Mawlana Hazar Imam's family and leaders of the Jamat had gathered on December 16, 2016 to celebrate his 80th birthday at his residence at Aiglemont, France.

"My wish for the decades ahead is that you stand firmly by the principles and the ethics of our faith. Wherever you are, whatever age you are, whatever you do in your lives, it is essentially important to me that the principles of our faith should be respected every day of your lives. This is my hope and this is my prayer." This was the wish Mawlana Hazar Imam expressed to his murids all around the world at his residence at Aiglemont, France, on December 16, 2016, where his family and leaders of the Jamat had gathered to celebrate his 80th birthday.

A specially designed marquee in the form of a geodesic dome mirrored the haven of shelter, stability and protection that Mawlana Hazar Imam extends over the lives of so many. The 20 triangular faces of the dome represent the 20 Ismaili national councils that oversee the Jamat’s activities and progress.

Chairman Mahmoud Eboo of the Leaders' International Forum wished Hazar Imam 'happy birthday' in multiple languages to reflect the Jamat's diversity and conveyed "our love, our prayers, our felicitations and the good wishes of the entire Jamat from all corners of the world."

An ensemble of 20 singers and musicians from Ismaili communities in Central Asia, South Asia, Iran, Syria, East Africa, Europe and North America performed a musical score composed specifically for the occasion. They demonstrated the innovation that is possible among artists of different cultures, expressing the pluralism and unity of the Jamat.

After cutting his birthday cake, Mawlana Hazar Imam was presented with a gift on behalf of the global Jamat. Titled Horses, this lapis lazuli mosaic was commissioned from the late Ismail Gulgee in 1989. The piece reflects Hazar Imam’s "passion for horses, the history of horses within Islamic culture and civilizations, and the history even within Mawlana Hazar Imam's own family," explained Chairman Eboo.
At the end of the evening, Mawlana Hazar Imam reflected on how the Jamat today is a strong global community with strong institutions, strong ethics, respected around the world. "What more could I wish for as the Imam of the Time?" he asked.
"As we look ahead, the Jamat is likely to become more and more a global community," he observed. "But the essence of the Jamat, the ethics of our faith, the principles which we believe in and which we seek to practice in our lives are the essence of how our community will stay united." Thanking everybody once again for the evening of celebration and for his birthday gift, Mawlana Hazar Imam concluded his remarks with a parting wish: "I hope that in the decades ahead, you will remember this occasion as one of special happiness, as I do."
Source: This article was originally published on Ismaili Canada Magazine - Summer 2017 edition.