Monday, November 10, 2008

The Ismailis in the Middle Ages: A History of Survival, a Search for Salvation by Shafique Virani

Professor Shafique Virani is an award-winning author and internationally renowned public speaker who has addressed people from over 50 countries and audiences of over 15,000 people.
After receiving his PhD from Harvard University, he served on the faculty at Harvard, was the Head of World Humanities at Zayed University in the UAE, and is currently Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Toronto in Canada. He has been honored by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney of Canada and President Mohammad Khatami of Iran, is the recipient of an International Book of the Year Prize, recognition from the Middle East Studies Association and the Foundation for Iranian Studies, and has also been a semi-finalist for the Academic Idol television show, which celebrates outstanding intellectuals who have a gift for communication.
His landmark book, The Ismailis in the Middle Ages: A History of Survival, A Search for Salvation, was published by Oxford University Press. All author’s proceeds from this book are being donated to registered charities. Professor Virani also enjoys volunteer work. His activities take him from around the corner to around the world, volunteering his time from North America to South Asia, from Europe to Africa. Read more...

Ismaili Golden Jubilee Games - Go Syria Go

Marcel - Basketball Syria

Zee's Notes: One of the most memorable stories of the GJG held in Nairobi in June 2008 was the sheer diversity of the Ismaili Community gathered in one place to commemorate this historic event. An even more compelling story was the athletes and supporters from Syria. Even though there were well over 25 countries represented no country showed the spirit that the Syrians displayed in the week that was The Games. If I said the Syrians were the life and spirit of the games I would be understating their contributions to make the games what they were - a true celebration. On the buses which transported athletes around the venues, at the volleyball courts where they displayed their skill and athleticism or at the Games Village the Syrians were the life of the games - they sang and they danced - but moreso in my view they united the 1200 plus athletes and the Ismaili Community gathered in Nairobi who got caught up in their infectious enthusiasm and spirit. In looking at the video of the Syria Deedar I couldn't help but remember the one common chant of the games - GO SYRIA GO.

The young man in the picture above is Marcel who played on the Syria basketball team. I took this picture at Kasarani Stadium after his baskeball game. He was, in essence, the soul of the Syria group. His claim to fame was an instrument - the oud - he carried throughout the games and he delighted crowds with his impromptu performances and he was indeed loved by all in Nairobi.
My telling moment on Marcel is as follows: On one of the last days of the games the GJG organizing committee held a presentation for Prince Hussein and Princess Khaliya at the Nairobi Serena hotel in one of the ballrooms situated off the lobby - I just happened to be there that afternoon by chance - and I saw Marcel waiting outside - he had been invited to perform at the presentation. About an hour later I happened to see Marcel again in the lobby and this time he was being consoled by someone as tears came pouring out of his eyes and you could feel the joy Marcel was feeling within - it was surreal as that moment captured for me the essence of what the games were all about - and Syria's Marcel was indeed the soul of the games. Here is what Altaf Jina, member for Communications and Publications for Kenya Council, wrote about him on the

"One particular Syrian I spoke to on several occasions was a young man by the name of Marcel. When he played the oud (a traditional Arabic stringed instrument) it was as though he escaped to a magical world, overwhelming all those around him with the intensity of his emotion and his devotion to his music. When asked how long he could play before he got tired, Marcel passionately responded, “for hours — the instrument is a part of me, if I stopped playing, it would be like not breathing.” Marcel took part on the Syrian basketball team. He remarked that while their team had lost, the experience of interacting with other Ismailis from around the world, and exchanging thoughts and ideas with them was far more of a victory than just the sporting result. "

All I can say is - "GO SYRIA GO".

If you want to see how the Syrians worked their magic in Nairobi here's a snippet (though fuzzy) and if you want to see more of the GJG highlights this gentleman from Pakistan (there's that Diversity thing again) has captured a lot more here on his YouTube page:

Aga Khan visit to Canada - It's Official !!!

From The Canada GJ Website

Zee's Notes: On Saturday November 8th the announcement was made in all JK's across Canada of MHI's visit to Canada November 18-25th. The dates for individual cities were annouced the following day - the darbars will be held in Toronto (Nov 22/23), Calgary(Nov 24) and Vancouver(Nov 25). Complete info is available on the Canada GJ website:

The following message was in all the regional editions of the electronic Al-Akhbar on the weekend.


On behalf of all the Jamati Institutions, Mukhi Kamadia sahebs and Mukhiani Kamadiani sahebas, we extend our warmest Mubaraki to the Jamat on the historic occasion of our beloved Mawlana Hazar Imam's Golden Jubilee visit to Canada.

The Golden Jubilee is an occasion for us to renew and reaffirm our unconditional love, devotion, and loyalty to our beloved Imam-e-Zaman. We offer our humble shukrana to our Imam for his guidance, his tremendous efforts on behalf of the Jamat and the broader Ummah, and his endeavors to improve the quality of life of the communities amongst whom we live.

The celebration of Mawlana Hazar Imam's visit is a major undertaking and we sincerely thank the outstanding and selfless dedication of the countless sevadaris and donors who have contributed selflessly over many months to prepare for a memorable visit.

We pray that this historic Golden Jubilee continues to bring peace, spiritual and material happiness, and inspires the global Jamat for generations to come (Amen).


Over the coming weeks, we will keep the Jamat informed of plans every step of the way as follows:

1. Jamatkhana announcements.

2. The website will offer regular updates on Darbar information.

3. Starting tomorrow night, you can visit the Information Desks located in Jamatkhana loggias.

4. You can also call the Golden Jubilee Hotline at 1-877-570-2008 from 6:00am until midnight Pacific Time starting Sunday.

5. Weekly and special editions of the Al-Akhbar and Electronic Al-Akhbar.

6. We will publish a Golden Jubilee Information Guide closer to the Darbar day

7. We will also publish a Regional Information Brochure closer to Darbar day, which will include parking maps, facility maps, and information you will find useful for the day of the Darbar.

8. Members of the local and national leadership will visit the Jamat over the coming weeks to share further information on this historic visit to Canada.