1. A Dynamic Leader
This is the first post in the translation series of Syedna Taher Saifuddin’s RA addresses.
The 51st al-Dai al-Mutlaq, Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA was a personage whose erudition and teachings had a profound impact on all those who were fortunate enough to know him.
He combined a masterful knowledge of Fatimi Ismaili tradition with a profound grasp of modern advances in learning. He firmly believed in the importance of staying rooted to one’s values and core traditions, whilst also expanding one’s horizons in keeping with contemporary thought.
Syedna’s RA life, teachings and interactions are testimony to the fact that his outlook was all encompassing. He did not just preach ideal morals, but also lived his life accordingly while strongly urging his followers to do the same. At the heart of his philosophy of life was the message of universal brotherhood and peace amongst all peoples. In times that are often characterised by seemingly insurmountable divisions in the societies we live in, his teachings serve as a reminder of the importance of collectivism.
On the occasion of his birth anniversary, we are pleased to bring to you here – for the first time in English – his messages of ‘unity’ that he delivered in various places to varied audiences.
Delivered at Jabalpur on the 10th of April 1960
Speaking about the importance of maintaining unity in a society inhabited by diverse ethnicities, Syedna RA used the analogy of a verdant garden to express his views. He states:
‘I will say that a garden becomes enriched when it is resplendent with differing qualities. On the one hand – the flow of streams while on the other the blooming of flowers; the beauty of the trees while on the other the serenity of the greenery. Furthermore, a garden is not beautified only by these elements per se, but also by the different qualities inherent in each of those elements.
Flowers and fruits have their own individual characteristics and are found in a variety of types which all come together to beautify a garden.
This analogy of a garden portrays the message of ‘unity in diversity’, that although the elements may be varied and diverse, they all come together to form a beautiful landscape. The fusion of all these diverse elements keeps adding to the beauty of the garden.
Similarly, different communities should live together and strive for the educational and economic uplift of our country. One should retain the core values of one’s own culture whilst also embracing the country’s larger culture.
It is common knowledge that times keep changing, ushering in a new set of requirements, and each generation faces the test of these requirements. In such a situation, only those denominations will prevail who stay rooted to their individual cultures while also accepting what is beneficial of the new, of each age.
The secret of unity is inherent in this thought. In every society, there should be acceptance and unity of different communities and cultures, all working together within a broad perspective. Truly, this approach will be a unifying one and, especially if we work accordingly in India, we have the potential to realise our aspirations and attain our goals.’1
- Syedi Ibrahim al-Yamani QR, Kalim al-Fasāha wa al-Balāgha, pgs. 230-232. ↩