Lives of great men all remind us,
We can make our lives sublime;
And departing, leave behind us,
Foot-prints on the sands of time.
Since the declaration of Hazrat Ali as the lmam, which marks the beginning of the Ismaili History, time has travelled in its long run of 1,400 years, through various periods. lsmaili History has given birth to a number of renowned figures, whose efforts have enabled Religion to stand today as a symbol of "struggle", "sacrifice" and "love" for the lmam. The tree that yields fruits today has been labouriously watered in the past.
Looking back at our own history, we find that the glorious Fatimid period, passed through such memorable events and produced celebrated personalities that even the long lapse of 900 years, does not dim their image and memories which they left behind for us to emulate. Among them were not only great warriors like Jawhar as-Siqilli who conquered many important places like Egypt to extend the Fatimid Empire, but also others who held prominent positions in the fields of Science, Literature and Art. These include Abu Ali Sina and lbn-Haitham - the great Scientists, Nasir Khusraw - the poet, traveller and propagandist Qadi Nu'man the jurist, Yaqub bin Killis the brilliant economist, Hamid al-Din al-Kirmani - the great intellectual. Al-Mu'yyad fid-din ash-Shirazi - the theologist and many others. Their art and knowledge did not only bring about an evolutionary change for the betterment of their age, but even today remains an appreciative work for the different schools of thought. It should be worth noting here that it was not only the Fatimid period which produced such outstanding figures but even the less known period of our history had created men like Nizari and Pir Shams. Pir Sadruddin's untiring efforts resulted in an increment of the total lsmaili strength, so much so that we can undoubtedly be called an outcome of his Da'wa. The credit for developing the Khojki language also goes to him, by which he preserved the rich knowledge of the lsmaili faith. It is heartening to see that still such personalities continue to come to light, like Pir Waras lsmail Gangji, Kara Ruda and Pir Sabzali who contributed to the lsmaili faith in similar manner, by keeping the flag flying at all costs.
It is very unfortunate to mark the lack of enthusiasm shown on the part of lsmailis in the last few decades, to preserve their rich knowledge and still more to see them lose whatever that remains. As a result of this, many facts are misinterpreted. On the other hand, it is encouraging to see men of other faiths taking keen interest to explore realities of the lsmaili History. As a result of which most of our literature has been unearthed by scholars of faiths other than the lsmaili. No wonder every time we plan to write our past record we have to look it up from the non-lsmaili sources, which have achieved reliability due to their own preserving efforts. However, recently efforts are being made by lsmailis themselves in the field of research on the various aspects of lsmailism and it is hoped that they shall come up with more fruitful result.
One of our main aim to undertake this project has been, to enable the general public to know about the rich harvest cultivated in the past - its mode and method - its reaper and harvester. We hope, that in time to come the information compiled will be of great value to the students of history and to others as well, to have at least an outline of some of our important personalities. Again it can act as a source of inspiration to achieve that level of spiritual enlightenment, but that would require efforts directed towards a definite aim.
An Introduction of our Institution:
With the view of imparting religious education to the youngsters, H.S.H. Prince Aly S. Khan Colony Religious School came into existence in 1960 C.E. by the great efforts of Aitmadiani Sherbanoobai Mukhi Essa Abdul Malik and Masalawala Co-operative Housing Society Ltd. This had become necessary as in this modern age materialism has completely failed to help man to achieve True Happiness (Peace of Mind). Though it was a humble beginning, but today it has flourished into a full-fledged school, having a staff of 40 well-trained and qualified teachers, who are rendering honourary services, and 400 students who are enthusiastically perusing their studies. The classes take place in the building of the Aga Khan Gymkhana School. The teaching is being supervised by the Board, under whose dynamic leadership the school is making good progress.
In addition to the regular classes conducted under the supervision of the School Board - Mission, Quran and Islamic History classes are also being held under the supervision of the lsmailia Association for Pakistan, which has helped us considerably in this project. Apart from the above mentioned activities, the School has been holding yearly Wa'az, Ginan, Essay, Du'a and Quiz competition to encourage the students to strive ahead.
Obvious as it is, this Journal could never have been the work of one particular committee, but it has been brought out by the help of various individuals and institutions, amongst which, the lsmailia Association for Pakistan is the most prominent. We are thankful to the following libraries for providing us important manuscripts and relevant research material. lsmailia Association Research Library, Dr. Alidina Memorial Library and lsmaili Archives, Central Archaeological Library and Museum. Iran Cultural Centre Library and Karachi University Library.
I shall be failing in my duty if I do not place on record the unstinted co-operation extended by Miss Zawahir Noorally to review and edit the material published in this Journal. Besides all laurels are attributed to scholars who magnanimously contributed to this noble cause. We are highly indebted to Mr. Tajuddin Esmail, Alijah Soormawala and Mr. Gulgee (Ismaili) for being generous with their time and advice. The assistance and scholarly advice given by Vazir Sherali Ali Dina and Dr. Akbar Ladak have been of a great value to us and have been a great source of encouragement. It would be inadequate here if Mrs. Rashida Bai were to be ignored for the pains she underwent in providing the necessary facilities for the smooth flow of our work. Our thanks are also due to the various individuals who have assisted us financially in carrying out this project.
Last but not the least, Syed Liaquatuillah, the artist Mr. Abdul Majid M. Patel, Mr. Abdul Malik Chunara and the members of the Art and Literary Committee have also helped us considerably in preparing this Journal.
In the end, it was a source of great pride and pleasure to work hand in hand with all my colleagues, who have spared no effort to make this humble project a great success. I thank them all.
Abdul Rehman Kanji
Karachi: 1973 Chairman of Executive Committee