Nazrana (Offerings) In Ginans - Pir Sadruddin exhorted that whatever is offered to the Imam, the giver (wahib) will get its rewards
By Mumtaz Ali Tajddin S. Ali
Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah
Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah visited Burma between January 20, 1951 and January 26, 1951, which was his last visit in Burma. Vazir U Kan Gyi (1870-1960) of Burma had reverently offered the Imam to let him bear his whole expenses as a nazrana from Europe to Burma with return expenses. The Imam said, “Well I accept your nazrana provided you bear only my expenses with return from Bombay to Burma and I will consider it your nazrana being the expenses from Europe to Burma with return.” Vazir U Kan Gyi gladly accepted it.
Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah resided in his Walkeshwar bungalow in Bombay between 1885 and 1907. During these 22 years, six to seven rich persons sent fruits to the Imam. When Imam began to reside in London after 1907, these persons could not send fruits in Imam’s bungalow. During Imam’s next visit to Bombay, these persons asked how they could present the fruits. The Imam formed a majalis, known as Walkeshwar’ni Majalis, wherein they brought fruits as a nazrana. Most of the members of these majalis migrated towards Pakistan between 1947 and 1950 and settled in Karachi. In 1951, the Imam gave them an audience in Hotel Metropole, Karachi. They asked to start the similar majalis in Karachi. Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah allowed them, but gave its name as Metropole Fruits Brotherhood and Sisterhood Majalis with limited members. In short, the Walkeshwar’ni Majalis and Metropole Fruits Brotherhood and Sisterhood Majalis are also the best illustrations of the nazrana in the form of the fruits to the Imam.
Donning the mantle of Imamate in 1885, Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah had completed 50 years of his spiritual leadership in August, 1935. His devoted followers, long looking forward to the auspicious day, got feverishly busy to pay a memorable tribute to their Imam, who had so happily guided their destinies through all these years, knitted them in to a progressive community, and taken them to enviable heights of moral and material glory. Hence, the Ismailis decided that the Golden Jubilee of their beloved Imam should be fitly celebrated by weighing him against gold and making a nazrana of it, as a mark of their love and gratitude. For this grand program, an All-India Golden Jubilee Celebration Committee had been formed. Its working committee assigned Pir Sabzali (d. 1938) to generate necessary nazrana through out India. The funds raising campaign started on October 23, 1935 from Kathiawar. He succeeded to collect a sum of five lac rupees in India being the nazrana to the Imam. Finally, the Imam’s Golden Jubilee was celebrated at Bombay, India on 19th January, 1936.
The African Ismailis also expressed their desire to hold a simliar Golden Jubilee in their homeland. Thus, the next Golden Jubilee celebrated at Nairobi, Kenya on March 1, 1937. The All African Golden Jubilee Celebration Committee collected 7 lacs Shillings. Once again the gold was presented as a nazrana to the Imam by the followers as a token of love, and once more the Imam returned this special gift for the welfare of the Ismaili community.
Sixty years of Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah’s benevolent rule gave the followers a chance to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee by weighing him against diamonds. It was performed in Bombay on 10th March, 1946. The value of the diamonds was 640,000 British pounds, which was a humble nazrana to the Imam.
The second Diamond Jubilee was celebrated in Dar-es-Salaam on 10th August, 1946. This time the value of the diamonds was 684,000 British pounds. The sum value of the diamonds at each place was presented as an absolute nazrana to the Imam from his jubilant followers.
To mark the completion of his seventy years of Imamate, the Ismailis decided to weigh the Imam in platinum. The Platinum Jubilee was celebrated in Karachi on 3rd February, 1954. The nazrana gifted to the Imam was returned to the followers to set up Finance and Investment Corporation.
In Africa, its commemoration was restricted to a token ceremony in Cairo on 20th February, 1955. It was performed in the Cleopatra Hall of Hotel Semiramese in presence of 62 delegates. It was a solemn spectacle of 20 minutes. The Ismaili leaders presented 70 gold coins to the Imam as a nazrana, which was graciously accepted. The Imam presented the same gold coins to the delegates.
Nazrana (Offerings) during the Imamat of Present Living Imam, Shah Karim al-Hussaini - Under the glorious leadership of Mawlana Hazar Imam, the Ismailis have accelerated their economy to great extent, which paved a way for a large number of social projects
Mumtaz Ali Tajddin S. Ali has authored several articles and books, including Encyclopedia of Ismailism, 101 Ismaili Heroes and Ismailis through History. For several decades, he has been involved with Ismaili Tarqiah and Religious Education Board (ITREB) in Pakistan as an Honorary Missionary and lecturer of religious education classes on history, ginans and other educational topics.
Karachi: April, 2017