On July 11, 2021 on the occasion of the 64th Imamat Day of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, we launched a pictorial photo series featuring the first four years in the seventh decade of his Imamat. The 1st part celebrated the Diamond Jubilee Year. The year was inaugurated with a Homage Ceremony on July 11, 2017 at Mawlana Hazar Imam’s residence, and over the next 12 months Mawlana Hazar Imam made Diamond Jubilee visits to Jamats around the world.
This second part in the series will highlight the 62nd year of the Imamat of Mawlana Hazar Imam Imamat. The 62nd year commenced on July 11, 2018, a date that also marked the conclusion of the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations with a unique Darbar in Lisbon, Portugal, that was open to Jamats from around the world. The focus in this specific post will be on the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations and the Darbar in Portugal. We will then conclude the 62nd year with a new post that will cover Mawlana Hazar Imam’s activities beyond the Lisbon Diamond Jubilee celebrations until July 10, 2019.
The Diamond Jubilee Celebrations in Lisbon, Portugal
(I). Prelude to the Lisbon Celebrations, a Short Reflection on the Ismaili Community and the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat in Lisbon
Nazim Ahmad, the AKDN representative in Portugal made a surprise revelation at Portugal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs either late or early 2018 that the high point of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee would take place in Lisbon on July 11, 2018. When we read that statement, we immediately prepared and released the piece Highest point of the celebrations of His Highness the Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubilee will be in Lisbon, Portugal, on July 11, 2018.
Our post was read by tens of thousands of Ismailis from around the world, and the bookings for air flights and hotels got underway immediately. The news of the grand Darbar in Lisbon was then confirmed in a message released on Navroz, March 21, 2018 by the Ismaili Leaders International Forum (LIF) which stated that, with Mawlana Hazar Imam’s approval, the Jamats around the world would be welcome to join the Diamond Jubilee Darbar in Lisbon.
Earnestly, we released a new post, To Ismailis of Portugal — We are now preparing to be with you in Lisbon to celebrate the “highest point” of the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan. We also created a new blog under the title All Things Lisboa and invited Ismaili travel agents to list their offerings for Lisbon as well as provided articles on what to do in Lisbon, where to go and places to dine. It was an exciting time for millions of Ismailis around the world, and we are delighted to bring to our readers a short recollection of the Jubilee celebrations that took place in Portugal
Portugal signed an agreement with the Ismaili Imamat on June 3rd, 2015, with the objective of establishing its global Seat in Portugal….Over the last four decades, the Ismaili community has been highly respected and very well integrated in Portugal, with many partnerships in various areas of our collective life, with an emphasis on social work….Portugal ranks second in the list of [European] countries with most followers. Largely from Mozambique, the Ismailis have excelled in areas such as commerce, catering, hospitality, manufacturing or finance…. The Seat will be established in the [Henrique de] Mendonça Palace], in Rua Marquês de Fronteira, in the centre of Lisbon, and will be inaugurated in July . — Excerpt from Jornal SOL – Sapo, April 30, 2018.
(II). Photographs and 3 Eyewitness Accounts of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations in Lisbon
EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT 1
Excerpts from ZAFEERA KASSAM’S Article
The word that was uppermost in my mind was the word ‘FINALE’ and this very small word, finale, actually gives visions and intimations of grandeur, of explosive colours and celebrations that would give a fitting end to what was certainly an epochal year. The year of our beloved Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee.
And certainly a finale it was! The whole week from 5th July leading up to 11th July, 2018, can be described unequivocally as a fitting finale. Could all this just have been achieved within a few months of preparation? To me, it seemed as if years must have been spent to organise such a mela. The Jubilee Arts Gallery, the Film Festival, Celebrity Concerts, Talent Shows, the Diamond Jubilee Bands marching and performing among the crowds all of it was awe-inspiring. This was further enhanced by the presence and intermingling of murids from all four corners of the globe.
Zafeera Kassam’s article continues below
What was more exciting was the honourable presence and loving, familial interactions of the Noorani Family, some members of which a large number of us hadn’t seen ever or in ages! Who can forget Prince Rahim striding up to murids behind barriers to shake their hands and greet them cordially? Who can forget Prince Irfan waving at assembled murids, standing up on his chair, clapping along to the beats of Dama Dam Mast Kalander, Ali Da Pehla Number? He stole the show and our hearts!
Zafeera Kassam’s article continues below
Who can forget the young Prince Sinan, clinging on to Princess Salwa and sucking his thumb or the regal Prince Amyn, gorgeous Princesses Zahra and Sara and handsome Prince Illyan graciously acknowledging murids? Who can forget Prince Hussain and Prince Aly Muhammad turning up unexpectedly to showcase their respective projects and lend their support and contributions to those of the jamati members, thus proving they are part of us?
These were once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, which will add pizzazz to our history books forever, and for which I deeply commend the organisers, all the volunteers and contributors who must have spent countless sleepless nights but who will carry, in their hearts, these memories forever, and who will regale their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren of anecdotes from this epochal finale of Mawlana Shah Karim al Hussaini’s Diamond Jubilee.
Zafeera Kassam’s article concludes below
And I am extremely proud to state that a fitting finale it certainly was for our beloved Hazar Imam, Shah Karim al Hussaini. The colourful State Honours at the Palace of Belem, the Prime Minister’s Luncheon at the Foz Palace where postage stamps were unveiled in honour of the Diamond Jubilee; the visit by Portugal’s President and representatives of Sovereign and Civil Society Bodies to see the restoration works of the Palacete Henrique de Mendonça, the Presidential Banquet at the Palace of Queluz in Sintra; Mawlana Hazar Imam’s historical address to the Portuguese Parliament – all this made my heart swell with pride and joy. When Hazar Imam is honoured on such a grand scale, it is a matter of pride and joy for the entire global Ismaili community.
EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT 2
Excerpts from AZEEM MAHERALI’S Article
The entire Diamond Jubilee Darbar in Lisbon on July 11, 2018, the 61st Imamat Day of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, was filled with beautiful and surprising moments that will be deeply entrenched in everyone’s hearts, carrying indelible memories. Who would have imagined that Mawlana Hazar Imam with his family would visit all the three halls where the Jamats were seated and spend so much time at the Darbar; that in each of the halls he would graciously speak to the Jamat and ask us, as his dais, to convey his blessings to our families and Jamats around the world; and that the Darbar would be filled with so much laughter and happiness as well as applause. Mawlana Hazar Imam made it all happen!
Azeem Maherali’s article concludes below
Of course, as a murid of Mawlana Hazar Imam, every moment of his holy presence was touching and deeply inspiring. However the moment that particularly stood out for me was the Portuguese President’s surprise visit at the Darbar. As I came to learn later, the President was deeply touched by the discipline of the Jamat and the adoration of the Jamat for their beloved Imam. The salwats for the Imam rang out from thousands of lips, and I begin to wonder what the President may have personally felt at this highly charged atmosphere. Mawlana Hazar Imam termed the visit by His Excellency Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa as “an unexpected blessing.” The mood was euphoric among the approximately 42,000 Ismaili faithfuls from 45 countries who were witnessing an unprecedented event in modern Ismaili history.
EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT 3
Excerpts from RAHIM HIRJI’S Article
The Darbar was unprecedented and what happened next was something no one was really anticipating: firstly, Hazar Imam was joined by Prince Amin, Prince Hussain, Prince Aly Muhammad, Princess Zahra, Prince Rahim, Princess Salwa, and Sara and Iliyan Boyden; secondly, we received what totalled three (+1) Darbars with Hazar Imam visiting all three halls; and finally — you will have heard this already — the President of Portugal joined the Darbar Hall with Hazar Imam.
I think I speak for many of us there, but after the first Darbar when we saw Hazar Imam on the screen looking as if he might be leaving, we weren’t quite sure what was happening. And when we were told that Hazar Imam would be receiving a guest, we couldn’t imagine who it might be. I don’t think we could have been more ecstatic that it was the actual President of Portugal.
Rahim Hirji’s article continues below
Bear in mind that we had had a darbar and when we saw the President arrive, and after a few moments, Hazar Iman returned to the same hall, this time with the President. I can’t stress how astonished we all were, that a head of state was joining Hazar Imam in the hall. Both Hazar Imam and the President gave speeches and Hazar Imam gave his vote of gratitude. The President stepped up to speak. He gave his short but full speech and implied that we will never leave Portugal — i.e. that this is a permanent seat of the Imamat. That received loud applause and even Hazar Imam clapped.
The themes of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Firmans were as follows:
1. He said “May all your difficulties go away and stay away”
2. He referred to us all as “Dais”, both those in the room and to those who we would spread his message to. (This is my way of passing forward the message)
3. He talked of saving money for future generations, saving “pockets of wealth” so that each generation is better off than the one before it. He said this more than once.
4. He emphasised the importance of English if it is not your first language. He joked that you didn’t need to be Shakespeare — “He’s long gone,” while gesturing – which was an amusing moment for us all.
5. There were blessings for the Ruhanis
6. He asked is to apply best practice in all that we do in our professional career
7. Work together, come together as a Jamat from different parts of the world, from different spheres. He said that we are stronger if we work together.
Rahim Hirji’s article concludes below
The moment that stood out as most amusing and memorable was when He told us that we should dance and be happy because that is what a Darbar is for. He then recounted that he used to partake in the festivities when he was younger and talked of the “stick dance” and that if you were not careful you would hurt yourself. “Beware of the stick dance!” — which had the Jamat in fits of laughter.
The night ended with biriyani, sherbet, and one final Pasteis de Nata, of course, eaten on the steps of the stadium. And we fulfilled Hazar Imam’s wishes by finding one of the many halls to do Raas. We missed the fireworks which looked phenomenal in the videos – but that ended our trip as we returned to London early the next morning. I still feel that I haven’t been able to describe what this celebration was like. It was a mash-up of an Olympic Games where the Closing Ceremony was the main event, with a run-up of A-list music concerts, reality TV talent shows and exhibitions, Disney-like excitement all packaged up with a quasi-coronation. But even that doesn’t do it justice.
Date posted: August 1, 2021.
Next article: The 62nd year of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Imamat will conclude with events that took place in the life of Mawlana Hazar Imam and members of his family during the remaining period of the 62nd year — i.e. the article will cover the period July 12, 2018 until July 10, 2019.
Watch a Beautiful Video of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee Visit to Portugal
Barakah invites its readers to watch a 58 minute presentation of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee visit to Portugal that was aired on Ismaili TV recently. Please watch the Youtube video below.
Read Digital Magazine of the Entire Diamond Jubilee Year of Mawlana Hazar Imam
Barakah also invites its readers to visit The.Ismaili website and read the complete coverage of all Diamond Jubilee visits undertaken by Mawlana Hazar Imam by clicking on Memories of the Diamond Jubilee. This is an interactive digital magazine looking back on Mawlana Hazar Imam’s historic Diamond Jubilee year.
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