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Minaz Fazal and Shajahan Merchant, posing with their awards.

New York State Senator Anna Kaplan presented former Council for the USA President Banu Minaz Fazal, and former Council for the Northeastern United States President Shajahan Merchant, with the State Senate’s Commendation Award to recognize the Ismaili leaders for their dedication and outstanding contributions to their community while exemplifying the values of Islam.

School in Aliabad where the Karmali girls taught morning sessions. (Left to right) Alizeh Karmali, Ayla Karmali, Ammana Karmali.

My extended stay in Pakistan began with a family vacation from our home in Seattle, to Karachi, in February of 2019. We had gone to visit family and see where our parents had grown up, and in the process had visited some community schools, hospitals, and neighborhoods. Seeing the situations in which people were living -- conditions filled with need and poverty -- made me realize I needed to do something to help. Thus, we approached the Aga Khan Education Board (AKEB) in Pakistan to see if they could use our assistance.

Dr. Ruhee Jaffer.

The concept of public service was instilled in Dr. Ruhee Jaffer at a young age. She recalls, “My great grandfather and his family were sent to Africa from Bombay to serve. I feel honored to have the opportunity and support from my peers and colleagues to continue this tradition of service in places that hold such beautiful memories and significance for our family.”

Mawlana Hazar Imam and Portugal’s Minister of State and Foreign Affairs, Rui Machete, sign a landmark agreement establishing a formal Seat of the Ismaili Imamat in Portugal, on June 4, 2015.

The internal divisions of the Shi‘i community - as highlighted in the first part of this article, which was published in the last edition of The Ismaili USA - can be traced to the dispute over the succession to Imam Ja‘far al-Sadiq (d. 148/765 CE). After his death, the majority of his followers eventually recognized his son Musa al-Kazim (d. 183/799 CE) as their next Imam. However, the other Shi‘i groups acknowledged the Imamat of Musa’s eldest half-brother Isma‘il, the eponym of the Isma‘ili Shi‘ia, or his son Muhammad b. Isma‘il as successors to the Imamat. Little is known about the life and career of Muhammad b. Isma‘il, the seventh Imam of the Isma‘ilis, who went into hiding, initiating a period of concealment (dawr al-satr) in early Ismaili history. This period of concealment lasted until the foundation of the Fatimid caliphate when the Ismaili Imams emerged openly as Fatimid Caliphs. Henceforth Imam Muhammad b. Isma‘il acquired the epithet al-Maktum (the hidden one), in addition to al-Maymun (the fortunate one).

Alaudin Bhanji receiving NASA's Outstanding Leadership Award, in 2014. He is with the (then) Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Dr. Charles Elachi (L), and Dr. John M. Grunsfeld, Associate Administrator, Science Mission Directorate, NASA.

It is a rare and historic honor to have an object in space named after an individual. It is usually reserved for someone who first discovers it, generally after years of painstaking observation of the night sky through giant telescopes. So to be recognized in this manner is indeed an occasion worthy of note. Yet, this is precisely what happened at the end of 2018.

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