My own Shia community, the Ismailis, are guided by the Aga Khan, an enlightened, savvy, internationalist, well connected leader, respected by royals, presidents and prime ministers. His lineage goes back to the Prophet’s daughter Fatima and son in law, Ali. This July we celebrate the diamond jubilee of this remarkable Imam, who funds schools, hospitals, development programmes, universities, architectural masterpieces around the globe.
Ismailis live in Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, other South Asian countries, in Africa, North America, Australia and Europe. The mountain people of Xinjiang in China are Ismailis so are most of the beleaguered inhabitants of Salamiyah in Syria. In 2015, a historic agreement was signed between the Portuguese government and the Aga Khan to establish a permanent global Ismaili seat in that country. It will be like a small Vatican, a hub of considerable influence. This month the Aga Khan donated 500,000 euros to victims of the devastating forest fire which swept through central Portugal.
We are thought to be the most educationally and successful Muslims in Britain. Men and women can lead prayers and people pray in whatever clothes they wish. None is judgemental or authoritarian.
Ten days ago Sadiq Khan attended an event at our main mosque and centre and praised the contributions we make and our life/faith balance. In her book, Medina in Birmingham, Najaf in Brent, Innes Bowen writes: “Ismailis have shown that integration into Britain does not mean losing one’s Islamic identity.”
Read more – Dated: 03 July 2017
Previously on Ismailimail…