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Many of us are aware that in 1954/55, Mowlana Sultan Mahomed Shah sent
'Mata Ome Habibah's photograph in Colonial Dress' with du'a aashish and a
firman that all His East African spiritual daughters should give up their Pachchedi
and adopt this kind of clothing as their regular dresswear.
That is when the Volunteer Corps also changed their form of dressing.
(Perhaps this was not the firman for places like Pakistan or India,
considering those countries' customs and traditions: we all know and
understand that such a change would not have been readily acceptable to
Non-Ismailies amongst whom we Ismailies must live in peace and harmony...)
Therefore, it will not be at all out of place to state that it was most
certainly not the Council that recommended the change.
Today we can see that as a result of Mowla's vision and the said firman, so
much changed for the East African jamats and, in years to come, for the world jamats
as a whole. A few examples are given to elaborate further.
Girls were then able to pursue further studies and careers within and out of their
adopted countries, and in time to come, were in a position to join the work
force - and work hand in hand with other members of the families. We were then
able to accept more responsibility in the families, in our jamats and in the
communities at large.
With the new attire emerged new attitudes and new acceptance as 'equals'- then
when in 1970's it became necessary to migrate to different lands far and wide,
as a result, were able to adapt and settle quickly, comfortably and easily in
our new homes and in our new roles ... especially in highly technological
environments and also in some of the highly industrialized western countries.
For all of the above, we are greatly indebted to the 48th Imam of the Time :
Because of all this grounding that had been initiated by Our Beloved MSMS,
we have managed to achieve much more than many communities who arrived in the
said lands many, many decades before us. However, we must learn from the
mistakes of some of these peoples, who also adopted these new countries as
their new homes.
There were those who decided that Religiocity was not essential any more and was
a 'thing of the Past', or those who did not learn/speak their mother tongues because they were embarrassed or did not want to be different, or those that did not keep up or follow their traditions and culture any more, or those that fell prey to some of the vices (to identify more fully with the peoples amongst whom they began to live). All of the above does not mean however that perhaps (out of necessity!), we have no choice but to conform and follow the paths some members of these communities have chosen for themselves.
We know what the alternatives are .. we know what Our Imam's guidance is, we know
the difference between good and bad, right and wrong, no matter whether we live in Nairobi, Bombay, London, New York or Toronto - and no matter how modern we wish to appear. This is not modernity - this attitude does not take us forward: we can be
very sure we are going many steps backwards.
There is no room for misguided thinking, nor any need for giving up what our ancestors valued as much as their own lives. "Precious Jewels" to our forefathers were: Our Sacred Religion, the Firmans of Our Imams and The Guidance provided by The Imams. They went to all lengths imaginable to follow the Sat-Panth, obey the firmans and guidance, offer seva in whatever capacity they could and thus earn the pleasure of the Imam.
This is the wealth they left in our hands and that is how all of us and our coming generations will reap the benefits for many, many years to come. What must we do in turn to continue this trend? Indeed, we must also preserve and pass this wealth on to our generations to follow so they will continue to benefit and prosper too. And inshallah, with His rahemat and grace, this trend will not only continue, but will never come to an end.
Therefore we must know and remember that it is most certainly okay to be different. Every individual, every community, every nation and every land is different as can be. Does this take away anything at all from the world at large? If the answer is on the contrary, then perhaps it is time to begin to celebrate those differences - and be very proud of those differences too.
Our Imam has told us many a time that diversity is strength. We can apply this to numerous concepts of our daily lives. Today the world is very aware and is watching Our Beloved Imam, His institutions, His philanthropic activities, His message to
The Ummah and Humanity at large.
How can we help Him in His work? We Ismailies can successfully show the world that
we are behind our Imam a 100% and that is, if all of us pull and work together. What
we can offer the modern civilization, (if we pay heed to His hidayat and firmans and accept the challenge), will have repurcussions for generations to come.
When we go to Jamat Khana, so long as all of us are aware "Where we are going",
"What the reason and purpose is", "What we must try and achieve" how "The dress code must help in accomplishing this goal", one can be very sure that unappropriate clothing will begin to disappear. It will not be acceptable to us, our families,
our friends or our jamats and we will be happy to voice such opinions.
As a result, this awareness will greatly help in enhancing the dignity of sacred places like our Jamatkhanas and help our jamats remain strong and united. May Hazar Imam help and guide us to stay on siratul-mustaquim for now and forever more.
Ameen Ameen Ameen
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Role of Women by Ikhwan
Princess Zahra's Speech Toronto 1997
Princess Zahra Speaks at the IAVE Conference in Canada
Mata Salamat Aga Khan Interview 1992
Princess Yasmin Aga Khan Receives Living Legacy Award
Mowlana Hazar Imam's Speech at the All India Women's Conference
Hazrat Mowlana Sultan Mahomed Shah's Message to all Pakistan Women’s Association and more!
Rabia, the Mystic
Zamzam, the Well of Ishmael The story of Hajar
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