By ABDULMALIK MERCHANT

Ismailis welcome Mawlana Hazar Imam to Lisbon

Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations has brought Ismailis from all over the world to Lisbon. This group represents several countries and was pictured on the terrace of Eduardo VII Park following the departure of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s motorcade. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant.

July 6, 2018: The Aga Khan’s arrival in Lisbon

Ismailis from around the world continue to pour into Lisbon for the final celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, which began on July 11, 2017 with a beautiful Homage Ceremony  in Aiglemont, France. The festive mood of tens of thousands of Ismailis who are now in Lisbon was particularly felt yesterday, Thursday July 6, 2018, with the arrival of Mawlana Hazar Imam into the city.

During his Diamond Jubilee Year Mawlana Hazar Imam has so far visited ten countries where he has undertaken religious work with Ismailis and attended events related to his  Imamat institutions including the Aga Khan Development Network. During his Jubilee journeys he has travelled at least 140,000 kms. His age of 81 makes him the oldest living Imam in Ismaili history.

zr2_Aga Khan Hazar Imam arrival Lisbon airport July 6 2018

Mawlana Hazar Imam arrives in Lisbon, Portugal to Military Honours on the occasion of his Diamond Jubilee. Photo: The Ismaili/Zahur Ramji.

Mawlana Hazar Imam was greeted at Lisbon airport by Government officials and Ismaili leaders. Ismailis were informed ahead of time to be at Jardim Amalia Rodriques Park by 3:30 P.M. to welcome the Imam. The small park lies atop the Eduardo VII Park, which has sweeping views of the city and River Tagus.  I declared my own personal arrival at the site at 12:35 P.M with the following Tweet:

“I’m at Jardim Amália Rodrigues and Ismailis are arriving by the bus loads. It’s 12:35 pm. Lisbon time….”

When I reached there, the road was dotted with Ismailis throughout the approximate 400 metre length of the park. Hundreds arrived in buses, others walked from the close by metro stations while many got dropped by Tuk Tuk tour vehicles that had taken them for sightseeing tours of Lisbon. By the time Mawlana Hazar Imam’s motorcade arrived at the Park some 3.5 hours later the attendance had grown to between 3,500 — 4,000 (an estimate that was given to me by two different police officers). Ismailis cheered and sang as they waited for their Imam to arrive. The noise was particular loud as Mawlana Hazar Imam’s plane, bearing his crest and flag flew over the Park.

Ismaili woman from Badakhshan

One of the first persons the author met upon arriving at the Park. She touched and inspired him immensely with her powerful prayers. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant.

Ismaili girl with Imamat and Portugal flags

Ismaili girl carries flags of Portugal and the Ismaili Imamat as she waits to welcome Mawlana Hazar Imam to Lisbon. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant.

Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations has brought Ismailis from all over the world to Lisbon. This group photo was taken on the terrace of Eduardo VII Park before Mawlana Hazar Imam’s arrival . Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant.

Ismailis see plane of Aga Khan in the Lisbon sky

Crowds cheer as they see Mawlana Hazar Imam’s plane fly over Jardim Amalia Rodriques Park. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant.

I encountered Ismailis from every corner of the world, and one of my first meetings was with an elderly lady from Central Asia, who conveyed greetings and congratulations to me as well as gave me uplifting prayers. Truly, she was a noble soul. A small but enthusiastic group of Ismailis from New Zealand carried a banner defining their country’s presence. Almost everyone carried Portuguese and the Ismaili Imamat flags, which bear some similarity because of the common colours of green and red.

Aga Khan Hazar Imam waves to Ismailis gathered at Lisbon for his Diamond Jubilee

Crowds gathered at Parque Eduardo VII welcome Mawlana Hazar Imam to Portugal as he waves to them. Photo: Barakah.

The crowd was very disciplined, and the officials on duty including the police only intervened when individuals exceeded safety limits. Of course, the most telling and exciting moments were when Mawlana Hazar Imam’s motorcade arrived and moved slowly along the route. With his window open, he waved to his eager and happy  murids. I had recorded in one of my earlier tweets:

“Watching all this is quite beautiful. The setting with a view of Lisbon and river Tagus is awesome. The crowd makes it all the more exciting. We are here because of Hazar Imam. This gathering is part of the pilgrimage to our spiritual parent.”

I stood on the opposite side of the road, in order to witness the crowd’s mood and reaction and said in a tweet:

“I will …… experience everyone’s feelings. I may not see Hazar Imam but tens of thousands of eyes will see him. It’s beautiful to be here.”

Welcoming Mawlana Hazar Ima m to Lisbon

Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations has brought Ismailis from all over the world to Lisbon. This group represents several countries and was pictured on the terrace of Eduardo VII Park following the departure of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s motorcade. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant.

Central Asian Ismailis

Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations has brought Ismailis from all over the world to Lisbon. This group represents Central Asian Ismailis and was pictured on the terrace of Eduardo VII Park following the departure of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s motorcade. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant.

Ismaili Rasuda

Ismailis play rasuda on the terrace of Eduardo VII Park after the departure of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s motorcade. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant (still shot from video).

Ismailis at Park to welcome Aga Khan for Diamond Jubilee, Lisbon 010

Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations has brought Ismailis from all over the world to Lisbon. This group  from the USA was pictured on the terrace of Eduardo VII Park following the departure of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s motorcade. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant.This group is from the USA. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant.

Ismailis welcome Aga Khan

Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations has brought Ismailis from all over the world to Lisbon. This group representing Ismailis from many countries was pictured on the terrace of Eduardo VII Park following the departure of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s motorcade. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant.

Ismailis at Park to welcome Hazar Imam to Lisbon

Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations has brought Ismailis from all over the world to Lisbon. This group from Central Asia was pictured at Jardim Amalia Rodriques Park following the departure of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s motorcade. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant.

A friend of the Ismaili community

This non-Ismaili gentleman has known the Ismaili community and admired the work of Mawlana Hazar Imam for many years and joined thousands of Ismailis to welcome their Imam. Many non-Ismailis took time to inquire about the presence of the large crowd. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant.

Mawlana Hazar Imam’s presence, even for a short few moments, filled the entire crowd with intense happiness. Once the motorcade had passed, there were celebrations on the terrace of Eduardo VII Park. Women sung and played rasuda to Avjo avjo Pyara Karim Shah. Selfies were being taken by groups from around the world. I also saw joy in the faces of individuals and groups who I met during my walk to the the department store El Corte Inglés and the São Sebastião metro station, from which I took the train to Park of the Nations (Parque das Nações), the heart of the Diamond Jubilee Celebration.

When I arrived at Parque das Nações I realized how many Ismailis I would be seeing and meeting over the coming days, all united by their love and affection for Mawlana Hazar Imam.

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July 6: Photos  from Parque das Nações, heart of the Diamond Jubilee events

Time and Knowledge Banner

Time and Knowledge, a key Imamat initiative for members of the Ismaili community to contribute voluntarily to the development and strength of the worldwide jamats and the countries in which they live. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant.

Salim and Nevin Kanji near food stand Kolesterol Puro

Friends Salim and Nevin Kanji in front of one of the most popular food stands that prides — judging by its name — in serving heavy loads of fatty food. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant.

USA Ismaili Pipe band

A USA based Ismaili pipe band marches through an area at the Park of Nations, the heart of the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations in Lisbon. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant.

Belgium and Brazil World Cup 2018 quarter finals

Football fans were not deprived of the crucial quarter final world cup match between Brazil and Belgium. Fan loyalties were clearly divided, with loud cheers for the Belgium team at the end of the match which they won 2-1. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant.

Illustrated poster Aga Khan Diamond Jubilee Lisbon

A superbly illustrated site map for the Diamond Jubilee events taking place at the Park of Nations. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant.

Two senior and highly decorated members of the Ismaili pipe band

Two senior and highly decorated members of the Ismaili pipe band from the USA. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant.

Salim and Nasreen Rahemtuall with Mrs. Merchant

Alwaeza Malek Jehangir Merchant with close family friends Salim and Nasreen Rahemtulla of Burnaby, Canada. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant.

Diamond Jubilee motif

A beautifully designed free-standing Diamond Jubilee motif at Park of Nations. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant.

Date posted: July 7, 2018.

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