Mawlana Hazar Imam expressed his great happiness at the occasion, and took the opportunity to remind the Jamat of the importance of living by the ethics and principles of the faith.
“My wish for the decades ahead is that you stand firmly by the principles and ethics of our faith,” said Mawlana Hazar Imam. “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 everyday of your lives.”
“This is my hope and this is my prayer.”
Aitmadi Dr Mahmoud Eboo, Chairman of the Ismaili Leaders’ International Forum addressed Mawlana Hazar Imam on behalf of the worldwide Jamat: “This evening is an extraordinarily special occasion for the global Jamat and for the leaders who are here present tonight who are representing them.”
He wished Hazar Imam “a very happy 80th birthday” in several of the many languages spoken by Ismailis in the countries in which they live, and added, “we are immensely grateful that Hazar Imam has granted us this opportunity to be with Khudavind and to convey our love, our prayers, our felicitations and the good wishes of the entire Jamat from all corners of the world.”
Chairman Eboo also thanked Prince Amyn, Princess Zahra, Prince Rahim, Princess Salwa, Prince Hussain, Prince Aly Muhammad, Prince Irfan, and Princess Zahra’s children, Sara and Iliyan for their presence at the celebration.
The occasion brimmed with emotion and symbolism. The diversity and interconnectedness of the worldwide Ismaili community was represented in the specially designed marquee that housed the event, and the love, unity and yearning of the Jamat could be felt and heard in a unique musical performance.
The centrepiece of the marquee was a protective dome that signified the guidance and shelter that Hazar Imam constantly provides. The dome itself was inspired by an icosahedron — a geometric structure composed of 20 triangles. Each triangle symbolised one of the 20 national Ismaili Councils appointed by the Imam to oversee the Jamat’s well-being.
Singers and musicians from Ismaili communities in South Asia, Central Asia, Iran, Syria, East Africa, Europe, and North America collaborated in a special offering of music for Mawlana Hazar Imam. Touching hearts and stirring sentiment in the way that only melody and lyric can, their performance spoke harmoniously to the wealth of the Jamat’s diversity and the strength of its unity.
Visibly moved, Mawlana Hazar Imam thanked the musicians and all those who had organised the event. “As you can tell, I am a little emotional,” he said. “This has been a very, very happy occasion for me.”
Reflecting on the progress of the Jamat over the past several decades, Hazar Imam said, “I think we can conclude today that the Jamat is a strong community.”
“It is a global community. It is a community with strong institutions, with strong ethics and it is respected around the world.”
“What more could I wish for as the Imam of the Time? You could not give me a greater gift than the ability — than the right — to say the things that I have just said.”
Mawlana Hazar Imam thanked the leaders of the Jamat, both past and present. Looking forward, he said that the community is likely to become increasingly global.
“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,” he said.
As Mawlana Hazar Imam cut a birthday cake presented on behalf of the global Jamat, he was serenaded by all those gathered with Happy Birthday sung in two languages. Hazar Imam was also presented with a gift of art — a mosaic of horses by the late Ismail Gulgee that was commissioned in 1989.
It was selected “because of Hazar Imam’s passion for horses, the history of horses within Islamic civilisation and the history even within Mawlana Hazar Imam’s own family,” explained Chairman Eboo.
Mawlana Hazar Imam expressed great happiness at the celebration of his 80th birthday. “If I had known it was going to be so wonderful, I would have tried to bring it forward,” he joked, “and I would have tried to multiply it!”
“I hope that in the decades ahead, you will remember this occasion as one of special happiness, as I do.”