluz. Photo: Website of the President of Portugal.

______________

The President of Portugal visits Palacete Henrique de Mendonça, the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat

180710-PRMRS-MFL-0803-1772_Palace

Visita à futura Sede Mundial da Comunidade Ismaelita (Imamat Ismaili) no Palacete Henrique de Mendonça em Lisboa/Visit to the future World Headquarters of the Ismaelite Community (Imamat Ismaili) at the Henrique de Mendonça Palace in Lisbon. Photo: The website of the President of Portugal.

10.07.2018: O Presidente da República visitou os trabalhos de recuperação do Palacete Henrique de Mendonça, em Lisboa, futura Sede Mundial do Imamat Ismaili.

A convite do Príncipe Aga Khan, que está em Portugal no âmbito do encerramento das celebrações do seu Jubileu de Diamante, o Presidente Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa e representantes de outros Órgãos de Soberania e da Sociedade Civil visitaram o espaço que deverá ser inaugurado no ano que vem como sede mundial da Comunidade Ismaelita (Imamat Ismaili).

Translation:

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousao of Portugal and representatives of other Sovereign and Civil Society Bodies visited the restoration works of the Palacete  Henrique de Mendonça in Lisbon, future World Headquarters of Imamat Ismaili, at the invitation of Prince Aga Khan, who is in Portugal to close the celebrations of his Diamond Jubilee.

180710-PRMRS-MFL-0903-1870_Palace

Visita à futura Sede Mundial da Comunidade Ismaelita (Imamat Ismaili) no Palacete Henrique de Mendonça em Lisboa/Visit to the future World Headquarters of the Ismaelite Community (Imamat Ismaili) at the Henrique de Mendonça Palace in Lisbon. Photo: The website of the President of Portugal.

180710-PRMRS-MFL-1028-1945_Palace

Visita à futura Sede Mundial da Comunidade Ismaelita (Imamat Ismaili) no Palacete Henrique de Mendonça em Lisboa/Visit to the future World Headquarters of the Ismaelite Community (Imamat Ismaili) at the Henrique de Mendonça Palace in Lisbon. Photo: The website of the President of Portugal.

180710-PRMRS-MFL-1073-1985_Palace

Visita à futura Sede Mundial da Comunidade Ismaelita (Imamat Ismaili) no Palacete Henrique de Mendonça em Lisboa/Visit to the future World Headquarters of the Ismaelite Community (Imamat Ismaili) at the Henrique de Mendonça Palace in Lisbon. Photo: The website of the President of Portugal.

______________________

Speech by the President of Portugal in honour of His Highness the Aga Khan

Audio Link: http://media.presidencia.pt/videos/mrs2018/audio/PRMRS_180709_A01.mp3

Date posted: July 31, 2018.

_____________

NOTES:

[1]. The Sala das Bicas Palace, located in Belém, formerly a palace of kings, is now a national monument and seat of the Portuguese Presidency. Called “da leoneiras” in the eighteenth century, it seems to have as its emblem the lion a solar symbol that combines Wisdom with Power. A green flag with the national shield – the presidential banner is hoisted in the palace indicating the presence of the President in Belém. The entrance to the palace is made by the ramp of the Pátio dos Bichos. Around here are the guests of the President of the Republic and official visits.

[2] The National Palace of Queluz and its historical gardens in Sintra are one of the most remarkable examples of the harmonious link between landscape and palatial architecture in Portugal. They illustrate the evolution of the Court’s tastes in the 18th and 19th centuries, a period that was marked by the baroque, rococo and neoclassicism. Built in 1747 at the orders of the future King Pedro III, the consort of Queen Maria I, the Palace of Queluz was initially conceived as a summer residence, becoming the royal family’s preferred place for their leisure and entertainment. They lived there permanently from 1794 until their departure for Brazil in 1807, as a result of the French invasions.

For photos at source, please visit the following links:

____________________

Barakah welcomes your feedback. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or send your comment to simerg@aol.com. Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

For links to all the posts please click on Table of ContentsAlso join/like Barakah at http://www.facebook.com/1000fold and follow us at http://twitter.com/simerg.

This website, Barakah, is a special project by http://www.Simerg.com and is dedicated to the textual and visual celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan.

A poetic piece on the grand finale of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee

The Lisbon Darbar

zahur_ramji_d_day_-_hall_1_july_11-4459

By JALAL JAFFER

When the welcome siren sounded
Murids from far-flung areas gasped
Conversations around kitchen tables
In pedestrian homes of Gujrat
To lavish bungalows in Nairobi
In rudimentary apartments of London
To water-front homes in Vancouver
Nuclear families, or multi-generational
Centred around past jubilees
The collective wisdom cried out
“How can we not go!!”

There were few questions about Portugal
Fewer still about the Seat of Imamat
Implicit in the hearts and minds
Unfolded an imagery:
A Darbar of majestic proportions
Amidst a frontierless brotherhood
Bowing its collective head
Pledging its loyalty, love, devotion
To their beloved Mawla.

Some forty-thousand Murids
From forty-five countries
Descended upon the ancient city.
Cheerful demeanour, adventurous spirit
Left no room for strangeness
No time for anxiety
Soon, colour-coded wrist bands
Solidified an identity, provided a protective shield.

For days before the epochal event
The vast spaces at the Expo Lands
Blared with song and dance
Food and frolic
Expositions and movies
Concerts and performances
Quality and calibre beyond excellent
Participation and engagement beyond expectation
Happiness and appreciation beyond description
Joy, excitement, gratitude beyond belief.

The stage was set
Murids in their thousands
Comfortably settled in
Final minutes of Intezar
In quiet contemplation, personal zikr
Allowing each to connect
The inner recesses of hearts.
Deep sense of anticipation, excitement
Rising within the collective silence
Peace…inner joy…gripping ever so gently
And, then, the moment arrived.

The salwats, in unison, in humility
Greeted the Imam’s Noorani presence.
The booming rendition, wholesome, unrestrained
Accompanied each and every step
All the way to His high chair, nay His throne.

The Imam’s happiness was palpable
His love, his grace, his blessings
Pouring out without measure.
His levity, smiles, laughter
Enlivening and captivating.
No bowls were large enough
To capture, retain and cherish
No heart remotely capable
Of expanding and embracing
All the Rahemah…the blessings and love
So freely flowing.
It was Magical…Indescribable.

Beyond magic…beyond description
The Imam walking back into the Darbar Hall
With his “surprise guest” at his side.
No one flinched, no one strayed
The booming rendition
Of salwats, and more salwats
Welcomed the Imam and his guest
The President of Portugal.

The warmth and affection
Percolating between the two
The tributes and accolades
Celebrating each other
The unreserved and sincere respect
Accorded by each to the other
The sealing of genuine partnership
Between the Seat of Imamat
And the Government of Portugal
Was a script written
Not on paper, not in a document
Only in the heart and mind.
Goodwill, common cause, humanity
Dwell in the realm of open hearts, open minds.

Historians will describe and explain
In books and videos
The nature and importance
Of the DJ Darbar in Lisbon.
The Murids present
Instinctively knew, instinctively recognised
The unfolding of a historic moment…
They will tell their children, and grandchildren
With pride and gratitude
“We were there–
When history was made”

Date posted: July 30, 2018.

__________________

About the author: Jalal Jaffer is a practising lawyer in Vancouver. He has held numerous leadership positions in Ismaili institutions in Canada. He attended the recent conclusion of His Highness the Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubilee in Lisbon, and was also present on July 11, 2017 at the Homage Ceremony in Aiglemont, France, which marked the commencement of the Jubilee Year.

Barakah welcomes your feedback. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or send your comment to simerg@aol.com. Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

For links to all the posts please click on Table of ContentsAlso join/like Barakah at http://www.facebook.com/1000fold and follow us at http://twitter.com/simerg.

This website, Barakah, is a special project by http://www.Simerg.com and is dedicated to the textual and visual celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan.

 

Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee: Memories of a modern day pilgrimage to Lisbon

By RAHIM HIRJI

Eduardo VII Park

Jamati members from around the world stand as One Jamat for a group photo at Eduardo VII park after Mawlana Hazar Imam’s motorcade had passed way moments earlier by the Park road where 3000-4000 Ismailis had lined up to welcome him. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant

In the months and years to come, the Lisbon Diamond Jubilee Celebration of 2018 will become folklore in the modern history of the Ismailis. This whole Jubilee year has been a full-on celebration – something we haven’t experienced before and the atmosphere that surrounded this grand finale in Lisbon really is quite difficult to put into words. At the Darbar, Hazar Imam told us we were all Dais. This is my humble attempt of sharing the message of the Lisbon Darbar and the events surrounding it. 

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. Ever since the opportunity to travel to Lisbon was presented, there had been much conjecture about how so many Ismailis could be catered for in one city and at one location. Many were changing summer plans to give themselves the opportunity to go, and many were basing their summer holiday around the Portugal Darbar. Hotels were being sold out within days and planes were being chartered from Canada and the US. 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.

We booked our tickets in March and July arrived in a blink of an eye. Right from the time that we arrived at Heathrow for our flight, we were bumping into Ismailis Ismailis we knew, and those we didn’t, all on different legs of their journey to witness and experience the changing of the Seat of the Imamat. Some called it Didar tourism. I call it a modern-day pilgrimage.

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Ismaili family from Syria with long time Montreal resident Nevin Harji (left). Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

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Canadian Ismailis pictured with Ismailis from Iran. Copyright © Muslim Harji.

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Ismailis from Central Asia at the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations in Lisbon. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant.

Even Portuguese Passport Control wished us a “Diamond Jubilee Mubarak” and as we exited customs at Lisbon International Airport we were greeted warmly and somewhat unexpectedly by volunteers at our very own stand in arrivals, diamond jubilee colours to boot! And with that, the week began for us, and for many thousands of Ismailis who had come from all over the world. The majority came from North America, but there were also many from India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Africa and all over Europe apparently 45,000 Ismailis from 45 countries. Wherever there are Ismailis, there was representation. This really was #onejamat.

We opted to stay in and amongst the steep narrow roads of the old town, paved with cobbled stones and, most importantly, at a location with close access to the many bakeries selling Pasteis de Nata, Lisbon’s legendary, deliciously sweet, custard tart. Many did spend time between seeing Lisbon and the surrounding area and Feira Internacional de Lisboa (FIL), the location of all of all the festivities, slightly outside of town. Others stayed within walking distance of the venue and took in the odd trip on sightseeing buses and Tuk Tuk motorcycles. And some took the metro to Oriente every day, where there were also volunteers helping to buy tickets and making sure you got on the right train.

The days in the run-up to Darbar are a blur. There were exhibitions and activities for everyone, old and young alike. The entertainment program was world-class from the awesomely produced Jubilee Arts talent shows to concerts with the likes of Cheb Khalid, Salim Sulaiman and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan to Dandia Raas from our very own Khayal. There may have been excitement at these events, but the real conviviality surrounded being in and amongst Ismailis from all around the world, planned family reunions, unplanned meetings with old friends and making new friends. There were also unofficial events like the Young Professionals Boat Cruises in place for 20 to 40-year-olds to meet.

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A view of the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat, the historic Henrique Mendonça Palace. Photo: Copyright © Muslim Harji.

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Prince Hussain and Prince Aly Muhammad admire a photograph of Mawlana Hazar Imam as a young boy, during their tour of the Rays of Light exhibition at the Diamond Jubilee Celebration in Lisbon. Photo: The Ismaili/Aziz Ajaney.

As we got closer to the 11th of July, more Ismailis arrived and more events were in the diary. Ismailis flocked around town to have a guided tour of the Ismaili Centre and also to get a peek at our Ismaili tourist hotspot, Hazar Imam’s new home, the Henrique Mendonça Palace. And I can’t forget the exhibitions that were at the venue, including the updated Ray of Light exhibition, highlighting all the amazing work that Hazar Imam has achieved in his lifetime. I think it’s fair to say that The Ismaili Village was a hive of activity and I call it a village because it’s as close as I’ll get to understand what it’s like to live amongst so many Ismailis in one place, and perhaps what it might have been like in some of the towns where our parents and grandparents came from.

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Prince Amyn, Princess Zahra, Miss Sara Boyden, and Master Iliyan Boyden enjoy a performance at the International Talent Showcase. Photo: The Ismaili/Aziz Ladha.

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Prince Rahim and Princess Salwa acknowledge the crowd as they depart from the Altice Arena after attending the Sufi Voyage concert. Photo: The Ismaili/Akbar Hakim.

There were waves of excitement and members of the Noorani family were rumoured to be visiting the venues and they did multiple times! Crowds gathered, videos were taken, and roaming charges went through the roof as those videos were shared on every Lisbon Ismaili WhatsApp group going. These were celebrity-esque moments that we hadn’t quite experienced before. Seeing Prince Hussain and Prince Aly Muhammad walking through the main thoroughfare or seeing Prince Rahim and Princess Salwa at a concert you attend was one of many moments that took this week of celebration to another level. Hazar Imam was invited to a banquet by the President of Portugal where he was given state honours. He was also hosted by the Prime Minister where he was presented with commemorative limited edition Diamond Jubilee Stamps. And then there was that very small matter of Hazar Imam being asked to address the Portuguese Parliament that was broadcast and reported on by all the Portuguese channels.

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Mawlana Hazar Imam in conversation with President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa inside Palácio de Belém. Photo: The Ismaili/Akbar Hakim.

Aga Khan Diamond Jubilee Portugal

A close up of the Portugal Post’s souvenir sheet commemorating the Diamond Jubilee of Mawlana Hazar Imam. A genuine 1.25mm diamond is affixed on the souvenir sheet at the location that has been marked with an arrow.

I have a feeling that Lisbon wasn’t quite sure what hit it. The adjacent mall, Vasco de Gama through which many walked through to get to the main venue was bombarded with Ismailis. Of course, the irony is that Vasco de Gama was a Portuguese explorer who discovered India, and, at times, this felt like Indians had discovered Vasco de Gama. The food court was packed at meal times with crowds queueing at the many restaurants. KFC even ran out of chicken at one point. And I’m sure the shops thought that their marketing was finally working. The queue for taxis at the end of evening events was regularly longer than 100 people deep and Uber was at constant surge pricing. There were Ismailis everywhere: in town, at the best restaurants (Zubir Churrasqueira, anyone?) and nightspots and at every tourist destination.

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An attendee at the International Art Gallery is seen wearing the digitized security wrist band as she snaps a photo of one the art works on display. Photo: The Ismaili/Salim Nensi.

Aga Khan DJ Lisbon Registration Band

A close up of the electronic registration band to gain access to the Diamond Jubilee events in Lisbon. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant.

You kind of knew they were Ismailis first there was the sheepish look, followed by a smile, a check to see if you were wearing your registration band, followed by a Ya Ali Madad. You see, everyone who had registered was wearing a coloured band (green/yellow/red etc) which contained an electronic chip attached to it which determined the events that you were booked in and which hall you would be sitting in. So, you had Ismailis wandering around Lisbon with 2018 version of the “Ghat Pat Nu Dhoros” which is worn by many Ismailis as an amulet.

Darbar day came and people planned their strategy to queue the least amount of time. Invariably with more than 40,000 Ismailis (There were rumours that up to 60,000 registered) in one venue (three halls), we all had to queue, and we all eventually got to our spots in relevant halls, grabbed our sustenance bags, and watched a recording of the actual changing the Seat of the Imamat on the screens. The Intezar programme started and zoomed by and before we knew it Hazar Imam had arrived at the venue and was greeting the Leaders.

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Mawlana Hazar Imam is joined by his family at the Diamond Jubilee Darbar in Lisbon. Photo: The Ismaili/Sohil Lalani.

The Darbar was unprecedented and what happened next was something no one was really anticipating: firstly, Hazar Imam was joined by Prince Amin, Prince Hussain, Prince Aly Muhammad, Princess Zahra, Prince Rahim, Princess Salwa, and Sara and Iliyan Boyden; secondly, we received what totalled three (+1) Darbars with Hazar Imam visiting all three halls; and finally you will have heard this already the President of Portugal joined the Darbar Hall with Hazar Imam.

I think I speak for many of us there, but after the first Darbar when we saw Hazar Imam on the screen looking as if he might be leaving, we weren’t quite sure what was happening. And when we were told that Hazar Imam would be receiving a guest, we couldn’t imagine who it might be. I don’t think we could have been more ecstatic that it was the actual President of Portugal.

Bear in mind that we had had a darbar and when we saw the President arrive, and after a few moments, Hazar Iman returned to the same hall, this time with the President. I can’t stress how astonished we all were, that a head of state was joining Hazar Imam in the hall. Both Hazar Imam and the President gave speeches and I remember Hazar Imam joking, “I’m reading now,” because it was a speech and not a Firman. I think even Hazar Imam looked surprised that He was giving a speech, because even He said, “This was an unexpected blessing”. Hazar Imam gave his vote of gratitude and then the President stepped up to speak. He gave his short but full speech in broken English and implied that we will never leave Portugal i.e. that this is a permanent seat of the Imamat. That received loud applause and even Hazar Imam clapped.

Aga Khan Diamond Jubilee Preident of Portugal at Darbar on 11 July 2018 medium

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa of Portugal addresses the Darbar gathering in Lisbon on July 11, 2018, in the presence of Mawlana Hazar Imam.

You could tell that Hazar Imam was extremely happy, smiling for much of the time. He even said that He was immensely happy at this happy occasion. There were jokes aplenty, more so than I can ever remember in any Didar. We were also blessed to have had the longest Didar in modern times. This really did feel like four (3+1) Darbars in one.  We had thought beforehand that he wouldn’t be able to walk the full distance between all of the halls. Boy, were we wrong!

The themes of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Firmans were as follows:

1. He said “May all your difficulties go away and stay away”

2. He referred to us all as “Dais”, both those in the room and to those who we would spread his message to. (This is my way of passing forward the message)

3. He talked of saving money for future generations, saving “pockets of wealth” so that each generation is better off than the one before it. He said this more than once.

4. He emphasised the importance of English if it is not your first language. He joked that you didn’t need to be Shakespeare “He’s long gone,” while gesturing – which was an amusing moment for us all.

5. There was Dua ashish (blessings) for the Ruhanis

6. Apply best practice in all that you do in your professional career

7. Work together, come together as a Jamat from different parts of the world, from different spheres. He said that we are stronger if we work together.

Aga Khan in Tananarive Madagascar playing Dandhia stick dance

A rare photo of Mawlana Hazar Imam playing dandhia, the stick-dance, with Jamati members during his visit to Tananarive, Madagascar, in September 1956. Photo: Jamica Andani Family Archives.

The moment that stood out as most amusing and memorable was when He told us that we should dance and be happy because that is what a Darbar is for. He then recounted that he used to partake in the festivities when he was younger and talked of the “stick dance” and that if you were not careful you would hurt yourself. “Beware of the stick dance!” which had the Jamat in fits of laughter.

The night ended with biriyani, sherbet, and one final Pasteis de Nata, of course, eaten on the steps of the stadium. And we fulfilled Hazar Imam’s wishes by finding one of the many halls to do Raas. We missed the fireworks which looked phenomenal in the videos – but that ended our trip as we returned to London early the next morning. I still feel that I haven’t been able to describe what this celebration was like. It was a mash-up of an Olympic Games where the Closing Ceremony was the main event, with a run-up of A-list music concerts, reality TV talent shows and exhibitions, Disney-like excitement all packaged up with a quasi-coronation. But even that doesn’t do it justice.

For football (and to those who call it soccer) fans from England, we thought that because Darbar clashed with England’s game in the semi-final versus Croatia, that England would make it through to the World Cup Finals. In the end, it wasn’t to be. But that blow was overtaken by the fact that we had just experienced a once in a lifetime experience. For those of you that made it, I hope this brings back fond memories. For those of you that didn’t, I hope this gave a flavour of what it was all about. Just remember one thing, beware of the stick dance!

Date posted: July 28, 2018.

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Rahim HirjiRahim Hirji works in the ever-changing area surrounding technology, media and education (and sometimes all three). In his spare time, he writes Box of Amazing, (https://boxofamazing.com/) a free newsletter covering the latest emerging technology and disruptive trends. Rahim lives in London with his wife and two daughters.

Barakah welcomes your feedback. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or send your comment to simerg@aol.comYour letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

For links to all the posts please click on Table of ContentsAlso join/like Barakah at http://www.facebook.com/1000fold and follow us at http://twitter.com/simerg.

This website, Barakah, is a special project by http://www.Simerg.com and is dedicated to the textual and visual celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan.

Exclusive: The conclusion of a stirring account of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Darbar in Lisbon on July 11, 2018 – the “highest point” of his Diamond Jubilee

[If you have not yet read the stirring first part of Zafeera Kassam’s account of the Darbar in Lisbon, please do so  before you read this final piece. Also, re-reading Part 1 may engage you even more deeply with what you are about to read — a fascinating journey into the Darbar of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, the direct descendant of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s) and 49th Hereditary Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims — Ed.]

By ZAFEERA KASSAM

So, here is Mawla, dressed down in his white Sherwani. A car has pulled up to him. Our hearts in our mouths, terrified at the prospect of him leaving. 

To our utter relief, out stepped someone familiar though, in our cloud of confusion, it took a few minutes of murmuring within the Jamat to confirm the visitor’s identity His Excellency Professor Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, the President of Portugal had come to pay Mawlana Hazar Imam a surprise visit! 

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Mawlana Hazar Imam receives President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa upon his arrival to the Darbar hall in Lisbon. Photo: The Ismaili/Vazir Karsan.

Again, I was dimly aware of the Alwaezin requesting the Jamat to stay seated because Mawla would be bringing his guest back into the hall. At this point, that sounded like malarkey; just something the Alwaezin would say to keep the Jamat sequestered in Hall 1 and prevent the congregation from dispersing.

We watched, with piqued interest, as Mawla embraced the President warmly and introduced him to the Leadership as well as the Noorani Family, who had conspicuously divested their ceremonial jubas. Mawla led the President towards the lounge, at which point the President made as if to take off his shoes but was quickly dissuaded from doing so by Mawla. The screens faded to the DJ logo again and we were again instructed to sit in contemplative silence, which was something of a challenge given the excitement and palpable confusion. I can’t imagine what the Jamats in Halls 2 and 3 were experiencing perhaps trepidation? Had they too been brought up to speed? Had they been told that Hazar Imam would be making an unplanned return to Hall 1? 

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Mawlana Hazar Imam introduces President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa to the members of the Ismaili Leaders International Forum. Photo: The Ismaili/Nayyir Damani

Just as the bumbling mix-match emotions and thoughts were beginning to take shape, the screens came alive to show Mawlana Hazar Imam, in his full regalia, escorting the President of Portugal, whose shoes were noticeably missing, from the lounge. Simultaneously, the doors of Hall 1 swung open and it was then that the truth registered and the fantastical dawned upon us. Mawla was actually returning to Hall 1! 

That has never happened in the 30 years of my existence. Mawla was bringing with him a non-Ismaili into the Darbar Hall! Again, never in my 30 years have I seen that (though I later came to learn he brought the Honourable Njoroge Mungai into one in Nairobi in the early 80’s and, in Pakistan, President Bhutto was present at a mulaqat, together with many non-Ismaili dignitaries in Chitral). 

My astonishment quickly evaporated into unbridled, quintessential euphoria. Hazar Imam was granting us another audience! Together with the Noorani Family again! Together with the President of Portugal! Unbelievable! What had we done to have the heavens open up and grant us such a unique and invaluable boon? Yet again, Hazar Imam fulfilled a whimsical wish many had nurtured in their hearts that, once, just once, he chooses to return to his Jamat instead of departing. Alhamdulillah!

The salwats picked up fervour, indeed in the presence of a non-Ismaili. Not a single murid balked at this because Hazar Imam himself had invited the President inside. How many analyses can be drawn from this gesture? Mawlana Hazar Imam bridged the secular with the spiritual with this one magnanimous gesture. He made it obvious that he wanted the President to know who he is and what the Darbar entailed. And I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I described his appearance now as ‘majestic’. Incredibly majestic. Swelled with pride and glory. Mashallah!

As he had done before, he did so again walking along the red carpet throughout the hall – with the President of Portugal at his side, both acknowledging jamati members. The procession made its way to the stage and Mawlana Hazar Imam gestured to the President to take a seat. Because I was sitting at the side of the stage, it appeared as though the Imam was offering the President his own takht. I’m pretty sure my mouth was hanging open until the screen closest to me displayed that, in fact, there was an extra chair on stage now the work of quick-footed volunteers, no doubt. 

Once the Noorani Family had taken their seats, the President of the Council of Portugal claimed the mic to profess: “On behalf of all the Jamat that is present here, I welcome his Excellency the President of the Republic of Portugal, Professor Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, to this Darbar.” 

And the Imam clapped. The Noorani Family clapped. So how could the Jamat not clap? As mentioned in Part 1, though the Alwaezin cautioned the Jamat not to engage in applause, applause became very much part of this Darbar. As it should be. Happiness and love should never be restricted in expression. The Jamat applauded most heartily, using this opportunity to convey their immense thrill to have the Imam in their midst again as well as his guest as well as his family. 

The chit of paper, which had been discreetly placed in the Imam’s hand when he sat down, was now unfolded as Mawlana Hazar Imam came to the mic for the third time! With glee iridescent on his countenance, he opened with: “this was an unexpected blessing” which earned a roar of laughter and thunderous applause that faded into a ripple of amusement once he thanked the President for sharing his time with us and wore his glasses, confessing: “I’m reading now.”

He repeated his speech of earlier that morning, about having signed the Instrument designating the Diwan of the Ismaili Imamat, here in Lisbon. 

More applause.

He spoke about strengthening the institutions to better serve the needs of the Jamat and thanked the government and people of Portugal for inviting him to establish the Seat here; committed to working together to enhance understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims and contribute to peace and stability around the world. 

We now have — Alhamdulillah — Portugal as our partner.” 

The hall was ringing with ovation and Hazar Imam was positively beaming when he took his seat again.

Aga Khan Diamond Jubilee Preident of Portugal at Darbar on 11 July 2018 medium

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa of Portugal addresses the Darbar gathering in Lisbon on July 11, 2018, in the presence of Mawlana Hazar Imam.

The President of Portugal was invited to address the congregation: “Few words, very much felt in this historical moment of the Diamond Jubilee of Your Highness and Spiritual Leader of this so meaningful Community and millions and millions spread across all continents. Portugal, home of peace and universal understanding congratulates Your Highness for the Jubilee and also for the constant contribution to peace, tolerance, dialogue, social commitment, plus building a better world.” Once again, applause blossomed in the halls, expressing pride at the laudatory remarks. 

“Portugal, always a grateful nation, marks Your Highness’ choice to host the Seat of the Imamat Ismaili Mendoça; Your Highness’ support, among us and all over the world, to development, to justice, to the fight against poverty and inequality.” 

More applause.

“Portugal welcomes, with open arms, those who arrive, greets the dear thousands of believers of the Ismaili Community, including the 7000 Portuguese, that day after day, endlessly work with competence and social solidarity.”

Ringing applause.

“All of this, much in line with a verse of the Qu’ran, namely ‘Righteousness is not that you turn your faces to the east or the west, but is in one’s faithful God, the prophets and the book; despite love for it, righteousness is in giving wealth to relatives, orphans,  the needy, the traveller, those who ask for help.’” Surah Al-Baqarah, if I’m not mistaken “May all of you as well as all of us pay tribute to Your Highness and your family on this historic day and be welcome to Portugal.”

Deafening applause! 

“I’m sure that Portugal will become your home forever.”

If it were at all permissible, this was a standing-ovation moment. Nonetheless, enthusiastic applause erupted throughout the hall, echoing the sincere sentiment. 

The President of the Portuguese Aga Khan Council then announced: “Hazar Imam and the President of Portugal will now take your leave.”

But nor Hazar Imam neither the President wanted to leave! They looked at each other and this embarrassing moment (for the President of the Portuguese Council) dissolved into a comical contradiction and the Jamat looked on fondly at their quizzical expressions, putting their hands together for the Imam and the President of Portugal one last time.

It was obvious that they had been expecting some ceremonies to take place, but what to do? The President of the Council had already announced their departure. Mawlana Hazar Imam and Professor Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa started laughing and just before they descended, Mawla sidled up to the mic to quip: “I am missing instructions from my Mukhi.” Cue more laughter, which petered away as they came down the steps. 

Aga Khan Diamond Jubilee Lisbon bidding farewll to Portuguese president

Mawlana Hazar Imam bidding farewell to the President of Portugal.

The procession left the hall buoyed by salwats once more and, eventually, the coverage cut to Hazar Imam bidding the President of Portugal goodbye. Mawla retired to the lounge and the period of quiet contemplation resumed. 

However, we were hardly able to indulge in any kind of quietude. Hall 1 was wide-eyed with jubilation, agog with astonishment and restless with need to discuss and dissect the momentous and monumental event that had just unfolded before our eyes. 

Distant salwats broke the enchantment and we joined in as the screens filled with the view of Mawlana Hazar Imam and Noorani Family entering Hall 2, walking along the red carpet and taking their places on the identical stage there. 

‘Dhan Dhan Aaj No’ was belted out in all sincerity and it really was a ‘het no melavado’ (gathering of love). Hazar Imam came to the mic, his own jubilation unconfined and his humour at its pinnacle in this hall:

My beloved spiritual children are in front of me; my family are behind me,” he joked and his spiritual children and his family chuckled indulgently.  

I want my Jamat to know how happy I am, that on this occasion my family have been able to accompany me for this Mulaqat.”

How blessed we were to have them all seated in front of us and doubly blessed we were to bear witness to the Imam’s sublime joy. 

It is a source of great happiness for me; certain amount of humour; occasional questions cue chuckles all around  “which you never experience. But it is a moment of great happiness for me to have my family with me, for this Mulaqat, with my Jamat.” 

As the saying goes, the cup runneth over, with happiness, boundless happiness. The heart and the soul were in seventh heaven. 

Hazar Imam moved on to speak about the future, telling us to ask ourselves: how to build the future; where to build the future; what are the foundations upon which to build a solid future. 

And I say to my Jamat who speak Urdu, Gujarati, Arabic, other languages – learn English. Be bilingual, trilingual, quadralingual…quintiwingual?” Hazar Imam wiggled his eyebrows mischievously and I could see Princess Zahra, by virtue of the angle of the camera, sharing in the laughter. 

He reiterated the need to know more than one language, emphasizing the necessity of being able to read English and to speak in English, in order to have greater access to global knowledge. 

You don’t need to pretend you’re Shakespeare,” Imam mocked. “He’s long gone.” Imam waved his hands to emphasize this, to which the Jamat roared with laughter. He grinned widely and the camera panned to reveal the whole Noorani Family was unabashedly amused too. 

Following this, Mawla spoke of serious issues such as coming together in our professional lives, mentioning jamati institutions, other associations, even informal collaborations, because “you’re stronger when you come together.” 

He further advised the Jamat to prepare for the future, stating that the Jamat is currently living in a context whereby we can create small amounts of wealth for future generations. He directed this point to Jamat of Western nations: “Create small amounts of wealth to protect future generations in the years ahead. Just be careful. Live within your means. Set aside what you can and prepare for future generations. What I’m seeking from my Jamat is strength from generation to generation. Look past your generation to look to the second, to the fourth, to create capacity.”

Without taking a breath, Imam segued straight into ethics and spoke of integrity in our activities and the imperativeness of Best Practice. 

Hazar Imam concluded this farman with: “I give to each and every one of you individually, and to your families, my warmest and my most best best loving blessings. Khanavadan. Khanavadan. Khanavadan. I want you to know that my family behind me rejoices with you. So you should have a good time. You probably know that a Darbar is an occasion of fun, of humour, of dancing, of music. So go ahead.” 

If it were at all permissible, we could have just leapt up and start dancing immediately. The effervescence of the Imam in this hall was just magical. And he wasn’t done with the Jamat yet. He still had a humorous anecdote to share:

Many years ago, when I was much younger, I used to participate with the Jamat in these events in the evening. And there was a terrible dance called the stick dance. And if you weren’t careful, you’d get hit on the hand!”

The Jamat was in fits. 

So I say to my Jamat, beware of the stick dance.” 

Hazar Imam was on a roll. Ever charming, ever suave.

Aga Khan in Tananarive Madagascar playing Dandhia stick dance

A rare photo of Mawlana Hazar Imam playing dandhia, the stick-dance, with Jamati members during his visit to Tananarive, Madagascar, in September 1956. Photo: Jamica Andani Family Archives.

He took his seat only to briefly consult with the Mukhi Saheb and reclaim the mic to joke: “Mukhi has given me geographic guidance.” Bursts of giggles punctuated every sentence here. “That is to go straight to the next hall. And I hope he will guide me there. If he gets lost, come and help me.

Our attention rapt on the live-action feeds, we followed Hazar Imam and the Noorani Family retrace their way from the stage, along the runners, and out into the foyer where Mawla declined heading into the lounge and promptly entered the third hall. The procession moved through Hall 3 with equal adoration, bolstered through with fervent salwats until they came to the stage, again identical in form to the previous two. 

zafarani_Aga Khan Diamond Jubilee Lisbon_darbar_hall_3_july_11-7497_-_copy

Mawlana Hazar Imam walks through the Jamat at the Diamond Jubilee Darbar in Lisbon, followed by the Mukhi and Kamadia Sahebs of the Libon Drakhana Jamatkhana, Prince Amyn, Princess Zahra, Prince Rahim and Princess Salwa, Prince Hussain, Prince Aly Muhammad, Miss Sara Boyden, and Master Iliyan Boyden. Photo: The Ismaili/Zafarani Mansurali.

I recognised the rendition of Goyum Ali but the Ginan sung in this hall is one of my favourites and I witnessed something I’ve never seen before. Hazar Imam was actually smiling, knowingly, at the outpouring of ‘je je maangu, te tuhi deve’. Indeed, Mawlana Hazar Imam is the fulfiller of all wishes and countless desires of the heart had been fulfilled during this monumental Darbar and, I’m confident, countless more would be. That is one of the invaluable boons of such an intimate Mulaqat with the Lord of Light, Age and Time. An even more invaluable boon was the dazzling sight of our beloved Imam so relaxed and cheerful. Words don’t converge to explain what it feels like to look upon this aspect of the Imam. He seemed most at ease in this hall and, in turn, our hearts were swirling, with contentment, as if Sufi dancers lost in this personal paradise. 

He began this farman with blessings. First to individuals present, their families and Jamat and then for the eternal peace and rest of all the Ruhani members of the Jamat. He followed this up with blessings to those who served the Jamat — the volunteers — and he made it a point to say that he has great gratitude and respect for their wonderful work.

Hazar Imam reiterated the need to think of the future, to think beyond one generation, and addressing this point particularly to those with young children, he said: “Be careful. Protect them. Save. Put assets aside.” He stressed to the Jamat to “be thoughtful, be prudent, competent…and very competent.” Smiling, he continued by expressing his gratitude to the government of Portugal for all the kindnesses and courtesies extended, not only to his family, but to the whole of the Jamat. 

Mawla, once again, imparted special blessings for mushkil aasan. “Whatever problems you may have, let them go away. I give special blessings. Khanavadan. Khanavadan. Khanavadan. I give special blessings. For mushkil aasan,” he repeated and made his spiritual children giggle with affection when he flapped his hands, mimicking birds in flights, and joked, “away, away, away!”

Salwats escorted him back to the takht where he exchanged a few words with the Mukhisaheb before returning to the mic to say: “in many circumstances, the Jamat is extended amongst different halls so I had to ask Mukhi, is there anooother Hall?” Hazar Imam beamed as his Jamat laughed at this. It was quite the unusual circumstance. I don’t think such an arrangement has ever been done before, but that’s one of the facets that made this Darbar that much more special. Though people see it as a segregation of three, I see it as a triple opportunity. Seeing and hearing the Imam on live action feeds —  being able to witness what was happening at the exact time it was happening —  is what made this a three-in-one jewel in the crown of the Diamond Jubilee Year. 

Do I have the whole of my Jamat in front of me? And he said yes. So I give to each and every one of you individually, and to your families and to your Jamats, my best, best affectionate blessings. Khanavadan. Khanavadan. Khanavadan. I also want to tell you how happy my family is to be with my Jamat. And how happy I am that they’ve accompanied me. So I give best blessings for happiness, for longevity, and mushkil aasan in whatever issues you may be facing. Khanavadan. Khanavadan. Khanavadan.”

And with that, some three hours after he had arrived for this historic Darbar, beloved and munificent Mawlana Hazar Imam and his Noorani Family departed from the Darbar, leaving us in a daze of mixed emotions —  that of gratitude, of exhilaration, of spiritual invigoration intermingled with the nostalgic awareness that the moment we had all been looking forward to for months was now over. He had given us a plethora of gems to treasure, including a cherished Mulaqat with Himself and His Noorani Family as well as something special in every hall: a double-audience in Hall 1; his most endearing effervescence and humorous quips in Hall 2; the maximum amount of duas and blessings in Hall 3.

Additionally, this was the longest period of time spent with his Jamat, making this the most memorable deedar of our lives, making this the most outstanding and choicest blessing to receive. Subhanallah! 

Like a loving parent, he declared the jubilation ongoing and left us to continue the Darbar into the evening with music and dance, Biryani and the dangerous Stick-Dance, weightless souls, singing hearts and unburdened feet, and a splendorous display of fireworks.

fireworks

Fireworks conclude the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations in Lisbon, Portugal.

What words, what actions, what can express
the hearts’, the souls’ the beings’ appreciation?
What can be said of the ineffability of our Imam,
of the way he opens his arms and we are spiritually
and wholly embraced in a cocoon we despise leaving;
of the way he ensures our happiness is paramount;
of all he has done to make this world a better place?
What calibre of thanks can we verbalise, or display, for decades
he has tirelessly, selflessly dedicated for ubiquitous upliftment?
 And we have no gifts, no diamonds, no gems, no wealth,
no tangible or intangible thing of real, comparable value
to offer in return. So, humbly, we extend something small.
Ya Shah Karim, you choose to not rule over lands or people,
but, please, accept our hearts as a tiny piece of your kingdom.

DIAMOND JUBILEE MUBARAK!

Date posted: July 25, 2018

___________________

Zafeera KassamZafeera Kassam is a high-school teacher of English Language, Literature and Psychology, residing in Nairobi, Kenya. She spends her free time in creative writing and poetry, and has had her short stories and poems published in various media around the world. As a devotee of Mowlana Hazar Imam, her greatest joy is in penning verse and poems in praise of Hazar Imam. Her latest publication, Always and Forever, is a book of 60 poems dedicated especially to Mowlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee (available on Amazon Kindle). She is also an amateur photographer who takes great interest in capturing nature. Currently, she is concentrating on developing her skills in graphic design and digital imagery. Most of all, she hopes to be continuously inspired to keep penning poems in praise of beloved Hazar Imam.

____________

Barakah welcomes your feedback. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or send your comment to simerg@aol.com. Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

For links to all the posts please click on Table of Contents. Also join/like Barakah at http://www.facebook.com/1000fold and follow us at http://twitter.com/simerg.

This website, Barakah, is a special project by http://www.Simerg.com and is dedicated to the textual and visual celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan.

 

 

 

Exclusive: An inspiring and moving account of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Darbar in Lisbon on July 11, 2018 – the “highest point” of his Diamond Jubilee

[As a prelude to her excellent essay below, Zafeera Kassam has written a very interesting short piece highlighting some of the key events and ceremonies that took place from July 5th as part of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations in Lisbon. Before reading the following essay, may we recommend that you read Zafeera’s prelude — ed.]

By ZAFEERA KASSAM

Our present living Imam, our Pir and Murshid, our beloved Shah Karim al Hussaini — Yaali Bapa, Ya Habibi, Mawla, Khudavind — truly is the fulfiller of all our wishes.

That is what materialized in this most epic and historic Darbar. Each and every person I’ve met during this Jubilee year has expressed variations of their deepest desires to see Mawlana Hazar Imam relaxed and at ease with the Jamat, or that he spends more time with the Jamat, or that he cracks jokes and showers his beloved spiritual children with familial affections as well as unlimited blessings.

Well, that is exactly what came to fruition during the Imamat Day Darbar, Lisbon 2018, the culmination of the Diamond Jubilee year. And then some! In spite of the fact that we didn’t do anything exceptional for the Imam during this Darbar (like have him cut an exquisitely decorated cake or weigh him in polished diamonds), Mawlana Hazar Imam, in his infinite glory, made the Darbar incomparably special for us. We are superbly humbled, blessed and honoured to have an Imam as generous and loving as Mawlana Shah Karim al Hussaini. 

So, here I was setting out with the expectation of enduring huge crowds, endless queues and a squashed place to sit, all exacerbated by the heat wave. But my heart was joyous and I was ready to face any and all discomforts because, ultimately, I was fortunate to have been able to come to Lisbon and be a part of history in the making. The first thing I noticed as I stepped out of the hotel, with my family, were cool breezes blowing by, and a cloudy sky. ‘Thank you, Mawla, at least it’s not so hot today. You’ve kept it pleasant and bearable.’  

With that, I knew. I knew, in my heart, intuitively, that today would be memorable in a way that people would talk about it forever as they still do about the Diamond Jubilee of Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah — like when the Imam was being weighed in diamonds and the scales just wouldn’t balance until Begum Om Habibeh Mata Salamat yielded her diamond bracelet and finally the weight was right — how monumental!

Getting off at Oriente Station, my family and I picked our way through the Vasco Da Gama Mall and proceeded through the entrance assigned, on to security checks and into the Hall. Goodness! I was actually inside the Darbar Hall itself within minutes. This was surreal. Where were the crowds? Where were the queues? Was I at the right venue? Well, I must commend the excellent organisation and efficiency of the volunteers. Everything just went through smoothly and expeditiously, I was positively surprised to see that the Darbar Hall was packed, but comfortably so.

As it turned out, we were assigned to the first hall and, at the time we entered, a wave of applause swept through the Jamat already present because chairs were being added to the stage to accommodate members of the Noorani Family. The waves of applause continued every time a chair was carried onto the stage and this was quite endearing.

ah_11815_Aga Khan Diamond Jubilee Lisbon Seat of Imamat designation

On the occasion of the designation of the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat, Mawlana Hazar Imam is presented with a gift on behalf of the global Jamat. Photo: The Ismaili/Akbar Hakim.

zr3_1901_Aga Khan Diamond Jubilee Lisbon Seat of Imamat Designation

Mawlana Hazar Imam addresses leaders of the Jamat on the occasion of the designation of the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat on 11 July 2018. Photo: The Ismaili/Zahur Ramji.

Soon after, a video of the morning ceremonies formalising the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat was shown on the numerous screens. How delightful it was to gaze upon the Noorani Family in their ceremonial regalia. How ever more so delightful it was to see Hazar Imam beaming as he climbed upon the stage. I remember seeing him wink and grin at, I assume, his grandchildren, who were all present for this particular event, including the slightly fidgety Prince Irfan and Prince Sinan who sat in Princess Salwa’s lap and was either sucking his thumb or discreetly reaching into mommy’s purse for a snack. After being presented with the Nazrana on behalf of the global jamat, Mawlana Hazar Imam took to the mic to explain what his decision entailed and what this meant for the Imamat and how he had not taken the decision lightly, but with a lot of thought and analysis. He spoke with so much pride that we swelled with joy to hear him. He then proclaimed that the Seat of the Imamat would be known as Diwan. Following this, he sat down at the table on his left and signed the “instrument” designating the same. It felt heart-warming to be included in this historical moment. 

zr1_4095 Aga Khan Diamond Jubilee Lisbon Seat of Imamat designation

Mawlana Hazar Imam ordains the instrument to designate the Henrique de Mendonça Palace as the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat on 11 July 2018. Photo: The Ismaili/Zahur Ramji.

The video ended with a launch of the new website: ismaili.imamat.

My mind was reeling with the ramifications and profundity of this event: What did all this mean in relation to Mawla’s residence? Would beloved Mawla leave France and permanently come to reside in Lisbon? Would he close down Aiglemont or would this Seat be an extension to the Headquarters at Aiglemont?

As I pondered over these questions, I became dimly aware of the Intezari Programme having started. Some qasedas I did not recognise, such as Bud Ali Bud, and some that I did, such as Ya Imami, were crooned mellifluously; Zikrs catalysed time into momentum; Alwaezins elaborated on the arrangements made and what to expect about the proceedings and ceremonies to be held in the presence of the Imam. It was explained that the Mehmanis and Nazranas as well as the Loyalty Address would take place in Hall 1 where after Mawla would proceed to Hall 2 and then Hall 3 where the Ginan, Persian Qaseda and Arabic Qaseda would be recited in the presence of the Imam and we would be able to follow the Imam into these halls and bear witness to this via the live-action feed on the screens. Wow! One Darbar had transformed into a three-in-one Darbar. Zeh naseeb!  

The Alwaezins made it a point, perhaps because of the enthused ovation welcoming the chairs, to reprimand the Jamat that applause is not correct decorum in a Darbar and that happiness ought to be expressed by way of salwats instead. As it turned out, applause was to become very much part of the Darbar’s ambience but I will return to this later on. 

It is impossible to account for the time spent in the Hall because suddenly, almost unexpectedly, it was 5pm; the screens came alive with Mawlana Hazar Imam’s motorcade zooming into the arena. As swiftly as Mawla’s Audi came to a halt, the door seemed to have sprung open and there alighted the Lord of Light, his eagerness to be here very much evident in the way he bounced up the red carpet to greet the Leadership as well as Mukhi Kamadia Sahebs and Mukhiani Kamadiani Sahebas. All eyes firmly focused on the screen, a characteristic hush fell onto the gathering. A hush of breathless awe, of tingling anticipation. 

Mawla was dressed in an immaculate suit but the male members of the Noorani Family donned their white Sherwanis and looked absolutely dapper, while Princess Zahra, Princess Salwa and Princess Sara were all resplendent in their glittering saris and jewellery. When Mawla and the Noorani Family had finished greeting the leadership, the coverage cut to the DJ logo and the Alwaezin instructed the Jamat to concentrate on personal zikr, which he led softly, advising us to prepare our hearts to receive the rainfall of Noor which Mawlana Hazar Imam would benevolently bestow upon everyone. 

shyrose_bhanji_Aga Khan Diamond Jubilee Lisbon green_room_july_11-6115

Mawlana Hazar Imam greets Mukhi Saheb, Mukhiani Saheba, Kamadia Saheb, and Kamadiani Saheba of Lisbon Darkhana after changing into his ceremonial robe. Photo: The Ismaili/Shyrose Bhanji.

Here, I can say time stretched and the minutes within which Mawla changed into his ceremonial robes were encapsulated in spiritual yet feverish anxiety. It was a period of contemplation marked with all the chaotic thoughts that erupt when you know you’ll forget everything you want to say (in your mind) to the Imam as he advances along the red carpet because the mind just goes blank when the heart expands with ecstasy at seeing him up close and personal. 

And then, the doors opened outwardly. And then, the salwats ballooned sonorously. And then, our beloved Hazar Imam, in all his beatific and divine glory, stepped into the hall.

My family and I were seated at the entrance and so my mother, by virtue of the intimate miracle that placed her at this very spot, adoringly showered his feet with red rose petals as he passed by. As mentioned earlier, Mawla truly is the fulfiller of wishes and it was her heart’s deepest desire to act out the verse of the ginan: ‘Fulada vinavo vira satiyun tana vadhaavo apna tribhovar sham’ (Pick the choicest flower petals and shower them upon the Lord of the Three Worlds). Shukranlillah walhamdulillah.

akber_hakim_Aga Khan Diamond Jubilee Lisbon d_day_-_hall_1_july_11-12229

Mawlana Hazar Imam walks through the Jamat at the Diamond Jubilee Darbar in Lisbon on 11 July 2018. Photo: The Ismaili/Akber Hakim.

asif_balesha_Aga Khan Diamond Jubilee Lisbon_darbar_hall_2_july_11-8006

Mawlana Hazar Imam walks through the Jamat at the Diamond Jubilee Darbar in Lisbon, followed by the Mukhi and Kamadia Sahebs of the Lisbon Darkhana Jamatkhana, Prince Amyn, Princess Zahra, Prince Rahim and Princess Salwa, Prince Hussain, Prince Aly Muhammad, Miss Sara Boyden, and Master Iliyan Boyden. Photo: The Ismaili/Asif Balesha.

Mawlana Hazar Imam proceeded along, nodding lovingly at jamati members and showering his divine blessings. In pursuit, and in formation of pairs, were the Mukhi and Kamadia Sahebs, followed by Prince Amyn and Princess Zahra, Prince Rahim and Princess Salwa, Prince Hussain and Prince Aly Muhammad, Princess Sara and Prince Illyan, with the Mukhiani Kamadiani Sahebas bringing up the rear of this awesome procession that proceeded along the red carpet through the Hall and finally ended up at the stage where Mawla ascended first and gestured for the rest to take their places: Mawla in the centre, Mukhi and Kamadia Sahebs, Prince Amyn, Princess Zahra, Princess Sara and Prince Illyan on his right, Mukhiani and Kamadiani Sahebas, Prince Rahim, Princess Salwa, Prince Hussain and Prince Aly Muhammad on his left. 

sohil_lalani_Aga Khan Diamond Jubilee Lisbon_d_day_-_hall_1_july_11-4073

Mawlana Hazar Imam shares a light moment with the Jamat at the Diamond Jubilee Darbar in Lisbon, as Prince Amyn, Princess Zahra, Prince Rahim and Princess Salwa, Prince Hussain, Prince Aly Muhammad, Miss Sara Boyden, and Master Iliyan Boyden look on. Photo: The Ismaili/Sohil Lalani.

With Mawla’s approval, the chain of authority was adorned around his neck, the verse of the Qur’an and translation were recited, the Munajaat (Ya Ali Khoob Mijalas) was sung — though, disappointingly, only one verse — and so were the Farsi and Arabic Qasedas, followed by the Zikr Tasbih. The Loyalty Address was given by the President of the Portuguese Council. Then, the moment we heartily awaited: Mawla came to the mic.

“My beloved spiritual children,” he beamed, “to celebrate with my family is a very special happiness for me and I hope my Jamat will share in that happiness.”

It was at this moment that it sunk in, how indeed special and ethereal it was to have the Noorani Family all assembled together with our beloved Imam. It is certainly rare an occasion and particularly befitting of such an epochal Darbar to have them present as they were in the final Golden Jubilee Darbar held in Paris in 2008. It was also splendorous to see how joyous the Imam was to have his family with him. That just warmed the cockles of my heart. 

He continued on to advise that as we build for the future, the Jamat must think ahead and must identify those countries where its long-term future is secure. 

He took the occasion to thank the government of Portugal for all the courtesies extended to his family and himself, to the institution and he hoped to be able to participate and work with Portuguese interests for the benefit of all the population of Portugal. He pointed out, with a smile, that this would not be unique, because it is a policy, a tradition of loyalty to all the countries in which the Jamat is living. “But it is important, on an occasion such as this, we should mark our loyalty to the country that has extended friendship, welcome, warmth, generosity and kindness,” he emphasized. 

“As a result of the generosity, the forward-thinking of the government of Portugal,” the Imam explained, “I have decided to create a Seat of the Imamat here in Portugal. This will be a permanent presence in Portugal. It will work for the interests of the Jamat, the interests of Portugal, the interests of the people amongst whom we live in various countries around the world. But establishing privileged relations with countries that have demonstrated such continuous generosity is an important policy that we should follow. And I say to my Jamat, don’t think only of Portugal, think back to the times in Mozambique when the situation was difficult and think back to the rigor, generosity, wisdom with which the government of this country received murids who were exposed to difficulty and instability and doubt about their future in Mozambique.”   

Hazar Imam went on to reiterate, “I intend to establish here a Seat of the Imamat, which will be a permanent presence and it will be the beginning of a new vision of relations between secular governments and the Ismaili Imamat.” He hoped to be able to do the same with a large number of governments around the world in the interests of the Jamat in the decades ahead. 

Mawla further emphasized, noting the very wide spectrum of nationalities present, the importance of working together, building together, coming together within countries across frontiers, creating capacities, protecting ourselves from risk. He urged: “Move forward in a rational, concerted, purposeful manner so that future generations may be ensured of equality of life, which you and I would wish for them.”

Hazar Imam concluded with “I give to each and every murid here present and to your families and to your Jamat, my most affectionate and best loving blessings. Khanavadan. Khanavadan. Khanavadan. This evening, I believe you are intending to have some form of Darbar.” He grinned some more and gesticulated with his hands. “A Darbar, by tradition, is an event of happiness, of joy, so I say to my Jamat, participate and have a wonderful time. I hope every murid, who is here and will participate in that Darbar, will be happy. That you will find joy, good relations amongst yourselves, new acquaintances from across frontiers and happiness throughout the Jamat. I finish this farman by giving to each one of you individually, and to your families and to your Jamat, my best, best affectionate blessings. Khanavadan. Khanavadan. Khanavadan.” 

A deep level of paternal maternal affection was intricately woven into his farman. The paternal concern evident in his explicit advice for the future and maternal endearment in his blessings for mushkil aasaan, for individuals present, their families and any Jamat in difficulties, wishing that “all your problems just disappear, just go away and staaaay away.”

He resumed his seat.

The Niyaaz and Mehmanis for the Portuguese jurisdiction were presented before Mawla to accept and bless and then Mukhi Kamadia Sahebs as well as Mukhiani Kamadiani Sahebas of the other Jamats such as Australia, Far East, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Bangladesh etc brought their mehmanis to him to accept and bless and he even exchanged a few words with some but I wouldn’t be able to point out who. Thereafter, the respective Council Presidents offered Nazranas to Hazar Imam, some even explaining their meaningfulness in detail to him. Mawla graciously accepted all the Nazranas and beamingly came to the mic again to say, “My beloved spiritual children, you’ve spoilt me.”

Not even by the slightest margin, but how loving and generous our Imam is! It truly is exemplary and extraordinary. 

zahur_ramji_Aga Khan Diamond Jubilee Lisbon_d_day_-_hall_1_july_11-4459

Mawlana Hazar Imam shares a light moment with the Jamat at the Diamond Jubilee Darbar in Lisbon, as Prince Amyn looks on. Photo: The Ismaili/Zahur Ramji.

Looking around at the Jamat, his smile incandescent, he elaborated, “You have spoilt me thoughtfully, generously, with great intelligence and wisdom, knowing what would please me and I express to you my warmest thanks. My warmest thanks. Khanavadan. Khanavadan. Khanavadan.” Now, making circular motions with his hands at the sides of his head, he said, “I’m sure, at the back of your minds, you’re saying to yourselves, what is Hazar Imam going to do with the gifts?” Prince Amyn could be seen chuckling behind him and the Jamat shared in the light humour. Mawla grinned genuinely and stated, “Well, I’ll tell you. The extraordinary works of art will belong to the Imam but they will go to the Aga Khan Museum in Canada for public exhibition and other museums around the world in due course. The material Nazranas will be spent on initiatives for the Jamat around the world so that we can do the best we can to sustain the Jamat that need support in the countries in which they are living.”

He gave his best loving and affectionate blessings once more and then asked rhetorically, “I’m sure you all know the meaning of the word Dai.” 

I just loved the way he said ‘Daa-eee’

“I want all of you this evening to be my Dai” — he smiled and raised his eyebrows — “my dais.” 

“To thank the Jamats for their gifts, their thoughts on this most happy occasion. So convey my blessings to your Jamats, to your families,” beloved Imam instructed. “And tell them that I think of them as Dais.” 

“I think of them as Dais,” he repeated and with this one statement, beloved Mawla generously included all my brothers and sisters who had been unable to be physically present in this significant Darbar.

He followed this claim with blessings for the fulfilment of good wishes and specially for Mushkil Aasan. 

And then, he descended the stage and the hearts became heavier with each step he took towards the exit. It is always so bittersweet to see him take his leave. We experience an almost bipolar battle between desperately clinging onto him and contentedly cradling the utmost gratitude we feel for the love he generates.

But this time, there was something to look forward to. This time, he wouldn’t just disappear into the lounge to hold council with the leadership. This time, there was another hall and yet another hall, and we would be able to watch it in its entirety, making this one of the lengthiest and a continuous Darbar — an epic and historic one.

But, hold on.

What’s this?

Once again, all of a sudden, the screens lit up to show a flurry of unusual activity and leadership rushing about in a fluster.

What was happening?

Jamati members swivelled their heads from the screens to look at each other, bewildered: What was going on?

Mawla, dressed down only in his white Sherwani seemed to be leaving the lounge. Wait!

Was he not going to Hall 2 and 3? Had something happened that needed him to depart abruptly?

But why was he beaming then?

Why was a car, which wasn’t his flag-endorsed green Audi, pulling up to him?

This and much more is revealed in the concluding part of this narrative. 

Date posted: July 24, 2018.
Last updated: July 26, 2018 (link added to Part 2, please click conclusion of this narrative)

___________________

Zafeera KassamZafeera Kassam is a high-school teacher of English Language, Literature and Psychology, residing in Nairobi, Kenya. She spends her free time in creative writing and poetry, and has had her short stories and poems published in various media around the world. As a devotee of Mowlana Hazar Imam, her greatest joy is in penning verse and poems in praise of Hazar Imam. Her latest publication, Always and Forever, is a book of 60 poems dedicated especially to Mowlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee (available on Amazon Kindle). She is also an amateur photographer who takes great interest in capturing nature. Currently, she is concentrating on developing her skills in graphic design and digital imagery. Most of all, she hopes to be continuously inspired to keep penning poems in praise of beloved Hazar Imam.

___________

Barakah welcomes your feedback. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or send your comment to simerg@aol.com. Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

For links to all the posts please click on Table of Contents. Also join/like Barakah at http://www.facebook.com/1000fold and follow us at http://twitter.com/simerg.

This website, Barakah, is a special project by http://www.Simerg.com and is dedicated to the textual and visual celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan as he celebrates his Diamond Jubilee or 60 years of Imamat.

The Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubilee in Lisbon: Visitors react to Prince Hussain’s animal photos and convey messages to him; viewers want to see more of his works

By ABDULMALIK MERCHANT AND ZAFEERA KASSAM 

Barakah conducted random interviews with 4 individuals who appeared to show a keen interest in Prince Hussain’s sea animal photographs that were displayed at the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations in Lisbon. Unfortunately, the audio quality in the video recordings turned out to be weak. The report below, preceding the video interviews, seeks to capture the opinions expressed by the individuals who were interviewed about Prince Hussain’s exhibition. May we note that Prince Hussain’s projects related to the natural habitat are wonderfully covered on his website http://www.focusedonnature.org/.

IMG_0076_Prince Hussain Aga Khan Banner

The exhibition of Prince Hussain’s photographic work focusing on sea animals attracted a lot of attention. Curiosity was piqued because not much is known about Prince Hussain’s passion for photography and for animals. Jamati members, young and old, lingered and languished in the exhibition, letting the images captivate their imagination and permeate their sense of wonder. They came away from the exhibition, thoroughly awestruck.

Amna Ismaili of Toronto, Canada, a 19-year old, singled out the vibrancy of colour as one reason why she found the photographs so riveting. “I don’t spend a lot of time looking at nature or wildlife or photography in general, but I was amazed by the vastness of the colours you can find, especially in the ocean.”  She also appreciated the level of detail that was apparent in the photograph, making her feel as if she was there seeing the subject of the photo with her very own eyes. But the photographs offer a latent aesthetic as well as a manifest image. Amna identified the ‘circle of life’ as a depiction of nature that really stood out to her, especially in the photograph of the hump-back whale lifting its young above its head.

Given the chance, Amna would love to express her appreciation to Prince Hussain for taking these pictures because they brought a “lot of light and energy” to the environment. She would love to see more work from him.

Shiraz and Nimet Morani of Toronto, Canada, were impressed by the exhibition and the time Prince Hussain has spent on nature. It is their wish that Prince Hussain’s work will translate into action that World Leaders will be inspired to take to improve the quality of nature, and preserve the environment, “for the benefit of the human race”.  Mr and Mrs Morani chose the photograph of the dolphin, that happened to be the cover image of Prince Hussain’s book, Diving into Wildlife, published three years ago, as their favourite.

Inaara Kara, from Dodoma, Tanzania, confessed that she wasn’t aware of Prince Hussain’s passion but was struck by the intricate minutiae captured in the photograph of the marine iguana. “The details of the water, the movement of the waves, and the background fit in altogether – we were able to see the whole picture and the whole context in which the photo was taken, and that was really impressive,” Inaara elaborated.

Given the opportunity, Inaara would like to commend Prince Hussain: “You have a very steady hand. Taking road trips – or water trips – around the world, being able to take such pictures, of still-life and animals is a great talent. It’s pleasing to see it.” Through the photographs, she got to see animals she doesn’t see on a daily basis and appreciated that fortune.

Rubina and Joan, from Calgary, Canada, were pleasantly surprised to learn about Prince Hussain’s avid interest in nature and photography. Joan chose the marine iguana as her favourite, citing it unique and its photographic capture incredible and unfathomable. Rubina, Joan’s mother, found the photograph of the hump-back whale “amazing and quite natural”.

One thing is clear: the seven photographs on display were extremely eye-catching and mind-capturing. Undoubtedly, Prince Hussain’s passion and works of art will inspire similar fires in the youth of today who might have a mild interest in photography or nature or both.

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VIDEO INTERVIEWS
(Note: Due to low audio quality, interviews 2 thru 4 may require a good ear piece, speakers or a smart device with enhanced audio)

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Photo at top of page: Prince Rahim shows Prince Irfan a photograph taken by Prince Hussain. Photo: The Ismaili/Shireen Nazim.

Date posted: July 23, 2018.
Last updated: July 24, 2018.

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For more on Prince Hussain , please visit following links:

  1. See his website http://www.focusedonnature.org/
  2. Purchase Prince Hussain Aga Khan’s “Diving Into Wildlife”

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This website, Barakah, is a special project by http://www.Simerg.com and is dedicated to the textual and visual celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan as he celebrates his Diamond Jubilee or 60 years of Imamat.

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