The ummah as a just, inclusive, pluralistic community is rooted in the origins of Islam. Its profound sense of social responsibility, particularly towards the most marginalised members of society, is reflected in the Ismaili Muslims’ deeply-held tradition of voluntary service rendered through community organisations and through civil society institutions that benefit all.
A selection of photographs from the Dear World Afghanistan campaign, taken by Grace Chung while she was an intern at Roshan in Afghanistan.
In Afghanistan, everyone has a story to tell – stories about the country’s people, their hopes for the future, of peace and development – yet most go untold. But when a Harvard student working at Roshan decided to launch a Dear World campaign, she gave new voice to the people of Afghanistan and to the many stories they have been waiting to tell.
Part of a seismically unstable zone that is prone to earthquakes, floods, landslides and droughts, Pakistan's northern region has long been home to a signifiant Ismaili population. Several new purpose-built jamatkhana projects blend traditional building with new disaster-resistant techniques. From design and construction to finished product, the new structures offer a model to uplifit the quality of habitat throughout the region.
Described as grassroots because they are led by concerned citizens rather than governments or established institutions, such community action initiatives can be a powerful means in addressing difficult issues. Some Ismailis are successfully using grassroots action to magnify the impact of their volunteer work.
Lifelong educator Roshan Hemani has been hard at work on the site of the new campus of the Aga Khan University in Arusha. But instead of moulding young minds she is re-forming the landscape – Hemani and a team of gardeners are on a mission to plant 150 000 trees in the area. And the plant nursery she has established may become a vital source in sustaining Tanzania’s ecology for years to come.
Service to humanity is at once an ethic deeply rooted in the Islamic tradition, as well as a fundamental expression of American civic values. Commemorating the tenth anniversary of the September 11th tragedy in partnership with their fellow Americans, Ismaili Muslims across the United States will volunteer in a wide range of service activities in their local communities.
Nasir Jetha’s career in accounting and finance has taken him around the world, from Tanzania to England, Canada and Bermuda. Most recently, it took him to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, where he helped oversee the Finance Department of the University of Central Asia as a TKN volunteer.
In this first installment of a two-part story, broadcast journalist Faridoun Hemani describes his experience as part of a team that visited areas stricken by the 2010 Pakistan floods to document the impact of the AKDN Early Relief and Recovery Programme. The team travelled to Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh, where they listened to local people recount life-changing stories.
In this conclusion of a two-part story, broadcast journalist Faridoun Hemani recounts his experience as part of a team that visited areas stricken by the 2010 Pakistan floods to document the impact of the AKDN Early Relief and Recovery Programme. The team travelled to Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh, where they listened to local people tell life-changing stories.
Three years after the opening of the Ismaili Centre, Dubai, it has emerged as a multidisciplinary hub of culture, faith, education, and community identity. Exemplifying the core values of Ismaili Muslims, the Centre offers a platform for dialogue, unity and progress within the Jamat and the wider community.
For nearly 16 years, Shamim Hassan Shivji placed close to 100 Karachi orphans with couples from around the world. She and a neighbour routinely cared for the orphaned or abandoned infants while seeking out loving homes for them. She never charged for the service – her reward was seeing kids she placed grow up to become well-educated members of society.
When Salim Mohamed started his Time and Knowledge Nazrana assignment with AKDN project and construction management company PCM, the civil engineer brought decades of experience to the East African construction projects he was tasked with overseeing. He in turn gained valuable experience working in an African setting, and an understanding of what it’s like to work for an AKDN institution.
As owners of a Kenyan beach resort, the Visram family maintains a firm belief in improving the lives of the local community. Their efforts to help people understand the real and present dangers of illegal human trafficking earned them a nomination for the first-ever Business Leader's Award to Fight Human Trafficking, for which Mawlana Hazar Imam was a jury member.
Yasmin Waljee and Farah Ramzan Golant were recently named to the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, while Aladin Rahemtula became the first Ismaili to be conferred the Order of Australia. The awards recognise the outstanding services rendered by these individuals in their respective fields.
Over the last 25 years, AKDN has planted over 100 million trees in Asia and Africa. Many communities already recognise that sustainable agro-forestry provides dividends in the form of food, fuel and fodder, and the emergence of a global carbon market presents new opportunity.
Massive flooding last year in the regions surrounding the Indus River caused devastation, destroying more than 1.4 million acres of cropland and over one million homes. But the resilience of those affected and the compassion and generosity of those providing assistance offers hope and lessons for the times ahead.
Despite the magnitude of the disastrous flooding in Pakistan and the impact on its people, many in the international community remain unaware, and the attention garnered early on has waned. Through individual and organised institutional efforts, many Ismailis, together with others in Pakistan and around the world, have sought to raise awareness and funds to support flood relief efforts.
The UK-based Ismaili Community Ensemble undertook a journey to Dubai at the end of September. During the trip, they collaborated with local Jamati members in a performance at the Ismaili Centre, supported an international fundraising event organised by FOCUS, and conducted a workshop with children challenged by disabilities. Ensemble member Rabiyyah Raval shares her account.
This year, the annual PartnershipsInAction Walk in the United States launched with a green theme that draws attention to the impact of climate change. Underscored by the recent flood disaster in Pakistan, the Walk’s message has taken on an even greater urgency, and is echoed by volunteers across the country as they seek to raise awareness and support.
Millions of people throughout Pakistan have been devastated by heavy downpours and massive flooding that has been described as one of the worst disasters in the country’s history. But in the face of calamity, communities, institutions, government and civil society are coming together to help one another and rebuild lives.