63 Years of Principles In Action
Something happened on July 11, 1957 that changed the life of a 20 year-old student at Harvard University.
Our 48th Imam Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan III passed the responsibilities of the Ismaili Imamat to Prince Karim our present Imam who was still a student at Harvard University.
That day, everything changed for our Imam-e-Zaman. Personal ambition and interests got replaced in an instant with a life of service - the Jamat would take center place in his life henceforth.
Over the next decades, millions of lives would be touched by the work of Mawlana Hazar Imam. People would pass through our schools, universities and hospitals, many would get touched by the rural support programs, primary health care outreach, emergency relief efforts, scholarships, museum and historical sites, architecture and garden projects, economic initiatives in areas where the private sector would dare not venture - but the Imamat would, to pave the path for others.
One life touched at a time, millions of beneficiaries over the decades. Life paths changed for the better.
So what are we celebrating on July 11th 2020? As Ismailis, of course, we are expressing our deep gratitude and appreciation for 63 years of guidance, love, leadership and service by our beloved Hazar Imam. And we are re-affirming our absolute and complete spiritual allegiance to our Imam-e-Zaman in accordance with our faith.
But we are not stopping there. We are also celebrating the millions of lives that have been touched and made better over the decades by the vastly expanded scope of activities by our "ambitious 49th Imam".
In the picture taken at Harvard in 1958, Hazar Imam is reading a letter and looks happy. You can also detect a smile. But close your eyes for a minute, and just imagine the weight of responsibilities on our Imam at that time.
Now fast forward to 2020 and look at our community today. Geographically dispersed but united, aware of its history of 1,400 years but always forward looking. Tolerant and embracing diversity but always taking a firm stand on right versus wrong. Balancing worldly pursuits with spiritual awareness and social conscience. Economically successful but believing that wealth creation only makes sense if it improves the lives of all.
All this flows from the ethics of our faith. But there are two things that Mawlana Hazar Imam has always done. First, he has constantly reminded us of these principles. And secondly, he has led us by example and demonstrated to us in so many different ways on how to make these principles actionable in our daily lives.
Leadership matters. We have seen countries around the world, rich and poor, with beautifully written constitutions and founding documents get into a state of total dysfunction not because they do not have these principles written somewhere, but because people have conveniently forgotten about them and leaders are looking for short-term wins and being opportunistic.
Looking back the last 63 years, we see in Mawlana Hazar Imam a steadfast vision, a deep concern always for the Jamat and societies in which they live, a rigorous work ethic and a unique ability to translate these principles into real life vibrant institutions, projects and programs for the benefit of millions of people.
We feel truly blessed on this 63rd Imamat Day.
Imamat Day Mubarak From The JollyGul Team!
Photo Credit: Aga Khan IV reading a letter at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1958 (Photo by Walter Sanders/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images). Rights obtained for editorial use.