Golden Jubilees

“In August, 1935, Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah completed 50 years of his spiritual leadership and the Ismailis decided to pay a memorable tribute to their Imam by weighing him against gold and making a present of it, as a mark of their love and gratitude. For this grand program, an All-India Golden Jubilee Celebration Committee had been formed, which was inaugurated by Lady Aly Shah on October 16, 1935 at Bombay. Sir Ibrahim Rehmatullah was elected its President and Ghulam Ali Merchant as the Vice-President. Its working committee assigned Pir Sabzali to generate necessary donations through out India. The funds raising campaign started on October 23, 1935 from Kathiawar. He succeeded to collect a sum of five lac rupees in India.

Bombay was the venue for the celebrations in India. Huge crowd in festive and solemn mood had gathered at Hasanabad to attend the unique occasion on January 19, 1936. When the Imam and Begum arrived at 10.35 a.m. to receive one of the most spectacular ovations from a crowd of over 30,000 Ismailis, every inch of space in the Hasanabad ground was taken up. The Imam took his seat on the gadi embroidered in gold with the coat of arms of his family. To his right sat his mother, Lady Aly Shah, and to his left sat the Begum.

Mr. Ghulam Ali Merchant, Vice-President of the All India Golden Jubilee Committee made his welcome speech, saying: “Most reverently and respectfully I request that Your Highness will allow yourself to be weighed in gold on this happy and auspicious occasion, and accept the gold so weighed a humble token of our love, devotion and gratitude to Your Highness for all the unbounded bounty and benefits that Your Highness’ followers have deriving during Your Highness’ Imamate for the last 50 years.”

The Imam rose from his gadi amidst great cheers and joy of the followers, and moved towards the weighing scale and took his seat on rich soft cushions placed for him. The weighing scale showed 3200 ounces of gold as his weight, valuing about 3,35,000 rupees.

Replying to the address, the Imam said: “I accept with great pleasure the gold my dear spiritual children have offered me and give them my loving and paternal spiritual blessings. I have decided to use the gold for the uplift of the spiritual children and appoint Mr. Ghulam Ali Merchant….to devise the best means of applying not only the income of this gold but the corpus also for intensive uplift work by way of all kinds of scholarships, relief by emigration from congested districts, infant welfare and other beneficial works.”

The next Golden Jubilee celebrations at Nairobi, Kenya on March 1, 1936 was also as grand as those in Bombay. Once again the gold was presented to the Imam by the followers as a token of love , and once more the Imam returned the gift for the welfare of the Ismaili community.