Expressing Ismaili Muslim ideals through a historical memorabilia: Lapel pin of His Highness the Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubilee

BY MALIK MERCHANT

The Diamond Jubilee lapel pin on a woman’s outfit. Photo: Safiq Devji, Ottawa. Copyright.

On Tuesday July 11, 2017, hundreds of thousands of Ismailis around the world gathered at different Jamatkhanas and other special venues to witness and celebrate the formal inauguration of His Highness the Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubilee year, also known as the Homage Ceremony. The ceremony, took place at 11.00 am (Central European Time) at Aiglemont, France, where past and present Ismaili leaders reaffirmed their allegiance, faith and love for their 49th Imam on behalf of their respective Jamats. The Aga Khan becomes only the 5th Imam in Ismaili history, since the time of the first Shia Imam, Hazrat Ali (a.s.), to complete a reign of 60 years.

As for me, I decided to attend the event in Montreal for a different level of experience — that of being in the presence of around 7,500 Ismailis from Afghanistan who have made the Province of Quebec their home since the early 1990’s.

As we streamed in a disciplined manner into the banquet facilities at Stad Uniprix (Uniprix Stadium), eager young volunteers presented each one of us with a lapel pin — an accessory of sublime grace, yet very rich in historical meaning and symbols. For those who may not be aware, the lapel pin has been growing in popularity in recent years as a fashion accessory and is considered to be more memorable than many other accessories as part of being “well-dressed!”

A lapel pin, symbolically representing the Toronto Ismaili Centre which was inaugurated in September 2014, was issued later in the same year on December 13 during the celebration of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s 78th birthday. Whereas that pin was diagonal in shape, the Diamond Jubilee lapel pin is circular, and bears the crest of the Ismaili Imamat in the centre. The crest has 60 crescents surrounding it, representing the Aga Khan’s 60 year reign. A Kufic rendition of the Qur’anic ayah or verse (49:13) from Surah Al-Hujurat (the Dwellings) with the following meaning, forms the outer perimeter of the lapel pin.

“O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is Knower, Aware.” — Translation by Pickthall.

The verse highlights the ethic of plurality in Islam, a subject that the Aga Khan has spoken about throughout his Imamat, and more so in his speeches made in the past 25 years. This verse, combined with the crest of the Ismaili Imamat and the sixty crescents, enable the wearer, especially members of the Ismaili community, to make a historical statement about their beloved 49th Imam, in the context of what the Imam represents to the community as a religious and spiritual leader, as well as his contributions to human kind.

The pin, on a man’s jacket

This tiny object of fashion, while presenting a look that is fresh and original, is also most appropriate as an introduction to the Ismaili Imam, the community which the Imam leads, and the faith of Islam. The pin serves as a powerful reminder for an Ismaili of his/her loyalty and allegiance to the Imam of the Time, and enables Ismailis to act as ambassadors of the faith of Islam.

Date posted: July 16, 2017.
Last updated: July 17, 2017 (new photo, top).

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Abdulmalik MerchantMalik Merchant is the founding publisher and editor of Barakah and two other blogs, Simerg and Simergphotos. He is an IT professional, and has worked in the computer industry for several years as an applications designer and developer on IBM mainframes as well as a senior systems analyst. Please follow him at Twitter @simerg and Facebook @1000Fold.

Barakah welcomes your feedback. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or send your comment to simerg@aol.com. For links to all the posts in this special project on His Highness the Aga Khan, please see the drop down menu bar at top of this page or click Table of Contents. Also, visit us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/1000fold.

11 comments

  1. Thanks and congratulations to you and your family on the occasion of Imamat Day and Diamond jubilee Khushiyali Mubarak. And thank you Mr. Malik Merchant for sharing the beautiful lapel pin and the excellent write-up.

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  2. Thank you Mr. Malik for this article with an explanation of the lapin pin. Through your publication barakh and its sister websites, simerg and simergphotos, I personally have gained a lot of knowledge on our Imamat and the Ismaili community residing in various parts of the globe. I look forward to reading more of the publications.

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  3. A man is the only creature that has been elevated to this status of being born from a Single Soul. Thereby, being together as in one humanity we become worthy of the conduct the Creator expects from us. With the Imam-e-Zaman’s continuous guidance and relentless life of work, one day we will all rise to act, as has been demanded from us as one humanity.

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  4. Congratulations Malik and thank you for sharing this very beautiful lapel pin which I saw for the first time. I did not know much about you until I read your profile and pray for your success always.

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  5. Khushyali Mubarak! It was very nice to know that Montreal Jamat received the Diamond Jubilee lapel pin. We in Toronto haven’t received these pins. Just wanted to know if we will be getting them in the near future. Thanks and Ya Ali Madad.

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  6. Thank you so much for the post and contributing this knowledge. Could you please write about the significance of the Imam’s crest?

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