HER HIGHNESS THE BEGUM OM HABIBEH AGAKHAN III
Born : FEB.15, 1906 PASSED AWAY: JULY 01, 2000
A majestic, serene view of River Nile, Villa Noor Es Salaam ( in white ) and further up the Mausoleum.
RARE PHOTOS OF MATASALAMAT NOT PUBLISHED BEFORE.
MataSalamat in a relaxed mode with her dog Chaumpsy who is always by her side, at Villa Noor-El-Salaam, Aswan.
in ASWAN, Egypt. Photo by Shahalini Nizar.
Matasalamt celebrating her Birthday at Villa Noor-Es-Salaam in Aswan, Egypt.
Photo by Shahalini Nizar.
Ms. Janine, Matasalamat’s personal secretary (holding Chaumpsy), served Matasalamat till the end.
Matasalamat with Nizar Harji on the balcony of Villa Noor-El-Salaam, overlooking the River Nile. This was a 2-hour mulaquat when Matasalamat recounted memories of her life and travels with Sultan Mohamed Shah . She remembered vividly her travels with Sultan Mohamed Shah to the ruins in Petra, Jordan, to Karachi – soon after the creation of Pakistan, Mashad in Iran Kerman Province which was governed and the stronghold of 46th Imam Mowlana Shah Hassanali Shah, she rembered safari in Kenya game parks. She also mentioned her frequent visits to Cairo with Sultan Mohamed Shah. She asked questions about my grand father, where he originated from and what the family and community situation was in India at that time. She elaborated that It was the 49th Imam who sent the community to Zanzibar 1889 and that in 1905 during Imam’s second visit to Zanzibar, the first Ismaili constitution and Ismaili Council were established , and Jamati Mukhi and Kamadia were appointed. When I conveyed to Matasalamat that I had a photo of the 49th Imam in 1905 with Council members and Mukhi Kamadias and my grand father who held positions on both, Matasalamat immediately asked that the photo be sent to her at Villa Yakiamour in Cannes, France . Later when she was in receipt of the photo, she acknowledged not having seen it before. Soon after, this photo appeared at the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London,UK and in the History of Ismailis publication .
With a smile and expression of joy on her face , raising her hand and motioning forward , Matasalamat said “…see where you are today, in Canada . Now tell me about the Jamat in Canada. Are our young boys and girls in Universities ? And is the Jamat making progress ? ” At that point I conveyed that the Jamat in Canada is waiting for her visit,. Her response was ,
” Inshallah, if Hazir Imam wants it to be ” .
During the 2 – hour mulaquat, Matasalamat would often pause, reflect, and impart wisdom. At one point, she asked a question, “Do you know ..what is the greatest gift of Allah to humankind?” I pleaded ignorance and if she would enlighten me. Her response was
” yes, the greatest gift of Allah to humankind is intelligence “.
Matasalamat expressed concern and worries about the heavy aerial bombing by the United States on Iraq and whether the tomb of the first Imam, Hazrat Ali, in Najf, Iraq, was destroyed.
She elaborated that she had contacted Prince Sadrudin to investigate the status and give her a report. She added that through his diplomatic channels, Prince Sadrudin was able to ascertain that although surrounding fixtures were destroyed, that the tomb of Hazrat Ali was completely safe and intact. Matasalamat ended with the word ” Allahamdullilah” (all praise due to Allah “.
The Jamat around the world may not be aware of Matasalamat’s strong faith in Islam and her devotion to the Imamat.
At one point during the mulaquat, Matasalamat summoned one of the Arab employee of the villa. She instructed him to take me to the mausoleum of Imam Sultan Mohamed Shah where holy Quran are recited continually, and where a fresh cut rose is placed on the tomb daily. She emphasized that he was to remove the barrier that keeps visitors at a distance, and to allow me to approach and touch the tomb.
Upon my return from the tomb, Matasalamat immediately asked what I had experienced ?
I was still very shaken and replied that I felt a strong ” spiritual power ” ; that no Ismaili could remain upright on his two feet while touching the tomb. I related that upon touching the tomb, I became emotional and dizzy and fell to the ground, hitting the left side of my head against the tomb. The Quran reciters helped me up. We then proceeded with Fateha prayers. Matasalamat responded ” yes, many foreigners have told me the same “.
After pausing momentarily, Matasalamat asked the Arab employee to return to the mausoleum and bring the rose that was placed on the tomb that day. Matasalamat handed the rose to me and said it was her gift to me of the mulaquat.
Towards the end of the mulaquat, Matasalamat became overwhelmed with emotion. She said
” I am tired of life now, without your Imam. He is calling me “. I responded that the Jamat needs Matasalamat. In that moment, her mood brightened, and she led the way to the balcony where a feluca was waiting to take me to the other side of the River Nile. She waited and waived her hand in farewell until the feluca was out of sight. A defining moment and an unforgetable experience in my life.
Felucca owners earn a good living taking tourists to visit the Mausoleum of Sultan Mohamed Shah, the 48th. Imam , in the background is the Mausoleum. A felucca is a traditional wooden sailboat.
Local tribes people offering their handcrafted items for sale to visiting tourists and earn good money. The Mausoleum of Sultan Mohamed Shah is in the background.
The world heritage site of ABU SIMBEL, a 2 hour drive from Aswan, was in danger of vanishing due to sinking ground along River Nile, Prince Sadrudin Aga Khan made it his project to save the ancient heritage, and had it restored for future generations.
This was Matasalamat’s vision, project to improve the education of the people of Aswan, specifically the women, enabling them to be gainfully employed. With more females in the workforce, family income would increase leading to better living conditions, improved health, and a trend of ensuring their younger children remained in school. Matasalaamat introduced computer learning in Aswan funded by Om Habibah Foundation , with approval of Hazir Imam. The project was discussed in great details by Matasalamt with Shahalini Nizar at Villa Yakiamou at Cannes, France, when Matasalamat elaborated her vision and entrusted the project to Shahalini Nizar Harji from Vancouver.BC an educator with solid background in intercultural adult studies, to undertake the implementation. Naila Nizar, Shahalini’s sister and a college instructor in computer technology, was brought on-board as a curriculum developer. Shahalini to manage teaching and coordination in Aswan, Egypt, while Naila Nizar with a Vancouver-based technical team, to handle project support out of British Columbia. Om Habibeh Foundation funded the extension to the existing School of Languages in Aswan to establish Computer Lab. fully equipped with Microsoft computers , and class room. Hardware and software were shipped from British Columbia to Aswan, Egypt.
Female teachers in the School off Languages, Aswan were the first cohort to go through the computer training at the Om Habibah Computer Lab. This was a simplified yet rigorous four month course in the computer learning. This group and others that followed would be using computers for teaching in the class rooms. Shahalini worked with local men to put a basic IT maintenance team in place.
The project was very much appreciated and lauded by the local Govt. authorities in Aswan for Matasalamat’s concern for the well-being of the population of Aswan. This was widely published in media. Throughout the implementation phase, Hazir Imam was in regular communication wih Matasalamat.
After four months, Shahalini was given leave by Matasalamat to return to Vancouver and oversee the program moving forward from her home base and report to Matasalamat at Villa Yakiamour in Cannes, France.
Om Habibah computer lab is continuing to function after 25 years of its establishment and today women of Aswan are more empowered.
Shahalini arriving in Aswan for Matasalamat’s computer project. Shahalini standing behind Matasalamat. Seated on left of Matasalamat Nizar Harji who accompanied her to Aswan.
Crossing Riverr Nile, from town, enroute to Villa Noor-el-Salam, Aswan, Egypt. Ms. Jenin
personal secretary left, center Shahalini, on left of Shahalini is her father Nizar Harji.
Ms. Jenin and Shahalini crossing River Nile from Villa Noor-el-Salam to town.
Matasalamat taking evening Boat ride with Shahlini on River Nile, Aswan, Egypt.
Elementary school boys at th and girls at the School of Languages were eager to be photographed with Shahalini, lady from Vancouver,Canada at their school.
Students at the School of Languages eager to have photo with Shahalini Nizar.
Photo showing some of the trained Women teachers at the computer lab, with their instructor Shahalini Nizar.
A majestic serene view of River Nile, Villa Noor El Salaam in white and further up the Mausoleum.
A majestic Sun set view of the Villa and the Mausoleum
Near by the Mausoleum local tribesman offer camel rides to the visiting tourists and earn a good living.
Last farewell photo of Matasalamat with Shahalini at Villa Yakiamour, Cannes, France April, 1996, discussing progress of Om Habibah computer lab in Aswan. Matasalamat expressed satisfaction that it benefitted greatly the women of Aswan and that the computer lab is continuing to function after 25 years of its establishment. Four years later Matasalamat passed away peacefully.
Before Matasalamat passed away, In the be begining of year 2000, Om Habibah Foundation funded the awareness campaign in local media, lectures, radio and discussions in Aswan, Egypt on Covid.19 Virus and to follow rigorously WHO guidelines by the population for personal safety and security.
After passing away on JULY 01,2000 Matasalamat as per her wish was laid to rest next to the tomb of Sultan Mohamed Shah in Aswan , Egypt.
After passing away of Matasalamat, OM HABIBAH FOUNDATION was merged with AGAKHAN FOUNDATION.
ALL PHOTOS COPYRIGHT and owned by Shahalini Nizar.