Eleven countries, one Jamat united in celebration

Jamati members from 11 countries of the Far East are gathering in Singapore for Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Golden Jubilee visit. The events and celebrations leading up to the Darbar reflect the diversity of the Jamat in the region.

Members of the Jamat from the Far East and further abroad were greeted with a smile as they arrived in Singapore. Photo: Akbar Hakim
Members of the Jamat from the Far East and further abroad were greeted with a smile as they arrived in Singapore. Akbar Hakim

Members of the Jamat from 11 countries of the Far East under the jurisdiction of the Ismaili Council for Malaysia and Singapore are gathering in Singapore for Mawlana Hazar Imam's Golden Jubilee visit from 1 – 4 December 2008. The Far East Jamat also looks forward to hosting international visitors from Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and elsewhere.

Mawlana Hazar Imam last visited with the Far East Jamat some 21 years ago, in 1987. Therefore, it is with great happiness and anticipation that the Jamat awaits Mawlana Hazar Imam's arrival in Singapore, where he will grant a Golden Jubilee Darbar.

The youth of Singapore and Malaysia come together to perform in “Rangeen Safar.”. Photo: Akbar Hakim
The youth of Singapore and Malaysia come together to perform in “Rangeen Safar.”. Akbar Hakim

The Far East Jamat includes Ismailis living in Japan, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, South Korea and other Southeast Asian countries. The region's diversity is reflected in the different cultures, currencies, languages and foods of their nations. Despite their geographic dispersal, members of the Jamat are eager to come together and assist in preparing for the visit.

“It was recently announced that our Aussie, Kiwi and Papua New Guinea brothers and sisters will be joining us,” exclaimed one member of the Jamat. “I can't be more thrilled – the diversity is amazing! I already see it among the volunteers who have flown in early to help.”

Members of the Jamat from Japan perform in “Rangeen Safar” – a showcase of the cultures of the countries in which the Ismaili Imams resided over 1 400 years, as well as the countries where the Far East Jamat lives today. Photo: Akbar Hakim
Members of the Jamat from Japan perform in “Rangeen Safar” – a showcase of the cultures of the countries in which the Ismaili Imams resided over 1 400 years, as well as the countries where the Far East Jamat lives today. Akbar Hakim

The feeling on the ground is full of excitement, and everyone in the Jamat is contributing in one way or another. Many are volunteering in areas such as hospitality, food and beverages or administration. Some are manning round-the-clock hotlines, while others are helping to make tasbihs.

International visitors can look forward to a series of cultural programmes to mark the celebrations. Bait-ul Ilm children as young as five will present Farid al-Din ‘Attar's Conference of the Birds – an enlightening drama of spiritual awakening. In their portrayal of this classic story in Muslim literature, each of the seven valleys of spiritual attainment is symbolised by one of the Far East countries. The narrative also eloquently expresses a metaphor of the small Jamats that make up the region coming together in celebration of Mawlana Hazar Imam's Golden Jubilee.

Volunteers engage in an intense planning session in advance of Mawlana Hazar Imam's arrival in Singapore. Photo: Akbar Hakim
Volunteers engage in an intense planning session in advance of Mawlana Hazar Imam's arrival in Singapore. Akbar Hakim

Another programme, titled Rangeen Safar, will provide a colourful glimpse of the cultures of the countries where our Imams resided, as well as those of the Far East Jamat. Each country will showcase its unique characteristics, and the Safar will be a mirror on 1 400 years of Ismaili history.

“We've been practising our performances every night, till late for some weeks,” says one of the performers. “I'm so excited – everyone is geared up!”

Discussing the preparations leading up to Rangeen Safar, organiser Shahnaz Mawji reveals: “What most people don't know is that after designing the programme, we distributed it to our Jamat throughout the region. Every individual practised it on the ground in their home country.” During the visit, she says, “we will perform it together, as a united Jamat.”

Seniors and youth lead the Jamat during a ginan mehfil. Photo: Akbar Hakim
Seniors and youth lead the Jamat during a ginan mehfil. Akbar Hakim

Twelve commemorative art pieces created by the Jamat during the Jubilee year will be exhibited during the visit. The pieces are unique and include hand embroidery, painting, and origami (Japanese paper art). Some represent verses from the Qur'an in English or Arabic.

“Every adult and child in the region contributed a small element to each piece,” says coordinator Gulzar Qurban Ali. “Thousands of people from around the globe will view them – and for the artists, the thrill that Hazar Imam might see their work gives them tremendous satisfaction.”

Although the Jamat of the Far East is spread across many countries and cultures, they are coming together in Singapore to converse in the common language of celebrating Mawlana Hazar Imam's historic Golden Jubilee visit.