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8. The Ismaili Community

Plight of the Ismaili Community – Part 2: Jamat’s Mistreatment at Dīdar Events

Since most of Hazar Imam’s time is taken up by useless egoistic projects, for 30 years he has not been allowed time for ordinary murids to perform religious rites for which an ordinary murid craves and which is the prime function of Imam. If Mr. Sachedina, the navigator and planner, had interest of Jamat at heart, he would plan all the activities of Hazar Imam in such a way so that religious rites and deedars  could also have been regularly performed along with other commitments of Hazar Imam. This is because while religious rites need be performed once in a while, dīdar can be planned periodically for all major locations of Jamat.

A dīdar  takes merely 45 minutes i.e., as little time as to take a shower. Each time Hazar Imam visits a city, on an average he spends 48 hours. While several hours are allocated for lavish banquets with underlying leaders, how ridiculous and cruel is the planning by Mr. Sachedina that a mere 45 minutes could not be spared for a dīdar. If once in a while a dīdar is arranged, prior notice is hardly given and is held at the most awkward time. In other words convenience of Jamat and local Council and organizers is not taken into account. This is when it is more than obvious that murids all the time crave for Hazar Imam’s dīdar.  Their life  revolves around the Jamaatkhana and they do not question what the leadership does to the hard-earned money they give by starving their families.

For the past 50 years, the Jamat has been kept on a backburner. At least during the Jubilee year, the Jamat should have been given a priority and all the deedars should have been planned a few months ahead for the convenience of Jamaats, Council and organizers. Sadly, even during Jubilee, the dates for the deedars were announced at the last minute without any concern whatsoever that organizers would have to go through hell to organize and get halls. On the other hand, events relating to useless egoistic projects and banquets for underlying leaders were scheduled months ahead.

If dīdars, as a matter of routine, were held in most cities periodically,   murids would not have to travel to other cities and countries incurring colossal costs. Because of the short notice of deedars, murids always have to pay through their nose for last minute airfare and hotels. This trend continued even in the Jubilee year. It is estimated that  millions of dollars were unnecessarily wasted which could have been better used for charity if their plight was at heart. The proposed date of dīdar is known by underlying leadership and their close ones. However, it is kept secret from ordinary murids treating them as a second-class murids. One wonders why should the date of dīdar be kept secret?

As a result, there is a natural tendency for murids to speculate the date of dīdar through rumors. A lot of murids anxious for the dīdar, make travel arrangements based on speculated and ‘most likely’ dates and take risk based on rumors. While the leadership would be fully aware of rumors and murids making such travel arrangements, they would not have a decency to send a short message to say there would, or would not be a dīdar event. Can anything be more terrible than this?

Three years back when Hazar Imam started to perform the religious rites – at the first such religious ceremonies in East Africa he apologized for 30 years he could not perform the religious rites. Therefore he assured that thenceforth he would regularly give dīdar and perform rites. To continue with the process, he would visit all the countries. Later he visited a couple of countries and all is now forgotten as  most of time is taken up by high-profile AKFED and AKDN projects. If  Mr. Sachedina had Jamat at heart, and had really sharpened his pencil, these deedars could have been included in Hazar Imam’s schedule as lavish banquets for underlying leadership are always included. Hence, thanks to Mr. Sachedina, the high hope of Jamat for deedars and performance of religious rites have been shattered.

For not holding the dīdar, sometime lame or ridiculous excuses such as difficulty of arranging security is given. During jubilee, a lavish banquet by the leadership was held in wilderness of a Safari Park in Nairobi without any concern for security. On the other hand Imam goes about his daily life barely with any or a couple of body guards. Since he does not indulge in politics, he is least controversial, and so no one would have any reason to hurt him. Nonetheless the ‘security arrangements’ is always thrown around for not planning Dīdar events.

We will now look at some actual events of disgusting treatments of Murids tantamount to Mr. Sachedina, the planner, who did not have the Jamat at heart:


1. Jubilee Dīdar in Dubai
2. The Texas Tragedy: Jubilee Dīdar in San Antonio instead of Houston
3. Shocking Vancouver-Alberta Dīdar
4. Silver Jubilee Dīdar in Los Angeles
5. Nairobi: Imamat Day Cancelled but Lavish Youth Convention with Princess Zahra held
6. Jubilee Dīdar in Nairobi and Banquet in Safari Park
7. Darbar at Nairobi – Princess Zahra Absent

1. Jubilee Dīdar in Dubai

Remember that the Jamat and the ordinary murid crave for the dīdar and would do anything for it. There was a speculation about date for Jubilee Dīdar in Dubai, and as usual a strong rumor was triggered. While the leadership knew of rumors and also that murids were travelling, they did not bother alerting them by sending a two line message to warn that there would not be any dīdar. Two thousand murids took risk and travelled to Dubai. Imagine a burden on Dubai Jamat of only 1,800 to look after the visiting Jamat members  and accommodate them at the Jamatkhana at the last minute. Each of these murids who traveled must have spent an average of $3,000 for airfare and hotel. Hence whopping $6m of community went down the drain. For such a catastrophe, leadership did not even blink at all or apologize about it.  Instead they had audacity to blame Jamat for it. $6m is a colossal amount for such a poor community. As enlightened above, since each dollar can make big difference to poor, how much would $6m have helped the plight of poor?

2. The Texas Tragedy: Jubilee Dīdar in San Antonio instead of Houston

Whereas there are 22,000 Ismailis in Houston, there are only 1,000 in San Antonio. However it was decided to have Dīdar in San Antonio as a hall was available there on the 15th but in Houston only on the 16th. As usual, an extremely short notice was given to have  just 45-minute Dīdar.  San Antonio is 225 miles from Houston. As a result 22,000 murids had to travel for just a 45-minute event to San Antonio where the Jamat strength is only 1,000 and San Antonio with such little Jamat had to take care of 22,000. The irony is that after a week, Hazar Imam visited Houston for a couple of days for his personal business. If interest of Jamat was at heart, this 45-minute Dīdar could have been squeezed into Hazar Imam’s schedule so that so many members of the Jamat did not have to travel so far and create a nightmare for the organizers.

3. Shocking Vancouver-Alberta Dīdar

Six or seven years back, there was a joint Dīdar for Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. However the Dīdar event was arranged in Vancouver. Vancouver (and British Columbia overall) had 9,000 Ismailis. Alberta (Calgary and  Edmonton) had 11,000 Ismailis. As usual, it was a short notice, and as usual the Dīdar was only for 45 minutes. It should be borne in mind that in Canada there are 70,000 Ismailis and 45% are either on welfare or on the verge of welfare and live hand-to-mouth. Vancouver is 600 miles or 12 hours drive from Calgary and Edmonton. Vancouver was to provide just  3 or 4 meals and Albertans were to arrange their own hotels. Vancouver had arranged accommodation with Ismaili families but was not publicized and most did not know of it. The trip to Vancouver had cost each family an average of $3,000 which indeed is very stiff for those on welfare. While the Dīdar was just for 45 minutes, the lunch for Hazar Imam organized by President of Council entailed 3 hours and had 200 guests, mostly consisting of friends and relatives of President. The sad part is that while imam flew over alberta in own private jet, if he had landed for couple hours for just 45 min dīdar, those 11,000 would not had to travel  to Vancouver leaving work and schools for 3 days. It cost Albertans a whopping $12 million (4,000 families x $3,000) which indeed just went down the drain without measuring the cost of inconvenience and the wages which were lost by those working per-hour jobs. This is a colossal amount when 85% of world Ismailis barely earn $2-a-day.

While the President got three hours for his lunch, there was no decency for a 30 minute  photo session with volunteers who had worked round the clock for several days for the Dīdar. Since all Ismailis crave for photo with the Imam, the volunteers would have cherished the photo throughout their lives. Such treatment of Jamat is cruel. If Mr. Sachedina had sharpened his pencil just a little bit, he could have easily included a 45-minute Dīdar in Calgary so that 11,000 would not have to travel and would have also arranged a photo session for the volunteers. Can there be anything shocking or mean than this?

4. Silver Jubilee Dīdar in Los Angeles

The Silver Jubilee was celebrated in early 1980s when there were only 4,000 Ismailis in Texas and only 500 in Los Angeles. Most of them had come illegally from Pakistan and India without a dime. Texas is about 1,200 miles from Los Angeles, i.e., 2½ days ride by a car. Since there was an important horse racing event in Los Angeles, presumably because of race, it was decided to have Silver Jubilee dīdar in Los Angeles. Hence 4,000 hand-to-mouth murids had to take a long excruciating trip to Los Angeles, California from Texas. Most packed up 6 to 7 members of their family in a small old car and slept in the car even when in Los Angeles.  While the horse race took lot of time of Hazar Imam, the Dīdar, as usual, was only for 45 minutes. As usual, there was a banquet by President of Council in honor of Hazar Imam which lasted for 3 hours. The sad part is that Hazar Imam  after  the Dīdar  changed his attire in the Dīdar hall and  immediately dashed for Washington where his $40m, yacht was taking part in a race. It is believed that he spent a couple of days in Washington. The irony was that after a couple of weeks, he was in  Houston for a two days on his personal business visit. If the interest of Jamat was at heart, late Sir Eboo, then aide or navigator could have had separate Dīdar in Los Angeles and Texas to synchronize with  Hazar Imam’s visits to California and Texas.

At present, there are 90,000 Ismailis in USA and most are well-settled with the immigration status and have private businesses. Each year, hundreds of thousands of illegal non-Ismailis substantially Mexicans, enter the US. Since the economy has an appetite for immigrants, every 7 or 8 years amnesty or legal resident status is granted to them. The irony is that when these Pakistani Ismailis were trying to come to usa illegally without a dime, instead of helping, the Ismaili Council was discouraging them. This was because it was thought that they were spoiling community’s name. Even when they were in usa hand to mouth, the council never helped them. The irony is that they are now so affluent, USA is now the highest contributor to community’s budget which is $1 billion. Second highest is Canada with the population of 70,000. These Ismaili immigrants are self-made without support from community. Similarly, 10% Ismailis worldwide who do well financially, achieved this status themselves without any support from the community.

5. Nairobi: Imamat Day Cancelled but Lavish Youth Convention with Princess Zahra Held

Few years back in Kenya, Imamat Day celebrations were cancelled. The reason given was the drought. On the other hand, a few days later, a convention of 150 youths with princess Zahra was hosted  in a five-star hotel in Nairobi. While the cost of Imamat Day for 4,000 murids would have been barely $15,000, the cost of convention with only 150 participants was about $200,000. It could have been easily hosted in our own facility which is well set up and lot of other events are hosted there, not bearing mind that Ismaili community is one of the poorest as of total world Ismailis of 2.5m. 85% barely earn $2 a day i.e., less than Africans. Kenya is prone to drought all the time. As such, during such calamity, life nonetheless carries on normally as all the restaurants and clubs are open till late night, and big conventions and weddings are held with pomp. Religious events such Imamat Day, Christmas, Diwali and Eid are events to thank the Almighty. As such, they are never, never and never cancelled no matter what. Even during the war when people were dying in millions, they continued to be celebrated. For instance, during the war, on the Frigate warship, while on one side the casualties are brought in, on the  other side celebration of Christmas continued. This is glaring example that costly youth convention of 150 with Princess Zahra was far important than the traditional Imamat Day for 4,000 Ismailis.

6. Jubilee Dīdar in Nairobi and Banquet in Safari Park

Nairobi had the privilege to host the first Golden Jubilee Dīdar. Being the first dīdar, just like the opening of the Olympic Games, it should have been with a great pomp. 12,000 murids had gathered with lot of enthusiasm. The dīdar was like a normal dīdar for only 45 minutes. Although Ruhani family members visited East Africa frequently, none of them were there to grace the occasion. Now hold your breath to know difference in treatment of ordinary jamat in underlying leaders: There was an extra lavish banquet with 300 Ismaili leaders with Hazar Imam right in the middle of wilderness of Safari Park. The cost of it is reckoned to be as much as cost of all the meals of 12,000 murids for four days. It entailed several hours. Mr. Sachedina did not plan for Hazar Imam to be with his murids for just few minutes during Dandia-Raas celebrations. Can there be anything more obvious than this how Jamat is treated as second-class compared to the Jamati leaders?

7. Darbar at Nairobi – Princess Zahra Absent

Three years back Hazar Imam performed religious rites ceremonies in Nairobi. On one day there was a grand Dīdar where all local and outside murids were allowed. The Dīdar was held in a compound which comprises of Darkhana, a hall and a club. Adjacent is the Aga Khan University Hospital. Hazar Imam was at the Darbar hardly for 25 minutes. At the time of Darbar Princess Zahara was visiting the next door hospital. While the Jamat craves to see Ruhani family members, Princess Zahara did not spare just five minutes drop in at the Darbar.  In fact, while Ruhani family members visit East Africa frequently and have lavish banquets with underlying leadership, none have ever shown quest to meet the Jamat.

In Part 3 of this article, we will look at how skewed data is presented to Hazar Imam and the wordwide community of 15-20 million Ismailis when in reality, the real number is totally different.

About Akbar Khoja

Giving out free #LessonsInIsmailism.


10 thoughts on “Plight of the Ismaili Community – Part 2: Jamat’s Mistreatment at Dīdar Events

  1. Solidarity with Cherlie Hebdo!

    The coalition of state terrorists -along with 40 heads of states, displayed their unity in Paris on 11/01/15 and showed their deep hatred against the Muslims. They killed more than a million in Iraq and Afghanistan in the recent wars. Did they show a single moment’s silence in their memory? France herself killed 1.5 million Algerians in its war of occupation in the sixties. Did they pay any homage to those innocents who were killed there? Recently the Christians killed thousands of Muslims in Central African Republic. Where is the solidarity with the innocent victims of the genocide?

    But they showed solidarity with Cherlie Hebdo! They chanted chorus not only in Paris but also in all major European cities: “We are all Cherlie”. What does that mean? It means, like hateful Cherlie Hebdo they too declared that they are equal abuser and hater of our beloved prophet (peace be upon him). They are not ready to retreat an inch from that abusive path. The butcher of Gaza -the Israeli PM was cordially welcomed in their midst.

    They talk about protecting western values and culture. Do we need any lecture to understand the western values and culture? Didn’t they display those values and culture during the last several centuries all over the world? Is it not the values and culture of military aggression, occupation, colonisation, imperialism, ethnic cleansing, slave-trading, genocide, World Wars, gas chambers, dropping atom bombs, waterboarding, Guantanamo Bay, Abu Gharib, Sabra, Satilla and Gaza? They killed 75 million only in two World Wars! Who else can match their brutality? Their war machines are still not withdrawn from the Muslim lands.

    Date: Sat, 31 Jan 2015 13:15:22 +0000
    To: drmaqazi@hotmail.com


    Posted by Mahmood QAZI | February 1, 2015, 12:59 am
  2. akbar khoja whose fault is this? Mowla’s or the council…..Also another problem is presented. WHen a small jamat is informed like san antonio that didar will take place in this city. even if there is only 5 murids those 5 murids will work day and night to make didar run smoothly and wont complain a bit. that is the strongness of our community which most of the ummah lacks


    Posted by naaz | February 1, 2015, 4:13 am
    • Dear Naaz,
      The intention of this particular article is to highlight the fault of the council and the powers controlling the council. However, another question a devout Ismaili may ask is that how come Hazar Imam doesn’t know about all of these deceptions which the jamaat is subjected to by the council?


      Posted by Akbar Khoja | February 1, 2015, 3:31 pm
      • akbar khoja pretty much sure that mowla knows what is going on….but the thing is mowla does not interferes with the plans of allah. I am going to quote something “no mountain, no river, no ocean can separate the love of the IMAM from his murids”. Infact many times he has spoken out and one particular time in london golden jubliee he said “my murids should hold my leaders accountable for there actions. I realize that council does not conveys my messages to the jamat” also you talk about egoistic projects? most of these projects are done for the betterment of the ismaili communities….


        Posted by naaz | February 1, 2015, 6:20 pm
      • Naaz the projects are labelled as intended for Jamaat’s betterment but the hospital example quoted above speaks for itself. AKUH Nairobi and AKUH Karachi both are way too expensive for a normal Ismaili or non-Ismaili to afford. At best they have a chance to pay on installments with added interest. This is exactly an example of an egoistic project which doesn’t contribute to the betterment of the community.


        Posted by Akbar Khoja | February 1, 2015, 7:10 pm
      • lmao really my nani was treated at akuh karachi. yes if you have the money you have to pay but if you are poor the services are done for free….my nani are from a poor family and not one dime did she have to pay


        Posted by naaz | February 1, 2015, 7:27 pm
      • If you got CHARITY service with the AK institution – Consider yourself LUCKY… most people don’t.


        Posted by XYZ | February 3, 2015, 2:49 pm
      • mowla does not interferes with the plans of allah…… PLEASE CAN YOU PUT SOME LIGHT ON THIS STATEMENT…. It does not make sense…. Isnt there NOOR of ALLAH in Mowla… what does that mean to you???
        Make sure you give me a good answer as I am a confused practicing Ismaili with tons and tons of questions.


        Posted by XYZ | February 3, 2015, 3:01 pm
  3. Will your organisation help me in World Famous “AGA KHAN Development Net Work’s office” Mumbai-India, who gaves me total salary only Rs. 2531/-($51) p.m. in METRO CITY MUMBAI.. please..

    Please help me in AGA KHAN Office (india), Who gaves me a permanent employee salary only Rs.2531/-($51) for a hall month in India’s Most Expensive METRO CITY MUMBAI…

    . YES why there are doing above with me ? is a very interesting… if u like to know it please

    Being a AGAKHANI (Ismaili) community persone, With follow all Ismaily rules, I am taking some interest in Indian various religion (i.e. Brahma Kumari’s Spiritual Organization) so the AGA KHAN Management does not like this and there was not any fault in my regular duty/job so they was not able to release me from my permanent job in their office, so they have transferred my job from a little village of Gujarat to direct METRO CITY MUMBAI with same salary i.e. $ 51 for a hall month. How it possible to me or for an employee to run my family within only $ 51 for a hall month India’s Most Expensive METRO CITY MUMBAI….

    Truly there is noting any fault in my duty, So the Management was not able to releave me directly, so they have transferred by job. as above with same salalry. i.e. Rs. 2531-(#51) p.m. total salary in METRO CITY MUMBAI.

    So you are requested to please please help me at your level. Your alittle help will save my JOB as well as My & my family lives also…….please….[ Will you help me to get JUSTICE against AGA KHAN DEVELOPMENT NETWORK office -India ?]. I don’t know Proper egnlish language so please don’t mind for any mistake to show my meaning……please….

    Yours faithuflly
    (hasamukh Vadasariya) at Keshod, Gujarat, India hasamukh@gmail.com
    onFB:[facebook.com/hasamukhkeshod] and (+ 9 one 9 seven 2 five 9 four 9 five 1 one)
    India.. Thanks….

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by Hasamukh Vadasariya | February 2, 2015, 7:30 am
  4. I thought Ismailism is all about BATINI… then why so much hush hush about the ZAHERI Deedar?? If Zaheri deedar is so important then it is the human body that is being worshipped and not the so called NOOR inside the imam… Remember the sixth part of the dua that is being receited 3 times a day… Sura tul Ikhlas…. this is real messed up… its very complicated for an active brain to understand… yes yes yes.. do not question the faith..


    Posted by XYZ | February 3, 2015, 2:44 pm

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