Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year !!!


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Fatimid Glory

Zee's notes: The Fatimid Dynasty that ruled most of the Arab World between the 9th and 11th Century is well recognized for it's achievements and here's a video that shows some of it's glory.

Ismailis in the News - Olympic Flame Sparks Food Drive

Residents of the Don Mills community came together today to actively support the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver.

Olympic Torch-Bearer Mr. Mohamed Manji, President of the Ismaili Council for Canada, is shown with the Golden Jubilee Athletes as he completes his segment of the Torch Relay. The athletes, who had taken part in international games in Nairobi, Kenya, in June 2008, remarked that seeing the Olympic Torch brought back their many memories of the Games, which resonated with them as both Games were about the pursuit of excellence and unity amongst peoples.

Read complete article here

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ismailis in the News - Firoz Rasul Profile in the Globe and Mail

Zee's Notes: Firoz Rasul, currently the President of AKU, is from Vancouver. I consider him to be in the top 5 Ismaili individuals - Shafik Sachedina being the top - who interact with MHI as he carries out his vision of lifting millions in less fortunate conditions to a better standard of living. Firoz took a struggling fuel cell provider - Ballard Power Systems - and made it into an world class enterprise which at one point was vaued at over $9 billion dollars. I remember when Firoz was the President of the Ismaili Council for BC and how he moved and motivated those who worked for him - he was a master strategist who let people do extraordinary things and gave them the tools and resources to do their jobs. Here's an interesting story from the man himself on how he took on his current role at AKU in Karachi.

His Highness the Aga Khan with President of the Aga Khan University, Firoz Rasul and CEO of the Aga Khan University Hospital Nairobi, Asmita Gillani.
Photo credit: AKDN/Gary Otte

Read the complete article here

Islam in the New World - Changing Demographics

Zee's Notes: Interesting video on the growth of Islam in Europe and North America - this one is going viral - over 11 million views on Youtube.

Ismaili community celebrates the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay in Don Mills

His Highness the Aga Khan Skiing for Great Britain in the Alps -1960

Zee's Notes: Less then 60 days to my home town hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics in February 2010. If you watch the local news daily one gets a sense of the excitement and the chaos Vancouverites are expecting for the 2 weeks when the entire world casts its eye on the city known as Lotusland. The Olympic Torch recently was in Toronto and our own Ismaili National Council President Mohamed Manji was a torch bearer - see the video and article in

MHI competed in the 1964 Winter Olympic Games for Iran in Innsbruck, Austria. MHI qualified for the Mens Downhill, Slalom and Grand Slalom events - here are his numbers


Glossary ▪ CSV ▪ PRE

1964 Winter
Alpine Skiing
Men's Downhill

1964 Winter
Alpine Skiing
Men's Giant Slalom

1964 Winter
Alpine Skiing
Men's Slalom
30 q

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ismailis in the News - Meet Dr. Zahra Jamal - Assistant Professor and Postdoctoral Fellow at James Madison College, Michigan State University.

Zee's Notes: Over the years on Morning Chai we've been introduced to some brilliant individuals from our Ismaili Community. Whether they excel in business, sports, academics, art etc. the theme is common - they give back to the community and Dr. Zahra Jamal is no different, This Harvard PHD has been involved as a volunteer going back 17 years since she was a Vice-Captain at her Binghampton, NY jamatkhana. Yes I was blown away at her achievements since then.

Dr. Zahra N. Jamal is an Assistant Professor and Postdoctoral Fellow at James Madison College, Michigan State University. She was previously on the faculty of Social Anthropology at Harvard and MIT, and was a research consultant for Harvard's Islam in the West Program. She has also lectured at Wells, Emory, and Bridgewater State.

Since 1999, Dr. Jamal has conducted fieldwork in the United States, Canada, Pakistan, India, Russia, and Tajikistan and she aims to build on these endeavors especially among Muslims from South and Central Asia, including those living in diaspora. She has published in the Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East Journal; E-volunteerism; The Pluralism Project; The Encyclopedia of Islam in America; and other venues. Dr. Jamal is currently working on a book manuscript on the cultural phenomenon of voluntarism as a religious and civic practice among Shia Ismaili Muslims, followers of the Aga Khan, in the United States and South Asia. Her next project focuses on aging among poverty-stricken South Asians in Chicago.

She has been awarded the Javits, Mellon, Weatherhead, Hearst, Das, Menezes, and other fellowships, as well as numerous teaching awards and accolades at Harvard. Her research and teaching interests include (trans)nationalism and diaspora, citizenship and civic engagement, religion, gender, ethics, and ethnographic methods.

Dr. Jamal holds a deep passion for bridging academic research and nonprofit work. Outside the Ivory Tower, as an appointee of His Highness the Aga Khan to two national boards, she has done strategic planning and management on initiatives on mental health, special needs, inter-ethnic understanding, and social service acquisition in the US, Australia, and New Zealand. As an ethnographic consultant to the Swiss Development Cooperation, Aspen Institute, Aga Khan Development Network and others, Dr. Jamal has advised or led projects on conflict resolution, gender equity, refugees, and civic engagement in North America, Europe, and Central Asia. In academia, she has been a pedagogical consultant and a research consultant.� As a guest of Roland Arnall, the late U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, in 2006, she engaged in dialogues with key American and European leaders on Muslim integration in Western countries through civic participation and voluntarism. In 2005, she designed a project on Muslim Philanthropy in post-9/11 America for the Aspen Institute's Nonprofit Sector and Philanthropy Program. This project has since become a major million dollar effort to educate Muslim Americans, civil society actors, and others on safeguarding charitable giving.

Dr. Jamal received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Social Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard, and she holds degrees in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies and Slavic Studies from Rice. In her spare time she enjoys globe trotting, hiking, cultural tourism, music, and spending time with family and friends.

Read her complete CV here 

King of Curry - Vancouver

By Justin Beddall - North Shore Outlook

The food critic was perplexed. Why had she been dispatched to a hole-in-the-wall video store on Pemberton Avenue?
Once inside, she discovered that Bollywood films weren’t the spicy item for sale.
Welcome to Ace Video & Grocery, the original headquarters for the popular line of spice blends Ace Curries to Go, now available in more than 400 retailers across Western Canada.
Of course Virkram Bajaj’s curry empire began slowly, in the back of the video store, with just a coffee grinder, some spices and memories of his mom Balam’s mouth-watering Kheema Masala curry.

His Highness the Aga Khan receives "Prix de l’Entrepreneur philanthropique de l’année 2009"

Prince Amyn, Princess Zahra and Prince Hussain joined Mawlana Hazar Imam at the Le Nouvel Economiste award ceremony, where Hazar Imam received the Prix de l’Entrepreneur philanthropique de l’année 2009 (2009 Philanthropic Entrepreneur of the Year Award). Photo: AKDN/Gary Otte
Prince Amyn, Princess Zahra and Prince Hussain joined Mawlana Hazar Imam at the Le Nouvel Economiste award ceremony, where Hazar Imam received the Prix de l’Entrepreneur philanthropique de l’année 2009 (2009 Philanthropic Entrepreneur of the Year Award). Photo: AKDN/Gary Otte

Video of Ceremony

Monday, December 21, 2009

Aga Khan (wasfy Mola ) Ginan with music

Zee's Notes: Yet another composition paying tribute to the Mowla.

The Aga Khan, Women and Development: The Path of Education

Rahim Kanani

Rahim Kanani

Research Associate, Hauser Center for Nonprofits, Harvard University
Posted: December 21, 2009 02:10 AM

"I believe the message of Islam is the dignity with which we must treat women in society...and I think it is correct that education dignifies women," His Highness Karim Aga Khan, spiritual leader of the world's Shia Ismaili Muslims, explained to a BBC reporter at the turn of the century. Like his grandfather, Sir Sultan Mohamed Shah, who was once President of the League of Nations, the Aga Khan has been an ardent supporter of educating women in the developing world for decades. Recently celebrating his 73rd birthday, the 49th hereditary Imam and direct descendent of the Prophet Muhammad is still tireless in his effort, pragmatic in his approach, and strategic in his vision. As a religious leader, his moral obligation, rooted in the principles of Islam, holds him to both interpret the faith and improve the quality of life within the communities and societies in which his followers live. In his dual role, the Aga Khan is also founder and Chairman of one of the largest private development networks in the world, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), active in over 25 countries and employing over 70,000 people.

Read complete article in the Huffington Post

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ismailis in the News - Canadian singing sensation Farahri debuts single

Zee's Notes: Ottawa born Farahri (Farah Mitha) is the new hip-hop sensation with her debut single 'Dance the Night Away'. She's performed for audiences in many cities across the globe and now is making her way up the charts in North America.

Fusing Indian, African, Latin and Caribbean flavours with mainstream pop, rock, hip hop and R&B, Ottawa native Farahri brings a rare mix of fresh sound and a multicultural embrace to the Canadian music scene.
Farahri's debut single, Dance The Night Away, is a feel-good dance track featuring Canadian rapper Choclair. With pop melodies, a Hindi interlude and a remix track with a reggae-dancehall beat, both tracks are fusions of diverse genres, languages and sounds.
"I want to create a platform where it's okay to mix cultural influences with accessible music genres, like pop," says Farahri. "I think the world is ready for this now."
Raised as an Indian-Canadian in an English- and French-speaking home by African-born parents, Farahri wants her music to promote diversity and encourage people to truly embrace other cultures, not just tolerate them.
Fluent in French, English and Kutchi, Farahri also sings in Swahili, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic and Jamaican Patois.
In addition, Farahri is also involved as a donor and volunteer for the Aga Khan Development Centre, an international NGO that conducts relief programmes in historic cities regardless of citizens' faith, origin or gender.
Farahri also recently renewed her 2010 watch endorsement campaign with AMA Swiss Watch Company.

Check out her video and interview

Friday, December 18, 2009

Aga Khan III - Tribute Video

Zee's Notes: New video on You Tube on the contributions of Sir Sultan Mohamed Shah to world politics and the eventual formation of the nation of Pakistan.

If you understand Urdu you will enjoy this - otherwise some great pictures as well great footage of a Jubilee Darbar.

Aga Khan Foundation East Africa CEO Arif Neky at Madrasa Resource Centre milestone

Coastweek-- Seen [from left] MRCK National Board Chairman Omar Lali, Chief Kadhi of Kenya Sheikh Hammad M. Kassim, Minister of Transport Honourable Chirau Ali Mwakwere, Deputy Director of Basic Education Shaaban Mohammed Digo, Aga Khan Foundation, East Africa CEO Arif Neky.

Coastweek-- On Thursday, December 3, 2009, Madrasa Resource Centre, Kenya (MRC, K) celebrated the launch of its 25th anniversary publication.

The event was graced by honourable Chirau Ali Mwakwere, minister for Transport.

The publication, entitled “The Madrasa Early Childhood Programme: 25 years of experience”, was developed to highlight the history, progress and lessons of the programme since its inception in 1986.

Kidnapped Canadian Journalist Amanda Lindhout thanks Aga Khan for help in release


CALGARY – Journalist Amanda Lindhout is thanking everyone involved in her rescue from 15 months of captivity in Somalia — from the Canadian government and the Aga Khan right down to her family and the ordinary Canadians who raised money to fund her release. “I am so proud to be a Canadian,” Ms. Lindhout said in the written statement — her first public statement since her release from kidnappers last month.
“My faith in human decency was sorely tested at times during my captivity. However, after my release, I am humbly reminded that mankind is inherently good by the tremendous efforts and support of fellow Canadians.
“The belief I would one day be reunited with my family gave me the strength to endure a difficult situation that often looked hopeless. I find it hard to express the depth of my gratitude to my mom, dad, and Perry, who each put their own lives on hold and sacrificed everything so I may live to return home. They never gave up and I am blessed to be so loved.”
Ms. Lindhout also praised the efforts of the Canadian government — even though Ottawa has repeatedly said it does not pay ransoms for kidnapped citizens.
“I know there’s great debate about the role government should or shouldn’t play in a situation such as mine, and I understand the Government of Canada is being criticized both for what they did, and didn’t do to support my family,” she wrote.
“I accept they did what they could within the confines of Canadian policy, and for that I am grateful.”
Ms. Lindhout and Australian photojournalist Nigel Brennan were kidnapped in Mogadishu in August 2008, along with local journalist Abdifatah Mohammed Elmi, who was released in January.
For more than 12 months, Ms. Lindhout– a 28-year-old from Sylvan Lake, Alta., southwest of Edmonton — survived in captivity the African country, enduring death threats, fluctuating ransom demands, lurid speculation about her situation and heart-wrenching pleas to television stations for help.
Ms. Lindhout has said she was beaten numerous times and forced to sit in a corner by herself during her captivity. The room she was kept in was windowless and without light, she said, and she had very little food.
Ms. Lindhout thanked the staff of the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi “for providing Nigel and I with excellent treatment and care during our stay” and singled out the Aga Khan, the Imam of the Nizari Muslims, “for personally supporting our recovery and ensuring we were well taken care of.”
Ms. Lindhout thanked the Canadian High Commissioner in Nairobi, Ross Hynes, “and his wife Vanessa, who are not only exceptional representatives for our country abroad, but inspiring examples of selfless, kind human beings. Thank you for providing my family with such wonderful support after my release.”
Source: National Post

Karimabad - Hunza

Zee's Notes: Continuing on the journey of Shangri-La where people live in harmony and old age here is a pictorial of Karimabad, the capital of the Hunza Valley.

 See it on Flickr here

Karimabad is the capital of Hunza in Gilgit-Baltistan by khalilshah.
Karimabad (Urdu: كريم آباد) is the capital of Hunza in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. Karimabad is also known as Baltit. It is named after Prince Karim Aga Khan, the spiritual head of Shia Ismaili Nizari community. It is one of the most beautiful places in Pakistan and it swarms with tourists from all around the world during summers. It provides spectacular views of many beautiful mountains like Rakaposhi. The Guardian ranked it as the 4th Best Tourist Site in Pakistan.

Bollywood star brings boyish charm to Canada

Zee's Notes: The Olympic Torch trek to Vancouver is gaining momentum, with less than 60 days to O-Day, when 60,000 lucky fans will gather at BC Place Stadium for the Opening Ceremonies. In the meantime some serous celebrities are making the run in the torch's cross Canada run including our own Ismaili Council for Canada President Mohamed Manji.

The Globe and Mail 
TORONTO -- Moments before the arrival of Akshay Kumar - the most famous torchbearer whom many Canadians have never heard of - organizers were gazing at the eager crowd of thousands swelling Yonge Street and worrying if the Bollywood star had enough security.
"I don't think they comprehended this," said Andrew Clark, vice-president of market development for the Canadian Tourism Commission. "I think it's going to be a little chaotic."

Read complete article here

Ismailis in the News - Bilal Rajan carries Olympic Torch

December 18, 2009

Last night, I carried the Olympic flame through the streets of Toronto!  My journey started at Sick Kids Hospital with thousands of onlookers and media.  It was a bit chilly, but the incredible Olympic spirit kept everyone warm and in a celebratory mood.  It was so great to share the moment with my parents and friends who were present. 

I can’t begin to tell you how much of an honour this really was.  I am one of more then 12,000 torchbearers who are carrying the flame throughout our great country.  The Olympics has such an important message of international peace, unity and friendship, and I think the spirit of these games will inspire people of all backgrounds to work together in creating a better world. 

Thanks again for all your support.  Talk to you soon!

Warm Regards,

Bilaal Rajan
“Together We Can Make A Difference”

US Consul General visits Ismaili Jamatkhana and Center in Burnaby, BC

The Burnaby Jamatkhana

The Burnaby Jamatkhana by US Mission Canada.
Consul General Phil Chicola is given an orientation by members of the Burnaby Jamatkhana, or Ismaili Centre, on December 17, 2009. Burnaby, British Columbia. 


Ismailis in the News - Faranaz Keshavjee

Zee's Notes: Bookmark this blog on your favorites - I love her slogan - In Search  for Salaam. Faranaz Keshavjee writes in a Portuguese paper - Expresso.

Ismaili Community Inpires - Editorial Comment

Zee's Notes: Interesting editorial reply in a Dallas newspaper.

Ismaili community inspires

For the last 45 minutes of each weekly, three hour, lesson students go leave while parents get a chance to meet with teachers. During this time, students participate in a variety of activities, including yoga, and spanish lessons. Here, students, Saarim Khakwani, center, and Aahil Ajani, left in orange shirt, of the advanced level, 5-6 year old group, close their eyes and focus on the lessons they learned that day as part of cool-down exercie. Photographed on Monday, November 20, 2009 at the Ismaili Jamatkhana & Center in Carrollton. JEFFREY PORTER/Staff PhotographerRe: "Involved, inspiring -- Program lets Ismaili Muslim parents share learning experience," Thursday news story.

It has been my privilege to work with members of this Ismaili community for almost 30 years. These first-generation Americans have readily incorporated their lives and their families into our social and economic fabric. During the annual Partnership Walk event, there are American flags flying. Their children come dressed in their Boy Scout and Girl Scout uniforms.
I have seen many of these children grow up to pursue their dream careers as businessmen, professionals and even a racecar driver. Several of these young people have interned in our law office prior to becoming lawyers themselves.
The outreach of the Ismaili community to the population at large is notable and laudable. Their members encourage inclusiveness in their community activities.
With such great potential, it is sad to see daily reminders of the dangerous world in which we live. Perhaps our greatest collective failure has been to cast all members of a community or a religion as extremists, occupiers or terrorists, based on the acts of a few disenchanted and disenfranchised fanatics.
Rather than the daily deluge of stories of terrorism that evoke fear and prejudice, our community, and especially our children, would be better served by stories that provide hope and inspiration for our way of life.
Marcel M. Weiner, Dallas

Pamir Mountains, the Crossroads of History -- NY Times Travel

Zee's Notes: A while back I wrote of the land of the Pamir Mountains as being the inspiration of the movie Shangri-La- where people lived in peace and were healthy well into their 100's. This is an interesting look at what's happening along the Tajik-Afghan border from a travel writer.

Published: December 20, 2009
BY 9 in the morning, the bazaar on a rocky island in the Panj River was a frenetic scene of haggling and theatrics. Afghan traders in long tunics and vests hawked teas, toiletries and rubber slippers. Turbaned fortune tellers bent over ornate Persian texts, predicting futures for the price of a dollar. Tajik women bargained over resplendent bolts of fabric. All were mingling this bright Saturday at a weekly market held throughout the year and, in one form or another, for thousands of years here in the Wakhan Valley, which divides Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

Two faiths, one tree: the holiday negotiation

Farhana Alarakhiya and Rob Parker are teaching their daughter Sarra the common elements of their faiths.

Farhana Alarakhiya and Rob Parker are teaching their daughter Sarra the common elements of their faiths. PAWEL DWULIT FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

OTTAWA From Friday's Globe and Mail

For Farhana Alarakhiya and Rob Parker, the biggest issue was what to put on the top of their Christmas tree.
Mr. Parker was accustomed to a star - it had been part of his childhood since his family attended the United Church in his home town of Dundas, Ont. But that symbol made Ms. Alarakhiya uncomfortable as an Ismaili Muslim who immigrated from Kenya with her family when she was 9 and takes her faith seriously. Islam sees Jesus Christ as a prophet, she says, and she felt the star was connected too closely to the image of Jesus as the Son of God.

Read complete article here

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Salegrah Mubarak to our Morning Chai Family

Zee's Notes: MHI turns 73 tomorrow - December 13, 2009. Soon we'll get reports of Ismailis celebrating throughout the world and it's simply mind-boggling that MHI continues his rapid pace of mapping out his vision of lifting millions of people out of their impoverished living conditions and we can only be in awe of his energy and drive - yes quite inspiring....

PS: Someone sent me the above and I thought it was really neat - I would love to know who did it so I can give them credit on the site.

Salgirah message from The

May Allah continue to bless you and your loved ones and that your din and duniya journey be filled with joy, happiness and immense barakat.

Here is a new version of my favorite ginan I found on Youtube....

Program lets Ismaili Muslim parents share learning experience with their children


Asad Bhimani (right) works with his mother, Asfia Bhimani, on spelling while Sinaan Bardaie (left) and his mother, Rozeen R. Ali, team up on the lesson at the Learning Center for Parents and Children in Carrollton. 

Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa honored as one of 12 MIcrosoft Mentor Schools in the world


Coastweek -- Head of Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa, Peter J McMurray [centre] is seen while being presented with a Microsoft 'Mentor School ' recognition certificate by the Global Vice President of Microsoft's Innovative School's Programme, Michael Golden.

Coastweek -- The Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa has been honoured during a recent ceremony in Salvador, Brazil, by being invited to become part of the prestigious 'Mentor School' programme initiated by Microsoft Corp.
The Academy becomes only the 12th school in the world to join the programme.
The honour is part of the Microsoft Innovative Schools Programme which currently has 30 'Pathfinder' schools recognised for special achievement globally.

Here is an interesting video on the Microsoft - AKF partnership...

Bollywood on Ice

Zee's Notes: Incredible how Bollywood is now becoming mainstream in America. Meryl Davis and Charlie White are the defending US Ice Dancing Champions. Enjoy....

Friday, December 11, 2009

Aga Khan University - Pakistan - Convocation 2009

Zee's Notes: AKU graduated 328 more students at their recent Convocation at the Karachi Campus. 20 years ago  I was lucky enough to be in Karachi to play with the Canadian Ismaili Cricket Team at the World Ismaili Cricket Festival organized by cricket enthusiast Aslam Jindani, who was a Director at the AKU hospital at the time.  Aslam arranged for the cricketers to attend the convocation and is what I call a 'once in a lifetime' type of experience - yes MHI was there as Chancellor. Twenty years later MHI's vision of creating a better life for millions of people chugs along at a jet speed pace.

Convocation 2009


Surrey couple returns after long visa wait with adopted Nepali child

By Doug Ward, Vancouver Sun November 27, 2009

VANCOUVER — A Surrey cardiologist returned to Vancouver on Thursday with her newly adopted 15-month-old daughter after nine weeks of waiting in Nepal for Canada to issue visa documents.

Dr. Salima Shariff and her husband Aziz Nurmohamed arrived with Sophia at Vancouver International Airport where they were greeted by family and friends.

"I just feel so happy," said Sheriff during the emotional reunion. "You know, all she's known is an orphanage and a hotel room and now she has an entire family and community waiting for her here."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bollywood in Times Square

On August 4th, 2009, dozens of Bollywood dancers suddenly began to dance in the middle of Times Square to support Bollywood Hero, a 3 part mini-series on IFC. Bollywood Hero stars Chris Kattan, Neha Dhupia, Pooja Kumar and the show's choreographer Longinus Fernandes (Slumdog Millionaire) were in attendance. The mini-series was shown August 6th, 7th and 8th at 10pm on IFC.