In what felt like no time at all, it was five minutes to 11am. The ginan that was going on ended abruptly as the screens lit up with Hazar Imam’s motorcade rounding the corner at Darkhana. Mawla’s green Audi slowed down at the entrance. The door opened. Breathing halted. Mawla alighted and salwats swelled in the hall. That jovial countenance filled the screen and it felt like he too was in a hurry to enter as he gestured to the Mukhi Kamadia and Mukhiani Kamadiani and swept into the foyer. The screens went blank and the heart started racing. He was here! The Lord of Light and love was but a glance away.
A Personal Reflection
By ZAFEERA KASSAM
I don’t think I can ever understand the human capacity to experience two polar opposite emotions simultaneously: indescribable happiness and also deep sadness, a profound sense of soulful quietude and also a rippling feeling of restlessness.
As I sat there in the hall, participating in intezari program, I was a column of conflict: Ecstatic to finally be here, excited over the joy of the possibility of seeing my Imam in all his grandeur. But also concerned that time was going by too quickly, that all of this would end too soon. Time always moves like rapids whenever he is physically present and when he isn’t, time is a meandering snail.
It was endearing listening to the children singing ginans like ‘Eji Anand Anand’ and ‘Kalapat Jalapat’ as well as qasidas like ‘Dam Hamma Dam Ali Ali’, ‘Ya Imami Ya Imami’ and ‘Goyum Ali Joyum Ali’. The ventis, zikr and renditions of ‘Ab Teri Mohabbat Lagi’ were well received. And the Al-Waez who came on periodically to explain the procedures that take place during the Darbar and the significance of these gestures made an emphatic point to revel in the moment, to use the silences that would lapse between one ginan and another to reflect on various facets of the Darbar, including who our beloved Imam is, what he has done for the world at large in the past 60 years and our own relationship with the Imam of the time.
The gentleman next to me found it curious that I kept checking my watch but how could I explain to him my contention with time – it was moving too swiftly: 7am had become 9am all too soon, and yet it wasn’t moving swiftly at all. When would 11am arrive and bring with it our Lord and Murshid, our beloved Shah Karim al-Hussaini Hazar Imam?
Amidst the hustle of standing up for the zikr and inching forward to make space to accommodate the large numbers filing in, I was able to glance around at the hall decorated by volunteers who worked day and night to create a simple yet alluring ambience. White festooning hung from the ceiling in circular formations and delicate floral arrangements adorned diamond-shaped hangings. The stage itself was classy too with Mawlana Hazar Imam’s chair appearing majestic in the centre. The Diamond Jubilee motif dominated the hall, reminding us of what the occasion represented – not that we needed the reminder but their striking colour and form captured the eye frequently.
In what felt like no time at all, it was five minutes to 11am. The ginan that was going on ended abruptly as the screens lit up with Mawla’s motorcade rounding the corner at Darkhana. Mawla’s green Audi slowed down at the entrance. The door opened. Breathing halted. Mawla alighted and salwats swelled in the hall. That jovial countenance filled the screen and it felt like he too was in a hurry to enter as he gestured to the Mukhi Kamadia and Mukhiani Kamadiani and swept into the foyer. The screens went blank and the heart started racing. He was here! The Lord of Light and love was but a glance away. It felt like the soul itself was eager to leap out and embrace him as soon as he appeared in sight. All the conflicting emotions converged into one geyser of ardour. And then time slowed to a standstill – waiting, waiting, waiting for him to emerge from the Green Room and step into the hall.
I saw a little boy take a few steps forward, innocently holding out a two-finger Kit Kat to the Imam, who at first held his hand out to say, thank you but you have it, then graciously accepted the chocolate and handed it over to Mukhisaheb. It seemed like the Imam paused to say something to him, beaming at him, as the boy took his place on his mother’s lap.
The salwats started up again, somewhere near the entrance and picked up fervour as if a wave of emotion flowed through the whole gathering. And then Mawlana Hazar Imam came into sight! And what a sight to behold. Awash with gratitude, awash with adoration, awash with immense joy and humility, there I sat.
Ishq pe ho gayi meher khuda ki,
Rab ne soon li araz hamari,
Rabba tera lakh lakh shukrana — excerpt of poem by Ravindran Jain
Lord has shone His mercy on my love
And has fulfilled my yearning
Gratitude to you, O my Lord
Hundreds and thousands of thank you, O my Lord
The only feeling that comes the slightest bit close to this feeling is the one you get when standing at the shore and seeing the sun rise at the brink of the ocean. The Light had appeared before me and finally I saw him dressed in his Diamond Jubilee Khil’at. What I thought I would feel seeing this was nothing like what I truly felt. But the visceral thirst was momentarily quenched and I watched the screen as the camera followed his walk along the red carpet. I saw a lady thrust a letter to the Imam, which he graciously accepted then handed over to the Mukhisaheb.
I saw a little boy take a few steps forward, innocently holding out a two-finger Kit Kat to the Imam, who at first held his hand out to say, thank you but you have it, then graciously accepted the chocolate and handed it over to Mukhisaheb. It seemed like the Imam paused to say something to him, beaming at him, as the boy took his place on his mother’s lap. A ripple of amusement spread through the jamat at that moment. Hazar Imam continued along the red carpet, showering generous blessings upon individuals, and finally ascended the steps to take his place on the stage.
He gave his permission for the ceremonies to take place. The 49-link gold chain was garlanded around his neck, and from the point where the Tilawat-e-Qur’an was recited along with its translation, the Venti Ginan and Zikr, Hazar Imam’s expression was a serious and sombre one. But when those who recited the prayers went to him to get blessings, his face lit up with beguiling beams. The President of the Council, respected Mr Nawaz Gulam, gave his pledge of allegiance on behalf of the jamats present and that was indeed a solemn moment. I thank him for including the plea for forgiveness of any shortcomings or transgressions.
And then came the moment we were all earnestly awaiting, the moment when Hazar Imam came to the microphone and his enchanting voice resonated throughout the hall. How we thirsted to hear his “My beloved spiritual children” and the warmth that cocooned us with those special words was indescribable. Glee thrummed through my veins to hear him extended his “warmest and best, best, BEST, loving blessings” and the heart swelled to enormity to hear: “I hope this will be a day of happiness in the Jamat as it is a day of happiness for me. That there will be lots of joy. I think you call it Dandia Raas and so there will be plenty of dancing.”
The heart was already dancing. He went on to joke, “I suspect a little bit of biryani from here or there.” And then He shared something that was truly touching and poignant, “And I will participate with you in your rejoicing for it is a day of immense happiness for me.” Imagine that. The Imam rejoicing with you, dancing with you, savouring the yummy biryani with you. Wow.
He went on to thank the government for extending kindnesses and courtesies to him and he mentioned this thrice. The second time round He added, “I am grateful to the government on your behalf and on my behalf”. He instructed the jamat to take back to their countries, families and friends, his best, affectionate blessings.
A point of real wonder during this historic Farman was when Hazar Imam talked about how we are a global brotherhood so we should work together, come together to try and achieve good goals across frontiers, across oceans so that the brotherhood can be a solid sustenance to all, for us and for future generations. At that moment, I remembered the Ayat of the Holy Quran which Hazar Imam has shared many times with us: “Oh Mankind! Fear your Lord, who created you of a single soul..”
He said, “tell your Jamat that I am thinking of them, that I send them blessings for mushkil aasaan in their lives, not only here in Kenya but around the world.” He further said he looks forward for strong work, for the unity of the jamat, for the strength of our institutions and for success of our younger generation in their education.
He emphasized on this and directed the younger generation to “Learn. And learn more. And continue to learn all your lives so that you may serve your families, your jamat, strongly and successfully. To work hard from early childhood development until post-graduate university studies. This is an opportunity to gain capabilities which will serve you all your lifetime. So do not miss this opportunity, do not treat it lightly.”
He gave special blessings for the younger generation to succeed in their educational endeavours.
A point of real wonder during this historic Farman was when Hazar Imam talked about how we are a global brotherhood so we should work together, come together to try and achieve good goals across frontiers, across oceans so that the brotherhood can be a solid sustenance to all, for us and for future generations. At that moment, I remembered the Ayat of the Holy Quran which Hazar Imam has shared many times with us: “Oh Mankind! Fear your Lord, who created you of a single soul..” and it felt like an important reminder that we are all one universal brotherhood and it is high time we put aside our hang-ups with status and position, we dissolve our discriminations and biases, and begin acting in the manner that Mowla sees us: brothers and sisters; one jamat; one family.
Hazar Imam further emphasized that our tradition is an intellectual tradition: “Invest in your intellect. Learn. Use learning for the benefit of yourselves, your families and your jamat. Acquire knowledge throughout your lifetime, not just during academic years.” He urged us to keep knowledge part of the way we think and develop our activities, to bring into these activities competence, wisdom and ‘Best Practice’. He specified, “I would be so happy if all my jamat was part of Best Practice worldwide. This is what I hope for my jamat.”
He gave special blessings for happiness, long life, good health and mushkil aasan again, emphatically adding, “may all your problems disappear as though they didn’t exist. That’s what I wish for you.” He spoke so lovingly and so soothingly, it really did feel like all and any material problems were nonexistent!
It was extraordinarily touching when Mawlana Hazar Imam shared a childhood memory. He and his brother, Prince Amyn, used to collect rabbits and every morning, they would go out to say ‘good morning’ to the rabbits. One morning they had a terrible surprise. The rabbits were all gone! He held out his hands and we aww-ed when He said, “they had been eaten.” We were all smiles to hear him end this anecdote with: “Lots of fun, a few heartaches, and, above all, happiness of being here in Kenya.”
Immense, immense happiness and gratitude is what I felt for being part of this Darbar.
He gave special blessings for happiness, long life, good health and mushkil aasan again, emphatically adding, “may all your problems disappear as though they didn’t exist. That’s what I wish for you.” He spoke so lovingly and so soothingly, it really did feel like all and any material problems were nonexistent! With an Imam like that, whose love knows no bounds and crosses all barriers, who is the epitome of all facets good and positive, what are problems and what tenacity do they even have?
Mawlana Hazar Imam took his seat and the Mukhi Kamadia Sahebs Mukhiani Kamadiani Sahebas of the Kenyan Jurisdiction, Congo Jamat and Malagasy Jamat, respectively, presented mehmanis to the Imam, which were graciously blessed. This was promptly followed by the Imam divinely blessing the Aab-e-Shafa. Next, the Nazranas were humbly offered to the Imam. Earlier, during the intezari programme, these nazranas were shared with the jamat, photographs of which were shown on the screens. The Kenyan jurisdiction’s nazrana was a pair of high back wooden armchairs from Lamu; the Democratic Republic of Congo unearthed a water sprinkler that had six tubes extending from the bottom bowl to the top bowl and it was shared that the six tubes each represent 10 years of Hazar Imam’s Imamat, totalling to 60 glorious years; the Malagasy jamat found a ewer and plate from a rare collection made in France with Islamic engravings on it.
He gave further blessings to the jamat for fulfilment of good wishes, for good health, long life, unity in families, that we may live in peace wherever we are and for strength on Sirat-al-Mustaqeem, at which point he made the gesture of moving along a straight path.
The nazranas were presented in forms of photo catalogues to the Imam. He showed keen interest in these and when He came to the mic the second time around, he expressed genuine pleasure at having received these nazranas and wished that the gifts be returned to the jamat – each and every individual – a thousand times over. Such a generous Imam, truly!
He confided that Mukhisaheb has reminded him – though he did not need to – that the volunteers had done good work and Mawla gave special blessings for all the hard work they had put in to make this visit a happy one for him. He gave further blessings to the jamat for fulfilment of good wishes, for good health, long life, unity in families, that we may live in peace wherever we are and for strength on Sirat-al-Mustaqeem, at which point he made the gesture of moving along a straight path.
And then came the moment we didn’t look forward to – Mawlana Hazar Imam descending the stage to leave the hall. Oh, if only we had the capability to make him stay with us longer. But he didn’t leave straight away. He walked along the red carpet and made his way to where the senior citizens were sitting on the chairs, passing by the hospital beds, walking – it seemed – slowly and swiftly (if that is even possible) until he loomed into sight where I was seated. It’s not possible to put into words what kind of transformation takes place when “naino se nain mila” but the ginan ‘Ab Teri Mohabbat Lagi’ captures the essence of deeply coveting this phenomenon. I don’t think it’s meant to be expressed in words as it is a highly personal and ‘anmol’ occurrence.
He turned the corner and reached the exit, pausing briefly to acknowledge, with a smile, some jamati members waving at him.
We were informed that he would spend some time with the leaders of the jamat to discuss important issues, that he had spent 45 minutes in Dubai and 40 minutes in Mumbai doing so, and the jamat was requested to stay put and participate in the post-darbar programme of zikr, ginans and tasbihs.
Mawlana Hazar Imam left after one whole hour (60 minutes) and was sent off by the Ismaili Youth Band and Volunteers Corp who held up placards stating “We love you, Hazar Imam.” That was a touching sight to behold.
But the mixed emotions came flooding back – the same incomprehensible polar-opposite emotions crashing at the shore of my conscious – ecstasy and melancholy; sukoon and tadap. Ecstasy to have seen him and heard his voice; melancholy that the whole event was over and he had physically departed; sukoon at having being invaluably blessed and deeply grateful for it too; tadap because when will such a Divine Deedar happen again?
Naseeb pachha kyare khulse? (When will good fortune strike again?)
It’s just never, ever enough.
The ginans speak of it and I now live it.
Eji Jiska re ma-e-bap gam sadharya re piya
Uska farzand kiyu kar raheve re,
Maherban mere, Saheb mere, dayavant mere maherban
Ya Shah tuj bina so din javega kese piyaji – excerpt of Ginan “Tumko Sadhaare” by Pir Sadardin
Children whose beloved parent is physically leaving town
How can they stay here happily?
O my Merciful, O my Lord,
How will I stay without you in these times?
Date posted: April 15, 2018.
Last updated: April 16, 2018 (author has added a note about the mehmani and Aab-e-Shafa ceremonies)
Zafeera Kassam is a high-school teacher of English Language, Literature and Psychology, residing in Nairobi, Kenya. She spends her free time in creative writing and poetry, and has had her short stories and poems published in various media around the world. As a devotee of Mowlana Hazar Imam, her greatest joy is in penning verse and poems in praise of Hazar Imam. Her latest publication, Always and Forever, is a book of 60 poems dedicated especially to Mowlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee (available on Amazon Kindle). She is also an amateur photographer who takes great interest in capturing nature. Currently, she is concentrating on developing her skills in graphic design and digital imagery. Most of all, she hopes to be continuously inspired to keep penning poems in praise of beloved Hazar Imam.
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Although no words can do justice in describing the emotion a murid feels when he/she encunters the murshid, Zafeera has done an outstanding job. We are all fortunate to have amongst us a scholar who can articulate this experience so eloquently that we felt as if we were with her in the presence of the Imam. Alhamdulillah!
I enjoyed Zafeera Kassam’s excellent and inspiring account of the Darbar in Nairobi. as well as Barakah’s coverage of the entire visit. Thank you and God Bless.
My dear brothers and sisters in faith,
I am truly appreciative of all your positive and loving comments. We are all one united brotherhood and even though all of us are not physically allowed in every Darbar/Mulaqat, we are part of it as evidenced by our beloved Hazar Imam giving and sending blessings to the global jamat. This means, in every Darbar/Mulaqat, the jamat as a whole global entity, is forefront in our beloved Hazar Imam’s thoughts and prayers. Shukranlillah Alhamdulillah. Thus, this humble attempt on my part to make one and all feel that they were there too – if not physically, definitely in spirit.
Once again, my deepest gratitude to all for taking the time to read and for sending in your touching comments.
May Mowla always keep all of us under His love and protection. Ameen.
Thank you Zafeera. This sharing of spiritual experience is very very inspiring. Mubarakis.
Thanks a ton for this wonderful sharing. I was at the Darbar and this article took me back to the whole hour of spiritual experience.
Zafeera, thanks a million for sharing this “priceless” Darbar experience so eloquently.
Thank you Zafeera. You have made your family humble and proud of having a daughter like you.
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What a gripping account, coming straight from the heart to share with us all the majesty and grace of an amazing spirit. Thank you Zafeera for sharing this precious and personal experience, I could feel Mawlana Hazar Imam’s blessings and benevolence radiate from your words; breath stopping in anticipation and sighing in gratitude; and feeling the tadap and sukoon of love in all its depths. Stay blessed to feel this spiritual connection.
Very well written. Thanks for sharing.
Beautiful, heart and soul warming.
I was present at the Darbar. A couple of days after the blessed moment, I was trying to recall the whole sequence, that I just couldn’t with the same detail that you have. Your step-by-step account has given me something to refer to whenever I want to recall these moments!
The vivid account of the Nairobi Darbar by Zafeera Kassam and published on Barakah is indeed a great piece of art and literary work beyond any iota of doubt. Readers must have felt as if every thing was happening before their eyes. Beautiful and hearty congratulations.
Nairobi indeed has special place in the heart of Mawlana Hazar Imam, and readers know exactly why. Hence he was immensely rejoyous.
I am sure the coverage of Lisbon Darbar in July 2018, the culmination of Diamond Jubilee Celebration, will be most befitting and readers are looking forward for this treat from Barakah.
With all the best to the editor and everyone who contributes as well as writes for Barakah.
Rai Zulfiqar Meghani, Former Hon Sec AKEPB (P) n VC Focus Pakistan
I sobbed the whole time I read your passionate account. You have aptly described what each one of us feel most deeply within our souls. Simply gut-wrenching and tear-jerking. I was looking for the lines of the ginan that glorifies our Imam “char e char e jug mahe fari fari joyu, Tere tol e koi na aave” Only our beloved Hazar Imam can bring us this kind of joy. We are indebted to you for inspiring us so deeply. Khuda Hafiz.
Thank you Zafeera 🙏🏽. You made me feel like I was there in person to witness this wonderful and miraculous event.
Marvellous piece Zafeera! Jazakulllah (May Allah reward you with all things good)! We are the fortunate children of our beloved Hazar Imam, and the most important thing is to share and abide by all the Faramin; the more we obey the more Hazar Imam will become happy and when he is happy you can imagine the quantum energy. The love. the successes and all the positive things that we wish to have will keep on coming to all of us. Mubaraki to you and Ismailis around the world.
Please I need to understand why this is on social media, especially when they specifically requested not to do so. Hope you will understand my sentiments towards this private and exclusive Darbar for Ismailis
First of all this website is not a social media website, although we have a social media Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/1000fold. Regardless, in response to your concern, this website and, long before it, the sister website http://www.simerg.com that was founded in 2009, have carried several inspiring accounts of mulaqats with Mawlana Hazar Imam. You may be also interested to learn that much of the literature associated with the Ismailis is now in the public domain, and that includes Ginanic books, inspiring accounts and lives of Ismailis as well as sermons of Imams – many of these texts have been published by the IIS and distributed to Ismailis and non-Ismailis alike.
Thousands of Jamati members are touched by narratives such as the one Zafeera has penned, and may I add that hundreds of thousands of Jamati members in several parts of the world will not even have an opportunity of a mulaqat or Darbar with Mawlana Hazar Imam. We are pleased to fill a void that has gone unaddressed since Ismaili literary and religious magazines ceased publication in 1992! Those magazines can be found today at many renowned libraries in the world including the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.
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I agree with the editor of Barakah for publishing what he has been doing about the Diamond Jubilee celebration from which hundreds of thousands Ismailis are benefitting.
Of course, judicious prudence and caution are needed about what to publish and to avoid backlash as we are living in very sensitive circumstances.
I am sure the editor is aware and doing his best in this regard to protect community interest. We also have to look at the positive side – the joy pieces like this one gives to hundreds of thousands Ismailis all over the world.
Rai Zulfiqar Meghani, Former Hon Sec AKEPB (P) n VC Focus Pakistan
I agree with editor Malik and Meghani ‘s reply. There is a reason why — we have been blessed with the IMAM OF THE TIME, The days of hiding our religion behind the veil are antiquated and passe! The time has come for us to showcase the fascinating and durable historical facts of our 1400 years of Fatimid history. Kudos to editor Malik for his dynamic coverage of the Diamond Jubilee!!
Great job Zafeera for sharing this piece with readers of Barakah. We are amazed at the way you have described the Darbar, and we felt while reading your account as if we were seeing everything again through our own eyes.
Also many thanks to Malik Merchant, whose work I have been following since 2009. Simerg, and now Barakah, have provided coverage on many matters related to our community and our faith, and we salute him and his team as well as everyone who contributes to the blogs.
Excellent Zafeera. May you be blessed.
Zafeera what a brilliant and generous articulation of your Didar with our Mawla. You made us feel like we were there with you!
Many thanks for sharing your aspirations, feelings and experiences!
Thank you Zafeera for this priceless account of Deedar. It felt like I was present there. Read the accounts my with tears rolling down my cheeks, May Mawlana Hazar Imam bless you and fulfill all your dear heart’s desires.
Rozina Shamji from USA
Excellent narration! I should say Kudos and well done. May you be blessed with more such inspiring accounts, Ameen
That is a very good narrative and I congratulate you!
I loved reading Zafeera’s piece. I felt the very inner of her as though I was there myself. Thank you!
Zafeera, you wrote very well and we felt like we were there with you and the Jamat. What an amazing experience! Lots of Mumbarakis to you all!
Ya Ali Madad Zafeera:
Thank you for sharing your ruhani and zaheri Deedar Mubarak experience which is an exhilarating experience for all the murids of Hazar Imam . We experience the deepest experience which comes from the love he has flowing through his Noorani zaat to all who are his murids.
Mashallah, we are his servants but he has made us his spiritual children and loves us beyond the limits of our understanding.
His Noor is the cause of the creation so he desires to even give us his Deedar Mubarak because of his reematull alamin mercy to mankind.
Mubarak Mubarak Mubarak.
An outstanding piece of narrative that only an English language teacher can write.
Mubarakis on your experience which you very eloquently shared with the wider audience.
May you continue to excel in your profession. May Mawlana Hazar Imam bless you with immense happiness and lots of Barakah, Zafeera
Congratulations Zafeera. A very fine piece indeed and we thank you for sharing your wonderful experience. Stay blessed always.👍❤💛♥
As a Canadian awaiting Mulaqat, I feel the “TADAP” and await the “SUKOON”
Very well written, exceptional and most meaningful.
I want to highly commend both the author, Zafeera Kassam, for an outstanding and emotional narrative that has touched our souls as if we were there present, but also the initiative by Barakah.com for the unbelievable service to Murids with these initiatives which are intellectually and spiritually stimulating!
Indeed a classic example of Generosity of Time, Knowledge and Material that Mawlana Hazar Imam always wishes that his Murids aspire to dedicate.
May Allah bless you for this heart rending and joyous explanation of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Nairobi Darbar with all the details you have provided. This is a magnificent piece that I hope will be shared widely across the Ismaili world! And please continue to inspire us with your poetry in Prsiase of Mawlana Hazar Imam.
Zafeera Kassam has very eloquently and in great detail captured the unique occasion in the lives of Ismailis around the globe and also the title of the posting “AN INSPIRING AND MOVING ACCOUNT OF MAWLANA HAZAR IMAM’S DIAMOND JUBILEE DARBAR IN NAIROBI” says it all. Great job done Zafeera and indeed all of us owe a deep gratitude to you. We also conveyour grateful thanks to SIMERG for posting your piece so promptly through its special endeavour, http://www.barakah.com, a website dedicated to Mawlana Hazar Imam.
BRAVO to you and Simerg and keep up the wonderful work!