Paris's flag-bedecked international exposition centre, Porte de Versailles, was the venue of Mowlana Hazar Imam and Begum Salimah's first visit to the European Jamat on Thursday, July 3rd, 1980. Ismailis from France, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria, Germany; Switzerland, Italy and Spain, converged on Paris for this long-awaited Mulakat after weeks of preparation.
The Jamat of Europe, spread across various countries, has diverse cultural and linguistic characteristics. This dispersal made the organization of this first Mulakat all the more complex. All those present, however, felt that the intricate task of preparation was handled skillfully by the Council, the Mukhi Kamadias, the voluntary workers and the volunteer corps.
The Mulakat was significant for many members of the Jamat, and especially the young. Some had last had didar in either Africa or Asia, while for most of the youths this was the first occasion to see their Imam-e-Zaman in person.
On the morning of Thursday July 3rd, Mowlana Hazar Imam and Begum Saheba arrived at the main Hall of Porte de Versailles. At the entrance, they stood to attention as children from the Ismailia religious training school sang "Noore Rasulilah". Hazar Imam and Begum Salimah then entered the Hall. For members of the Jamat who had not seen the Imam for years, and especially those who had not seen him before, it was an intense emotional moment. There was a special feeling which is easily recognizable by those of us who have attended recent Mulakats in England, Canada, India and Pakistan.
During the Mulakat, Mowlana Hazar Imam met the jamats of the individual countries of Europe. In the adjoining hall, Begum Salimah visited an exhibition set up by the Ismailia Association, embodying the work of children from various religious schools in different countries. The Begum also presented Cups to the winners of the European Ginan competition.
The exhibition housed in a decorative stand in Islamic motif displayed photographs of Ismaili Social Welfare Institutions worldwide. Slide presentations on Islamic architecture and Ismaili history were also shown. Of particular interest was an impressive papier mache model of "Alamut" explaining the Ismaili dawa.
In addition to the arranging of accommodation and feeding of the Jamat other facilities were organized including a clinic to care for the sick and aged, and a nursery for children, complete with toys and kitchen facilities.
On Friday afternoon, July 4th, 1980, Mowlana Hazar Imam and Begum Saheba received various Council leaders, Mukhi Kamadias and voluntary workers in their home. At this soiree, the jamati delegation met the Noorani family; Princess Zahra, Prince Rahim, Prince Hussain and Princess Yasmin. The delegation then toured Hazar Imam's Secretariat at Aiglemont.
On Saturday, 5th July 1980, the entire Jamat assembled once again for Didar. Mowlana Hazar Imam told the Jamat how pleased he was that they had organized such a successful Mulakat even though the Jamat was so widely dispersed across the European continent. He congratulated the Jamat and the leaders on their performance and said how happy both he and Begum Saheba were to be with the European Jamat.
Expressing his delight in being with them, Hazar Imam showered his choicest blessings on the Jamat, who he said "were constantly in my heart, my thoughts and my prayers". The Jamat was deeply moved and in the eyes of many there were tears of joy to hear Imam-e-Zaman express these words.
Source: Ismaili Mirror March 1981
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