Our beloved Mawlana Hazar Imam Members of Hazar Imam’s family, My fellow Jamati leaders This evening is an extra-ordinarily special occasion for the global Jamat
and for the leaders who are here present tonight who are representing them. It is special because, while each year we celebrate Mawlana Hazar Imam’s birthday in our Jamatkhanas Tonight we are blessed with the opportunity to be able to say to our beloved Hazar Imam in person In the multiplicity of languages from across the world, we wish to say to you; Ruzi Mawlud Muborak Bon Anniversaire Eid Mawlid Saeed Tavallod Mubarak Salgirah Mubarak Janam-din Mubarak and a very happy 80th birthday! 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. We are also grateful for the Imam’s family whose presence we deeply appreciate to celebrate this milestone occasion in Hazar Imam’s life. We are also particularly grateful Khudavind to Prince Rahim and Princess Salwa to allow the young Prince Irfan to join us this evening and to stay past his bedtime. On what must be his first public appearance Khudavind, your murids belong to many different countries, ethnicities and backgrounds but what binds us together is our submission to you every single one of us, as our Murshid and spiritual father. And in submitting our bay‘ah to you, we have placed our life and destiny in your hands. We refer to you in all that we do, in times of happiness or difficulty in success or in challenges we turn to you and offer our gratitude that your grace and benevolence inspire and protect us through the journey of life. For close to sixty years Hazar Imam, we have observed Khudavind’s inexhaustible work-ethic And marvelled at how Hazar Imam strives night and day for our safety, our progress and wellbeing without a break, without rest, and traversing the globe. For this we offer our deepest shukhrana to Hazar Imam. Khudavind, to all the Princes and Princesses we submit on this occasion our deep admiration and gratitude for the love and support that they have offered to you as Hazar Imam in your life’s work to protect and guide the Jamat. We are deeply grateful to Hazar Imam, for Hazar Imam’s graciousness in allowing us to celebrate this event here at Aiglemont in Hazar Imam’s residence In conceiving this marquee setting, we wished to demonstrate through geometric symbolism and colours I suspect an aspect of design that Hazar Imam so appreciates the global Jamat’s inter-linkages, its inter-dependencies, its inter-connectedness, all within its diversity of traditions and ethnicities and under the protective canopy that reflects the spirit of Khudavind’s constant guidance and shelter. Being as super-observant as Mowlana Hazar Imam is Hazar Imam will also have noticed that the colours in this marquee are inspired by the six Ismaili Centres and that the icosahedron with twenty faces represents the twenty National Councils that oversee, on the Imam’s behalf the well-being of the global Jamat. During this evening’s celebration, our endeavour is to offer to Hazar Imam and the Family an eclectic menu of favourite Ismaili dishes from across the world. We do have samosa’s for Hazar Imam if he so wishes! Together with the specially composed fusion of music reflecting the global Jamat’s immense musical talent. We will also request Hazar Imam to do us the honour of cutting an especially baked cake. But above all on this very special evening together our Hazar Imam it is an opportunity to reaffirm our bay‘ah and our undying, unconditional love for you, our beloved Imam-e-Zaman. You bring light and hope in our lives you forgive our mistakes and transgressions and with love, kindness and compassion, you hold our hand to lead us to the right direction and ethical way of conducting ourselves. In celebrating Khudavind’s eightieth birthday tonight we pray for the strength to remain worthy of Mowlana Hazar Imam’s love, care and protection. Above all, Hazar Imam we submit our humble prayers for Hazar Imam’s good health and long life And we pray for the success of all Hazar Imam’s work and initiatives and we pray for the fulfilment of all of Hazar Imam’s ambitions, aspirations and endevours. Bon Anniversaire Mawlana Hazar Imam Khudavind, we are twenty artists, twenty members of the extended Ismaili community. By geography we are from, or have roots in Afghanistan, East Africa, Europe, North America, Iran, South Asia, Syria and Tajikistan. We have travelled on a journey from our physical homes to arrive at the seat of our spiritual one. Our physical journey has been accompanied by a creative one of the heart, the intellect and the spirit. We came together to actively engage ourselves in our cultural, musical and ethnic difference. To engage with “the other”. To face and experience the richness and strength of the diversity of our community and to arrive, Inshallah, at the sweet spot that is the harmony and unity in that diversity. We learnt that talking about pluralism is not the same as engaging with it. We had to learn to cede ground, to be fluid and flexible, to be open hearted and open intellectually. We learnt to extend the generous hand of friendship and brotherhood, and we learnt that it takes effort. It is not always easy, but the rewards are sweet. None of us leaves unchanged by the profound experience of the engagement. We, all of us, feel an increased sense of wellbeing, of peace, of connectedness, of love. This piece is a collaboration. There is no single author, our music is drawn from the work of Bach Baba Tahir, Ramal, from Ibn Arabi, Nizari Quhistani, from Rumi, from Andalusian mystics and poets. It is inspired by our love, our gratitude, our submission, and our obedience to the Imam of the Time. Ibn Arabi spoke of love, Adinu he said. “I believe in the religion of love, for love is my religion and faith.” Khudavind, may we present an offering of love? Khudavind, on behalf of the leaders here tonight, and the global jamat we would like to present most humbly a ‘petite cadeau’ – a small little gift. It is a mosaic by the artist Ismail Gulgee, it was commissioned in 1989 and it is a mosaic of horses. And the reason the leaders felt that this might be an appropriate gift for Mawlana Hazar Imam’s 80th birthday is because of Hazar Imam’s passion for horses, the history of horses within Islamic culture and civilization and the history even within Mawlana Hazar Imam’s own family of thoroughbred and breeding and I understand in the modern era, Hazar Imam’s family has the record number of Derby win’s And the greatest track record in racing. Members of my Family, members of the Jamat This is a uniquely happy occasion in my life. And as you can tell I am a little emotional, but then who isn’t when you reach the revered age of eighty. So I am there, but I feel as though I am forty, thanks to you. This has been a very, very happy occasion for me and I would like to thank everyone who has participated in making this event happen. I would like to thank our musicians for their wonderful performance and I would like to hope that each one of you will retain this evening as a moment of special happiness in your lives. That is certainly going to be my case and, I think the case of all the members of my family who are here. As I think about the past, I reflect where the Jamat has come from and where it is today and where it is going in the decades ahead. And I think we can conclude that today the Jamat is a strong community. It is a global community. It is a community with strong institutions, with strong ethics and 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. So, to all the Jamat leaders, past and present I say first of all, on my behalf, the Imam of the Time Thank you. As we look ahead, the Jamat is likely to become more and more a global community. 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 even though it becomes more and more globalized over the years So I say to the leaders of my Jamat who are here this evening that my wish for the decades ahead is that you stand firmly by the principles and the ethics of our faith. 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. I say to you this evening that I have had an especially happy eightieth birthday and if I had known it was going to be so wonderful I would have tried to bring it forward, you know and I would have tried to multiply it! But in any event, I am there now and I want to thank you again for a most wonderful evening and for a particularly beautiful eightieth birthday present. I hope that in the decades ahead, you will remember this occasion as one of special happiness, as I do, and I wish you happiness, long life, good health and unity in your lives and in your families. Thank you.