SHORT ESSENTIAL READINGS VII: In Celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan’s Visit to East Africa – By Malik Merhant


His Highness the Aga Khan pictured in a traditional outfit during his visit to Pakistan in 1976. Photo credit: Ilm, Special Pakistan visit Supplement.

Introduction: What does Ismaili and related Shia literature reveal about the doctrine of Imamat? What are the pre-requisites in our daily lives to maximize the benefits from the didar (lit. glimpse) of the Imam of the Time? What should our attitudes be in the presence of Mawlana Hazar Imam? These are some of the themes which “Essential Readings” is covering through short excerpts. This is the seventh in the Didar Series series which began on June 25th. Links to other series posts are provided at the end of this post. We welcome personal reflections, narratives and poetry relevant to didar and the East African visit from all our readers. Please submit your pieces to with appropriate references.





According to the ginans the Imam is the source of Guidance for mankind. He shows them the right path, saves the people from ignorance and acts as a Divine Light in the darkness. In Satveni Moti by Syed Imam Muhammad Shah, it is said:

Murshid diwa hai joog-ma, jo aan dikhave ser-re;
e baatt bahot rariyamani, jiya(n) chorasi nahi(n) fer-re.


In this world the Master is the Light who enlightens the Spiritual Path;
the Way is most wonderful on which there is no failure.

Pir Sadr al-Din emphasizes the same idea in the following verse:

Nish andhari Gur chand-roora huwa;
Jot ahe Gur deevo, ho jire bhai.


In the dark night of ignorance, the Master spreads the Light of Guidance like a moon;
Indeed, O brother! The Master is the Bright Lamp.

The parable of the Holy Tree (kachajaratin tayyibatin) set forth in the Qur’an is expressed in Syed Ahmed Shah’s Si Harfi as follows:

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