Photos from Karim Master’s Original Copy of “Fidai” Magazine Published in 1936 to Commemorate the Golden Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan
INTRODUCED BY ABDULMALIK MERCHANT
Publisher-Editor Simergphotos and Simerg
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Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan in full regalia
A previous piece about a 1936 Ismaili journal called Rahe Rast (see link below) resulted in an outpouring of affection for the iconic religious education teacher from Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, Alwaez Karim M. Pirani (1910 – 1985) popularly known as Karim Master. His son Sadru, who lives in Ottawa, surprised me yet again when he showed me a copy of another extremely rare issue of the journal Fidai that was published in 1936 to mark the Golden Jubilee of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III (1877 – 1957), who served as the 48th Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims for seventy-two years from 1885, when he was only seven years old, until he passed away in 1957. His reign was the longest in Ismaili history. His successor, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, assumed the leadership and has reigned the community for 56 years. Ismailis celebrated his 77th birthday on Friday, December 13, 2013.
We are indeed grateful to Sadru Pirani for sharing with the readers of this blog the illustrated Fidai journal that once belonged to his father, as shown in the following image. Published by the Kandi Mawla Ismaili Student’s Library under the editorship of Gulam Husein S. Thawer Peermohamed, the 155 page Fidai Golden Jubilee Number has a mix of Gujarati and English articles as well as messages from Muslim and non-Muslim leaders who were very well aquaninted with the work of the Imam. Among the messages for the special issue, there is also one telegram from the Imam himself conveying his best wishes for a succcessful publication. Fidai also features a very extensive 22 page biographical sketch of the 48th Imam by Gulamali Allana. The cover page and the inside tri-colour insets were printed at Taj Printing Works which was located in Mumbai’s Fort Area. Many of the coloured photographs have a protective transparent film, found in vintage albums.
Karim Master’s ownership of the journal dated back to 1936. It is now in the possession of his son,
Sadru, who has shared the magazine with Simerg/Simergphotos for the benefit of its world-wide readers.
At the time the special issue was published, the famous Fidai Academy and Orphanage was already functioning. This is noted in one of the Gujarati images shown on this page. The word or the title Fidai is a long and honourable tradition in Ismaili history, and may best be understood by reading the following short story contributed by two Vancouver Ismaili sisters, Shazia’Ayn and Aliya-Nur Babul. Their imaginative piece with a powerpoint slide presentation (see link at bottom) appeared in Simerg’s ground-breaking series I Wish I’d Been There. The sisters’ story is an excellent introduction to the work the Fidais did in order to protect the Jamat, first from adversaries such as Saladin and, later in history, from the invading Mongol army whose ruthless leader had issued a decree against the Ismailis which chillingly stated, “None of that people should be spared, not even the baby in the cradle.” We hope the readers will benefit from the story, and also appreciate the dedication of individuals such as Sadru Pirani in safeguarding and preserving historical journals for posterity. We urge our readers not to recycle any of the community magazines and important newsletters. They will be appreciated by our future generations. First we have the story, followed by more images from Pirani’s contribution.
A FIDAI’S MISSION: INTO SALADIN’S TENT
By Shazia’Ayn and Aliya-Nur Babul
My sister and I have always been captivated by stories of the Ismaili fidai’s who lived in strongholds in Syria. Different groups were always trying to persecute the Ismailis, and in the struggle to survive they trained fidai’s to sneak into enemy camps to frighten enemies and ensure that they retreated without attacking. These stories of great bravery, love and sacrifice for the Imam have captivated my sister and myself and sent our imagination whirring with ideas and stories.
I watch the camp from afar, the fires flicker and I can hear loud and confident laughter. I have been given a mission, my first mission as a fida’i, and now all I have to do is wait. Saladin has put the Ismaili fortress under siege, and he will attack in the morning. The future of all the Ismailis that are in our castle depends on me. From my watch, I can see the fires slowly winking out as the soldiers go to sleep. The last orange glow goes out and it is time to go. But I can’t move. Fear unfurls itself in my chest spreading like fire throughout my body.
Please continue reading story after image….
The cover page of the Fidai Golden Jubilee Number with a photo of the 48th Ismaili Imam and
images of Ismaili fidais who protected the Ismaili community from their enemies.The special
issue was published on January 21, 1936, its 10th year..
…..A Fidai’s mission continued
I have to move, otherwise all the Ismailis will die; Saladin won’t spare them. This is the only way! Questions swirl through my mind. What will happen if a soldier sees me? What if I get caught? What will they do to me? Fear engulfs me but my love for my Imam keeps me from turning back.
I freeze as I hear two soldiers coming up the hill for a walk.
‘We’ll beat them so easily! They have no way to defend against our army. This is our first real battle. I wonder what it will be like? Maybe we will go home as heroes!’, I hear them say as they pass me.
I realize what I have to do. This is the only way to stop the attack, and not hurt anyone. I sneak down from my cave, run into the camp, around the tents and into the biggest tent of all. Here Saladin sleeps. I creep into the tent, my heart pounding, and I rest a letter beside his head which simply says:
‘YOU ARE IN OUR GRIP’
I secure the letter into the cushion. In the morning, Saladin will find the letter. He will be so scared that he will retreat. The mission is complete.
MORE IMAGES FROM THE FIDAI GOLDEN JUBILEE NUMBER
References to the Fidai Boarding and Orphanage which was founded on December 13, 1928.
The heading expresses the joy and love the Jamats have for their Imam of the Time,
as this picture captures the arrival of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah and the Begum
(Princess Andree Carron – Prince Sadruddin’s mother) to Mumbai on January 10, 1936.
Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah’s telegraphic message conveying
success for the special edition of the Fidai magazine
A message to the magazine
A selection of two advertisement from the magazine. The shoes shown on the top photo resemble modern footwear but the Chevrolet Sedan is quite exceptional, and a classic in today’s market. The advertisement states that 3 Chevrolet models are available, and that the vehicles feature a steel body, powerful engine and GM ventilation!
A tribute to the monarch of the time, King George V and Queen Mary
A portrait of the 48th Imam
The first page of a 23-page English piece on His Highness the Aga Khan by Gulamali Allana of Karachi
Prince Aly Khan at a very young age, held tenderly by his mother, Princess Theresa.
A portrait of Prince Alykhan as a young man
Prince Aly Khan as a ‘cool’ young boy
Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan with his mother Princess Andree Carron.
Prince Sadruddin with Alijah Hassanali Zaveri at a London Garden
His Highness the Aga Khan, the Begum Aga Khan (Princess Andree Carron) with Sir Gulamhusein and Lady Hidayatullah at a party in Juhu, near Mumbai.
A striking photo of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah by Fayer of Vienna that was on exhibition at the time at Dorland House located on Regent Street in London.
A striking portrait of Prince Aly Khan, father of the current 49th Ismaili Imam, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan
Top: The Golden Jubilee medal that was distributed by Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah to
thousands of Ismaili children. Bottom: An explanation of the medal in English,
Farsi (Gujerati transliteration) and Gujerati
The Aga Khan Ladies Volunteer Corps and Girl Guides of Mumbai’s Chief Jamatkhana pictured with His Highness the Aga Khan.
The Aga Khan Ladies Volunteer Corps and Girl Guides of Mumbai’s Kandi Mawla (now Karimabad) Jamatkhana pictured with His Highness the Aga Khan.
“Work No Words” is a theme that also runs in the modern Ismaili volunteer corps.
Date posted: Saturday, December 14, 2013.
Last updated: Sunday, March 30, 2014.
Also see Literary Reading: Karim Master’s Legacy Lives on Through Students He Taught…and a Beautifully Illustrated Journal, “Rahe Rast”
For a complete list as well as links to photo essays published on this blog please click on Table of Contents or visit the Home Page.
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POWERPOINT PRESENTATION – SUNRISE OVER ALAMUT
Shazia’Ayn and Aliya-Nur Babul are two sisters who live in Vancouver. One of their stories concerns the rescue of certain important books from the Alamut castle before the Mongols torched the library. The story is presented in Powerpoint format in 18 delightful and imaginative slides. Please read the story and share it with your children by clicking on the following image:
Thank you for sharing this account of our continuous heritage of our history of Imamat through the rare photographs and magazine, which many of us were unaware of. I remember as I was growing up a photo of our beloved Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah with our Begum Ome Habibah wearing a blue dress, advising the jamat to adopt the western way of dressing for comfort and practicality. We still have that photo saved. But these photos are the rare ones. Thank you for enlightening us with this past .
How we get fidai book?
It is unavailable, very rare.
Thank you for sharing this excellent collection of our history and heritage that many of us are not aware of. May Mawla fulill all your wishes. Ameen.
Truly Astonishing. I was very touched to see what our religious teachers went through to keep our faith afloat and keep everybody safe during that period . It is an inspiration to read such articles, which should be passed over to our youth now ( younger Jamat). Lets pray that may Mowla keep our faith firm on the path of siratal mustakeem and bless wiith haqiqat knowledge. AMEEN!
Truly amazing. I was very touched to see what our religious teachers went through to keep our youth engaged in different projects like RAHE RAST and to keep track on students in the attendance in Jamatkhana. We should come-up with similar ideas and instill religious knowledge in our younger Jamat. Lets pray that may Mowla keep the world wide Jamat on siratal mustakeem AMEEN!
Went through the pictures and contents, just amazing. The Chief Editor, Ghulamhussain S. Thawer, was my maternal uncle and I also saw the picture of my paternal grandmother in one of the volunteer pictures.
I have just read about the Fidai Magazine and seen Mowlas and His Familys pictures, which till to date had not seen before and some of the information about our History. Thank you very much for these wonderful pictures and some of the background history, we are very fortunate to have people like you in our community. We are truly blessed to be Ismailis Ya Ali Madath.
SATURDAY DECEMBER 28, 2013 EDMONTON
It was really amazing to see images from the Fidai magazine published on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of Aga Khan III.
Thank you for sharing the contents of this beautifully illustrated magazine. The celebratory contents reflects the hopes and aspirations at the time. The ‘Fidai Golden Jubilee Number’ was also recently featured prominently on the program brochure of the dedication ceremony of the Al-Waez Abualy Alibhai Aziz Collection at Simon Fraser University, Burnaby. See http://ismailimail.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/20130829122804874.pdf.
Karim Moledina Pirani was my religion teacher in Aga Khan School Dar-es-salaam in 1950s. A great ginan reciter!!
Karim Master and Mr. Amir Jinnah (may their souls rest in eternal peace) were my Religion teachers through my Agakhan Secondary School days in DaresSalaam, Tanzania.
Thanks to them, I learnt not only to recite our Dua and Ginans but also our Ismaili history. We also had to fill in attendance records for going to Jamatkhana. That instilled regular attendance in us.
Thanks to Sadru and Malik for bringing back memories.
Karim Master and Mr. Jinnah were my religion teachers too. Completed Form 4 from Agakhan Secondary School, Dar es salaam in 1967
Ya Ali Madad and Khushali Mubarak
Seeing this “Fidai” issue reminds me of Zanzibar. During the 1960s as a kid, I would love to go through them as we had beautiful collection of all these in the library, which was in the hall at the princely jamatkhana. We had the best collection of our literature which included books and magazines. “Ismaili Prakash” would come every chandrat and I would be the vendor courtesy Akber Popat Kassam RIP, who was my evening religious teacher. Some where in Zanzibar lies a treasure trove of Ismaili history in East Africa – the thakats, the mirrors, the chandliers. The dafatari office of Karmailibhai at that time was full of antiques – the medals of Aga Khan III jubilees as well as photos. If they have been found they I would love if these were to be displayed at at the Toronto Ismaili Centre or the Aga Khan Museums.
Ya Ali Madad
I started reading Fidai when I was around 15 years, and continued reading it for many many years. My late father, Gulamhusain Bhimji Bookwala, had a bookshop in Mumbai Prathna Samaj and he used to buy old books. When he got the Fidai he made sure we all read that for our knowledge. It was very interesting and I still remember the cover page shown above.