Using ebony pencil on poster board, this drawing by Someeta Manasia depicts a girl in an act of prayer, holding a rock. Courtesy of the Ismaili Council for the USA
In celebrating 50 years of Mawlana Hazar Imam's Imamat, many Ismailis sought to express their feelings creatively. Expressions of Love and Devotion, a Golden Jubilee programme in the United States, received thousands of entries, including works of prose, poetry and visual art.
Selected submissions were exhibited to the Jamat at Imamat Day celebrations, and galleries were set up in each Darbar hall during Mawlana Hazar Imam's Golden Jubilee visit to the United States. Some of the written pieces narrated their authors' experience of the Golden Jubilee year or described the Imam's vast social development work.
One excerpt reads:
He promotes the culture of the Muslim world, the faith of the Muslim people. He is a light that shines so bright that it is impossible for me not to come out of the fog in my life, and see his light.
Those versed in languages of their origin, found expression in the art of ghazal and poetic songs written in Urdu, Hindi, Gujarati, and Farsi. Heartfelt verse sang of a special relationship:
Always my guide,
through remembrance and failure.
Always my Murshid –
before Time. And after.
Four year old Alysa Ismail drew pictures of Ismaili children from different countries holding hands in a circle of unity. Courtesy of the Ismaili Council for the USA
Perhaps the most varied and creative works were in the category of visual art. These included an elaborate vase bearing the inscriptions Allah, Ali and Muhammad, a life size calligraphic painting representing creation, a lovingly assembled tasbih, as well as sketches and paintings of historic events, Jamatkhanas, Qur'anic verses and elaborations of ginans.
Minaz Nasser submitted a wood carving of the word Allah in Arabic calligraphy, in which each letter of the word is carved from a different type of wood and represents one of the members of the family of Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him and his family). “I used oak for Hazrat Bibi Fatima, birch for Hazrat Ali and Hazrat Hassan, pine for Prophet Muhammed and Hazrat Hussain,” he said. “The entire project took me a week... The joy of creating this piece was so tremendous that I intend on making another one.”
Depicting the word “Allah”, this piece was carved from five different types of wood by Minaz Nasser. Photo: Courtesy of the Ismaili Council for the USA
Expressions also brought together families, many of whom spent weeks together, conceptualising and applying their ideas and skills. “There was a special pleasure and joy within my family as we created this piece – so I named it ‘Joy',” said one Orlando participant.
Irrespective of age and skill, members of the Jamat were able to participate at a personal level. The result was a beautiful artistic outpouring of gratitude for Mawlana Hazar Imam, and a shared joy in celebrating his 50th year of Imamat.