Sunday, October 26, 2008

Aga Khan movie screened in Switzerland

From Shamir Allibhai's blog

Zee's Notes: One person who is having the time of his life and following his dream is Shamir Allibhai - the producer of 'The Aga Khan and the Ismailis'. He has travelled just about all over the world and has met the most amazing people you could imagine - I'm having a blast just following his adventures.

Shamir's blog is at

American artist inspired by Aga Khan collection of Islamic Art in the news

Artist Asheer Akram with his black painted wall piece titled “Angel 2” (2008), which is part of his exhibit at the Late Show

Art review: Asheer Akram at the Late Show
The Kansas City Star

Visit Asheer's we site at

Ismaili In the News - Moyez Somani elected President of CMA - Saskatchewan

Moyez Somani , CMA, MBA, FCMA
Moyez Somani obtained his CMA designation in 1983 in Ontario. He also holds an Advanced Graduate Diploma in Management, and an Executive MBA from Athabasca University. In addition, he completed the Leadership at the Peak Program from the Centre for Creative Leadership in Colorado. Moyez is currently the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Farm Credit Canada in Regina. He has over 20 years of senior management experience in the financial services industry, including 3 1/2 years as Vice President, Investments at Saskatchewan Opportunities Corporation. Moyez is actively involved in the local community serving on the Board of Directors of the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, as a member and Chair of the Audit Committee. He is also a member of the Investment Committee for the AgriFood Equity Fund, an Honorary Director on the Financial Management Institute (Regina Chapter) Board, and a member of the Aga Khan Economic Planning Board for Canada. Moyez has served CMA Canada (Saskatchewan) in several capacities. He has been a member of Council since 2001 and has also served as member and Chair of the Audit Committee, and as a member on the former Executive Committee. In 2004, Moyez was named a Fellow of The Society of Management Accountants of Canada (FCMA).

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tajikistan: Ismaili Resurgence

Zee's Notes: As Central Asia prepares for MHI's visit next month it seems only natural that we revisit the Ismailis in the former Russian empire - in the next few weeks I hope to find some insight into this region where it was taboo to practice any form of religion under the Soviets. Here is an article from 3 years ago from 'Institute of War and Peace Reporting'

Members of a minority faith punch above their weight as their spiritual leader is also a major aid donor.

By Shirin Azizmamadova in Dushanbe (RCA No. 418, 05-Nov-05)

The Ismailis of Tajikistan, a religious minority concentrated in the eastern mountains, have come a long way since Soviet times, when they were afraid even to have a picture of their spiritual leader the Aga Khan on display at home.
The Soviet authorities were hostile to religion in general, but took a peculiarly strong dislike to Ismailism, originally a branch of Shia Islam, even though it preaches tolerance rather than jihad. As a result believers were forced to practice their faith in secret for decades.
Shirin Sarkorova, who lives in the village of Khuf in the Badakhshan region, still treasures the photograph of the current Aga Khan’s grandfather, which she kept hidden away in a chest for almost 40 years.
The sudden collapse of Communism meant that the Ismailis were able to practice their faith freely, and even meet their leader. In return, the Aga Khan Foundation, AKF, invested large sums of money to help their remote mountain communities survive and develop.
However, much of AKF's activity took place away from the view of many Tajiks simply because the Pamir plateau is almost another world, perched on the Afghan border with China and Pakistan not too far away.
Now perhaps for the first time, the Sunni majority of Tajikistan will come face to face with the Aga Khan’s engagement with the country. Two months ago, the foundation stone was laid for an Ismaili centre similar to those established in other parts of the world.
The 20 US dollar million project is scheduled for completion in just two years, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the present Aga Khan's elevation to the position of Imam. The plan is to hire hundreds of unemployed Tajiks to do the construction work.
The Ismailis differ from the ethnic Tajiks culturally as well as religiously, speaking languages only distantly related to Tajik, a form of Persian.
In this part of the world, the Ismaili faith is also strong in adjacent mountainous areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Ismailis believe that members of the Aga Khan lineage are the true Imams or heirs of the Prophet Muhammed. They split with the main Shia community over a succession issue in the eighth century.
The Aga Khan is thus of central importance to his followers, and many elderly Ismailis are grateful that they have lived long enough to see him in the flesh. The Aga Khan’s first visit to Badakhshan was in 1995.
Said Sharipov is warden of a jamaat-khana, the prayer house that takes the place of a mosque for Ismailis, in the Rushan district. “My grandfather told me about our Imam. I have seen him,” he told IWPR.
Unlike other Muslims, Ismailis pray twice a day, and the clergy consists of the khalifa (literally “caliph”) who looks after one or two villages.
The Imam has brought his followers in Tajikistan a lot more than a spiritual renaissance, since the Aga Khan Development Network of which the foundation is part is an international development agency working in areas as diverse as healthcare and culture. Many Badakhshanis credit him with saving them from starvation after the collapse of Soviet economics and infrastructure, and in the ensuing civil war.
“Without him, I can’t imagine how we would have lived. He builds schools. Children are given food every day. And look how many Pamiris are studying abroad,” said Sharipov.
“This veneration for our Imam is not surprising,” said sociologist Sayora Ashrapova. “Of course, the Aga Khan Foundation has provided invaluable aid for the revival of the region. It is very good…. especially in winter, when road from Dushanbe to [main Badakhshan town] Khorog is closed and the region is virtually cut off from the rest of the country for months on end.
“Life is tough. For all their industriousness, the people of the Pamir cannot do without outside help.”
From early humanitarian aid starting in 1993, the AKF has progressed to more sophisticated grassroots development programmes that had already been tried-and-tested in similar mountainous parts of northern Pakistan.
“Over 12 years of work, it may amount to millions of dollars,” said Hakim Feerasta, AKF head in Tajikistan.
“Along with humanitarian aid, we began agricultural reforms. Our main objective is to make people less dependent on aid, and give them an opportunity to develop their own business. Currently around 80 per cent of residents of the Pamirs provide for themselves.”
Along with the Ismaili centre, the other big scheme at the moment is to open an international university in the Badakhshan provincial centre Khorog. Japanese postmodernist architect Arata Isozaki has been chosen to design the campus - one of three in Central Asia, the other two being located in non-Ismaili Kyrgyzstan and Kazakstan.
The university is intended to focus on educating people from poor mountainous areas in the wider region as far as Turkey and China, and the construction project is being hailed as futuristic. In an area where power cuts mean people rarely watch TV or listen to the radio, communications will be by email and satellite link
Feerasta makes the point that AKF assistance is targeted at everyone, not just the Ismailis. AKF has branched out to run projects in other areas of Tajikistan where there are no Ismailis and most people are Sunni Tajiks.
The AKF is still closely identified with Badakhshan. One official with the central government in Dushanbe acknowledged that in the eastern Pamirs, “the Ismaili leader carries a lot more weight than the central authorities do in the shape of Badakhstan regional head Alimamad Niyozmamadov”.
Among other Tajiks the Ismailis are regarded as belonging to a slightly different world – culturally and spiritually as well as geographically.
The construction of an Ismaili centre in the capital has met by residents with a guarded response rather than outright hostility.
"Members of other faiths create schism in society. Look how many ethnic Tajiks have adopted other religions,” said Dushanbe resident Izatulla, clearly referring to the activities of proselytising Christian groups. “For me, the Ismailis aren’t really proper Muslims.”
Many Sunni clerics are wary of a group they consider schismatic from a theological point of view.
“I have to say many Muslim clerics are not happy with the idea of building an Ismaili centre,” said a religious official in Dushanbe who asked not to be named.
He said there were some Ismailis attending the Islamic University in Dushanbe, but they kept their beliefs to themselves, “and we try to turn a blind eye to them – we do not tolerate members of sects in the mosques”.
One urban resident said he did not agree with the Ismailis' liberal attitudes.
“They really are different from us,” said Dushanbe resident Maksud Shukurov. “Many families clearly practice total equality between men and women. For example, they sit down at the table together when they have guests – even men who are strangers…. Personally I don’t like such freedom for women.”
But apart from the new centre in Dushanbe, the focus of Ismaili life will remain far away from such objections, up in the Pamir mountains, where the main aim is to carve out an existence in this harsh environment.
“Life has got very difficult since the Soviet Union collapsed,” said Asilbegim, a neighbour of Shirin Sarkorova in Khuf. “Sometimes I look over at Afghan Badakhshan. You can see it across the Panj river. We’re becoming like them. But we have been saved by our Imam.”

Shirin Azizmamadova is the pseudonym of an independent journalist in Dushanbe.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ismaili receives Award in Calgary

Zee's Notes: The Albert Oil sector has ridden the global economic boom train over the past 2 decades. There are well over 10,000 Ismailis who live in Calgary and Edmonton and the community has prospered along with the $147 barrel of oil. Just 10 years ago I remember you could buy a condo in the Belt Line area of Calgary for less than $50,000 and prices have tripled if not quadrupled since then. But the Ismailis have given back and how - the community participates fully in the fabric of the cowboy lifestyle and examples include Rahim Jaffer - the high profile member of the ruling Conservative Government who sadly just recently lost his seat - though I have no doubt Rahim will be front and center soon in Ottawa - the nation's capital.

Jaffer served city well -The Edmonton Journal : Saturday, Oct. 18

Energy TV recently recognized Ayaz Gulamhussein , the dynamic coordinator of the World Partnership Golf and Bridges that Unite in Calgary.

Here is Ayaz at the opening of the Bridges that Unite launch.(turn up the volume)

Here is an interesting video of the Ismaili float at the world famous Calgary Stampede - the Calgary Ismaili float team has won numerous Team and Individual Awards at the festival over the past 25 years.

Thanks to our colleagues at IsmailiMail for this one.

Congo - National Post series on 'Worst Places to Live"

Heidi Kingstone on Congo: A country with everything, but whose people have nothing

Zee's Notes: It's been 30 years since the mass exodus 'Out of Africa' for Ismailis - however many stayed in Congo - the land of diamonds and gold - a country of incredible but risky opportunities. If you had the guts, and many did, millions could be made. I remember the stories of the wealth accumulated by some legendary Ismaili businessmen. Today Congo is suffering - poverty and depravation for it's people and the sad part is the International Community doesn't care - though there is still a sizeable Ismaili presence in neighboring Zaire judging from the following article in :

Congolese Jamat hosts a dinner in celebration of the Golden Jubilee

As well, here is a great piece on the history of the Ismaili experience in Zaire:

Tomorrow: Kenya's slums...

Kenya's black hole
Second of four parts; London-based journalist Heidi Kingstone has reported from some of the world's most wretched places. This week, she profiles the worst of the worst
Heidi Kingstone, National Post Published: Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ismaili Leaders’ International Forum (LIF) announces Aga Khan visit to Central Asia

Ismaili Center - Dushambe to be completed in 2009
Message from the Tajik Jamat on the Pamir Mountains still visible after 10 years

Zee's Notes: When Mukhianima at Burnaby Lake got up to speak last night everyone was sure it was to confirm the email that had been floating around that MHI was coming to Canada at the end of November. This was the second hoax for the Canadians as 6 months ago someone with lots of time on their hand created a very elaborate and authentic looking Canadian GJ itinerary sometime in May - which turned out to be, excuse my language - BS - and this time it was a simple email which stated dates and cities.

Anyhow the news was the Darbar visit to Central Asia at the beginning of November and though the Canadian visit may occur in the next 6 weeks - it has not been officially announced. Our sincere congratulations to our fellow Ismailis in Central Asia on the upcoming visit by MHI.

The other message was for the International Jamat to think carefully before making plans to travel to Central Asia.

For complete info:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ismaili Anthem - a tribute from S Raheemani

Zee's Notes: Toronto dynamo Suleman Raheemani ( is the genius behind SR Production - producing music and artists as well playing on the band AAKASH. He was responsible for delighting us earlier this year with videos of Zahir 'RC' Bhaidani and his group's incredible ginan performances. Here is his latest - a rendition of the Ismaili Anthem...enjoy.

Ismaili candidates in Canadian Elections

Zee's Notes: While the world waits for the US elections next month, Canada had it's own national election today and 2 Ismaili candidates contested their incumbent seats - sadly the election produced a minority government creating uncertainty on the political landscape - nevertheless our congratulations to Yasmin Ratansi who was re-elected in Toronto's Don Valley East. Rahim Jaffer was defeated in what will be considered a major upset losing his seat in the usually strong Alberta Conservative riding of Edmonton Strathcona.

Ratansi cruises to victory
Toronto Star, Canada - 15 Oct 2008

Jaffer not yet conceding race to Duncan - watch news video here..., Canada - 16 October 2008

Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe : dans les coulisses de l'écurie de l'Aga Khan

Zee's Notes: Nice video of MHI at his stables and an interview in French (at end)

See video here...

Warm welcome awaits Aga Khan in Chitral

Warm welcome awaits Aga Khan in Chitral
The News International, Pakistan - 12 Oct 2008

Zee's notes: Interesting article on the Chitrali's efforts to raise funds for MHI's visit scheduled in mid-November.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Nairobi's Sno-Cream - an Ismaili favorite...

Zee's Notes: Wow...ran into this interesting article on the net - the Sno Cream on Koinange Street in Nairobi - I remember going to this place in 1972 and again this summer when I visited Nairobi for the Ismaili Golden Jubilee Games - what sweet memories !!! The article also mentions His Highness the Aga Khan, in 1966, sending a note to then owner Amirali Hussein Merali...

Read the complete article here...

Mehboob Keshwani - Aga Khan Golden Jubilee tribute

Mehboob Keshwani sings 'Ya Ali, Mawla Ali' - his personal tribute for His Highness the Aga Khan's Golden Jubilee - I'd like to know where Mehboob sang this - if anyone knows please shoot me an email.

Ismaili Youth Amyn Mawani - End to Poverty

Meet incredible youngster Amyn Mawani - an Ismaili 3rd grader doing his part to end world poverty. His website is

Abeeda Parveen - Ghazal Queen sings Ismaili ginan in Dubai

Ghazal queen Abeeda Parveen mesmerized us all when she sang 'Ya ali khub Mijalas' in front of His Higness the Aga Khan. Here she is reciting the same ginan in Dubai.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Zarkava - Aga Khan stable star wins Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe 2008

Zee's notes: Zarkava - the star of Aga Khan Studs stayed unbeaten and won the most prestigous race of Europe. Check out this private video which captures the win and the celebrations imediately after - note the arrival of MHI and Princess Zahra to the winners circle just after the 3 minute mark....

50 Years of Aga Khan - Slideshow

50yrs Of Aga Khan
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own.

Zee's notes: I found this on SlideShare - a social networking site where you can share slides and this is from a site that many of you may enjoy visiting - especially if you are or know someone from Musoma, Tanazania ( )

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Shamir Allibhai's film, An Islamic Conscience, premiers in Beirut on Sunday

Islam as a mosaic - A look at the Aga Khan and the Ismaili people
Alice Fordham, NOW (Lebanon) Staff , October 3, 2008

Alice Fordham writes on the debut of Shamir Allibhai's much acclaimed movie on the Aga Khan and the Ismailis.

Read article here...

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

In the news - September 2008

Resident honoured for dedication to humanitarian workMississauga News, Canada - 30 Sep 2008

Zarkava favorite in Sunday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe - Sep 30

Aga Khan Partnership walk at LA Coliseum next Sunday Oct. 12th - Sep 30

Where Hope Takes Root: Democracy and Pluralism in an Interdependent World - cited by Canadian Political Newsweekly Embassy as 20 Most Influential Books - Sep 30

The Aga Khan's thoroughbred passion - Sep 27

'What we do is high-risk' - Rachel Morarjee interview with MHI - Sep 27

Leader of Ismaili Muslims praises Canada for its inclusive government - Sep 27

Words Francesca de ChâtelSyria Today, Syria - 27 Sep 2008

Japan to provide grant for water supply schemes in Northern Areas - Sep 26

Clinton Global Initiative Website Features Hashoo Foundation’s (press release), Montenegro - 26 Sep 2008

Japan to provide grant for water supply schemes in Northern AreasRegional Times, Pakistan - 26 Sep 2008

First company in the world producing Fairtrade Certified dried fruitsFreshPlaza, Netherlands - 24 Sep 2008

A rich, diverse legacyTimes Online, UK - 23 Sep 2008

How Syria's Assad Is Steering His Country out of IsolationSpiegel Online, Germany - 23 Sep

Owner vows Pakistan's Marriott will rise from ashesAFP - 23 Sep 2008

Ancient Kabul garden in bloom again after years of ruinAFP - 22 Sep 2008

The secret life of a doomed hotel: remembering Islamabad's MarriottABC Online, Australia - 21 Sep 2008

Muslim group feeding 1000 homeless on SaturdayAtlanta Journal Constitution, USA - 19 Sep 2008

Sacred Music Festival at, CA - 16 Sep 2008

Zarkava Produces a Vermeille ZingerBloodHorse, KY - 14 Sep 2008

NV resident realizes we're all OlympiansNorth Shore News, Canada - 14 Sep 2008

Aga Khan pours his wealth into Islamic sites in SyriaAFP - 14 Sep 2008

IFC Investment in Diamond Trust Bank Kenya to Help Increase ...Media Newswire (press release), NY - 11 Sep 2008

Young Canadian diplomats fight to defend Afghan, Canada - 11 Sep 2008

Aga Khan university signs agreement with SyriaDaily Nation, Kenya - 7 Sep 2008

His Highness the Aga Khan completed a six-day official visit to ...AME Info (press release), United Arab Emirates - 6 Sep 2008

Mozambique: Two textiles factories expected to re-launch ...Macauhub, Macau - 4 Sep 2008

Forgiveness - Ethic of Islam

Zee's Notes: On a day when we celebrate one of Islam's holiest events it only seems natural to remember one of it's strongest ethic - Forgiveness...

Azim Khamisa did 2 things - one which shook his very core as a human being and second which changed the lives of many around him - first he buried his only son 20 year old Tariq who died from a senseless gang shooting and then went out and publicly forgave and embraced his son's killer - a 14 year old - and used that as a foundation to take that message to millions of youth to stay away from a world of violence at the same time liberating himself to living life to the fullest.

Now I personally don't know how it is to forgive someone who has committed a horrific act on me or my family and there are many of us who have things in our life which we say we will never forgive but stay with me for one second and try to feel the liberation if we are able to do what Azim Khamisa achieved in living within the ethic of Islam - that to me is the magic of Islam.

So the punch line is that we are all capable of having the freedom that Islam promises but how hungry are we to find the truth (Islam) that is truly within us by living it's ethics daily 24/7 - so next time you're in front of a mirror look squarely at that gorgeous person because only he/she can take you there...

The Light of Allah

For my fellow Canadians - while we wait for MHI's GJ visit...enjoy