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France visit
29 November 2008
  • Toute la famille ensemble: Mawlana Hazar Imam is joined by his family as the global Jamat comes together in France for the final Golden Jubilee visit

    In what was a truly memorable day for the entire Jamat, Mawlana Hazar Imam was accompanied by members of his family for the final visit of the Golden Jubilee. Almost seventeen months after Mawlana Hazar Imam's family joined him to welcome leaders from across the world to Aiglemont for the inauguration of the Golden Jubilee, Prince Amyn, Prince Rahim, Princess Zahra, Prince Hussain and Princess Khaliya were again by his side in Paris for both the Darbar and the Institutional Dinner in Paris.

    The Golden Jubilee visit to France began on Monday 8th December when Mawlana Hazar Imam hosted a performance of A Mystical Journey at the Théâtre Mogador in Paris. Hazar Imam was joined by Princess Zahra, Prince Hussain, leaders from the Government of France and members of French society, as well as senior Jamati leaders from France and abroad. A Mystical Journey is a Golden Jubilee International Programme featuring artists from Algeria, Bosnia, Iran, Pakistan, Syria and Tajikistan performing music from various Sufi and other esoteric traditions of Islam. Though different in form, these acts of devotion are common in their peaceful search for the divine and represent the pluralistic traditions and mystical unity among different communities of interpretation within the Muslim world.

    The following day, Mawlana Hazar Imam spent the day meeting with senior government leaders. The French Ministry of the Interior at Place Beauvau, was the setting for his meeting with Michèle Alliot-Marie, Minister of the Interior, Overseas France and Local Authorities. Thereafter, Hazar Imam and Prince Rahim were welcomed by Prime Minister François Fillon at the Hôtel Matignon, the Prime Minister's official residence. Mawlana Hazar Imam then travelled to Quai d'Orsay, the site of the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, where he met Bernard Kouchner, France's Minister of Foreign and European Affairs. There, Hazar Imam and the Minister signed a partnership agreement for development between the French Republic and the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). Prince Amyn, Princess Zahra and Prince Hussain were also present for this occasion. The agreement builds on a number of successful AKDN projects to which the French Government, French institutions and French companies have contributed. That evening Minister Kouchner hosted a private dinner in honour of Mawlana Hazar Imam.

    On the final day of the last visit of the Golden Jubilee, leaders from across the world, together with the leadership of the France Jamat celebrated as Mawlana Hazar Imam chose the Jamati Institutional Dinner as the setting to announce his intention to build an Ismaili Centre in Paris. Choosing to speak in French, Mawlana Hazar Imam said: “What I want to say to you in French, to finish this evening and finish this wonderful year that you have given me, is that I intend to construct an Ismaili Centre in Paris.”

    Earlier in the day, Mawlana Hazar Imam's family had also joined him for the final Darbar of the Golden Jubilee at the Parc des Expositions in Paris. Thousands of members of the Jamat from across the world had gathered for this historic occasion. After the Darbar, the Imam and his family visited the Rays of Light exhibition. The exhibition, which is a Golden Jubilee International Programme and which was being inaugurated in France, provided a visual narrative of the past 50 years of Hazar Imam's Imamat. Set up in the Darbar venue, the exhibition, which was also open to the Jamat, engaged visitors in multiple dimensions. Entering through a tunnel displaying a photo-biography of Mawlana Hazar Imam from his childhood until his accession to the office of Imam in 1957, visitors could choose to explore one of four themed galleries; Hope, Identity, Confluence or Harmony. Each theme emanated radially from a fifth section called Enlighten which was situated in a domed centre piece. Finally, visitors exited through another tunnel, displaying a photo-biography of Mawlana Hazar Imam after his accession to the Imamat up to the present day.

    Throughout the visit, the small Jamat of France played host to thousands who had come from abroad to be part of this epochal visit. The Parc des Expositions was the venue for a week's celebrations including events for all ages, dandia raas, music parties, mehfils, mehndi and much more. Internationally acclaimed artistes from the Jamat travelled to France to entertain the crowds, and volunteers from all over the world worked under the leadership of the French Council to ensure that this visit was a resounding success. The historic occasion provided the perfect opportunity for the global Jamat to come together, actualising the concepts of brotherhood, unity and love for the Imam, which bind us together.

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