Gouvieux, France, 10 July 2017 — On the eve of the historic occasion of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee, Ismailis around the world are preparing for a special day of commemoration and celebration, as senior Jamati leaders who have served over the past six decades arrive in France.
The 11th of July 2017 will mark 60 years since Shah Karim al-Hussaini inherited the mantle of Imamat from his grandfather, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan III, becoming the 49th hereditary Imam of the world’s Shia Ismaili Muslims.
Tomorrow, the leaders of the Jamat — representing all Ismailis around the world — will visit Mawlana Hazar Imam at his residence in Aiglemont, where they will reaffirm the Jamat’s spiritual allegiance, love and devotion to the Imam of the Time, and convey gratitude for Hazar Imam’s loving guidance and continuous protection over the course of six decades of his Imamat. Meanwhile, the global Ismaili community will gather to commemorate and celebrate the event, and to witness the ceremony, which will be transmitted digitally to cities across the globe.
The ceremony upholds an age-old Islamic tradition, which the Jamat has upheld throughout 1,400 years of its history. The offering of homage to Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him and his progeny) and his family is a well established practice, enshrined in the Qur’an and Prophetic tradition.
The reaffirmation of the Jamat’s bayyah (allegiance) to the Imam is rooted in the Shia principle, which recalls the pivotal event at Ghadir Khumm when, by divine command, Prophet Muhammad designated his cousin Hazrat Ali – husband of his daughter and only surviving child, Hazrat Bibi Fatima – as the first in the continuing line of hereditary Imams.
Centuries later, when the Imams reigned over large parts of the Muslim world as Fatimid caliphs, homage and salutations were offered on behalf of the people by the chief qadi (chief justice) or a state dignitary, who greeted the Imam as commander of the faithful and descendent of the Prophet. Ceremonial processions through the Fatimid capital of Cairo were often accompanied by songs invoking praise for the Imam.
During the course of his Imamat, Mawlana Hazar Imam has emphasised values that are central to the Shia Ismaili interpretation of Islam, including the role of human intellect, the duty to live an ethical life, and the importance of nurturing pluralism in society. He has worked to improve the quality of life of Ismailis and millions of others around the world in areas such as health, education, cultural revitalisation, and economic empowerment.
Tomorrow, Mawlana Hazar Imam will become the fifth Imam in 14 centuries to mark 60 years of his Imamat. History will be made, and together as one Jamat, Ismailis around the world will bear witness.
Diamond Jubilee Mubarak!