Jamat is deeply joyous on the publication of two Farman books
I was in Ottawa when a set of two Farman books first went on sale a couple of weeks ago. There was a long queue at the literature counter immediately after the Jamati programming and events announcements were completed. The Jamati members were thrilled to secure their own copies of the precious books. It is the first time in more than 40 years that the guidance given by Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, to his spiritual children has been authorized in printed form. The two Farman books have been published by Islamic Publications Limited which is based at the new Aga Khan Centre in London. A note has been made that the Farmans are published under exclusive licence from Mawlana Hazar Imam.
The set of two books ($10.00 per set) contains Farmans made by Mawlana Hazar Imam from 2011 to 2018. The first book (116 pages) contains a total of 24 Farmans made by Mawlana Hazar Imam during his mulaqats with the Jamats in Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Singapore, Bangladesh and India between July 5, 2011 and September 27, 2013. The second book (236 pages) commences with the Farman made on the inauguration of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee in Aiglemont France on July 11, 2017 – the 60th anniversary of his Imamat – and is followed by 44 Farmans made between October 10, 2017 and July 11, 2018 during his Diamond Jubilee visits to Uganda, Tanzania, Eastern Canada, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, India, USA, Kenya, Western Canada, France, the UK and Portugal. The Farmans are published in chronological sequence and there is a table of contents at the beginning of the book. However, there is no index in the two books, and that would be very useful to have moving forward.
It is hoped that Farmans made by Mawlana Hazar Imam before 2011 which have already been authorized and are read out in Jamatkkhanas will be published in the foreseeable future. This publication of the Farman books in printed form takes place almost 44 years after Farmans were last produced in 1976-77. The writer was very much involved with his late father, Alwaez Jehangir Merchant, in the production of that small volume by the Ismailia Association for the United Kingdom (now known as the Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Board).
Many of us will recall our childhood years during the 1960’s, when our parents would advise us to read a Farman every night before going to bed. At that time we had the benefit of short excerpted Farmans by subject category in tiny books such as Precious Pearls and Precious Gems. In the absence of such books, parents can utilize the newly released Farman books by reading out short excerpts to their babies and young children on a regular basis. The Australian website raising children mentions that reading to babies and children help them to get to know sounds, words and language, and they develop early literacy skills. In our particular case of reading out Farmans to children, we can also say that by doing so we are building their attachment, affection and love for Mawlana Hazar Imam.
The website reading rockets states that when the rhythm and melody of language become a part of a child’s life, learning to read will be as natural as learning to walk and talk. It has been recommended that reading should take place at least once everyday at a scheduled time and if this cannot be done, then read to your child as often as you possibly can. The typeset in the Farman books is large enough for the grown up children to comfortably read the Farmans by themselves. Parents and older siblings must encourage them to do so.
In addition, we urge every member of the Jamat and especially the youth and professionals to devote a few moments on a regular basis to the reading of Farmans, reflecting on them and seeking out the blessings that the Imam is conveying. Encouraging others to do likewise is a very important step in fulfilling our role as a dai, that is, a communicator of matters of faith.
The obedience to the Imam-of-the-Time is a time honoured Ismaili tradition, and Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah had once observed that heaps of pearls are scattered when Imams give Farmans. When a murid of the Imam consciously listens to Farmans in Jamatkhana or reads them in the books such as the ones that have just been published, the listener or reader should treat the blessings conveyed by Mawlana Hazar Imam for all times, and not treat the blessings as if they were for the occasion when the Farman was delivered. Indeed, as you are reading through the two Farman books, you will come across references to the enduring nature of the Imam’s blessings in his own words.
In her wonderful piece published in Ilm in 1979 and reproduced in Simerg, Nadya Kassam contextualized the importance of Farmans through a verse of the following ginan by Pir Shams:
Satagur kahere amara vachan je manshe,
Te chhe amare galeka har.
Tene galeka har kari rakhasu,
Tis momanke sukhaka anta na par-re.
The Pir in the verse says that a murid who obeys the Imam’s Farmans is like a garland (around the neck of the Imam). Hazar Imam keeps such a person very near to him, and that the mu’min will be very happy in this world and the next.
Mawlana Hazar Imam speaks to his spiritual children in plain language, always maintaining a joyful and warm demeanor. As we read through Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Farmans, his inspiring and perfect guidance as well as munificent blessings should touch our hearts, and raise and renew our hopes and spirits every single day.
We welcome the publication of the Farman set, and express our profound and humble shukhrana to Mawlana Hazar Imam for his constant guidance and blessings for our spiritual and material well-being.
Date posted: February 3, 2020.
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