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His Highness the Aga Khan on the Holy Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him)

INTRODUCTION: On February 18, 1976, His Highness the Aga Khan, Mawlana Hazar Imam, accompanied by Begum Salimah Aga Khan arrived in Pakistan for a month long visit that included several mulaqats with Ismailis around the country. During the visit they both attended numerous public and private events and engagements and Mawlana Hazar Imam announced the creation of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. The first cycle of the award ceremony was held at the beautiful Shalimar Gardens in Lahore in 1980.

Aga Khan with Kausar Niazi croppedThe Aga Khan (right) with Kausar Niazi at a Culture and Arts function held on February 24, 1976, prior to the Seerat Conference. Photo: Ilm Supplement, U.K.

The extended 1976 visit also co-incided with Pakistan hosting the Seerat Conference over a 10 day period at which eminent scholars from around the world spoke in Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar and Karachi on various aspects of the life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him). When the Aga Khan was invited by Mowlana Kausar Niazi, Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Religious Affairs, to preside over the Seerat gathering that took place in Karachi on March 12, 1976, he noted at the beginning of his presidential that he felt both trepidation and joy at the opportunity, “trepidation because few subjects could be more awe inspiring for any Muslim to speak on, joy as few subjects could give greater happiness to be involved with.”  

As hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world prepare to celebrate the life of the Prophet on the occasion of his birth anniversary that falls on the 12th of Rabi al-Awwal – Monday November 19 or Tuesday November 20 2018 – no piece would be more befitting for the auspicious anniversary than the inspiring and insightful words spoken at the Seerat Conference by the direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad himself. We are pleased to present the following excerpts from 49th Ismaili Imam’s Seerat speech.

The Aga Khan on Allah’s Last Messenger

His Highness the Aga Khan

A request to the conference

“Few conferences can have gathered so many men of outstanding intellect, who have devoted so much time and wisdom to the study of Islam and the life of the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him….I will begin by making a request: One hundred and seventy two eminent scholars from forty-eight countries have gathered in Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar and Karachi to present the results of their research and reflection on various aspects of the life of the Holy Prophet. From all these exchanges, from all the private debates which have preceded and succeeded the presentation of each paper, will have come an immense range of new thoughts, new ideas and new understanding of the Prophet’s life. I sincerely request that you have available to all Muslims a complete printed record of these papers and the subsequent debates.”

Responsibilities of rich Muslim countries

“The poorer countries of Islam have ahead of them years of increasingly hard work if they wish to progress materially to acceptable standards of every day life. The richer countries, especially those that have new means, will rapidly find that this wealth, blessing that it is, will impose upon them heavy new responsibilities. They will have to administrate this wealth wisely, in the best interest of their citizens, but also keeping in mind that they have a heavy responsibility to their less well endowed brother Muslim countries, and indeed to the human race at large. Thus it is my profound conviction that Islamic Society in the years ahead will find that our traditional concept of time, a limitless mirror in which to reflect on the eternal, will become a shrinking cage, an invisible trap from which fewer and fewer will escape.”

Holding firm the ship of life: Answers in the Qur’an and the Prophet

“I have observed in the Western world a deeply changing pattern of human relations. The anchors of moral behaviour appear to have dragged to such depths that they no longer hold firm the ship of life: what was once wrong is now simply unconventional, and for the sake of individual freedom must be tolerated. What is tolerated soon becomes accepted. Contrarily, what was once right is now viewed as outdated, old fashioned and is often the target of ridicule.”

“In the face of this changing world, which was once a universe to us and is now no more than an overcrowded island, confronted with a fundamental challenge to our understanding of time, surrounded by a foreign fleet of cultural and ideological ships which have broken loose, I ask, “Do we have a clear, firm and precise understanding of what Muslim Society is to be in times to come?” And if as I believe, the answer is uncertain, where else can we search then in the Holy Qur’an, and in the example of Allah’s last and final Prophet?

“There is no justification for delaying the search for the answer to this question by the Muslims of the world, because we have the knowledge that Islam is Allah’s final message, the Qur’an His final book and Muhammed His last Prophet. We are blessed that the answers drawn from these sources guarantee that neither now, nor at any time in the future will we be going astray. As the demands on his time increase, every Muslim will find it more and more difficult to seek for himself the answer to the fundamental question of how he should live his life for it to be truly Muslim. It is men such as you who will have to bring forth the answers, answers which will have to be practical and realistic in the world of today and tomorrow. Rather than let force of circumstance impose upon us through our default in not having suitably prepared ourselves for the future, ways of life which are not or should not be ours, we must ourselves design the path we should tread.”

Bearing fruits in the diverse Muslim world

“In seeking to define what our Islamic Society should be in times ahead, 50 and 100 and 200 years hence we should, I believe, be aware that the Muslims of this world cover such an amazing range of historical, ethnic and cultural backgrounds that a completely monolithic answer may not be found. I am convinced on the other hand, that we do want to avoid so much diversity that our Muslim countries are in conflict amongst themselves or that they are so divided that they are incapable successfully of facing common enemies, be they cultural, religious, national or otherwise. This is why I so applaud Pakistan for having organized the first Muslim Summit Conference, and now this Seerat Conference, for it is only through dialogue, personal contacts and continuous exchanges that the great diversity of cultures, knowledge, outlook and resources can be co-ordinated and brought to bear fruit for the Muslim world.”

Greatest opportunity for Muslim unity is now

“Let me return, now, to the question of what Muslim Society should seek to be in the years ahead. Islam, as even non-Muslims have observed, is a way of life. This means that every aspect of the individual’s daily existence is guided by Islam: his family relations, his business relations, his education, his health, the means and manner by which he gains his livelihood, his philanthropy, what he sees and hears around him, what he reads, the way he regulates his time, the buildings in which he lives, learns and earns.

“I cannot think of any time in Islamic history when Muslims have had a greater opportunity to unite, and to ensure that the society in which they live is that which they have defined and chosen for themselves.

“Not only are all forms of human communication easier than ever before in history, but rarely, if ever has the Muslim world had such means to ensure its future. Conferences such as this seeking inspiration from the life of the Holy Prophet could render no greater service to Islam than to assist in defining what steps can be taken, where, and how, to ensure that our people can live in the years ahead in greater peace, greater prosperity and in an Islamic Society which will not be overrun or simply taken by surprise, by forces, pressures or concepts which are totally alien and may damage us irretrievably.”

Searching for a solution through eminent men and women

“In our search for a solution, I am convinced that we must call upon our own men and women, who have achieved positions of eminence anywhere in the world, and persuade them to return, for us to benefit from their knowledge, their learning and their work. All too often in my journeys I have met or learnt of outstanding Muslim scholars, doctors, scientists, and architects who have remained abroad, or who, when they do come home, have failed to receive the support and encouragement necessary for them to bring to their nations’ benefit their Muslim outlook on key areas of modern progress.

“Any meaningful human endeavour, any original thinking, any authentic research, will require moral encouragement and material support. This we must provide, not only during the individual’s initial years of learning, but equally when he leaves the restricted life of his academic centre to enter into the wider world of national or international activity.”

The inspiring life of the Holy Prophet 

“The Holy Prophet’s life gives us every fundamental guideline that we require to resolve the problem as successfully as our human minds and intellects can visualise. His example of integrity, loyalty, honesty, generosity both of means and of time, his solicitude for the poor, the weak and the sick, his steadfastness in friendship, his humility in success, his magnanimity in victory, his simplicity, his wisdom in conceiving new solutions for problems which could not be solved by traditional methods, without affecting the fundamental concepts of Islam, surely all these are foundations which, correctly understood and sincerely interpreted, must enable us to conceive what should be a truly modern and dynamic Islamic Society in the years ahead.”

Date re-posted: November 18, 2018.


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Note: This blog, Barakah, is a special project of It celebrates the life of  His Highness the Aga Khan and his family.

4 rare photos of His Highness the Aga Khan’s visit to Dar es Salaam’s Aga Khan Boys Secondary School


This collection of 4 rare pictures from Dar es Salaam was shared with me by (Alwaez) Ali Rajabali during my visit to Vancouver. They should be of immense interest to students who are in the photos, especially the first group photo featured at the top of this page in which they are pictured with their class teachers and members of the Aga Khan Education Board.

I believe there are countless of rare photos in family albums that have been stowed away for decades. Please take the time to search your archives and share historical photos and documents with Jamati members around the world through this blog, Barakah, or its sister blogs Simerg and Simergphotos. We will be honoured to receive and publish your photos.

Assign your children or grandchildren the noble task of seeking out important historical pictures from your archives and, if need be, reward them for their efforts – it is a tedious task. If this is not done, an important historical moment that may appear insignificant to the owner of the picture may be lost forever! Let’s keep our history alive for generations to come by seeking out photos of our beloved Imams from our archives and getting them digitized.

Aga Khan Photos Dar es Salaam Ali Rajabali Collection 03

Photo: Ali Rajabali Archives, Vancouver


Aga Khan Photos Dar es Salaam Ali Rajabali Collection 04

Photo: Ali Rajabali Archives, Vancouver.


Aga Khan Photos Dar es Salaam Ali Rajabali Collection 01

Photo: Ali Rajabali Archives, Vancouver.


Aga Khan Photos Dar es Salaam Ali Rajabali Collection 02

Photo: Ali Rajabali Archives, Vancouver. 

Date posted: November 2, 2018

Note: This post is duplicated on the sister website,

See Table of Contents for Barakah’s beautiful, thoughtful and wonderful articles and photos.

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This website, Barakah, is a special project by and is dedicated to the textual and visual celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan.


The Ismaili community’s dynamic 48th Imam: A very brief portrait of His Highness the Aga Khan, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah

[The following is an adapted and abbreviated version of Bashir Ladha’s extensive piece on His Highness the Aga Khan III which was first published on the occasion of his birth centenary in November 1977 in a special commemorative issue of Ilm magazine, Ismailia Association, U.K.  – ed.]


This thoughtful study of the late Aga Khan, 48th Imam of Shia Imami Ismailis, was done in clay by his wife, the Begum Aga Khan, Om Habiba. Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS


His Highness the Aga Khan III, Hazrat Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah, was born on Friday, 2nd November, 1877 at “Honeymoon Lodge” in Karachi. His birth was an occasion of immense joy for the family and particularly his grandfather, Hazrat Imam Hassanali Shah, Aga Khan I, who named him “Sultan Mahomed.”

The young Aga Khan did not attend any public school, but his early education at home was intense. The scope of the curriculum set by his tutors and his far-seeing mother, Lady Ali Shah, covered Urdu, Persian, Arabic, English, French, Mathematics, Astronomy, Chemistry and Mechanics. He showed remarkable aptitude for learning. His natural intellect and interest also helped him to make remarkable progress in Western literature as well as in the study of the history of the ancient and modern worlds. He also acquired proficiency in philosophy and theology.

Recalling his course of studies, the Aga Khan wrote:

“I had already been grounded in Arabic and Persian literature and history, and first inspired thereto in childhood, to this day I take a special interest in historical studies connected with the early Caliphs. Under my English tutors, I gained an attachment, which also remains with me, to the writings of the more stirring and eloquent of the English historians and of the foremost novelists—particularly Gibbon, Thackeray and Dickens.”


September 1, 1885: The 7-year-old Aga Khan III at his enthronement ceremony as 48th Imam of the Shia Ismaili Ismaili Muslims in Bombay. He is surrounded by community elders. Photo: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images, Copyright.

When Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah succeeded his father Mawlana Aly Shah as the 48th Imam of Ismaili Muslims on 17th August, 1885, he was only in his eighth year but even at this tender age he administered the affairs of his followers with a maturity of wisdom which was very surprising.

Long before he had reached the age of fifteen, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah proved himself an able administrator of the affairs of his vast following. He visited the Jamats and resolved disputes with a legal acumen seldom found in those who are not lawyers. He worked incessantly for the benefit of his followers and not being content to lead the Ismailis in religious matters, he strove hard for their moral and material welfare with the result that, in the course of only a few decades, the Ismailis earned a reputation of being a progressive and forward looking community.


Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah, Aga Khan III, photographed in 1911, Copyright: National Portrait Gallery

Though his range of reading was wide, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah’s impressions of men and things were practical and not theoretical. His judgements were based not upon what he had read but upon what he had seen and heard. Lloyd George (Prime Minister of Great Britain during early 1920s) said of him:

“He is one of the best informed men I have ever met. His general information is astonishing. He is extraordinarily well read and possesses an intimate knowledge of international affairs in all parts of the world. He is widely travelled and is always moving round the capitals of Europe, in all of which he has influential intimates. His means of securing information were remarkable. He seemed to have touched upon all branches of literature and to be well versed in science. Altogether a very extraordinary person.”


Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan, 48th Imam of Shia Imami Ismailis, in full regalia. Photo: Jehangir Merchant archives

Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah never tolerated anything that was detrimental to Islam and therefore he would not hesitate in the least to make his views known publicly. Islam was always foremost in his heart and he would always appeal to the Muslims in a beseeching and affectionate manner:

“My fellow-Muslims, I implore you, I beg of you, to work for the advancement of the whole of Islam, but never forget our intellectual debt to our Holy Prophet.”

Generally, very little heed was paid by the Muslims to Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah’s guidance and therefore, lamenting over this attitude, Qayyum A. Malick wrote in his book Guide, Philosopher and Friend of the World of Islam:

“Had world Muslims kept pace with the progressive views of Prince Aga Khan and had they showed some encouraging consciousness and appreciation of his leadership, the seeds of moral and material uplift sown by him almost half a century ago would have been bearing abundant fruit today. If the Muslims had thrown up a small body of trustworthy men, capable of working in unison according to a set program of general advancement under the leadership of His Royal Highness there should have been no occasion to bemoan our backwardness now.”

For the Ismailis, the period of his Imamat was an era which ushered in a complete transformation. A community hitherto unknown in any field, progressed rapidly to great heights within a matter of a few decades. What happened to Ismaili Community during his Imamat is nothing less than a miracle.

In his role as the 48th Imam, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, set about to advance and consolidate the position of Ismailis at all levels. Under his guidance, a great spirit of social service, philanthropy and love for one another became a notable feature of the community. This attitude of mutual help among themselves and the smooth working of the welfare state created by the Imam won unmistakeable admiration of the leaders of other communities. Mahatma Gandhi once observed to Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah:

“I have been striving for so many years for the attainment of Swaraj (independence), but you have already brought the blessings of Swaraj to your people.”

While the Imam created numerous institutions to advance and consolidate education, health and general state of happiness and well being among his follower, he upheld a high mark of abiding values. True to the traditional and historically acknowledged trait of his Holy House, he put the spiritual goal as the prime and foremost essential of human life.


1923-08-05-invitiation-with-aga khan-quatrain verses

The top portion of the image, above the English translation, is a unique 1923 Gujarati invitation to a talk on Imamat. It includes a Persian quatrain on the top line. The quatrain had been handwritten by Aga Khan III in a personal diary belonging to Vazir Mecklai. Note: The English translation of the quatrain is not part of the invitation. Photo: A.M. Sadaruddin family collection of Africa Ismaili.

Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah’s advice on religious matters to his followers were extensive and elaborate. He touched on many themes during his seventy two years of Imamat including theology, spirituality, Imamat and ethics. Some of his messages to the Ismailis were:

“Qur’an was basic. Pir Sadardin [an Ismaili missionary] had come to their ancestors to lead them to the true faith. It was essential to have strong faith in the descendants of Prophet Muhammad and Hazrat Ali. If the faithful had love for the descendants of Ali, they had nothing to fear, and therein lay the whole mystery of faith. True faith was founded upon love and reason.”

“The faithful should come and pray in the Jamatkhana. Prayers must be said with understanding. Pray for others as this brings one nearer to God. By prayer one rises to a higher plane. If the faithful was far from Jamatkhana he should say his prayers wherever he was. Even if the body was unclean, prayers could not be missed. The soul was pure. Unity in the Jamat was important. All his murids were spiritual children of their Imam, who was their spiritual father and mother.”

“Harm done to another would cause immense pain to the Imam. Help each other. Serve the jamats. Service to jamats was service to their Imam. True mu’min (believer) was always happy and satisfied. True mu’min rejoiced at difficulties, for such sorrows and difficulties wiped away sins. True mu’min never feared death.

“That a true mu’min would always thirst for Imam’s Noorani Didar. True mu’min, after death, would earn salvation in Noor-e-Imamat.”


aga-khan-Golden Jubilee Casket by missionaries

March 1936: Photo taken in India on the occasion of the presentation of a casket by a group of Ismaili missionaries to Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah to mark the occasion of his Golden Jubilee. The Casket was created and donated by ‘Senior’ Missionary Alijah Moloobhai Allarakhia Jangbarwalla. Photographed by: Golden Art Studio; Photo: The Late Ameer Janmohamed Collection, London, UK.

During his long reign, the Ismailis celebrated his Golden (1936), Diamond (1946) and Platinum Jubilees (1954-56) as a symbolic affirmation of the spiritual ties that linked them with their beloved Imam. The Jubilee resulted in significant development for the Ismaili community. The greatest impact resulted from the proceeds that Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah gave back to the community from the Jubilee ceremonies of weighing him in gold, diamond and platinum. Numerous institutions for social and economic development were established, in the Imam’s words, “for the relief of humanity.”


A portrait of the Aga Khan Family of the mid 20th century: Next to the late 48th Ismaili Imam, Aga Khan III, is his grand daughter, Princess Yasmin. Standing from left to right – grandson Prince Amyn Muhammad, his two sons the late Prince Sadruddin and Prince Aly Khan holding daughter, and second grandson Prince Karim, the present Imam. Photo: Zul Khoja Collection, Ottawa.

Forty minutes past midday on 11th July, 1957 Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III, passed away peacefully at his villa in Versoix, Switzerland, at the age of eighty leaving behind him a memorable history of his glorious and eventful life. His reign of seventy-two years of Imamat was the longest in Ismaili history.

The mantle of Imamat was transferred by Nass in the loving care of Mowlana Shah Karim al-Hussaini Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan IV, by the following will:

“Ever since the time of my first ancestor Ali, the First Imam, that is to say over a period of thirteen hundred years it has always been the tradition of our family that each Imam chooses his successor at his absolute and unfettered discretion from amongst any of his descendants whether they be sons or remoter male issue.

“….I appoint my grandson Karim, the son of my son Aly Salomone Khan to succeed to the title of Aga Khan and to be the Imam and Pir of all my Shia Ismailian followers.”

The passing away of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah was a cause of great sorrow and sadness for Ismailis all over the world, but the Ismailis knew that the loving care and guidance of Noor-e-Ilahi would continue in Noor Mowlana Shah Karim al Hussaini, our beloved 49th Imam, who is now in his 62nd year of Imamat.

Upon succeeding, Mawlana Shah Karim Hazar Imam gave the following assurance:

“My grandfather dedicated his life to the Imamat and Islam, both of which came first, and above all other considerations. While I was prepared that one day I might be designated the Aga Khan I did not expect it so soon. I follow a great man in a great responsibility and he could have given me no more appreciated honour than to bequeath me this spiritual leadership. My life, as his, will be dedicated to the service of my followers.”

Date posted: November 2, 2018 (141st birth anniversary of Aga Khan III)


Bashir Fazal LadhaA graduate from the Institute of Ismaili Studie’s  first International Waezeen and Teachers Training Programme, Bashir Fazal Ladha has been with the Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Board (ITREB) for the UK since 1983 where he has contributed towards the religious education of the Jamat in numerous capacities – as waezeen, lecturer, and as a curriculum developer. In the literary sector, he contributed numerous articles to Ismaili literary magazines around the world, including UK ITREB’s defunct flagship magazine Ilm.

Alwaez Ladha aspires to write and publish works on Ismaili history and Ginanic literature. His other interests include reading, watching documentaries and listening to world music – from Bob Marley’s reggae songs to Indian classical music.


See Table of Contents for Barakah’s beautiful, thoughtful and wonderful articles and photos.

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This website, Barakah, is a special project by and is dedicated to the textual and visual celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan.

“Mawla fulfilled my wish” – a six year old girl’s loving story from the Diamond Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan III

November 2, 2018 marks the 141st birth anniversary of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan, 48th Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims. For the anniversary, we present to our readers a heart-warming story by Sakerkhanu Gulamhusain of her experience with the late Imam when she was only 6 years old. The story originally appeared on Barakah’s affiliated website



Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, Aga Khan III, examines some diamonds at his residence in Bombay ahead of the Diamond Jubilee Weighing Ceremony which was held at Brabourne Stadium. Photo: Ilm, UK.

Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, our beloved 48th Imam, was born on November 2, 1877 in Karachi. He became Imam in 1885, two months short of his 8th birthday.  I was about 6 years old at the time of his Diamond Jubilee celebrations in the year 1946, marking the occasion of his sixty years of Imamat. The celebrations in the Indian Sub-continent took place at various locations in Bombay (now Mumbai). A child from each of the Religious Night Schools was to be selected to recite a ginan (an Ismaili hymn) or poem in front of the Jamat gathered for the Holy Didar at the Wadi Jamatkhana compounds. It was my sincerest desire to participate in this program, and to be amongst the chosen students. I therefore practiced a poem and worked very hard at it.

It was a most thrilling and joyous moment for me when my teacher informed me that I was selected to recite the poem in front of the Jamat before the Imam’s arrival. Like all little children I had a clean and pure heart, and now that I was selected, I wished that I would even get a chance to recite the poem in the presence of the Imam. Therefore, I left no stone unturned to see that I attained the highest possible standard in my recitation. I also kept up with the intensity of my prayer, so that I might be blessed with a chance.

The auspicious day for the Didar of Hazrat Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah finally arrived, and words are inadequate to express the joy and thrill that I felt within myself. Students came in turns to present their wonderful recitals before the Jamat. I was dressed in my lovely white dress, and as my name was called out I went up on the stage and stood before the mike to present the poem that I had learnt and practiced so well. Just as I finished my recitation, there was a deafening ovation from the Jamat, accompanied with the resounding claps and shouts of “once more, once more”.

The situation continued to prevail, and the only way the leaders could calm the very large gathering of over 20,000 murids was to get me to recite the poem again. At the end of my second recitation, I had another wonderful ovation and the crowd then urged on the leadership that I should recite the poem in the Imam’s holy presence.

In the meantime, Hazrat Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah had arrived, and the leaders decided to sit me close to the stage of the Imam. It seemed as if my wish was going to be fulfilled, and with that thought my tasbih (supplication) became even more stronger.

However, as the didar program ended, the Imam rose from his seat to leave. Seeing this my heart sank deeply, and it wept with the thought that this was not going to be my day to recite the poem in the Imam’s presence. The leaders then humbly submitted to the Imam that it was the desire of the Jamat for Khudavind to listen to a recital that I had presented earlier. Most graciously, the Imam accepted their request, and seated himself on his chair once again. This was a moment of emotional rollercoaster, and Mawla enacted a drama for me. Instead of the sadness that I had felt just moments ago, I was now buoyant and my heart leapt with joy as I rushed to the stage with confidence. It was an experience of a lifetime as I felt paradise before me. I began my recitation and Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah listened to it intently. I recited the first, second, third, fourth and fifth stanzas as follows:

Ekare Ek, Rakho Khane Jawani Tek,
Mara banduo, mari matao farman padvu faraj che

Bagare Be, Bolo Sultan Mahomed Shahni Jai,
Mara banduo, mari matao farman padvu faraj che

Tragare Tran, Raho Hazat Imamne Charan,
Mara banduo, mari matao farman padvu faraj che

Chogare Char, Mankho Nahi Ave Biji Vaar,
Mara banduo, mari matao farman padvu faraj che

Panchare Panch. Ismaili Ne Na Ave Aanch


First (One), Make a firm niyaat (resolve) to attend Jamatkhana regularly
Bretheren, it is our duty to obey the farman

Second (Two), Evoke the praise of (Imam) Sultan Mahomed Shah
Bretheren, it is our duty to obey the farman

Third (Three), Remain under the care (and protection) of the Imam
Bretheren, it is our duty to obey the farman

Fourth (Four), Life is not granted twice
Bretheren, it is our duty to obey the farman

Fifth (Five), Ismaili (brethren) should not suffer from any severe problems

As soon as I had finished reciting the fifth stanza, Panchare Panch. Ismaili Ne Na Ave Aanch, Hazrat Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah who was seated very close to the mike, immediately took me by both the hands, picked me up and placed me on his holy lap. He asked the leaders, “‘Where is her father?” My father, Huzurmukhi Samji Rajan, was seated in the middle of the crowd. The Imam said, “Iske bap ko bulao” (call her father).

My father’s name was called out on the mike, and he approached the Imam with a deep sense of humility and respect, falling at the Imam’s feet. The Imam gave both of us his affectionate loving blessings and said to me, “bahot khub; shabash” (very very good, bravo). Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah then told my father that I would have a beautiful and enchanting voice in reciting ginans. The Imam then looking at me noted that I was frail and weak, and he asked my father that I should be fed well with eggs and milk so that I would grow up to be a strong and healthy girl.

This event was a great blessing bestowed on me. Mawla had listened to the prayers and supplications of his young spiritual daughter of only six. Not only did he provide me the chance to recite the poem in his presence, but he blessed me with a beautiful and enchanting voice, and he wished that I should recite the ginans for his Jamats.

Since that unforgettable and unique incident in my life, I have regularly recited ginans in Jamatkhanas around the world, and have continued the practice to this day with love, dedication and faith for our Imam. When members of the Jamat approach me and tell me that my ginan recitation touches the inner core of their hearts, my thoughts immediately turn to the blessings that were bestowed on me by our beloved 48th Imam on the historical celebration of his sixty years of Imamat in 1946.

The recitation of ginans since my childhood has given me immense happiness, and has remained a source of hope as well as spiritual strength and progress. It is gratifying to see, even in the Western World, beautiful recitations of ginans  – and I may also add  qasidas – by children as young as 4, 5 or 6 years. These young boys and girls are continuing to keep alive a tradition that Mawlana Hazar Imam once described as “so special, so unique and so important to my Jamat.”

Date posted: November 2, 2018.


sgulamhusainAbout the writer: Vazirbanu Sakerkhanu Gulamhusain was born and raised in the Indian Sub-Continent. She pursued a career in teaching for a number of years after having obtained a Teaching Diploma and Bachelor’s Degree in Education. After the untimely demise of her husband, Vazir Gulamhusain Gulamali, Sakerkhanu has shared her time between Pakistan and other countries where her children and family reside.


See Table of Contents for Barakah’s beautiful, thoughtful and wonderful articles and photos.

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

Please join/like Barakah at and also follow us at

This website, Barakah, is a special project by and is dedicated to the textual and visual celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan.


The Imamat on striving for leadership


“No belief is like modesty and patience, no attainment is like humility, no honour is like knowledge, no power is like forbearance, and no support is more reliable than consultation.”

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, has frequently quoted this saying of Hazrat Ali in his speeches. [1]

Modesty, patience, humility, knowledge, forbearance and consultation are some of the key attributes of good leadership. History has many examples of individuals who have risen above their circumstances to become great leaders. These are people who, for the most part, have surmounted obstacles with faith, determination and hard work. One of the primary challenges a human being faces through life is to overcome personal limitations. Successful leaders tend to be those who seek to recognize their own negative tendencies and strive to rise above them.

Hazrat Ali’s saying identifies some of the positive personal characteristics that would serve very well the head of an institution, organization, business, family or even an informal peer group in which leadership is constantly changing.

Aga Khan_cairo_june2006_1m.cairo_june2006_1l

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, delivers the commencement address  at the American University in Cairo on June 15, 2006 in which he quoted Hazrat Ali on attributes for good leadership. Photo: AKDN/Gary Otte.


Modesty appears old fashioned in a world that constantly prompts us to sing our own praises. A leader generally finds it difficult to inspire others if his or her achievements are not known. On the other hand, talking about oneself turns people away. The answer may be in actions rather than in words. Among the most admired individuals are those who seek to lead by example. Their deeds and adherence to principles stir others to follow them.


Patience appears to be rare in a society that places enormous value on instant gratification. Technologies which are meant to serve human beings are instead changing our personalities to demand results at the push of a button. However, many of the natural rhythms of life flow slowly over long time-spans.

Good leaders have learned to distinguish between those demands that require quick responses and those that can be dealt with only after careful thought. They also recognize that some of the most important processes in life need time to unfold.


“There is no attainment like humility.” Indeed, maintaining humility is no easy task when one is engaged in the hustle and tussle of heading an organization. There is a fine line to walk between false modesty and over-confidence. Constantly self-effacing oneself can be misinterpreted as obsequence and can damage the position of the institution that one leads. On the other side is pride and arrogance.

The sincere and continual effort to attain humility is in itself a mark of integrity and true leadership. This struggle (jihad) is an ethical practice of high order and engages with our spirituality. Din and dunya have a close connection even in the leadership of worldly institutions, as Mawlana Hazar Imam has demonstrated.


Knowledge is often misinterpreted as the mere accumulation of facts. True knowledge is a way station on the path to wisdom. It involves an understanding of the world as well as of oneself. It is also characterized by the humility to appreciate what one does not know and what one finds difficult to comprehend.

Discerning leaders are aware that the “knowledge society” has multiple forms and levels of understanding and that we learn not only with the mind but with the heart and the spirit. Successful heads of organizations recognize that leadership is shared, and that persons who have previously held office have an understanding of the organization that continues to remain valuable. Indeed, as Mawlana Hazar Imam has asserted, institutions should continue to treat them as leaders.


“No power is like forbearance” because attaining this quality signals is a triumph over one’s self. Forbearance requires patience and self-discipline. Leaders are constantly under pressure to lean one way or another. It is tempting to act out of emotion and to favour those whom we prefer over others.

One may also be drawn to do what is easy and expedient rather than what is difficult and ethical. Ultimately, forbearance comes through understanding our own emotions and subjectivity.

A person who has attained mastery of his or her self is indeed powerful; one is able to respond to various challenges and to changing circumstances with integrity and clarity of mind. It is a unique form of power that draws strength from our spiritual selves.


Consultation is an expression of respect for one’s fellows and of the recognition that one does not know everything. Even though a person may formally be at the head of an organization, he or she remains accountable to others. The performance of leaders is inevitably judged by those upon whom their actions have a bearing. An astute leader seeks out others’ opinions — even at the risk of being contradicted.

An important characteristic of leadership is the willingness to adjust one’s position following consultation. This is where humility can help to ensure that integrity and pursuit of larger interests hold sway over the ego.

A benchmark of effective leadership is the ability to make a decision, follow its course of action and to take responsibility for it. Some decisions are very difficult to make, especially when opinion is seriously divided and when serious risks are involved. A good leader tends to be at ease with her conscience if she has sincerely pursued the path of truth and integrity in making choices.

However, even the best leaders make errors in judgement. They usually follow through by analyzing the mistakes carefully and using the knowledge to improve their methods in a constant feedback loop.

There is no final destination on the path of good leadership; some of the most successful people in the world continually strive to better themselves. In the words of Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah, “Struggle is the meaning of life. Defeat or victory are in the hands of God but struggle itself is man’s duty and should be his joy.”

Date posted: October 7, 2018.


This is a slightly revised version of Karim H. Karim’s article that was published in The Ismaili UK (Winter 2009-2010), as well as the December 2009 issues of The Ismaili Portugal, The Ismaili Canada and The Ismaili USA. An edited piece also appeared online at the IIS website under its special series on lifelong learning articles.

Karim H. Karim Professor Karim H. Karim is the Director of the Carleton Study for the Study of Islam. He has previously served as Co-Director of the Institute of Ismaili Studies and as Director of Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communication. Dr. Karim has also been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University. He has published extensively and is an award-winning author. He has also delivered distinguished lectures at venues in North America, Europe and Asia.


[1] Mawlana Hazar Imam’s quote on Hazrat Ali can be found in the speeches he made at American University in Cairo, State banquet in Tanzania, and the Tutzing Evangelical Academy.


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Expressions for the Silver, Golden & Diamond Jubilees (and beyond) of our Beloved Imam Mawlana Shah Karim al Hussaini Aga Khan


Author’s note: The verses of the compositions in Urdu, Hindi and Arabic are given in transliterated form. As the actual meaning and feelings get lost in translation, I have tried to convey only the gist of the verses.

O Karim Shah Hamara


GIST: O our Karim Shah, you are the support of my life, The Lord of my life, you are the Lord of the two worlds. O our Karim Shah …

O Karim Shah hamara
Tun hai jiné ka sahara
Méri zindagi ké maalik
Tun hai do jahan ka maalik
O Karim Shah hamara ….

GIST: You are in my eyes, you are in my breath, I am passionately in love with you, there is no other for me. O our Karim Shah …

Méri aankhon mé bhi tun hai
Méré saanson mé bhi tun hai
Mujé ishq hai tujisé
Méra koi aur nahin hai
O Karim Shah hamara ….

GIST: My caretaker, you have knowledge of everything – that which has past and that which is to come. O our Karim Shah …

Jo bhi aanéwala hai aur
Jo guzar chuka hua bhi
Tumhi ko ilm hai sabki
Méré rakhsha karné wala
O Karim Shah hamara ….

GIST: My request, my heart’s prayer is that every step I take, be on ‘The Straight Path’. O our Karim Shah …

Itni si iltija hai
Méré dil ki yé dua hai
Ké mé har kadam uthaun
Sirat al Mustaqim par
O Karim Shah hamara ….


Jubilee Mubarak

Aga Khan GJ Darbar Syria Thumbnail for Rose Bhanji

GIST: My beloved Karim Shah, Jubilee Felicitations to you.

Karim Shah pyaara méra
Jubilee Mubarak tujé

GIST: You are my beloved and you are my support, You are my father, you are my everything. I will dance and sing so much, I will celebrate happiness of the Jubilee. I lose myself to you, I bend over backwards for you.

Tun hai pyaara méra, aur sahara méra
Tun hai bapa méra, tun hai sab kuchh méra
Itni nachungi mé, aur gaungi mé
Jubilee ki kush hali manaungi mé
Tujpé mé haari jaun, tujpé mé vaari jaun
Jubilee Mubarak tujé
Karim Shah pyaara méra

GIST: All the glory, respect and so much that we have gotten is due to your name. You gave (your) love, you gave (your) life, what is it that you did not do for us. I am forever thankful to you.

Shaan hamé jo mila,
maan hamé jo mila
Hamé bahot kuchh mila
Téra naam léné sé
Pyaar tuné diya, jaan tuné diya
Tuné kya na kiya tum hamaré liyé
Zindagi bhar ké liyé
Shukhar guzaar hun mé
Jubilee Mubarak tujé
Karim Shah pyaara méra

GIST: Your Farmans are a treasure; he who follows them becomes ‘wealthy’. May Allah protect and flourish Shah Karim al Hussaini; this has been my prayer for ages and ages.

Farman téra bhi ék khazana to hai
Jo amal karé wo maalo maal hojavé
Allah méhfuz rakhé aur abaad rakhé
Shah Karim al-Husayni ko
Jooga joogo ké liyé yéhi dua hai méri
Jubilee Mubarak tujé
Karim Shah pyaara méra


Mpenzi Karim Shah Nakupongeza Wewe

Aga Khan Darbar Uganda Thumbnail for Rose Bhanji

GIST: My beloved Karim Shah, I congratulate you on 60 years of your Imamat.

Mpenzi Karim Shah nakupongeza wewe
Imamat wako wa miaka sitini
Nakupongeza wewe
Mpenzi Karim Shah nakupongeza wewe ..

GIST: I thank you, I believe (in) you, You are ‘the Teacher’. You put your heart, you bring sweetness and hope (into my life). Do not leave me even for a second, I am begging you.

Nakushukuru, nakuamini
Wewe ndiyo mwalimu
Unatiya moyo, unaleta utamu
Na utumaini
Usiniache mpenzi, hata nukta moja
Nakuomba wewe
Mpenzi Karim Shah nakupongeza wewe ..

GIST:  God bless Shah Karim al Hussaini. You are my caretaker, you are my Shepherd, you are my Imam. I tell you, without you I cannot carry on.

Mungu ibariki Shah Karim al Hussaini
Mtunzaji wangu wewe
Mchungaji wangu wewe
Imam wangu wewe
Bila wewe siwezi kuendelea
Nakuambia wewe
Mpenzi Karim Shah nakupongeza wewe


Merci Beacoup

Diamond Jubilee Poem Jalal Jaffer

GIST: On the occasion of your Diamond Jubilee, I renew my Baiyah to you. Thank you dearest Shah Karim for your Imamat of sixty years.

À l’occasion de ton Jubilé de diamant,
Je te renouvelle ma Baiyah.
Merci beaucoup
Cher Shah Karim pour
Ton Imamat de soixante ans.

GIST: My Allegiance to you is ‘a must’. Just as I had pledged my allegiance to Allah on ‘The Day of Alast’ (The day when Allah asked all souls gathered in His presence: ‘Alastu bi rabbikum’, meaning, ‘Am I not your Lord?’ and the souls replied ‘Yes’, (Holy Qur’an, 7:172), and so it is ‘a must’ to pledge my allegiance to you.) You are my Guide and I am your follower for now and forever.

My Baiyah to you is ‘a must’,
Just as I did on ‘The Day of Alast’.
You are my murshid,
And I am your murid,
For now and forever.
Merci beaucoup ..

GIST: You are the light of Ali, (as referred to by ‘Light upon Light’ in the Holy Qur’an: Surah ‘an-Nur’, 24:35). You are that ‘rope of Allah’ (that is referred to in the Holy Qur’an, Surah 3:103). Shah Karim al-Hussaini, you are the ‘Imam of the time’, You are ‘the True Manifest Imam’.

Noor-e-Ali ho tum, Noor-un-ala-noor sé,
Tumhi to ho wo habl-ul-llah.
Shah Karim al-Hussaini,
Imam-e-zamaan ho tum,
Imam-e-mubeen ho tum
Merci beaucoup ..

GIST: You and I will not leave each other: this and here we are making a deal. I am begging you beloved, do not leave me till the ‘Day of Judgement’.

Mimi na wewe hatuta achana,
Hayo na hapa tunapatana.
Nakuomba mpenzi,
Usiniache mpaka
Siku ya qiyama
Merci beaucoup ..

GIST: Allah said (to Prophet Muhammad): “Verily, those who give you their allegiance, they give it but to Allah”, (Holy Qur’an, Surah 48:10). The Messenger of Allah (i.e. Prophet Muhammad, ‘pbuh’) said to the Muslims at Ghadir-é-Khum (during his last pilgrimage), “He whose Mawla I am, Ali is his Mawla”.

Qaala Allah: Inna al ladhina yuba’a yiunaka
Innama yuba’a yiunallah.
Qaala Rasool-Allah,
Aindh al-Ghadir-é-Khum:
Man kuntu Mawla fa Aliyu Mawlahu
Merci beaucoup ..

Copyright. © Rose Motani. 2018.

Date posted: September 13, 2018.


About the author: Rose Motani, originally from East Africa, has lived in UK, Australia, Canada and France. Her interest in cultural travel, which has taken her to more than fifty countries, has enabled her to better appreciate the music of diverse cultures. Rose’s love for poetry, singing and music took a creative turn with the inspiration of the Silver Jubilee of our beloved Hazar Imam, when she began her journey of devotional compositions which continued during the Golden and Diamond Jubilees. Her compositions are in English, French, Swahili, Arabic, Urdu/Hindi and Gujarati.


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India’s Aga Khan Council President shares 3 personal stories and lessons he learned from gracious moments with Mawlana Hazar Imam during Diamond Jubilee visit

[The following piece by President Ashish Merchant originally appeared in The Ismaili India under the title “From the President’s Desk.” It has been slightly edited, and is published here with his kind permission. His enlightening and informative piece is relevant to the Jamats worldwide as it is to the Jamat in India, and we sincerely hope readers will share it with their family members and friends around the world – Ed.]

(President, His Highness the Aga Khan Shia Imami Ismaili Council for India)

Aga Khan Diamond Jubilee Jamati leaders arrival in Mumbai

President Ashish Merchant of the Aga Khan Council for India is seen at left as Mawlana Hazar Imam is welcomed to Mumbai by the Mukhi, Mukhiani, Kamadia and Kamadiani of the Darkhana Jamatkhana. Photo: AKDN/Aziz Ajaney.

After the glorious Diamond Jubilee Padhramni to India, I have often been asked what Hazar Imam’s guidance was.  Those ten days [February 20 – March 1, 2018] were magical and there is so much to share and learn from. 

The most memorable takeaways happened from personal experience. And many experiences resulted from personal naivety that our generous spiritual father affectionately responded to with love and support.  So, in my limited capacity, I will try to express my understanding of 3 big lessons I learned, through personal stories:

  1. The ethic of best practice
  2. The idea of long-term anticipatory thinking
  3. The importance of working with and strengthening institutions

The Ethic of Best Practice

The first story happened in Ahmedabad.

I had the privilege of accompanying Hazar Imam in his car to the venue of our first Jamati work in Gujarat.  Hazar Imam was keenly looking at the constructed facility at the Gujarat University Convention Centre complex, the hundreds of police personnel deployed on the roads and the uniformed volunteers helping guide the Jamat with assertiveness and empathy as our car slowly navigated through the complex.

Hazar Imam asked me to explain what we had done. Naïvely, I responded by describing the location, the construction techniques used, the financial savings experienced by using rentals vs. buying and by giving a short history of the contractor and volunteers. Playfully, Hazar Imam invited me to compare this current effort with those of the past when we used bamboo and cloth mandaps. 

I laughingly told Hazar Imam that I don’t think our Jamat would have tolerated it, if institutions hadn’t given them a good built environment experience for the mulaqat, even in a temporary context. Hazar Imam nodded in approval and reinforced that the built environment, albeit temporary, was an important signal to our Jamat on the notion of best practice. And just as our institutions had made a choice to deploy quality resources and efforts for a superior mulaqat experience, so should the India Jamat strive for best practice in all we do – in maintaining our health, in planning the quality of life for our families, in making choices about the education institutions we choose to attend, and in our conduct at our professions and trade. Best Practice in other words Hazar Imam explained is not a business strategy, but a personal ethic. And this ethic would directly impact how the Jamat and our AKDN institutions would be perceived and treated in India.

Long Term Anticipatory Thinking

My second story is from Hyderabad.

Hazar Imam learned about many young children preparing for examinations. And about how the marks they score impacts the colleges and universities they access. Hazar Imam asked me about the students and what he expects the students to do after their examinations.  I went on to describe the profile and ambition of the students of the Aga Khan hostel, the Aga Khan Academy and of the other students from Nagpur, Delhi, Yavatmal, Bengaluru and other such centres. I then again, naïvely remarked how perhaps the best and brightest would probably take off to the USA and Canada for higher studies.

Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad-india-2015-55945

Mawlana Hazar Imam meets with students during his visit to the Aga Khan Academy in Hyderabad, India, in April 2015. Photo: AKDN/Ahmed Charania.

Hazar Imam sensed my unencouraging tone and went on to explain how of all the youth who go overseas for studies, many may stay back and get married and start a family.  However, several of these will then Inshallah, return one day.  And when they return, they would bring with them their high-quality education and professional ethics to be in the service of the Jamat. Hazar Imam used this example to explain the importance of long-term anticipatory thinking. While the departure of bright young minds was being viewed as a set-back today, it may actually turn out to be an investment for superior leadership in the future!

Hazar Imam invited the India Jamat to think in terms of multiple generations, in terms of safeguarding and growing wealth and assets, in terms choices of careers that we can differentiate on with our knowledge, competence and ethics and to be optimistic in our attitude.  In other words, to be prepared to make some hard choices today in anticipation of a superior outcome tomorrow.

Choices always have trade-offs. Hazar Imam encouraged us to think through those trade-offs for the long-term.  For example, Hazar Imam explained how some parents had been courageous to let their children be resident at the Aga Khan hostel or at the Aga Khan Academy. Of course they must have been uncomfortable letting their children go and live away from them. But they made the choice to undertake this personal discomfort for long-term benefits of access to quality residential life programmes and quality education provision.  And Inshallah, the children will as a result emerge with superior independent thinking and interpersonal skills of a residential life programme and of emerging stronger from receiving a quality education provision. And these positives are worth the trade-off of living away from the family.

So, my lesson from that Hyderabad experience was to always think of the long-term before making decisions in the short term. 

Working With and Strengthening Institutions

My third story is based in New Delhi.

We were witnessing the historic opening of Sunder Nursery.  I was naïve again and asked Hazar Imam about the rationale of investing resources on a public park.

Hazar Imam lovingly explained the notion of strengthening institutions especially those that can help with civil society. Most people don’t consider a public park as an instrument to improve quality of life.  However, when such a national asset is ready, it becomes a powerful force in the service of a city and a country.

Aga Khan Diamond Jubilee inuguration of Sunder Nursery_0334

Mawlana Hazar Imam with Honourable Vice President Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu light the lamp to mark the inauguration of Sunder Nursery. Photo: Shamsh Maredia via the Ismaili.

The Humayun’s Tomb-Sunder Nursery-Nizamuddin Basti project is not only an economic asset that draws tourists and livelihoods but also an important catalyst for civil society as well as a tool for the health of the citizens of New Delhi.  It also offers a physical space for civil society to potentially bloom and flourish. And to do all of this, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, the Aga Khan Foundation and the associated institutions would need to be even stronger than they have been in the past to go beyond just the single project in Delhi to the second project in Hyderabad as well as to other projects in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

When I comprehended those profound remarks, the Delhi project transformed in my mind as an amazing example of the combination of all 3 lessons – the notion of long-term anticipatory thinking, the commitment to best practice at all times, despite the temptation to cut corners for speed, as well as in ensuring that through all our efforts, institutions emerged stronger. 

I convey Jubilee Mubarak to each one of you! And may you enjoy success in incorporating these three values in your own families and lives. 

Date posted: August 22, 2018.


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


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.

IMG_5821__Aga Khan Diamond Jubilee Internationl Art Gallery Lisbon medium

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.

IMG_5823 2__Aga Khan Diamond Jubilee Internationl Art Gallery Lisbon medium

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.

IMG_5824__Aga Khan Diamond Jubilee Internationl Art Gallery Lisbon Revised

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.


Three Panels and Keynotes at International Art Gallery


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.



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.



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.


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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This website, Barakah, is a special project by and is dedicated to the textual and visual celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan.


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



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.


Muslim and Nevin HarjiMuslim Harji has been acclaimed for his wonderful photo essays for this blog as well as its sister websites and 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


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For links to all the posts please click on Table of ContentsAlso join/like Barakah at and follow us at

This website, Barakah, is a special project by 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


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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.

Aga Khan welcomes President of Portugal to Darbar 05

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.

Aga Khan welcomes President of Portugal to Darbar 02

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.”


A video clip from the Darbar in Lisbon

Date posted: August 8, 2018.


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

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This website, Barakah, is a special project by 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

(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.


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 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 and follow us at

This website, Barakah, is a special project by and is dedicated to the textual and visual celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan.


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