My beloved parents, Alwaez Jehangir and Alwaeza Maleksultan Merchant, passed away on May 27, 2018 and January 21, 2021 respectively at the age of 89. During my numerous stays with them, I had the great fortune of going through their collection of books and documents they had gathered during their lifetime. Alas, plenty of material that they had collected since the early 1950’s was given away to the local Ismailia Association (now known as the Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Board or simply ITREB) libraries as they left one country for another. As a young boy in the late 1950’s in Lourenço Marques (now Maputo), Mozambique, I personally recall browsing through special bumper issues of The Ismaili (India) magazine which began publication in the 1920’s. The photos of our beloved Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah and Prince Aly Khan were fascinating to see. When we arrived in Dar es Salaam some of those magazines were nowhere to be found, and I was deeply disappointed that they were left behind. But my parents had limitations as to what they could carry with them; our departure from Mozambique was sudden and we had limitations on the amount of baggage we could carry with us. Then, again my parents left behind a very significant part of their collection with the Ismailia Association in Dar es Salaam when they left for Pakistan in the early 1970’s. Later, the same thing happened when my parents were summoned for a lengthy year long waez tour of Kenya, Europe and North America in the mid 1970’s, following which they took up positions with the ITREB in London, England. However, I was pleased to come across plenty of unique documents and photos in their “final” collection that they have have now left behind, among which is an important letter that Prince Amyn, younger brother of Mawlana Hazar Imam, wrote to the Aga Khan Supreme Council for Pakistan in 1960.
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For those who may not be familiar, Pakistani Ismaili magazines such as the Ismaili Bulletin and Ismaili Mirror always used to publish messages from Mawlana Hazar Imam and members of the Imam’s family that were addressed to the Aga Khan Council or Jamati institutions. I think this was also the case with East African magazines such as Ismaili Prakash (Mombasa/Nairobi) and Ismaili Crescent (Dar es Salaam). The letter I am showing below was produced in a Pakistani Ismaili magazine, with a Gujarati translation under the title Prince Amyn Mohamed Thi Marel Jaruri Patr (English transliteration, meaning Receipt of a definitive letter from Prince Amyn Mohamed). In the letter, the Prince invites the Council to share it with all Ismailis if it so chooses. The letter was indeed shared through a Jamati publication, and the image of the letter along with a transcript that I have prepared is shown hereunder:
Transcript of Prince Amyn Mohamed Aga Khan’s Letter to the Supreme Council for Pakistan
28th. September 1960.
Dear President and Members,
I hear that an ex-Ismaili by the name of Aziz Ali claims to have written to me, recognising me as Imam instead of my brother, and claiming also that, since I have not answered his letter, I must have accepted its contents. I wish you to make known to all Ismailis, if you so desire, that I have neither received his letter nor do I accept to be so designated Imam.
My elder brother was designated Imam of all Shia Imami Ismailis by my late most beloved Grandfather. I recognise and happily accept his Imamate, and I will have nothing to do with nonsense such as Aziz Ali’s claim which, I believe, by attempting to divide the Ismaili community into factions, can only do much and serious harm to the community.
Amyn Mohamed Aga Khan
To the President and Members
H.H. Aga Khan’s Supreme Council for Pakistan
As we know, historically, there have been claimants to the Imamat which has divided the community in the past. Prince Amyn is very clear and firm on the matter of who was designated as the Imam following the death of his grandfather, our beloved 48th Imam Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah.
The Prince has worked side by side with Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, for more than fifty years. In the 1960’s, Mawlana Hazar Imam told the Jamats during his visit to India that his younger brother had left the United Nations to work for him. We were most touched and pleased when we heard this.
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In the coming days, as a tribute to Prince Amyn Aga Khan on his 84th birthday which falls on September 12, 2021, we will bring our readers two special articles on Prince Amyn, including one by Vancouver’s Dr. Mohamed Manji of Prince Amyn’s first visit to the Jamat in Toronto in 1973.
[Please visit Barakah’s Home Page for links to the 2 pieces — Ed.]
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I once again urge readers from around the world to search their albums and archives for khajanas (treasures) related to Mawlana Hazar Imam and members of his family, and submit them for publication in Barakah as many others have done (see Photo Collections – Barakah). Please write to me, Malik Merchant, at Simerg@aol.com.
Date posted: September 4, 2021.
Last update: September 13, 2021.
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