Exhibition tells story of oldest Ismaili community in Europe — The Ismaili org | Spain Jamat is the oldest Ismaili community in the Western world

Family portrait of the Spain Jamat with the leaders of the Ismaili Council for Portugal.

Family portrait of the Spain Jamat with the leaders of the Ismaili Council for Portugal. ISMAILI COUNCIL FOR PORTUGAL / NADIA SILVA

Ashad Ali Haji and his family in Madrid, circa 1928.

Ashad Ali Haji and his family in Madrid, circa 1928. ISMAILI COUNCIL FOR PORTUGAL

Rai Saheba Sakina Allibhoy Mahomed, daughter of the founder of Spain Jamat, and her husband Rai Abdulmahomed Allibhoy Mahomed at the exhibition

Rai Saheba Sakina Allibhoy Mahomed, daughter of the founder of Spain Jamat, and her husband Rai Abdulmahomed Allibhoy Mahomed at the exhibition “100 Años del Jamat de España”. ISMAILI COUNCIL FOR PORTUGAL / NADIA SILVA

Mehrun Karim, granddaughter of Ashad Ali Haji, next to a banner for the exhibition

Mehrun Karim, granddaughter of Ashad Ali Haji, next to a banner for the exhibition. ISMAILI COUNCIL FOR PORTUGAL / NADIA SILVA

Omar Ali de Unzaga, grandson of Ashad Ali Haji, offers visitors insights on the panel that they are reading.

Omar Ali de Unzaga, grandson of Ashad Ali Haji, offers visitors insights on the panel that they are reading. ISMAILI COUNCIL FOR PORTUGAL / NADIA SILVA

Huzur Mukhi Rahim Firozali, President of the Ismaili Council for Portugal, takes in the exhibition.

Huzur Mukhi Rahim Firozali, President of the Ismaili Council for Portugal, takes in the exhibition. ISMAILI COUNCIL FOR PORTUGAL / NADIA SILVA

Two years ago, the oldest Ismaili Muslim community in Europe celebrated 100 years since it’s arrival on the continent. In July, an exhibition that recounts their story was inaugurated at the Ismaili Centre, Lisbon.

That the Spain Jamat is the oldest continuously settled Ismaili community in the Western world is a little known fact to many.

Ashad Ali Haji arrived in Europe in 1912 and settled in Paris. Born Ali Jamal Meghji and originally from Junagadh (in the British Indian province of Kathiawar), he was the only surviving son of the well-known Mukhi Jamal Meghji. With the eruption of World War I, he decided to move to Spain, a neutral country in that conflict. It was there that he established the first Ismaili community in Western Europe.

Today, the Spain Jamat come from diverse origins but is united in its Ismaili Muslim identity. The exhibition celebrates the remarkable story of the family of Ashad Ali Haji, which 102 years later is now in its fifth generation. Through stories shared and recounted by members of the family, it offers an important porthole on Ismaili history.

The inauguration coincided with the celebration of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s 59th Imamat Day, and members of the Spain Jamat attended in large numbers. They were joined by the Jamat and institutional leaders from Portugal.

The opening of the exhibition was preceded by a dinner that celebrated the bonds that unite the Iberian Jamat.

Source: The Ismaili org

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