Mubaraki to the Ontario jamat, mubaraki to the volunteers and mubaraki to the leadership; and Mawlana Hazar Imam “Amen” for your immense love, care and blessings, as well as for assuring us that you are always with us!

By ABDULMALIK J. MERCHANT

Information booklet main page with Quranic ayat/Qur’anic ayat inside front page of Mulaqat Canada 2017 information booklet.

I arrived in Montreal yesterday evening! The Palais des congrès, or the Convention Centre as it is also known, is in the north end of Old Montreal. The convention centre is where the Ottawa jamat will be joining with the jamat of the Quebec and Maritime Provinces to undergo an experience of the kind the Ontario jamats have gone through the past 4 days.

I  let the few snow flurries subside this morning before making my way to the Palais. I began my self-guided tour of the facility by taking some pictures of the exterior. It is covered in brilliant colours of all sorts. I  saw a lone person entering through its main doors. There will be thousands going through the same doors tomorrow. As I stepped inside, I noticed a cloakroom area with plenty of empty hangers. Not tomorrow! The predicted high of 8°C is still cool enough for some warm covering. Beyond the cloakroom area, there are dozens of specialty stores, coffee shops and boutiques that can keep one occupied for a few hours. The facility is huge and hosts  many functions and events simultaneously. A large panel proudly proclaims Montreal as the top host city in the America’s for international events, where more than 80 languages are spoken. I finally made my way to the mulaqat area. Work work, work, and you wonder, “How will they finish it tonight?” But they will. There is this spirit of volunteerism, along with unity, in the Ismaili Muslim community, which Mawlana Hazar Imam deeply appreciates.

Main entrance Palais des Congres MontrealPalais des congrès: Main entrance, 1001 Place Jean-Paul-Riopelle

Cloakroom section, Palais des congresCloakroom space for coats! Don’t lose your ticket tomorrow. Photo: Malik Merchant/Barakah/Simerg.

Montreal’s beautiful Palais des congrès, with La Joute fountain in the foreground. The ensemble of bronze sculptures contains a central fountain surrounded by a number of freestanding abstract animal and human figures inside and outside the fountain basin. The fountain operates during summer on a kinetic sequence that takes about 32 minutes to complete. Photo: Malik Merchant/Barakah/Simerg.

Palais des congres shops and cafesAn avenue of shops and eateries in the Montreal Convention Centre. Photo: Malik Merchant/Barakah/Simerg

The large hall(s) that I saw will be exclusively ours for the day. Two separate seatings each of around 6,000 murids, will be held in the morning and evening sessions. The Quebec jamat is overwhelmingly of Afghan origin and I will be huddled with them. I am looking forward to that, confident that their spirit, their kindness, their discipline and their voices of devotion will uplift me.

Over the past 48 hours hours, my spirit and intensity for the event tomorrow has grown considerably more. I have received text messages and emails describing the joyful didars in Toronto. In Montreal, like in Toronto, the 12,000 strong contingency of Ismailis will be  bursting with emotion as they recite the Salwaats, and experience Hazar Imam’s love and Noor reign over their hearts. A very dear friend in Toronto wrote to me: “It was very special; everyone is very happy and feeling blessed, it has been amazing; it has been amazing because of the superb organization and also the Jamat was very disciplined!”

Another family friend of Portuguese origin wrote to me about the Toronto didar that she attended as follows: “You were in our thoughts and prayers. You were remembered individually and (we) submitted prayers for all deceased members, your families and relatives, the world Jamat as well as the entire humanity!”

The Ontario jamat’s discipline; the jamat’s active participation in the intezari program and the high standard of recitations, the work of the leadership and volunteers have all contributed to making the Ontario visit spectacular. There are other anecdotes that describe the intense interaction of the Jamat with the Imam as he walked around to shower his Noorani rain and blessings on the jamat.

The messages circulating the world inform us about the blessings that Hazar Imam asked the jamats in Toronto to convey to their families; his blessings on the volunteers for their superb work; his blessings for the deceased souls of our family members; his hopes for brotherhood and unity around the world; his guidance to the youth on the importance of education; his prayers for all the Jamats facing unrest and for mushkil aasan; his advice to us asking us to adopt  best practices in our lives; his desire to end poverty in the jamat. And of course there were instances of humour and laughter.

Table of contents in Mulaqat Canada 2017 information booklet produced by Ismaili institutions, one each for Montreal and Toronto mulaqats. Shown is the bilingual Montreal edition.

Devotional night in Montreal with Taufiq KarmailiTaufiq Karmali with a team of local Ismaili singers performs in front of receptive crowd in a devotional evening in Montreal. Photo: Copyright Muslim Harji.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMulaqat Canada 2017 information booklet produced by Ismaili institutions, one each for Montreal and Toronto mulaqats.

For tomorrow, I have an abundance of faith in the Jamat, in the volunteers and in the leadership at all levels to make it an encounter that will potentially be the most memorable one in my life. I say potentially because the organizers have done their work, the remaining preparations are on my part. My preparations with prayers, supplications and a few hundred salwaats  in the few hours that remain will assist me for that joyful experience that everyone in Toronto had in the holy presence of Mawlana Hazar Imam, inshallah.

As we offer our congratulations to the Ontario Jamat, we ask that you pray that everyone in Montreal will have as beautiful a didar as all of you in Toronto experienced. On our part, we will unconditonally remember you!

Date posted: November 20, 2017.

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