The Lisbon Darbar



When the welcome siren sounded
Murids from far-flung areas gasped
Conversations around kitchen tables
In pedestrian homes of Gujrat
To lavish bungalows in Nairobi
In rudimentary apartments of London
To water-front homes in Vancouver
Nuclear families, or multi-generational
Centred around past jubilees
The collective wisdom cried out
“How can we not go!!”

There were few questions about Portugal
Fewer still about the Seat of Imamat
Implicit in the hearts and minds
Unfolded an imagery:
A Darbar of majestic proportions
Amidst a frontierless brotherhood
Bowing its collective head
Pledging its loyalty, love, devotion
To their beloved Mawla.

Some forty-thousand Murids
From forty-five countries
Descended upon the ancient city.
Cheerful demeanour, adventurous spirit
Left no room for strangeness
No time for anxiety
Soon, colour-coded wrist bands
Solidified an identity, provided a protective shield.

For days before the epochal event
The vast spaces at the Expo Lands
Blared with song and dance
Food and frolic
Expositions and movies
Concerts and performances
Quality and calibre beyond excellent
Participation and engagement beyond expectation
Happiness and appreciation beyond description
Joy, excitement, gratitude beyond belief.

The stage was set
Murids in their thousands
Comfortably settled in
Final minutes of Intezar
In quiet contemplation, personal zikr
Allowing each to connect
The inner recesses of hearts.
Deep sense of anticipation, excitement
Rising within the collective silence
Peace…inner joy…gripping ever so gently
And, then, the moment arrived.

The salwats, in unison, in humility
Greeted the Imam’s Noorani presence.
The booming rendition, wholesome, unrestrained
Accompanied each and every step
All the way to His high chair, nay His throne.

The Imam’s happiness was palpable
His love, his grace, his blessings
Pouring out without measure.
His levity, smiles, laughter
Enlivening and captivating.
No bowls were large enough
To capture, retain and cherish
No heart remotely capable
Of expanding and embracing
All the Rahemah…the blessings and love
So freely flowing.
It was Magical…Indescribable.

Beyond magic…beyond description
The Imam walking back into the Darbar Hall
With his “surprise guest” at his side.
No one flinched, no one strayed
The booming rendition
Of salwats, and more salwats
Welcomed the Imam and his guest
The President of Portugal.

The warmth and affection
Percolating between the two
The tributes and accolades
Celebrating each other
The unreserved and sincere respect
Accorded by each to the other
The sealing of genuine partnership
Between the Seat of Imamat
And the Government of Portugal
Was a script written
Not on paper, not in a document
Only in the heart and mind.
Goodwill, common cause, humanity
Dwell in the realm of open hearts, open minds.

Historians will describe and explain
In books and videos
The nature and importance
Of the DJ Darbar in Lisbon.
The Murids present
Instinctively knew, instinctively recognised
The unfolding of a historic moment…
They will tell their children, and grandchildren
With pride and gratitude
“We were there–
When history was made”

Date posted: July 30, 2018.


About the author: Jalal Jaffer is a practising lawyer in Vancouver. He has held numerous leadership positions in Ismaili institutions in Canada. He attended the recent conclusion of His Highness the Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubilee in Lisbon, and was also present on July 11, 2017 at the Homage Ceremony in Aiglemont, France, which marked the commencement of the Jubilee Year.

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