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Majalis-i Dawat-i Baqa

Encyclopaedia of Ismailism by Mumtaz Ali Tajddin

The chiragh-i rawshan is also solemnized for the longevity, prosperity and blessing of a person who is alive, known as dawat-i baqa. It also corresponds with the Indian tradition of the hayati majalis. It also exhorts that the Imam is an Everlasting Guide and Epiphany (mazhar) of God on earth. The believers must kindle the lamp of Divine Light in their hearts. Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah also said, "The lamp of the Divine Light exists in you and your hands. This is spoken metaphorically. This lamp always exists in you all" (Zanzibar, 13/9/1899).

This assembly's purpose is also to reflect upon the unique wisdom of the ayat al-misbah (the lamp verse) of the Koran (24:35), in which God has compared His Light with a lamp. On that occasion, the person seeks forgiveness of his sins, and resolves to lead a virtuous life.

The tradition of chiragh-i rawshan deeply influenced the religious and social life of the Ismailis. It executed an ideal platform of the Ismailis for centuries, who were scattered in different villages of Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Northern Areas of Pakistan and other regions of Central Asia. It reflects an illustration of impermeable unity of the Ismailis in past.

It is said that an Ismaili da'i of Badakhshan, called Syed Yakut Shah visited Iran in 1253/1837 to see Imam Hasan Ali Shah in Mahallat. The Imam is reported to have accorded him permission to launch proselytizing mission in Gilgit and Hunza, including retention of the tradition of chiragh-i rawshan.

Pir Sabzali (1884-1938) had been in Badakhshan during his travel in Central Asia in 1923. He participated the majalis-i chiragh-i rawshan in a village, and seriously noted the defective content of the Chiragh-nama being recited in its rites. He pointed out and promised to provide them its approved copy from the Recreation Club Institute. Later, a good copy was sent in 1924 from Bombay.

It is still practiced with same spirit, vein and devotion. Muhammad Jamal Khan (1912-1976), the Mir of Hunza had written a letter to the Imam on September 4, 1965 regarding the fate of chiragh-i rawshan. In his reply of September 30, 1965, the Imam declined the request submitted to abandon the tradition of chiragh-i rawshan.


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