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Ritual and daily life : transmission and interpretation of the Ismaili tradition in Vancouver Dossa, Parin Aziz 1985

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RITUAL AND DAILY LIFE: TRANSMISSION AND INTERPRETATION OF THE ISMAILI TRADITION IN VANCOUVER. by PARIN AZIZ DOSSA B.A., Makerere University,1969 M.A., University Of Edinburgh,1971 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN THE REQUIREMENTS DOCTOR OF PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF FOR THE DEGREE OF PHILOSOPHY in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology We accept t h i s thesis as conforming to 'S/he required standard ^rmjMwRSiTY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA May,1983. © Parin Aziz Dossa, 1985 In presenting t h i s thesis i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the Library s h a l l make i t f r e e l y available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of t h i s thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. I t i s understood that copying or publication of t h i s thesis for f i n a n c i a l gain s h a l l not be allowed without my written permission. The University of B r i t i s h Columbia 1956 Main Mall Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Y3 DE-6 r^ /R'-n Abstract This dissertation explores, within a framework provided by t r a d i t i o n and change, how Ismailis i n Vancouver, primarily a r e l i g i o u s community, formerly localized and s p a t i a l l y concentrated i n East A f r i c a , have been affected by migration into a secular state where they are s p a t i a l l y dispersed. Ismaili t r a d i t i o n i s explicated through history and a recourse to documentary materials including the Qur*an, girians or compositions, firmans or guidances of the Imam ( s p i r i t u a l leader), and the r i t u a l s of the community. The chief feature of t r a d i t i o n may be i d e n t i f i e d as an overarching cosmology dichotomized as zahir and batin, glossed respectively as material ( m u l t i p l i c i t y and a c t i v i t y ) and s p i r i t u a l (unity and repose) i n s t r i c t complementarity, the parts of which are activated through a s p a t i a l and a temporal movement from and to e x t e r i o r i t y (zahir) and i n t e r i o r i t y (ba£in). Daily l i f e , family, k i n , community r i t u a l s and prayers at Jama*at Khana (place of assembly), and the firmans r e f l e c t the complementarities and mediate them. Change i s examined i n re l a t i o n to the same features as well as culinary practices which, as do the r i t u a l s , further reveal the complementarities between material and s p i r i t u a l and the ways i n which they are mediated. The changing roles and interrelationships of elders, men and women, and youth emphasize changes taking place. The major finding of the study i s that the t r a d i t i o n , which was a complex of s t r i c t complementarities, has now become compartmentalized, d i l u t i n g the force of the complementary relationship. This appears as a function of increased p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the "technical" time (confining s o c i a l relationships) of external public l i f e as opposed to the "core culture" time i i i (promoting s o c i a l relationships) of the inte r n a l home l i f e of families, and i n the attitudes of Ismailis who are accommodating to the larger society and are exclusive i n thei r community l i f e . In addition, women's entry i n the public labour force, and a growing separation between youth and adults as well as elders, have s i g n i f i c a n t l y affected community r i t u a l s , attendance i n Jamatat  Khana, and f a m i l i a l relationships. While i t might be thought that new sets^ of d i a l e c t i c s are being engaged, t h i s does not i n fact appear to be the case. Contraries and contradictions, which might have been thought to imply a d i a l e c t i c , remain as they were enforcing a further compartmentalization of l i f e choices. i v TABLE OF CONTENTS Chapter 1 The Question And The Setting. 1. Part I: Cosmology. Chapter 2 Substantive Features Of Israaili Cosmology. 35. Part I I : R i t u a l . Chapter 3 A r t i c u l a t i o n Of Enclosed Space In The 63. Jama tat Khana. Chapter 4 R i t u a l Performances: 'Structure And Communitas'. 93. Chapter 5 Ghat-pat: Formation And Activation Of A 131. Cognitive Model. Part I I I : Daily L i f e . Chapter 6 Food And Cosmos. 168. Chapter 7 Nurturing And Career Roles Of Women. 208. Chapter 8 Continuity And Change: L i f e Histories'Of 239. Is m a i l i Elders, Adults And Youth. Chapter 9 Conclusion. 279. Bibliography 289. Appendix: Fieldwork: Data And Methods 297. V LIST OF TABLES Table I. Jama 1at Khana Attendance - Individuals. 74 I I . Jama tat Khana Attendance - Families. 74 I I I . Background Information On Respondents. 117 IV. Dietary Habits Of I s m a i l i s . 225 V. Career Occupations of Women. 233 VI. Residential Patterns Of Ismailis In East A f r i c a 245 And Vancouver. VII. Major Characteristics Of Elderly Respondents. 252 VIII. T r aditional And Modern Attitudes And Practices. 259 IX. Attendance In Jama^t Khana. 260 X. Recreational A c t i v i t i e s - Adults And Children. 262 XI. Communal Involvement Of Young Adults. 271 XII. Major Characteristics Of Respondent Households. 300 LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS Diagrams: 2-1. Hierarchical Orders Formulated In The Works Of Is m a i l i Writers. 42 2-2. Man As A Microcosmic Being. 43 2- 3. Narrative On Creation: Man's Descent On Earth. 49 3- 4. L i f e Cycle Of An I s m a i l i Woman As Depicted In The A t t i r e . 68 3-5. Cognitive Model Of I s m a i l i World View As Represented 71 By The Family. 3-6. 'Journey' To Jama*at Khana. 78 3- 7. A r t i c u l a t i o n Of Enclosed Space In The Jama*"at Khana. 87 4- 8. Body Imagery As Encoded In The Ceremony Of Hay-Zinda, 96 Kayam Paya. 4-9. . Transformation Of Self Effected Through Verbal Exchange. 99 4-10. Ceremony Of Di/a Karawi - The Setting. 102 4-11. Ceremony Of Duca Karawi - Progressive Stages Of 103 Movement And Repose. 4-12. Verbal Communication In The Ceremony. 105 4-13. "Movement" Of Nandi. 114 4- 14. Cosmic Dimension - L i f e Cycle Of An Individual. 116 5- 15. Ceremony Of Gha^-Pat - The Setting. 133 5-16. Symbol Of White As Encoded In The L i f e Cycle Of 135 Individuals. 5-17. The Arrangement Of Ghat-pat. 142 5-18. Enactment Of A Primordial Event In The Ceremony Of 147 Ghat-Pat. 5-19. Body Imagery In The Ceremony Of Ghat-Pa^. 150 5- 20. Formation And Activation Of The Cognitive Model. 154 6- 21. Traditional I s m a i l i Menu. 171 6-22. Canadian/Traditional Menu. 172 v i i . 6-23. Types Of Light Foods As Included In The Traditional Menu. 184. 6-24. Geometrical Motifs In The Arrangement Of Ghat-Pat. 191. 6-25. Unleavened Bread As Mediator Of Light And Heavy Foods. 194. 6-26. The Culinary Triangle. 197. 6-27. P r i n c i p l e Of Contraries And Mediation As Represented In 199. The Methods Of Cooking. 6-28. Correlation Of Mealtimes With Material And S p i r i t u a l 204. Worlds. 6- 29. Cognitive Framework Perceived In R i t u a l And The 206. Culinary System. 7- 30. Compartmentalization Between The Traditional L i f e Of 236. Women And Work. 8- 31. Model Of I s m a i l i Cosmos: 'Journey Of Man'. 248. 8-32. Perception Of Canadian L i f e : Elders, Adults, Youth. 274. v i i i Acknowledgements The f i e l d research on which t h i s thesis i s based was carried out i n Vancouver i n the year 1982-1983. My greatest debts are to the Ismailis of Vancouver who were both gracious and generous i n welcoming me to the i r homes. I should l i k e them to know that I appreciate t h e i r kindness, patience and understanding shown to me while I was i n the f i e l d . In p a r t i c u l a r I would l i k e to mention the contributions of S u l t a n a l i Nazarali and Amirali Amlani for t h e i r assistance i n providing l i t e r a r y materials and sharing with me t h e i r views on the r i t u a l t r a d i t i o n of the I s m a i l i s . I would l i k e to express my thanks to my supervisor, Professor Kenelm Burridge whose work and thought have influenced my thinking. Professor Burridge's contributions are absorbed i n t o the general discourse and I acknowledge with gratitude his help and support. I have also gained from the encouragement and i n t e l l e c t u a l insights of other scholars notably, Professor C y r i l Belshaw, Professor Hanna Kassis and Professor Brenda Beck. I have benefited also from the discussions with my colleague Dr. Pamela Peck. F i n a l l y , without the continual support and i n s p i r a t i o n of my husband Aziz, our children Fahreen and Zahwil, and my parents, t h i s work would not have come to f r u i t i o n ; , ix Glossary Terms not included are those which appear but once and the meanings of which have been defined i n the text. ab-i shafa barakat A Persian term used for the r i t u a l of the drinking of "sacred water", also known as ghat-pat (q.v.). Blessing sent to man by God. Among Ismailis the Imam (q.v.) i s endowed with barakat which can be transmitted to his followers. batin d l ' i da 4wah du la du a karawi firman ghat-pat ginan Hay Zinda, Kayam paya Inner or esoteric meaning behind that of the l i t e r a l word. Opposite of zahir (q.v.). "One who summons". Among Is m a i l i s , one who propagates the f a i t h . The i n s t i t u t i o n charged with preaching and propagating the I s m a i l i cause. Daily r i t u a l prayer. Ritual ceremony performed inside the Jama *at Khana (q.v.) prior to or soon after congregational prayers. Directive issued only by the Imam. A Sanskrit term used for the Ism a i l i r i t u a l of the drinking of "sacred water". In Persian, the r i t u a l i s referred to as ab-i shafa (q.v.). Meditative or contemplative knowledge, re f e r r i n g to the l i t e r a r y corpus of the compositions attributed to the pirs (q.v.). Ritual ceremony performed at the threshold of the Jamatat Khana (q.v.). Imam Jama at Khana Used exclusively by Is m a i l i s , to denote the descendants of A l i , the f i r s t Imam, son in-law and cousin of the Prophet. The term connotes the idea of a s p i r i t u a l leader who i s present at a l l times. Place of congregation, the center of communal, re l i g i o u s and s o c i a l a c t i v i t y ; "mosque" i n the Ism a i l i sense. X Kamadiyah Kamadiyani kumbh Mukhi Mukhyani nandi  niya niyaz  riur pat roshni  s a r i suf i  S hiSi taqiya tawhid  ta ' w i l zahir L i t e r a l l y "treasurer"; assistant of the Mukhi (q.v.). Female assistant of Mukhyani (q.v.). Vessel used i n the ceremony of ghat-pat (q.v.). Male leader appointed to conduct prayers and r i t u a l ceremonies i n the Jama cat Khana. Female (usually the wife of Mukhi [q.v.]) who conducts ceremonies which require individual female part i c i p a t i o n i n the Jama*at Khina (q.v.) Food offerings taken to Jama lat Khana (q.v.) "Intention" r e f e r r i n g to the beginning of r e l i g i o u s acts. "Sacred water". Light connoting the notion of the Divine; the term i s given central significance i n Ism a i l i thought. Low rectangular table placed i n Jairia^t Khana (q.v.) for the purpose of r i t u a l ceremonies. Meaning 'elder'; among Ismailis the term i s used for the da^is (q.v.) who propagated the Ismaili cause on the Subcontinent. Gujerati term connoting illumination. Female a t t i r e (Indian or i g i n ) covering head/shoulders to feet. Mystic. The branch of Muslims who acknowledge A l i and his descendants as s p i r i t u a l leaders (Imams q.v.) of the community. The practice of concealing one's b e l i e f s for exigent reasons. "To declare that God i s One". A l l e g o r i c a l interpretations of re l i g i o u s doctrines primarily connected with the function of the Imam (q.v.). The external l i t e r a l sense applied to revelation. Opposite of batin (q.v.). xi. Transliteration The t r a n s l i t e r a t i o n used i s that of The Library Of Congress for Gujerati. This system was chosen because i t corresponds closely with the spoken Gujerati used by the Ismailis i n Vancouver. ka % ta • 1 da s ya M kha «T tha • s dha * 2, ra A ga 0\ da « s na l a Oi gha «l dha ta n l a € on ca na 9 tha va <\ cha pa da £ sa a.\ j a pha dha sha M jha ba na sa ta ^ bha ha tha I ma Vowels And Diphthongs a 3* e 2M a Vu a i *. On i <6 o **-i tf au u 6 u (51 Notes. 1. Terms which have become part of the English language are rendered as they appear i n English, (for example: Ismaili for I s m a f i l i ) . 2. Terms which appear i n Arabic or Persian have followed the t r a n s l i t e r a t i o n scheme of the Library of Congress. X Chapter 1 The Question And The Setting The Question Defined This dissertation considers t r a d i t i o n and change among Ismailis i n Vancouver. The Ismailis are Shi'a-Muslims and form a minority group i n the twenty-five countries where they reside. Over the l a s t f i f t e e n years, about nine thousand Ismailis have settled i n the greater Vancouver area, mainly from East A f r i c a . Given t h i s background, the main question i s : How i s a re l i g i o u s community, here the Is m a i l i s , formerly l o c a l i z e d and s p a t i a l l y concentrated, affected by migration to a secular Western state? In i t s most elementary sense, t r a d i t i o n i s 'anything which i s transmitted or handed down from the past to the present' ( S h i l s 1981:12). The key word here i s transmission defined i n terms of a 'two fold h i s t o r i c i t y ' : the transmission and sedimentation of t r a d i t i o n and the interpretation of tr a d i t i o n (Ricoeur 1978:27).* Understood i n t h i s way, change forms part of a process of a dynamic interplay between transmission and interpretation. The temporalities of transmission and interpretation provide the setting for a broader inquiry concerning space and time. The categories of space and 2 time are interrelated as time i s perceived as events i n space. I t has been recognized that space and time form important and powerful modes of communication i n a l l cultures. The seminal anthropological studies of Evans-Pritchard (1940) and Edward H a l l (1959,1966,1976,1983) provide us with useful insights into the way i n which time, as the 'hidden c u l t u r a l grammer' 2 (Hall 1983:6), i s organized d i f f e r e n t l y i n each culture. Ernst Cassirer writes: Space and time are the framework i n which a l l r e a l i t y i s concerned. We cannot conceive any r e a l thing except under the conditions of space and time. Nothing i n the world, according to Heraclitus, can exceed i t s measures-and these measures are sp a t i a l and temporal l i m i t a t i o n s . In mythical thought space and time are never considered as pure and empty forms. They are regarded as the great mysterious forces which govern a l l things, which rule and determine not only our mortal l i f e but also the l i f e of the gods. To describe and analyse the s p e c i f i c character which space and time assume i n human experience i s one of the most appealing and important tasks of an anthropological philosophy we must analyse the forms of human culture i n order to discover the true character of space and time i n our human world (1978:42). In each culture the s p a t i a l and temporal experience i s organized i n terms of types. H a l l distinguishes three types of time: formal, informal (core culture) and technical out of which one type always dominates (1959:66). Formal time i s the common knowledge shared by members of a culture and i s well worked into daily l i f e . Informal time relates to s i t u a t i o n a l or imprecise references where the pr i n c i p a l model used i s that of imitation. Informal (core culture) time provides the basis for the transmission of an entire system of behaviour, and i s made up of 'hundreds and thousands of d e t a i l s ' which are passed on from generation to generation and i s the foundation on which interpersonal relations rest. Technical time i s e x p l i c i t , concentrated and requires control (1982:177). In t h i s context, change i s an interplay of a relationship between the three types of time. Therefore, 'the theory of the nature of these relationships i s a theory of change' (ibid:87). Cassirer on the other hand focuses on symbolic space which i s unique to man as i t leads 'not only to a new f i e l d of knowledge but to an en t i r e l y new direction of his c u l t u r a l l i f e ' (1978:43). According to Cassirer i t i s only through symbolic space that man could arrive at a concept of a cosmic order. Within t h i s 3 space, time i s a process involving a continuous stream of events. I m p l i c i t i n t h i s framework i s the idea of time as a creative and continuous process whereby man does not only repeat h i s past experience but also reconstructs and organizes t h i s experience. Both H a l l ' s and Cassirer's conceptions of time and space point to the importance of dynamism whereby time and space are not conceived as immutable constants but as 'a c l u s t e r of concepts, events, and rhythms covering an extremely wide range of phenomena' ( H a l l 1983:13). Evans-Pritchard i n h i s account of Nuer shows how categories of time and space are derived from the rhythm of s o c i a l l i f e (1940:94-138). Time and space as an interplay of relationshps (concepts, events, symbols, formal, informal, technical) can provide useful i n s i g h t s into the study of change and minority communities. For example, Geertz, i n h i s study of r i t u a l and s o c i a l change among the Javanese, distinguishes between culture and s o c i a l system, e x p l i c a t i n g that culture i s an ordered system of meaning and of symbols i n terms of which s o c i a l i n t e r a c t i o n takes place; s o c i a l system i s the pattern of s o c i a l i n t e r a c t i o n i t s e l f (1973:144). Geertz shows, through the example of a disrupted funeral, that s o c i a l change can lead to an incongruity, r e s u l t i n g from the persistence of a r e l i g i o u s symbol system, adjusted to peasant s o c i a l structure, i n an otherwise urban environment (ibid:169). An equally promising approach would be to study the disrupted funeral as an interplay of time and space i n the ' r e l i g i o u s symbol system' and i n the emergent urban environment. Fredrik Barth, i n h i s work on: "Ethnic Groups And Boundaries" (1969:9-38), contends that the persistence of ethnic boundaries i s a function of s o c i a l processes of exclusion as well as incorporation. While emphasising the concept of boundary maintenance, Barth advocates a dynamic approach 4 whereby the boundaries need to be expressed and validated continually. This situation i s necessitated by the fact that ethnic groups enter into situations of s o c i a l contact with the persons of other cultures. In t h i s respect, ethnic groups structure t h e i r interaction, leading to an interplay of prescriptions, that promote contact i n some sectors of a c t i v i t y , and proscriptions, preventing inter-ethnic interaction i n other sectors (ibid:16). The structuring of interaction at two l e v e l s : prescription and proscription can be studied through the perspective of how ethnic groups organize time and space i n two contexts: inter-ethnic situations and intra-ethnic interactions. The space-time approach can y i e l d further insights into the process of boundary maintenance. The application of the space-time approach to the study of dynamic and even opposing forces i s also advocated i n other studies. For example, David Pocock (1967:303-314) shows opposed notions present i n the Indian theory of time reckoning. In the case of the Patidar, a choice i s made between what appears to be contradictory notions: conceptual time-reckoning which i s fixed, 'repetitive eternal', and related to the order of the caste, and the individual experiences where time changes, i s p a r t i c u l a r , and related to the doctrine of bhakti. Here, we have an example of a society where time i s given a complicated recognition within the framework of opposition. Eickelman (1977:39-56), c i t i n g the example of a Moroccan society, advocates a dynamic approach, showing how the relationship between the Bni Battu (a t r i b e ) and urban Moroccans can be perceived on the basis of alternative temporal conceptions: l o c a l s o c i a l order and ideas. Locally, time i s conceived as events i n terms of sequences of i r r e g u l a r , ' i s l a n d - l i k e ' concrete experiences; conceptually, time i s anchored within a framework of the past, the present and the future. The conceptual order of time enables the Bni Battu to relate to the larger Moroccan society. In an i n c i s i v e account on the ethnography of acculturation among the Fang culture of Gabon, Fernandez shows how, i n response to missionary C h r i s t i a n i t y , the Bwiti r e l i g i o n emerges as an achievement of 'a tying together, a time binding of old and new' (1982:568). Among other areas, Fernandez focuses on ideas of time and space (ibid:74-124; 345-410). Fernandez contends that Bwiti r e l i g i o n i s an accomplishment of coherence, a "oneheartedness" which, among others, i s a function of the li n k i n g of s p a t i a l experiences: the physiological, the natural, the s o c i a l , and the cosmic and also of temporal experiences: archetypal thought, and archetypal events or personages of the past, manifesting themselves i n the present and expectantly i n the future (ibid:571). Given the importance of s p a t i a l and temporal categories to the study of t r a d i t i o n and change (acculturation), I have focused on the Is m a i l i community in Vancouver because: (a) The Ismailis form an immigrant community where the process of transmission ( t r a d i t i o n ) and interpretation (change) can be observed more poignantly. (b) Various studies of Ism a i l i t r a d i t i o n and history have l a i d great 4 emphasis on the structural and c u l t u r a l aspects of community l i f e . The idea that i n d i v i d u a l Ismailis relate to s p e c i f i c forms of th e i r t r a d i t i o n and thereby generate a process of flow and feedback between a given s t r u c t u r a l system and i t ' s subjective understanding has not been explored to date. Of special importance would be the incorporation of new elements from the host society, concerning the everyday l i f e of the Is m a i l i s . 6 The Ismailis have a history of migration for over a thousand years, extending well into the twentieth century. The acculturative experience of the Ismailis has included heights of grandeur (Fatimid times) as well as abyss of hardship and persecution (post Alamut period). Given t h i s experience, the question which confronts me i s : how does a r e l i g i o u s community deal with and i s affected by migration into a secular state? In t h i s study, I am not concerned with a problem or a hypothesis but an explication of the above question. Given the fact that the process of secularization has had a universal impact, t h i s question has a broader significance i n r e l a t i o n to the way i n which a t r a d i t i o n i s transmitted and interpreted. Among Ismailis notions of space and time are articulated through two categories: material and s p i r i t u a l . Temporally, material i s associated with daytime. During t h i s time, Ismailis experience a form of l i f e which en t a i l s m u l t i p l i c i t y and a c t i v i t y . By contrast, the s p i r i t u a l i s associated with dawn and dusk and t h i s mode of l i f e i s defined i n terms of unity and repose. The demarcation between the two categories i s reflected s p a t i a l l y . Jama^at Khana (place of congregation) and i t s concomitant, the community, express attributes of s p i r i t u a l l i f e . Family, kin and the outside world evoke attributes of material l i f e . As I s h a l l show i n t h i s study, the categories of material and s p i r i t u a l contain an ambiguity. The material and s p i r i t u a l are diametrically opposed; yet they cannot operate i n i s o l a t i o n as each category i s energized i n the presence of i t s opposite. The q u a l i t i e s of unity and repose as embodied by the s p i r i t u a l has meaning i n r e l a t i o n to the m u l t i p l i c i t y and a c t i v i t y of material l i f e . The opposed but inte r r e l a t e d categories of material and s p i r i t u a l are formally mediated i n r i t u a l and culinary practice. However, I show i n t h i s study that the process of mediation i s a function of a s p a t i a l and a temporal movement from the s p i r i t u a l to the material, generating a 7 complementary relationship between these two categories. Among Ism a i l i s , space and time are experienced as an interplay of two opposing but interrelated forms: the material and the s p i r i t u a l . This interplay brings into r e l i e f the way i n which a t r a d i t i o n i s transmitted and interpreted. In t h i s study, I show that the transmission and interpretation of the I s m a i l i t r a d i t i o n can be appreciated through formal expressions ( r i t u a l , culinary practice) i n which i t i s embodied and through c u l t u r a l constructions (everyday l i f e situations) where i t i s interpreted. While I recognize the important impact of the Western environment on the Ismailis i n Vancouver, t h i s study has i t s centre of gravity i n the I s m a i l i t r a d i t i o n i t s e l f . The continuity of t h i s t r a d i t i o n and i t s reinterpretation i s the main emphasis of my analysis. With the advent of the twentieth century, the Ismailis were introduced into what i s referred to as the 'modern period' of t h e i r history. Under the dir e c t i v e of t h e i r s p i r i t u a l leader (the Imam), a number of changes were introduced i n the economic, administrative, educational and s o c i a l spheres. I t was the e x p l i c i t purpose of the Imam that while these changes were geared towards making the community modern ('progressive'), the l a t t e r was to be accomplished within the principles of Islam. Given the interplay between formal expressions ( r i t u a l ) and t h e i r informal forms (daily l i f e ) , i n d i v i d u a l Ismailis are engaged i n 'working out' the implications of these changes i n s p e c i f i c s i t u a t i o n s . I t i s important to note that the Ismailis l i v i n g i n Western countries find themselves i n the domain of the culture to which they were exposed more s e l e c t i v e l y , and 'at a distance', i n t h e i r o r i g i n a l homeland i n East A f r i c a . In Canada, the process of exposure to the West i s l i k e l y to be far more pervasive, especially when the exclusive nature of the community 8 i s considerably diluted as a greater number of Ismailis (including women) are exposed to the larger society i n the form of work situations, school and recreational a c t i v i t i e s . I examine the implications of t h i s encounter i n terms of t r a d i t i o n and change. In the l i g h t of the above remarks, I have organized my data as follows: The study begins with an outline of the substantive features of Ism a i l i cosmology (chapter 2). Here, the categories of material and s p i r i t u a l are fundamental and th e i r pervasive presence i n the speculative thought, affective content and l i v e s of individual I s m a i l i s establishes a framework for the study of r i t u a l and daily l i f e . Part I I proceeds to discuss the r i t u a l t r a d i t i o n i n which these categories are invoked. The analysis of the enclosed space i n the Jama^at Khana (chapter 3) reveals a form of s p a t i a l integration achieved through an embodiment of meanings from various contexts: d o c t r i n a l , cosmic, and s o c i a l . In chapter 4, I show that s p a t i a l integration acquires meaning i n so far as the enclosed space of the Jama *• at Khana points d i r e c t l y to the space symbolized by the hearts of the participants as they occupy the 'empty space'. The analysis of three r i t u a l ceremonies image a cognitive model whereby a movement, from the outward material world of a c t i v i t y and m u l t i p l i c i t y into the inward s p i r i t u a l world of repose and unity, i s traced through body imagery. An analysis of another ceremony (ghat-pat), i n chapter 5, reaffirms t h i s movement through the e x p l i c i t symbol of the heart. In addition, t h i s ceremony also reveals the importance of r e l a t i n g the s p i r i t u a l awareness of unity and repose to the material world of a c t i v i t y . When the participants leave Jama tat Khana, they undergo a temporal and a s p a t i a l transference. In their everyday l i v e s , the Ismailis experience space and time through an outward movement, engendering a network of s o c i a l relationships. 9 Part I I I commences with the daily l i f e of the I s m a i l i s . Here, time and space are also organized i n r e l a t i o n to material and s p i r i t u a l categories. The relationship between the two categories i s depicted i n the culinary practice (chapter 6) where I show how cooking effects a transformation, affirming the presence of the s p i r i t u a l i n an otherwise material context. Chapter 7 explicates the s p a t i a l position of women i n the domestic sphere where, i n t h e i r roles as wives and mothers, they embody q u a l i t i e s which are akin to s p i r i t u a l l i f e . The i n t e r n a l (kitchen) a c t i v i t y of women leads to the creation of open space as among Ismailis cooking i s an expression of c u l t i v a t i o n of t i e s with the outside world. The chapter continues to discuss the implications of the career and occupational roles assumed by Is m a i l i women, showing that, i n actual f a c t , women have undergone a s p a t i a l and a temporal transference as they move from an inward space of the home to that of the outward space i n the larger society. The diametrical opposition of these spaces has led to a process of compartmentalization. I continue to explore t h i s theme i n chapter 8 i n r e l a t i o n to l i f e cycles of individuals, which also include the cognitive model of the material and the s p i r i t u a l . The elders, the adults and the youth also experience s p a t i a l and temporal incongruities i n different contexts, highlighting an i n t e r n a l compartmentalization. The ramifications of the two forms of compartmentalizations, the external and the i n t e r n a l , are examined i n the concluding chapter i n r e l a t i o n to time and space i n two contexts: the t r a d i t i o n a l and the emergent. 10 The Setting ( i ) I s m a i l i History The history of the Ismailis (a Shl ca sect) i s best understood through the role of the Imam (the community's s p i r i t u a l leader). As the Shi'as explain i t , the Imam i s a possessor of a special sum of knowledge of r e l i g i o n ( film) which includes both the exoteric and the esoteric meanings of the Qur'an ( J a f r i 1979:289-312). The interplay of these two p o l a r i t i e s , translated as zSher (outer) and batin (inner) have been c r i t i c a l i n the development of Isma i l i history and doctrine. Below, I give an outline, i n chronological form, of the h i s t o r i c a l background of the Ismailis i n Vancouver and their doctrine. This section highlights the t r a d i t i o n of the Imam who encapsulates the complementarity between the zaher and the batin and provides the background for understanding the emergent process of compartmentalization observable among Ismailis i n Vancouver. The Ismailis i n common with other Shi ca groups maintain that the Prophet's son in-law A l i and his descendants occupied the o f f i c e of the Imam who i s both leader of the f a i t h f u l and s p i r i t u a l chief of the devout. The sub-divisions among the Shi^a have resulted over disputes concerning the r i g h t f u l successor of the Imam. The Ismailis are the only Shi ca sect who believe that the presence of the Imam i s necessary at a l l times. The present Imam of the Ismailis i s Aga Khan IV - Shah Karim al-Husseini. (a) Early Ismailism Two important developments i n the history of the Shi *a movement took place during the time of Imam Ja*far al-Sadiq, who died around 765. F i r s t , Imam Ja*far al-Sadiq considerably influenced the c r y s t a l l i z a t i o n of ShiSt thought and that of mystical interpretation of Islam. Secondly, after the death of the Imam a s p l i t occurred over the issue of succession. Imam Ja*far al-Sadiq had designated his elder son Ismail to be his successor: Thus Ismail became the gate to God, His praying niche, the Abode of His Light, and the l i n k between Him and His creations, the Lieutenant of God on earth. (Ivanow t r . 1942:275). However, a body of the Imam's followers believed that Ismail predeceased his father or that his appointment had been revoked i n favour of MusS" al-Kazim, Ismail's younger brother, whom they accepted as Imam. This group came to be known as Ithna ^Asharites. The l a t t e r continued to give allegiance to fi v e more Imams after Musa and believe that t h e i r l a s t (twelfth) Imam went into hiding (ghayba) and w i l l reappear one day. Others who paid allegiance to the elder son, Ismail came to be known as I s m a i l i s . One of the notable features of the Is m a i l i movement during t h i s period was the creation of an organizational network which came to be known as the dacwah (summons). In a rel i g i o u s sense, daStrah i s the summons of the Prophets to the people to believe i n the true r e l i g i o n , Islam (Canard 1965:11:168). Among Ismailis da cwah achieved special significance both i n the complexity of i t s organization as well as i n the spread of the f a i t h . By the end of the ninth century, the daSrah had emerged as a hi e r a r c h i c a l organization arranged i n a ranked order, the head being referred to as d a c i al-du*at , 'chief 12 missionary' (Ivanow 1935:37-52). Various o f f i c i a l s within the daSrah worked i n different geographical d i v i s i o n s known as j a z a 3 i r . An indiv i d u a l agent of the da^wah was referred to as the da*i . From the works of Qadi al-NuSnan ( I s m a i l i writer and j u r i s t - d. 974), and an Ism a i l i t r e a t i s e ( t r . W. Ivanow 1933), we learn that a da^i was subjected to vigorous t r a i n i n g and d i s c i p l i n e . He was expected to master the i n t e l l e c t u a l sciences of the day and show a keen interest i n rhetoric and diplomacy. These s k i l l s together with a keen s e n s i b i l i t y towards s p i r i t u a l l i f e were considered to be the mark of an idea l d a c i . Thus equipped, the daH won converts to the Ism a i l i cause and spread the f a i t h to other areas l i k e Yamen, al-Kufa, Khurasan, Transoxiana, Sind and North A f r i c a . (b) The Fatimid Empire The p o l i t i c o - r e l i g i o u s goal of the da^is achieved f r u i t i o n i n the establishment of the Ism a i l i Fatimid state i n the tenth century, with i t s centre i n Cairo, Egypt. The dynasty of the Imams who ruled over the Empire for over two centuries extended i t s authority to the southern Mediterranean, (namely, Crete, Corsica, Malta and S i c i l y ) , the Levant, Hijaz and Sindh with scattered centres on the Iranian plateau. I t was i n t h i s period that the Ismailis established a p o l i t y with court administration and m i l i t a r y command, and a r e l i g i o u s hierarchy comprising Islamic jurisprudence and an esoteric order. There are several features of the Fatimid period which had a l a s t i n g effect on the formation of a d i s t i n c t i v e l y I s m a i l i t r a d i t i o n . I t was a period when the Ismailis synthesized the i r doctrine, established a form of p o l i t i c a l organization and proselytized the i r b e l i e f s . A l l of these strands converged 13 i n the role of the Imam, who stood for p o l i t i c a l and j u r i d i c a l authority on the one hand and esoteric knowledge on the other. In other words, the Imam's role was conceived as mediating between s o c i a l and cosmological orders. In the zahir he was the guardian of Shari cah (Islamic law). In the batin he was the means for achieving gnostic r e a l i z a t i o n . The upsurge of i n t e l l e c t u a l a c t i v i t y during the Fatimid period led to the composition of numerous works. Of special interest for our purposes i s the development of a conceptual framework whereby the daSrah with i t s hierarchical structure was anchored i n a cosmic order, with the Imam at the apex. The one underlying p r i n c i p l e which governed the cosmic order, with a l l i t s correspondences i n the a s t r a l as well as t e r r e s t r i a l world, was that the chain of hierarchies existed as part of a single i n d i v i s i b l e process. 'The m u l t i p l i c i t y of a l l existent things had meaning only i n as much as i t formed an in t e g r a l part of the whole system '(Nanji 1978:106-7). Among the ranks and the r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s worked out for each member of the elaborate hierarchy, those of the rasul (Prophet), the Wasi ( s p i r i t u a l successor) and the Imam are of special significance. The idea which was formulated and given importance was that the Ismailis have two modes of l i f e : the batin and the zahir translated as s p i r i t u a l and material respectively. This duality informs the l i f e and thought of the Ismailis today. The other major development of the Fatimid period were the two bifurcations that took place over the issue of succession. The f i r s t of these resulted i n the formation of the Druze movement which occurred immediately after the reign of Imam al-Hakim (d.1021). Hamza, the leader of the movement, declared Imam al-Hakim as physical manifestation of God, and he and his 14-adherents broke away from the Fatimid I s m a i l i s . Today, the movement has survived largely i n the mountains of the Levant. The second s p l i t occurred over the succession to the Imamat following the death of Imam Mustansir b ' i l l a h i n 1094. Following the Imam's death and the r i v a l claims to the o f f i c e of the Imamat of his two sons, the Syrian and Iranian section of the Empire followed the elder son Nizar, while the Egyptian, Yemeni and Sindhi areas followed the younger son Musta'li. The Musta'liyans transferred the center of the datwah to Yemen and then to India. The N i z a r i Ismailis moved to Iran where the fortress of Alamut became thei r p r i n c i p a l center. 25 (c) The Ismailis Of Alamut The N i z a r i Ismaili movement entered a phase of increased vigor i n Persia. Here, the Ismailis established a p o l i t y (1090-1256) consisting of a widely dispersed series of f o r t s with a focal point at Alamut, i n the d i s t r i c t of Rudbar i n the Alburz mountains. Medieval historians mention a number of forty to f i f t y f o r t s (Ivanow 1938b:383). The state did not have an independent economic base, unlike the Fatimids who had agrarian wealth and seafaring trade (Hodgson 1974:22), and functioned i n the face of the overwhelming m i l i t a r y strength of the Saljuq government. The persistence of the I s m a i l i p o l i t y i s attributed to the internal cohesiveness and d i s c i p l i n e of the I s m a i l i settlements so that i f one particular center or fortress happened to succumb to h o s t i l e attack, i t s inhabitants could expect to be absorbed into any of the other remaining strongholds controlled by the Nizaris (Esmail & Nanji 1977:248). The person who played a v i t a l role i n establishing and consolidating the I s m a i l i power i n Alamut was Hasan-i-Sabbah (d.1124). Hasan-i-Sabbah was already a member of the da*wah when he took over the fortress of Alamut i n 1090. In the absence of the Imam, Hasan became the supreme chief occupying the rank of hujja (representative of the Imam). According to I s m a i l i sources, Hasan brought the Imam secretely to Alamut (ibid:248). Hasan-i- Sabbah occupies a legendary figure i n the annals of I s m a i l i history and his l i f e history i s often cited by Ismailis today to invoke a model of an i d e a l da^i personifying the q u a l i t i e s of dedication, s a c r i f i c e and d i s c i p l i n e i n promoting the I s m a i l i cause. 16 Emphasis and extension of certain elements i n the doctrine of Imamat further invigorated the dispersed I s m a i l i settlements. Key elements which received emphasis were the prin c i p l e of t a l i m (authoritative teaching of the Imam) and qiyama, proclamation of the bgtin given by Imam Hasan i a l a d h i k r i h i al-salam i n 1164. By claiming the 'dawn of resurrection', the Imam abolished the exoteric elements of r e l i g i o n , containing outward acts of devotion. As the Ismailis understand i t , qiyama emphasised the inward meaning of r e a l i t y , 'a purely s p i r i t u a l l i f e of inward state of the soul' (Hodgson 1968:459). The concentration on the esoteric paved the way for the convergence of Ismailism and sufism. Consequently, after the destruction of Alamut by the Mongols i n 1256, Ismailism survived i n Persia i n the form of sufism. Corbin suggests that sufism and Ismailism became indistinguishable (1975:530). (d) The Post-Alamut Period Very l i t t l e information i s available on the history of the Ismailis for the f i r s t f i v e centuries, following the destruction of the Is m a i l i p o l i t y i n Persia. The t r a d i t i o n of the N i z a r i Ismailis presents an uninterrupted succession of Imams i n different parts of Persia among which Azarbayjan and Anjudan were the main centers. In 1937, Ivanow discovered, i n the v i l l a g e of Anjudan, the tombs of Imam al-Mustansir I I and Imam al-Mustansir I I I (1938a:52-55). Throughout t h i s period (thirteenth to seventeenth centuries), e f f o r t s i n proselytization of the I s m a i l i f a i t h continued. Of special significance were the events of the fourteenth century when Ism a i l i da^is_ (Pi r s ) from Persia arrived i n north-west India and won converts from the middle and lower castes. The Is m a i l i community i n India maintained communications with the Imam i n Persia. Some Ismailis undertook long journeys 11 overland to Persia 'in order to meet the Imam, pay him homage and receive his blessings' (Esmail & Nanji 1977:253). In the eighteenth century, the Imams participated i n the p o l i t i c a l l i f e of Iran. Imam Abul Hasan Shah and Imam Hasan A l i Shah occupied the governorship of the c i t y of Kirman. The Iranian period of the Imamat came to an end when Imam Hasan ' A l i Shah migrated to India and settled i n Bombay i n 1848. This move was a result of r i v a l r i e s and intrigues i n the Qajar court of the Shah (Algar 1969:55-81). The headquarters of the Imam was now transferred to India. (e) The da*wah In India The growth of Israailism i n India was the work of the da cwah which was already under way during the Fatimid times. The ef f o r t s of the da*vah were in t e n s i f i e d under N i z a r i I s m a i l i s ; one of the e a r l i e s t d a t i s to have come to India from Alamut was Nur Satagur, shortly before 1166 ( H o l l i s t e r 1953:351). He was followed by other da^is among whom the most i n f l u e n t i a l one was Sadr a l din (d.1470). Sadr a l din was instrumental i n winning over the Lohana caste (Sind, Kashmir and the Punjab) to the I s m a i l i f a i t h . The converts received the t i t l e of Khwaja (meaning Lord) from which the name khoja"has been derived. P i r Sadr a l din was appointed the head of the khoja community i n 1430 and he introduced the f i r s t Jama^at Khana (place of assembly) at K o t r i , Sind (Nanji 1978:74). The work of the daSrah i n the Indian subcontinent continued for nearly two hundred years. The daSrah carried out by the P i r s was embodied i n devotional l i t e r a t u r e called the ginans, defined as contemplative or meditative knowledge. I t i s interesting to note the pattern of conversion which can be i d e n t i f i e d from the ginahs. Through the narratives i n the 18 ginans, Nanji gives the following account of the a c t i v i t i e s of the da i s (1978:55-56): ( i ) Anonymous a r r i v a l to a well-known center of r e l i g i o u s a c t i v i t y . ( i i ) Performance of a miracle to draw the attention of the r u l e r of the place, and winning over a d i s c i p l e . ( i i i ) Confrontation with a l o c a l saint. (i v ) Establishment of the d a c i ' s supremacy over the saint. (v) Consequent conversion. (vi) Departure. The content of the preaching 'seized upon Hindu motifs and myths and transformed these into narratives r e f l e c t i n g the dawa*h's preaching' (ibid:101). Although the converts were led to a new way of l i f e (Ismailism), thei r indigenous practices and conceptual framework continued to p r e v a i l . This i s attested by the fact that when the Ismailis migrated to East A f r i c a i n the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, they had maintained A s i a t i c practices. They (the Ismailis) arrived there (East Africa) with A s i a t i c habits and A s i a t i c patterns of existence, but they encountered a society i n process of development which i s , i f anything, Euro-African. To have retained an A s i a t i c outlook i n matters of language, habit and clothing would have been for them a complication and i n society an archaic dead weight for the A f r i c a of the future. (Aga Khan I I I 1954:30). There were two d i s t i n c t but simultaneous processes which governed the growth and development of the I s m a i l i community i n East A f r i c a : modernization (adaptation to a Euro-colonial form of l i f e ) and gradual but d e f i n i t e disassociation with the " A s i a t i c " mode of l i f e accompanied by greater i d e n t i f i c a t i o n with Islam. 19 (f) The Modern Period It would be beyond the scope of t h i s introductory chapter to discuss the complex process of transformation involved i n a change of milieu from an Indian environment to that of the Euro-African. A brief mention of the formation of the Ism a i l i constitution and r i t u a l s w i l l give us some insights into the process of transformation effected by the settlement of the Ismailis i n East A f r i c a . The Ismailis of East A f r i c a received t h e i r f i r s t constitution i n 1905 which set into motion a 'programme of constructing a community with a highly individual and dynamic i d e n t i t y . . . . ' (Nanji 1974:127). As the community grew i n numbers due mainly to economic growth i n the i n t e r i o r , a new constitution was issued i n 1926 which made provision for the establishment of provincial councils i n accordance with the three East African t e r r i t o r i e s : Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika. Over the years, the constitution was restructured to create what eventually became a close-knit and highly organized administrative system. The purpose of the system was to meet the needs of the Ismailis i n many sectors of l i f e ranging from health, education, and finance to personal matters l i k e marriage and inheritance. Two points established i n the constitution are: ' . . . . f i r s t , that the Rules of Conduct have been conceived within the " s p i r i t of Islam", and second that "nothing therein contained s h a l l affect the Absolute Power and Sole Authority of Mowlana Hazar Imam to a l t e r , amend, modify, vary, or annul at any time, or to grant dispensation from the Constitution or any part t h e r e o f " (ibid:131). 20 The administrative structure of the constitution (revised i n 1962) i s as follows: (a) P r o v i n c i a l Councils administering l o c a l a f f a i r s organized under committees: economics, sports, women's, welfare, and youth. (b) T e r r i t o r i a l Councils for Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda overseeing the Pro v i n c i a l Councils. One of the functions of the Councils was to deal with disputes regarding marriage, divorce and inheritance. (c) An Executive Council for A f r i c a which primarily acted as a f i n a n c i a l body channeling funds to various organizations. (d) Educational and health administrators for each country. Under them were appointed the provincial boards which dealt with l o c a l a c t i v i t i e s under t h e i r j u r i s d i c t i o n . (e) Mukhi and Kamadiyah, r e l i g i o u s o f f i c i a l s whose main function was to perform and o f f i c i a t e a l l the ceremonies which took place i n Jama cat  Khana. (f) Ismailia Association whose main function was to disseminate and publish l i t e r a t u r e pertaining to I s m a i l i t r a d i t i o n s and values. The c o n s t i t u t i o n a l affirmation of the Imam as the pivotal figure was a major factor leading to the formation of a ce n t r a l l y organized I s m a i l i community i n East A f r i c a . One of the v i s i b l e expressions of the unity of the community i s the Jama ^ at Khana of which several were established i n locations where Ismailis s e t t l e d . Among the r i t u a l s performed i n the Jama^at Khana, the ceremony of ghat-pat (communal drinking of sacred water) throws into r e l i e f 21 the process which led to greater i d e n t i f i c a t i o n with Islam. According to Nanji, the ceremony of ghat-p"at was i n s t i t u t e d during the time when Hindus were converted i n t o the I s m a i l i f a i t h (1982:105). The ceremony included c e r t a i n elements from the indigenous environment l i k e language (Gujerati) and Hindu motifs which were synthesised with I s m a i l i doctrine. For example, the fourth stage i n the l i f e of a Hindu consists of j o i n i n g the ashram which represents the a n t i s t r u c t u r a l element to the s t r u c t u r a l closure of the caste (Nanji:107). In the ceremony of ghat^-pat, the drinking of the sacred water i s 'the equivalent of the experience of unity, when the i n d i v i d u a l soul embraces the l i g h t , riur of Imama' (ibid:107). The r i t u a l merges the i n d i v i d u a l at one l e v e l i n t o the new community, at another i t frees him from the merely s t r u c t u r a l or zaheri ( l i t e r a l l y , "exterior") aspects of r i t u a l and enables him to experience the dimension of batin, the i n t e r i o r r e l i g i o n through which h i s i n d i v i d u a l quest f o r s p i r i t u a l knowledge and understanding i s attained' (ibid:107). In East A f r i c a , the prayers (forming part of the ceremony) r e c i t e d i n Gujerati were changed into Arabic and greater emphasis has been placed i n anchoring the ceremony within an Islamic context as instanced i n the l i n k established between t h i s ceremony and the i n i t i a t o r y r i t e s performed by Prophet Muhammed for the i n i t i a l converts to Islam (ibid:106). One of the key concepts which the Is m a i l i s emphasise i s that of p u r i t y . C l a s s i c a l I s m a i l i works consider ' r i t u a l p u r i t y ' (tahara) as a p i l l a r of f a i t h (al-Qadi al-Nu^mah, tr.Fyzee 1974:2). In the l i t e r a r y sources, a state of inward purity ('purity of the heart') i s considered to be e s s e n t i a l f o r the attainment of s p i r i t u a l enlightenment. Discussing the symbol of water i n r i t u a l , J a l a l u J d d i n Ruini states: 22 Next year i t came sweeping proudly along. "Hey, where hast thou been?" "In the sea of the pure. I went from here d i r t y ; I have come (back) clean. I have received a robe of honour, I have come to the earth (again) Hark, come unto me,0 ye polluted ones, for my nature hath partaken of the nature of God. I w i l l accept a l l thy foulness: I w i l l bestow on the demon purity l i k e (that of) the angel. When I become de f i l e d , I w i l l return t h i t h e r : I w i l l go to the Source of the source of p u r i t i e s . There I w i l l p u l l the f i l t h y cloak off my head: He w i l l give me a clean robe once more." ( t r . R.A. Nicholson 1968:VI:15). Among Hindus, concepts of purity and pollu t i o n have caste connotations. In h is account of the caste system and i t s implications, Louis Dumont (1974) explicates notions of purity and impurity as functions of a s o c i a l order where castes d i f f e r e n t i a t e themselves h i e r a r c h i c a l l y from one another. In t h i s study, I use the concepts of purity and pollu t i o n as defined and understood by the I s m a i l i s , namely i n the context of material and s p i r i t u a l l i f e . ^ The steady growth and the s o c i a l and material transformation of the Ismaili community i n East A f r i c a i s attributed to the 48th Imam, S i r Sultan Muhammed Shah. The Imamat of Sultan Muhammed Shah (1885-1957) covered a period of history when the Muslim world and the t h i r d world countries were increasingly affected by western culture and technology. During t h i s time the Imam attempted to bring about an amalgamation of Is m a i l i t r a d i t i o n a l values and thought with a western mode of l i f e and organization. The changes i n the community were implemented through the firmans (guidance given by the Imam to his followers) which affected many facets of the l i v e s of the Is m a i l i s , including health, education, occupation, language and family l i f e . The firmans were buttressed with an administrative system of councils, health c l i n i c s , welfare organizations and f i n a n c i a l services. 23 Although the administrative system i s geared to create a mode of organization and s o c i a l l i f e more favourable to the new environment, i t continues to re f l e c t the Ismaili t r a d i t i o n of service to the Iniam and to the Jama ''at (community). The majority of the people administering the system are voluntary workers. Under the leadership of the present (and forty ninth) Imam, Shah Karim al-Husseini, the programmes i n i t i a t e d by his predecessor were consolidated, and e f f o r t s were made to meet new communal and national challenges. As traders, businessmen, and entrepreneurs, the Ismailis had contributed towards the development of East A f r i c a . However, i n the eyes of the Africans, the Ismailis and indeed other Asian groups were regarded as economically privileged, and th e i r position i n the emerging nation states became ambiguous. The Asians were faced with an issue of a homeland. Were they expected to seek a place of settlement elsewhere, or should they continue l i v i n g i n East A f r i c a with an uncertain future? The general d i r e c t i v e of the Imam to the Ismailis was that they should seek to i d e n t i f y t h e i r aspirations with, and become f u l l c i t i z e n s of, the state where they were domiciled. While many of the Asians l e f t East A f r i c a i n the 1960's, the majority of the Ismailis stayed on and took up ci t i z e n s h i p i n the new independent nations. Under a changed economic and p o l i t i c a l climate, the Imam encouraged the Ismai l i s , p a r t i c u l a r l y the younger ones, to acquire higher education and to broaden thei r economic base so as to include i n d u s t r i a l and professional f i e l d s . In order to achieve t h i s aim, e x i s t i n g f a c i l i t i e s were expanded and new ones created. Scholarship and bursary programmes have been i n s t i t u t e d to encourage young people to pursue higher education at i n s t i t u t i o n s i n different parts of the world. S i m i l a r l y , a network of economic and health i n s t i t u t i o n s , 21 bringing together modern management and advanced technology, have been developed i n t h i r d world countries. Under the sponsorship of The Aga Khan Foundation, these f a c i l i t i e s operate on a non-communal basis. The Aga Khan Foundation works i n close collaboration with governments and international bodies including CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency), WHO (World Health Organization) and UNICEF. Apart from the above, some of the recent developments include: - I n s t i t u t e of I s m a i l i studies i n London, (the Institue i s also a f f i l i a t e d with the I n s t i t u t e of Islamic Studies at McGill University); - the establishment of the Aga Khan Foundation, concerned with humanitarian and c u l t u r a l a c t i v i t i e s ; - the Aga Khan University and Jubilee Hospital i n Karachi; - the setting up of the Aga Khan award for Islamic Architecture; - the constructions of Jama''at Khanas i n Vancouver and London. In the l i g h t of the above developments, various writers have commented on the v i t a l i t y and progressive s p i r i t of the community (Anderson 1964), as the best organized and most progressive Muslim community (Hollingsworth 1960), as well as the most modernized and f l e x i b l e group within the Asian population i n East A f r i c a (Fernando 1972). Ismailis have responded to modernization so as to achieve for the community standards of l i v i n g , health and education which are generally among the highest i n the Muslim world (Esraail & Nanji 257:1977). 25 (g) Ismailis In Vancouver Prior to 1972, there were small groups of Ism a i l i families l i v i n g i n isolated centers i n Canada. The Ismailis who came to Canada i n the f i f t i e s were professionals who with t h e i r families had migrated from parts of Asia, A f r i c a , Western Europe and the United Kingdom, motivated by a combination of p o l i t i c a l and economic factors and a s p i r i t of entrepreneurship. By the s i x t i e s , small Jama"<ats had emerged and organized themselves as a community around Jama^at Dianas set up i n leased locations. Up to about 1970 the Isma i l i population of Western Canada numbered about 100 (Fernando:1979) and i n North America about 600 (Nanji:1983). The I s m a i l i population subsequently increased as families became united and a number of I s m a i l i s , including those from Tanzania and Kenya joined the growing community. At present, i t i s estimated that out of the t o t a l population of about 20,000 Ism a i l i s i n Canada, about 9,000 l i v e i n B r i t i s h Columbia, with the largest number located i n the greater Vancouver area. The Ismailis seem to have adapted well to the needs of the Canadian environment, and are presently occupationally d i v e r s i f i e d . One of the noticeable changes i n the community i s i n family l i f e , as increasing numbers of women have joined the Canadian labour force. The occupational adaptability of the Ismailis can be attributed to the leadership of the Imam, a home environment adapted to the Western i n d u s t r i a l mode of l i f e , and the cohesiveness of the community which i s expressed i n two key areas: the Jamacat  Khana and an administrative structure. As i n the East African case, the Jama^at Khana serves as a focus of the re l i g i o u s , s o c i a l and c u l t u r a l l i f e of the community. As l o c a l groups of 26 Ismailis increased i n Canada, locations such as school h a l l s served as places where members of the community could congregate for the primary purpose of offering prayers accompanied by r i t u a l observances. At present there are thirteen Jama^at Khana locations i n B r i t i s h Columbia. Most of the Jama (at Khanas are open every day i n the early hours of the mornings as well as evenings. Attendance varies from day to day and the largest congregation takes place on Fridays^ and ceremonial occasions. The early morning dhikr i s the time of personal meditation and forms an important part of I s m a i l i r e l i g i o u s practice. The f i r s t permanent Jama*at Khana i n North America was constructed i n the municipality of Burnaby. The building i s designed to r e f l e c t c l a s s i c a l and contemporary arc h i t e c t u r a l styles which ' w i l l blend harmoniously into the l o c a l environment'. Such a development symbolizes the Is m a i l i t r a d i t i o n a l norm which attempts to ensure continuity with r e l i g i o u s values i n r e l a t i o n to the existing s o c i a l and c u l t u r a l l i f e . The Ismailis commemorate several r e l i g i o u s occasions which serve to reaffirm the t i e s between the Imam and the community and emphasise the idea of fr a t e r n i t y within the community. The most important r e l i g i o u s occasions are: ~cldd a l adha (commemorating Abrahim's w i l l i n g response to the c a l l of Allah to s a c r i f i c e his son); - cIdd a l f i t r (marking the end of the month of fa s t i n g , Ramadan); - CIdd Milad an-Nabi (the birthday of the Prophet); - Navroz (the new year f e s t i v a l , March 21); - Birthday of Hazrat Imam A l i ; - Birthday of the present Imam; - Mehraj (the s p i r i t u a l journey of the Prophet). 27 - L a i l t u l Qadr ('The Night Of Power', sura x c v i i ) - Imamat Day (commemorates the present Imam's succession to the o f f i c e of the Imam, July 11). A special occasion which was celebrated (July 1982-July 1983) by the Is m a i l i community throughout the world was the S i l v e r Jubilee of the present Imam's twenty f i v e years of Imamat. During the seventy two years of the Imamat of the lat e Aga Khan, the community celebrated his Golden, Diamond and Platinum Jubilees respectively. Funds raised on these occasions were used to establish a wide range of programmes of s o c i a l welfare and economic development i n Asia and A f r i c a . Following t h i s t r a d i t i o n , during the S i l v e r Jubilee year, e x i s t i n g f a c i l i t i e s related to health, n u t r i t i o n , education, and ru r a l development were expanded and new ones created. The primary purpose of these f a c i l i t i e s i s to enhance the standard of l i v i n g of the various countries, p a r t i c u l a r l y the developing ones, where the Ismailis are domiciled. One of the bodies which has been ac t i v e l y involved i n directing the above programmes i s the Aga Khan Foundation with i t s headquarters i n Geneva with a f f i l i a t i o n s i n other parts of the world. The head o f f i c e of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada i s i n Vancouver (established i n 1980). The largest project of the Aga Khan Foundation and one of the major S i l v e r Jubilee projects i s the Aga Khan Hospital and Medical College constructed i n Karachi, Pakistan. The complex, which includes a school of nursing, has been given the charter of a University. The administrative network established i n East A f r i c a has been extended to Canada i n order to organize the s o c i a l and c u l t u r a l a c t i v i t i e s of the community. I t includes the Supreme Council for Canada and regional councils for the provinces. Each of the councils has a President and a secretary and a number of members i n charge of s p e c i f i c p o r t f o l i o s which include s o c i a l , 28 educational, health, economic and c u l t u r a l programmes. The administrative system as i t has been established i n Canada i s organized as follows: (a) Supreme Council for Europe, Canada and the United States; provides general guidance under the d i r e c t i o n of the Imam. (b) National Council for Canada makes recommendations and oversees the work of the regional councils under them. (c) Regional Councils for eastern and western Canada covering major urban centers of I s m a i l i settlements: Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto. These councils d i r e c t the a c t i v i t i e s of various subcommittees (women's, youth, health,) based on p o l i c i e s determined by the National Council. (d) Grants Council which monitors expenditures of the various organizations. (e) Ismailia Association organized nationally as well as regionally. I t s main purpose i s to disseminate r e l i g i o u s education to I s m a i l i s . (f) Mukhi and Kamadiyah who o f f i c i a t e a l l the ceremonies performed i n Jama cat Khana; each Jamalat Khana location i s under these o f f i c i a l s who are appointed for a period of two years. Another feature of the Islamic heritage given special emphasis i s architecture. The Aga Khan Awards Foundation established i n 1978 awards prizes ($500,000 every three years) for projects which demonstrate arch i t e c t u r a l excellence i n terms of amalgamation of what i s e s s e n t i a l l y Islamic with a r c h i t e c t u r a l forms appropriate to contemporary l i v i n g . An i n t e g r a l part of the Award programme has been the convening of international seminars i n d i f f e r e n t parts of the Muslim world. In addition, the Aga Khan 29 programme for Islamic Architecture has been established with an endowment of $11.5 m i l l i o n at Harvard University and the Massachusette I n s t i t u t e of Technology to promote research and teaching i n Islamic Art, Architecture and Urbanism. The B.C. I s m a i l i community has p a r t i c i p a t e d i n the Aga Khan projects by means of donations, and professional expertise. Twenty f a m i l i e s from Vancouver have gone to Pakistan for periods of three to s i x years. Beyond that, the administrative and the i n s t i t u t i o n a l network of the community, where numerous I s m a i l i s render voluntary services, provides a strong base for s o l i d a r i t y among i t s members. The impact of these programmes l o c a l l y i s to reinf o r c e the e f f o r t s of the community i n B r i t i s h Columbia to adapt to the host environment with reference to i t s r e l i g i o u s heritage. Apart from the communal and s t r u c t u r a l forms of adaptation, however, i n d i v i d u a l s have t h e i r own subjective comprehensions of the process of change. The consequent r e - d e f i n i t i o n of t r a d i t i o n a l norms and values involve an i n t e r p l a y between the community and the i n d i v i d u a l . 30 ( i i ) I s maili Doctrine One of the keys to the understanding of the Is m a i l i (Shi*a) doctrine l i e s i n the way Ismailis view man. Man i s made up of body and soul part i c i p a t i n g i n two worlds: the higher world of the F i r s t f A q l , an expression of the Divine V o l i t i o n , and the lower world of Nafs, which has emanated from tAgl and i s the prin c i p l e of animation from which matter has originated. As man i s far removed from his origins i n the higher world, he needs to acquire knowledge of the l a t t e r so that he can be motivated to achieve re-union. In t h i s task man receives help from the Imam who i s the embodiment of the Divine V o l i t i o n . The Imam i s regarded as a being who i s endowed with the wisdom requisite for infusing elements from the higher ( s p i r i t u a l ) world into the lower world of matter. The Imam's knowledge of the s p i r i t u a l r e a l i t i e s i s bestowed by Allah and i s transmitted d i r e c t l y from one Imam to the other. The authority of the Imam occupies a central place i n Shiism and obedience to him i s regarded as the pr i n c i p a l index of the believers attempt to understand the inner core of the Islamic message and the values contained i n the message. Obedience to the Imam en t a i l s leading a l i f e i n accordance with his w i l l which i s expressed i n the firmans (guidance given by the Imam). The relationship between the Imam and his followers can be elucidated through two concepts which are given central importance i n I s m a i l i thought: the z l h i r (outward) and the batin (inward). Although there exists a fundamental d i s t i n c t i o n between the zahir and the batin, they are inseparable. The zahir i s the l e t t e r of the law as promulgated by the Prophet. The batin represents the inner core of the f a i t h and i s contained i n the zahir. In the zahir, the Imam i s the commander of the f a i t h f u l by virtue of his having been designated by the Prophet. In the batin, the Imam holds the key to the source of t a > w i l , the a l l e g o r i c a l interpretation of the Qur'an. Through such an interpretation, the Imam enables man to return to his or i g i n s . Through the mediating role of the Imam, the juxtaposition of zahir and batin receives a l i n k . The Ismailis believe that once the batjjin i s appreciated, the zahir i s understood as part of the batfin. One of the essential functions of the Imam i s conceived as that of enabling his followers to go beyond the understanding of zahir and penetrate into the inner meaning and experience of the batin. In t h i s way man can be i n the ^aheri world and continue to s t r i v e for the ba^in at the same time. Based on t h i s doctrine, the t r a d i t i o n a l I s m a i l i world view i s to achieve both material progress and s p i r i t u a l salvation. The N i z a r i I s m a i l i s developed and stressed the doctrine that the Imam i s the bearer of Nur (Divine Lig h t ) . The concept of Nur-i-Imama s i g n i f i e s the innermost r e a l i t y of the Imam. The Ismailis maintain that Nur i s passed from one Imam to the other i n direct succession; a l l the Imams are therefore one i n essence. In t h i s way, the r e a l nature of the Imam i s understood as ly i n g beyond the world of time and space. Comprehension of t h i s r e a l i t y i s regarded as the highest attainable goal by the believers. The importance attached to the inward personal v i s i o n of the s p i r i t u a l r e a l i t y of the Imam led to the convergences of the I s m a i l i and 3 u f i doctrines i n Islam. The Imam i s revered as the murshid (guide) who provides s p i r i t u a l guidance to the murid ( d i s c i p l e ) . The Ginah l i t e r a t u r e stresses the quest for mystical illu m i n a t i o n . 32. The attainment of the personal visio n of the Imam's s p i r i t u a l r e a l i t y i s regarded as an important goal among Ismailis i n Vancouver. They maintain that by Divine grace, such a goal can be achieved through meditation i n the early hours of the morning, good deeds, and inner p u r i f i c a t i o n . Rituals are regarded as an important means through which inner p u r i f i c a t i o n can be attained. 33 Footnotes. 1. Paul Ricoeur i n The C o n f l i c t Of Interpretations, D. Ihde ed., (Northwestern University: Evanston Press, 1977), emphasises the inner connection between these two temporalities. Interpretation enters into the time of t r a d i t i o n and the t r a d i t i o n i n turn i s l i v e d only i n and through the time of interpretation. 2. Kant makes a d i s t i n c t i o n between space and time; space i s the form of our "outer experience," while time i s the form of our "inner experience," (Ernst Cassirer 1978:49). 3. Edward Hall i n his l a t e r work, The Dance Of L i f e (Garden Cit y , New York: Anchor Press, 1983), expounds on informal time i n r e l a t i o n to technical l e v e l of culture. H a l l contends that informal time (which i s the core culture) i s 'the foundation on which interpersonal relations rest' while technical time i s 'concentrated and which fragments, defines, and requires control...' (ibid:177). 4. The modern period of I s m a i l i history i n East A f r i c a i s included i n the following studies: J.N.D. Anderson, "The I s m a i l i Khoias Of East A f r i c a : A New Constitution And Personal Law For The Community, Middle Eastern  Studies, vol.1 (1964), pp.21-39; D.P. Ghai ed., P o r t r a i t Of A Minority:  Asians In East A f r i c a (Nairobi: Oxford Press, 1975); Azim Nanzi, "The Niz a r i I s m a i l i Muslim Community In North America: Background And Development," E.H. Waugh, B. Abu-Laban & R.B. Qureshi ed., The Muslim  Community In North America, (Alberta: The University Of Alberta Press, 1983), pp.149-164. 5. Part of the material on the modern period has been included i n : "The Shi'a-Ismaili Muslim Community In B r i t i s h Columbia," CP. Anderson, T. Bose, J . Richardson ed., C i r c l e Of Voices: A^  History Of The Religious  Communities Of B r i t i s h Columbia, ( B r i t i s h Columbia: Oolichan Books, 1983), pp.232-239. 6. Mary Douglas shows that concepts of purity and pollution are closely related to the structure of the s o c i a l order and cosmological ideas. She argues that pollution b e l i e f s emerge when a system of values which i s expressed i n a given arrangement of things has been violated. These views are expounded i n Purity And Danger: An Analysis Of Concepts Of  Poll u t i o n And Taboo, (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1966); " P o l l u t i o n , " International Encyclopedia Of The Social Sciences, vol.12 (1968) pp. 336-341. 7. Among a l l the other days of the week, the Ismailis consider Friday as auspicious; t h i s day i s associated with the presence of a large congregation, a practice which was introduced during the time of Prophet Muhammed. 34 8. Speech made by the present Imam on the occasion of the foundation ceremony of Burnaby Jama fat Khana, 26th July 1982, Hikmat, vol.2 (1983) p.21. A great deal of work and thought has gone into the planning and design of the building that w i l l r i s e on the s i t e . The underlying objective has been to develop a rel i g i o u s and s o c i a l f a c i l i t y for the l o c a l I s m a i l i community, which, while blending harmoniously and discreetly with the surrounding environment and making f u l l use of materials indigenous to the area, w i l l s t i l l r e f l e c t an Islamic mood and add yet another dimension to the varied architecture of the Lower Mainland. 35 Part I Cosmology Chapter 2 Substantive Features Of I s m a i l i Cosmology Introduction In the varied t e r r a i n of I s m a i l i cosmic formulations, the categories of material and s p i r i t u a l are fundamental. In t r a v e l l i n g through the t e r r a i n , the range which meets the eye covers as wide an area as speculative peaks of high mountains and 'rose gardens' of mystical thought. In spite of the number of contours defining the t e r r a i n , there i s one element which appears to be constant and that i s the polarity of material and s p i r i t u a l l i f e . Material and s p i r i t u a l as opposite categories contain i n t r i n s i c ambiguities. The material only exists by affirming i t s opposite, the s p i r i t u a l . The s p i r i t u a l i s the source of l i f e for the material, yet i n i t s e l f the s p i r i t u a l i s i n f i n i t e and unfathomable. In t h i s scheme, the opposed tendencies of material and s p i r i t u a l are contained i n man: Man i s confronted with the r e a l i t y of the human condition which i s imperfect and temporal and the timeless and perfect structure of s p i r i t u a l l i f e . Man's temporal experience of l i f e presents him with continual problems of reorienting and reintegrating himself i n terms of an ideal form expressing man's unitary state i n the atemporal. Through a recourse to documentary materials and attitudes of lay I s m a i l i s , t h i s chapter gives an exposition of the I s m a i l i t r a d i t i o n where the interplay between the material and the s p i r i t u a l i s highlighted i n different contexts: 36 (a) Early Ismaili Speculation (conceptual). (b) Qur'anic Narrative On The Creation Of Man (dramatic). (c) Corpus Of The Giriahic Literature ('interiorized'). (d) The Firmans (atemporal/temporal). (e) Attitudes Of Lay Ismailis (experiencing s e l f ) . This chapter provides a setting for understanding the complementarity between material and s p i r i t u a l evoked i n r i t u a l and daily l i f e . Early Ismaili Speculation. Given one thousand four hundred years of Islamic history, i t would be impossible to cover the gamut of thought and speculation which abound concerning man and his place i n the universe. A rose plant i n f u l l bloom r e f l e c t s the condition of the s o i l which has nourished i t and beyond that, the numerous factors which have governed i t s growth. S i m i l a r l y , a peak of speculative development can capture with intensity the r e f l e c t i v e thought of the h i s t o r i c a l period preceding i t as well as the one following i t . In t h i s category f a l l the writings of I s m a i l i thinkers who l i v e d during the Ismaili Fatimid state (909-1171). The works of Abu Ya'qub A l - S i j i s t a n i , Abu Hatim al-Razi, Muhammad al-Nasafi and Hamid al-Kirmani encompass l i t e r a r y peaks during the time when Greek, Persian and the philosophical thought of the Indus-valley c i v i l i z a t i o n was well known. Below, I give a summary outline of the work of Abu Yalqub A l - S i j i s t a n i i n so far as i t reveals the paradox of material and s p i r i t u a l i n a l i t e r a r y speculative context. 37 ( i ) The Natural Order There are two forms of creation depicted i n the speculative thought of early Ismaili writers. At one l e v e l , the creation has come into being as a result of the creative w i l l of Allah ( a l - f i b d a ) . The verb abda c implies the radic a l coming-to-be of being from what i s not being. Allah i s al-Mubdi* (the innovator) and the Mubda* (the innovated) i s being i . e . a l l being at once. Allah innovates by a command (al-amr): A l - i b d l i s that aspect of creation which indicates i t s non-temporal, non-spatial foundation. The term al-amr says that i t i s God who i s responsible for i t s happening. Things come-to-be because God i s (Walker 1974:141). By a single act of expression of Allah's W i l l , a l l forms of being originate a l l at once without Allah having thereafter to a l t e r or change anything. At the second le v e l of creation, the prin c i p l e of emanation has led to the formation of a hierarchical order where the major orders comprise a l - c a q l (the I n t e l l e c t ) , al-Nafs (the Soul) and 'Nature'. The I n t e l l e c t i s pure, simple and perfect. I t i s defined as 'the F i r s t Innovated', 'the Preceder', 'the Quiescent'. I t has no d i s p a r i t y , l i m i t , q u a l i f i c a t i o n , motion or place. From the I n t e l l e c t proceeds the Soul which i s neither perfect nor imperfect. The Soul can only grasp the i n t e l l e c t through stages involving a progression from the lower to the higher. The Soul i s called mustafid (the one seeking instruction) and the I n t e l l e c t i s ca l l e d mufid (the i n s t r u c t o r ) . As the Soul i s seeking perfection, i t s chief c h a r a c t e r i s t i c i s movement. A l - S i j i s t a n i i d e n t i f i e s four parts of the soul. These are reason, holiness, growth and sense. The q u a l i t i e s of reason and holiness enable the soul to r i s e progressively to the rank of the I n t e l l e c t from which i t originates. At the 38 same time, the Soul also has close relationship with Nature as the l a t t e r has 'outpoured' from i t and occupies a lower l e v e l than the Soul. The emergence of Nature i s an effect of the other two q u a l i t i e s of the Soul, namely growth and sense. The existence of Nature i s v i t a l , for the Soul i n i t s 'journey' to the I n t e l l e c t . Nature comprises the combination of Form and Matter and i s sustained by the elements of f i r e , a i r , water and earth. These elements are the source of physical (bodily) beings. The spheres''' come into being within the physical world. Below the spheres are the kingdoms of mineral, vegetable, animal and man which form the earthly physical world. ( i i ) The Normative Order . The natural order involves a descending hierarchy beginning with Allah. I t consists of Amr, the I n t e l l e c t , the Soul, Nature, the spheres and f i n a l l y the Kingdoms. Over and above the Natural hierarchy, I s m a i l i thinkers conceived of a Normative order which also originates from the Amr (command) of Allah. The Normative order comprises three dimensions: jadd, Fath and khayal. Jadd i s the grace which raises a certain 'pure soul' to a complete and i n t u i t i v e grasp of how things are i n the whole of the creation. The grace of jadd makes the chosen soul a 'knower'. The knowledge i s acquired through the grace of Fath, the 'opening'. Through t h i s grace the chosen soul i s able to penetrate into the heart of the matter, khayal, ('imagination'), enables the chosen soul to find a successor who w i l l i n h e r i t these graces. Below these three graces there are seven l e t t e r s : kaf, waw, nun, ya, qaf, dal and r]i which form the words kuni qadar. These are the seven divine l e t t e r s "by which there gush forth psychic symbols and i n t e l l e c t u a l words from 39 the Two Roots". They are the "treasury of speech". By means of them^ " s p i r i t u a l forms" come into being just as by means of Nature bodily forms come into being (ibid:162). Part of the normative order i s manifested in the form of language (based on the above l e t t e r s ) and t h i s sets the stage for the role of a Prophet (the Natiq). There are seven Natiqs corresponding with the seven divine l e t t e r s . Each Natiq plays a role i n revealing the divine message (law) and perfecting the normative order. Once the Natiq has established the law, the second stage of development requires the interpretation of the law. The Natiq while he i s a l i v e can perform t h i s task; after death, he must pass the res p o n s i b i l i t y to al-wasi (executor). The l a t t e r i s also al-asas (the founder) as he employs ta'wil (hermeneutics) to interpret the law. However, he does not l e g i s l a t e . Below the Wasi, there i s the rank of the Imam. The Imam's function i s to preserve the moral order as established by the Natiq and his Wasi. In sum, there are two hierarchies by which the created universe i s held i n place: the natural order and the normative order. These two orders are d i s t i n c t and interrelated. The relationship between the two i s mediated by the Prophet who i s inspired by the s p i r i t of holiness. Through the grace of jadd, the Prophets acquire knowledge of the " s p i r i t u a l s u b t l e t i e s " and "luminous delights" and bear them to creation (ibid:176). Nevertheless, the Prophet i s also an h i s t o r i c a l being. Because of his mission of being the deputy of the I n t e l l e c t i n the Physical World, he has to account for change and for the place and the people where he w i l l function. He i s called the 'master of time' (sahib al-zaman) and his function has to be repeated i n different h i s t o r i c a l eras. Prophets who have been responsible for i n i t i a t i n g 40 the h i s t o r i c a l cycles are: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammed. Among these, Muhammed i s regarded as the 'seal' of the 'law' through which r e a l i t i e s from a higher order are revealed on the earthly plane. In the speculative thought of Is m a i l i writers, the doctrine on the Tayjhid (unity) of Alla h , creation through Amr and kuni qadar, the natural and the normative orders, and the cycles of the Prophets are linked to man. Man i s a unique being i n many respects. In the Islamic and Ism a i l i t r a d i t i o n , man i s regarded as the summit of creation both i n the natural as well as the normative orders. In the natural order, man provides the v i t a l l i n k between a l l forms of creation. Man contains both body as well as soul. The former i s part of the ephemeral changing world of nature. I t s basic requirements are sim i l a r to any other being i n the natural world. Also, man's soul i s part of the Universal Soul but, during i t s existence i n the natural world, i t i s 'individual' and 'particular'. In t h i s state i t l i v e s i n constant tension between the world of the I n t e l l e c t and that of Nature. The Soul's struggle i n the physical world i s described i n terms of a path which i s as narrow as the edge of a sword. The schematic exposition of the two forms of creation contain the paradox of revelation and reason explained i n terms of al-amr and the pri n c i p l e of emanation. Although the two levels heighten the mystery of creation (how can the universe come into being all-at-once and by stages at the same time?), the speculative framework seems to contain the mystery which i s p a r t i a l l y unfolded i n the forms involving h i e r a r c h i c a l orders and c y c l i c a l beginnings and ends. In the natural h i e r a r c h i c a l order, al-Nafs (soul) by participating i n the material as well as the s p i r i t u a l , acts as a mediator. Nevertheless, the tension and the struggle continues to exist i n history as al-Nafs i s pulled i n two directions. In the normative order, also conceived h i e r a r c h i c a l l y , the mediators are the Prophet and the Imam who, by grasping the s p i r i t u a l world ' a l l at once', impart p a r t i a l knowledge of i t i n the movement of events (history) belonging to the material order. Both the natural and the normative orders exist for the sake of man who i s entrusted with the task of embodying the ambiguity embedded i n the two orders: natural and normative. In the natural order man i s inclined i n two directions, towards nature and towards the I n t e l l e c t . In the normative order, man can only acquire p a r t i a l knowledge. Through such an embodiment, man, as a microcosmic being, can a s s i s t a l l forms of creation to reach back to a l - a q l ( i n t e l l e c t ) and unite with the amr (command) of Allah. 42. Diagram 1 Hierarchical Orders Formulated In The Works Of Is m a i l i Writers Allah al-Amr Natural Order Al-*aql ( I n t e l l e c t ) (pure & perfect; repose) Al-Nafs (soul) (perfect & imperfect, repose & movement) Nature Spheres Kingdoms Man Animals Vegetation Minerals Normative Order Cosmic t r i a d of graces (1add, Fath, Khayal) Seven Divine Letters (kuni Qadar) Divine Language Natiq, Wasi, Imam (chosen souls) History Physical World 43 Diagram 2 Man As A Microcosmic Being Natural Order Allah S p i r i t u a l World t Normative Order Ascent into the Chosen Souls s p i r i t u a l world Prophet/Imam (guides man) Descent into the material world -to be marked by the presence of s p i r i t u a l elements Man (embodies material and s p i r i t u a l elements) Material World 44 Qur*anic Narrative On The Creation Of Man The notion of the soul having to l i v e i n the material world i n order to r e a l i z e i t s f u l l potential i s of prime importance i n I s m a i l i cosmology. This concept receives emphasis not only i n the elaborate framework of speculative thought but i s also reiterated i n the narratives of the Qur'an. Below I 9 include a brief expose of the narrative on the creation of Man (s.ii:30-39). My purpose here i s to show that the narrative contains a paradox: the mediation of contraries on one plane leads to th e i r emergence as opposites on another plane leading to a dynamic interplay between synchronic and diachronic modes.^ ( i ) Sequential Pattern. Among the narratives i n the Qur'an, the creation of Man as epitomized i n the story of Adam covers primordial times. Preceding the creation of Man, the only beings who e x i s t are the angels who continually praise and g l o r i f y Allah. This i s a state of s i m p l i c i t y and r e l a t i v e oneness as there i s no talk of an alternative course of action. When Allah reveals to the angels that He i s going to create His vicegerent on earth, the angels' response i s that Man ' w i l l make mischief' and 'shed blood'. Allah declares: " I know what you know not" and reaffirms at a l a t e r stage: I know the secrets of heaven And earth, and I know what ye reveal And what ye conceal The set of oppositions ( m u l t i p l i c i t y ) which comes into being with the creation of Man i s contained and mediated by the Knowledge of Allah: 4-5 Allah's Knowledge Angels praise Man w i l l shed blood Heavens Earth Reveal Conceal Allah teaches Adam the nature of a l l things. Following t h i s , Allah asks the Angels to bow to Adam. A l l comply except for I b l i s who does not bow to Adam. I b l i s ' s role i n the mythical drama i s c r u c i a l and ambiguous. At one l e v e l , he confirms the state of contraries i n the form of decisive action. By his act of disobedience, I b l i s i s set i n the opposite camp from that of the other angels. At a second and more complex l e v e l , I b l i s personifies the d i f f i c u l t y of being able to choose from two sets of oppositions. I b l i s i s not able to comprehend the notion that Angels who sing the praises of Allah and therefore can only bow to Him, are now asked to bow to Adam. Interestingly, I s m a i l i t r a d i t i o n a l sources (Tasawwurat tr.1950:68 and Kalame P i r tr.1935:30-31,99) consider Adam not only as the prototype of humanity but also the f i r s t Prophet of mankind. Therefore Adam combines i n his being not only the contraries which constitute the nature of man but also a medium (Prophethood) through which such contraries can be mediated. After I b l i s refuses to bow to Adam, thereby acknowledging man's contrary nature, Adam and his spouse are placed i n the Garden of Eden. S p a t i a l l y , the Garden i s a mediating point between the heavens and the earth. I t contains the contraries of gender (Adam and Eve), number (bountiful and one), and categories (forbidden and permissive things). 4-6 Heavens (up) Garden Adam Eve Permissive Forbidden Bountiful One Earth (down) The second turning point i n the drama i s reached when Adam, prompted by I b l i s , approaches the forbidden tree. Exegetical l i t e r a t u r e attributes the tree to be that of wheat (Tasawwurat tr.1950:50). Wheat s i g n i f i e s struggle as i t has to go through a series of stages involving suffering and pain before i t reaches maturity. By approaching the forbidden tree, Adam acquires 'knowledge' which cannot be used i n the Garden as the l a t t e r i s free from t o i l and struggle. Adam i s sent to the place, which embodies these q u a l i t i e s , with renewed awareness of the d i f f i c u l t task which faces Man. As Man 'descends' into earth, the state of m u l t i p l i c i t y comes to sight. I t i s not Adam and Eve but mankind which w i l l inhabit the earth. Here, two kinds of conditions w i l l p r e v a i l : that of 'enmity' as well as 'unity' achieved through proximity to God. Adam repents and learns 'words of i n s p i r a t i o n ' from Al l a h . Absence of t h i s act would mean that man could be 'companion of F i r e ' where he w i l l experience grie f and fear. 4-7 ( i i ) Narrative Form: Contraries - Mediation And Juxtaposition. The narrative focuses on Man as the subject around whom a l l the developments merge. The main p r i n c i p l e which shapes the events i s that of contraries which are mediated as well as juxtaposed. This process i s observed s p a t i a l l y i n the mythical geographical locations of the Heavens, the Garden and the Earth. The Garden mediates between heavens and earth as i t captures primordial times just after Adam was created and just before he leaves to dwell on earth. In each of these locations, the contraries are mediated as well as juxtaposed. The narrative genre begins with a dialogue pertaining to man's contrary nature. Man can be both angelic as well as d i a b o l i c a l . These contraries are conceptually mediated through the 'Knowledge' of Allah and are juxtaposed i n I b l i s . Paradoxically, I b l i s ' s f a l l i s attributed to his 4 knowledge as an angel of high status as well as to his ignorance. I b l i s s decision not to bow to Adam generates a second set of contraries: disobedience/obedience. Adam i s placed i n the Garden to resolve these contraries: bountiful things (permissible) and the forbidden tree. Adam's f a i l u r e to mediate t h i s opposition leads to his descent on earth. Here man faces the juxtaposition of either l i s t e n i n g to the 'guidance' of Allah or drawing away from i t . The mediation and juxtaposition of contraries revolve around Man i n so far as his descent on earth i s related by the narrative. During each of the stages, Man moves from a state of s i m p l i c i t y to that of m u l t i p l i c i t y . I n i t i a l l y we have the figure of Adam, while i n the Garden of Eden there exists two figures, namely, Adam and Eve. On earth, the focus of the drama i s on Mankind. Likewise, as the narrative progresses the figure of I b l i s becomes 'transformed* into that of Satan. As Man moves to earth, he i s made aware of 48 the forces pul l i n g him i n two directions. In one area, Man learns words of 'inspiration' and 'guidance' which would restore the p r i s t i n e state which he enjoyed before coming to earth. On the other hand, Man i s reminded that he can become the 'companion of F i r e ' which would bring grie f and fear. The narrative ends on a note of struggle and paradox. At a synchronic l e v e l , the contraries are mediated; diachronically they are juxtaposed and remain problematic. 49 Diagram 3 Narrative on Creation: Man's Descent on Earth Heavens Earth 'Companion of F i r e ' ' (act of disobedience) Key: <* Descent of Man - macrocosmic l e v e l . < Ascent of Man - to be accomplished at a microcosmic l e v e l . >• Further descent - act of potential disobedience. 50 The Corpus of Ginanic Literature. The Ginanic l i t e r a t u r e was compiled by d a c i s who were propagating the I s m a i l i f a i t h i n the Indo-subcontinent from the thirteenth century to the early part of the present century. The Ginans form one of the most cherished t r a d i t i o n s of the Ismailis i n Canada, and are recited congregationally during the morning and evening prayers. Among the array of themes included i n the Ginans, the most pervasive and profoundly embedded i s the mystical 'journey of the soul', which attempts to experience the divine i n the unfathomable depths of the human s e l f . The l i f e of the s u f i s (mystics) i s understood i n terms of the development of *ilm al-qulub, 'science of the hearts'. Knowledge and understanding i n t h i s respect are derived not from l o g i c a l and r a t i o n a l deduction but from a sense of i n t u i t i o n and inner commitment of the heart. The ambiguity and sense of 'struggle' observed i n the narrative on creation are given an ' i n t e r i o r i z e d ' (mystical) expression i n the Ginans• In the context of t h i s study, the mystical content of the Ginans deserves special mention as the increasing impact of modern science and technology, with i t s associated demand for r a t i o n a l i z a t i o n , has affected the attitude of the I s m a i l i s . For the older members within the community, the Ginans have provided a v i t a l source for the comprehension and rejuvenation of the s p i r i t u a l l i f e as well as dealing with everyday occurrences. The regular r e c i t a t i o n of the Ginans i n the Jama cat Khana and i n I s m a i l i homes ( i n the form of taped Ginans) have undoubtedly governed the thought, behaviour, and attitude of the Ismailis within the larger scheme of t h e i r cosmos. Bearing these points i n mind, I give selected examples below of verses of the Ginans which are popularly known and recited by members of the community. 53-The journey of the soul (the quest) comprises two Interlinked phases. The f i r s t one e n t a i l s treading a path (tariqa) containing a series of stages. The completion of each stage necessitates the q u a l i t i e s of s t r i v i n g , perseverance, struggle and patience. The progression of the 'journey', which i s described as being as d i f f i c u l t as treading on 'a narrow sword', becomes focused on the elements of love, longing and trust i n the grace of Allah. The second phase i s aptly summarized i n the image of a moth who does not aspire for the l i g h t or the heat but casts i t s e l f i n the flame. This phase i s defined i n terms of the transformation of the inner state of the adept. In other words, having achieved a 'unitive experience', the adept r e a l i z e s m u l t i p l i c i t y i n a changed l i g h t . The Ginahic expression of the above phases i s couched i n words, symbols, imagery, anecdotes, the usage of poetic forms (rhyme, rhythm, a l l i t e r a t i o n ) and raga (the tune). The combination of a l l these elements seems to have a deep effect on the participants, who say that the Girians 'touch the i r hearts and inspire them i n a special way'. In a number of Ginans we learn that the soul i s separated from i t s origins by a vast s p a t i a l expanse which i s conceived i n terms of a range of mountains, or a vast ocean the crossing of which would be arduous, d i f f i c u l t and beset with uncertainties. In one of the verses"*, the state of the soul i s compared to that of a f i s h whose destination i s to reach a f o r t high up i n the mountain. In another verse**, the pangs of the soul which s t r i v e s to unite with the Divine i s compared to a f i s h out of water. The journey begins with an expression of love, devotion, and trus t i n the Imam of the time, comprehended inwardly i n the heart of the seeker. Expressively, through the imagery of the flower, the seeker i s asked to look for the essence of the Imam 52 i n the heart just as the scent i s present i n the flower. In another context the P i r (equivalent to Da fi) explains that just as the night i s l i t by the moon and the day by the sun, s i m i l a r l y the heart i s l i t by Iman ( f a i t h ) ^ . The notion that such a journey i s d i f f i c u l t and requires a long period of waiting i s spelled out i n no uncertain terms. The seeker reminds her beloved (the image of female i s popularly employed i n the Ginans) that countless ages g have gone by and the state of separation has persisted. In the f a m i l i a r imagery of walking, the seeker exclaims that she has been walking for a long o time and cannot continue any longer. The recognition that the d i f f i c u l t i e s faced i n treading a s p i r i t u a l path can lead to i t s abandonment i s given f o r c e f u l and v i v i d expression. In order to connote t h i s aspect, imagery i s drawn from nature: we are given to understand that man's status i s l i k e a distinguished l i o n but when he forgets h i s status then he becomes l i k e a sheep.*^ Another verse states that although the crane and the swan look a l i k e , they are d i s t i n c t : the former eats anything which comes i t s way while the l a t t e r seeks only pearls**. One i s reminded that man l i v e s i n t h i s world for only 'four days' and that during his sojourn on earth, he becomes 'locked 12 i n a cage'. A wealth of concrete and v i v i d symbols attempt to express the idea of i n f i n i t y and transcendence to be achieved through intense concentration. One of the Ginans which captures t h i s dimension succinctly i s the Brahm Prakash. 13 Verses 9, 11 and 12 read as follows: 53 Where the 'Love' flows so incessantly, The devotee drinks of i t and becomes Love-intoxicated. How s h a l l I describe t h i s 'Divine Ecstasy'! Short of words am I to describe i t s Glory. No amount of l i t e r a t u r e read or l i s t e n e d to, Could help a t t a i n t h i s experience of happiness. The experience of transcendence i s rela t e d i n verses 65 and 66: Without the r a i n clouds the skies thunder Without the palace one i s enthroned. Where the r a i n f a l l s without the clouds, There e x i s t s the soul without the material body. C i t a t i o n s from the Ginahic l i t e r a t u r e have been included i n order to i l l u s t r a t e the c e n t r a l i t y of the categories of s p i r i t u a l and material i n the scheme of the I s m a i l i cosmos and to provide glimpses of a t r a d i t i o n a l source to which I s m a i l i s are exposed during worship. In t h e i r conversations, I s m a i l i s , e s p e c i a l l y elders and adults, c i t e verses of the Ginans i n r e l a t i o n to e x i s t e n t i a l issues as well as profane aspects of l i f e . The Firmans The r e l a t i o n s h i p between material and s p i r i t u a l categories i s a function of h i s t o r y and temporal events on the one hand and the atemporal, timeless 'structure' on the other. The Firmans reveal the int e r p l a y between the temporal events and the normative system as they attempt to accommodate both. The Firmans have affected the course of l i f e of many Is m a i l i s as exemplified i n the decisions which i n d i v i d u a l s and f a m i l i e s make because ' i t i s the guidance given by the Imam'. An I s m a i l i woman r e c a l l e d that when she was young, she remembered Imam Sultan Muhammed Shah's Firman on health, where he explained that too much consumption of r i c e does not contribute to good 54-health. The woman i n question decided to give up eating r i c e altogether. A female teacher likewise explained that were i t not for the Firmans on education, her parents would never have sent her to a University as there was no such f a c i l i t y i n the town (Mbale) where they were l i v i n g . A businessman - related his conviction that he attributed his success i n business to the Imams guidance and grace. While i n East A f r i c a , he took up an i n d u s t r i a l l i n e based on the dir e c t i v e of the Imam. The above examples do not mean that a l l the firmans are implemented at a l l times. Rather, some of the firmans are used i n an expedient manner. A female informant explained that her husband does not approve of her going to Jama tat Khana d a i l y . One day he to l d her that i t i s the firman of the Imam that a woman's f i r s t p r i o r i t y should be her husband and the family. The woman retorted that there i s also a firman to the effect that every i n d i v i d u a l should attend Jama*at Khana regularly. Nevertheless, the firmans have had a decisive impact on the l i v e s of the Is m a i l i s . Beyond the 'material sphere* (temporal events), the firmans have been a v i t a l source of rejuvenation and cu l t i v a t i o n of the s p i r i t u a l l i f e ('timeless structure'). Considerable emphasis i s given to the l a t t e r as can be seen from the constant reference being made to 'the soul', 'the Divine Being' and 'the L i f e Hereafter'. And i n the highest realms of consciousness a l l who believe i n Higher Being are liberated from a l l the clogging and hampering bonds of the subjective s e l f i n prayer, i n rapt meditation upon and i n the face of the glorious radiance of eternity, i n which a l l the temporal and earthly consciousness i s swallowed up and i t s e l f becomes the eternal. (Memoirs of Aga Khan 1954:335). 55 I remind you once again that you must understand that each one of you has a soul and t h i s soul alone i s eternal; and i t i s the duty and r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of each one of you to remember that you have a soul. For t h i s reason, i t i s necessary for every i n d i v i d u a l to attend Jamacat Khana regularly and to be regular i n your Bandagi (meditation) and prayer (Bombay 1967 - Precious Gems:40). The Firmans have continually r e v i t a l i z e d the fundamental dimension of Is m a i l i cosmos. In other words, they have affirmed the presence of the s p i r i t u a l order i n the context of material l i f e and have created an awareness and r e a l i z a t i o n of s p i r i t u a l l i f e . Of special significance i s the fact that the Firmans are addressed to the e x i s t i n g circumstances and are repeatedly read i n Jama c a t Khanas. The Firmans which have been published are kept i n Ism a i l i homes and may be referred to time and again. They occupy a unique place among Ismailis as they are made i n the vein of a s p i r i t u a l father (the Imam) addressing his s p i r i t u a l children (his followers). This emotive content makes them spe c i a l l y meaningful for the Ismailis whose view of th e i r cosmos i s 14 largely and s i g n i f i c a n t l y derived from them. Below are a few i l l u s t r a t i v e examples. Ever since the turn of the century, Imam Sultan Muhammed Shah's increasing concern i n the material world has been i n the areas of health, education, economics, and an infrastructure of administration. These sectors are considered to be target -areas through which developments i n science and technology could be incorporated into the value system of the Ism a i l i s . The Imam's concern to create health-consciousness within the community i s expressed i n a manner which decisively includes s p i r i t u a l elements. For example: 56 Remember that according to our Is m a i l i Faith, the body i s the temple of God for i t carries the soul that receives Divine Light. So great care of body, i t s health and cleanliness are to guide you i n late l i f e ; . . . . b u t you can do much by going about your business, shopping etc. on foot and carrying yourselves STRAIGHT. The times of prayer should not be forgotten So keep a clean soul i n a clean body. Blessings. (Nairobi 1945, 'Precious Pearls':55). In economics and education the 'linkage' between the material and s p i r i t u a l i s conceived i n terms of the development and sustenance of certain q u a l i t i e s . The following extracts i l l u s t r a t e t h i s : I would l i k e you to apply the pr i n c i p l e of brotherhood i n the Jama*at, i n the way you earn your l i v i n g . This means to come together, work together, as i t i s only by coming together, by pooling your energy and your resources that we w i l l succeed i n achieving the goals which we seek i n the years ahead. (Maliya-Hatina 1967, 'Precious Gems':80). What then are your duties as individuals and what must you do for your own personal welfare? Education must come f i r s t . Not simply the education we receive by book learning at school when we are young. But the education which we should be receiving everyday of our existence by the very act of l i v i n g . You do not have to be a learned scholar to discover, i n the everyday contacts of human l i f e , the value of such q u a l i t i e s as i n t e g r i t y , honesty, d i s c i p l i n e and humility. (Nairobi 1957, 'Precious Gems':11). You should remember that education only i s of no use. You must have f a i t h and love for r e l i g i o n . I f you are i n a bus or anywhere and i f you have got a tasbih (rosary) with you, say your prayers there and then. Do not depend on future or do not hesitate ( s i c ) . (Dar-es-salaam 1957, 'Precious Gems:16). The potential c o n f l i c t which i s i m p l i c i t l y present i n an administrative infrastructure, which necessitates the formation of d i s t i n c t categories of leaders and laymen, i s i d e a l l y contained within the overall framework of harmony, unity, and co-operation emphasised i n the firmans: 57 None of you must forget that i n your own areas you are i n positions of r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s , and those who have been given r e s p o n s i b i l i t y must f u l f i l l t h i s r e s p o n s i b i l i t y - otherwise they are misleading themselves, they are misleading the Jama tat and they are misleading the Imam, and I want you to remember t h i s . I f the Imam has placed h i s tr u s t and his confidence i n you, f u l f i l l that t r u s t and that confidence, and make sure that you are serving the Jama ^ at to the best of your a b i l i t y and that i n so doing you are serving the Imam als o . (Bombay 1973, 'Precious Pearls':64/65). A s i g n i f i c a n t point which emerges from the firmans c i t e d i s that material a c t i v i t i e s ' are directed towards wider values as instanced i n the example on education. Education acquired by the i n d i v i d u a l i s to f i n d meaningful expression within the unit of the family and beyond that within the community. The firmans provide an i d e a l paradigm of material and s p i r i t u a l e x i s t i n g i n mutual harmony. Attitudes of Lay Is m a i l i s Conversations with I s m a i l i s reveal that they are acutely aware of the categories of material and s p i r i t u a l i n l i f e . In p a r t i c u l a r , t h e i r r e l a t i o n to these categories i s determined by two forms of development. The f i r s t r e l a t e s to mental and s p i r i t u a l growth of an i n d i v i d u a l , and the second pertains to the s o c i a l environment. Some examples from each of these areas follow: Mehrunisha, a 55 year old housewife related the following: I have always taken Nandi (food o f f e r i n g s ) to J a m a t Khana. At f i r s t , I used to take sweet and savoury dishes. Sometimes, I used to take these together while at other times, I used to alter n a t e . Gradually, I got the inward message, that the savoury dish should be eliminated. So I just took sweet dishes to Jama^at Khana. Presently, I do not take these e i t h e r . I only take fresh f r u i t s and milk. 58 The progression of stages from cooked and savoury to cooked and sweet dishes and further to the uncooked (raw) form, corresponds, i n the mind of Mehrunisha, to a l e v e l of development from the material to the s p i r i t u a l . In the category of foods, savoury items are considered to have greater a f f i n i t y with material l i f e than sweet and uncooked dishes. Mehrunisha ci t e d the four stages of s h a r i f a t (outward) to tariqat (following the path) to haqiqat (knowing and understanding) and marifat ( s p i r i t u a l experience) as being necessary steps for the appreciation and understanding of s p i r i t u a l l i f e . At one point, Mehrunisha explained: I was once at the stage of shari*at. This i s a d i f f i c u l t step and often quite painful as one does not understand why one has to do certain things. I remember, one day we had to attend the wedding of a close non-Ismaili friend i n East A f r i c a . The wedding ceremony was to be performed at Jama cat Khana time. We a l l got ready but somehow at the l a s t minute, I f e l t that I ought to go to Jama tat Khana. I t was a d i f f i c u l t and a painful decision as I knew that the groom would be hurt - we were very close. I f I was i n the same situation now, I would go to the wedding but at that time I was at a 'physical l e v e l ' . I could not 'carry' the prayer i n my heart. J i v r a j who i s 65 years old explained the progressive stages i n r e l a t i o n to the following anecdote. Once there was a man whose utmost desire was to entertain the Prophet. His wish was granted and he was told that the Prophet would come to h i s house on a certain day. This man started making preparations and had the best food prepared for the occasion. When the day came, a beggar came by and knocked at the person's door. The l a t t e r instructed his servant to give 'yesterday's' food to the beggar. He took what was given to him and l e f t . Meanwhile, the man waited and waited but the Prophet did not come. Eventually, the man sat i n Ibadat (meditation) and he learnt that the beggar who had come to h i s house was the Prophet. This man was quite advanced but on t h i s p a r t i c u l a r occasion, he made a s l i p . I would consider t h i s incident as showing the i n a b i l i t y of a person to see the s p i r i t u a l element i n the material form. 59 When I asked J i v r a j how he would describe the state of a person who i s at a s h a r i ' a t i l e v e l , his response was: a s h a r i f a t i person stands outside the gate of a sublime palace unaware of the treasures which are inside. The second area of environmental factors can be understood i n two contexts. F i r s t , there i s the t r a d i t i o n a l context which provides cognitive models i n such areas as r i t u a l , the culinary system, and the l i f e - c y c l e of individuals. By means of these models, environmental factors are accommodated and dealt with. Thus a man who could not for instance go to Jama*at Khlna (because of long hours at the shop), and therefore could not pursue an important aspect of s p i r i t u a l l i f e , could cognitively be made aware of the l a t t e r through his parents or wife's regularity i n the observance of rel i g i o u s duties. The second context pertains to the current environment of the Ismailis i n Vancouver. As I s h a l l show i n the course of t h i s study, the 'new' and emerging model seems to be that of the alternation of the cognitive model (a synchronic structure) with that of 'individual contexts of a c t i v i t y ' (diachronic forms) concerning new patterns of l i f e i n the host environment. Pursuing the above example, a person who may be working i n the evenings and hence unable to attend Jama fat Khana would ensure that on his off days or i n the mornings he does go to Jama (at Khana. In t h i s respect, a special e f f o r t would be required on his part. In other words, a greater demand i s made at the i ndividual l e v e l i n achieving a stage of development which would lead to the r e a l i z a t i o n of s p i r i t u a l l i f e , translated into an experience of time and space within a unitive framework. 60 Conclusion. The contents of the above analysis f a l l under the temporality of the 'time of transmission', the other being the time of interpretation. As Ricoeur has pointed out, the two temporalities are mutually related as one interprets i n order to make e x p l i c i t and i n the process "keep a l i v e the tr a d i t i o n i t s e l f , inside which one always remains" (1974:27). The main question which arises i s how do Ismailis relate to the time of transmission given the fact that during the course of th e i r l i v e s , they interpret th e i r t r a d i t i o n and thereby renew i t i n r e l a t i o n to the continual process of change as individuals move through the i r l i f e - c y c l e s and are affected by environmental factors? I show i n parts I I and I I I that the interconnection between the two temporalities i s a function of the organization of space and time i n two contexts: r i t u a l and dai l y l i f e . 63-Footnotes: 1. The terra i s derived from the Arabic word af lak translated as "luminaries of the heavenly spheres", Hans Wehr, A dictionary Of modern Written  Arabic (New York: The spoken Language Services 1971), p.72. 2. The translation of the Qur*an used i n the text i s : Yusuf A l i , The  Glorious Qur»an. (U.S.A.: American Trust Publications 1977). 3. Synchronic and diachronic are key concepts used i n Levi-Strauss's analysis of myth: "...we have reorganized our myth according to a time referent of a new nature corresponding to the prerequisite of the i n i t i a l hypothesis ( i . e . that myth i s a unique form of story that combines the two temporal modes of synchrony and diachrony), namely, a two-dimensional time referent which i s simultaneously diachronic and synchronic and which accordingly integrates the chara c t e r i s t i c s of the langue on one hand, and those of the parole on the other" (1965:87). 4. An esoteric interpretation of the narrative i s given i n a t r e a t i s e written by an I s m a i l i d a c i , Husain ibn ' A l i , an account of which i s given by Bernard Lewis, "An I s m a i l i Interpretation Of The F a l l Of Adam", B u l l e t i n Of The School Of Oriental And African Studies, 9 (1937-1939), pp.691-704. The tree i s considered to be both good and bad and i s interpreted at two l e v e l s : h i s t o r i c and cosmic. F i r s t , the tree i n the good sense i s the tree of knowledge which Adam has acquired and i s forbidden to divulge. I b l i s succeeds i n obtaining from Adam the secret knowledge. In the e v i l sense, I b l i s i s the tree and Adam i s forbidden to disclose to him the "secret wisdom". Secondly, on the cosmic plane, Adam represents the l i v i n g Intelligence which f i r s t created the world and i s known as Adam Rufrani, the S p i r i t u a l Adam. The good aspect of the tree which he might not approach i s the rank of the F i r s t Emanation; I b l i s i s Adam's e v i l imagination and his ambition to a t t a i n equality with the F i r s t Emanation. 5. Unchare kot bahu vechana verse 1. 6. Adam aad n i r i n j a n verse 25. 7. E j i hetesu milo mara munivaro verses 4 & 8 respectively. 8. Adam aad n i r i n j a n , verses: 2, 10, 11, 12 & 22. 9. i b i d , verse 24. 10. Kesfrri shiha savrup. 11. Sloka Nano verse 15. 12. Unch t h i aayo. 13. Translation adopted from H.E. Nathoo Ilm, 1, No.2 (Oct.1975) p.21. 62. Firmans discussed below pertain to the modern period of I s m a i l i history. Period preceding 1957: Imam Sultan Muhammed Shah. Post Imam Shah Karim Al-Husseini. 63 Part I I Ritu a l Chapter 3 Ar t i c u l a t i o n Of Enclosed Space In The Jama c a t Khana Introduction In chapter 1, we noted that the relationship between material and s p i r i t u a l i s s p a t i a l l y demarcated i n terms of home (family and kin) and Jamatat Khana (community) respectively. Movement from the material to the s p i r i t u a l e n t a i l s a change of condition from a state of a c t i v i t y and m u l t i p l i c i t y to that of repose and unity. Metaphorically t h i s movement i s charted i n terms of a 'journey' which, as we saw i n the l a s t chapter, i s common i n mystical l i t e r a t u r e . Also, i n chapter 2, we gave a brief exposition of material and s p i r i t u a l i n various contexts: speculative thought, narrative content, metaphors and symbols (as expressed i n the ginans and the firmans), and personal experiences of Ism a i l i s . This chapter attempts to do two things. F i r s t , using the metaphor of a journey, i t charts the preliminary stages involved i n going to Jama'at Khana, highlighting the point that such a journey e n t a i l s a transference from an exterior s p a t i a l form (home and the outside world) to an i n t e r i o r space, namely the Jama at Khana. The second part of the chapter shows that the contexts of expression of material and s p i r i t u a l (as expounded i n chapter 2) reach a state of 'architectonic integration'* through the a r t i c u l a t i o n of the enclosed space i n the Jama'at Khana. This chapter w i l l i l l u s t r a t e the point that the complementarity between material and s p i r i t u a l achieved through mediation of contraries i n fact f a c i l i t a t e s the inward s p a t i a l movement, ultimately expressed i n the symbol of the heart. 64-The Preliminary Stages Going to Jama^at Khana i s effected i n stages. The very f i r s t step comprises niya (intention) which symbolizes the temporary abandonment of the material world of a c t i v i t y and m u l t i p l i c i t y . This notion i s expressed i n a number of contexts which are examined below. ( i ) Ablution. Before the participants leave for Jama < a t Khana, the 1 ceremony' of ablution i s performed by cleansing of the whole body, or face and hands. While t h i s act e n t a i l s physical action, i t conveys a cognitive message to the effect that going to Jama*at Khana w i l l lead to the cleansing of the soul. The purpose of p u r i f i c a t i o n at t h i s l e v e l i s to gain r e a l i z a t i o n of the non-temporal moment i n which creation took place. This form of understanding leads to a movement from the outward (zahir) to the inward (batin) which forms the core of the I s m a i l i doctrine, and d i r e c t l y relates to the journey of man from the material back to the s p i r i t u a l . This idea i s expounded i n the r i t u a l context where body imagery (especially hands and face) receives symbolic emphasis. The Qur^anic reference to ablution (s.iv:43; s.v:7) also highlights the importance of hands and face. 65 ( i i ) A t t i r e . One of the marked features of going to Jama^at Khana i s 'dressing up' which e n t a i l s the wearing of clean and best a t t i r e . Many Ism a i l i s have two types of clothes: work clothes and Jama^at Khana clothes. This d i s t i n c t i o n i s e s p e c i a l l y highlighted i n the case of women, some of whom change from a western mode to that of an o r i e n t a l dress known as the s a r i . The change i n •B a t t i r e i s a r e f l e c t i o n of a s i g n i f i c a n t and subtle s h i f t i n c e r t a i n values. Modern western dress i s a r e f l e c t i o n of public (material) a c t i v i t y , greater s o c i a l i n t e r a c t i o n , mobility and ' e f f i c i e n c y ' . These q u a l i t i e s are i m p l i c i t i n the d i r e c t i v e given by the 48th Imam, Sultan Muhammed Shah to I s m a i l i women in the f i r s t half of the twentieth century. The Imam urged I s m a i l i women to adopt western ' c o l o n i a l ' dress as i t would enable them to play an act i v e r o l e in public l i f e . By contrast, the wearing of a s a r i , which covers the body from head or shoulders to feet, s i g n i f i e s the q u a l i t i e s of grace/beauty, gentleness, and repose. Many women have informed me that once they put on a s a r i , they cannot do much physical work as i t r e s t r i c t s m o b i l i t y . While a s a r i s i g n i f i e s q u a l i t i e s which have a f f i n i t i e s with s p i r i t u a l l i f e , those who do not wear s a r i s do not necessarily lack these q u a l i t i e s . Many women wear western evening dresses to Jama tat Khana with as much grace, gentleness and repose as a s a r i bestows. A t h i r d type of a t t i r e worn i n Jama *at Khana consists of a long dress covering the body from shoulders to feet, and a large piece of stit c h e d c l o t h which i s placed on the head. This a t t i r e i s exc l u s i v e l y worn by e l d e r l y women and i s being gradually replaced by the other two forms. The three types of a t t i r e worn i n Jama ^ at Khana r e f l e c t the following trends: 66 (a) the adaptation of I s m a i l i women to their new environment; (b) the l i f e cycle of Is m a i l i women; (c) the paradox of material and s p i r i t u a l l i f e . The western dress donned i n Jama (at Khana i s chosen with certain pr i n c i p l e s which continue to r e f l e c t some of the t r a d i t i o n a l values. Among Is m a i l i s , black i s a colour symbolizing the absence of s p i r i t u a l l i f e which i s connoted by white and l i g h t . In spite of the a v a i l a b i l i t y of a large number of black evening dresses i n the west, t h i s colour, i n i t s undiluted form, i s worn sparingly. The only exception i s the a t t i r e of men; s i g n i f i c a n t l y i t i s women's dress which i s symbolically meaningful, as t r a d i t i o n a l l y women are considered to be the repositories of s p i r i t u a l l i f e . Low necks, or short length s k i r t s are not worn i n Jama*at Khana, i n keeping with the t r a d i t i o n that women, who are expected to nourish the q u a l i t i e s of modesty, virtue and chastity, should expose as l i t t l e of t h e i r bodies as possible. Also, trousers and one-piece evening wear common i n North America do not form part of 'Jama*at Khana clothes'. Mehrunisha explained: We do not wear such clothes to Jama^at Khana because they are not appropriate. After a l l we are i n the presence of the Imam who i s our s p i r i t u a l father and mother. The general idea governing the choice of the a t t i r e i s to 'cover the body' which i s part of material l i f e . I t i s int e r e s t i n g to note that the s a r i has been given a 'modern' look. Some I s m a i l i women run a number of s a r i stores and continually update thei r stock by bringing i n the l a t e s t colours and designs, from India, Pakistan and Hongkong. In t h i s respect, wearing of a s a r i accommodates modern trends i n dressing while a western dress continues to r e f l e c t t r a d i t i o n a l elements as 67 they were expressed i n a t t i r e . By means of th e i r clothing, women have made an attempt to indicate how traditionalism can incorporate modern elements. The wearing of t r a d i t i o n a l dress by elderly women images a phase of Isma i l i l i f e that w i l l soon belong to a by-gone era. The dress of elderly women indicates that they l i v e i n a world which i s separate and apart from other women (adults and young). The l i f e cycle of Is m a i l i women can be understood i n three phases: youth, adult, and old age. Youth represents s o c i a l i z a t i o n into an adult r o l e , and during t h i s phase a greater amount of f l e x i b i l i t y i s exercised i n the absence of a defined r o l e . The a t t i r e worn by females at t h i s stage i s western/modern. During the stage of adulthood s o c i a l l y marked by marriage, sa r i s may be worn more frequently though many females alternate these with a western mode of dressing. The change of status i s s i g n i f i c a n t as adult females assume the roles of wives and mothers. Elderly status among females (and also males) marks a development whereby i d e a l l y greater and more concentrated attention i s given to s p i r i t u a l l i f e . Elderly women are often found praying during the day, and attempt to attend Jama tat Khana more regularly as they are expected to be less committed to material l i f e . The above points are i l l u s t r a t e d i n diagram 4: 6 8 Diagram h L i f e Cycle Of An I s m a i l i Woman As Depicted In The A t t i r e . Stage Role A t t i r e Youth f l e x i b l e western/modern Adult wife & western/traditional mother Elderly cognitive t r a d i t i o n a l image of s p i r i t u a l l i f e Before we proceed, there i s a further point to dress which i s relevant to our discussion: the paradox and d i f f i c u l t y of abandoning material l i f e before leaving for Jama t a t Khana. The a t t i r e worn by men and women i s a re f l e c t i o n of t h e i r material wealth. A l l men wear two piece or three piece s u i t s i n Jama*at Khana, while women (apart from the expense incurred i n buying clothes) put on golden jewelry or jewelry i n fashion. Elderly men and women gave me to understand that i t has been the expressed wish of the Imam that the a t t i r e worn i n Jama*at Khana should be simple and clean: s i m p l i c i t y and purity are attributes of the s p i r i t u a l . Although clean clothes are worn i n Jama*at  Khana, (Ismailis place a high premium on cleanliness, personal and otherwise), they cannot be c l a s s i f i e d as simple. Expensive a t t i r e worn i n Jama^at Khana points to the ambiguity man experiences: man's attempt to move closer to the s p i r i t u a l i s hampered by the fact that he cannot t o t a l l y abandon the material. 69 ( i i i ) Food Another context regarding the preliminary stages i n the 'journey' to Jama'at Khana relates to food. In their o r i g i n a l homeland, Ismailis consumed two main meals (lunch and dinner), which by and large were taken well before Jama*at Khana time and soon a f t e r . Here i n Vancouver, the main and perhaps the only hot meal i s taken commonly around 6 p.m. As prayers commence around 7.30. p.m., most participants attend Jama^at Khana with ' f u l l stomachs'. Also, on days when fasting i s observed, the fast i s broken at 6 p.m. - a recent innovation. In the past, fasts were only broken after the participants returned home from Jama'at Khana. Going to Jamara*t khana immediately after a meal i l l u s t r a t e s a change governed by s i t u a t i o n a l factors but, i n the context of our analysis, t h i s change translates into yet another form of material l i f e which i s not momentarily abandoned before the performance of prayers and r i t u a l s . This i s spec i a l l y s i g n i f i c a n t because food i s generally a n t i t h e t i c a l to the nourishment of s p i r i t u a l l i f e , as i s well i l l u s t r a t e d i n the l i f e of the s u f i s (mystics). Consider the following verses from So-kTriya (one hundred ceremonies: 14-17). Aahar ghano k a r i pe£ na bhariye jo pet bharsho to bhari ^haso Ava§he nindra ne bahu pastaso Halve pete v i r a hoshj thase. 70 Translation: Never over-eat, o v e r - f i l l i n g your stomachs If your stomachs are too f u l l , you w i l l become lazy You may therefore become sleepy, and for t h i s you w i l l have to repent Through abstinence and moderation you w i l l become active, (adopted from W. Ivanow ed. 1948:116). (i v ) The Family T r a d i t i o n a l l y , going to Jama^at Khana was a family a f f a i r . Every member of the family contributed i n creating a cognitive image of how man can l i v e i n a material world and at the same time c u l t i v a t e s p i r i t u a l a t t r i b u t e s . This i s revealed i n the age and gender d i v i s i o n . While men became acti v e l y and intensely involved i n the material world (the public sphere), women stayed at home and attempted to act as mediators between the material and the s p i r i t u a l . Beyond the gender roles, the elders imaged s p i r i t u a l q u a l i t i e s . This model can be i l l u s t r a t e d as follows: 72 Diagram 5 Cognitive Model Of Is m a i l i World-view As Represented By The Family. Material World 72 One of the ways i n which Ism a i l i informants described the way of l i f e i n their new homeland i s i n terms of autonomy and pressure of time. A male respondent explained: There i s no force here: people do what they l i k e . In East A f r i c a , our children would say 'yes' i f we said so and 'no' i f we said so. Here everybody has a choice. The pri n c i p l e of autonomy has affected the pattern of attendance i n Jama'at Khana i n two ways. F i r s t , i t i s no longer assumed that going to Jama tat Khana i s necessarily a family a c t i v i t y . Several times, I learnt from my informants that not a l l the members of the family went to Jama cat Khana on every single occasion. One male informant explained: My wife would l i k e to go to 'khane' three hundred and s i x t y f i v e days. I cannot do that; a f t e r a hard days work, I would l i k e to stay home sometimes and 'relax'. Interestingly, the reason for a wife being able to go to Jama'-at Khana on her own was that she had her own car - a concrete expression of 'independence' and mobility which females seem to be experiencing i n thei r new homeland. Likewise, young adults (fourteen years and over), as one mother expressed i t , 'refused' to go to Jama'at Khana on certain days. The reasons ci t e d were: (a) There was too much homework, (b) They had sports practice, (c) There was a program on T.V. which they did not want to miss, (d) They were going out with friends. Although some of the reasons appear to be pragmatic, a change i n attitude i s noticeable. For some of the Ism a i l i s , Jama'at Khana i s only associated with Fridays and ceremonial occasions. Secondly, at the other end of the spectrum, there are a number of occasions (for some famili e s , t h i s would be on a daily basis), when a l l members of the family attend Jama*"at Khana together. One mother related: 73 Jama tat Khana i s keeping us together as a family. The largest number of occasions which I count when we are a l l together (I have two daughters and one son) i s when we go to 'khane'. In the new context, the emerging cognitive model seems to indicate that every i n d i v i d u a l i n the family (youth, men, women, and elders) should i n d i v i d u a l l y assume the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of becoming immersed i n material world and at the same time develop a vi s i o n of the eternal homeland. Informants explained that because of pressure of time, i t i s just not possible for a l l the members of the family or individuals to attend Jama cat Khana d a i l y . The clash of temporalities, experienced by the fact that during Jama*at Khana time there are other a c t i v i t i e s which are considered to be equally important, i s also associated with the d i f f e r i n g interests of the elders, men, women, and youth. The conceptual t r a d i t i o n a l understanding of the association of family with s p i r i t u a l world i s p a r t i a l l y altered to accommodate i n d i v i d u a l i s t i c trends from the host society. The family versus the indiv i d u a l as reflected i n Jama*at khana attendance i s i l l u s t r a t e d i n tables I and I I . Table I shows that there are times when indiv i d u a l members of the family out of their own w i l l and intention (niya) attend Jam~a*at Khana i n spite of the fact that other members of the family decide to stay home. Table I I i l l u s t r a t e s that there are other occasions when a l l the members of the family attend Jama'at Khana together. 74 Table I Jama lat Khana Attendance - Individuals, (number of occasions when i n d i v i d u a l s attended Jama'at khana over a period of seven days). No. of respondents = 60 (10 i n each gr.) Youth Adults Elders (20) (20) (20) M F M F M F No. of days 7 0 1 3 6 5 7 5-7 4 6 5 3 3 3 3-4 2 2 2 1 2 0 1-2 4 1 0 0 0 0 Table II Jama '"at Khana Attendance - Families (number of occasions when f a m i l i e s attended Jama'at Khana over a period of seven days) No. of Respondent Families =40 Canada East A f r i c a . No. of days 7 12 24 5-7 15 14 3-4 04 02 1-2 09 0 Note: Data f or the above tables was c o l l e c t e d during fieldwork. 75 (v) The 'Journey' Begins The l a s t step i n the preliminary stages involved i n going to Jama'at Khana relates to the idea of 'treading a path'. In East A f r i c a , a sizable number of participants used to walk to Jama'at Khana. An elderly male related the following anecdote : Once there was a blind man who went up to the Imam and requested that he should be freed from the obligation to attend Jama*at Khana owing to his condition. The Imam explained that i t was necessary for him (as well as for others) to go to Jama*at Khana d a i l y . The Imam recommended that the man should t i e a rope from his house to Jama'at Khana and by holding t h i s rope, he should tread the path which w i l l lead to salvation. When we go to Jama*at Khana, every step which we take brings i n 'Divine Graces'. Currently, most of the Ismailis go to Jama*at Khana i n the i r cars which are material possessions, and also symbols of prestige and status. There i s a direct correlation between the type of car used and the economic status of the family. Nevertheless the symbolic meaning of 'treading a path' i s s t i l l maintained as one of the informants explained: I f you go to Jama^at Khana with the r i g h t s p i r i t , you acquire the benefits the moment you s i t i n the car. When Jama*at Khana i s reached, and as the participants step out of th e i r cars, they symbolically abandon material possessions to enter a different mode of r e a l i t y . This i s reflected i n the image of young I s m a i l i volunteers who are on duty i n the compound, regardless of the weather. 76 One of the cherished t r a d i t i o n s of the Ismailis i s that of service. Many voluntary workers occupy numerous positions i n I s m a i l i i n s t i t u t i o n s performing different kinds of services which are e s s e n t i a l l y offered to the Imam and the Jama/at. The volunteers i n the Jama^at Khana a s s i s t i n organizing the r i t u a l performances and worship. The young volunteers i n the compound organize the parking of cars, carry the food offerings brought by participants, and on rainy days carry umbrellas for members of the Jama c a t . The volunteers wear uniforms which include t i e s , representing t r a d i t i o n a l red and green colours. Red stands for a c t i v i t y and s a c r i f i c e , while green represents peace and repose. For instance among mystics there e x i s t s a correlation between the colour of the garment worn and the mystical stage attained. Thus we learn that 'he who wears green has always been an epithet for those who l i v e on the highest possible s p i r i t u a l l e v e l ' (Schimmel 1975:102). The combination of the I s m a i l i t r a d i t i o n a l colours of red and green i s s i g n i f i c a n t as i t represents a bringing together of s p i r i t u a l and material l i f e . The symbolic colours and the a c t i v i t y of the volunteers provide an image of the t r a n s i t i o n from material to s p i r i t u a l l i f e as the participants enter the premises of Jama*at Khana. One of the recent developments within the community i s the increasing involvement of young adults i n voluntary work. While on the one hand they are replacing the positions formerly held by elders, these young adults help to create an image of v i t a l i t y and rejuvenation of t r a d i t i o n a l values i n the modern context. This i s because the younger and upcoming generation are assuming many western Canadian l i f e - s t y l e s . They are the ones who by acquiring education i n the new land, and thereby getting involved i n fresh sectors of occupations, seem to be 77 becoming more 'Canadianized' than any other group within the community. I have often heard parents humourously commenting that: My daughter/son i s becoming a 'Canadian 1. However, i t should be noted that the younger members represent a way of l i f e which i s oriented towards technical sciences with i t s emphasis on discursive reason. This kind of reasoning i s i n opposition to the 'imagist thought' represented by the elders. This brings to an end a description of the preliminary stages leading to Jama^at Khana. In essence, going to Jama'at Khana e n t a i l s , formally, a turning away from created things, i l l u s t r a t e d i n the contexts of ablution, food, a t t i r e , family and the metaphor of the journey. Our analysis indicates that the 'journey' to Jama'"at Khana i s far from simple, given i t s cognitive content. The strands which we have isolated above are a resu l t of two factors. F i r s t , recognition i s given to the fact that while man i s i n the material world, the l a t t e r w i l l continue to present obstacles i n man's ascent to h i s 'eternal homeland'. This idea i s symbolized i n the image of a duck which i s a creature of both land and water. Like the duck, man i s half bound to earth and half l i v i n g i n the ocean of God. Secondly, forces operative i n the new environment both accentuate as well as mitigate the above problem, as can be explained through the example of a wife who enjoys mobility to attend Jama*at Khana, while the husband may decide to stay at home and watch T.V. Both the element of mobility and the range of programs available on T.V. are products of the new environment. The symbolic journey undertaken by the participants i s i l l u s t r a t e d i n the following diagram. 78 Diagram 6 Journey to Jama *at Khana Jama*at Khana Volunteers Elders ^  Young Family One Unit Individualism Food Light ^ Heavy A t t i r e Clean / j * Expensive Ablution Inward <j. Outward Niya (intention) Strong ajw Weak The 'Journey' Begins Clear Obstacles Material L i f e (Home) The 'journey' r e f l e c t s the contraries associated with material and s p i r i t u a l . 79 The Setting: Interplay Of Form And Formlessness Once the participants are inside the premises, they remove thei r shoes. Shoes stand for the impurities of material l i f e , and the feet on which they are worn sig n i f y the material component of l i f e compared with the opposing pole - the head. The l a t t e r , especially the face, i s where the outward sign of s p i r i t u a l enlightenment can be observed. The Qur'anic reference to the 'Face of God' (s. vi:52 & s . x v i i i : 2 8 ) , highlights the importance of t h i s image. The term roshni i s commonly used by the I s m a i l i s to connote the idea of l i g h t which appears on the face s i g n i f y i n g happiness, contentment, and peace, which are attributes of s p i r i t u a l l i f e . After having abandoned one more item of material l i f e (shoes), the participants advance towards the enclosed space which i s a c h a r a c t e r i s t i c feature of a l l Islamic architecture. Rituals and congregational prayers are held i n the enclosed space i n Jama *at Khana, which i s a place for Is m a i l i s to come together as a congregation. The establishment of the f i r s t Jama*at Khana, i n Sind at a place ca l l e d Kotra, i s attributed to P i r Sadr al-Din, who l i v e d i n the beginning of f i f t e e n t h century (Nanji 1978:75). Since then, i t has become a t r a d i t i o n among Is m a i l i s to build Jama cat Khanas i n places where they have sett l e d . In B r i t i s h Columbia there are thirteen Jama cat Khanas i n leased locations, and a permanent Jama'•at Khana has been constructed i n Burnaby. The Ismailis i n Vancouver consider attending Jama^t Khana a form of s p i r i t u a l nourishment, though they also acknowledge the attendant material gains. During fieldwork, common responses of the informants were: J I go to Jama^at Khana to pray but I also look forward to meeting my friends. 80 There are l o t s of benefits to be obtained i n going to Jama^at  Khana. We get the peace of mind. Jamaca*t Khana reminds us that we have a soul which needs to be attended. We meet other people and just being there helps us forget our troubles. I go to Jama*at Khana for peace of mind. I go to Jama*at Khana to meet my friends; i f there are any other benefits, I have not discovered them as yet. Most of the Jama^at Khanas are open everyday i n the early hours of the mornings and i n the evenings. The enclosed area i n the Jama^at Khana i s defined and a r t i c u l a t e d by empty space and sacred objects. The interplay of these elements contribute to our understanding of how the s p i r i t u a l (also referred to as the sacred i n the context of the Jama^at Khana) becomes manifest cognitively and within a symbolic framework. They provide the setting i n which the participants may appreciate the meaning of s p i r i t u a l l i f e , i f not i n a manifest form then at least i m p l i c i t l y . ( i ) Empty Space Integral to Islamic architecture i s the concept of empty space. Empty space i s a symbolic representation of the presence of the Divine. The nondiscursive manifestation of the Divine i s understood i n terms of a non-visible centre implied i n the four corners of the rectangular shape of the enclosed space. As the empty space i s undifferentiated, i t does not direct the eye i n any s p e c i f i c d i r e c t i o n . The 'centre' seems to exi s t everywhere as i t does not have one v i s i b l e spot. As the participants enter the enclosed space i n the Jama*at Khana, they f i l l up the empty space by s i t t i n g on the fl o o r i n rows. In f i l l i n g up the space, each participant i s considered to carry a 'centre' within himself, located i n an image of the heart. I t i s the participants who activate the interplay between the form ( f i l l e d space) and 81 formlessness (empty space). Further exploration of t h i s point requires the study of some of the r i t u a l ceremonies which take place i n the Jama t a t Khana. Before we discuss the ceremonies, we need to direct our attention to the a r t i c u l a t i o n of the enclosed space. ( i i ) A r t i c u l a t i o n Of The Enclosed Space. The most prominent item defining the enclosed space i s the framed picture of the Imam which i s placed i n the centre of the wall facing the congregation. This picture i s flanked by smaller ones which are arranged symmetrically on a l l the four walls. The c e n t r a l i t y of the large picture i s enhanced by additional features which may consist of l i g h t s , a garland of flowers, and curtains. These features, which are commonly used as symbols of the divine i n S u f i l i t e r a t u r e , often contain the t r a d i t i o n a l I s m a i l i colours of green and red. The main picture serves as a central and concrete form around which the setting i n the Jama^t Khana i s organized. In front of the picture, there i s a dais on which i s placed a low table (pat), which i s used by the performers of the congregational ceremonies. The central picture of the Imam provides the dividing l i n e for the male and female sections. There are no physical markers for the two sections; instead the organizing p r i n c i p l e s of c e n t r a l i t y and symmetry emphasise gender d i v i s i o n as well as transcend i t . The central picture of the Imam provides the focus and a point of unity for the whole congregation and a symbol of transcendence. The symmetrical pictures of the Imam are an expression of immanent dimension: they provide two f o c i for the males and the females respectively. In t h i s way the transcendent and the immanent are expressed symbolically through the organizing principles of c e n t r a l i t y and symmetry. The significance of the transcendent as a quality 82 of the s p i r i t u a l world, understood i n a pure and abstract manner, and the immanent aspect as a manifestation of the s p i r i t u a l i s fundamental i n Ismaili r i t u a l s . The enclosed space i s also defined by the symmetrical arrangement of several low tables, or pats. A pat has three main features which are constant. I t i s low, rectangular and white i n colour. Exegetical materials on Islamic art indicate that the four corners represent the "corner p i l l a r s " (arkah) of the universe, which relate to a f i f t h point of reference, t h e i r foundation or centre (Burckhardt 1976:137). The center i s of course i m p l i c i t and 'embodied1 i n the empty space i n the Jama fat Khana. Among a l l the soft colours which represent the s p i r i t u a l world, white stands foremost. Light (s.xxiv:35), as a symbol of the Divine Unity, i s associated with white i n s u f i and I s m a i l i l i t e r a r y t r a d i t i o n . White represents purity, a concept which forms the core of I s m a i l i r i t u a l t r a d i t i o n . The shape of the pats implies the existence of a center, and i t s colour i s a symbol of purity. The arrangement of the pats i n Jama fat Khana i s symmetrical. Two main pats are kept i n exactly the same order on each side of the male and female sections. These pats receive greater emphasis because behind them s i t the Mukhi and Kamadiyah (representatives of the Imam) i n the male section, and the i r wives (Mukhyani and Kamadiyani) i n the female section. Kamadiyah and Kamadiyah! invariably s i t on the l e f t side of the Mukhi and Mukhyani respectively. These positions highlight the p o l a r i t i e s of male/female, r i g h t / l e f t . The additional items which are placed on the two pats perform the two functions of expressing certain polarites which relate to material and s p i r i t u a l l i f e and mediating them. As both the pats contain i d e n t i c a l items, for brevity's sake, I s h a l l only refer to the Mukhi's pa^. 83 An expressive item on the pat i s the darbari, food offered to the Imam. The darbari consists of one savoury and one sweet dish, both cooked, fresh f r u i t s and milk. That i s , combinations of cooked and raw foods, solids and l i q u i d s , and sweet and savoury. The q u a l i t i e s of the material are represented by cooked, s o l i d , and savoury foods, while raw, sweet, and l i q u i d foods have closer a f f i n i t i e s with the s p i r i t u a l . The complementarity of elements i n the darbari i s contained within one unit as i n a 'combined state' they are placed on one pat. I t i s s i g n i f i c a n t to note that cooked dishes (sweet and savoury) are invariably placed near the Mukhi who i s seated on the right side of the Kamadiyah, and the uncooked dishes ( f r u i t s and milk) are kept near the l a t t e r . ^ As cooked foods require preparation (and therefore greater material a c t i v i t y ) , we have the following association: cooked:right: action # raw:left:repose In I s m a i l i cosmology, as we have already observed, a c t i v i t y and m u l t i p l i c i t y are q u a l i t i e s of the material world. The s p i r i t u a l world i s defined i n terms of repose, purity and s i m p l i c i t y . I t appears from the data considered so far that, i n the r i t u a l context, which e s s e n t i a l l y i s an expression of the s p i r i t u a l l i f e , we have a representation of contraries. When these are placed i n juxtaposition they symbolize elements and princ i p l e s from the s p i r i t u a l as well as material worlds. While the contrast i s i n t e n s i f i e d at one l e v e l , i t i s also contained and transcended at another l e v e l . When the darbari i s placed on the pat i t i s contained within one 'structure' which i n i t s e l f i s a harmonious whole (as we have seen, the pat represents the four corners of the universe with an i m p l i c i t central point, the essence of which i s expressed i n the white colour of the Divine). The pri n c i p l e of symmetry governs the arrangement of darbari on the pa^s of the Mukhi and the Mukhyani. 84-Symmetry as a form of art lends i t s e l f to the creation of rhythm. In the Islamic context, the rhythmic quality i s a 'r e f l e c t i o n of the eternal present i n the flow of time' (Burckhardt 1976:46). In t h i s respect, the presence of the 'eternal' evokes q u a l i t i e s of harmony and peace, the two words which informants repeatedly used i n c i t i n g reasons f o r attending Jamaat Khana. The pats of Mukhi and Mukhyani are decorated (once again symmetrically) with flowers, arranged professionally i n a vase, and table clothes. Both the items contain, whenever possible, the I s m a i l i t r a d i t i o n a l colours of green, red and white. Green and red form the I s m a i l i f l a g , and green i s categorized to stand for peace (repose) and red f o r s a c r i f i c e (action). Green and red are commonly combined together while white i s often used i n i s o l a t i o n . Since white stands for the essence of the Divine, green as a soft colour, standing for peace and repose, can be considered as a r e f l e c t i o n of the s p i r i t u a l q u a l i t i e s i n a world of action and becoming, symbolized by red. In the context of our discussion, the juxtaposition of these colours provide a harmonious symbolic form through which the p o l a r i t i e s of food i n the d a r b l r i are interconnected. Very often, red and green colours are used i n the savoury and sweet dishes i n the form of decoration. Some of the items which I have observed are: red and green glazed cherries, green lettuce and peppers combined with red tomatoes, radishes and peppers. A l l i n a l l , the combination of t r a d i t i o n a l colours creates an ambiance of harmony and equilibrium. On ceremonial occasions, red and green colours ( i n the form of l i g h t s and crepe paper) are used to enhance t h i s form of ambiance. One or more pats are kept on the side of the wall where the Mukhi and Mukhyani are seated i n a symmetrical order. These pats are exclusively used for the ceremony of Ghat pat. This ceremony e n t a i l s the drinking of 'holy 85 water' for which purpose the following are placed on the pat: white utensils wrapped i n white c l o t h over which i s placed a white square towel, a lamp, and a container for incense. The ceremony i s performed i n the mornings as well as on Fridays and ceremonial occasions i n the evenings. Unless a ceremony i s i n progress noone s i t s behind the pats - though occasionally old ladies requiring wall support for t h e i r backs may s i t there. The lamp i s l i t when the ceremony i s to be performed. The ceremony (which i s expounded i n Chapter 5) operates at two l e v e l s : the f i r s t i s an expression of 'silence' and repose noticeable when the ceremony i s not performed, and the second i s an expression of becoming and movement, the ceremony commencing and ending on d e f i n i t i v e notes. 86 While symmetrical placement of the pats a r t i c u l a t e s the order of space i n the Jama kgt Khana, there i s some f l e x i b i l i t y exercised i n the placement of pats where Nandi (food o f f e r i n g s made to the Imam) i s placed. In most of the Jama'at Khanas i n Vancouver, the pats are kept i n the middle so as to f a c i l i t a t e the purchase of Nandi by men and women. After the prayers, Nandi i s obtained by i n d i v i d u a l s by means of bidding. Nandi i s considered to be sacred and, l i k e a l l other sacred objects, i t i s placed on the pats. Once Nandi has been 'purchased' by i n d i v i d u a l s , i t i s then placed on the f l o o r . The s i g n i f i c a n c e of these sequences w i l l be examined at a l a t e r stage. For the moment, i t s u f f i c e s to note that the food brought to Jama'-at Khana continues to r e f l e c t the contraries on one plane. The e s s e n t i a l items brought are composed of sweet and savoury, raw and cooked, s o l i d s and l i q u i d s . Although these q u a l i t i e s may be found i n any random c o l l e c t i o n of d i f f e r e n t foods, f o r I s m a i l i s i t i s self-conscious, p a r t i c u l a r i z e d and i n s t i t u t i o n a l i z e d . Nandi i s brought to Jama*~at Khana i n a well-arranged form making i t both appetizing and a e s t h e t i c a l l y appealing. When placed on the pat, the food i s again c a r e f u l l y arranged by the volunteers; i t i s never placed haphazardly. The pat as a symbolic representation of the universe (as indicated by the four corners) and i t s center (the essence) imparts a cosmic dimension to Nandi. In t h i s context, that i s on the second plane, the contraries seem to be contained within a whole where the i n t e r r e l a t i o n s h i p of the parts brings a sense of harmony, order and t r a n q u i l i t y . The arrangement of the pats are i l l u s t r a t e d i n diagram 7. 87 Diagram 7 Ar t i c u l a t i o n Of Enclosed Space In The Jama ^ at Khana "2 1 2 4 5 4 4 5 4 3 2 6 6 2 Male Section Female Section Congregation 6 (Empty Space) 6 7 ' 7 2 2 Key: 1. Central picture of the Imam. 2. Symmetrical Pictures. 3. Low Table. 4. Pats behind which leaders take the i r seats. 5. Mukhi's/Mukhiyani's pats. 6. Pats for the ceremony of ghat-pat. 7. Pats where food offerings are placed. 88 Before we proceed, we need to discuss the special significance accorded to the 'seat' of Mukhi. The Mukhi, as representative of the Imam, o f f i c i a t e s at a l l the ceremonies i n the Jama t a t Khana but the Mukhi also forms part of the congregation (the Jama^at) and, l i k e others, participates i n a l l the ceremonies. In other words, he i s both a leader as well as a participant. The Mukhi also provides an important focus for gender d i s t i n c t i o n as well as i t s transcendence. In practice, the Mukhi as a male o f f i c i a l s i t s i n the male section but, from that position he leads the whole congregation. The Mukhylni who takes her place behind the main pa^ i n the female section, and who o f f i c i a t e s ceremonies that require i n d i v i d u a l female p a r t i c i p a t i o n , i s not appointed i n her own ri g h t . She s i t s behind the pat as she happens to be the wife of the Mukhi. The only exceptions which I have observed are: (a) When the Mukhi i s not married, another female regardless of her marital status may be appointed. (b) In places where there i s a small Jama'at a female may be appointed as Mukhyani, i n which case she assumes the r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s of a Mukhi. Nevertheless, the gender d i s t i n c t i o n i s maintained. (c) I f a Mukhi dies while s t i l l i n o f f i c e , h i s wife continues i n the o f f i c e u n t i l i t i s time for new appointments. ( A l l Mukhis are appointed for a period of one or two years.) The Mukhi's role can be conceived on two planes. At one l e v e l , he assumes the role of a leader. He o f f i c i a t e s at i n i t i a t i o n , marriage and mortuary ceremonies. In t h i s way a d i s t i n c t i o n between the Mukhi and the 89 congregation i s always maintained. Gender further distinguishes the Mukhi, most commonly a male. At a second l e v e l , the Mukhi i s part of the congregation. He i s regarded as a member of the Jama*at, i n which context the gender d i s t i n c t i o n i s blurred at c r i t i c a l moments during worship. There i s a second context where the Mukhi's dual role i s confirmed. Beside the pat of the Mukhi, there are other Pats arranged symmetrically on the right side as well as on the l e f t side. The Mukhi invariably s i t s on the right side of his assistant - the Kamadiyah^ behind the same pat^. Behind the other pats s i t the leaders of the Jama Sit. These leaders occupy t h e i r positions following a ranking order and f a l l under two categories. Those leaders who currently hold positions i n the administrative i n s t i t u t i o n s s i t on the right side of the Mukhi while the past leaders who have been awarded t i t l e s s i t on the l e f t . The wives of these leaders follow s u i t and s i t on the right and l e f t side of the Mukhyani respectively. A s i g n i f i c a n t exception to t h i s order i s the appointment of the female leaders (which i s a recent development), who occupy positions on th e i r own ri g h t . In t h i s case, the i r husbands do not receive special recognition and they s i t with the congregation on the other side of the pats. The Mukhi provides the foc a l point for the s i t t i n g positions of the leaders i n two ways. F i r s t , the ranking order of the leaders commences from the place where the Mukhi i s seated and secondly the Mukhi provides the dividing l i n e between the past and the contemporary leaders. The Mukhi himself does not form part of the hierarchy, as can be attested by the fact that i n the administrative body (the council) the Mukhi i s an ex o f f i c i o member. In the Jama^at Khana the Mukhi provides an 'organizing point' for the seating arrangement of the leaders. He i s both within the hierarchy as well as above i t . The contemporary leaders s i t t i n g on 90 the right side represent 'action' and the leaders s i t t i n g on the l e f t symbolize a state of 'repose', as the l a t t e r are r e l a t i v e l y less active. In sum, the position of the Mukhi forms a point of reference whereby the gender d i s t i n c t i o n i s ar t i c u l a t e d at one l e v e l and deemphasised i n the overall context of the congregation. S i m i l a r l y , through the Mukhi, the hierarchy of leadership i s given expression at one l e v e l and deemphasised i n the r i t u a l context as the Mukhi i s not integrated i n i t . In providing the organizing point for the contemporary as well as the past leaders, the Mukhi i n his dual role symbolically represents the two dimensions of movement and repose. The a r t i c u l a t i o n of contraries and t h e i r mediation as effected through the role of the Mukhi can be i l l u s t r a t e d as: Mukhi Hierarchy of leadership Gender d i s t i n c t i o n Right Present Congregation - deemphasis of hierarchy and gender Left Past Conclusion In t h i s chapter, we have i d e n t i f i e d the organizing prin c i p l e s of c e n t r a l i t y and symmetry through which part of the enclosed space i s ar t i c u l a t e d . The empty space generates an interplay of essence and form. The essence i s expressed i n terms of a center which i s both e x p l i c i t (picture) and i m p l i c i t (pat) and the form i s expressed i n terms of d i v i s i o n and m u l t i p l i c i t y (gender, hierarchy). Architectonic integration i s achieved i n Jama cat Khana 91 through a r t i c u l a t i o n of space which embodies meanings from the I s m a i l i cosmic order (interplay of essence and form), theological concepts (doctrine of Imam), and s o c i a l relationships (gender and hierarchy). As the participants occupy the empty space, the integrative model i s transformed to another plane: namely, that of the heart. Here the interplay of essence and form i s metaphorically expressed through body imagery. This point i s explored i n the next chapter where I discuss three r i t u a l ceremonies. 1 92 Footnotes: 1. This term i s used by Fernandez (1982:125) to show the relationship of Fang to the spaces they occupy. Describing the c e n t r a l i t y of v i l l a g e l i f e , Fernandez shows the architectonic integration of the cosmic, migratory, economic, s o c i a l , and v i t a l personal experiences of Fang. I have used i t i n the text as i t aptly conveys the idea of s p a t i a l integration achieved through an embodiment of meanings drawn from various contexts: cosmic, doctrinal and s o c i a l . 2. According to the Cjir^an. an unwashed body i s i n a state of 'ceremonial impurity'. 3. Imagist thought i s analogous and abounds i n symbols and anecdotes. Ismaili elders are closest to t h i s kind of thought. 4. Data analysed i n t h i s chapter i s based on the a r t i c u l a t i o n of the enclosed space i n leased Jama *at Khana locations i n the greater Vancouver area. The new Burnaby Jama'at Khana (completed i n February 1985) w i l l have two pictures of the Imam arranged symmetrically i n the male and the female sections, just above the pats of Mukhi and Mukhyani. I gathered from community leaders that the building i s based on Islamic architectural motifs (symmetry, c a l l i g r a p h i c i n s c r i p t i o n s ) whereby too many pictures would be 'out of place'. 5. In the context of our analysis, i t seems that cooked dishes representing material elements require mediation. They are placed near Mukhi's side as the Mukhi acts as a mediator. 93 Chapter 4 Ritu a l Performances: 'Structure And Communitas'. Jama*~at Khana i s l i k e an ocean; i t contains numerous pearls^. As to the kind of pearls that one can acquire depends on the niya (intention) of the believer. A l o t depends on the receptivity of the heart. Everyone goes to Jama cat Khana for his own i i v (soul). The l a t t e r does not benefit unless the believer's heart i s pure so that the Divine Light (Nur) can shine through i t . The above comment made by an elderly female respondent points to two modes of r e a l i t y the interplay of which enables us to perceive I s m a i l i r i t u a l s i n terms of structure and communitas. Victor Turner i n his c l a s s i c a l work on "The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-structure' (1969), employs the concepts of structure and communitas i n the context of 'society as a structured, differentiated and often h i e r a r c h i c a l system' which i s opposed to the communitas of the l i m i n a l period when recognition i s given to a predominantly unstructured and r e l a t i v e l y undifferentiated comitatus. In his later work (1978), co-authored with Edith Turner, Turner expounds on the qu a l i t i e s of communitas, consisting of s i m p l i c i t y , unity and the 'flow' experience whereby there i s a loss of ego making the s e l f irrelevant (1978:252-255). In t h i s study, I use the terms structure and communitas to elucidate a fundamental ambiguity i n I s m a i l i t r a d i t i o n . Material which e n t a i l s d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n ( m u l t i p l i c i t y and form) i s akin to structure while s p i r i t u a l (unity and essence) i s akin to communitas. The material and the s p i r i t u a l are correlated. The s p i r i t u a l without the material (form) would remain unmanifested; the material without the s p i r i t u a l (essence) would be s t a s i s . In other words, the Ismailis perceive t h e i r world to be dynamic through a 94-constant play of contraries. Everything exists by affirming i t s opposite and accommodating i t i n i t s e l f . The best example of th i s i s provided by the metaphors of body and food as they appear i n r i t u a l s . Both metaphors serve to express the ambiguous organization of contraries. The body offers both the opposition of right and l e f t as well as the s p a t i a l opposites from head (above) to feet (below). Food constitutes the opposites of hot/cold, cooked/raw, sweet/savoury, s o l i d / l i q u i d , and light/heavy. In t h i s chapter and the next, I present data i l l u s t r a t i n g the dynamic interplay of these opposites as they are expressed s p a t i a l l y . In t h i s respect, communitas i s not perceived as being d i s t i n c t from structure but i s realized within the structure through certain peak experiences i n the r i t u a l . The Ceremony Of Hay-Zinda, Kayam Paya. This ceremony i s performed at the threshold of the enclosed space i n the Jama'at Khana, i d e a l l y by each participant. The ceremony takes a minute and ent a i l s the following: the participant bends and touches the fl o o r by placing his right hand just inside the enclosed space. The hand i s then placed over the face accompanied by the r e c i t a t i o n of the phrase, Hay-Zinda, meaning, the Imam i s present. Members of the congregation seated inside respond with the words, Kayam Paya, (the Imam i s present for ever). On completion of the ceremony, the participant steps into the enclosed space. Hay-Zinda. Kayam Paya marks a movement into the batin ( i n t e r i o r state of communitas) from that of the zahir (outward state of structural l i f e ) . There are two modes i n the ceremony which symbolize progression into the i n t e r i o r state of batin. These are (a) body imagery and (b) verbal exchange. 95 ( i ) Body Imagery As the participant bends and touches the f l o o r with the right hand, he deemphasises that part of the body which i s closest to the material world, namely the feet. S i g n i f i c a n t l y , there i s a symbolic reversal of the mode of entrance as instead of the foot being placed f i r s t inside the enclosed space, i t i s the hand which precedes the foot. The placing of the hand over the face, touching the eyes and the mouth, s i g n i f i e s the integration of the acts of doing (hand) with those of seeing (eyes) and speaking (mouth), and also highlights the importance of the face. In the context of the ' s p i r i t u a l journey', these acts s i g n i f y the ascent of the soul into the s p i r i t u a l world as they mark a movement from the lower part (feet) to the higher part (face) accompanied by a deemphasis of s t r u c t u r a l parts of the body (hands, eyes and mouth). Following the Qur'anic verse: Send not away those Who c a l l on t h e i r Lord Morning and evening Seeking His Face. (s.vi:52) considerable emphasis i s placed on the image of face which i s used 'for God's Grace or Presence, the highest aim of s p i r i t u a l aspiration' (Yusuf A l i 1977:302, n.870). Body imagery i n the ceremony can be diagramed as follows: 96 Diagram 8 Body Imagery As Encoded In The Ceremony Of Hay-Zinda, Kayam Paya. Batin (Inward) Face Enclosed 'sacred' space (right hand) - - -Hands (intermediate)- - - - - - - . ( l e f t hand) (threshold where the ceremony i s performed) Open Profane Space Feet Zahir (outward). Key: t Progressive stage from outward to inward. 97 ( i i ) Verbal Exchange E j i Hay Zinda kaheta hashtinu dan Kayam Paya kaheta dan t u r i ' g h j i Meaning: The saying of Hay-Zinda w i l l bring benefits which are equivalent to that of an elephant The saying of Kayam Paya w i l l bring benefits which are equivalent to that of a horse. (V i r a n i H. 1945:36)3 An elderly female informant explained that an elephant can only be useful after i t i s dead because of i t s tusks while a horse i s useless i f not a l i v e . One l e v e l of interpretation which can be offered i s the annihilation of the s e l f , which forms a s i g n i f i c a n t theme of I s m a i l i mystical thought as well as i n the writings of the s u f i s . 'Die before you die', i s a common s u f i saying, and the mystical state of fana fi tl-Haqq (annihilation of the s e l f so as to achieve consciousness of God) i s a common expression i n Is m a i l i works (Kalami P i r 1935:xxxvi). 4 When, therefore, a participant crosses the threshold leading into Jama '•at  Khana, he affirms the presence of the Imam through whom i s achieved consciousness of the Divine. Having taken t h i s step, he i s then received by the congregation (a homogenized entity as opposed to the mundane structure of daily l i f e ) i n terms of a greater assurance that the Imam i s present for ever, that i s , for e t e r n i t y . In t h i s way the participant progresses cognitively from the immanent to the transcendental l e v e l (from the present to e t e r n i t y ) . This marks a transformation of status, as each member of the congregation while i n Jama*at Khana i s referred to as mu'min, a 1 true believer' or as 'brother' and ' s i s t e r ' . 98 The modes of speaking and hearing which effect t h i s transformation are important as they are reminiscent of the f i r s t revelation which Prophet Muhammed (s.a.s.) received at the age of fort y . On the mount of Hira, Prophet Muhammed heard a voice asking him to 'read' or to 'recite' (iqraa s . x c v i : l - 4 ) . In the ceremony, the exchange of words (through speaking and hearing) between the participant and the congregation leads to the indiv i d u a l becoming part of the Jama fat, within which he seeks the experience of unity and also i m p l i c i t l y 5 contains the mode of silence, both of which form part of communitas. Once participants step i n t o the enclosed space of the Jama tat Khana, complete silence i s observed. The only voice which the participants hear i s the re c i t a t i o n of the ginans, and i t i s during t h i s time that the participant advances towards the pat of the Mukhi i n order to perform the ceremony of du*a karawi. 99 Diagram 9 Transformation Of Self Effected Through Verbal Exchange Batin Enclosed 'Sacred' Space. Congregation Speak/Hear Mu^min (true b e l i e v e r ) . t Hear/Speak Kayam Paya (transcendent) Hay-Zinda (immanent) Self. (threshold). 200 Going to Jama at Khana i d e a l l y e n t a i l s preparations which image the abandonment of material concerns. As we have observed, the ceremony of Hay-Zinda, Kayam Paya i s performed i n an attempt to 'annihilate' the s e l f , leading to the 'flow' experience of communitas. To explain t h i s process, we focused on the body imagery where the face i s highlighted^ and on the symbolic acceptance of the s e l f by a wider ent i t y - namely the Jama'at. The Ceremony Of Du*? karawi. Once participants enter Jama tat Khana, they share a mode of r e a l i t y not encountered i n any other context. As the participants walk toward the pats of the Mukhi/Mukhyani, they follow a path which i s outwardly marked by carpets l a i d l o n g i t u d i n a l l y . The significance of each step which the participant takes i s explained i n a firman made i n 1910 as follows: Whoever 'walks' towards us, each step, he obtains the benefit of hundred and hundred stages. (Virani H. 1954:36). Having reached the pat of the Mukhi, the participant bends and offers a token (25c to a do l l a r ) with his rig h t hand. The Mukhi on behalf of the Imam accepts the token with his rig h t hand. This action i s followed by the re c i t a t i o n of the following words by the participant who stands upright with his palms together: I am ' s i n f u l ' (impure) from head to feet. The Mukhi responds by saying that may his good intentions be f u l f i l l e d and a l l his 'sins' (impurities) be removed. Then the Mukhi prays that the participant's d i f f i c u l t i e s may be overcome, his iman ( f a i t h ) strengthened, and 101 that he may achieve physical (zaheri) as well as s p i r i t u a l (batuni) 'vision' (deedar) of the Imam. As he prays, the Mukhi holds the right hand of the participant, while the l a t t e r looks d i r e c t l y i n his eyes. This i s a peak experience. Among a l l other parts of the face, 'the s p i r i t u a l l i g h t ' i s expressed most intensely i n the eyes. The contact with the Mukhi i s an expression of repose (unity/communitas) achieved after a series of movements involving body imagery ( m u l t i p l i c i t y / s t r u c t u r e ) . On completion, the participant takes a seat (on the f l o o r ) beside other members of the congregation who s i t facing the Mukhi. Walking towards the pat involves the legs, followed by a pose during which the hands are activated. F i r s t , through the right hand (signifying action), a token i s given. Second, the right hand i s placed together with the l e f t involving a posture of humility and supplication for the forgiveness of wrong doings. After t h i s , when the right hand i s again i n movement i t i s united with the hand of the Mukhi - the representative of the Imam. I t i s during t h i s time that the s e l f i s exposed to a wider entity (namely the s p i r i t u a l world of unity) when, momentarily, a 'transcendental experience' (flow) i s achieved through concentration i n the eye contact. Here we have an example of another context whereby the s e l f i s symbolically merged into a larger entity through a series of stages involving movement and repose. This process i s i l l u s t r a t e d i n diagrams 10 and 11. 102 Diagram 10 Ceremony Of Du*a karawi No 1 - The Setting. Male i i i i i Section i i i i i i i _> l . Empty Space 3 Female • Section Threshold Key: 1. Entrances. 2. Mukhjs Pat. 3. Mukhyani fs Pa\. 4. Central Picture of the Imam. 5. Symmetrical Pictures of the Imam. m Carpeted area where the participants walk. - - * Movement of the participant towards the pat. 103 Diagram 11 Ceremony Of Du'a Karawai: No.2.Progressive Stages Of Movement And Repose. Repose - climactic moment of communitas achieved through eye contact. Receives Divine Grace (Barakat) Receives (symbol-Mukhi's hand) Repose - Interlocking of the hands of the Mukhi and the participant. Repose (symbolized by unison of hands). Walks-Gives (token) " Repose (Participant poses near the pat) 104-We have already noted the verbal communication which takes place between the participant and the Mukhi» When the participant further negates his outer s e l f by means of the words: 'I am s i n f u l from head to feet', he hears prayers from the Mukhi to the effect that his inner s e l f (heart) has been p u r i f i e d . In Kalami P i r ( a N i z a r i I s m a i l i t r e a t i s e compiled i n X l l t h century) we learn that: and the womb means ear. Just as i n the womb, the material human form comes into existence, so does the s p i r i t u a l form grow by the hearing of speech through the ears. ( t r . W. Ivanow 1935:31) Through the verbal mode, the participant takes one step which affirms humility. In return he i s assured, i n the form of prayer, that a l l the obstacles i n his way (the path) w i l l be overcome, and that he w i l l acquire a firmer anchorage i n the s p i r i t u a l world (through f a i t h ) , and w i l l ultimately achieve s p i r i t u a l enlightenment. 105 Diagram 12 Verbal Communication In The Ceremony Hearing Speaking 106 After having 'heard' the words of p u r i f i c a t i o n while eye contact i s maintained, the participant takes his place i n the congregation occupying part of the empty space. He continues to hear the ginans, the du ca (prayers), tashbi (prayers said while standing), and firmans which are recited i n the Jama cat Khana. Oral exegesis 7 indicate that the 'hearing' of these reci t a t i o n s further purify and consequently enlighten ( s p i r i t u a l l y ) the heart. In the context of the ceremony of Du(a karawi , the p u r i f i c a t i o n of the heart i s understood i n terms of gunah (sins which lead to the accumulation of impurities i n the heart). The f i r s t category of gunah occur unintentionally owing to a person's involvement and a c t i v i t y i n a world of m u l t i p l i c i t y and movement. At t h i s l e v e l , a person choses to do one thing among others and may unknowingly choose the 'wrong' course of action. An adult female informant cited the following example: My mother in-law was quite sick one day. In spite of that, I went to work. Afterwards, I f e l t very g u i l t y . I think I should have stayed at home and looked after her. I f e l t that I had made a mistake and the only thing I could do was to ask for forgiveness. Consider the following example from a male elder: We are committing several gunahs each day. For instance, I am talking to you just now. I may say something which might hurt your feelings or I may t a l k about somebody else which may be defaming. I might not have meant i t but i t just happens because we are human beings and not angels. A l l i n a l l , man i s considered to be prone to gunah owing to his nature which i s composed of two opposing categories: material and s p i r i t u a l . As man i s pushed into two di f f e r e n t directions, he i s bound to s l i p and hence remain gunegari. 107 Secondly, there are certain types of gunah which man commits int e n t i o n a l l y . These types of guriah are committed when an individual nourishes the lower part of the soul within him. The Ismailis believe that the lower part of the soul i s not only constantly present but remains active l i k e the embers which continue to glow even i f the f i r e has been put out. Both types of guriah are imaged i n terms of body symbols and aff e c t i v e states. Hands make a person take things which do not belong to him while the legs can make one tread the 'wrong' path. The eyes, ears and the mouth can make one see, hear or say things which are i l l i c t . These parts of the body can also be used i n a positive way leading to the path of siratal-mustaqim (the right path of ascent). The highest point would be regarded by the mystic as a state where he could say: I did not see anything without seeing God before i t and after i t and with i t and i n i t . (Schimmel 1975:47) Withersoever ye turn, there i s the Face of God. (s . i i : 1 0 9 ) . Mysticism forms an in t e g r a l part of I s m a i l i t r a d i t i o n and the early morning dhikr (meditation) i s directed towards achieving the state of union. There are a number of aff e c t i v e states which lead to the accumulation of Runah, namely, kam ( i l l i c i t sexual desires), krodth (anger), lobh (miserly), mohe (obsession) and maya (greed). While these states lead to the descent of the soul into the world of creation to the extent that the soul becomes clogged and veiled from i t s o r i g i n s , there are others which lead i n the opposite d i r e c t i o n . These are c l a s s i f i e d as: sat (tr u t h ) , saburi (patience), khamiya" (tolerance) daya" (mercy) and iman ( f a i t h ) . 108 The a f f e c t i v e states together with the forms of action, described i n terms of body imagery, have a d i r e c t r e l a t i o n to the heart which i s regarded as 'the seat of divin e presence'. Heart i s referred to as d i l : Dur me dekho dilmahe vaselj jem champli phul mahe vas' Trans l a t i o n : Do not look f a r , (the divine) resides i n the heart Just as the scent i s contained i n the flower. In t h i s verse, from the ginah E j i he^e su milo, Sayyad Imam Shah explains that the 'divine' resides i n the heart j u s t as the scent i n the flower. The image of the heart as the 'seat' of the divine presence abounds i n mystical poetry, the girians, and the firmans. The main idea which i s emphasised i s that, during the course of material pursuits, the heart becomes 'unclean' and v e i l s the presence of the divin e . In the ceremony of du ca karawi, a connection between the eye and the heart i s established, and the roshni (the divine l i g h t ) i n the heart i s expressed outwardly through the eyes. The r i t u a l , presenting a cognitive model, states that the heart i s cleansed and impurities removed. The state of purity i s achieved through unity, l i g h t being the symbol of unity. This form of purity i s a q u a l i t y of communitas. As Turner explains i t (1978:254-255): In flow and communitas, what i s sought i s unity, not the unity which represents a sum of f r a c t i o n s and i s susceptible of d i v i s i o n and subtraction, but an i n d i v i s i b l e unity, "white," "pure," "primary," "seamless." This unity i s expressed i n such symbols as the basic generative and nurturant f l u i d s semen and milk; and as running water, dawn l i g h t , and whiteness. Homogeneity i s sought, instead of heterogeneity. The members of the r e l i g i o u s community are to be regarded, at le a s t i n r i t e and symbol, as a simple u n i t , not as a sum of segments or the ultimate product of some mode of d i v i s i o n of labor. They are impregnated by unity, as i t were, and p u r i f i e d from div i s i v e n e s s and p l u r a l i t y . The impure and s i n f u l i s the sundered, the divided. The pure i s the integer, the i n d i v i s i b l e . 109 Having explained the significance of Hay-Zinda", Kayam paya and that of Du<-a Karawi through an inward movement (imaged i n terms of the face and the eyes respectively), I now move on to an exposition of the ceremony of Nandi (food o f f e r i n g s ) . 110 Nandi Preparation of food i s e s s e n t i a l l y a material a c t i v i t y , and we learn from the biographies of the s u f i s that common features of s u f i conduct were l i t t l e food, l i t t l e sleep, and minimum t a l k . The s u f i s believed that hunger was the means to achieve s p i r i t u a l progress. While s u f i s present the example of nourishment of s p i r i t u a l l i f e , the I s m a i l i s attempt to maintain a balance between material and s p i r i t u a l l i f e . This point has received considerable emphasis i n the firmans: ... There are certain things which must be done i n a physical sense, and there are other things which must be done i n a s p i r i t u a l sense, and our f a i t h i s quite clear as to what are the r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s , both i n a physical and i n a s p i r i t u a l sense, on our children. There are things that you are t o l d to , do and there are things that you are not to do during your physical l i f e t i m e , and these are generally i n order to improve the physical, worldly conditions of yourselves, your children and the s p i r i t u a l children who w i l l follow you afterwards. And there are things which you are t o l d not to do because they would harm the Jama'at or you i n d i v i d u a l l y . And t h i s i s true of your s p i r i t u a l l i v e s . In the practice of your f a i t h there are things you are t o l d to do, and there are things you are told not to do and at the end of your l i v e s you must ask yourselves the question, 'Have I f u l f i l l e d during my l i f e t i m e my physical and material r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s as well as my s p i r i t u a l r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s . (Bombay 27th Nov. 1973). The importance of active involvement i n material l i f e i s best i l l u s t r a t e d by the following story: Shah Kirmani (a mystic) did not sleep for forty years, but eventually he was overwhelmed by sleep - and he saw God. Then he exclaimed:" '0 Lord, I was seeking thee i n nightly v i g i l s , but I have found thee i n sleep'. God answered: 0 Shah, you have found me by means of those nightly v i g i l s : i f you had not  sought me there, you would not have found me here^C (Schimmel 1975:115 - emphasis mine). I l l The I s m a i l i culinary system i s geared towards catering for s o c i a l groups: family, k i n , and community. Through t h i s system, a number of q u a l i t i e s are cultivated and expressed, the foremost among which are those of generosity and sharing. The c u l t i v a t i o n of these q u a l i t i e s a s s i s t i n easing the tension of having to l i v e i n the material world and accumulate wealth and at the same time having to part with the wealth so as to reach the unitive state of s p i r i t u a l l i f e . This point i s best exemplified i n the practice of Nandi which i s food offerings taken to Jama''at Khana. Nandi i s a Sanskrit word which i s defined as: 'joy, s a t i s f a c t i o n , d e l i g h t ; prosperity and praise of a d e i t y at the commencement of a r e l i g i o u s r i t e or observance,* (The P r a c t i c a l Sanskrit-English Dictionary 1976:541). By and large, the Nandi which i s brought to Jama''at Khana i s prepared by women and i s categorized as follows: (a) Darbari (food which i s placed on the pats of Mukhi/Mukhyani). (b) Sufro i s especially prepared for ceremonial occasions and mortuary r i t e s . (c) Memani, food set aside from the meal prepared for the family. Exegetical material reveals that Nandi i s i n essence food offered to the Imam out of love and devotion. The explanation offered by an elderly man was commonly expressed by others as wel l : When we go to Jama^at Khana, we are v i s i t i n g the Imam's house. We should not go to the Imam's house empty-handed. Also, i f we offer food to the Imam then the meal which we eat at home becomes 'clean' and the intake of 'clean' foods (khorak) w i l l lead to the b i r t h of good thoughts. What we give to the Imam i s h i s rig h t as i t i s he who gives us r o j i (sustenance). I believe that i f we take Nandi we get barakat (divine grace) i n return. 112 We also learn from a Glnan that: E j i jo ghar hove va*"st p i y a r i so nam sahebjike d i j i y e . Meaning: Whatever i s best l i k e d by you i n the house give i t to the Imam, (H. V i r a n i 1954:51). In the I s m a i l i t r a d i t i o n , i t i s through the Imam that the soul can return (ma^ad) to i t s o r i g i n s . By making food offerings to the Imam, Isma i l i s are seeking to impart a cosmic dimension to t h e i r cooking, that i s i d e n t i f i c a t i o n with the homogenous state of communitas and the flow experience where the s e l f (ego) becomes i r r e l e v a n t . One I s m a i l i woman who had occupied the position of Mukhyani explained: When I was preparing darbari, I f e l t that I was i n another world. I had a f u l l time job, yet I did not f e e l strained i n any way. I used to keep awake at night to cook the food and I enjoyed every minute of i t . I am grateful that I was given such an opportunity. I s h a l l always cherish those moments of sa t i s f a c t i o n of preparing food for Jama^at Khana. 113 As Nandi i s primarily cooked by women, the l a t t e r (in the i r roles as mediators between material and s p i r i t u a l l i v e s ) a s s i s t i n infusing the s p i r i t u a l q u a l i t i e s into an otherwise material a c t i v i t y . As we have already noted, once Nandi i s brought to Jama *at Khana, i t i s arranged neatly on the pats by the volunteers prior to the commencement of the f i r s t dufa. Once i t i s on the pat, i t becomes memani ( i . e . food offered to the Imam) and, as explained by ' s p e c i a l i s t s ' , i t i s infused with sacredness through the re c i t a t i o n of prayers. Informants say that Nandi adds roshni ( l i g h t ) , as without i t the pa^s would be empty. 'Roshni' i s especially noticeable and emphasised on ceremonial occasions when the pa^s are f i l l e d with food, many of which are appetizingly decorated. The ceremony of Nandi i s performed after prayers, when the congregation disperses. At t h i s time, i t i s assumed that Memani offered to the Imam i n a s p i r i t u a l sense has been completed, and that food on the pat has to be distributed. The method used i s 'bidding'. A member of the Jama^at who performs the ceremony takes each plate from the p*a^  and names a price. The highest bidder gets the dish. As Nandi includes a variety of foods ranging from savoury and sweet dishes to f r u i t s and milk, a number of participants are involved i n 'purchasing' a dish and taking i t home. Once a participant has obtained a dish, i t i s never replaced on the pat but i s kept on the f l o o r . This i s s i g n i f i c a n t as Nandi once taken from the pat no longer remains part of the context i n which i t i s infused with cosmic significance. In other words, Nandi on the pa^ contains a greater in t e n s i t y of sacredness compared with the Nandi which an individual takes home. 114 There i s yet another context where the d i f f u s i o n of sacredness i s confirmed. If we maintain that s o c i a l l i f e and r i t u a l l i f e are two d i f f e r e n t orders of r e a l i t y , then Nandi belongs to both. This i s because when Nandi i s brought to Jama'lit Khana, i t i s considered to be sacred. When i t i s taken from Jama 1at Khana by i n d i v i d u a l s , i t becomes part of t h e i r material and s o c i a l l i f e . Here, an attempt i s made to infuse the flow experience of unity into the mundane structure of everyday l i f e . Nandi i s never categorized as 'ordinary food'. I t maintains i t s sacred character, the i n t e n s i t y of which varies and can be perceived i n the form of 'movement'. The 'movement' of Nandi from the material world (most of the cooked Nandi i s prepared i n I s m a i l i homes) into the s p i r i t u a l one of Jama '•at Khana and back i n t o the material world can be i l l u s t r a t e d as follows: Diagram 13 "Movement" Of Nandi S p i r i t u a l World Food imbibed with the q u a l i t y of sacredness Concentration Material World Material World (transformed food brought (Food cooked at home) from Jama v a t Khana) The r i t u a l ceremonies are framed events which e f f e c t transformation through peak u n i t i v e experiences of communitas (symbolized i n body imagery of the face and the eyes) and mediation (cosmic s i g n i f i c a n c e given to Nandi). However, i n r i t u a l s there e x i s t s a r e l a t i o n s h i p between the 'given' 115 (objective) and the p a r t i c u l a r way i n which they are rendered by the pa r t i c i p a n t s ( s u b j e c t i v e ) . In other words, the given e x i s t s as p o s s i b i l i t i e s which leaves room for i n d i v i d u a l a c t u a l i z a t i o n . Among I s m a i l i s , the given forms of r i t u a l s are c l o s e l y linked with the status of man as i t r e l a t e s to l i f e c ycle processes. These processes are symbolized i n the prayer postures as explained b r i e f l y below: Prayer Postures As They Relate To L i f e Cycle Processes. The prayer postures of 'upright p o s i t i o n ' , 'genuflection' (half p r o s t r a t i o n ) , and 'complete p r o s t r a t i o n 1 represent man i n f u l l adoration of the Divine. This idea i s expressed i n a Bektashi poem 'where the forms of prayer are connected with the name of Adam, the model of humanity': When you stand up, an a l i f i s formed, In bending behold: a dal i s made When you have prostrated, a mim takes shape: That i s , I t e l l you, to perceive man - Adam. (Schimmel 1975:153) At a second l e v e l , the prayer postures s i g n i f y the l i f e cycle of man: (a) The upright posture represents the stage of adulthood. (b) The posture of genuflection images old age. (c) Prostration represents a n n i h i l a t i o n . * ^ The anchorage of the l i f e cycle of an i n d i v i d u a l within a cosmic framework i s i l l u s t r a t e d i n diagram 14. 116 Diagram 14 Cosmic Dimension - L i f e Cycle Of An Individual S p i r i t u a l L i f e (Prostration) Man Upright P o s i t i o n Age Material L i f e A c t u a l i z a t i o n Of The R i t u a l s By The P a r t i c i p a n t s . The differences of opinion expressed i n r e l a t i o n to the way i n which r i t u a l s are activated, negotiated or eliminated converge around the categories of the youth, adults and the elders. As I s h a l l show, these differences have become accentuated owing to the twin processes of migration and the impact of 'modernization'. The following table i l l u s t r a t e s the differences pertinent to each group i n so f a r as i t re l a t e s to the informants whom I interviewed and conversed with. 117 Table H I Background Information On Respondents Number = 30 Elders Adults Youth Age: (80-55) (54-25) (24-16) M. F. M. F. M. F. Period of r e s i -dence i n Canada 10-15 3 1 4 5 3 2 9-5 1 2 1 — 1 2 4- 1 2 - - 1 1 Education University — — 3 3 4 3 College - - 2 1 1 2 High School 4 1 - 1 - -Elementary 1 4 — — — — Occupation Professional _ _ 2 1 — — C l e r i c a l - - 1 1 - -Manual — 1 - - - -Business 1 - 2 1 - -Unemployed 1 - - - - -Retired 3 - - - - -Housewife - 4 - 2 - -Student - - - - 5 5 Income (p.a.) (per household) 50-70,000 _ _ 1 — — -40-50,000 1 - 2 1 - 1 30-40,000 1 1 2 2 1 1 20-30,000 1 1 - 1 2 1 10-20,000 2 3 - 1 2 2 118 Languages (spoken) English & 5 1 5 5 _ 1 Gujerati English only - — — — 5 4 Gujerati only - 4 - - -Religious Attendance P.W. 7 3 4 1 2 _ 1 4-6 2 1 1 2 2 1 3-5 — 2 1 1 1 2-1 — 1 — 2 2 0 _ 3 119 Below, I present the content of the interviews and conversations based on the categories of elders, adults and youth. Nasirullah, an elderly male related: Rituals bring about uncountable benefits. I f a woman comes home from work at f i v e and she decides to go to Jama fat Khana, what steps w i l l she take? She w i l l f i r s t phone her husband and w i l l t e l l him to come home early. After that, she w i l l quickly prepare a meal, bathe the children and keep them 'ready'. A l l these actions are counted as being s p i r i t u a l . Sometimes satan comes i n the way; while preparations are made for Jama Sit Khana, a friend may phone and say that she i s coming over. This would be a t e s t . I f the woman i s firm i n her f a i t h , she w i l l t e l l her to come some other time. I f such an incident occurs and the temptation i s overcome, then double benefits are incurred. The f i r s t obstacle i s over and we s i t i n the car and leave f o r Jama'at Khana. The t r a v e l l i n g we do at t h i s time i s 'counted' as part of bhgndgi (prayer). When I go for the ceremony of du ca karawi, I pray for everybody when I am walking towards the pa"^. I am sure, I benefit when others pray. A l l the ceremonies which we perform purify our minds and hearts. They enable us to acquire haqiqati sama"1 ( s p i r i t u a l understanding) and barakat (divine grace). S h i r i n an elderly female informant explained: Going to Jama fat Khana i s a matter of d i l (heart). Some people understand, others do not. Undoubtedly, we a l l benefit from the prayers of the Jama'at but i t i s a matter of degree. Some people get more sawab (benefits), others l e s s . We are human beings. We are gunegari, we make mistakes a l l the time. Sometimes you hurt other people's feelings, other times you may have taken something which i s not yours. So when we go to Jama'at Khana and perform a l l the ceremonies, we are eliminating maSil ('dirt') from inside our d i l . Every ceremony which we perform has a purifying effect provided we have f a i t h (iman). Iman can move mountains. We do not have to understand everything we do. I f we have iman and love and devotion for the Imam, that i s s u f f i c i e n t . Iman i s something that cannot be acquired overnight. I t i s a gradual process. Take the example of my grandson who i s only sixteen. When his mother asks him to accompany her to Jama at Khana, he r e s i s t s . I said that i s not the way to do i t . You have to inculcate t h i s habit into him and t h i s i s a long process and requires not only time but patience and perseverance. I think that i f he i s t o l d everyday that going to Jama fat Khana i s important, 120 then one day he w i l l attend and once he tastes the 'nectar', he himself w i l l drag his mother to Jama Sit Khana . Jama <at Khana i s l i k e a 'treasure house'. There are numerous kinds of diamonds and pearls there. How much we can acquire depends on the state of our mind. Do you understand what I am trying to say? I f we l e t go the Jama'•at Khana, there w i l l be nothing but darkness i n our minds and hearts. 121 The above conversations are representative of the views held by elders. They a l l adhered to the view that r i t u a l performances are important and are 'steps which one has to mount i n order to reach one's destination'. The concepts around which the significance of r i t u a l i s explained are: f a i t h , love, devotion, patience and perseverance. The emphasis i s not so much on l o g i c a l explanations but on acceptance and r e c e p t i v i t y based e n t i r e l y on f a i t h . The explanations offered revolve around images l i k e those of 'nectar' and 'treasure house'. Conversations with elders reveal that they attempt to comprehend the world and acquire basic insights to l i f e by means of anecdotes, images, symbols and i n t u i t i o n which are linked to the elements of f a i t h and patience. For example, Dolatbai, a widow with one son, related that i t was very painful for her when her son moved out of the house after marriage i n order to set up h i s own residence. 'I prayed and i n my heart I knew that I would not be separated from my son.' After two years of 'waiting', Dolatbai's wish was granted when her son decided to l i v e i n the townhouse close to hers. Extracts Of Conversations With Adults: Female Informants: Sultana: Since I was twelve years old, I was i n c l i n e d towards r e l i g i o n . At that time, I was following a l l the practices b l i n d l y . I used to do whatever I was taught. I never understood anything. As I grew older, i t dawned on me that there was a purpose behind going to Jama'at Khana and a l l the ceremonies which are performed there. Once I remember my mother was very s i c k . I went to Khane and prayed. Somehow or the other, my mother recovered and I acquired more f a i t h . When I came to Canada, I realized to a greater extent the importance of r e l i g i o u s l i f e . In t h i s respect, r i t u a l ceremonies do make our hearts pure and through t h i s we can get ' s p i r i t u a l experience'. 122 Mumtaz I go to Jama'at Khana for peace of mind. I just find i t relaxing to be there. I do not think that r i t u a l s are very important. Sometimes I wonder, why do we have to have a l l these ceremonies ? Why do we have to 'dress up' when we go to khane ? I think that r e l i g i o n i s personal. I do not perform the ceremony of Hay zinda (ceremony performed just before entering Jama'at Khana) because I f e e l shy. Male Informants: Muhammed: There i s a symbolic meaning attached to the r i t u a l . I t i s our t r a d i t i o n . At f i r s t , a l l that I was taught was 'words' and 'movements'. Gradually, I began to understand that these words and movements point to the presence of the Noor (Light) i n the Jama cat Khana. We need constant reminder of t h i s point and r i t u a l s help us to remember. I f e e l refreshed and s p i r i t u a l l y u p l i f t e d when I attend Jama fat Khana. I think r i t u a l s do not r e a l l y purify us l i t e r a l l y . They affect us psychologically. I f I f e e l that I am psychologically pu r i f i e d then I would make extra e f f o r t s to remain 'pure' i n my material l i f e . For instance, once i n a while I f e e l l i k e staying home from work. I f I phone i n sic k , I get paid for the day; but I never do that though my friends say:'everybody phones i n sick regardless....' Nazir: Having been exposed to the western world, I f e e l that there i s an absence of a sense of belonging. There i s havoc and no common denominators. A l l these shortcomings are reversed i n Jama cat  KhSna. There i s a very special kind of bond that t i e s us with the Imam and through him with the Jamacat. A sense of well-being i s a v i t a l part of l i f e , and I think that t h i s i s acquired through f a i t h . By f a i t h , I do not mean blind b e l i e f ; at one time, I never appreciated our ceremonies. But as I grow older, I r e a l i z e that there i s deep significance attached to the ceremonies. I wanted to learn to appreciate them myself rather then being t o l d what to do. Even the s c i e n t i s t s admit that there i s a system within ourselves. This system i s different from other systems l i k e respiratory, blood c i r c u l a t i o n and so on. This system can be i d e n t i f i e d with f a i t h and du ca (prayer). I t i s t h i s system which leads to one's well-being. The place of r i t u a l within t h i s system i s that i t enhances r e l i g i o u s l i f e . When we are depressed or unhappy, we can seek remedy by asking Hazar  Imam to help us. Whether we actually get help or not i s secondary but knowing that he i s there and the community i s around relieves our minds of worries. Once the mind i s free of worries then we have 123 greater freedom to think and arr i v e at a solution. Through r i t u a l the bonds between community members become strong and i t i s the community who offers solace and support at a l l times. Even i f we are not i n d i f f i c u l t i e s , as human beings we need to inter a c t . We cannot l i v e otherwise. The content of conversations held with adults reveal that there are two modes through which Ismailis (given t h e i r present milieu) are attempting to comprehend and interpret t h e i r r i t u a l s . The f i r s t one i s the t r a d i t i o n a l mode which i s based on the concept of f a i t h . An adult male informant explained: My parents 'taught' me that prayers form the p i l l a r of our f a i t h and that the r i t u a l ceremonies purify our hearts. I accepted a l l of t h i s without questioning but my children do not accept t h i s - they require explanations. They ask a number of questions. How can I answer them ? Where do I get explanations from - I was never explained anything. As we have observed i n the case of the elders, 'teaching' by f a i t h did not e n t a i l verbal instructions. Faith required practice and the inculcation of q u a l i t i e s of r e g u l a r i t y , perseverance, tolerance and patience. The image which portrays t h i s point v i v i d l y i s that of the planting of the seed. The element of f a i t h does not necessitate an emphasis on d e t a i l s regarding the nature of the s o i l , weather conditions, the a v a i l a b i l i t y of water and so on. Instead, concentration i s directed towards images of flowers that would bloom, the sweetness of the f r u i t , the greenness of the leaves and the strength of the roots. While nurturing into adulthood t r a d i t i o n a l l y occurred largely through f a i t h , as explicated above, the adults are increasingly emphasising a second mode for 'understanding' r i t u a l behaviour. This mode recognizes the importance of elements of explanation, 'meaning' and signif i c a n c e . The point which needs to be stressed i s that the 'explanatory' mode appears to be a product of modernization and the emerging c e n t r a l i t y of ' s c i e n t i f i c and l o g i c a l thinking', not withstanding the fact that both science and r e l i g i o n 124-have a defined status i n t r a d i t i o n a l I s m a i l i thought. New ideas expressed i n re l a t i o n to r i t u a l i s that the l a t t e r i s 'psychologically' purifying, 'going to Jama'at Khana i s relaxing', ' i t gives me peace of mind' and that the 'well-being of a person i s important'. The climax of t h i s mode of thinking was expressed by one mother who said: T e l l the elders that the only form of relaxing i s not acquired i n Jama<a*t Khana. There are other forms of relaxation l i k e walking and going to the movies. Obviously, Jama'•at Khana i n the above c i t a t i o n i s equated with the idea of relaxation which i s d i r e c t l y linked with the present form of l i f e - s t y l e where work and lei s u r e are d i s t i n c t l y separated. The younger members within the community seemed to display an open-minded attitude towards the subject of r i t u a l . While they did not embrace the ceremonies firmly l i k e the elders, they did not discard them either. Rather, they f e l t that i t was time that the significances of the ceremonies were explained to them. Conversations recorded represented the following range of views from male and female youngsters: Male Informants: Yes I believe that r i t u a l s have some significance but I would l i k e to know what the significance i s . I do not understand why we perform the ceremonies. I do not think that r i t u a l s make much difference; may be for some people i t matters a l o t . I would prefer only to pray and meditate. I do not know much about r i t u a l s . I guess they are important. 125 R i t u a l s make me f e e l 'pure'. I do not think that I can explain f u r t h e r . I am sure there i s a l o t of importance to the ceremonies. I hope one day somebody w i l l explain them to me. Female Informants: The only thing I can t e l l you about r i t u a l s i s what I have learnt from my mother and mission c l a s s teachers. I guess r i t u a l s help as they pu r i f y us i n t e r n a l l y . I would l i k e to_ know more about r i t u a l s before I can answer your questions. I think r i t u a l s have some s i g n i f i c a n c e ; I have not thought about i t . I guess i t keeps us together as a community. Rituals form part of going to Khane which gives me peace of mind. At l e a s t , temporarily I forget a l l my worries. Yah, I„ think they are important. I cannot imagine going to Khane i f there are no ceremonies. I know there i s a l o t of importance to the ceremonies. I t would be wonderful, i f someone gave us the meanings attached to everything we do i n Khane. The emphasis of the younger members within the community appears to be on understanding. One youth summed i t up as: Explain them to us f i r s t . I f i t makes sense to us then we w i l l follow them. We do not want to do things and then l a t e r discover that they do not hold much water. From the above, we can postulate that the way i n which the elders and the youth 'put t h e i r worlds together' are d i a m e t r i c a l l y opposed. The image of a mountain can exemplify t h i s point f u r t h e r . While the elders climbed every step before they discovered the nature of the landscape at each l e v e l , the youth while climbing the same mountain seek for a p r i o r d e s c r i p t i o n of the landscape i n so f a r as the scenery can be put i n 'a sequel of d e s c r i p t i o n s ' . In t h i s framework, the adults act as mediators being exposed to two d i f f e r e n t worlds. 126 Before we conclude, I s h a l l make brief reference to some of the noticeable changes which have emerged i n the enactment of r i t u a l s by participants. I t i s important to note that these changes are not of a stru c t u r a l nature and do not a l t e r the cognitive model developed above. Rather, the changes have emerged from the reaction of the participants i n re l a t i o n to pragmatic necessity as well as d i f f e r i n g understanding of the t r a d i t i o n of r i t u a l s . The cognitive importance of the ceremony of Hay-zinda, Kayam paya i s affirmed at an id e a l l e v e l . Yet, i n actual practice i t i s not performed by a l l the participants. Some participants have condensed i t to the extent that before entering the enclosed space, the right hand i s placed over the face leaving out the verbal mode of exchange. Likewise, for the ceremony of Du*a Karawi, some of the steps are eliminated, l i k e bringing the palms together. The responses from the participants included the following range : F i r s t , a large number of the participants f e l t that the ceremonies were not performed 'properly' because people f a i l to r e a l i z e the significance and meaning attached to the 'words', the gestures and the symbols. The 'quest' for meaning i s a recent development and i s related to the 'modern' attitude of wanting to understand and know the meaning prior to the performance. T r a d i t i o n a l l y , 'knowledge' and the meaning were the outcome of action. A second type of response was directed to the idea that i t i s a matter of inward conviction. What matters i n t h i s context i s the b e l i e f i n the heart. In other words, outward movements are not considered to be c r u c i a l . Thirdly, a change of attitude towards r e l i g i o n was attributed as a factor which led to a lack of enthusiasm for the ceremonies. One respondent 127 explained that: 'people i n the modern world are l e s s r e l i g i o u s and hence without r e l i g i o n there cannot be a place for r i t u a l s . ' I n t e r e s t i n g l y , among the r i t u a l ceremonies, that of Nandi has generated a c e r t a i n amount of controversy. As observed e a r l i e r , the Nandi comprises, to a large extent, t r a d i t i o n a l dishes. E s p e c i a l l y when sufro and darbari dishes are prepared, extra e f f o r t s are made to 'rejuvenate' t r a d i t i o n a l cooking which employs large amounts of butter, o i l , molasses and sugar. As these items are categorized as 'problematic' for health, there are some people who f e e l that such foods should not be brought to Jam*a*-at Khana. The reason given i s that such Nandi i s bound to end up i n the house of an I s m a i l i where i t would be consumed and i n the long run cause problems of health. On the other hand one man expressed i t : Nobody i s compelled to buy Nandi. I f there i s a problem of health i n the family, then such Nandi should not be bought. It i s important to note that ' c r i t i c i s m ' i s not l e v e l l e d at Nandi as such but at the l e v e l where Nandi i s taken back in t o the material context of l i f e . Conclusion. The discussion of the three r i t u a l ceremonies has revealed a cognitive structure which e n t a i l s a movement from the outward, material world of zahir (structure) i n t o the inward s p i r i t u a l world of batin (communitas). While r i t u a l s a c t i v a t e symbolically the i n t e r p l a y between form (the manifest) and essence (the hidden), i t also points to the dimension whereby such a structure i s a c t u a l i z e d by the p a r t i c i p a n t s . As we have observed, the p a r t i c i p a n t s do not follow the cognitive model i n i t s absolute form but adapt to i t i n terms of s i t u a t i o n a l f a c t o r s as well as ' i n d i v i d u a l ' understanding. In t h i s respect communitas provides a v i t a l l i n k between r i t u a l and everyday l i f e of the 128 I s m a i l i s . The symbolic points through which communitas (that i s unity, s i m p l i c i t y , p u r i t y , and the flow experience) i s expressed are the face, eyes and heart and 'cosmic space of the pat'. The experience of communitas continue to provide a framework for the organization of the d a i l y l i v e s of the Is m a i l i s . As I s h a l l show, the cognitive models i n d a i l y l i f e ( c u l i n a r y p r a c t i c e and l i f e cycles) r e f l e c t the presence of the s p i r i t u a l i n an otherwise material context. In the case of the I s m a i l i s i n Vancouver, the model which seems to be emerging ( t h i s model may depict a t r a n s i t i o n a l phase) i s that of diametrical opposition between the youth and the elders, where the adults remain i n the pos i t i o n of mediators, and between home and working l i v e s of women. In order to elucidate t h i s process further, we need to look at the everyday l i f e of the Is m a i l i s . In the l a t t e r context, the movement observable i s from the inward s p i r i t u a l world of batin into the outward world of z a h i r . Before we expound on t h i s point further, we need to look at one more ceremony where the theme developed i n t h i s chapter i s illuminated further. In the following chapter, I present the ceremony of ghat-pat. Footnotes. 129 1. The_image of the 'pearl' i s especially revealing as i t i s used i n s u f i and ginanic l i t e r a t u r e to describe the 'journey of the soul'. The soul separated from the ocean goes into the cloud and returns to i t s home changed into a jewel. 2. Both males and females participate i n the ceremony. Male gender i s used for the purpose of brevity. 3. H. V i r a n i , The Philosophy Of Our Religious Ceremonies, [Gujerati], (Bombay: Ismailia Association For Bharat, 1954). 4. W. Ivanow, t r . Kalami P i r : A Treatise On Is m a i l i Doctrine, (Bombay: A.A.A. Fyzee Esq., 1935). 5. This point receives considerable emphasis as children are taught from an early age to be quiet i n Jama'at Khana. 6. The importance of body imagery i n r i t u a l has been elucidated i n the works of V. Turner, The Forest Of Symbols (New York: Cornell University Press, 1967); M. Douglas, Natural Symbols (Middlesex: Penguin Books Ltd., 1973). Concerning the metaphor of the human body, Turner explains: 'This use of an aspect of human physiology as a model for s o c i a l , cosmic, and r e l i g i o u s ideas and processes i s a variant of a widely distributed i n i t i a t i o n theme: that the human body i s the microcosm of the universe' (ibid:107). Douglas explicates the notion of two bodies: the s o c i a l and the physical contending that the relationship between the two provides a source for the creation of symbols ( i b i d : 93-112). 7. Oral and verbal exegesis referred to i n the text has been obtained from s p e c i a l i s t s ( A l Waezeens) who have studied I s m a i l i doctrine. 8. There are two other forms of du'a karawi ceremony which are performed i n the same manner. These are conducted for the deceased and during times of d i f f i c u l t i e s . 9. For_instance, consider the following verses written by Jalalu'ddin Rumi, one of the greatest mystics of Islam: You must needs have a weeping eye, l i k e the l i t t l e c h i l d : do not eat the bread (of worldliness), for that bread takes away your water ( s p i r i t u a l excellence) Give a loan, diminish t h i s food of your body, that there may appear the face (vision) of (that which) eye hath not seen. ( (R. A. Nicholson, ed. & t r . The Mathnawi Of Jalalu'ddin Rumi, 6 [London: Luzac & Co. Ltd, 1968]), p.11. 130 This schema i s adopted from B e d i l , a mystic who wrote i n the late seventeenth century (A. Schimmel 1975:153). Informants included the three groups: elders, adults and youth. Data used i n the table i s from my f i e l d notes. 131. Chapter 5 The Ritual Performance Of Ghat-p"at^: Formation And Activation Of A Cognitive Model. The r i t u a l ceremony of ghat-pat encapsulates the core of the Is m a i l i t r a d i t i o n . We have established so far that the I s m a i l i t r a d i t i o n i s informed by two major but opposing categories of material and s p i r i t u a l . The relationship between the material (defined i n terms of form, m u l t i p l i c i t y and a c t i v i t y ) and the s p i r i t u a l (understood i n terms of essence, unity and repose) i s ambiguous involving a dynamic play of opposites. We explored t h i s theme i n * r e l a t i o n to a r t i c u l a t i o n of space at d i f f e r e n t l e v e l s : Jama*at Khana, body imagery, and food. In the following pages, I present data giving a detailed description and analysis of the ceremony of ghat-pat at three l e v e l s : f i r s t , the ceremony reveals the s t r u c t u r a l * model which shows how the I s m a i l i t r a d i t i o n i s articulated s p a t i a l l y within a symbolic framework. The second l e v e l explicates an interplay between the s t r u c t u r a l form of the ceremony and i t s activation by the participants. Here, i t emerges that such an activation culminates i n the inward ' s p a t i a l ' journey expressed i n the image of the heart. Las t l y , I cover differences i n attitudes showing how the participants use r i t u a l to express the vi c i s s i t u d e s of s o c i a l l i f e as they experience i t i n th e i r daily l i f e . The differences i n attitudes reveal that the participants experience two forms of space and time: the t r a d i t i o n a l , symbolically expressed i n the ceremonies, and the emergent a r i s i n g from t h e i r new environment. 132 The Formation Of The Cognitive Model ( i ) The Setting: Ghat;-pat i s a Sanskrit word compounded from ghat, meaning vessel used for water, and pata, which i s a low rectangular table. Functionally, 'ghat-pat 1 r e f e r s to a set of vessels used i n the ceremony. The vessels, c o n s i s t i n g of three round plates, one round bowl, eight mini-bowls, and one jug, are wrapped i n a white square c l o t h diagonally t i e d with two knots and covered with a white towel. The set ( i . e . 'ghat-pat') i s placed on the r i g h t side of the pat beside which i s kept a lamp, a container f or incense, and a b o t t l e containing niyaz (holy water). On the l e f t side i s placed sukreet which i s a cooked dish ( r e f e r to diagram 15). The ceremony can be performed by any member of the congregation who has acquired competence i n r e c i t i n g the du^a (congregational prayer) and i n following the various steps through which the ceremony i s 'unfolded'. The ceremony i s performed i n the Jama''at Khana i n the early hours of the morning and on Fridays and s p e c i a l occasions i n the evenings. The ceremony i s also referred to as ab-i shafa which i s a Persian term. 133 Diagram 15 The Setting pat - rectangular i n shape and white i n colour. •" ~ - — — — — — — — _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 1. 2. 3. i sukreet ghat-pat (cooked) (round & white) assistant performer vessel Key: 1. Lamp. 2. Incense. 3. Bottle f i l l e d with niyaz. ( i i ) Primordial Symbols. The three symbols of white, l i g h t and water form the core of the i cognitive model. Among Is m a i l i s , white indicates the l i m i n a l . The illuminating studies of Van Gennep (1909) and Victor Turner (1962, 1969) have shown the importance of the l i m i n a l phase during a period of t r a n s i t i o n from one status to another. As t h i s i s a marginal status, t h i s i s the time of 'symbolic enrichment' when members of a c u l t u r a l t r a d i t i o n draw upon sources X34 of rejuvenation. Among Ismailis, i t i s revealing to note the s h i f t s of meaning attributed to white i n the context of l i f e cycles. White i s s p e c i f i c a l l y used as an a t t i r e during the i n i t i a t i o n ceremony of newly-born children, marriage (white i s only worn by women) and death. A newly-born c h i l d s i g n i f i e s the state of primordial purity as t h i s stage e n t a i l s minimal contact with the material world. The white cloth (unstitched) covering a corpse symbolizes a l a s t attempt marking a series of ceremonial stages to 'purify' the soul of the deceased. The white dress of a bride and the white worn by women on other occasions provide a symbolic juncture for achieving s p i r i t u a l rejuvenation. Through the symbol of white, women's role as mediators between the material and the s p i r i t u a l receives further emphasis. The s h i f t of meaning from b i r t h to marriage and then to death relates to the two planes of unity (an attribute of s p i r i t u a l l i f e ) and m u l t i p l i c i t y (an attr i b u t e of material l i f e ) . B i r t h marks an entry into material l i f e , death marks an ex i t ; from material l i f e , while marriage s i g n i f i e s a climactic point of deeper involvement i n material l i f e (expressed i n terms of family and kin t i e s ) . This point i s i l l u s t r a t e d i n Diagram 16. 135 Diagram 16 Symbol Of White Encoded In The L i f e Cycle Of Individuals. Marriage B i r t h (primordial purity - deemphasis on gender). (climaxes mediating point between material and s p i r i t u a l l i f e - emphasis on gender). Death ( p u r i f i c a t i o n of material impurities - deemphasis on gender). White i s a s p i r i t u a l colour as i t i s associated with the q u a l i t i e s of purity and s i m p l i c i t y . In the context of the l i f e cycle, i t i s used progressively, marking the three stages of b i r t h , marriage and death. In the ceremony of ghat-pat, white remains constant and i s the all-pervasive colour. This i s because the vessels used, the c l o t h , the towel and the pa^ are a l l white. By contrast, the two symbols of water and l i g h t are used more acti v e l y and progressively marking a number of stages. Light i s switched on at the commencement of the ceremony and switched off 2. when the ceremony comes to an end. Oral exegesis has revealed that i n the past dipak, (lamp) l i t with p u r i f i e d butter and not e l e c t r i c i t y , was used for the ceremony. The fact that an e l e c t r i c table-lamp i s used i n a l l Jama*at  Khanas reveals i n an interesting manner the usage of technology, with i t s i m p l i c i t basis of r a t i o n a l i t y and l o g i c , i n the r i t u a l context. The use of a man-made item as opposed to a r e l a t i v e l y natural form ( l i k e that of dipak) 136 paradoxically conceals the revelation of natural powers which i n the r i t u a l are primordial powers. Nevertheless, the lamp, though a modern product, i s not used for u t i l i t a r i a n reasons on the pat. A l l Jama Sit Khahas are w e l l - l i t , and the ' l i g h t ' on the ghat-pat i s only l i t when the ceremony i s to be performed, and switched off as soon as the ceremony i s over. In other words, l i g h t marks the symbolic release of generative powers, an ir r u p t i o n of the s p i r i t u a l on the plane of manifestation. The elderly members of the community informed me that when the l i g h t i s switched on, the ruhani (the souls of the deceased) and the angels j o i n the ceremony. These beings depart when the l i g h t i s switched o f f . Their presence thus evoked sunders the boundaries which otherwise contain the everyday experiences of Ism a i l i s . In th e i r conversations, Ismailis attribute l i g h t (Nur) as a quality of the divine, and t h i s Nur, they say i s present i n the Imam. In the ceremony, water i s a symbol through which the generative powers of the s p i r i t u a l also referred to as sacred can be observed 'from the beginning to the end'. I n i t i a l l y , the water i s placed on the f l o o r s i g n i f y i n g a primordial state. Through a number of r i t u a l stages, the water i s transformed into ab-i qhafa. As the water i s kept i n a vessel on the f l o o r , i t s r i t u a l o rigins are beyond the structure of the pat. Water i s given 'form' when i t i s poured i n the kumph (bowl). Exegetical material reveals that at th i s stage, the water presents a microcosmic image of man. The image presented i s that of the kumfah as a body and the water as soul. This i s exemplified as follows: 137 Ya shah kumfohe bhan<Jhiyo j a ' l rahe j a l l vina kurabh ne hoye teme ginane bahijhiyo manh rahe gur vina ginan ne hoye. (ghat-pat n i du'a 1953:8) Translation: The soul i s contained by the body Yet without the soul, the body cannot ex i s t S i m i l a r l y , the mind i s 'enlightened' by knowledge Without the Imam, there cannot be knowledge. In the above verse, the relationship between the body and the soul i s defined mutually. The soul i s given 'form' by the body which contains i t while the body i s given l i f e by the soul. Beyond t h i s , the mind (manh) i s 'held i n place' through wisdom which i s imparted by the gur (meaning Imam). The above verse encapsulates the I s m a i l i cosmic order. Man's unique status, containing the contraries of the body and the soul i s given expression within a symbolic framework. At another l e v e l the idea which i s emphasised i s that of the acquisition of wisdom. In t h i s context, the concept of purity i s taken beyond the idea of cleansing. In an I s m a i l i t r e a t i s e compiled i n the thirteen century (Kalami P i r ed. and t r . by W. Ivanow 1935:90), the symbol of water i s expounded as follows: Ablution means the returning to the knowledge of the Imam, because water i n the system (hadd) of t a ^ w i l symbolizes the knowledge of the r e a l truth (haqiqat). While i n the kumbh, water i s transformed into ab-i shafa through congregational prayers and the addition of holy water (niyaz) from the bottle. Ab-i shafa i s r i t u a l l y poured into mini-bowls from the kumbh for consumption 3 _ by the participants. Verbal exegesis maintains that the ab-i shafa i s the Nur (Light/Divine Knowledge). The attitude of the participants i s c r u c i a l i n determining the l e v e l at which they would be able to acquire 'Divine, Knowledge' which l i k e water, i s inexhaustible. This point i s exemplified 138 c l e a r l y i n the firman where Imam Sultan Muhammed Shah explained that the soul i s not purified just by 'drinking water and clay' (mati). The benefits from ab-i shafa can only be derived i f the Iman and the heart are 'pure' (Zanzibar 9.7.1899). A common image used by Al-waezeens ( s p e c i a l i s t s on exegesis) compares hans (swan) and bgla (duck). These are names of birds which have contrary eating habits. Ducks eat anything which comes on their way, while swans pick thei r food s e l e c t i v e l y . Those who are l i k e ducks go ' t h i r s t y ' , while sugra (those who are on the rig h t path), l i k e swans, drink to th e i r heart's content. Participants are aware of the importance of the intention with which ab-i shafa i s consumed. An elderly woman explained: When we drink ab-i shafa", we are consuming Nur. Through the Nur, the heart ( d i l ) becomes p u r i f i e d . We only benefit i f we have the rig h t intention and understanding. In the context of transformation, water becomes a mediating element the effect of which i s f e l t not so much at the cognitive l e v e l but during the time when i t i s consumed. V i s i b l y i t i s water, but inside the heart ( d i l ) , ab-i shafa i s 'Light'. P u r i f i c a t i o n of the heart e n t a i l s a movement towards a state of unison and repose. The setting of the ceremony reveals that the primordial elements of water, l i g h t and white are given 'form' by the structure of the pat. The pat with i t s four corners represents the universe with an i m p l i c i t center which points to the sacred. The pat reaffirms the two levels of contraries and mediation. The four corners of the pat, giving r i s e to the d i v i s i o n of right and l e f t and i t s i m p l i c i t centre, symbolize the two planes of m u l t i p l i c i t y and unity respectively. The structure of the pat i s reiterated i n the four corners of the white c l o t h and the white towel i n which the ghat-pit i s 139 wrapped. As the round shape of the vessels used contains an i m p l i c i t center, i t also reaffirms the presence of the sacred. The primordial elements reveal the generative powers of the sacred domain. These powers have thei r locus on the plane of movement and phenomena as well as that of unity. The ceremony of ghat pa^ as i t 'unfolds' ( l i k e the c l o t h i n which 'ghat-pat;' i s wrapped) provide two more contexts i n which the above theme i s expounded further. These are: (a) the timing of the ceremony and (b) the stages through which transformation of water i s effected. Below, I present the data and the analysis of these contexts. ( i i i ) Timing Of The Ceremony Of Ghat-pat The categories of material and s p i r i t u a l are e x p l i c i t l y recognized i n terms of day and night respectively. Earning a l i v i n g , attending to the family and performance of the daily tasks are considered to be material a c t i v i t i e s which are to be pursued during the day. Night (apart from the s i x hours of sleeping)*is to be dedicated to the nourishment of s p i r i t u a l l i f e to be accomplished through prayers. In the ginan 'so k r i y a ' , t h i s point i s expressed as: Din ughe karo dharamsu ka dhantha rat pade thavo sahebji ka banda Translation: During the day earn your l i v i n g honestly when night f a l l s become a devotee of the Imam (sahebji). 14© and reiterated at several places i n the firmans. Here we note the quality of material l i f e as being compounded i n form. Pursuit of daily a c t i v i t i e s demands a greater d i v i s i o n i n terms of gender and age. In contrast, s p i r i t u a l l i f e i s presented i n terms of s i m p l i c i t y . The l a t t e r i s understood i n the form of a deemphasis on gender and age and the emergence of a unitive entity l i k e the jama ca*t. The ceremony of ghat-pat i s performed d a i l y i n the mornings and on Fridays and ceremonial occasions i n the evenings. Early morning prayer i s considered to contain greater s p i r i t u a l forces than the evening prayer. This i s because the l a t t e r takes place at the end of the day when a person i s exposed to and 'accumulates' impurities from material l i f e . Morning prayer precedes the pursuit of material l i f e i n the day and hence takes place i n a state of purity. Several elderly informants presented the following view: Morning time i s the time of Nur. Those who want to 'meet' Allah (khuda) go to Jama'at Khana at t h i s time. Evening time i s kept for the removal of material impurities. The timing of the ceremony points to an important difference. In the mornings, the d a i l y performance of the ceremony takes place i n an existing state of purity. The evening ceremony, performed occasionally, contributes to the cleansing of impurities accrued during the day. In the o v e r a l l context of the mornings and evenings, the generative powers of the ceremony have different symbolic connotations which brings to l i g h t the following contraries: 14X Morning Evening dawn sunset commencement of material a c t i v i t y end of material a c t i v i t y 'primordial state of purity' purity - achieved through cleansing. The d i s t i n c t i o n recognized between morning and evening prayers i s transcended i n r e l a t i o n to daytime. At t h i s l e v e l , morning and evening form one unit which i s dedicated for r i t u a l and worship: So (give) glory to God, When ye reach eventide And when ye r i s e In the morning. There are no preliminary preparations required i n the ceremony. The formation of the cognitive model pertaining to the manifestation of the 'sacred' i s a re s u l t of the pa r t i c i p a t i o n of the assembled congregation (Jama*at). This i s important i n view of the fact that the congregation i s a unified group r e f l e c t i n g the s p i r i t u a l q u a l i t i e s of purity, 'power' and s i m p l i c i t y . The ceremony of ghat-pat can be performed by any male, female, or young adult, none of whom are given further recognition since the performer acts on behalf of the congregation. The performer s i t s behind the pat where the folded gha^-pat i s placed. Next to the performer s i t s the person (assistant) who di s t r i b u t e s sukreet a f t e r ab-i s h i f a i s consumed. (s.xxx:17). (i v ) Stages effecting Transformation In The Ceremony: Stage 1 - The Arrangement Of The Ghat-pat 142 Alternatively, the performer may s i t i n between two assistants i n which case the ghat-pat i s placed, i n between two plates of sukreet. The arrangement of the ghat-pat i s shown i n diagram 17. Diagram 17 The Arrangement Of ghat-pat Arrangement No.l. Assistant Performer sukreet ghat-pat Kumbh (center) plate plate (symmetry) Arrangement No. 2 Assistant Performer Assistant sukreet ghat-pat sukreet kumbh (center) plate plate (symmetry) Note: Each of the plates contain four mini-bowls. There are a number of dimensions which come to l i g h t i n the way i n which ' ghat-pat' i s arranged on the pat. T r a d i t i o n a l l y , the 1 ghat-p"at' was arranged on the righ t side of the pat and not the center. Center as essence becomes revealed on the ri g h t side, r i g h t being the symbol of action. 143 Of l a t e , i n order to accommodate the 'fast pace' of modern l i f e , the 'gha^-pat' i s placed i n between the two plates of sukreet. This arrangement points to the p r i n c i p l e of condensation which i s also operative i n other situations noted throughout t h i s study. Nevertheless, the 'ghat-pat' i s never placed on the l e f t . Furthermore, we have a d i s t i n c t relationship between the center (as represented by the kumbh) and the p r i n c i p l e of symmetry as imaged i n the arrangement of the plates and the mini-bowls. Here, the symbolic manifestation of the sacred highlights two forms: f i r s t , when the sacred becomes manifest i t follows the 'law' of d i v i s i o n - the center i s not one but two, and i n the context of the ceremony there i s a further extension into four and eight. These numbers are s i g n i f i c a n t because I have never seen an odd number of mini-bowls on the plate. (My observation was confirmed by informants). Although the center becomes manifest (that i s i t appears i n a divided form), i t s manifested form continues to carry i t s essence. In the ceremony, the essence ( i . e . the center) i s symbolically represented by the round shape of a l l the vessels. Another quality of the sacred i s that i t s primary manifestation i s i n the form of an order. This order i s formed by the p r i n c i p l e of symmetry which adds a sense of harmony to the ceremony. As with the a r t i c u l a t i o n of space i n Jama'at Khana, the sacred objects are never kept haphazardly; they are arranged i n an orderly manner and the p r i n c i p l e of symmetry contributes to the creation of t h i s order. P r i o r to the arrangement of the 'ghat-pat', the l a t t e r i s r i t u a l l y cleansed. The r i t u a l act i s confirmed by the fact that the 'ghat-pat' i s otherwise spotlessly clean. T r a d i t i o n a l l y , the 'ghat-pat' was cleansed with water. Presently, t h i s step i s condensed into the wiping of the 144 vessels after which they are incensed. The r i t u a l cleansing of the vessels symbolizes the idea of purity. This point i s reiterated i n the ginan; Kapda dhowe so kiya huwa D i l dhowe so paweh Translation: What do you gain i f you just wash your clothes You w i l l only benefit i f you cleanse your heart. ( P i r Sadar din, " E j i sham ku ayanta" couplet 5). Here the outward act of washing the clothes i s extended to include the inner dimension of the heart. The arrangement of 'gha^-pat* portrays the two levels of m u l t i p l i c i t y and unity. Stage two: Enactment Of A Primordial Event: Once the ghafc-pat has been l a i d out, the performer pours water from the vessel (ghdhi) into the kumbh (main bowl) to which a few drops of niyaz from the bottle are added. Formerly, the niyaz was i n the form of a 'tablet' made from sacred clay. The kumbh i s then covered with a l i d u n t i l i t i s time for the r e c i t a t i o n of the second prayer (dufa). The l a t t e r i s re c i t e d by the performer of the ceremony. The du^a i s composed of s i x parts, and at the end of the f i f t h part there i s a pause f o r a s i l e n t prayer. Before the du*a i s resumed, the performer picks up the small jug, f i l l s i t up with ab-i shafa from the kumbh and pours i t into the eight mini-bowls and on the sukreet. Everytime the mini-bowl i s f i l l e d , the performer says: 'firman' and the participants respond with the words: 'Ya-Ali Ya Muhammed'. This takes place nine times, corresponding with the eight mini-bowls and the sukreet and then the performer continues to r e c i t e the duST u n t i l i t i s completed. 145 The second stage i n the ceremony i s an enactment of a primordial event consisting of the manifestation of the sacred on the plane of phenomena and becoming. The event at one l e v e l results from a 'harmonious' combination of two contraries: water and 'matter'. This combination i s reminiscent of the creation of Adam, comprising matter and s p i r i t . Water, o r i g i n a l l y i n a formless state, i n the context of the r i t u a l i s given form by being contained i n a vessel (kumbh). Water i s a l i q u i d substance without colour or shape. The vessel i s s o l i d , round i n shape and white i n colour. The contraries are mediated through the element of niyaz which was formerly 'sacred clay'. The l a t t e r partakes of the Divine essence and i t s created form. While the niyaz transforms the water and makes i t 'pure', i t ' s sacredness i s i n t e n s i f i e d through the r e c i t a t i o n of dufa. Congregational prayers e n t a i l a number of body movements among which the act of prostration i s primary: But bow down i n adoration And bring thyself The closer (to God) (s.xciv:19). In the context of the ceremony, the r e c i t a t i o n of the prayer and the peak moments of prostrations represent a l e v e l of transcendence whereby the contraries of water and matter are momentarily dissolved into the essence (the n i r i n j a n i . e . formlessness) of the Divine. This moment i s captured and symbolically enacted i n the pouring of ab-i shafa into the mini-bowls. The communicative mode used i s that of 'firman' (said by the performer) with the response from the Jama *at: 'Ya A l i Ya Muhammed'. The firman i s the Qur*anic kun (be) representing the time before the world was created. Ya A l i Ya  Muhammed represents the manifestation of the Divine i n a perfect form. S u f i t r a d i t i o n attributes two connotations to the name of Muhammed. In a hadith of the Prophet: 'I am Ahmad (= Muhammed) without the l e t t e r "M"' (Schimmel 146 1975:224), Ahad i s interpreted as being 'One' (tawhid) and creatureliness i s attributed to the l e t t e r 'M'. The I s m a i l i t r a d i t i o n considers the Imam to be the mazhar (the 'manifested' form) of the Divine i n the world of phenomena. These examples show that a s i g n i f i c a n t focus of the ceremony of ghat-pa^, i s to show how the contraries and manifested forms are transcended and given a unitive form (refer to Diagram 18). The completion of the second prayer marks the end of the process whereby the sacred becomes manifest i n the ceremony. In the following part, we s h a l l continue to examine the process whereby the q u a l i t i e s representing m u l t i p l i c i t y 'encounter' the sacred by means of mediation of contraries. Diagram 18 Enactment Of A Primordial Event In The Ceremony Of ghat-pat Primordial State State Of Creation State of Dissolution (transcendence) water (formlessness) Centre One water i n the kumbh water transformed (given form) hearing and speaking standing and s i t t i n g round, symmetry tri a n g l e four and eight into N%r (Light) silence prostration no shape No numbers (congregation) Activation Of The Cognitive Model ( i ) The Mediating Role Of Mukhi The q u a l i t i e s of the material world of movement and phenomena are f i r s t discerned i n the r i t u a l context when members of the congregation stand up and disperse to consume ab-i shafa. The h i e r a r c h i c a l order (classed as material) comes into focus as the Mukhi followed by the leaders consume ab-i shafa, prior to other members of the assembled congregation. The same order i s followed i n the female section. The Mukhi acts as a mediator between the hierarchical and gender divisions on the one hand and the congregation on the other. As we have already observed, the Mukhi forms part of the hierarchical order and i s also above i t ; he i s a 'leader' as well as part of the ...a4S congregation. The Mukhi's gender role i s affirmed at one l e v e l and transcended at another. In t h i s respect, we have a r i t u a l representation of the existence of the s p i r i t u a l quality of s i m p l i c i t y (lack of division) i n the midst of material l i f e which i s characterized by m u l t i p l i c i t y . ( i i ) Body Imagery: The usage of body imagery i s of considerable significance i n the activation of the cognitive model i n the ceremony. In the Islamic/Ismaili t r a d i t i o n , the upright and the prostrated postures of man are two symbolic p o l a r i t i e s around which the status of man i s r i t u a l l y defined. The upright posture i s recognized as the prerogative of man which gives him a higher position on earth i n r e l a t i o n to other forms of creation: We have indeed created man In the best of moulds. (s.xcv:4). Nevertheless, man i s also assigned the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of c u l t i v a t i n g the s p i r i t u a l l i f e i n the midst of material pursuits. This being a mammoth task, man i s asked to 'remember' (worship) Allah i n order to achieve s p i r i t u a l rejuvenation. During t h i s time, i t becomes necessary for man to abandon his material concerns momentarily and t h i s gesture i s symbolically depicted i n the act of prostration. In the ceremony of ghat-pat, the participants perform a 'half-prostration' pose i n order to pick up the mini-bowl containing ab-i  shafa. T h i s has symbolic significance as the pose f a l l s in-between the upright posture and complete prostration which can only be accomplished while s i t t i n g on the f l o o r . The half-prostration establishes a l e v e l at which other parts of the body i . e . hands and face are activated. The performance of the ceremony by the participants involves the following body movements: When the participant (who i s standing i n a l i n e ) reaches the pat, he places a coin i n a plate and picks up the mini-bowl with his right hand. The action requires a half-prostration as the pats are low. The mini-bowl i s held on the right palm which i s placed over the l e f t palm. The participant then closes his eyes and offers a s i l e n t prayer. After t h i s , the participant opens his eyes and says: 1firman', to which the performer responds with the words: 'Ya A l i Ya Muhammed'. The participant then l i f t s the mini-bowl towards his mouth (with palms s t i l l held together) and 'drinks' ab-i shafa. Using his right hand, he puts the bowl back on the plate to be r e f i l l e d for the next person. The participant then moves on the l e f t where sukreet i s kept. He picks up a small piece of square paper with his r i g h t hand and positions i t i n the same manner as the mini-bowl. The performer's assistant takes a spoonful of sukreet and places i t on the paper. This act i s also accompanied by an exchage of words: 'Hay zinda', and 'kayam paya' (see diagram 19). Diagram 19 Body Imagery In The Ceremony Of Ghat-pat S p i r i t u a l World Of Simplicity Exterior (drinking) speaking open eyes Unitive Experience (state of enlightenment) Unison, (silence) Unison (prayers) Interior ('heart') Hearing closed eyes righ t hand Unison (palms together) l e f t hand Half Prostration (poised between the material and the s p i r i t u a l ) Upright Body Posture Material World Of Movement And Phenomena The above diagram reveals that the consumption of ab-i shafa involves a series of stages marking an upward movement which leads to the ultimate l e v e l of 'experience'. This upward movement i s marked by a symbolic unity (with an i m p l i c i t center) of two d i s t i n c t parts or acts of the body which reach a peak moment of experience. Each of the stages can be observed as follows: (a) The right hand (action) and the l e f t hand (repose) are brought together i n an act of unison through the mini-bowl containing ab-i  shafa. Here we have the two primordial symbols of white and water with the geometrical motif of round. (b) The closing and opening of the eyes i s injected with an act of prayer. Here the inward act of praying mediates the outward movements of 'opening' and 'closing'. (c) In the acts involving speaking and hearing, the in t e r j e c t i o n of silence brings about a unitive state. (d) The f i n a l act of 'drinking' i s a movement which climaxes a progression from an outward into the inward state. The inward state i s symbolized by the heart which i s a symbol of the presence of the Divine. While the experience of being cleansed i s s t i l l fresh (at least conceptually), the participants move towards the l e f t and partake of sukreet (sweet dish) comprised of the following: 152. Ingredients used i n sukreet S p i r i t u a l Material ab-i shafa semolina milk sugar butter Sukreet i s eaten and i t marks a symbolic 'descent' into the world of phenomena and movement. This point can be exemplified through the explanation offered by s p e c i a l i s t s : ^ (a) Semolina flour s i g n i f i e s patience and suffering as t h i s ingredient i s ground into 'nothingness'' from i t s o r i g i n a l form. (b) Sugar i s a symbol of happiness. (c) Milk symbolizes purity (d) Butter i s a symbol of unity. The c u l t i v a t i o n and nourishment of the above q u a l i t i e s lead to the advancement of the s p i r i t i n i t s journey towards the Absolute. Just l i k e water (which i s transformed into Nur), sukreet i s also transformed i n the ceremony. In i t s former state when the dish i s cooked, i t i s known as s i r o . When ab-i shafa i s poured into i t , i t becomes sukreet. Sukreet i s made of f i v e ingredients out of which four are s o l i d and are commonly used i n the preparation of foods i n material l i f e . The f i f t h ingredient, ab-i shafa represents the s p i r i t u a l . 152 Sukreet i s a symbolic expression of the presence of the s p i r i t u a l i n the material. I t i s important to note that the material i s expressed i n terms of q u a l i t i e s which allow the ' s p i r i t ' to f l o u r i s h . The point which i s expressed i s that the material elements need to be 'transformed' before they can be infused with q u a l i t i e s from the s p i r i t u a l . This i s an expressive theme i n the ceremony of gha^-pat^. The s p i r i t u a l quality i n the form of ab-i shafa i s 'poured' into the material product which i s presented i n a transformed state so that i t can r e f l e c t the presence of the s p i r i t . In parts one and two of t h i s chapter, we have seen the formation and activation of the cognitive model revealing the two processes of the manifestation of the sacred and i t s infusion into the 'transformed' material world. The pr i n c i p l e of c e n t r a l i t y and symmetry characterizes the manifestation of the sacred. The centre points to the origins and therefore acts as a mediating element while the p r i n c i p l e of symmetry simultaneously contains contraries as well as a sense of order (as instanced i n the arrangement of 'ghat-pat'). The a c t i v a t i o n of the model, which commences with the consumption of ab-i shafa, highlights body imagery where the contraries l i k e those of r i g h t / l e f t , open/close are mediated through the symbolic act of unison. In t h i s way, hearing and speaking relate to the unitive act of silence. Although the pr i n c i p l e of contraries and mediation govern both the processes of the formation and the ac t i v a t i o n of the model, there i s an important d i s t i n c t i o n which i s c r u c i a l . The formation of the cognitive model symbolizes the 'descent' of the sacred. For example, the water i s i n i t i a l l y placed on the f l o o r away from the 'structure' of the pat. Activation of the model s i g n i f i e s an 'ascent' from the material to that of the s p i r i t u a l . The 15*. ascent commences cognitively when the participants 'activate' body gestures. The two processes are i l l u s t r a t e d as follows: Diagram 20 Formation And Activation Of The Cognitive Model S p i r i t u a l World 1 Formation of the cognitive model (descent into the realm of p l u r a l i t y ) Consumption of ab-i shafa (activation of body gestures) m c Activation of the cognitive model (ascent into the realm of unity) Material World Key: c.c. contraries m. mediation. 15S I t i s important to note the subtle s h i f t s of elements which function both as part of contraries ( m u l t i p l i c i t y ) as well as mediators (unity). This pr i n c i p l e w i l l lead to deeper insights into the process of adaptation to the vic i s s i t u d e s of l i f e as Ismailis experience i t i n th e i r new homeland. Some of th e i r major concerns are covered i n part I I I of t h i s study. Nevertheless these concerns form the subject of discussion soon a f t e r the congregation disperses. In the following part, I present some of the topics which form the subject of conversation i n the Jama cat Khana and make observations on some of the issues which have emerged as a re s u l t of the 'interaction' between t r a d i t i o n a l patterns of thought and developing trends from the western Canadian environment. As noted e a r l i e r , i n the Jama'at Khana, some of these issues have been expressed through r i t u a l . V icissitudes Of Social L i f e In Relation To R i t u a l Once the participants have consumed ab-i shafa, they disperse and converse informally with other members of the congregation. This i s one time i n Jama*at Khana which i s r e l a t i v e l y unstructured. Inside the Jama^at Khana, the gender d i s t i n c t i o n continues to be observed, and during t h i s time the conversation topics r e f l e c t the differences i n interests and aspirations between men and women. The former most commonly cover the areas of business, economic issues, and career goals, while the l a t t e r cover topics which range from h a i r s t y l e s and dressing, c h i l d care, domestic issues and, of l a t e , education and job opportunities. Those participants who have stepped outside the Jama'at Khana h a l l and have put on t h e i r shoes intermingle on a non-gender basis. 156 This time of unstructured a c t i v i t y , though not given any formal recognition, i s considered to be v i t a l for the participants; my data reveal that i t provides a strong motivation for attendance i n Jama t a t Khana. A large number of Ismailis obtain useful information through the exchange of ideas pertaining to ' l i f e i n Canada'. Several informants revealed to me that they obtained jobs just by talk i n g to other I s m a i l i s who happened to know of existing vacancies. Likewise, young mothers with newly-born babies obtain useful hints about the 'dont's and do's' by ta l k i n g to others who have already gone through, as one mother explained, ' c r i t i c a l stages of motherhood.' Apart from the exchange of information, Jama'at Khana provides the 'center' where t i e s among friends, acquaintances and kinship relations are strengthened. I t i s one of the places where the network of s o c i a l t i e s can be extended as new friendships are formed. I t i s common for young g i r l s and boys to meet i n Jama <at Khana and c r y s t a l i z e t h e i r friendship i n the form of matrimonial t i e s . For the elders, Jama^at Khana i s a 'heavenly refuge'. A number of the elderly males and females informed me that they spend thei r whole day with the expectation of going to Jama^at Khana. One elderly lady related: I do not think that I would have been able to survive i n t h i s country without Jama c a t Khana. This i s because the elders being confined s p a t i a l l y (lack of s o c i a l interaction) during the day time, f i n d an 'open space' i n Jama ""at Khana where congregants interact before leaving for home. The need for the elders to go to Jama'"at Khana i s so v i t a l that i t has received special attention from the community. Elders are provided special transportation either through special mini buses or through cars driven by volunteers. 157 The informal time i n Jama ^ at Khana r e f l e c t s a number of environmental features. In essence, i t points to characteristic urban l i f e where people have r e l a t i v e l y less time for s o c i a l interaction. Were i t not for the Jama<,a~t  Khana, the s o c i a l interaction among Ismailis between males, females, males and females, elders and young and among youngsters and elders would be confined within a narrow range. I t i s a paradoxical feature of urban l i f e that though i t offers a greater range of options regarding various sectors of a c t i v i t i e s , the information pertaining to these a c t i v i t i e s i s not e a s i l y accessible. In t h i s respect, Jama^at Khana, through the network of s o c i a l interaction and community identity that i t sustains, provides a medium for the dissemination of such information. I t i s i n the midst of an unstructured interaction when the participants converse on a wide variety of issues, that they pause s i l e n t l y two times when the 'ghat-pat' i s re-folded. Technical terms used for t h i s process are 'ghat-pat uthapan/ji' and 'ghat-pat kayam ka r a n j i ' . These are considered to be si g n i f i c a n t steps as they mark the 'ex i t ' of sacred powers with an emphatic note to the eff e c t that they are eternal and w i l l return again. The 'ex i t ' of powers i s also expressed through the departure of the s p i r i t u a l beings who are believed to be present during the ceremony. The ' s i l e n t pauses' when prayers are recited are s i g n i f i c a n t reminders of the continual presence of the s p i r i t u a l i n material l i f e . Such an awareness i s considered to be v i t a l for an I s m a i l i . 158 Continuity And Change. ( i ) The R i t u a l Context. We have already made note of the two s t r u c t u r a l changes made i n the ceremony of ghat-pat. These are the omission of water i n the r i t u a l cleansing of 'ghat-pat 1 and the placement of the kumbh in-between two plates of sukreet. These measures point to the p r i n c i p l e of condensation which has emerged i n response to the modern emphasis on 'efficiency' and maximization of time. Participants informed me that i f these changes were not made, the ceremony would take longer both for the performer as well as the participants. There are a number of other concerns which reveal i n a t e l l i n g manner some of the ways i n which Ism a i l i s are adapting to t h e i r new environment. There are two matters which have arisen i n r e l a t i o n to sukreet. F i r s t , there was a b r i e f attempt to substitute sweets for sukreet. The reasons ci t e d were that as sweets are bought ready-made, i t saves time and e f f o r t and that sweets are more 'manageable' as sukreet can f a l l on the carpet amd make the l a t t e r s t i c k y . I gathered from informants that the Jama cat's sentiments were hurt and the attempt was abandoned. Secondly, there are some objections raised to the eating of sukreet because of the high-caloried ingredients of butter and sugar. Some of the participants take a grain of sukreet instead of a spoonful though i t should be emphasised that no-one refuses the 'sacred of f e r i n g ' . One of the questions which i s often discussed among participants i s whether i t i s respectful to take a grain instead of a spoonful. Although some of the participants f e e l that a 'sacred of f e r i n g ' should be taken respectfully ( i . e . the whole spoon), the participants seem to have resolved the issue i n three ways: 15S (a) Some participants take the whole spoon and eat i t with the understanding that the c a l o r i e factor i s irrelevant i n t h i s case. (b) Others take a whole spoon, put a few grains i n the mouth and give the rest to the children. (c) Others take only a few grains from the spoon. In t h i s case instead of the palms only two fingers are used. The fact that three different alternatives have been worked out i s a recent phenomenon. An adult male explained: These days 'anything' i s acceptable. People are given considerable amount of freedom. In the past there would only be one way of doing things and everybody would be expected to follow i t . Conversations with respondents revealed that at one point there were some questions raised regarding the hygenic factor involved i n a number of people drinking ab-i shafa from one mini-bowl. Objection was raised on the grounds that germs could be transmitted i f one bowl i s shared by a number of participants. This example points to a clash between the t r a d i t i o n a l attitude of sharing based on communal s o l i d a r i t y and the ' r a t i o n a l i s t i c ' understanding of modern science where the interests of the i n d i v i d u a l are given foremost attention. The objection was short l i v e d as the participants consume ab-i shafa without any hesitation with an i m p l i c i t understanding that 'infection does not spread i n a sacred place l i k e that of Jama ca*t Khana'. One mother exemplified t h i s point further: I have been giving ab-i shafa to my daughter since she was one month old . She i s f i v e years old now and I do not remember her having caught any infe c t i o n because of t h i s practice. In fa c t , when I go to Jama cat Khana I l e t other children play with the toys of my daughter. When children are small they put thing_s i n t h e i r mouth but no type of in f e c t i o n can spread i n Jama'at Khana. During a ceremonial occasion, I observed an instance whereby a f l o r a l arrangement was placed on the pat of ghat-pat . As we have noted, professionally arranged flowers are placed on other pats. As t h i s incident did not recur, I inquired further and was informed that i t was odd and inappropriate to have flowers on the pat of ghat-pat. I t seems that the flowers 'violated' the basic structure of the ceremony which comprises the primordial elements of l i g h t , white and water. Beyond t h i s , the flowers would complicate the ' s i m p l i c i t y ' of the ceremony expressed by the element of water. I t i s illuminating to note that on ceremonial occasions there are special items placed on the pats of Mukhi and Mukhyani. For instance, the milk which i s kept on ordinary days i s replaced by sherbat which i s an enriched drink containing i c e cream, almonds and colour. The water which i s 'transformed' into ab-i shafa i n the ceremony i s invariably kept i n i t s basic form. The attempt to place a f l o r a l arrangement on the pa^ was at one l e v e l an expression of 'modern affluence' that more people are enjoying i n the west. As t h i s addition seemed to affect the s t r u c t u r a l coherence of the ceremony, i t was rejected. ( i i ) L i f e Cycle: 161 Regardless of the reasons why a pa r t i c i p a n t may be present i n Jama L a t khana. he i s exposed to the cognitive model which, through r i t u a l expression continues to embody fundamental p r i n c i p l e s of the I s m a i l i t r a d i t i o n . However, these p r i n c i p l e s are perceived not so much at the l e v e l of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of r i t u a l symbols but i n t h e i r a c t u a l i z a t i o n i n various s i t u a t i o n s . Given the progressive movement from material to s p i r i t u a l l i f e , embodied i d e a l l y i n the l i f e cycle of i n d i v i d u a l s , the responses from the par t i c i p a n t s f e l l i nto the following categories: the elders, the adults and the youth. The above groups demarcate i n a t e l l i n g manner some of the developments which have occurred within the community over the l a s t f i v e decades. The elders with whom I conversed are r e t i r e d i n the sense that they do not work outside the home. A l l of them spoke i n G u j e r a t i . The adults represent the category of working males and females with the sole exception of some mothers who had opted to stay at home to tend to t h e i r c h i l d r e n . The adults used English as well as G u j e r a t i . Many of the youths whom I talked to had been to school or were going to school i n Canada. Although I expected d i f f e r e n t responses from them, t h i s was not always the case. E l d e r l y Informants: I t must be c l e a r l y understood that ab-i shafa has numerous bene f i t s . But these benefits are only e f f e c t i v e i f understood in the r i g h t s p i r i t . The benefits cannot a l l be acquired at once. I t i s a gradual process and i n r e l i g i o u s matters one must learn to be patient. I myself have always believed that ab-i shafa has a pur i f y i n g e f f e c t on the soul. Our soul i s l i k e a mirror; the more i t i s cleaned the better w i l l be the r e f l e c t i o n . Ultimately of course i t i s a matter of visvas ( f a i t h ) . F a i t h i s a very powerful force, i t can achieve a l o t ISZ for us. I f one does not have f a i t h then one might just as well not participate i n the ceremony. I believe that ab-i shafa p u r i f i e s our hearts and t h i s leads to sabudi (wisdom). You know, when my children were small, I used to give them ab-i shafa early i n the morning. I think that my children grew up to be a l l right - they do not have any bad habits l i k e drinking or smoking. Ab-i shafa* has many benefits. These days not many people understand*^ People are becoming too m a t e r i a l i s t i c . The most common terms which were repeatedly used by elderly informants when they talked about r i t u a l s were: purity, unity, wisdom, and f a i t h . The elders firmly adhered to the b e l i e f that these q u a l i t i e s could be acquired i f ab-i shafa" i s consumed with understanding. The enlightenment so acquired would enable one to l i v e 'meaningfully'. The meaningful content of th e i r l i v e s include b a s i c a l l y family and kinship t i e s , the Jama'"at and ultimately love and devotion to the Imam. With respect to the Jama ''at, which provides the framework within which a l l the r i t u a l ceremonies are performed, the following examples are i l l u s t r a t i v e of the p o s s i b i l i t i e s and l i m i t a t i o n s of the t r a d i t i o n a l world of the I s m a i l i s . I learnt from a male informant that an elderly man repeatedly performed the ceremony of du*a karawi. The Mukhi was baffled and upon inquiring i t was discovered that the man was performing the ceremony for fellow Ismailis i n Tanzania as he had discovered that 'they were i n trouble'. As i t so happened, the man was from Uganda and did not r e a l l y know these I s m a i l i s . The second incident relates to a male informant who revealed that every month he sends a certain amount of money to I s m a i l i orphans i n India because he f e l t that i t was his duty to help fellow I s m a i l i s . For the elders the 'enlightenment and the wisdom' derived from performances i n Jama'^at khana could be translated i n terms of assistance offered to other I s m a i l i s i n everyday l i f e . Their milieu of s o c i a l i n teraction included only Ismailis as 165 my observations i n d i c a t e that t h e i r contact with non-Ismailis was minimal. Marginal contact with outsiders occurred during v i s i t s to the doctor, shopping and occasional i n t e r a c t i o n with the neighbours. The Adults. The following extracts form a representative sample: I get psychological s a t i s f a c t i o n when I drink ab-i shafa. I f e e l that I have p u r i f i e d my heart and when I go out to work the next day, I would l i k e to maintain that f e e l i n g . I t r y and l i v e i n an Islamic manner i . e . t r u t h f u l l y and honestly. I think that the f e e l i n g of purity i s important. I also f e e l a greater attachment to other I s m a i l i s . I t i s important, i n t h i s day and age, to acquire peace of mind. When I go to Jama^at Khlna and p a r t i c i p a t e i n a l l the ceremonies, I f e e l d i f f e r e n t . I get a sense of inner contentment. I get inner s a t i s f a c t i o n when I drink ab-i shafa. I think that I would f e e l empty without i t . I r e a l l y believe that a b - i shafa p u r i f i e s my heart when I drink i t . Frankly, drinking a b - i shafa does not make any d i f f e r e n c e . I drink i t because i t i s our t r a d i t i o n . I do not think that r i t u a l s are very important. I would l i k e to spend more time i n meditation. Sometimes I get s a t i s f a c t i o n when I drink ab-i shafa; at other times, I do not f e e l anything. I t a l l depends on the frame of mind I am i n . The above extracts from conversations with adult males and females reveal subtle a t t i t u d e s and ideas which can be c l a s s i f i e d as being 'modern' as well as t r a d i t i o n a l . One of the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c features of modern l i f e i s i t s emphasis on i n d i v i d u a l i s m . This term i s used here i n the way i n which i t i s defined and understood by the I s m a i l i s . In sum, i t i s taken i n the form of 'openness' which enables a person to exercise choice out of a number of things. For instance, i n East A f r i c a going to Jamat/at Khana d a i l y was f o r 164-many Ismailis a regular a c t i v i t y . In Canada, individuals seem to make their own choices as to how they are going to spend thei r time, and t h i s attitude has affected many sectors of the current l i f e of the Is m a i l i s . The element of choice exercised at an indiv i d u a l l e v e l i s expressed i n terms of opinions and feelings, which are personal. The elders talked about the effects of the ceremony i n terms of 'we1, taking i t for granted that everyone should f e e l the same way at least i d e a l l y . The adults seem to express a wider range of opinions as instanced i n the phrases: 'psychological s a t i s f a c t i o n ' , 'peace of mind', and 'empty' which have a bearing on modern l i f e s t y l e . These are the terms which are commonly used to describe how individuals f e e l and experience t h e i r world. Beyond ' i n d i v i d u a l i t y ' , there i s an emerging clash between the 'modern s c i e n t i f i c a t t i t u d e ' , and the 'symbolic content', which forms an integral part of t r a d i t i o n a l cultures l i k e that of the I s m a i l i s . In the case of ghat-pat, the issue was at one point given expression i n terms of 'infection' by transmission of germs on the one hand, and the need to establish t i e s of brotherhood and sisterhood on the basis of sharing from one mini-bowl on the other hand. As we have noted, t h i s issue has been resolved i n favour of fostering community s o l i d a r i t y . In the case of sukreet, the sit u a t i o n appears to be more complex as participants who r e f r a i n from eating t h e i r share at least put a few grains i n t h e i r mouth overlooking the t r a d i t i o n a l view expressed by elders that 'a sacred offering should be taken and eaten as given'. The fact that a l l the participants take part i n the ceremony reveal that there i s an attempt made to accommodate both attitudes, the t r a d i t i o n a l as well as the modern. 165 In practice, a l l the three groups, the elders, the adults and the youths have continued to maintain the t r a d i t i o n of ghat-pat. Regardless of whether they believe i n the efficacy of the ceremony, they a l l consume ab-i shafa and have sukreet. Although the youngsters did not explicate the ceremony beyond repeating what th e i r parents or grandparents had t o l d them, namely that the ceremony had a purifying effect on the heart, they cherished i t as a form of t r a d i t i o n . The most common views expressed by the youths are: The ceremony of ghat-pat i s our anchorage which i s very necessary during times of change. I t i s our t r a d i t i o n and we should keep i t that way. I r e a l l y cannot say whether ghat-pat can purify our hearts as my mother says. But i t i s our t r a d i t i o n and I would f e e l l o s t i f someone came and t o l d me that t h i s ceremony has been omitted. Were i t not for the ceremonies, what would we do i n 'Khane'? At f i r s t about s i x years ago, I f e l t that the ceremonies did not serve any function. I thought i t was part of the 'excess baggage' that we had brought from East A f r i c a . But now I f e e l d i f f e r e n t l y . Why should we abandon our traditions? I f e e l r e a l l y nice when I participate i n the ceremony of ghat-pa^. I t i s so d i f f e r e n t from anything else that we do i n our secular l i f e . I believe that there i s symbolic significance i n the ceremonies. They are important because they help us to understand what r e l i g i o n i s . 166 Conclusion The r i t u a l ceremony of ghat-pat; has highlighted the interplay between the given structural content of r i t u a l and i t s actualization by the participants. The relationship between the two reveals the ambiguous organization of contraries. In the given content of the r i t u a l , we observed the process of mediation of contraries leading to an 'experiential moment' observable when the participants drink the 'sacred water' which ' p u r i f i e s ' the heart. However, once the participants disperse, the subjects discussed, informally, relate to d a i l y l i f e which the Ismailis c l a s s i f y as being material. Daily l i f e i s governed by a state of a c t i v i t y and m u l t i p l i c i t y as opposed to the state of unison and repose prevalent i n Jama 1at Khana. The Ismailis are aware of the reassertion of contraries and oppositions which confront them i n daily l i f e . In t h i s respect the 'heart' w i l l again be subject to impurities imbibed in the very act of l i v i n g . The Ismailis confront the ambiguity of mediation of contraries and t h e i r reassertion through the organization of time and space which accommodate both the material and the s p i r i t u a l . In da i l y l i f e , a sp a t i a l movement i s observable outwards spreading into a network of s o c i a l relationships. The time spent revolves around the notion of a c t i v i t y exemplified i n the culinary parctice. However, the presence of the s p i r i t u a l elements i s affirmed i n an otherwise material context of l i f e . The analysis of the culinary practice i n the next chapter shows how the presence of the s p i r i t u a l (embodying the temporal and s p a t i a l forms representing unity and repose) i s accommodated into space and time geared towards m u l t i p l i c i t y and a c t i v i t y . 167 Footnotes. 1. The term structure i s used to mean the i n t e r r e l a t i o n of parts or the prin c i p l e of organization i n a complex e n t i t y , The Houghton M i f f l i n  Canadian Dictionary Of The English Language, (Ontario: Houghton M i f f l i n Co. Ltd., 1980). 2. Oral and verbal exegesis was collected during fieldwork from f i v e s p e c i a l i s t s who gave interpretations of Is m a i l i r i t u a l s ; such interpretations are many times explained to members of the community i n gatherings organized for the purpose. 3. See note 2 above. 4. A. Nanji, "Ritual And Symbolic Aspects Of Islam In African Contexts," Contributions To Asian Studies, vol.17, (1982), p.106 and verbal exegesis confirm that sukreet symbolizes moral q u a l i t i e s . 168 Part I I I Daily L i f e Chapter 6 Food And Cosmos: Affirmation Of The S p i r i t u a l In The Material. Introduction Given the opposite but in t e r r r e l a t e d categories of material and s p i r i t u a l , space and time are ar t i c u l a t e d d i f f e r e n t i a l l y i n r i t u a l and d a i l y l i f e . In part I I , we discussed an inward movement into space and time epitomized by the state of unity and repose symbolized i n r i t u a l , emphasising the point that t h i s movement i s progressive and i s accomplished through mediation of contraries. In th e i r d a i l y l i f e , the organization of space and time i s directed outwards, creating a state of m u l t i p l i c i t y and a c t i v i t y . M u l t i p l i c i t y i s expressed through s o c i a l t i e s (family, kin and the outside world) while a c t i v i t y i s a function of cooking and earning of l i v e l i h o o d . In t h i s chapter I focus on the a c t i v i t y of cooking i n order to elucidate the point that although space i s organized d i f f e r e n t i a l l y i n r i t u a l and daily l i f e , they are in t e r r e l a t e d . In t h i s respect, the I s m a i l i culinary practice i s a symbolic expression of the I s m a i l i cosmic formulation incorporating the material and the s p i r i t u a l . As explained e a r l i e r , material and s p i r i t u a l reach the highest l e v e l of convergence i n man. In t h i s respect, man attempts to affirm the significance of the s p i r i t u a l order i n an otherwise material context. 169 I s m a i l i s define cooking as a material a c t i v i t y . There are two s i g n i f i c a n t features of cooking which are s p e c i f i c a l l y relevant to our a n a l y s i s . F i r s t , cooking i s a dynamic a c t i v i t y . We argue i n t h i s chapter that such an a c t i v i t y embodies d i f f e r e n t elements l i k e the c o n s t i t u t i o n of foods, modes of cooking, and the times when meals are served. Among I s m a i l i s , these elements though they appear to be material contain q u a l i t i e s which have a f f i n i t i e s with the s p i r i t u a l . Furthermore, cooking e f f e c t s a transformation of q u a l i t i e s from both the material and s p i r i t u a l . I t i s i n t h i s transformed state that a symbolic model of ' i n t e r a c t i o n ' between material and s p i r i t u a l i s presented. The second feature of cooking pertains to the r o l e of I s m a i l i women perceived as 'mediators' between material and s p i r i t u a l . Discussion of t h i s perspective requires an understanding of organization of space i n I s m a i l i households. Through references from l i t e r a r y sources and ethnographic p r o f i l e s of I s m a i l i women, we s h a l l demonstrate the dynamics of s p a t i a l organization as conceived t r a d i t i o n a l l y as well as i n the new Western m i l i e u . This point i s expounded i n the following chapter. Data Data f o r t h i s chapter have been c o l l e c t e d through observations of twenty f i v e I s m a i l i households i n Vancouver. These observations were made over a period of eight months during which time I had an opportunity to v i s i t each household at least once. A l l the households included married couples with c h i l d r e n . The v i s i t s were spaced out i n such a way that I had an opportunity to meet and observe the f a m i l i e s during day-time, evenings, weekdays, weekends and on f e s t i v e occasions. My observations on the preparation of food were 170 complemented with conversations, open-ended interviews and l i f e h i s t o r i e s . Beyond t h i s , my personal knowledge and experience of the community proved to be invaluable i n acquiring further insights into the households, p a r t i c u l a r l y the significance of cooking. Invaluable knowledge of the community i n the Western environment was also obtained during my v i s i t to Europe i n the summer of 1983 when I stayed with I s m a i l i families.* The Dynamism Of Cooking: The Symbolic Model. ( i ) Constitution Of Foods. I have not gone to work to-day, I have to cook. The above i s an extract from the conversation which I had with a female informant during my fieldwork. I t was 11 a.m. when I walked into the house of Rabia who i s married with three children and presently works i n an insurance firm. The f i r s t thing I noticed was a p l a t e f u l of raw onions which had been chopped with the 'kitchen magic' (a gadget). I soon learnt that a very special menu was being prepared for Rabia's in-laws who were a r r i v i n g from Tanzania. The menu arranged i n the serving order comprised the following items. 17X Diagram 21 Traditional I s m a i l i Menu Category Course 1 'sava (vermicelli) ('light') samu1sa (pastry) (heavy) Course 2 vegetable curry ('light') unleavened bread light/heavy Course 3 biryani heavy salad ( l i g h t ) Course 4 pudding ('light') f r u i t s ( l i g h t ) Elements f l o u r , sugar & butter f l o u r , meat o i l vegetables, spices & o i l flour Mode sweet - hot & f r i e d savoury - hot & f r i e d savoury - hot fried/boiled savoury -smoked r i c e , chicken savoury - hot o i l & spices fried/boiled raw vegetables 'neutral' cold milk, sugar eggs f r u i t s sweet - cold cooked sweet fresh, raw By staying at home i n order to prepare a t r a d i t i o n a l meal for her in-laws, Rabia was creating a situ a t i o n (temporarily) which would be considered as t r a d i t i o n a l . By comparison, S h i r i n (married with one son and working i n a day-care centre) and Noori (mother of two children running a food store) had come up with other alternatives to entertain t h e i r k i n . ShSrin had made preparations the previous night i n order to prepare a special meal for her mother in-law who was v i s i t i n g from Toronto. S h i r i n was obliged to include her brother in-law's family of f i v e where her mother in-law was staying. Shirin's menu consisted of: 172 Diagram 22 Canadian/Traditional Menu Course 1 Category sava CTight') Course 2 chicken t i k a ('heavy') Chinese r i c e ('heavy') Course 3 ice cream ('light') Elements flour,sugar & butter chicken & spices r i c e , meat & vegetables milk & sugar Mode sweet - hot fr i e d savoury - hot roast or g r i l l e d savoury - hot boiled sweet - cold ready-made Noori decided that she could not cope with eight r e l a t i v e s from her s i s t e r in-law's household and so she opted to take her guests to a Chinese restaurant. Noori informed me that t h i s was an economical way of entertaining though she could not do t h i s too often as i t was s t i l l expensive to take people out for a meal. While the i n v i t a t i o n was graciously accepted, i t led to tensions and s t r a i n as Noori decided to leave out her sister-in-law's three children aged thirteen and over. Noori f e l t that she could not take everyone as i t would be expensive. I discovered i n r e l a t i o n to other households that there were times when, because of pressures of having to cater for too many people, children and sometimes other members of the household were not i n v i t e d . This i s another example of the prin c i p l e of condensation at work, though i n the above example feelings of bitterness were expressed. Noori related that her s i s t e r in-law made i t quite clear that i f her children were l e f t out on other occasions, she would not accept future i n v i t a t i o n s . 173 The two menus i n diagrams 21 and 22 reveal t r a d i t i o n a l patterns of the Isma i l i culinary system, as well as emergent patterns. The l a t t e r are expressions of extraneous c u l t u r a l influences. We s h a l l examine both the areas i n so far as they relate to the question of continuity and change. Traditional I s m a i l i cooking i s a symbolic expression of the way i n which material and s p i r i t u a l are juxtaposed and complemented by means of mediation. Is m a i l i cuisine consists of heavy and l i g h t foods. Heavy foods r e f l e c t elements from the material world while l i g h t foods have closer a f f i n i t i e s with the s p i r i t u a l world. We have observed e a r l i e r that the material i s defined by the q u a l i t i e s of m u l t i p l i c i t y and c u l t u r a l 'impurities'. As opposed to t h i s , the s p i r i t u a l i s characterized by s i m p l i c i t y (conceived i n terms of lesser divisions of parts) and purity. Primarily, the categories of l i g h t and heavy foods are c u l t u r a l l y defined, though some physiological connections may also be observed. In the f i r s t menu, the core dish served i s bi r y a n i . Without t h i s dish, the other courses would not comprise a meal. The main ingredients used are meat, r i c e and o i l . Biryani i s categorized as heavy and t h i s state i s empirically expressed i n terms of ' f i l l i n g up the stomach'. Consider the following incident related by S h i r i n : Two years ago, I went to Kenya to v i s i t my family down there. I do not care too much for biryani or cu r r i e s . I think that such dishes make us put on weight and give us the 'Indian figure'. I expressed a preference for eating vegetables. Every home that I v i s i t e d , I was served with curry or bi r y a n i . If I did not eat the l a t t e r , everyone would say how can I f i l l up my stomach. I used to eat so much salads that people would say 'I was eating grass'. In the Is m a i l i t r a d i t i o n , eating and f i l l i n g up the stomach i s categorized as a material a c t i v i t y . As we have already observed, i n their homeland, Ismailis ate th e i r main meal at noon or a couple of hours before or 174 after the gathering i n Jama at Khana. This i s because a heavy stomach (which nourishes material l i f e ) and prayers (which nourishes s p i r i t u a l l i f e ) are considered to be incompatible. Beyond t h i s , the association of heavy foods with material l i f e covers categories of people to whom heavy foods are served primarily. These categories are: (a) Men (b) Family and kin (c) Invited guests The above categories represent different aspects of material l i f e . Men are expected to consume s o l i d foods as t h e i r involvement i n material l i f e , as bread-earners, i s more intense and active. When men 'go out' to earn the i r 3 l i v i n g , they encounter a host of situations which may be p o l l u t i n g . Whenever we go out to earn (kamava), we are confronted with janjad (web) i n which we have to manipulate a number of events and things. Sometimes we have to t e l l l i e s , at other times we make mistakes. We may hurt somebody's feelings. I f you are out there i n the world, i t i s very d i f f i c u l t to remain without gunah (mistakes). (Extract of a gujerati interview with a male informant) Earning i s regarded as the epitome of material l i f e . In the firmans and the ginans, a clear d i s t i n c t i o n i s made between material l i f e , associated with earning a l i v i n g , and s p i r i t u a l l i f e , which i s associated with prayers. Consider the following extracts. With entire absorption i n the work during the day and then higher prayers at night, a new l i f e may come provided the two occupations are t o t a l . So concentrate a l l your free time and thought to t h i s end. (Imam Sultan Muhammed Shah 7.5. 1953). E j i din ughe karo dharamsuka dhanda rat padhe thlvo sahebji ka banda 175 t r a n s l a t i o n : During the day time, earn your l i v i n g (honestly) At night become the devotee of the Imam, (verse from the girfan so kriya) My observations i n the f i e l d i n d i c a t e that I s m a i l i women commonly prepare t r a d i t i o n a l meals for the men, other members of the family and Jama''at Khana. Very l i t t l e or a minimal amount of cooking i s done when the men are not around. One woman related to me that while her husband was i n the ho s p i t a l (a period of f i v e days), she did not cook. She explained further that cooking r e a l l y meant making curry, r i c e and unleavened bread. Soups and boiled vegetables are not counted formally as cooking. The second category of people to whom s o l i d meals are served comprise family members and k i t h and k i n . The extended family unit which was prevalent i n t r a d i t i o n a l times required women to prepare a va r i e t y of dishes, a task which was accomplished by spending a number of hours (four to f i v e ) i n the kitchen. With the emergence of the nuclear family u n i t , t h i s p r a c t i c e does not seem to be prevalent though i t i s reactivated o c c a s i o n a l l y , as we observed i n the incident of the woman who stayed home to prepare a meal for her in-laws. The t r a d i t i o n a l p r a c t i c e of serving s o l i d foods to family and ki n represents the idea of kutumb parivar i . e . material t i e s . At one l e v e l , these t i e s represent material l i f e to the extent that the l a t t e r can entrap the s p i r i t . An e l d e r l y male informant exemplified t h i s f u r t h e r : During the time of Imam Hussein (second Imam). one of h i s followers requested the Imam to give him the opportunity to go on jung (war) so that he can s a c r i f i c e h i s l i f e f o r the Imam. In reply, the Imam asked his murid (follower) to go home and that he would be c a l l e d l a t e r on. Soon a f t e r , the Imam made arrangements for h i s murid to have a house and a wife. After some time, he had c h i l d r e n . Then one day, the Imam sent a messenger asking his murid to take part i n the Iung^ On 176 hearing t h i s request, the murid replied: 'Tell the Imam to find somebody else to-day. I s h a l l come tomorrow'. The above anecdote i s a dramatic i l l u s t r a t i o n of the entrapment of the s p i r i t i n the material world considered as a matrix of family t i e s . The form of entrapment i s complex as the murid's state of having been entrapped i s not realized u n t i l i t i s time to act. I t i s the moment of action which r e a l l y determines the position of the protagonist i n the story. The idea that family t i e s can entrap the s p i r i t i s reiterated i n one of the ginans compiled by P i r Sadar-din: E j i pinjar padiyS pariwar no koike bujate Jan. Translation: The cage of pariwar (family) has f a l l e n (over us) only a few people r e a l i z e t h i s . From the above, we can see that there i s a correspondence between family and kin and material l i f e . As the family primarily consumes s o l i d foods, the close association beteen the l a t t e r and material l i f e i s also established. Likewise, my knowledge of the community and f i e l d observations indicate that inv i t e d guests are invariably served s o l i d food^, as defined t r a d i t i o n a l l y , or i t s adapted variations which are emerging i n the Canadian milieu. Guests also represent a form of material l i f e as they s i g n i f y a web of s o c i a l t i e s which might entangle the s p i r i t . Oftentimes, I have heard that women are not able to go to Jama **at khana when they have guests for a meal. Having established the categories of people to whom s o l i d foods are served and seen how these categories represent part of material l i f e , we now focus our attention on the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c features of s o l i d foods. Three main items used i n the preparation of heavy dishes are: meat, o i l (ghee) and r i c e . I s m a i l i s c l a s s i f y meat as a status food. I f one i s able to 177 purchase meat for daily consumption, and able to serve generous portions to guests, one i s considered to be wealthy. However, the consumption of meat embodies an ambiguity. One area where t h i s ambiguity i s p a r t i a l l y expressed i s i n the firmans of the 48th Imam, S i r Sultan Muhammed Shah. Within the ov e r a l l context of generating an awareness of health among Ism a i l i s , the Imam emphatically made the point that meat i s to be consumed i n small quantities, preferably two or three times a week (Kalam _a Imam e_ Mubin, Firmans from 1911-1951 part 2, 1951:195, 207, 219, 306, 339, 402, 477). Overconsumption of meat w i l l lead to the creation of a 'graveyard' i n the stomach. On the other hand, underconsumption of meat w i l l lead to an anemic condition. My field-notes and general observations of the community show that Is m a i l i s , compared with t h e i r diet i n East A f r i c a , consume less meat presently. This trend i s p a r t i a l l y the result of the 'modern' awareness of the benefits of consuming less red meats. Mehdi, a s i x t y year old widower observed: I t i s now that we are eating less meats. Our Imam told us a long time ago not to consume too much meat. The ambiguity surrounding meat consumption i s expressed more intensely when we note that i n spite of the awareness to ' s t r i k e a balance', meat i s generously served to guests, consumed on fes t i v e occasions and brought to Jama''at khana in the form of food-offerings. In order to understand t h i s further, we need to examine the attitudes surrounding the consumption of meat. Among the foods mentioned i n the Qur'an, the consumption of meat seems to pose a problem. Meat does not f a l l into the category of 'good' and 'pure' foods unless the name of Allah has been invoked on i t (s.v:4-5). The fl e s h of swine, dead meat, and blood are prohibited to a l l Muslims ( s . i i : 1 7 3 ) . In the Garden of Eden, among a l l the bountiful things which God provides for Adam, 178 there i s no mention of meat. The forbidden 'tree' (according to I s m a i l i t r a d i t i o n ) i s wheat. The consumption of meat by man commences when men are sent to earth - a place of t o i l and struggle. A large part of t h i s struggle e n t a i l s the revelation and development of the s p i r i t u a l i n the material world. In t h i s struggle, the image depicted by animals presents an ambiguity for man, man can be beastly or angelic. In the creation of the universe, man i s placed just one stage above the animals. While man attempts to ascend into the s p i r i t u a l world, he can also descend into the world of animals, that i s to say man can become l i k e animals. In the firmans.^ several references are made to the effect that i f man sleeps, eats and procreates l i k e animals, what i s the difference between man and animals? I m p l i c i t i n these references i s the idea that man should continue to remain above the world of animals i n terms of his actions and thought. Animals present an image of what man can become i f he continues to remain i n the material world. This i s one aspect of the explanation. There i s , however, another view which i s equally s i g n i f i c a n t . This relates to man's position as 5 being the crown of creation. In the Qur'an and other l i t e r a r y sources, man has been assigned a superior position by virtue of the fact that he i s the only being through whom the s p i r i t u a l can become manifest i n the material world. In t h i s respect, man can consume meat provided he does not over-indulge and thereby become too involved i n material l i f e . At a cognitive l e v e l , meat symbolically presents two models: the f i r s t conveys the image of zanvar tthat man can become l i k e animals i f the material overshadows the s p i r i t u a l . The second conveys the image of man being above the animal world, and therefore able to enjoy meat. We learn from the Qur'an that everything on earth has been created for the benefit of mankind.** In 179 summary, meat as a core item of the s o l i d foods symbolizes man's active involvement i n the material world as conceived i n the Is m a i l i cosmos. Nevertheless, while man can consume meat, he has to remain above the p o s s i b i l i t y of becoming l i k e an animal. In the remaining part of the chapter, we s h a l l continue to explore t h i s point which has been given symbolic expression i n the culinary system of the I s m a i l i s . Before we proceed, we have yet to look at the two ingredients used i n the preparation of s o l i d foods: ghee ( o i l or butter are presently substitutes) and r i c e . 180 We used to get t i n s and t i n s of ghee (purified butter) i n our house. I would say ghee was used for every single dish that was prepared i n our house. We never used to f a l l sick because of ghee. Ghee contains takat (strength) and i t i s saro khorak ('good food'). The above i s an extract from the conversation with Mehdi. Ghee has presently been substituted by o i l , especially i n the preparation of savoury dishes. Given the present awareness of cholesterol i n the butter, some modifications have been introduced into I s m a i l i cuisine. This point w i l l be discussed at a l a t e r stage. For our immediate purpose, the two q u a l i t i e s of ghee namely that of strength and 'good food', as understood t r a d i t i o n a l l y , w i l l engage our attention. Takat i s a quality that Ismailis consider as being v i t a l for s p i r i t u a l as well as material progress. Without 'strength' a person cannot take any action: But Islam f i r s t and Ismailism more so i n s i s t s on action; without action f a i t h i s useless; without action prayer becomes pride. (Imam Sultan Muhammed Shah 7.5.1953). In the i r everyday conversations, Ismailis commonly use the term takat to refer to material as well as s p i r i t u a l a c t i v i t i e s . A person who can perform both the a c t i v i t i e s i s considered to be blessed with a l o t of takat. Women during post-natal care, people recuperating from i l l n e s s e s , and elders were t r a d i t i o n a l l y served with foods which contained ghee so that they might acquire renewed takat. I learnt from conversations with informants that the quality of saro khorak has an affective import. Saro khorak leads to the c u l t i v a t i o n of 'good thoughts', defined i n a context enabling the s p i r i t to reach i t s destination while being i n the material world. In terms of i t s function, there are two other q u a l i t i e s of ghee which can account for i t s t r a d i t i o n a l popularity. These are the q u a l i t i e s of binding 181 and 'purity'. Ghee (and currently o i l / b u t t e r ) serve to 'bind' the ingredients used i n preparing a dish. In sukreet, butter i s a symbol of unity, and 'binding' i s s i g n i f i c a n t as, i n the I s m a i l i cosmos, a l l forms of creation are interrelated. This point i s also f o r c e f u l l y expressed i n terms of communal s o l i d a r i t y . The quality of purity i s understood at a natural l e v e l . Ghee made from butter (a milk product) i s pure as i t i s least tampered with by man. Both the symbolic as well as the functional q u a l i t i e s of ghee r e f l e c t elements which are associated with s p i r i t u a l l i f e . Yet ghee i s an ingredient which i s used both i n the l i g h t and heavy dishes and i n sweet and savoury items. T r a d i t i o n a l l y , i n the I s m a i l i culinary system, ghee forms a mediating element which symbolically effects a transformation i n the two areas of material and s p i r i t u a l . Ghee i s both a contrary as well as a mediating element. In one context i t contains q u a l i t i e s which are opposed to the material world, while i n another i t becomes part of the l a t t e r and by doing so transforms i t . Rice i s the staple food of the I s m a i l i s . I t forms part of the daily diet and plays a role i n ' f i l l i n g up the stomach'. Rice s i g n i f i e s the quality of abundance and s t a b i l i t y . When unexpected guests arrive for dinner, a common saying used i s : 'put extra r i c e into the pan' implying that i t would bring barakat (that i s , i t would be enough for everyone). The element of s t a b i l i t y i s understood i n the saying: 'Even i f nothing else i s available, at least we would have dar (grain curry) and r i c e to eat'. Compared with meat, r i c e i s a simple and an inexpensive item. I t i s valued for the barakat and s t a b i l i t y which i t brings. Barakat i s a blessing sent to man by God. The translation of the term given i n the Encyclopaedia of Islam i s that i t i s a "beneficient force, of 182 divine o r i g i n , which causes superabundance i n the physical sphere and prosperity and happiness i n the psychic order" (Colin:1032). The Ismailis believe that the Imam i s endowed with barakat which can be transmitted to his followers, given right and proper conduct inc l u s i v e of q u a l i t i e s l i k e honesty, i n t e g r i t y , s i n c e r i t y and generosity. Ismailis refer to barakat i n th e i r everyday conversations and the term seems to be confined to the material context of l i f e : business, food and children. (In the s p i r i t u a l context the term used i s rahmet, meaning divine grace and mercy). The presence of barakat can be recognized though i t s beneficient force cannot be explained r a t i o n a l l y . The following example from a children's story (al-Qisas 1980:15) i s i l l u s t r a t i v e . A mother having had a long day went to school to pick up her daughter, Tasreen. After she arrived there, she remembered that she had in v i t e d Tasreen's friend Sajeeda for supper. On that day she had prepared a 'simple' meal of k i t c h r i (grain and r i c e ) and yogurt. While the two g i r l s were eating supper, having fun as they pretended that the serving of k i t c h r i was a mountain with snow peaks (yogurt), the mother received a phone c a l l from her son Irfan asking i f he could bring a f r i e n d , Aftab, for supper. The mother unhesitatingly gave permission, though she knew that there would not be enough food for everyone. I t so happened that everyone had a number of helpings and there was s t i l l plenty to go around. Tasreen noticing the generous portions served to everyone said: "There i s so much, Mummy," she exclaimed. " I t must be a magic dish!" "Well, pet, that i s what you c a l l "Barkat" ( s i c ) . There i s always plenty when you have friends. Food served with an unselfish and true heart i s always plenty when you have v i s i t o r s sharing_a meal," explained Mum watching happily the big mountains of k i t c h r i streaming away. I S ? In the combination of meat, ghee and r i c e we have the symbolic presentation of status, strength, goodness, abundance and s t a b i l i t y . We.have established that s o l i d foods primarily s i g n i f y material l i f e . But the l a t t e r includes elements such as goodness and abundance which are q u a l i t i e s of the s p i r i t u a l . Meat s i g n i f i e s the p o l a r i t i e s contained i n man (man can be both an angel as well as a beast). In t h i s respect, the culinary system of the Ismailis presents a cognitive model of material l i f e which affirms the presence of s p i r i t u a l elements. A further exploration of t h i s contention requires that we discuss l i g h t foods which are invariably combined with s o l i d (heavy) foods i n the meal. ( i i ) Light Foods. In the f i r s t menu prepared by Rabia, three kinds of l i g h t foods are included. F i r s t , a sweet dish which i s served hot (there are other kinds of 'sweets' which are served cold). Second, a savoury dish made of vegetables and served hot. Third, vegetables and f r u i t s served raw and fresh. 184 Diagram 23 Types of Light Foods As Included In The Traditional Menu Category 1 sweet hot or cold (cooked) Category 11 savoury hot (cooked vegetables) Category 111 raw (vegetables & f r u i t ) fresh/cold In the I s m a i l i t r a d i t i o n , a s i g n i f i c a n t amount of c u l t u r a l value i s attached to the serving of sweet items. A l l f e s t i v e occasions ( b i r t h , marriage, communal celebrations) are marked by the expression: 'make your We make our mouths sweet because we are happy. Sweet has a strong element of sharing; i f we are happy, we want to share t h i s happiness and therefore we serve i t to others. The c u l t u r a l significance of sweet i s affirmed by the fact that sweet dishes are not eaten as a 'meal' but are taken i n small quantities as a gesture of good w i l l . In times of d i f f i c u l t i e s , sweet items might be taken to Jama'at Khana as an o f f e r i n g , for a period of seven days. One mother observed that whenever deceased members of the family appear i n dreams, a sweet dish should be taken to Jama^at Khana. I t appears that sweet foods are associated with q u a l i t i e s (happiness, good w i l l , sharing) which s i g n i f y s p i r i t u a l l i f e . S i g n i f i c a n t l y , these foods provide a context for elucidating the principle of contraries and mediation through which material and s p i r i t u a l are complemented. mouth sweet'. Rahemat (a seventy year widow who l i v e s with her married son) explained: 185 Forming a part of a 'complete' t r a d i t i o n a l meal, sweet foods add symbolically the i m p l i c i t q u a l i t i e s of joy and happiness to an otherwise material context of eating. C h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y , a meal commences with a sweet item. The only time when sweet food i s served hot i s when i t i s taken as part of a meal. This procedure leads to the 'blending' of the dish with the main dish which i s always served hot and as we have seen represents the material form of l i f e . When sweet foods are taken to Jama Sit Khana during times of d i f f i c u l t i e s , they are commonly considered as separate and apart from savoury dishes. At th i s l e v e l , sweet foods stand i n opposition to savoury dishes. Noorbanu (a middle-aged woman with two children) explained: When we take sweet foods to Jama Sit Khana, we are supplicating that the bitterness be taken away from our l i v e s . The bitterness can result from i l l n e s s e s , lack of unity or sheer gossip. I remember that when my children were young, they had to n s i l s and were hospitalized at diff e r e n t times. During both the times, I took a sweet dish to Jamata"t Khana for seven days and everything went w e l l . My children recovered very quickly. S p i r i t i s opposed to matter when the l a t t e r retards the s p i r i t ' s ascent to i t s o r i g i n a l abode. 'Bitterness', or any form of material d i f f i c u l t y , 'clogs and v e i l s ' the s p i r i t which otherwise attempts to ascend, using the ladder of material l i f e . In contrast to meat, there i s no ambiguity attached to the consumption of vegetables and f r u i t s , both of which form part of 'the bountiful things' provided by Allah for mankind (s. i i : 1 6 8 , 172-73). The Is m a i l i s categorize f r u i t s and vegetables as being nutritious and promoters of good health. Physical health i s understood i n terms of a 'temple' , which anchors the s p i r i t during i t s sojourn on earth. Except for the salads, vegetables are well-cooked and served hot while f r u i t s are preferred i n t h e i r raw form and 186 are eaten 'cold'. The importance of the categorization of l i g h t foods into cooked/hot and uncooked/cold i s examined below. Before we proceed, we should note that l i g h t foods are primarily served to infants, the elders, the sick and women during the i r post-natal period. These are the categories of people who are least involved i n material l i f e . Light foods on t h e i r own do not constitute a meal and are never served to guests. Compared with s o l i d foods, l i g h t foods lack the quality of 'heaviness'. In the context of a meal, (as we have observed), l i g h t foods and heavy foods complement each other, cognitively r e f l e c t i n g the l e v e l whereby material and s p i r i t u a l engage i n mutual interaction. There i s one more item which further elucidates t h i s form of interaction: unleavened bread, which i s categorized as neither heavy nor l i g h t . X87 ( i i i ) Unleavened Bread; Unleavened bread f a l l s into a special category at various l e v e l s . In terms of ingredients, i t i s a r e l a t i v e l y simple dish. Apart from a pinch of s a l t and a l i t t l e o i l and water, the bread i s made of whole wheat f l o u r . Elderly informants trace t h i s substance to have originated i n the Garden of Eden where Adam was instructed by Allah to enjoy a l l the bountiful things except wheat. Mehdi offered the following explanation: I t i s only when Adam ate the wheat that he acquired 'knowledge' of oppositions - saru (good) and narsu (bad). The above view i s s i g n i f i c a n t i n r e l a t i o n to the theme of t h i s study, to examine the c u l t u r a l strategies and cognitive models which form part of the heritage of the Is m a i l i s . These formulations are i n response to the basic challenge that man has accepted from Al l a h . In the Qur'an, i t i s mentioned that among a l l forms of creation including heavens and earth, i t i s only man who accepted the challenge to carry the 'burden' of s t r i v i n g to achieve s p i r i t u a l progress while being i n the material world. The image of wheat conveys the idea of t o i l and struggle that man has to go through on earth: V e r i l y We have created Man into t o i l and struggle. (s.xc:4). In s u f i imagery, wheat i s ground and kneaded and even mistreated u n t i l i t becomes bread; s i m i l a r l y , the human soul can mature only through suffering (Schimmel 1975:137). As a symbol of man's position on earth, unleavened bread has the ch a r a c t e r i s t i c of being simple i n three ways: (a) The ingredients used are minimal - mainly f l o u r . 188 (b) I t i s not subject to fermentation. In the Islamic t r a d i t i o n , fermentation carries the implication of an impurity affecting one's judgement. (c) Unleavened bread i s cooked i n a special manner which i s akin to the method of 'smoking'. Only an ungreased receptacle i s used. In t h i s respect, unleavened bread images the attributes of s i m p l i c i t y and 'purity'. Also, unleavened bread i s i d e n t i f i e d as the bread of the ori g i n s . Abraham served the bread to the three messengers of God on Q t h e i r way to Sodom (Gen. 18:6). The c u l t u r a l and symbolic value attached to unleavened bread can be judged by the fact that i t i s one of the most common foods served i n Is m a i l i homes and taken to Jama cat Khana i n the form of Nandi. In t h e i r o r i g i n a l homeland, i t was not uncommon for Ismailis to eat the bread two or three times a day. Some women who undertake manta ( a vow to do a certain thing for a period of time i n order to f u l f i l l a wish), take the bread to Jama*at khana for a period of seven or fo r t y days. An elderly widow who l i v e s with her widowed daughter informed me that when her daughter was finding i t d i f f i c u l t to get a job, she took bread and milk to Jama^at khana for seven days. As a consequence, her daughter found a job. Unleavened bread i s rarely eaten by i t s e l f . I t i s i n combination that unleavened bread has a c u l t u r a l and symbolic value: i t mediates the categories of heavy and l i g h t foods. Unleavened bread i s served both with meat as well as with vegetable c u r r i e s . I t can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, during which times i t i s served hot. As a snack, the bread can be eaten cold. In terms of si t u a t i o n s , the bread can be served as part of a family meal, included i n the guest menu or taken to Jama tat khana. 109 Beyond the l e v e l of f l e x i b i l i t y observed i n r e l a t i o n to times and situations, the basic method employed i n the preparation of unleavened bread can be extended to make sweet and savoury items. The most popular variation i s that of puri and parodha, both f r i e d . In t h i s form, they are categorized as heavy foods. Puri i s often 'converted' into a sweet or a savoury item through the addition of sugar or spices respectively. A revealing variation of unleavened bread i s samusa. pastry with a vegetable or a meat f i l l i n g . Meat samusas are considered to be heavier than vegetable ones. Preparation of samusas i s i n s t r u c t i v e . The pastry dough i s made with water, s a l t , o i l and f l o u r . The dough i s then kneaded i n the same way as unleavened bread. The dough i s divided into small portions, and r o l l e d into round shapes. A l i t t l e o i l i s brushed on each piece which i s then sprinkled with f l o u r . The pieces are placed on top of each other with sprinkled parts facing each other. The number of pieces placed together are commonly even, four, s i x or eight. Although I was not able to establish a connection between these and the even numbers of mini-bowls arranged i n the ceremony of ghat-pat, Q informants revealed that even numbers are a sign of good omen. The dough pieces are then r o l l e d into round shapes and placed on an ungreased heated pan. Through the heat, the layers (formally small pieces) are 'peeled o f f . The number of layers obtained i s determined by the number of r o l l e d portions put together. The round layered pieces are then r o l l e d into half and shaped into rectangular forms, by cutting off the end pieces. Each rectangular piece i s then shaped into a t r i a n g l e . This i s accomplished by r o l l i n g one end half way through and bringing the other end on top. The t r i a n g l e pieces are then f i l l e d with spiced cooked vegetables or meat. The peak of the t r i a n g l e i s then pasted to the rest of the pastry and deep-fried thereafter. 190 The d e t a i l s involved i n the preparation of samusas reveal an emphasis on geometrical motifs. A 'shapeless' dough i s f i r s t made into a round shape and, through a series of stages, given a rectangular form, then 'converted' into a t r i a n g l e . In Islamic architecture, geometrical motifs reveal an underlying ' s p i r i t u a l structure' through the pri n c i p l e s of c e n t r a l i t y , symmetry and rectangular forms, as we have already observed. I was unable to establish an empirical basis for direct l i n k s between geometrical forms as they appear i n the a r t i c u l a t i o n of enclosed space i n Jama < a t khana and i n the r i t u a l , and the forms employed i n the culinary system. Considering the grounding of the Is m a i l i culinary system within the cosmic order (which i s the contention of t h i s chapter), i t seems that the geometrical shapes i n the unleavened bread have a deeper symbolic value. So far we have already affirmed that the round shape which invariably contains a centre, symbolizes the presence of the Divine while the p r i n c i p l e of symmetry reveals the manifestation of the sacred on the plane of becoming. We noticed that i n the arrangement of the 'ghat-pat', we have a representation of the geometrical motifs: 1 9 1 Diagram 24 Geometrical Motifs In The Arrangement Of Ghat-pat Round kumbh (bowl) (1) 3 round pla four mini' (2f Key: (1) P r i n c i p l e of c e n t r a l i t y (2) P r i n c i p l e of symmetry (3) Rectangle represented by the pat. As we have already observed, the tri a n g l e i n the samusa i s a result of a series of stages s t a r t i n g from a 'shapeless form' which i s then made into a round form, a rectangular shape and, f i n a l l y , a t r i a n g l e . Although these shapes are i n t r i g u i n g i n the context of our study, (the round shape represents the sacred, the rectangular shape represents the manifestation of the sacred, and the t r i a n g l e represents the continued presence of the sacred on the plane of m u l t i p l i c i t y ) , I s m a i l i women do not make an empirical connection of t h i s nature. Rather, the elderly women att r i b u t e the q u a l i t i e s of patience, struggle, perseverance, and tolerance to the a c t i v i t y of cooking. Consider the following explanation given by Noorbanu: 192 When I got married, I was only seventeen years old. My husband had a large family. Apart from his parents, his married brother, who had two children, and his three brothers and two s i s t e r s who were unmarried li v e d i n the same household. I used to make forty r o t a l i s (unleavened bread) everyday besides curry, r i c e and a host of snacks. We used to have constant v i s i t s from guests. The women i n the house helped, but there was s t i l l a l o t of work i n the kitchen. When I look back on i t , I f e e l that spending so many hours cooking (though there were times when I resented i t ) helped me to acquire the q u a l i t i e s of patience and tolerance. 193 $ufi and Ismaili l i t e r a r y thought attach considerable amount of importance to the c u l t i v a t i o n of the q u a l i t i e s of patience and perseverance as they a s s i s t the soul i n i t s journey to i t s homeland. We learn from the works of s u f i s that: Only through patience does the f r u i t become sweet; only through patience can the seed survive the long winter and develop into grain, which i n turn, brings strength to the people, who patiently wait for i t to be turned into f l o u r and bread. Patience i s required to cross the endless deserts that stretch before the t r a v e l l e r on the Path and to cross the mountains that stand, with stone-hearted breasts, between him and his divine beloved. (Schimmel 1975:124) In many respects, unleavened bread both i n terms of preparation as well as symbolic value epitomizes the cosmic content. The l i g h t foods and the heavy foods are transformed through the process of interaction i n the dynamics of cooking. Unleavened bread i s a symbolic expression of t h i s dynamic process as i t forms part of l i g h t foods as well as heavy foods and contains elements of both. This point i s i l l u s t r a t e d i n the following diagram. 194 Diagram 25 Unleavened Bread As Mediator Of Light And Heavy Foods. Mediating Element unleavened bread f r i e d v a r i a t i o n s - transformation, sweet or savour 'heavy' Heavy Foods C u l t u r a l Meaning pu r i t y , patience, tolerance, struggle ordinary bread 'food of the o r i g i n s ' ' l i g h t ' Light Foods'* category elements value men meat status k i n r i c e abundance guests ghee s t a b i l i t y Jama *"at (served strength Khana hot) category elements value women vegetables purity elders f r u i t s simp-sic k 'sweet' l i c i t y i n f a n t s (hot or cold) The combination of heavy with l i g h t foods symbolically represent an i n t e r a c t i o n of elements from the material and s p i r i t u a l worlds. However, the process of i n t e r a c t i o n between the two e n t a i l s transformation. I t seems that elements from the material and the s p i r i t u a l cannot i n t e r a c t without departing from t h e i r raw states. One of the ways through which such a transformation i s effected i s through the medium of cooking. Based on t h i s observation, I would l i k e to submit the proposition that elements from the material world forego some of t h e i r material q u a l i t i e s i n order to appropriate q u a l i t i e s from the s p i r i t u a l world, and elements from the s p i r i t u a l world shed t h e i r absolute state of purity and s i m p l i c i t y so that they may be accommodated i n the material world. 195 The Culinary Triangle: The Raw And The Cooked Levi-Strauss's proposition that cooking belongs to both nature and culture and 'has as i t s function to ensure thei r a r t i c u l a t i o n one with the other' i s p a r t i c u l a r l y illuminating (1968:489). Given the fundamental premise of Ismaili cosmology where the material i s categorically different from the s p i r i t u a l , the mediation process involves two le v e l s . The f i r s t l e v e l relates to s o l i d foods, as epitomized i n the preparation of meat. The second l e v e l relates to l i g h t foods as epitomized i n the preparation of vegetables which are served cooked as well as raw. The l a t t e r category also contains f r u i t s , served raw. When meat i s cooked, the emphasis i s placed on transforming the ingredient from a raw to a cooked state. While t h i s may seem commonplace, among Ismailis half-cooked meat i s subject to severe c r i t i c i s m . At a l l times, special care i s taken to 'disguise' the raw form of the meat. This i s accomplished through slow cooking and preparation of thick gravy (masala). We have noted the large amount of ghee ( t r a d i t i o n a l l y used) i n the preparation of heavy foods. Ghee as a preservative not only a s s i s t s i n the process of transformation but maintains t h i s state u n t i l the food i s consumed. The importance of ghee can be discerned from the extra layer which f l o a t s on meat curries when the l a t t e r are served. My informants have observed that a meat curry cannot be called a curry unless there i s Rhee f l o a t i n g on the top. Nevertheless, i t should be emphasised that by and large Rhee was used pervasively i n the past, as Kassam explained: Things were different i n the past. Our l i f e s t y l e was dif f e r e n t . We used to l i v e active l i v e s . In f a c t , l i f e was nothing but struggle and hard work. I never knew or heard of relaxation that people t a l k so much about i n t h i s part of the world. Here there i s affluence and with affluence comes a 196 sedentary kind of l i f e s t y l e . Ghee i s not appropriate for thi s kind of l i f e s t y l e . Light foods, as we have already seen, are considered to be r e l a t i v e l y simple and pure. In the preparation of these dishes, minimal amounts of ingredients are used with r e l a t i v e l y l i t t l e ghee. However, when cooked they do not maintain t h e i r o r i g i n a l s i m p l i c i t y . Cooking effects a transformation through the ingredients used and through heat, emphasised i n the serving of hot foods. The l a t t e r i s understood i n two contexts both of which transform the foods from t h e i r raw to the cooked state. The foods are hot because they are cooked and also because of the addition of spices. Both processes are interrelated. The more the foods are cooked, the greater are the flavours from the spices. In both situations, hot i s an attribute of material l i f e . The spices transform the foods from t h e i r o r i g i n a l s i m p l i c i t y (raw and uncooked state) while the heat i n the cooking implies movement and a c t i v i t y which i s diametrically opposed to the elements of repose and t r a n q u i l l i t y . From the above we can submit that i t i s the quality of heat which effects one form of 'interaction' between material and s p i r i t u a l . In h i s pioneering works on the science of mythology (1969, 1973, 1978), Levi-Strauss i d e n t i f i e s three basic modes of cooking. These are: b o i l i n g , roasting and smoking. Based on these modes, Levi-Strauss constructs the culinary t r i a n g l e i n which the dividing l i n e between nature and culture can be drawn i n two ways. F i r s t , with respect to the means used, the modes of roasting and smoking (as no receptacle i s required) are on the side of nature. Boiled i s on the side of culture as through cooking i t effects transformation from a raw to a cooked state. Secondly, Smoked i s on the side of culture i n view of the results obtained, preservation of food. By contrast, the roast and the boiled are on the side of n a t u r e ^ as these suspend the natural 197 process of r o t t i n g . What i s of interest to our analysis i s that the basic modes of cooking can represent both the domains - those of nature as well as culture. In order to accomplish t h i s , there takes place a l l i a n c e as well as opposition. At one l e v e l , the roast and the smoked stand i n opposition to the boiled while at a second l e v e l the smoked stands i n opposition to the boiled and the roast (1968:490). The culinary t r i a n g l e of Levi-Strauss i s as follows: Diagram 26 The Culinary Triangle Raw Smoked Boiled Cooked Rotten The I s m a i l i culinary system employs three basic modes of cooking. These are 'smoking', b o i l i n g and f r y i n g . Among these, 'smoking' i s done on top of the stove on an ungreased pan and i s exclusively reserved for making unleavened bread. The modes of b o i l i n g and fry i n g are u t i l i z e d i n the preparation of both heavy as well as l i g h t foods. Most commonly, cooked dishes commence with Rhee/oil of which larger quantities are used i n the preparation of heavy foods. Ghee/oil i s used for the purpose of vaghiSr during 198 which time spices are added prior to the cooking of vegetables or meat. Informants related that t h i s method retains the flavours which i n the process of cooking are passed on to the main ingredient. Following the vaghar, the rest of the cooking employs b o i l i n g which i s done over low heat over a period of time. Both methods transform the raw state of the food which according to Levi-Strauss (1968), suspends the natural process of r o t t i n g . As noted above, i n I s m a i l i cuisine the process of transformation relates to d ifferent domains: material and s p i r i t u a l . S i m i l a r l y , f r y i n g and b o i l i n g belong to two different categories. Frying makes the foods heavy and f r i e d foods are primarily served to guests, to the family (especially on festive occasions), and taken to Jama^at khana. Boiled foods are only served to infants, elders, and people with special dietary needs. When the methods of frying and b o i l i n g are combined i n the cooking of vegetables and meat, we have yet another i l l u s t r a t i o n which presents a cognitive interaction of the s p i r i t u a l and the material. The pri n c i p l e of contraries and mediation i s at work i n the opposition and the combination of the two methods. 199 Diagram 27 P r i n c i p l e s Of Contraries And Mediation As represented In methods Of Cooking. smoked ( s p i r i t u a l ) (material) Meal Times If possible, we should never eat during the time of Jama lat  Khana. A heavy meal and prayers just do not go together. The above explanation offered by Nurbanu during one of our conversations takes us i n t o considering times when meals were t r a d i t i o n a l l y served i n I s m a i l i homes. The I s m a i l i s make a c l e a r d i s t i n c t i o n between the time of din (when exclusive attention i s given to the c u l t i v a t i o n of s p i r i t u a l l i f e ) and duniya which ov e r t l y pertains to the material world. This d i s t i n c t i o n i s c l e a r l y maintained i n the Qur^an, the firmans and the ginans. The following firman i l l u s t r a t e s t h i s point further: To achieve worldly prosperity i s necessary but i t i s more e s s e n t i a l to excel i n s p i r i t u a l progress. To attend to the worldly business i s incumbent but the a f f a i r s of the next world are more important than t h i s . This should never be forgotten ( s i c ) . (Nairobi 30.3.1945 emphasis mine). All a h the High has f i x e d time for attending to worldly business. The day i s for earning l i v e l i h o o d . Why God has created night? A l l night long i s not f o r sleeping, i t i s also for prayers and therein l i e s happiness. 200 I t i s enough for a man to sleep for 6 hours, but the rest of night should be spent i n prayers ( s i c ) . (Vadhvan Camp 18.10.1903) Within the above framework, the Ismailis c l a s s i f y eating as a material a c t i v i t y . Nevertheless, as we have observed, the I s m a i l i culinary system presents a symbolic model of the r e f l e c t i o n of s p i r i t u a l elements i n an otherwise material context. The following i s an elucidation of how t h i s i s embodied i n the structuring of the meals during the day, the week and beyond that on f e s t i v e occasions as well as during observance of f a s t i n g . * * I t should be noted that the following account i s constructed through the Anthropologist's ethnographic present and es s e n t i a l l y includes the practices which were observed t r a d i t i o n a l l y . The following i s an extract of a conversation with Shahida, a housewife aged 42. The l i f e s t yle over here i s quite d i f f e r e n t . In East A f r i c a , we used to have a big breakfast. I remember I used to make f r i e d unleavened bread almost everyday; both my daughter and my husband l i k e d i t a l o t . Once everybody l e f t for school or work, I used to go to the market everday to buy fresh f r u i t s and vegetables. The whole morning would go by very quickly as I was busy cooking. Everybody came home for lunch. Lunch menu consisted of vegetable curry, unleavened bread, meat curry and r i c e . Oftentimes, we had guests - either r e l a t i v e s or my husband's business associates. In the afternoons, I did a l i t t l e sewing and some cleaning. The children would come home from school around 4 p.m. and we would have tea and home-made snacks; I always kept snacks i n the house -sometimes neighbours and r e l a t i v e s dropped i n for tea. After tea, we would get ready to go to Jama *at Khana. My husband never came home before s i x or s i x t h i r t y . He would take a wash and have a pl a i n cup of tea. When we returned from Jama'iit Khana, we would then have dinner. I did not r e a l l y prepare anything s p e c i a l . Sometimes, we used to buy Nandi: othertimes we had something l i g h t l i k e kadhi (made with jrpj_urt} and khichdi (made with r i c e and grain). We used to eat l o t s of fresh f r u i t s . The above sample i s a t y p i c a l representation of meal patterns observed t r a d i t i o n a l l y i n I s m a i l i housholds. This pattern was confirmed by other 201 respondents and, as an I s m a i l i ethnographer, I had occasion to make similar observations i n East A f r i c a . Most commonly, the main meal of the day was consumed during lunch hour. Within the Is m a i l i scheme of material and s p i r i t u a l j t h i s i s the time when one's involvement i n the material world i s at i t s height. The day's work i s not completed and would resume i n the afternoon. This was also the time when considerable amount of entertaining was carried out i n the form of having invited guests for lunch. A young mother, Shahin, recalled: When I was young, I remember a household f u l l of people. At lunch time, we would always have somebody over. As guests and r e l a t i v e s e n t a i l 'worldly t i e s ' , we can establish another context which shows the correlation between material l i f e and midday. Interestingly, I have observed elderly I s m a i l i women saying a prayer at midday which points to an attempt to 'rejuvenate' s p i r i t u a l l i f e during the time when material a c t i v i t y reaches i t s height. The structuring of the meals during the day can be understood i n r e l a t i o n to the main midday meal which i s the heaviest. The main item served during breakfast i s unleavened bread which, i f not prepared d a i l y , would feature a number of times during the week. We have taken note of the elements of purity and s i m p l i c i t y symbolized i n the item, apart from i t s mediating function between heavy and l i g h t foods. Breakfast i s commonly eaten after the early morning prayers. S i g n i f i c a n t l y , the day begins with an awareness of s p i r i t u a l l i f e . The evening snack, a l i g h t meal, i s taken before Jama'at khana time, a time for worship and performance of r i t u a l s . Dinner i s consumed after returning from Jama''at khana. This kind of spacing r e f l e c t s the d i s t i n c t i o n which Ismailis make between material and s p i r i t u a l l i f e , with the i m p l i c i t recognition that eating i s not compatible with worship and meditation. 202 I s m a i l i s , who get up for early morning'prayers, do not consume any foods (except tea) u n t i l after meditation. Here, a brief period of abstention i s observed, dedicated purely for the s p i r i t u a l l i f e . The point which emerges as being importantly related to the theme of t h i s study i s that i n the midst of thei r material a c t i v i t y , ( l i k e that of eating), the Ismailis are cognitively reminded of the presence of s p i r i t u a l q u a l i t i e s . In the pattern followed for meals i n I s m a i l i households, we can observe a system of s i g n i f i c a t i o n which commences with s p i r i t u a l awareness, reaches a j heightened form i n the material world and ends with l i g h t foods or absence of foods reminiscent of the s p i r i t u a l . This pattern bears a close r e l a t i o n to the descent of man into the material world and his return to the o r i g i n a l abode i n the s p i r i t u a l as depicted i n I s m a i l i cosmology. A noticeable feature of the culinary practice i s i t s r e p e t i t i o n i n the form of cycles. Such a repetition has a bearing on the dynamics of l i f e whereby man i s constantly struggling to remain above the material - l i k e a w a t e r l i l l y i n the water. On Sundays, a s l i g h t l y d i f f e r e n t pattern i s observed on account of the fact that normally t h i s i s considered to be a day of rest. Although the material a c t i v i t y outside the home i s at i t s minimum, there i s a greater emphasis on family and s o c i a l t i e s . Sunday provides an occasion when k i t h and kin and friends get together and share a meal. On such occasions t r a d i t i o a n l foods comprising heavy and r i c h foods may be served. S i m i l a r l y , heavy foods are consumed on f e s t i v e occasions many of which are r e l i g i o u s festivals?"^A s t r i k i n g feature of these f e s t i v a l s i s that large quantities of foods representing a number of v a r i e t i e s are brought to Jama'at  Khana. Overtly, these f e s t i v a l s are r e l i g i o u s i n nature, that i s to say they are meant to create a heightened awareness of the s p i r i t u a l l i f e and i t s 203 associated q u a l i t i e s . The overt i n t e n s i t y of r e l i g i o u s l i f e corresponding with the intense expression of elements of the material (expressed through the medium of food) seem to point to the i d e a l model of the convergence of the material and the s p i r i t u a l . S i m i l a r l y , when Is m a i l i s observe the practice of fa s t i n g (twice a year), the f a s t i n g i s broken with a t r a d i t i o n a l meal. In the d e s c r i p t i o n of the meal patterns i n I s m a i l i households there seems to emerge one underlying theme. The theme expressed i s the manifestation of the s p i r i t u a l i n the material. The expression of t h i s theme i n the context of food incorporates a dynamic mode, forming an i n t e g r a l part of cooking i n a l l s o c i e t i e s . Part of the dynamism i s effected i n the transformation which cooking mediates and part of i t i s expressed i n the repeated cycle i n t e g r a l to cooking. In the next chapter, we s h a l l explore t h i s theme further, discussing the r o l e of I s m a i l i women as perceived t r a d i t i o n a l l y as well as i n the changing milieu dictated by l i v i n g i n the western world. 204 Diagram 28 Correlation Of Mealtimes With Material And S p i r i t u a l Worlds S p i r i t u a l World (prayers) v " -^prayers) morning \ / evening purity \ / purity s i m p l i c i t y \ / s i m p l i c i t y Midday * (combination of l i g h t and heavy foods) material a c t i v i t y Material World * Note the mediating function of midday 205 Conclusion The culinary system of the Ismailis provides a cognitive map which has a close bearing on the cosmic scheme whereby man's descent into the material world i s to be accomplished by the c u l t i v a t i o n of s p i r i t u a l l i f e . Such an undertaking would set man on a course leading to his ascent to the o r i g i n a l homeland i n the s p i r i t u a l world. I s m a i l i r i t u a l s encode a movement from the exterior (material) world to the i n t e r i o r ( s p i r i t u a l ) world personified i n body imagery where the clim a t i c symbol i s that of the heart. In the culinary system t h i s movement i s observed i n reverse: Food, prepared within the i n t e r i o r space of kitchen located inside the house, i s served to family, k i n and other members of the community a l l of whom represent the exterior material l i f e . In other words, exterior l i f e e n t a i l i n g a web of s o c i a l relationships acquires meaning i n r e l a t i o n to intense i n t e r i o r a c t i v i t y where women through the culinary system activate the model incorporating material and s p i r i t u a l elements. The relationship between r i t u a l and the culinary system i s represented i n the following diagram,.*: 206 Diagram 29 Cognitive Frameworks Perceived In Ritual: And The Culinary System. Ri t u a l S p i r i t u a l World Stage I I I : Heart as an embodiment of i n t e r i o r i t y (essence) Stage I I : interplay of Unity essence (centre) and phenomena. M u l t i p l i c i t y Stage I: Symbolic abandonment of material l i f e . Material World Culinary System S p i r i t u a l World Stage I: House: symbol of i n t e r i o r i t y Unity Stage I I : Mediating role of women s p i r i t u a l - culinary model of material and M u l t i p l i c i t y Stage I I I : Affirmation of material l i f e . Material World. 207 Footnotes: 1. I observed that Ismaili families i n Scandinavia had t r a d i t i o n a l foods more frequently than families i n Vancouver; Ismailis i n Scandinavia did not f e e l quite settled mainly because they are small i n number (about 200) and therefore they seemed to c l i n g to some of the expressive features of th e i r t r a d i t i o n , l i k e food. 2. Ghee was used t r a d i t i o n a l l y . Presently, i t i s substituted with butter and o i l . 3. Among Ismailis the term pollution i s used i n a s p e c i f i c sense; i t connotes the idea of impurities imbibed i n the very act of l i v i n g . 4. For instance refer to Kalam e Imam e Mubin: Firmans Of Imam Sultan Muhammed Shah, vol.1, (Bombay: Ismailia Association For India, 1951), pp.100,105,130,199,351-56. 5. Refer i n particular to Nasiru'd-din Tusi, Tasawwurat, t r . W. Ivanow, (Holland: E.J. B r i l l , 1950). 6. Suras - lxvii:23-24; lxxiv:12-15. 7. Imam Sultan Muhammed Shah: 28.1.1955. 8. Jean Soler: 'The Semiotics of Food i n the B i b l e , 1 Food And Drink In History ed R. Forster and 0. Ranum, (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979) pp.126-138. 9. The only exceptions are number f i v e and seven which are sacred numbers for the Ism a i l i s . 10. According to Ifevi-Strauss cooking mediates between the two extremes: burned meat and decomposed meat (1969:293). 11. Festivals which are most popularly celebrated are: the Imamat Day (July 11th), The New Year's Day (March 21st), Idd a l adha, Idd a l f i t r , the birthdays of the present Imam (Dec.13th), Imam A l i (the f i r s t Imam) and Prophet Muhammed and Mehra.j (the s p i r i t u a l 'journey' of the Prophet). 208 Chapter 7 Nurturing And Career Roles Of Is m a i l i Women. Introduction We f e e l that interpretation has a history and that t h i s history i s a segment of t r a d i t i o n i t s e l f . Interpretation does not spring from nowhere; rather one interprets i n order to) make e x p l i c i t , to extend, and so keep a l i v e the t r a d i t i o n i t s e l f , inside which one always remains. I t i s i n t h i s sense that the time of interpretation belongs i n some way to the time of t r a d i t i o n . But t r a d i t i o n i n return, even understood as the transmission of a depositum, remains a dead t r a d i t i o n i f i t i s not the continual interpretation of t h i s deposit: our 'heritage' i s not a sealed package we pass from hand to hand without ever opening, but rather a treasure from which we draw by the handful and which by t h i s very act i s replenished. Every t r a d i t i o n l i v e s by grace of interpretation, and i t i s at t h i s price that i t continues, that i s , remains l i v i n g . (Paul Ricoeur 1974:27) While a l l t r a d i t i o n s thrive on the basis of interpretation, t h i s process may be disrupted, accentuated or modified through extraneous c u l t u r a l influences. Among Ismailis ( l i k e many other communities), these influences have been encountered i n the form commonly known as 'the impact of the west'. The f i r s t phase of t h i s encounter took place i n East A f r i c a , the homeland of the majority of the Ismailis who presently l i v e i n Canada. The second phase, which e n t a i l s adjustment to the conditions prevalent i n North America, i s considered by the Ismailis as c r u c i a l . The note of urgency i s recognized at a l l l e v e l s . Consider the following views of an I s m a i l i scholar: The prospect of continuing influence i n our l i v e s of a western outlook raises a host of extremely pertinent questions. F i r s t of a l l , i t i s essential to r e a l i z e that the adoption of a way of l i f e i n the material sphere cannot but have consequences on one's outlook, on one's view of the world, and on one's general philosophy of l i f e . Furthermore, the less deliberate and selective such an adoption may happen to be, the more far-reaching i t s consequences on one's general outlook are bound to be. Those 209 who i n the heyday of the modernization of the community i n the past few decades, might have entertained the notion that provided we confined the changes i n our l i v e s to rai s i n g the hem-line and replacing biryani with steak and chips, our mental and s p i r i t u a l l i v e s would take care of £hemselves, could j u s t l y be charged with lack of realism. Rahim, an I s m a i l i elder who l i v e s with his married son observed: In India, the elders occupied positions of authority. In East A f r i c a , sons were i n charge but here i t i s the women who have taken over. Among the groups who are v i s i b l y isolated as being most affected by change are the women, the elders, and the 'youth'. In t h i s chapter, we w i l l explore the ramifications resulting from the changing role of women. We w i l l commence our discussion with the t r a d i t i o n a l role of women as expounded i n the Qur'an, the firmans, and the ginans so as to determine the material and s p i r i t u a l status of women. The framework which w i l l emerge w i l l enable us to acquire further insights into the family, the kindred, and the Jama'at Khana. In a l l these areas women have t r a d i t i o n a l l y played a c r u c i a l r o l e . Furthermore, a discussion of the emerging image of a working/career woman w i l l reveal how Ismailis have been accommodating to change, c o n f l i c t and t r a d i t i o n i n their new mi l i e u . B r i e f l y , we contend that the nurturing and career roles o£ Women e n t a i l a s p a t i a l change from a home to a working environment revealing a process of compartmentalization. 210 The Material And S p i r i t u a l Status Of Women As Defined In The Literary Souces. ( i ) The Qur»an Reverence God, through Whom Ye demand your mutual (rights) And (reverence) the wombs (That bore you): for God Ever watches over you. ( s . i v : l ) The metaphor of the 'womb' aptly captures the concepts of purity and cleanliness (s.ii:222-223, s.xxiv:l-24), protection (s.iv:34) and modesty (s.xxiv:30-31) through which the position of women i s defined i n the Qur'an. Being i n the womb i s a l i m i n a l phase for the human soul as i t prepares to embark on i t s journey to an earthly l i f e and back into the s p i r i t u a l world. Before the soul enters the material world, i t goes through a period of preparation which i s entrusted to women. The woman's task i s to nurture the human l i f e both materially as well as s p i r i t u a l l y . Ideally, women's a c t i v i t i e s (cooking, maintaining s o c i a l t i e s ) , the q u a l i t i e s which they personify (patience, chastity, v i r t u e , tolerance, and love) and the sphere i n which they primarily function, the home ( s i g n i f i e s shelter, protection), provide a symbolic and even a conceptual framework which enables the soul to ascend. A l - S i j i s t a n i , who played a s i g n i f i c a n t r o l e i n expounding a conceptual framework of Is m a i l i cosmology, uses the metaphor of the womb as an analogy for explaining the cycles of Prophets. The conceptual framework formulated includes s i x cycles, each cycle being considered to be governed by a 'period of concealment' (dawr a l - s a t r ) , when the ta ^ w i l (the inner r e a l i t y ) contained i n the zahir remains latent. Before the t a 7 w i l can become manifest, there 211 takes place a period of growth and development for mankind i n the womb of history. Growth and development i n the domestic sphere are summed up i n nurturing. The woman provides the 'womb' i n which both the body as well as the soul can develop. In t h i s respect, the role of the female i n the Islamic/Ismaili t r a d i t i o n i s closely related to the c u l t i v a t i o n of the s p i r i t u a l l i f e . Therefore, both Allah and 'the womb that bore you' are to be revered ( s . i v : l ) . The Ismailis refer to the Imam (a male) as s p i r i t u a l father and mother. Implicit i n the inclusion of the role of the mother i s the idea that the l a t t e r w i l l a s s i s t the soul to ascend into i t s s p i r i t u a l abode. This idea i s reiterated i n the Hadith: Heaven l i e s at the feet of the mother. ( i i ) The Ginans The word ginah i s a Sanskrit word, jnana, which i s defined as 'contemplative or meditative knowledge' (Nanji 1972:7). The N i z a r i Ismailis cherish the t r a d i t i o n of the ginans primarily because of i t s a f f e c t i v e import. The Ginans are recited congregationally i n the Jama cat Khanar forming an inte g r a l part of the daily performances. The ginanic references used i n the text are meant to serve as i l l u s t r a t i v e examples, and no attempt has been made to give an exhaustive treatment to the richness of the images and symbols which feature v i v i d l y i n the ginans. In the ginans, the image of woman i s used to portray the status of the soul l i v i n g i n the material world. The dilemma which faces the human soul 212 'pulled' In two opposite directions (material and s p i r i t u a l ) i s expressed as follows: E j i sahkad^i sheri mahe muhe goor maliya" mare lokashu vahevar Kantani mise goorne namu hS^he karu re parriam Jene rideh sacho shah vase tfSku anna na bhave Jene rideh sacho Shah vase taku nindera ne aave Nindra tajo v i r a bhai ginan vicharoo mora bhai. Translation: I met my 'lord' i n a narrow street (but) I have obligatory t i e s with the people I pay homage to my 'lord' on the pretext of removing a thorn from my foot Whoever has the Divine residing i n the heart does not l i k e to eat food Whoever has the Divine residing i n the heart does not l i k e to sleep Forsake your sleep and r e f l e c t about truth and wisdom. (from the Ginan: E j i tadhu tadhu mithadu boliye) The above verse relates an anecdote of a woman who meets her 'lord' (the Imam) on the street. However, she i s not able to acknowledge his presence or pay him due respects as her relationship would not be approved by the people. The solution devised by the woman i s to pretend that there i s a thorn i n her foot. As she bends to remove the thorn, she i m p l i c i t l y pays her respects to the Imam. From the r e f r a i n verse i n the ginan, we learn that the pining of the soul for the 'beloved' (a term commonly used i n mystical language), i s so intense that the soul wishes to forsake the d a i l y a c t i v i t i e s of sleeping and eating. The o v e r a l l theme of the verse i s to express the d i f f i c u l t y of being i n the world of relationships and s o c i a l t i e s (lokashu vahevar) and having to transcend these so that the soul can be with the beloved. This theme i s 213 expressed through symbols and imagery which relate closely to the woman and the rol e , attitudes, and q u a l i t i e s which she personifies. _ _ 3 In the l i t e r a t u r e of the s u f i s , there are a number of q u a l i t i e s which are emphasised as being essential for the soul i f i t i s to achieve union with the divine. These q u a l i t i e s are: patience, v i r t u e , love, perseverance, devotion, humility, and selflessness. Ideally and i n the protected sphere of domestic l i f e , women provide a model of the concrete embodiment of these q u a l i t i e s . The q u a l i t i e s l i s t e d above, as personified i n women, are i l l u s t r a t e d i n the ginans: E.ji Adam aad n i r i n l a h , Tatriaku Sadhare soh din, Swami rajo more"  manthi v i s e r e j i , and Amarte ayo more shah.1l jo (Pirbhai G. ed. 1950:2,56,45,59). The common s u f i s t i c strand perceived i n terms of a relationship between the divine and the seeker i s expressed i n the imagery of love and passionate longing. The inte n s i t y of the love i s a response to the paradox contained i n the relationship. O r i g i n a l l y , i n primordial times (adam  aad), the beloved and the seeker were one. I t was the time when there were neither forms nor q u a l i t i e s , (nirgune ape arup). The seeker becomes separated from the beloved and acquired a form (jud'a padiya" tHaye rup). In t h i s state, creation, with forms and m u l t i p l i c i t y , widens the gap between the seeker and the beloved . In the girian, unchare kot bahu vecharia"(ibid 1950:18), t h i s concept i s explained s p a t i a l l y through the image of a f i s h . A f i s h ( i . e . the seeker) i s conceived to be i n an ocean but i s s t r i v i n g to reach a f o r t high up i n the mountain, where i t s beloved resides. The s p a t i a l gap i s correspondingly accompanied by time so that we learn from the ginan, E j i Adam  "aad n i r i n j a h , that countless ages have gone by and the soul i s s t i l l i n agony ' l i k e a f i s h out of the water' and a 'wife without a husband' (v.25). 214 In addition to space and time, the seeker and the beloved are also separated i n terms of attributes and q u a l i t i e s . While the beloved i s perfect (even to the extent of being i n e f f a b l e ) , the seeker i s imperfect (avagun). In an attempt to bridge the gap, the seeker takes a number of steps which are imaged i n terms of q u a l i t i e s personified by women. On the other hand, women are also depicted as morally weak. Thus i n the ginah, J i r e van jara ( i b i d 1950:22), the n a r i or wife i s depicted as f a l s e : after performing the funeral ceremonies of her husband she forgets him. When I asked an elderly male informant why the metaphor of woman was used more extensively than that of male, he replied: 'There i s only one nar and that i s Al l a h ' , (the word nar i s used for the 'husband'). The metaphor of woman developed i n the ginanic l i t e r a t u r e extends to a l l human beings. Women are perceived to portray the two images of being ' d i v i n e - l i k e ' as well as an obstacle i n the path leading 4 to the union of the soul with the divine. 215 ( i i i ) The Firmans Times of s o c i a l change are usually accompanied by r e f l e c t i v e moments which capture decisively and emphatically the core of the 'changing' t r a d i t i o n . An i l l u s t r a t i v e example i s provided i n the firmans, where the main categories of the material and the s p i r i t u a l are defined mutually. Remember that according to our I s m a i l i f a i t h the body i s the temple of God for i t c a r r i e s the soul that receives Divine Light. So great care of body, i t s health and cleanliness are to guide you i n l a t e r l i f e The times of prayer should not be forgotten, i f you can, do go to Jama 1at khana; i f not say your tashbi (prayer) whereever you be. So keep a clean soul i n a clean body. In Islam a Moslem should have a good clean soul i n a strong healthy body. We cannot order our bodies to be healthy and strong but can by constant attention, care, regular exercises and sports i n our youth and early years of manhood go a long way to counteract the dangers and e v i l s that surround us. You must a l l remember the importance of a healthy soul and a healthy body. The healthy soul comes by constant r e a l i z a t i o n of beauty to the Supreme Being. Your constant duty i s the development of a healthy body which i s the temple of God. The above firmans'* were sent by Imam Sultan Muhammed Shah i n the f i r s t half of the twentieth century, when Ismailis were undergoing 'modernization'. Es s e n t i a l l y , t h i s was the period when numerous forms of development pertaining to health, education and economics were being introduced through two main channels. The f i r s t consisted of dir e c t firmans to the Jama'"ats residing i n parts of India and A f r i c a . The second through the administrative infrastructure. The 'modernizing' elements, which were overtly p r a c t i c a l injunctions, were incorporated within the wider framework of Is m a i l i t r a d i t i o n a l attitudes and values. The firmans (1885-1950) emphasised the role of women. The Imam's main concern was to extend women's rol e s , largely domestic, into a wider s o c i a l l i f e . The p r a c t i c a l injunction given was that women should acquire formal education, and over the years t h i s point has 216 continued to receive considerable emphasis. The present Imam has repeatedly expressed the wish that both men and women should go into the professions.^ In spite of t h i s , however, the primacy of women's role i n nurturing and ra i s i n g families i s affirmed e x p l i c i t l y as well as i m p l i c i t l y i n the firmans. A s t r i k i n g image used to define the close relationship between women and children i s that of the garden and the roses. Women are 'the garden' of Allah while the children are 'the roses', (Nairobi 1945). A detailed description of household tasks to be performed by women l i s t s keeping the house clean and ti d y , cooking the food, washing the clothes, and clearing the spider webs (Mombasa and Dar es Salam 1945). The ov e r a l l context for the d e f i n i t i o n of the above tasks i s to promote health and practise economy for the family. The d i s t i n c t i o n of roles was maintained even i f women were to acquire high education: i f a mother i s educated, she would be able to teach her children. But i f the father i s educated, he would be so busy i n his worldly a f f a i r s that he would not be able to look after his children l i k e an educated mother. (Mombasa 1945) And again: An educated mother can look well a f t e r her c h i l d . More attention should be paid on g i r l s as the duties of mothers are to f a l l upon them ( s i c ) . (Nairobi 1937) Although one may note a subtle s h i f t from the mothers role to that of the parents i n the firmans of the present Imam, yet greater r e s p o n s i b i l i t y i s entrusted to women: Every parent should do his utmost to educate his children... (East Pakistan 1959). 217 I would l i k e those of you who are parents to continue taking interest i n your children. Help them, guide them, encourage them (Mombasa 1961) I address myself today especially to my s p i r i t u a l daughters and not my s p i r i t u a l sons. My grandfather emphasised to you many a time the importance of making sure that your families l i v e i n proper surroundings, that your children are educated properly, and that as they grow up, they are i n s t i l l e d with proper t r a d i t i o n s and good habits and I want you to remember that. I t i s upon my s p i r i t u a l daughters that I lay the great r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of the development of our Jamalat and the development p a r t i c u l a r l y of my very young s p i r i t u a l children, the young boys and the young g i r l s . I want my s p i r i t u a l daughter to leave no stone unturned to make sure that your children are properly educated, that they are given proper surroundings i n which they l i v e , that you take good care of t h e i r health and that you i n s t i l i n them from t h e i r very youngest age, ambition to improve themselves i n every walk of l i f e . (Bombay 1967) In h i s work on The Middle East, Eickelman emphasises the notion of imageability as being useful i n the study of r e s i d e n t i a l space (1981:273). In th i s context, the significance of space i s measured not i n terms of physical landmarks but i n conceptions which are so c i o c u l t u r a l l y meaningful. The sociocultural categories which emerge from the above sources point to two areas which are of direct relevance to t h i s study. F i r s t women's d i s t i n c t and t r a d i t i o n a l role of nurturing i s affirmed within the wider cosmic framework. Women are not only responsible for the material well-being of t h e i r children but also for the i r s p i r i t u a l progress. As noted above, i n the Our 1an the symbol of the womb embodies the idea of growth and development of the body and the soul. The correlation of the human soul with the image of woman i n the ginans symbolizes the q u a l i t i e s of patience, perseverance, tolerance, virtue and humility which the soul i s required to c u l t i v a t e , and they are also the q u a l i t i e s which women id e a l l y image empirically i n t h e i r domestic roles as mothers and wives. Secondly, at a material l e v e l , women are t r a d i t i o n a l l y 218 expected to find f u l f i l l m e n t within a defined space: the family unit including kinship t i e s and the unit of the Jama^at. Both these levels are being subject to readjustment i n the face of the developing trend whereby women seek to find f u l f i l l m e n t outside the domestic environment ( i . e . i n the job market) accompanied by a keen awareness of 's e l f ' as understood i n the present times. I discuss these points below. The Emerging Role Of Ism a i l i Women: Domestic L i f e And Careers. ( i ) Ethnographic P r o f i l e s . I s m a i l i women are keenly aware of t h e i r t r a d i t i o n a l domestic r o l e . A l l my female informants indicated that t h e i r primary duty and r e s p o n s i b i l i t y i s -to the family. While t h i s i s an expressed wish, empirically women have encountered a different s i t u a t i o n . The following ethnographic p r o f i l e s are i l l u s t r a t i v e : Both husband and wife have to work here. I know, i t would be ideal to stay at home and tend to the family. We have to provide for our children. There are so.many things we have to buy for the house, for the children and for ourselves. We are not getting any younger. I f we do not earn now then we w i l l not have a comfortable l i f e i n our old age. I think that I can cope with my domestic duties. Cooking i s not such a big problem. We have so many f a c i l i t i e s here. I t does not take more then an hour to cook. The main thing i s cleaning up. My husband and my daughter (11 years old) often give me a hand. There are times when I do not cook much. I just make hamburgers or we go out. We go to MacDonalds once a month. We have to learn to adjust. We cannot l i v e l i k e East A f r i c a here. Of course, I get t i r e d but then I avoid extra commitments. Unless, i t i s compulsory, I do not work overtime. I have a nine to f i v e job. I l i k e to stay home i n the evenings. This i s my time with the children. We v i s i t r e l a t i v e s during week-ends. There are so many places to v i s i t here. I f we have the money, we can l i v e well and also give a good l i f e to our children. (extract of an interview with Roshan, a working mother with three children). 219 I am at home now. I got l a i d - o f f . I f e e l so bad. I was more organized when I was working. I do not think that I do any more work at home than before. Not having much to do has made me lazy. Cooking does not bother me. I find i t quite simple. I am very fast and besides I enjoy i t . We alternate between our foods and Canadian foods. My children (two boys aged 14 and 12) do not l i k e our foods. They prefer to eat hamburgers and f r i e s . I do get help from my husband and my sons. They lay the table, clear i t afterwards and help me i n other ways. Now that I am not working, (I have stopped looking at the moment, i t i s so depressing), I have l o t s of time. I t i s boring to be home. I f e e l so inac t i v e . (Zeytul i s 35 years old; she used to do general o f f i c e work). As a working mother, Nimet claimed that i t i s possible to be both a good mother as well as a career woman: I help my husband i n business. When my children were small, I used to have f l e x i b l e hours. But now I work f u l l time. My daughter i s fourteen and my son i s eleven. I do not think that i t i s d i f f i c u l t to have an occupation outside home and be a good mother. Of course, I do not get much time with my children but I do my best. Sometimes when the children are not i n school, I take them with me to the shop. We have a dry foods store. I do a l l the cooking i n the house. We also manage to go to Jama ''at khana two or three times a week. Family, work and Jamat'at khana, these are the areas which are important to me. As far as r e l a t i v e s are concerned, we keep i n touch. We v i s i t them and they v i s i t us occasionally. I meet quite a few of the r e l a t i v e s and my f r i e d s i n Jama 1at  khana. The above p r o f i l e s reveal the role of women i n terms of t r a d i t i o n and change. By and large, the tasks of cooking, r a i s i n g the children, and i n s t i l l i n g I s m a i l i t r a d i t i o n s and way of l i f e , and also providing moral and, of l a t e , f i n a n c i a l support to the family, are performed by women. Secondly, I s m a i l i women have also opted for an occupational l i f e outside home. One of the strong reasons cited for women going to work i s economic necessity. A common expression heard i n the conversations i s : ' I t i s not possible to "survive" on one salary'. An inventory of the 'survival needs' include: ( i ) kitchen gadgets ( i i ) household items, f u r n i t u r e , video, T.V. 220 ( i i i ) education for children (i v ) recreation and tra v e l (v) clothing (v i ) car(s) ( v i i ) house ( v i i i ) groceries The o v e r a l l material orientation of the Ismailis i n th e i r new homeland i s to secure a comfortable l i v i n g for t h e i r f a m i l i e s . The securing of such a 'comfort zone' includes items which, forming an in t e g r a l part of North American l i f e such as video, microwave ovens, f i t into the wider structure of an acq u i s i t i v e society. Women who decide to stay at home by and large belong to the high income bracket ($40,000) which t h e i r husbands secure for the family. The only other category of women who pursue a domestic l i f e are those who, because of age (over f i f t y ) or a young family, have opted to stay at home. However, there i s another factor which seems to have affected women's attitude towards home and work l i f e , and four, i s now working after having described her experiences as follows: Sahbanu who has two children, aged six stayed at home for three years. She I do not think that I s h a l l ever stay at home. I know the children needed me and I.got some s a t i s f a c t i o n that I was around. But I found i t boring to be home. A l l that I was doing was taking my children to places - parks, a c t i v i t i e s , cooking and keeping the house clean. I did not get any time to myself. I f e l t that I could not even converse with others apart from exchanging notes on children. I t gives me a nice feeling to come out of the house. At least I can dress up and f e e l important. Nashrin, with one c h i l d (three years) related that: I have to get out of the house by myself. I go to keep-fit classes and am attending an evening course i n psychology. Sometimes I fi n d i t s t i f l i n g to be home. I t i s the same old routine - nothing to look forward to. 221 Other mothers who are at home have found outlets i n the form of recreation a c t i v i t i e s , studies or part-time work and voluntary work with community i n s t i t u t i o n s . One mother summed i t up: I need to do something for myself. Given the s i t u a t i o n a l factors and a t t i t u d i n a l change, i t i s i n s t r u c t i v e to see how women have accommodated thei r emerging role as career women. Ism a i l i women have adopted a number of strategies enabling them to maintain part of th e i r t r a d i t i o n a l r o l e . Taking the example of cooking, a number of women explained to me that t r a d i t i o n a l foods were cooked because: (a) they were economical and s a t i s f y i n g to eat and (b) they were appropriate for entertaining guests and for food offerings (Nandi). In the cooking of t r a d i t i o n a l foods, the women have adopted the devices of making advanced preparations so that half the cooking i s done early i n the morning and the rest i n the evening, cooking i n bulk and freezing part of i t , placing orders from women who are at home (a common dish purchased i s unleavened bread), obtaining food by means of Nandi, and seeking assistance from other members of the family. In t h i s way the cognitive model embodied i n I s m a i l i cooking i s maintained though t h i s model i s alternated with other foods. The reasons c i t e d for the preparation of traditional/Canadian foods or simply Canadian foods were that these were r e l a t i v e l y 'simple' (meaning less labour-intensive) to prepare, were preferred by children, and that t r a d i t i o n a l foods would be too heavy i f consumed everyday. Although some families just ate t r a d i t i o n a l foods, I did not come across a single family who ate solely Canadian foods. While the cooking of Canadian or a blending of Canadian/traditional foods may be an adaptive strategy i n terms of time, the practice r e f l e c t s experiences which s i g n i f i c a n t l y express the way of l i f e i n 222 the new m i l i e u . One of the common expressions I came across i n the f i e l d i s : 'L i f e i s pressurized and time i s precious.' By implication, i f n o n - t r a d i t i o n a l foods make l i f e easier f or women, they should be adopted. However, i n many respects, these foods serve to accommodate the food preferences of the younger generation. Farida explained: If I did not cook spaghetti, pizza or hamburgers and chips at le a s t three times a week, my c h i l d r e n would say, I am not f a i r because I only cook what daddy l i k e s . Of great importance i s that non - t r a d i t i o n a l foods, e s p e c i a l l y the 'Canadian Foods' as the I s m a i l i s know them, are the stock i n trade of chain resturants: MacDonalds, White Spot, Pizza Parlors and Chinese resturants. These are the foods which are popularly consumed by the masses and f i n d t h e i r way i n t o the advertisement columns of the mass media. Generally speaking, I learned from my informants that I s m a i l i women had not been exposed to that part of the Canadian cuisin e which undoubtedly could also be labour-intensive. Roland Barthes' comparison of t r a d i t i o n a l and modern foods i s revealing. In his study of the French society, Barthes shows that 'modern' foods embody elements of power and aggresiveness while t r a d i t i o n a l foods are linked to moral values, wisdom and 'purity'(1975:166-173). Various studies on Food have affirmed that food symbolizes and expresses the way i n which a person experiences h i s ' s o c i a l environment'. For instance Barthes argues that an entire "world" i s present i n and s i g n i f i e d by food (1975:170). In an i l l u s t r a t i v e study of a meal, Douglas shows that food categories encode s o c i a l events to the extent that a meal contains "symbolic structures" which are present i n the wider s o c i a l system (1972:61-81). At t h i s l e v e l , the non-tra d i t i o n a l foods consumed by I s m a i l i s s i g n i f y the way i n which they experience l i f e i n Canada. By preparing these foods, I s m a i l i women are attempting to accommodate a 'modern form of l i f e ' (expressed by I s m a i l i s i n 223 terms of 'pressure' and 'time'), contain po t e n t i a l c o n f l i c t (preferences of the younger members as opposed to adults and also e l d e r s ) , and respond to the new l i f e s t y l e which, according to the informants, does not promote the consumption of 'heavy' ( t r a d i t i o n a l foods). Pressure and time are the primary terms through which I s m a i l i s expressed t h e i r experiences i n t h e i r new homeland. By and large, these experiences lead to confinement of space as elders, men, women and the youth confirmed that here there i s no time to do everything. This meant that a c t i v i t i e s which were considered to be important, l i k e entertaining k i n , have been condensed. A male informant explained: Here one does not even have time to i n t e r a c t with one's family members. How i s i t possible to meet a l l the o b l i g a t i o n s regarding r e l a t i v e s ? My uncle was i n the h o s p i t a l f or two months. I could only v i s i t him once. I f e e l g u i l t y but I cannot help i t . Nevertheless t r a d i t i o n a l foods (as opposed to f a s t foods of the present day arid age) are consumed because they bring ' s a t i s f a c t i o n ' and barakat. They accommodate the i n t e r e s t s of the elders and the adults and, most importantly, they embody the cognitive model as expounded i n the l a s t chapter. Empirically for I s m a i l i s , t r a d i t i o n a l foods evoke memories of t h e i r homeland. This i s how my mother used to cook i t . These memories are the r e p o s i t o r i e s of t r a d i t i o n s while non-t r a d i t i o n a l foods s i g n i f y a process of adjustment. Table IV r e f e r s to the number of times the three categories of food: t r a d i t i o n a l , n o n - t r a d i t i o n a l and t r a d i t i o n a l / E u r o -Canadian foods are eaten i n I s m a i l i homes over a period of one week. However, i t should be noted that while t r a d i t i o n a l l y the ' i n t e r i o r ' a c t i v i t y of cooking was cojoined to the exterior world of s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s providing one s p a t i a l category for women, the l a t t e r now move i n two separate spaces: home 224 and work. I explore t h i s point further i n r e l a t i o n to kinship and career roles of women. 225 Table IV Dietary Habits Of Is m a i l i s * No of Households = 15 Period observed: one week Total Core Traditional Foods 7343 52345 2'27 343 57 curry & r i c e unleavened bread f r i e d dishes variations of the above. f i s h & chips hamburgers spaghetti Chinese foods pizza variations of the above. Traditional/Euro-Canadian 0 2 2 4 2 4 2 0 2 5 4 0 2 3 4 36 Foods roast chicken g r i l l e d f i s h turkey/roast beef (these dishes are taken with t r a d i t i o n a l spices ~ and vegetables) Non-Traditional Foods 0 2 1 0 0 1 2 3 0 0 1 0 2 0 0 12 Foods mentioned refer to the main meal consumed i n the evenings. Data for t h i s table was collected during interviews and observations. 226 ( i i ) Kinship Ties Among Ismailis, kinship provides the hub around which thei r material l i f e i s organized. C h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y , material l i f e e n t a i l s a web of relationships (kutumb pariwar) which may entangle the soul further i n the compounded world of a c t i v i t y . One of the manifest and v i s i b l e form i n which t h i s was t r a d i t i o n a l l y expressed was i n cooking. Women who remained at home (t h i s category of women are now f i f t y years o l d ) , spent a great deal of time catering for k i n , especially those by marriage. L i f e h i s t o r i e s of house-wives i n East A f r i c a repeatedly highlight the theme of t h e i r t o t a l involvement i n preparing food for k i n : When I got married, we were twelve people i n the house. Apart from my father in-law, my husband's three brothers, and three s i s t e r s were a l l l i v i n g together i n one house. I used to make forty f i v e r o t a l i s (bread). My sisters-in-laws would help but I was responsible for a l l the cooking. There was a l o t of work i n the house; I never thought that things could be otherwise. (extract of an interview with Fatma who presently l i v e s alone with her husband). The extended family system had a further component. This consisted of a constant flow of v i s i t i n g r e l a t i v e s who, i n most cases, stayed for a meal. In the case of Fatma, her f a t h e r v in-law, or mother-*- in-law, brothers and si s t e r s would come over quite often. On f e s t i v e or family occasions the whole family, that i s , r e l a t i v e s l i v i n g i n separate dwellings, would be invited for a meal. During these times, blood r e l a t i v e s of the female spouse would also be included. Ismailis i n Vancouver (and also i n Europe) reminisce of their days i n A f r i c a i n terms of family gatherings when a variety of t r a d i t i o n a l foods were eaten. However, my informants were quick i n saying: Those days are gone. Who has the time here? We barely manage to keep our l i v e s together. 227 In spite of the constant reference to lack of time, kinship relations are s t i l l maintained and p a r t i a l l y expressed through cooking. Undoubtedly, the extended family system i s no longer maintained. The developing trend i s towards nuclear family of parents and children. In some cases, the parents of a married son stay i n the same household, but t h i s i s mainly due to circumstances when mutually convenient. I t appears that the only time a son i s obliged to keep his parents i s when one of them has died: the other one i s 'taken i n ' . The attitude of married couples towards the parents of the male i s ambivalent. My informants were clear that the presence of the parents would be a source of tension i n the house. Some of the reasons were i d e n t i f i e d as follows: (a) Parents being at home the whole day would l i k e to go to Jamacat khana everyday. They would require the son or daughter in-law to take them as very few of them drive. The son/daughter in-law would find t h i s impractical (on a daily basis) as both of them having been out working the whole day would prefer to 'relax' at home. (b) There would be clashes i n terms of food preferences. The parents would f i n d i t d i f f i c u l t to consume Canadian foods - at least they do not take to a l l kinds. A young daughter in-law said to me: 'Sometimes I am t i r e d and I do not f e e l l i k e cooking. I would prefer to order Pizza. I cannot do t h i s i f my in-laws are staying with us'. (c) One couple expressed the point: 'When we entertain, i t i s d i f f i c u l t to have parents around. Our friends would find i t hard to relate to them'. (d) 'If my mother in-law stayed with us, I would f i n d i t d i f f i c u l t . She would expect me to keep the kitchen spotlessly clean. I don't think I 228 can do that. Sometimes, I just want to keep my feet up and relax. I do not l i k e to be told what to do'. The above i s not exhaustive but indicates a trend emphasising the nuclear type of family l i f e . The parents have t h e i r own story to t e l l . One couple related: We would not l i k e to l i v e with our son. These days daughter's in-law (vahu) work and we would not l i k e to l i v e a subdued l i f e . Because the daughter-in-law brings money, she becomes the r u l e r i n the house. We would l i k e to maintain our respect. A second couple Expressed the view: These days children do not understand. We had such hopes -but the s i t u a t i o n has changed. We do not know whom to blame. I f the children understand, then everything would be a l l r i g h t . Everybody wants independence. When people come to Canada, they change. In spite of the reservations expressed by married sons and t h e i r wives about maintaining the parents, very close t i e s are sustained i n terms of regular v i s i t s , phone c a l l s , g i f t exchanges, assistance, eating together and meetings i n Jama'at khana. In some cases, parents and a married son l i v e i n two adjoining dwellings. In many instances, married daughters maintain very close t i e s with members of the natal family - parents, brothers and s i s t e r s . Besides t h i s , t i e s may also be maintained or even cultivated with other members of the k i n who may include uncles, aunts and cousins. Looking at the guests i n v i t e d and entertained for meals, I noticed that over s i x t y percent of my informants included kin relations. There are a number of factors which explain why such t i e s are sustained i n spite of the pressure of time experienced by I s m a i l i families. The reasons are: (a) I t did not take too long for I s m a i l i emigrants to r e a l i z e that 'Canadians do not entertain'^ to the same degree and manner that the Ism a i l i s were used to i n the i r o r i g i n a l homeland. A number of my 229 informants related that when they f i r s t came to Canada, they started to in v i t e the neighbours for a meal or for tea. Such i n v i t a t i o n s were not reciprocated and therefore the attempt to c u l t i v a t e relationships through the medium of food did not come to f r u i t i o n . (b) I t appears that kinship t i e s are maintained for reasons of s t a b i l i t y and security. The r e a l i z a t i o n of being exposed to a new and foreign culture points towards kin relations as a source of strength, both during times of c r i s i s as well as otherwise. However, relations are not maintained with a l l k i n . There i s a process of selection at work and t i e s are strongest whenever mutual advantages are to be gained, for instance i f two families have children of the same age. The selection of ' p r i o r i t y k i n ' gives us further insight into the operative principle of condensation as noted e a r l i e r . In the case of r i t u a l , the step omitted was that of r i t u a l cleansing of gha^-pat with water. In the case of kinship, greater contact i s maintained with the selected few, whereby others are excluded. The frequency of contact maintained with the p r i o r i t y k i n throws into r e l i e f an ambivalent attitude. On the one hand, informants expressed the wish that kinship t i e s are important as. apart from material advantages, such t i e s can enable one to express s p i r i t u a l q u a l i t i e s i n the midst of material l i f e . These q u a l i t i e s come into play i n various situations among which caring for the elderly parents was recognized as being primary. I f a son looks after his parents, he acquires their blessings which w i l l lead to material prosperity as well as s p i r i t u a l advancement of the soul. A daughter-in-law who cooks for the elderly parents i s performing seva (service) which i s equated with prayers (bandagi). Likewise, to help k i n re l a t i o n s i n times of crisc&s i s considered 230 to be a rel i g i o u s duty (faraz). My data show: that these dictums are not followed at a l l times but provide the incentive for maintaining certain t r a d i t i o n a l q u a l i t i e s l i k e duty and obligation. On the other hand, kin t i e s are also considered to be a hindrance. Shahbanu, a working mother said: Whenever I have r e l a t i v e s for a meal I have to.spend three days making preparations. The f i r s t day, I have to shop. The second day i s spent i n cooking, and the t h i r d day I am s t i l l washing up and cleaning the house. In spite of the above reservation, Shahbanu continued to i n v i t e r e l a t i v e s once or twice a month. The reason: 'It i s our duty'. The ambivalent attitude towards k i n seems to give expression to two major incompatible needs. The f i r s t pertains to the basic I s m a i l i mode of l i f e which e n t a i l s being i n the material world which at the same provides an opportunity for the c u l t i v a t i o n of s p i r i t u a l q u a l i t i e s . The second need i s a recent phenomenon. I t has emerged i n response to the Canadian milieu where there i s a greater emphasis on 'individualism'. This development seems to be incompatible with the web of relationships which kinship t i e s e n t a i l . The question i s : Would an i n d i v i d u a l i s t i c attitude towards l i f e leave any room for the c u l t i v a t i o n of s p i r i t u a l q u a l i t i e s ? Unless Ismailis are able to experience the ' s p i r i t u a l ' i n the midst of material l i f e , they w i l l not be able to maintain t h e i r t r a d i t i o n s meaningfully i n the new environment. The categories of material and s p i r i t u a l t r a d i t i o n a l l y form an in t e g r a l part of their l i v e s both conceptually as well as symbolically. Involvement i n kinship relations has made i t possible to maintain the q u a l i t i e s of material and s p i r i t u a l within one framework. One instance where t h i s can be observed i s during times of c r i s i s . Among I s m a i l i s , the times of c r i s j L S 1 , c o l l e c t i v e l y 231 recognized,are sickness and death. These are the times when a l l kin and other members of the community gather i n the house of the a f f l i c t e d family. S i g n i f i c a n t l y , these are the only times when no food (except for a cup of tea) i s served. This i s an instance which reveals the s p i r i t u a l q u a l i t i e s , given that the context of k i n involves relationships which are material i n nature. The s p i r i t u a l q u a l i t i e s which come into play are those of s i m p l i c i t y , and the general attitude of k i n to offer consolation and help. In Islam, these actions benefit the soul of the giver. The attitude of Ismailis towards kinship t i e s has also, found expression i n attendance i n Jama*it khana. By and large, Jama'at khana e n t a i l s an interactive process whereby one i d e n t i f i e s with the others (the k i n , members of the community and the Divine). In East A f r i c a , going to Jama*at khana was a daily occurrence for many fami l i e s . A s i g n i f i c a n t change i s that among some what was once an ordinary a c t i v i t y has become a special occasion. As i n the case of kinship, Ismailis recognize the importance of 'going to khane' but for some, i t w i l l continue to remain a special a c t i v i t y . 232 ( i i i ) Career Role Of Ism a i l i Women. Many Ismaili women have joined the work force out of economic necessity and i n some cases out of the need for s e l f expression outside the domestic l i f e . While the roles of women have extended into the material world, they have continued to give p r i o r i t y to their nurturing role i n the family. Women have accommodated the occupational a c t i v i t y i n two ways. The f i r s t one through the u t i l i z a t i o n of resources: organization of domestic l i f e along g western notions of time and space, usage of household appliances (most of which include modern devices), assistance from family members, and seeking i n s t i t u t i o n a l care for t h e i r young children. The second aspect concerns condensation of domestic l i f e to the extent that relations are maintained only with p r i o r i t y k i n . Condensation of a c t i v i t y and s o c i a l t i e s e n t a i l s a corresponding narrowing of space. T r a d i t i o n a l l y , an Ism a i l i household was an 'open space' where r e l a t i v e s , friends, and neighbours could drop i n informally without prior notice. Presently, v i s i t i n g i s formal, arranged beforehand, and confined to a special (as opposed to everyday) event. The occupations of Is m a i l i women are given i n Table V. Except for the women who are i n the professional f i e l d s or running bussiness concerns, most of the women i n other sectors expressed d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n i n thei r work. 233 Table V Career Occupations Of I s m a i l i Women. No. of respondents = 50 Ages 22-35 36-50 Total (N=25) (N=25) Occupations c l e r i c a l 4 8 12 Technical 5 2 07 Professional 5 1 06 Manual 2 7 09 Business 3 3 06 Housewives 6 4 10 234 Of interest i n the above table i s the observation that proportionally a large number of Ismaili women (82 %) have opted to work outside home. Zarina a day care teacher explained: I l i k e children but I would not l i k e to be with my own children the whole day. I t i s s a t i s f y i n g to work outside home. I think people respect you more i f you have an occupation. I t would be id e a l to have a part time job so that I can be with my children half day. Given the fact that family and work l i f e are d i s t i n c t l y separated i n North America, one may expect to find potential c o n f l i c t between the two roles of women: nurturing and career. Among Ism a i l i women the c o n f l i c t of roles i s manifested s p a t i a l l y . The t r a d i t i o n a l role of women expressed primarily i n the i n t e r i o r space of home l i f e has given way to a l i f e s t y l e of alternation. Is m a i l i women o s c i l l a t e between family l i f e and careers. Family l i f e has been considerably condensed i n order to accommodate the working/career roles of women. On the other hand, the working l i v e s of women are conceived to be r e l a t i v e l y confined i n the sense that they have no bearing on the home l i f e other then being instrumental i n securing material comforts. These points are i l l u s t r a t e d by women re l a t i n g t h e i r predicaments i n the i r new homeland. The following views expressed by Shil a (mother of two children, aged twelve and fif t e e n ) and Nevin (mother of one, aged six) respectively were shared by others. Many of us (women) work because of economic necessity. I work i n the bank. At f i r s t I was a t e l l e r . I worked my way up and now I am a supervisor. Frankly, I find my work boring. I t i s the same old routine and I have nothing to look forward to. Ideally, I would l i k e to go to college and take up something interesting. When I come home I am too t i r e d to spend much time with my children. I do my best but there i s a l i m i t . I fe e l that I am neither here nor there; I do not get a sense of f u l f i l l m e n t . I f e e l that I am not f u l f i l l i n g my re s p o n s i b i l i t y as a mother but neither am I achieving much at work. Here i n Canada work i s doing your job right - there i s nothing beyond that. 235 Nevin: I l i k e to work. I am not the kind of mother who can stay at home. Although my work i s interesting (accounting c l e r k ) , I f e e l that people here are not very f r i e n d l y . Apart from the surface interaction i n the o f f i c e , people are not interested i n becoming your friends. I f e e l quite confined. I worked hard and worked my way up but I s t i l l f e e l that something i s lacking and that i s s o c i a l interaction. You eat your own lunch and do your job, that i s a l l that r e a l l y counts. I have considered the p o s s i b i l i t y of staying at home but again I would not l i k e to be confined - neighbours are strangers. In Vancouver (but not i n country towns) neighbours come and go and are 'accidental' owing to the mobility i n t e g r a l to the modern i n d u s t r i a l i z e d market system. In East A f r i c a , k i t h (neighbours) were probably also k i n . The predicament of I s m a i l i women i s revealed by the fact that they f e e l confined both at home as well as at work. Their t r a d i t i o n a l domestic role of nurturing had two forms of expression which were int e r r e l a t e d : material world of s o c i a l relationships, and the s p i r i t u a l world, s p a t i a l l y conceived to be imaged i n the Jama *at Khana. Women acted as mediators between the material and the s p i r i t u a l . By occupying an i n t e r i o r space (at home where the kitchen i s s p a t i a l l y i n the i n t e r i o r , private and exclusive area) women imaged a movement out into the exterior material world of kinship t i e s and obligations and a movement into the i n t e r i o r s p i r i t u a l world imaged i n the q u a l i t i e s which 9 women personify. As we have observed, t h i s movement into the exterior world and the i n t e r i o r world i s symbolically expressed i n the culinary system; i n an Is m a i l i home foods are prepared to cater for s o c i a l groups as well as for Jamafcat Khana. Although women have attempted to maintain t h e i r nurturing ro l e s , (I did not come across a single respondent who said that she would put her career before the family) a process of compartmentalization seems to have emerged. The compartmentalization between the t r a d i t i o n a l l i f e of women and work can be i d e n t i f i e d as follows:*^ 236 Diagram 30 Compartmentalization Between The Traditional L i f e Of Women And Salaried Work. Home ( t r a d i t i o n a l setting) Work Group oriented Co-operation H o l i s t i c Affective Open space I n d i v i d u a l i s t i c Competition Performance-oriented Calculating Close space. In the following chapter, we s h a l l continue to expound t h i s theme i n re l a t i o n to the l i f e cycle of indi v i d u a l s . 237 Footnotes: 1. For further information refer to: Satpanth Ismailis And Modern Changes  Within I t , With Special Reference To East A f r i c a , Esmail A, (Edinburgh University: Ph.d. dissertation, 1972). 2. Esmail A. 'Ismailis And The Western World: Prospects And Predicaments,' Hikmat Vol.1. No.3. (1976), pp.20-23. 3. In the l i t e r a t u r e of the s u f i s , women personify the q u a l i t i e s which advance the soul towards i t s eternal abode as exemplified_in the common saying: 'Paradise i s under the feet of mothers', Jalafuddin Rumi, (1968:55). Note that s p e c i f i c reference i s made to women i n t h e i r roles as mothers. 4. A useful summary of the concept of women perceived i n s u f i l i t e r a t u r e i s found i n A. Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions Of Islam, (1975), pp. 426-435. In sum, the concept of women as formulated by sufism i s ambivalent: women are equated with piety and vir t u e on the one hand and with the lower soul (the world and i t s temptations) on the other. Among those who represent the image of the i d e a l pious women are Rabia al-'Adawiyya (the f i r s t true saint of Islam), Fatima of Nishapur and Mary (Maryam) 'the immaculate mother who gave b i r t h to the s p i r i t u a l c h i l d Jesus' (ibid:429). These women epitomize the q u a l i t i e s of s p i r i t u a l love, pur i t y , u n t i r i n g f a i t h , divine beauty, tenderness and yearning for the divine. The q u a l i t i e s of the lower soul are imaged i n women to represent worldly temptations which ensnare the soul, making union with the divine impossible. In t h i s respect, women are considered to bring about the f a l l of mankind though Schimmel emphasises the point: ....the Muslims scarcely reached the apogee of hatred displayed by medieval Christian writers i n t h e i r condemnation of the feminine element. Eve was never responsible for the f a l l of Adam, and the often repeated Christian accusation that "woman has no soul according to Islam" has no basis i n the Koran or i n the c l a s s i c a l t r a d i t i o n (ibid:429). 5. 'Precious Pearls,' June 1954, pp.55-56. 6. The concept of education i n the firmans i s expounded within a broader framework which includes moral, e t h i c a l and r e l i g i o u s issues. 7. Note that the referenced to 'Canadian Way of L i f e ' , i n t h i s study, i s according to the manner i n which the informants have described and experienced i t . 8. These notions are explicated i n the concluding chapter of t h i s study. 9. Specially s i g n i f i c a n t are the q u a l i t i e s of s a c r i f i c e , perseverance and patience which we observed i n our discussion of the l i t e r a r y sources i n the beginning of t h i s chapter. 238 I t should be noted that women i n East A f r i c a had careers outside home; I learnt from the informants that home and work continued to have a complementary relationship and by and large women did not experience the c o n f l i c t s and pressures that they say have affected t h i e r l i v e s i n Canada. 239 Chapter 8 Continuity And Change : L i f e Histories Of Ismaili Elders, Adults And "Youth" Introduction the l i f e history i s s t i l l the most cognitively r i c h and humanly understandable way of getting at an inner view of culture. (No other type of study) can equal the l i f e history i n demonstrating what the native himself considers to be important i n h i s own experience and how he.thinks and feels about that experience ( P h i l l i p s 1973:201). In the l a s t chapter, we noted the process of compartmentalization emergent through the attempt of women to accommodate career l i f e into their t r a d i t i o n a l r o l e of nurturing. A second context where t h i s process can be observed i s that of l i f e h i s t o r i e s . Among Ismailis l i f e history embodies a cognitive model of material and s p i r i t u a l l i f e . T r a d i t i o n a l l y , the two categories which are of importance are adults and elders. While adults pursue material l i f e more vigorously, the elders are more active i n the c u l t i v a t i o n of s p i r i t u a l l i f e . In other words, the adults image a s p a t i a l and temporal form related to a c t i v i t y and m u l t i p l i c i t y , while the elders personify the q u a l i t i e s of unity and repose. In t h i s chapter, I show that the cognitive model i s being disrupted as the mutual relationship between the elders and adults i s being affected by the modern notion of individualism. Furthermore, the category of youth has emerged as a d i s t i n c t group owing to the 'modernization' of the community i n two phases: f i r s t i n East A f r i c a , and the second i n the new environment of the Ismailis i n Vancouver. The relationship between the elders, the adults, and the youth i s explicated i n terms of time and space. E s s e n t i a l l y , I show that t h i s relationship can be understood i n terms of d i f f e r e n t kinds of temporal and s p a t i a l experiences of the elders, 2 the adults, and the youth. 240 This chapter i s divided into two parts. We s h a l l f i r s t relate and analyse the accounts of the l i v e s as narrated by the informants. Out of twenty f i v e l i f e h i s t o r i e s , twelve have been included here as i t would not be feasible to give room to a l l . The second part focuses on the understanding and experiences of the elders, the adults and the youth i n r e l a t i o n to the host society. L i f e Histories ( i ) The E l d e r s 3 Kassam i s a widower who emigrated to Canada from Tanzania i n 1974. Presently, he l i v e s with his son and daughter in-law and two grand daughters aged nine and s i x . The following i s the narrative as he related i t to me i n Gujerati. I was born i n Dar-es-Salaam i n 1906. We were eleven i n the house. I am the second youngest among s i x brothers and three s i s t e r s . My f i r s t memories of childhood are those of World War 1. I was only nine years old. For the next four years there was continuous bombardment. I remember that there was a Jama'at of 500 people; sometimes we used to stay i n the Jama'at khana - I guess we f e l t safer there. I studied seven classes of Gujerati and three classes of English. While schooling, I used to help my father i n the shop. We had a store where we used to s e l l cigarettes, matches, r i c e and s a l t . When I l e f t school i n 1922, my father made arrangements for me to work i n the 'Standard Bank of South A f r i c a ' . This i s because i t was the Imam's firman that young boys should work and acquire experience prior to j o i n i n g the family business. I worked i n the bank for f i v e years. Even to-day, I am good at Arithmetics. These days when people want to calculate 18+28, they turn to the machine. I can do i t i n my head. I got married when I was nineteen; i t was an arranged marriage 'fixed up' by family members. U n t i l 1974 I worked i n our shop. The hours were long, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. L i f e was hard, but we were happy. There was always a l o t of a c t i v i t y . My 241 uncles and aunts l i v e d close by. We had very close t i e s with r e l a t i v e s , friends. U n t i l I came here, I never knew what loneliness was l i k e . I lo s t my wife just prior to coming here. We have seven children, f i v e boys and two daughters. Three of my sons are here. Everyone i s busy so I have t r i e d to make my own l i f e here. I t i s d i f f i c u l t to pass time but then we get used to i t . I follow a routine. When everyone has l e f t for work, I have breakfast by myself. Then I go out. Sometimes I go to a mall and look for bargains. The other day I picked up apples which were on special at Woodwards. I am a member of the Senior Citizens club ( I s m a i l i organization); I help out with accounts. I also l i k e to go for walks. I have my lunch at 12 p.m. and after that I take a nap. I go out again for a l i t t l e while but I always come back by three as the children come home from school. They play on their own but I keep an eye on them. Oftentimes, I teach them du ca (prayers) and ginans. By f i v e , my son and daughter in-law come home and then we have our dinner around s i x . Soon af t e r , I get ready to go to Jama*It khana. I go to Jama cat khana everyday i n the mornings and evenings - transportation i s provided by the community. When I talk to other people, I fe e l less lonely. After a l l our community i s l i k e a family. L i f e would be very d i f f i c u l t without Jama''at khana. Visram, o r i g i n a l l y from Uganda, has l i v e d i n Vancouver for the past twelve years. He l i v e s with his wife i n a house and the following account was related i n English. I was born i n 1924 i n a large family. I am the youngest among four brothers and two s i s t e r s . U n t i l 1948, we a l l (my brothers and their wives and children) l i v e d together. There are bound to be c o n f l i c t s but these c o n f l i c t s were kept under control. The wives took turns i n cooking but the most important factor was authority. Noone would question my father's decision. Whatever he said was accepted as f i n a l . We had a shop l i k e many other Ismailis but my father wanted me to get the highest l e v e l of education available at the time. After my primary school, my father sent me to India to study i n the Muslim Boarding school. I remember there was very s t r i c t d i s c i p l i n e . I f we did not get up for prayers at s i x , we would not get any breakfast. I studied u n t i l I finished Senior Cambridge (High School). By t h i s time, the family business had expanded to incorporate other f i e l d s l i k e the export/import trade. Apart from my involvement i n business, I was active i n communal i n s t i t u t i o n s l i k e education, administration, and the Ismailia Association. I also took an active part i n public l i f e and had good contacts with the government. 242 I have f i v e daughters and one son and of course I wanted them to acquire good education. My p o l i c y was that they should complete Senior Cambridge at home and then they should pursue further studies abroad (London). Many parents used to come and ask me i f t h i s was the r i g h t step as there was always the fear that they would get ' s p o i l t ' i n London. My response was: 'If they are going to get s p o i l t , they would get s p o i l t here too.' I f the c h i l d r e n had a good family l i f e and s o c i a l background, they would understand t h e i r r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s . Since coming here, I have not been a c t i v e l y involved i n communal i n s t i t u t i o n s . I f they need help, I am always a v a i l a b l e . At present, there i s a l o t of emphasis on 'youth'. I think that the youth and the elders should work hand i n hand. After a l l they should r e a l i z e that there i s one thing that we elders have and that i s time. We can do a l o t of groundwork f o r communal projects. We also have the experience. I do not know how much value i s attached to i t today. Here things are d i f f e r e n t . People have to work hard, they get t i r e d . Our only safeguard i s going to Jama''at Khana. People's l i f e s t y l e has changed; t h e i r thinking has changed. Change has affected everybody. We need two things to survive here. One i s money and the other i s Jama iat Khana. As f o r my c h i l d r e n , I think that we brought them up i n a s a t i s f a c t o r y manner. We gave them the necessary education. They are a l l well s e t t l e d ; we do not i n t e r f e r e with t h e i r l i v e s but they know and I have always t o l d them that we are here to help them i f they need us. Roshan, o r i g i n a l l y from Kenya, l i v e s with her son and daughter in-law who have two c h i l d r e n aged seventeen and twenty. She i s a widow and her narration took place i n G u j e r a t i . I was only sixteen when I got married. I got married i n India and soon a f t e r ( i n 1932) my f i r s t c h i l d was born. A l l of us l i v e d i n one household: my father in-law, my mother in-law, my brother in-law, h i s wife and t h e i r four c h i l d r e n . My s i s t e r in-law and myself did a l l the cooking i n the house. There was a l o t of work, the c h i l d r e n , the cooking, cleaning, guests. I t was not u n t i l 1948 that we l e f t f o r A f r i c a ; my brother in-law had l e f t e a r l i e r but we stayed on because my mother in-law was not keeping w e l l . In India we had a r e t a i l store and my husband joined h i s brother i n running a f a b r i c store when we moved to Kenya. I had f i v e c h i l d r e n altogether out of which two died i n t h e i r infancy. For us women, l i f e meant cooking and being i n the house but i t also meant a l o t of s o c i a l i n t e r a c t i o n . There would be people i n the house a l l the time - guests, 243 neighbours, k i n , and the children just grew up. There was always somebody to take care of them. We gave our children the education which they desired and we t r i e d to give them r e l i g i o n . I used to i n s i s t that we a l l go to Jama'at khana everyday. I f we give our children good habits and f a i t h , they w i l l go a long way. As for my l i f e here, I am happy and contented. I do not come i n anyone's way. I never come down for breakfast u n t i l everyone else has l e f t . After breakfast, I do the laundry or some cleaning. Then I am free. I watch T.V. for two hours. Before lunch, I say my tashbi (prayers) around 12 p.m. This i s one of the habits I developed when my son was very sick. In the afternoon, I cook curry, r i c e and unleavened bread everyday. This i s because my son and myself l i k e our foods. My daughter in-law makes 'English' foods for the children. By the time I have cleaned up and had my bath, family members come home. We have dinner around s i x and then I get ready and go to Jama c a t Khana everyday. The only times I miss i s when we have guests. There i s one I s m a i l i family i n the neighbourhood that goes to Khane everyday so I am never stuck for a ri d e . I have the peace of mind. I am not worried about anything. Naturally, when we l i v e together, there are bound to be disputes. We have to learn to be tolerant but here, i t i s the elders who have to give i n the most. I think that when I go to Jama fat khana, I leave the world behind me. Shi r i n i s a widow. O r i g i n a l l y from Uganda, she l i v e s by herself i n an apartment. I l o s t my husband when my children were very young. My son was only seven and my daughter four. We had a r e t a i l shop. I continued running the business with the help of my brother in-law. My mother used to help me and I think i t was she who p r a c t i c a l l y raised the children. My son did not study much. After high school, he f e l t obliged to help me run the store. Presently he i s married with two children and l i v e s i n C a l i f o r n i a . My daughter i s working i n a bank and she l i v e s i n Vancouver. I look after her three year old son and that i s good for me - at least I can pass my time. I myself did not study much. My father withdrew me from school when a male teacher took over. My l i f e has passed, I only wish the best for my children. L i f e i s hard here and parents do not have time for the children. I am around to look a f t e r my son otherwise I would not advise my daughter to work. People say that they cannot l i v e on one salary. I do not think that t h i s i s true. I would t e l l the mothers that t h e i r f i r s t p r i o r i t y should be the children, not material goods. I f two people are working, the family would need two cars and half the salary would just be spent i n paying for child-care not counting the taxes. What i s the point of i t a l l ? I do not think that i t makes much difference i f the 244 mother stayed at home. I know that I could not spent much time with my own children. After school, they used to come to the shop and of course i t was a different environment. There were other family members around and there was the Jama 'at  khana which was part of our l i v e s . Here things are different but who would l i s t e n to us elders? People would say we are old and we should keep quiet. The greatest problem here i s the children. I f they do not c u l t i v a t e the r i g h t 'habits', they w i l l be l o s t . I stay i n Vancouver because of my daughter and because of Jama<at Khana. I f I joined my son i n C a l i f o r n i a , I would be lonely. Besides, I do not know whether I would be able to f i t into the family. L i f e h i s t o r i e s of the elders reveal a pattern of development which revolve around age and gender. The physiological stages of adolescence and adulthood coalesced c u l t u r a l l y to the extent that young boys and g i r l s were expected to assume adult r e s p o n s i b i l i t e s early i n l i f e . A common pattern was that schooling finished at a r e l a t i v e l y young age and by the time a boy was thirteen or over he would be a s s i s t i n g h i s father i n the family business (most of which were r e t a i l stores) or working outside i n order to acquire experience. A male elder r e c a l l e d : We might not have studied but we have anubhav (experience) which has been acquired over years. Likewise, by the time a g i r l reached the age of eleven, she would have acquired basic s k i l l s to run a household, where cooking was a s i g n i f i c a n t pursuit. S o c i a l i z a t i o n into adulthood was oriented towards the s p e c i f i c goal of marriage and procreation. Men earned a l i v i n g for the family while women assumed the r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s of being mothers, wives and daughters in-law. The l a t t e r entailed entering into a network of kinship r e l a t i o n s . In the Social Sciences, a considerable amount of discussion has focused on the issue of the s i g n i f i c a n t family unit i n p r e - i n d u s t r i a l society. I t has been argued that the assumed existence of the extended family unit during t h i s time was a misconception and that the essential functioning unit was that of 245 the nuclear family (Laslett 1972; Berkner 1975). Among Ismailis, the jo i n t family unit comprising of ego's family and that of his father was as common as the nuclear family type. In Vancouver, there has been a developing trend towards the nuclear unit. Table VI Residential Patterns Of Ismailis In East A f r i c a And Vancouver. Extended Family Nuclear Family Total East A f r i c a 48 52 100 Vancouver 20 80 100 Note: Extended family included three generations. (Data collected during f i e l d work). 246 In spite of the two types of family units as shown i n the above table, i t i s necessary to note that the quantitative data do< . not f u l l y reveal the complexity of relations which exist among ki n . An elderly female recalled that although she never l i v e d with her mother in-law, very close t i e s were maintained to the extent that whenever her husband got her a present, her mother in-law got exactly the same thing. Discussing r e s i d e n t i a l patterns an informant explained: I l i v e d with my uncle as much as I l i v e d with my parents. Sometimes, I think that I had two fathers. Kinship relations are beset with contradictions and ambiguities. They contain elements of r e s t r a i n t as well as freedom, rights and privileges as well as duties and obligations. A talented seamstress explained: I have always been fond of sewing. When I got married, I thought I would not get much time to sew. I was very happy when my s i s t e r in-law and myself worked out the following arrangement. She would do a l l the cooking i n the house while I would do a l l the s t i t c h i n g . I had so much practice over the years that I have now become quite talented i n s t i t c h i n g . When we were i n Uganda, I wanted to open my own shop (sewing) but my father in-law refused as he thought that I should stay i n the house. The above example as well as my observations indicate that the elders played a key role i n 'mediating' contradictions as well as possible c o n f l i c t s . While t h i s i s commonplace among pre-industrial s o c i e t i e s , what needs emphasis i s that often the mediating process took place i n an intangible manner over.a period of time. From various anecdotes collected during fieldwork, we can observe that the very presence of the elders was s u f f i c i e n t to contain c o n f l i c t s , so that they did not lead to the severance of t i e s . I was often t o l d that i n business where three to f i v e brothers worked together, i t was commonly the father who played a c r u c i a l role i n maintaining unity. One of the ways i n which the elders were able to perform such a role was through less 247 involvement i n material a c t i v i t i e s . For example, i n the domestic scene an elderly woman would, i d e a l l y , do the least amount of work. Nevertheless, she would take a keen interest i n k i n r e l a t i o n s , and would be instrumental i n sustaining t i e s and containing c o n f l i c t s . The d i s t i n c t r o l e of the elders was also reflected i n the c u l t i v a t i o n of s p i r i t u a l l i f e . This meant spending a greater amount of time i n Jamafat Khana, and performance of moral duties on a larger scale. This notion was tangibly expressed i n seva (service to the Imam and, by extension, to the Jama cat). Mehdi explained: When we die, God w i l l say: 'I did not send you to earth merely to pray'. He w i l l ask: 'Your fellow being was s i c k , did you go to see him? Your fellow being was t h i r s t y , did you give him water? Your fellow being was hungry, did you feed him?' In the end Mehdi added that while the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y to help one's fellow beings f a l l s on everyone, i t i s the elders who bear the greater obligation because, when they take the necessary action, the whole family reaps the s p i r i t u a l benefits. In other words, as a person grew older, the larger became the range of hi s moral obligations. From the family, the obligations expanded into kinship, leading on to the community. In t h e i r t r a d i t o n a l r o l e , I s m a i l i elders present a symbolic model of s p i r i t u a l l i f e exemplifying moral support, advice, h o s p i t a l i t y , knowledge (acquired through experience), and a unitive center integrating kinship t i e s . S i g n i f i c a n t l y , the gender roles are less marked at old age, and both men and women enjoy the authority and respect accorded to them by other members of the family. In t h e i r r o l e s , the elders personify the quality of s i m p l i c i t y (deemphasis on gender) which i s an attribu t e of s p i r i t u a l l i f e . The role of the elders compared with the adults i s charted i n the following diagram. 248 Diagram 31 Model Of Is m a i l i Cosmos Conceived In Terms Of 'Journey Of Man1 S p i r i t u a l World ( s i m p l i c i t y and unity) Man o — (emcompasses material and s p i r i t u a l ) Material World ( p l u r a l i t y and m u l t i p l i c i t y ) Key: o, Upright posture of man s i g n i f y i n g h i s involvement i n material world (adult stage). J Posture of genuflection representing the ascent of man (old age) 249 In discussing the role of the elders i n the present milieu, an adult male informant remarked: When I thought of the elders i n East A f r i c a , I always associated them with leaders. Here I associate the elders with the idea of retirement. The above comment t e l l i n g l y points to a fundamental change i n the role of the elders among I s m a i l i s , though i t should be emphasised that such a development i s common i n post-industrial s o c i e t i e s . The manner i n which I s m a i l i elders have been affected by the prevailing factors can be understood i n two contexts: (a) s i t u a t i o n a l factors and (b) a t t i t u d i n a l change. We would very much l i k e to look after our elderly parents. After a l l , i t i s our t r a d i t i o n . However, circumstances i n t h i s country are d i f f e r e n t . Both my wife and myself work and we have a young family. As soon as we come home i n the evening my wife cooks supper, there i s the cleaning to be done and a f t e r that we have to bathe the children, spend some time with them and tuck them into bed. Where would we f i n d the time to spend with our parents? They would expect us to take them to Jama c a t Khana i n the evenings and t h i s would not be possible everyday. We l i v e i n separate dwellings and we v i s i t my parents at least once a week. You see, our main problem i s that of time. The above extract from the conversation with a male respondent i s representative of the s i t u a t i o n a l factors which have contributed towards the marginal status which elders occupy within the family structure. The developing trend within the community i s towards nuclear family u n i t s , as we have already noted. The s i g n i f i c a n t members within such units are parents and the i r children. Modified extended family systems were considered as being transient by the respondents: In some f a m i l i e s , elderly parents (or parent) l i v e with t h e i r married son. This i s because of necessity. I do not think that i n future such an arrangement w i l l continue. The above viewpoint from a respondent was shared by other informants. The elders who have continued to l i v e with t h e i r children do so out of necessity 250 a r i s i n g from f i n a n c i a l l i m i t a t i o n s or poor health or because they f e e l that they have a 'function' to perform within the household. The elders make themselves useful by babysitting (a job mainly done by women and i n some cases men) and cooking (exclusively done by women). That there seems to be a potential source of c o n f l i c t and s t r a i n i n households where the elders l i v e with t h e i r son i s confirmed by two other situations. During fieldwork, I came across a number of elders l i v i n g with th e i r unmarried or widowed daughters, a s i t u a t i o n which would not be considered as appropriate, t r a d i t i o n a l l y . Such parents, i n spite of having sons had opted to l i v e with t h e i r daughters fearing the emergence of s t r a i n or c o n f l i c t . I also came across elderly widows or widowers who moved around so that they would spend limited amount of time with one son. In t h i s case, they would be considered as 'guests' and therefore earn greater respect i n the household. Elders who l i v e i n the household with t h e i r sons f e l t very obliged (because they considered i t as a favour). One elderly female informed me that she never came for breakfast early i n the morning and would always r e t i r e to bed early at night so that she would not be ' i n the way'. Another couple explained that when t h e i r son had guests for dinner they would not stay around for long and would r e t i r e early for the night. A l l i n a l l i t appears that the elders do not have an important status i n the household of t h e i r married sons. 251 Before we explore the issue concerning a t t i t u d i n a l change, I would l i k e to emphasise that an informal supportive network exists for the elders where sons, daughters, and members of the kinship and the community play a central ro l e . Service needs of the elders are met adequately. Apart from receiving f i n a n c i a l help from the children, the elders are taken to outings, shopping, and Jama'at Khana. There are communal outings organized by a 'senior c i t i z e n s committee'. These outings are exclusively for the elders and inadvertently the elders are treated as a separate group which needs special tending. Summary of the l i f e s t yle of the elders i s given i n table VII. Table VII Major Characteristics Of Is m a i l i Elderly Respondents Males Females Total (15=N) (15=N) , Age 65-64 6 8 14 75-79 4 3 7 80-84 4 2 6 85+ 1 2 3 Country of B i r t h India 4 3 7 East A f r i c a 11 12 23 Living Arrangements l i v e with spouse 7 3 10 l i v e with son 5 4 9 l i v e alone 2 3 5 l i v e with daughter 1 3 4 'moving around' 0 2 2 Kin i n Vancouver no. of children 45 30 75 close r e l a t i v e s 60 75 135 V i s i t i n g Patterns (average per month) children 04 07 11 kin 03 05 08 Religious Attendance (average per month) 22 27 49 Total Respondents 15 15 30 Note: Data used i n the table was collected during f i e l d work. 253 The aged must l i v e t h i s l i f e of aloneness And yet, Once upon a time, she was so v i t a l - the l i f e ' s blood -for her family. We build the foundation of our l i v e s Upon the s a c r i f i c e of our parents. My friends You - the one with the young c h i l d i n your arms. the one with the bulging briefcase; the one who i s going skiing t h i s weekend -Your mother, your grandmother, Is she alone tonight? Can you f e e l the s i l e n t agonies of her heart tugging at your heartstrings. The above extract from a poem composed by a young I s m a i l i captures the 'plight' of the elders i n the face of a t t i t u d i n a l change brought about by the dominant c u l t u r a l values of se l f - r e l i a n c e and 'individualism'. Many Ismailis describe the i r experiences i n Canada i n terms of 'openness'. One informant explained: Back i n East A f r i c a , i t seemed that our l i v e s depended upon padlocks. I constantly remember the number of doors that I had to bolt. L i f e was very closed. What did we do i n East Africa? We went to Jama *at Khana i n the evenings and weekends. We only had three options: (a) going to cinema (b) eating out and (c) going to a pi c n i c . Take l i f e i n Canada. Canada i s a land of opportunities. There i s much to be done here - sports, T.V., video, outings, restaurants, you name i t . A l l that we have to do i s work hard and you can enjoy l i f e here. For those who wish to study, there are innumerable opportunities. In h is a r t i c l e on "A Modified View Of Our Origins: The Christian Beginnings Of Modern Individualism" (1982:1-27), L. Dumont distinguishes between the indi v i d u a l i n terms of speech, thought and w i l l , a 'sample of mankind as found i n a l l s o c i e t i e s ' (universal) and the 'independent, autonomous, and thus 254 essentially non-social moral being, who carries our paramount values and i s found primarily i n our modern ideology of man and society 1 (modern). From th i s point of view the universal model i s referred to as h o l i s t i c and the modern model as i n d i v i d u a l i s t i c . ^ Other studies on 'American Culture' have focused on the indiv i d u a l as i t s dominant ch a r a c t e r i s t i c (Mason 1955:1264-1279 & Du Bois 1955:1232-1239).6 The attitude of 'individualism' accompanied by se l f - r e l i a n c e i s brought about by the existence of choice, i n spite of the fact that what one chooses to do can be determined by the mass-media. As opposed to their homeland, larger numbers of Ismailis are exercising choices such as: going to Jamacat  Khana (which normatively i s an everyday a c t i v i t y ) or staying at home. The 'choices' which Ismailis exercise i n th e i r new homeland seem to be affecting the i n t e g r i t y of the family unit. T r a d i t i o n a l l y , recreational a c t i v i t i e s were family oriented - going to the cinema or a picnic was a family a f f a i r . In the modern context, each member of the family has different interests. In some cases these interests d i f f e r markedly and are observable i n the household i n terms of T.V. programs, and food preferences. From the above we can establish that the context of the family, kinship t i e s , and the authority which the elders enjoyed within the community does not exist as a coherent whole. Research on minority communities have attributed the existence of 'a viable t r a d i t i o n a l support system' which can adequately maintain the t r a d i t i o n a l role of the elders (Trela & Sokolovsky 1979:124). Although close t i e s are maintained between the elders and their k i n , the framework within which such an interaction takes place i s r a d i c a l l y altered. T r a d i t i o n a l l y , as noted e a r l i e r , the impact of the elders was f e l t intangibly over a period of time. Conversations with informants revealed that many times 255 the elders did not do much, rather i t was their presence which made a l l the difference. The present interaction between the elders and t h e i r kin i s i n the context of 'special time'. Like many other a c t i v i t i e s , special time i s allocated for v i s i t s and in t e r a c t i o n . The elders are given the message, loud and clea r , that for t h e i r own well-being and happiness they should try to become independent. ( i i ) L i f e Histories - Adults L i y a k a t a l i i s o r i g i n a l l y from Uganda. He i s presently working as a computer analyst. When I was young, my parents used to put a l o t of emphasis on education. There are three things which I remember doing for a long time. They were studies, sports, and Jama cat Khana. My mother i n s i s t e d that a l l of us (I have two s i s t e r s and two brothers) should go to 'khane'. We used to l i v e close to Jama'at Khana and the l a t t e r was an in t e g r a l part of my l i f e . My father was very s t r i c t and quite short tempered. Nevertheless, I was very fond of him. I was s t i l l at University when the 'famous decree' was issued. We were asked to leave Uganda. I t was quite a shock. But we got over i t -family, friends, community, Religion - a l l of these helped. I continued my studies here and got married at the age of twenty four. My wife i s a l e g a l secretary and i s not working at the moment as our son i s s t i l l small (one and a half years o l d ) . In the beginning when I got married, we a l l l i v e d together (my parents and one s i s t e r ) . But then there were too many c o n f l i c t s about housework, going out, and so on. We thought i t best to l i v e separately. We always v i s i t our parents during week-ends, that i s on Sundays. On Saturdays we usually go out with our friends or by ourselves. L i f e i s hard here but we l i k e i t . There are l o t s of opportunities and good f a c i l i t i e s for education. Mustafa migrated to Canada from Kenya seven years ago. He i s a businessman with three children, two boys aged 15 and 13 and one g i r l aged 10. After I finished schooling i n Kenya, my father sent me to England to study law. I have specialized i n Business Law. When I returned, I got a posting i n Zaire with a communal i n s t i t u t i o n . I decided to s e t t l e i n Canada mainly because of children's education. I think that there are greater 256 opportunities here and besides there i s a large Ismaili community. I l i k e i t here though l i f e i s pressurized and s t r e s s f u l . My sons attend private school - there i s more d i s c i p l i n e and I understand that the quality of education i s much higher. My parents and two of my brothers and one s i s t e r a l l l i v e here. We get together as a family once a month. We would l i k e to meet more often, i t would be nice i f we could but time i s a problem. The children have so many a c t i v i t i e s to attend - sports, school outings, Religious education classes. I t seems that we are always on the move. We attend Jama^at Khana twice a week - that i s a must or else how w i l l the children know about our traditions? Nazlin (from Uganda) i s married with two daughters aged 13 and 8 She works as a l e g a l secretary. I only studied upto High School. I got married at an early age. I was only seventeen. Back at home, I was a house wife. My husband did not want me to work. When we came here, I stayed at home for two years after our f i r s t c h i l d was born. I was bored at home so I decided to work. My husband and myself argued about i t ; I was so unhappy that f i n a l l y he had to give i n . We have l o t s of r e l a t i v e s here and we often v i s i t them especially parents, brothers and s i s t e r s . I think that i t i s important for the children. I take my daughters at my father in-law's place. I just f e e l somehow, he would say certain things that would sink i n . I t i s d i f f i c u l t to raise children here. My eldest daughter does not l i k e to come to 'khane'. In fact she does not l i k e to put on dresses. She says she feels comfortable i n trousers. I give i n but I do make sure that at least twice a month she must come to 'khane'. I t r y to explain to her - sometimes i t works, other times i t does not. She i s very determined and seems to be going her own way. The other day, I happened to read a l e t t e r from her g i r l f r i e n d - nothing important. She was very upset that I looked at i t . She l i k e s to have a 'private' l i f e - her own room, music. I think that part of the problems are due to the fact that my husband and myself did not get on w e l l . My daughter feels insecure. Things are a l l right now but i t i s hard to explain to a c h i l d . Shelina i s married with two sons aged 16 and 11. Presently, she works as a secretary. My childhood was hard. My father did not do too well i n business and we had to struggle for a l i v i n g . I could not f i n i s h schooling as I had to work to support our large family. I am the eldest - I have three brothers and one s i s t e r . After marriage, I stayed home for the children though I continued to 257 work part time i n Nairobi. We moved to Canada because we have rel a t i v e s here both from my husband as well as my side. Also, we want our children to acquire good education and we f e e l there are better opportunities here. We moved here s i x years ago. My son did very well at High School. He got admission to do Business Administration at the University. He attended the f i r s t semester and then dropped out saying that i t does not interest him. He i s too involved i n sports. Sports at the moment seems to be his whole l i f e . He intends to do a course i n Hotel Management. I hope he pursues i t . These days children do not l i s t e n . They seem to know what i s best for them. Even my younger son i s surprisingly independent. He has started doing paper route and has opened his own bank account. When I was working, I used to give my whole salary to my father. People become too independent here. My sons often have arguments with t h e i r father about T.V. programs. They a l l have different interests. We have bought a small T.V. set for the children so that there are no clashes. The other day I told my younger son to pick up his.shoes and he says: 'Mummy make sure that you also put your shoes i n the right place. I cannot always go along with what the children say. 258 More than any other group, adults (parents) seem to capture more tangibly the play of forces between traditionalism and the values and practices of the host society. Being nurtured i n an ethos governed by t r a d i t i o n a l values, adults are exposed more d i r e c t l y to 'modernism' as expressed i n North America. Unlike the elders, the North American experience of the adults i s acquired i n two forms: (a) direct and (b) i n d i r e c t (through the children). We s h a l l examine both the forms i n order to establish how the adults steer th e i r own l i v e s as well as those of th e i r children i n terms of attitudes and the values which have been i n s t i l l e d into the adults from childhood and those emergent i n the present milieu. Before we proceed, i t i s necessary to define the terms 'traditionalism' and 'modernism' as understood and described empirically by the adults. The adults understanding of these terms i s as follows: 259 Table VIII Traditional And Modern Attitudes And Practices. Traditional Values Modern Values Jama'at Khana formal r e l i g i o u s education informal in s t r u c t i o n at home kinship t i e s t r a d i t i o n a l foods active p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n communal a c t i v i t i e s t r a d i t i o n a l forms of recreation - Indian movies, music. secular education/work emphasis on technical sciences recreational a c t i v i t i e s - greater variety Canadian friends -includes other communities non-traditional foods mass media - T.V., video pop music drinking, smoking, drugs pork, sexual permissiveness - a c t i v e l y discouraged. Jama cat Khana i s the bulwark of I s m a i l i t r a d i t i o n . During my f i e l d - t r i p to Scandinavia, the greatest concern of the Ismailis l i v i n g there was that they did not have a Jama c a t . 7 One informant summed up the sentiments shared by others: We f e e l that we are locked i n a golden cage. There are two Jama'at Khanas which have been constructed i n the West (Vancouver and London) i n order to ' r e f l e c t an Islamic mood' which w i l l blend 'harmoniously and discreetly with the surrounding environment'. The Jama cat  Khana forms 'an important focus for the r e l i g i o u s and s o c i a l l i f e of the Q community' (The Aga Khan 1983:18). As we have established i n t h i s study, i t embodies a cognitive model based on the categories of material and s p i r i t u a l 260 l i f e . At one l e v e l , the whole of the l i f e of an Is m a i l i i s contained i n the symbol of the Jama'at Khana. The l a t t e r incorporates a continuum which ranges from worship and r i t u a l to food and informal conversation that takes place after the completion of the prayers. A female informant explained: I do not have any ki n here but the Jama'at i s l i k e a family. I forget everything when I come here. Jama cat Khana i s everything to me. Nevertheless as noted e a r l i e r , s i t u a t i o n a l and a t t i t u d i n a l factors have effected a deep-rooted change among Is m a i l i s . In many contexts, what was once an everyday a c t i v i t y has become s p e c i a l , and what was ordinary has become fe s t i v e . Attendance i n Jamacat Khana has been manifestly affected. Information obtained from f i f t y adults revealed the following figures. Table IX Attendance i n Jama cat Khana (Adults) Daily 2-3 times Festive Total p.w. occasions only East A f r i c a 42 5 3 50 Vancouver 23 12 15 50 Note: Data included i n the table i s based on a period of three months The c r u c i a l factor which requires consideration i s that i f Jama Sat Khana i s not attended as much as i t was t r a d i t i o n a l l y , what are the alternative pursuits? Behavioural patterns indicate that the reasons ci t e d for lack of dail y r e g u l a r i t y i n r e l i g i o u s attendance include t r a d i t i o n a l as well as modern factors as defined above. Mothers with young children consider i t to be a 'religious duty' to stay at home. One mother explained: 261 After a l l , i t i s the firman of the Imam that children who are under ten should be i n bed by half past seven. Likewise, family and kinship obligations such as nurturing the sick have often been cit e d as reasons for not attending Jama cat Khana. In East A f r i c a t h i s was not considered to be a major problem as house servants and maids were commonly employed i n I s m a i l i homes. This i s not to say that a l l the a c t i v i t i e s pursued t r a d i t i o n a l l y were considered as being r e l i g i o u s . There were occasions and times when a purely 'material pursuit' was taken up during Jama*'at Khana time. One instance which can be c i t e d i s the popularity of Indian movies shown i n Drive-in cinemas i n East A f r i c a . A sizable number of Ismailis resorted to t h i s spot on Saturday and Sunday evenings. Nevertheless, such events did not pose as alternative 'models' counterpoised to going to Jama ""at Khana. In the l i g h t of the above, recreation a c t i v i t i e s i n Vancouver seem to alternate, and i n some respects take the place of Jama'at Khana attendance. The situ a t i o n i s complicated by the fact that, by and large, adults and thei r children have di f f e r e n t i n t e r e s t s . The following i s a l i s t of a c t i v i t i e s pursued j o i n t l y as well as separately. 262 Table X Recreational A c t i v i t i e s Of Adults And Children. Number of times per week (average) T o t a l respondents = 20 Adults Children Adults/Children T.V. 6 11 2 Music Indian 4 0 2 Pop 0 6 0 Movies Indian 2 0 0-1 North American 0-4 1-2 0-1 snack Bars/ 1 1-3 1 restaurants Disco 0 1 0 V i s i t i n g k i n 2 0 0-1 Shopping 2 1 0-1 Sports 1 6 0-1 Note: Data f o r the table was c o l l e c t e d during fieldwork. 263 Table X above indicates that the a c t i v i t i e s which are followed j o i n t l y by parents and children are t r a d i t i o n a l : watching Indian movies or v i s i t i n g k i n . Modern a c t i v i t i e s which form part of the 'youth sub-culture', such as disco and many sports, are exclusively for the young. While t h i s may appear to be commonplace, (because of the age difference between adults and children they are bound to have dif f e r e n t and even exclusive interests) the whole sit u a t i o n from the point of view of the adults i s conflict-prone and ambiguous. Let us take a few examples. C o n f l i c t s or potential c o n f l i c t s a r i s e i n the household. We saw from the l i f e history of Shelina that her sons clashed with t h e i r fathers about T.V. programs. The c o n f l i c t was contained rather than resolved by obtaining a second T.V. set for the children. Further observations and interviews show that Shelina's case i s not an isolated one. This does not mean that a constant battle i s waged i n the l i v i n g room. I came across a number of compromises which were worked out to s u i t the interests of both parties. Two of the common solutions observed were the a l l o c a t i o n of set hours and alternation of days between parents and t h e i r children. In such si t u a t i o n s , adults may end up watching t h e i r childrens 'programs' ( l i k e a rock video) while children may be induced to watch t h e i r parents choice, l i k e an Indian movie. In t h i s way each becomes acculturated into both modernism and tradit i o n a l i s m . Another context i n which mutual acculturation occurs relates to eating. We have already noted that two types of foods are eaten i n I s m a i l i households, t r a d i t i o n a l and Euro-Canadian. Here again, an attempt i s made to accommodate the preferences of adults and those of the children - though i t i s important to note that i t has been worked out over a decade. Mothers have indicated 264 that when they f i r s t came to Canada, they used to prepare a three-course t r a d i t i o n a l meal. As children grew up they started stating t h e i r preferences for foods l i k e hamburgers or shake and bake chicken. Other contexts reveal a model of alternation. Given the d i f f e r i n g i n t e r e s t s , the children, as they grow older, show resistance to accompanying t h e i r parents when the l a t t e r v i s i t k i n . One mother explained: My son who i s thirteen years old d i s l i k e s v i s i t i n g my parents because he finds i t boring. But I i n s i s t that he should come with me at least once a month though I go every week. I f e e l that while my father i s t a l k i n g , he (the son) might pick up something which would be very useful. I t i s very important for him to l i s t e n to ' t r a d i t i o n a l t a l k ' . Likewise, sports and disco which on the whole are exclusive to children are 'bounded' a c t i v i t i e s . Parents tend to put r e s t r i c t i o n s on them. One mother explained: My daughter can go out only once a week. After that she dare not even come and ask i f she can go out again. She knows that she w i l l not get the permission. Most of the parents I talked to indicated that t h e i r children have to be home by certain times. This does not mean that i n every instance the rule of thumb i s followed. Parents related instances when the children come home l a t e r then the allocated time. In such situations parents either give i n or show displeasure. The pattern that emerges as being s i g n i f i c a n t i s that of constant negotiation and modification of various situations as they a r i s e . As children attempt to follow what the parents wish, and face the pressures they apparently f e e l from the peer group, they are exposed to two modes of r e a l i t y . The f i r s t mode i s embodied i n the cognitive model which the parents seek to activate, while the second mode of r e a l i t y i s the emerging model based on the notion of individualism. 265 Another instance which i l l u s t r a t e s the p r i n c i p l e of alternation may be described as follows. Shayroz has two sons aged eleven and nine. Shyroz believes that she can give the best of both the worlds ( t r a d i t i o n a l and modern) to her children. She takes as much interest i n the school work and a c t i v i t i e s as i n ensuring that her children attend Jama c a t Khana three or four times a week. I t so happens that, among other days, r e l i g i o u s education classes are held on Saturday mornings for children up to grade XII. Shyroz's sons are also keen about soccer which i s played at the same time. Shyroz decided that she was going to alternate. She t o l d her sons that l a s t year they played soccer. This year, s t a r t i n g i n September, they would be attending r e l i g i o u s education classes. T r a d i t i o n a l l y , the c o n f l i c t between recreational a c t i v i t i e s and attending Jama*at Khana would not have been as sharp as i t i s today. The reason being that the t r a d i t i o n a l cognitive model was i m p l i c i t l y present i n almost a l l areas of l i f e . The i m p l i c i t assumption i n most families i s that the parents symbolically embody and activate the model i n t h e i r behaviour and attitude. One mother explained: I do not do anything consciously for my son. But I am sure that the values and t r a d i t i o n s which I carry around must pass through to my son. The important thing i s for the mother to be around her children. Out of f i f t y mothers that I talked to, t h i r t y seven expressed the wish to keep th e i r children, during t h e i r pre-school years, with I s m a i l i baby-sitters. The assumption here i s that these children would 'pick up' part of t h e i r c u l t u r a l heritage from such baby-sitters. While t h i s model may be at work during the early stages of growing up, i t i s soon alternated with the emerging model a r i s i n g from interaction with the host society. Some mothers have remarked on the marked differences noticeable once the c h i l d interacts within the broader 266 framework of the larger society. Several mothers referred to the d i f f i c u l t y of continuing to use the vernacular language once t h e i r children had started school or went to day care centres. Another informant related that her c h i l d had become 'aggressive' once she started going to day care. When she wants something done, she says 'do t h i s ' or 'do that'. We never use t h i s kind of language at home. Given the above observations, I noticed that mothers and fathers had accepted the fact that they cannot raise t h e i r children i n a t r a d i t i o n a l manner and that there were occasions when they had to 'give i n ' . A couple with a fourteen year old daughter related that they would r e a l l y not l i k e t h e i r daughter to go out at night with her friends but they also feared that i f they stopped her she would be deprived of the opportunity to make friends. The mother added: We have to tr u s t our children and l e t them have t h e i r own l i v e s too. Yet parents appeared also to be f e a r f u l because they did not understand the 'world of t h e i r children'. Their greatest fear was that t h e i r children might pick up the habits of smoking, drinking, or taking drugs. Linked with t h i s i s sexual permissiveness, which parents f e e l abounds i n North American society. Most parents f e l t that t h e i r children were vulnerable to developing the above habits. The only safety valve which they f e l t existed for them was the Jama '•at Khana, and an exposure to t r a d i t i o n a l ways such as kinship interaction and I s m a i l i friends. Alternation between t r a d i t i o n and modernism has also affected the adults i n a f o r c e f u l manner. Adults do not at a l l times act within the t r a d i t i o n a l framework but, as we have noticed, alternate between going to Jama'at Khana and pursuing recreational a c t i v i t i e s . The major differences between parents and children are due to the d i v e r s i f i c a t i o n of interests as w e l l as d i f f e r i n g 267 perspectives of l i f e i n Canada. Before exploring t h i s further, l e t us turn to the experiences of Is m a i l i youth i n Canada. Consider the following l i f e h i s t o r i e s : ( i i i ) The Youth Mehboob i s 17 years o l d . He emigrated to Canada s i x years ago from Kenya. Presently, Mehboob l i v e s with his parents and thirteen year old brother. My mother always t e l l s me that we came here because of our education. I l i k e i t here. I do not miss Kenya at a l l . The school system i s fi n e except that there i s not much d i s c i p l i n e here. Since I finished High school, my mother has been pressing me to go to University. I do not think that I am the University type. I just want to f i n i s h a technical course -something that would allow me to work. I l i k e to be independent. At the moment, I am working i n a motel and I am supporting myself. I go to Jama*at Khana two times a week. I would miss Jama cat  Khana i f I were to go somewhere where there are no Is m a i l i s . I go to Jama'at Khana to pray and meet my friends. I also l i k e to play sports, especially soccer. I have my own c i r c l e of friends - they are a l l I s m a i l i s . At f i r s t , my mother used to r e s t r i c t the number of times I could go out and the time when I had to be home. Now I can make my own decisions. My mother gets upset when we stay out too l a t e but we are not up to any mischief as the adults tend to think. I do not smoke or drink. One day somebody offered me some beer. I tasted i t but frankly I did not l i k e i t . Some of my friends smoke and drink and i t a l l depends on how they have been brought up. Riyaz i s from Uganda. He has l i v e d i n Vancouver for the l a s t twelve years. Riyaz i s 22 years old and studying at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia - second year i n Science. Riyaz's household consists of his parents, one brother who i s 25, and a 19 year old s i s t e r . When I came from Uganda, I was quite young. I remember that l i f e was a struggle. My mother used to get up at f i v e to go to work. She worked i n a hospital as a cook. My father also had long hours of work. A l l of us, myself, my brother and s i s t e r went to school. My mother i s not working at the moment. Right now the most important thing i n my l i f e i s to 268 get into Medicine. I t i s tough and very competitive. I study most of the time. My mother complains that I do not spend enough time with the family. She would l i k e to v i s i t the r e l a t i v e s . I cannot do that at the moment - my time i s very precious. I go to Jama^at Khana two or three times a week. I do not think that my mother can understand how much work I have to do. This does not mean that I do not love my family. I would do anything for them. At the moment i t i s d i f f i c u l t because there i s a harsh world out there. I know that i f I did not work, I w i l l be nowhere. Femina i s 25 years old. She finished schooling i n London three years ago. She i s a designer by profession and presently she i s helping her father i n business. I was born i n Kenya and a f t e r my senior Cambridge, my father sent me to London for further education. I attended a boarding school and I studied under very s t r i c t conditions. We were not allowed to go out a f t e r certain hours and there were a host of regulations which we had to follow. Nevertheless, most of us broke the rule s . We would use windows to come i n and go out a f t e r scheduled hours. I followed the others. I think that there was a l o t of pressure from other g i r l s . I was not accepted unless I became l i k e them. I was fat so I went on a d i e t . I even started to drink and smoke. I t i s strange. I do not do i t anymore. I had no trouble i n giving up these habits. Now that I am no longer i n i t , I think about i t . I think that I f e l t very insecure when I was i n London. The insecurity was partly a r e s u l t of family circumstances. We were never r e a l l y s e t t l e d i n Nairobi -there was always t a l k of moving and I r e a l l y did f e e l that I did not belong anywhere. Besides there were differences between my mother and father. Now that we are here, everything i s f i n e . I have my roots and I do not think that I have major differences with my parents. My father has changed a l o t - he t r i e s to look at things from my point of view. He was very s t r i c t once but now he does not mind when I go out and t r y to l i v e my own l i f e . I think that he t r u s t s me and that makes a l o t of difference. 269 Navida i s 19 years o l d . She i s going to college and i s s p e c i a l i z i n g i n Business Management. She emigrated from Tanzania seven years ago and presently l i v e s with her parents and two younger brothers. I was only twelve when we moved to Canada. I consider myself to be a Canadian. Both my parents are working and we have a good family l i f e . I would say that i n some ways I have a d i f f e r e n t kind of l i f e . I have my own tastes about dressing and I have my own friends (Canadians as well as I s m a i l i s ) . We often go together to movies, p i c n i c s , p a r t i e s and sometimes I spend week-ends at my g i r l - f r i e n d s house. My parents 'know' a l l my friends that i s to say that they have met them. I f I take too much freedom that i s stay out t i l l very l a t e at night ( a f t e r 11 a.m.) my parents get very upset. Otherwise, we do not have major dif f e r e n c e s . Sometimes I f e e l that my parents do not understand me. I do my share at home. I do the vacuum cleaning, laundry and help with numerous chores. My parents expect me to go to Jama '-at Khgna at l e a s t three times a week. On other days, I have been trained to say my du*-!" at seven t h i r t y sharp. I have continued with t h i s practice although at times i t i s d i f f i c u l t ; I have homework to do i n the evenings and sometimes I may be out with my f r i e n d s . I v i s i t my grandpa once a month and occasionally I go out with the family, v i s i t i n g r e l a t i v e s and enjoying outings. Everyone says that the youth have problems here. Speaking for myself and my I s m a i l i f r i e n d s , I do not think that there are any major problems which cannot be solved. We a l l have differences with our parents. Sometimes they give i n and sometimes I give i n . We, the youth need space to grow - we need to make our own decisions but we also need guidance which our parents can provide. The l i f e h i s t o r i e s of youth point to two forms of l i f e - s t y l e s . The f i r s t pertains to family-oriented a c t i v i t i e s which, to some extent, re-enforces the t r a d i t i o n a l model. The family go out together (that i s young adults and t h e i r parents) most frequently to Jama^at Khana and associated communal outings. The second form of l i f e - s t y l e e n t a i l s p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the so-called 'youth c u l t u r e ' , which forms part of the process of adjustment i n the changing environment of the I s m a i l i s . I m p l i c i t l y , i t i s understood by parents and t h e i r young adults that they have d i f f e r e n t r e c r e a t i o n a l i n t e r e s t s . I learned from one parent that when he was t r a v e l l i n g with h i s son, they took turns 270 l i s t e n i n g to two kinds of tapes: one with t r a d i t i o n a l songs and the other with pop music. While t h i s alternation i s accepted and negotiated i n the process of daily l i v i n g , what i s found perturbing i s the lack of understanding between parents and their children. One mother said: My daughter goes to parties and she i s allowed to stay out only t i l l 11 p.m. She usually leaves the house around eight. I would l i k e to know, what happens i n the three hours that the kids have been out. We have no way of checking and I r e a l l y do not know what the kids are up to. The response of one youth was: Well, our parents have to trust us. I cannot always explain to my mother what we do when we are out. A l o t of the times we just s i t and t a l k . Apart from recreational a c t i v i t i e s , parents are becoming increasingly aware of the 'new dimensions of thought and attitude' which children are picking up from school and the associated peer environment. We have already noted instances of 'aggressiveness' and 'individualism' related by parents. Another development which has created a r i f t between parents and children relates to the whole area of explanation and the so-called 'meaning of things'. This i s f e l t very strongly, and parents f e e l that i f they cannot explain things to the children, they w i l l lose them to the wider society. Shelina expressed the view: My son wants explanations as to why we do not eat pork and why he has to attend r e l i g i o u s education classes. I try to explain, but i t i s d i f f i c u l t to reason out everything. There are certain things which we just have to do and i t i s only at a l a t e r stage that the results are known. I was never given any 'explanations' when I was growing up. Shelina's friend who was also present added: The children want answers immediately. My grandmother used to say that i f you want to taste the sweetness of a mango, you have to wait and l e t i t become ri p e . Feeling at a l o s s , parents tend to encourage the children to turn more towards the community - attending Jama'-at Khana, r e l i g i o u s education classes 271 and participating i n the i n s t i t u t i o n a l a c t i v i t i e s such as voluntary corps, g i r l guides, boy scouts and other administrative bodies. In fact, an increasing number of young people are being absorbed i n these organizations. Although t h i s provides an ambiance of community l i f e , the l a t t e r i s counterpoised with the youth sub-culture. Table XI Communal Involvement Of Young Adults Age group: 14 to 25 No = 50 Type of A c t i v i t y No. Volunteers scouts/guides I n s t i t u t i o n s (a) Administration (b) Religious education (c) Sports 11 08 10 11 10 Note: Data included was collected during interviews with I s m a i l i f a m i l i e s . 272 Perception Of L i f e In Canada The differences observable i n recreation can be extended to the perception of Canadian l i f e by the elders, the adults and the youth. The marked contrasts of the three groups can be understood i n the following contexts: Primary experiences of Canadian l i f e of elders derive from neighbourhood units, v i s i t s to the doctors, shopping malls, and through the mass media. The elders, owing to limited s o c i a l and geographical mobility and the handicap of language, perceived Canadian l i f e as being pervaded by attitudes of independence and permissiveness. An elderly informant related: My female neighbour i s divorced. I think she i s so 'liberated' and independent. She manages the whole house so we l l . She has two sons (aged 16 and 19) and I think she gives them too much freedom. They go out and come back late at night. But I admire t h i s woman. She drives her own car and does so many things l i k e gardening. My observations indicate that there i s limited interaction at t h i s l e v e l , and by and large, the elderly informants affirmed that beyond formal greeting of 'Hello' and remarks about the weather, conversation was minimal. I gathered that such li m i t e d interaction took place outside the house, therefore v e i l i n g the 'inner l i f e ' of individual households. This i s a s i g n i f i c a n t change as the former experience of the elders (and that of other Ismailis) took place i n an open s p a t i a l environment of home and the neighbourhood. From the mass media and what they observed on the streets, the elders had confirmed opinions of the l i f e - s t y l e of people l i v i n g i n the larger society. A summary of t h i s l i f e - s t y l e included such characteristics as hard work accompanied by enjoyment and luxurious l i v i n g , smoking, drinking and sexual permissiveness. 273 Adults derive their impressions of the host society from mass media, limited interactions with the neighbours, work place and the involvements of their children. The reactions of the adults appeared to be mixed. Conversations revealed that adults have met with resistance as well as acceptance. Nevertheless, the adults repeatedly informed me that interaction with members of the larger society was limited and s i t u a t i o n a l , that i s confined to a s p e c i f i c context, l i k e work. I came across several instances i n which adults related how i n East A f r i c a work included a network of s o c i a l relationships and was not t i g h t l y scheduled l i k e a f i f t e e n minute coffee 9 break. In Canada, adults f e e l temporally and s p a t i a l l y confined i n the work si t u a t i o n . Adults are aware of the fact that the primary emphasis i s on productivity, the bottom-line being dollars and cents. T r a d i t i o n a l l y , the core of Ism a i l i l i f e comprised of s o c i a l t i e s which, as we have observed, was a form of s p a t i a l expansion. Most s i g n i f i c a n t l y , most of the adults i n East A f r i c a went home for lunch. Eating was considered to be a so c i a l a c t i v i t y (an Isma i l i woman prepared t r a d i t i o n a l foods for s o c i a l groups). The young have, of course, penetrated the l i f e of the host society more deeply. Their experiences are more divergent. They are involved i n a greater number of a c t i v i t i e s and peer int e r a c t i o n . The younger members of the community are going into the professions (computer technology, law, medicine, pharmacy, and other technical areas) which are considered to be the hallmarks of modern society. Talking to t h i s group of people, I discovered that they did not stereotype Western societies as strongly as th e i r parents or grandparents. Undoubtedly, as with others, the picture created by the mass media of 'modern l i f e ' continued to remain v i v i d but, beyond t h i s , the young indicated an awareness of differences of l i f e - s t y l e s of Canadians. While they affirmed the q u a l i t i e s of 'independence' and 'permissiveness' as being 274 dominant, they nevertheless were aware of 't r a d i t i o n a l forces' at work among Canadians. One youth remarked: The parents of ray friend are more s t r i c t with him than my own parents. Within the community i t s e l f , the younger members are given added importance. An Is m a i l i leader remarked during the appointment of the new members i n the administrative infrastructure i n March 1984: It i s the Imam's wish that the younger members of the Jama'at should occupy important p o r t f o l i o s i n our i n s t i t u t i o n s . The sources of perception of the three groups are diagramed as follows Diagram 32 Perception Of Canadian L i f e Mediums of Transmission Key: » — > Maximum Interaction Minimum Interaction 275 In his comparison of the East and the West (more s p e c i f i c a l l y , the Japanese and the Americans), Hall draws upon the images of the heart and the mind contending that these are two different modes through which learning i s acquired (1983:85-99). In the East greater emphasis i s placed on the 'heart' which stands for self-knowledge and enlightenment. In the West, the focus i s on the mind, s p e c i f i c a l l y 'the l e f t hemisphere of the cortex, which i s the portion of the brain that i s concerned with words and numbers' (ibid:90). This framework produces two diff e r e n t forms of time: i n the East, time springs from the s e l f and i s not imposed while i n the West time i s an outside force which dictates a form of l i f e which i s l o g i c a l , bounded, and l i n e a r . Among Ismailis, the process of modernization seems to have taken place through a s h i f t from the 'heart' to the 'mind'. The elders, as they have experienced l i f e , represent a form of learning that i s akin to the heart. In th e i r conversations, the elders use symbols, images and anecdotes a l l of which represent a way of acquiring self-knowledge. The youth, requiring 'explanations', l o g i c a l , and bounded forms of thinking, represent the Western form of learning geared towards the mind. A s i g n i f i c a n t development which needs to be emphasised i s that the elders, the adults and the youth appear to be l i v i n g i n separate compartments which decisively lead to diff e r e n t forms of sp a t i a l and temporal experiences. These experiences, which are by and large confined, can be i d e n t i f i e d as follows: 276 Group The Elders The Adults The Youth Context Neighbourhood Work Peer Group Experience Confinement Confinement Paradoxical 1 Note: * The youth experience a f e e l i n g of 'freedom' within the peer in-group but as t h i s experience i s not shared with the other groups (family, community or the larger s o c i e t y ) , i t remains confined. Conclusion In t h i s chapter, we have established that the process of compartmentalization e n t a i l i n g t r a d i t i o n and change has an i n t e r n a l component. Presently, i n the changing mil i e u of the I s m a i l i s , the elders do not occupy an important status within the family or the community. Adults o s c i l l a t e between the two areas of material l i f e and s p i r i t u a l l i f e . We have seen t h i s epitomized i n r e c r e a t i o n a l a c t i v i t i e s and J a m a K h a n a r e s p e c t i v e l y . While we can assume (on the evidence established i n part I I ) , that the p a r t i c i p a n t s attending Jama cat Khana are exposed i n varying degrees, to the cognitive model revealing the 'manifestation of the s p i r i t u a l elements', the same assumption cannot be extended to the d a i l y l i f e . T r a d i t i o n a l l y , the a c t i v i t i e s of d a i l y l i f e complemented the ' s p i r i t u a l ' act of going to Jama^t Khana. However, presently, Jama ''at Khana and r e c r e a t i o n a l pursuits are counterpoised. Recreational pursuits are 'legitimate' a c t i v i t i e s (excluding the area of prohibitions l i k e drinking and smoking) and could have been accommodated within the cognitive model except f o r the following: (a) Recreation a c t i v i t i e s take the place of and do not complement the act of going to Jama ^ ar. Khana. 277 (b) The a c t i v i t i e s pursued by elders, adults and the young are divergent to the extent that i n some cases they are exclusive. This i s t e l l i n g l y revealed by the fact that there are 'special' recreation programmes organized s p e c i f i c a l l y for senior c i t i z e n s by communal i n s t i t u t i o n s . As to the 'youth sub-culture', the adults have expressed incomprehension of the 'hero-worship' of such figures as Michael Jackson, and the a t t r a c t i o n towards the pop music. A l l i n a l l , these developments do not promote interaction between elders, adults, and the young. Lack of such an interaction has given r i s e to d i f f e r i n g perspectives held by elders, adults and youth. The elders are the bearers of symbolic thought expressed tangibly i n the form of images and anecdotes as well as intangibly i n terms of 'presence', attested by the fact that on many occasions i t was the presence of the elders which made a difference i n containing potential c o n f l i c t s . More importantly, the advice given by the elders came to f r u i t i o n over a r e l a t i v e l y long period of time. The adults make important decisions regarding the upbringing of children with l i t t l e reference to the symbolic thought personified by the elders, with limited perception of l i f e i n Canada, especially the 'world' of t h e i r children.. The youth, on the other hand, continually alternate between two forms of l i f e s t y l e : home/Jamatat Khana. and that encountered at school/work and within the peer group. The implications of the processes of compartmentalization between home and the larger society, and within the family are discussed i n the concluding chapter of t h i s study. 278 Footnotes: 1. For the l i f e - h i s t o r y method i n Anthropology refer to: Langness L.I. & Frank G, Lives: An Anthropological Approach To Biography, (1981). 2. The three categories of elders, adults and youth have been defined i n terms of roles. Elders constitute that group of Ismailis who spend minimum time i n work s i t u a t i o n . By contrast, the adults apart from working at home or outside, constitute a group that assumes parental r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s . The youth are young adults who l i v e i n the same household as t h e i r parents and are at school or have recently started work. 3. Part of the material i n t h i s chapter was presented at a symposium on Ethics And Aging, 'Ethical Implications Of Growing Old Among Ismailis In Vancouver,' (University of B r i t i s h Columbia, Aug.1984,); the material i s considered for publication i n an anthology edited by E a r l Winkler. 4. Kassam S. The Old Lady, Newsletter: The Ismailia E d i t o r i a l Board for B r i t i s h Columbia, vol.3, (May 1984). 5. Louis Dumont, 'A Modified View Of Our Origins: The Christian Beginnings Of Modern Individualism,' Religion: Journal Of Religion And  Religions, vol.12, (1982), pp.1-27; 'The Functional Equivalents Of The Individual In Caste Society,' Contributions To Indian Sociology, Vol. VI I I , (1965) pp.85-99. 6. American Anthropologist vol.57, (1955). 7. There are about 200 Ismailis residing i n Scandinavia. 8. The speeches of the Aga Khan regarding the I s m a i l i Centre i n London and the Burnaby Jama cat Khana have been published i n Hikmat, Vol.11, No.2, (1983) pp.18-21. 9. Ismailis who have v i s i t e d East A f r i c a i n the l a s t f i v e years have commented that the l i f e - s t y l e i s changing and the work si t u a t i o n i s now t i g h t l y scheduled. My account of the East African l i f e relates to the way i n which my informants experienced i t as they grew up and were nurtured into adulthood while they were l i v i n g i n East A f r i c a . 279 Chapter 9 Conclusion In t h i s f i n a l chapter, I s h a l l f i r s t review b r i e f l y the ground covered i n t h i s study. Following t h i s , I discuss the emergent patterns of the I s m a i l i world i n t h e i r new environment i n r e l a t i o n to external as well as i n t e r n a l forms of compartmentalization. L a s t l y , I examine the implications of the accu l t u r a t i v e experiences of the Is m a i l i s i n r e l a t i o n to te c h n i c a l time and core culture time. The intent of t h i s t h e s i s was to produce an understanding of the I s m a i l i t r a d i t i o n a l world and i d e n t i f y the dynamics of transformation of t h i s t r a d i t i o n i n a secular Western environment. The introductory chapter defined the concepts of material and s p i r i t u a l which inform the I s m a i l i t r a d i t i o n , discussing the framework i n which they are a r t i c u l a t e d , namely time and space. Using l i t e r a r y materials and ethnographic data, part I examines the basic constructs of material and s p i r i t u a l i n d i f f e r e n t contexts: speculative thought, a f f e c t i v e content and l i v e s of i n d i v i d u a l I s m a i l i s . Part II proceeds to discuss the r i t u a l t r a d i t i o n where the material and the s p i r i t u a l are invoked showing that these constructs image a cognitive model of an inward s p a t i a l movement in t o the 'heart' symbolizing a state of repose and unity. In part I I I , an examination of the culinary practice and l i f e cycles of in d i v i d u a l s reveal that i n t h e i r everyday l i v e s , I s m a i l i s experience space and time through an outward movement of m u l t i p l i c i t y and a c t i v i t y , engendering a network of s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s . Here, I continue to discuss the experiences of the Is m a i l i s i n t h e i r new environment showing that i n f a c t the 280 p a r t i c i p a t i o n of elders, men, women, and youth i n the Western m i l i e u has led to the emergence of two forms of compartmentalizations: the external (larger society) and the i n t e r n a l (the f a m i l y ) . Below, I discuss these compartmentalizations i n r e l a t i o n to time and space. Time as a core system of a l l cultures can serve two counter functions: i t can create enduring r e l a t i o n s h i p s through ' i n v i s i b l e threads of rhythm' (H a l l 1982:3) or i t can create hidden walls which prevent s o c i a l i n t e r a c t i o n . H a l l ' s comparative approach to the study of time (1961, 1977, 1982) shows that i n the Western secular states there are two forms of time, the separation of which has created considerable amount of tension: technical time and core culture time. H a l l contends that core culture time i s the foundation on which interpersonal r e l a t i o n s r e s t . Core culture time allows one to experience l i f e i n a more integrated and h o l i s t i c manner. By contrast, technical time fragments, defines, requires c o n t r o l , i s l i n e a r and language-bound. The a c c u l t u r a t i v e experiences of the Is m a i l i s i n the Western Canadian environment i s by and large informed by the tec h n i c a l time of the West. We have observed that I s m a i l i women have attempted to combine the two ro l e s of nurturing and occupation through re-organization of t h e i r domestic l i f e . In cooking, many women have resorted to using the method of semi-preparation whereby part of the food i s prepared the previous night or early i n the morning and the res t completed i n the evening, amounting to a chopping of the time. Women also make extensive use of modern kitchen gadgets (blenders, food processors, 'kitchen magic') and have adopted Euro-Canadian foods based on the c r i t e r i a of 'fast and easy'. Considering that women bear the dual burden of working i n the home as well as outside, these adoptions appear to be p r a c t i c a l . Nevertheless, the point which I would l i k e to emphasise i s that i n 281 f a c t the modern organization of time and space i n I s m a i l i households amounts to a d e f i n i t e s h i f t from the t r a d i t i o n a l core culture time to the modern te c h n i c a l time. T r a d i t i o n a l l y , when I s m a i l i women spent four to f i v e hours i n the kitchen or at home, i t was a time of s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s . While cooking, women would i n t e r a c t with the chi l d r e n , other women i n the house (including e l d e r s ) , the neighbours, and v i s i t o r s who would drop by informally. The way i n which I s m a i l i women spent time at home led to the creation of 'open space'. Work s i t u a t i o n s where I s m a i l i women spend seven to nine hours a day are governed by technical time. Lunch breaks and coffee breaks are scheduled quite r i g i d l y , and s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s (which form the core of the material l i f e of the Is m a i l i s ) are confined to the work place, leading to a sharp demarcation between private (home) l i f e and the public (work) l i f e . S p a t i a l l y and temporally, I s m a i l i women have condensed t h e i r domestic l i f e and t h e i r nurturing r o l e to accommodate the working l i f e of the labour market. In the l a t t e r , t h e i r experiences are that of confinement which i s the hallmark of technical time. The emergence of the i n t e r n a l compartmentalization within I s m a i l i households i s a function of the separation of core culture ( r i t u a l ) time and technical time. In our discussion of the l i f e h i s t o r i e s , we observed that within the framework of the cognitive model of material and s p i r i t u a l , the elders image q u a l i t i e s of s p i r i t u a l l i f e . In actual f a c t , the elders image core culture time. We noted that the contributions of the elders are intangi b l e : i t i s t h e i r presence which make a difference i n the creation of open space ( c u l t i v a t i o n of s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s ) , t h e i r perception of l i f e i s expressed through symbols, images, anecdotes (as opposed to l o g i c a l sequences which explain things), and t h e i r perceptions of the present are linked with an 282 expectant future, requiring the c u l t i v a t i o n of patience and perseverance. An e l d e r l y woman explained: These days people want to reap the benefits without work; i f you do not grind the wheat, how can you ever expect to eat i t . The p a r t i c i p a t i o n of the adults i n the larger Canadian society i s governed by t e c h n i c a l time. Apart from the work s i t u a t i o n , the most intense exposure to l i f e i n Canada i s acquired through mass media. By and large, mass media (Newspapers and T.V.) promote and make v i s i b l e forms of l i f e that are governed by t e c h n i c a l time. In f a c t , the mass media have done very l i t t l e to depict the other side of family l i f e i n Canada where core c u l t u r a l values (norms and t r a d i t i o n s which promote s o c i a l i n t e r a c t i o n s ) could undoubtedly be observed. The programmes on T.V. give importance to soap operas l i k e Dallas and Dynasty which I understand are quite popular with I s m a i l i s and Canadians at large. The picture that emerges of f a m i l i e s i n Canada i s that they are constantly i n a state of c r i s i s , and the values which govern t h e i r l i f e are those of aggression, power, i n f i d e l i t y , permissiveness, and sexual promiscuity. Beyond t h i s , the women are also becoming attracted to pop psychology as promoted i n women's magazines and popular l i t e r a t u r e . I once asked a mother with a teenager how she was coping with exposure to the larger society. Her response was: 'I keep i n touch with a l l the l a t e s t books (psychology) that are published here.' Further conversation brought home to me the f a c t that i t did not even occur to the mother that there might be valuable i n s i g h t s contained i n her own t r a d i t i o n with regard to r a i s i n g c h i l d r e n . Likewise, I gathered that p o s i t i v e parenting classes (based on modern psychology) are becoming popular with I s m a i l i parents so much that the administrative structure of the co u n c i l has formed a sub-committee c a l l e d 'Positive Parenting Committee.' By and large, outside speakers who are considered to be professionals have been brought i n to address I s m a i l i 283 parents. I asked one mother how she found these cla s s e s . Her response was: 'very good, I learnt a l o t . ' When I asked what did she gain from these classes, she r e p l i e d : 'They teach you how to t a l k and to explain to your c h i l d r e n . ' Talking and explanation form strong elements of t e c h n i c a l time. The youths are exposed to both t e c h n i c a l time and l i m i t e d core culture time. The experience of t e c h n i c a l time i s acquired at school (modern education draws heavily on psychology and r i g i d scheduling of time, disregarding the c u l t u r a l f a ctors) and mass media. The exposure to core culture time takes place during i n t e r a c t i o n s with peer group when rel a t i o n s h i p s are formulated. As t h i s experience i s not shared with other members of the family ( i t i s l i m i t e d to the youth sub-culture which receives d i s t i n c t recognition i n the Western world), i t remains s p a t i a l l y confined. A l l the I s m a i l i s , regardless of gender or generational differences, p a r t i c i p a t e i n core culture time during attendance i n Jama^at Khana. Here, they enter into a d i f f e r e n t , and deeper l e v e l of existence; they are exposed to r e l i g i o u s sacra, (images, symbols, a f f e c t i v e content of r i t u a l ) and they occupy an 'empty' space which leads to the experience of 'openness'. The Is m a i l i s while they are i n the Jama Sit Khana become brothers and s i s t e r s . S o l i d a r i t y and oneheartedness are affirmed through r i t u a l performances and prayers and not through language-bound thought and explanations. Both V i c t o r Turner (1978:7-17) and Susanne Langer (1957:288-294) a f f i r m the importance of the experience of exposure to symbolic content (core culture time), which can provide 'mental anchorage' i n the modern world. Discussing pilgrimage as a liminoid phenomenon, Turner states (ibid:13-14): 284 A l l r e l i g i o u s r i t u a l s have a strong a f f e c t i v e aspect, whether t h i s be muted or displaced or given f u l l l i t u r g i c a l expression. Symbols, which o r i g i n a t e i n elevated f e e l i n g as well as cognitive i n s i g h t , become recharged i n r i t u a l contexts with emotions e l i c i t e d from the assembled congregants. .. . i n c a l c u l a b l e hopes that the r e l i g i o n ' s paradigms and symbols w i l l restore order and meaning to a sad and senseless state of personal and interpersonal a f f a i r s - and from these hopes derives the pilgrim's proverbial happiness. For the I s m a i l i s core culture time (the s p i r i t u a l ) has meaning i n r e l a t i o n to d a i l y l i f e (material l i f e ) . As stated e a r l i e r , the material only e x i s t s by affirming i t s opposite, the s p i r i t u a l . The s p i r i t u a l i s the source of l i f e for the material, yet i n i t s e l f the s p i r i t u a l i s i n f i n i t e and unfathomable. In the context of the two temporalities: transmission and i n t e r p r e t a t i o n , the time of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n enters i n t o the time of t r a d i t i o n and the t r a d i t i o n i n turn i s l i v e d only i n and through the time of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . The a c c u l t u r a t i v e experience of the I s m a i l i s can be understood through two forms of time and space, both of which are separated and compartmentalized i n t h e i r new homeland. The creation of space i s a function of the way i n which time i s used. Within the larger society, the I s m a i l i s p a r t i c i p a t e and experience t e c h n i c a l time and i t s correlated l i m i t e d and confined space. In the Jama at Khana, the I s m a i l i s experience core culture time which expands and opens up space. In addition, the process of compartmentalization i s accentuated by the a t t i t u d e s of the I s m a i l i s who are accommodating i n t h e i r material l i f e i n the larger society and are exclusive regarding t h e i r s p i r i t u a l l i f e as practised within the community. The Burnaby Jama Sit Khana epitomizes these a t t i t u d e s . The a s p i r a t i o n s of I s m a i l i s were summarized by informants as follows: 'to integrate i n t o the society i n which we l i v e as well as maintain our t r a d i t i o n s ' . Overtly, the 285 Jama''at Khana meets these a s p i r a t i o n s as i t blends ' d i s c r e e t l y and harmoniously with the surrounding environment' as well as provides an 'important focus i n the s o c i a l and r e l i g i o u s l i f e of the l o c a l I s m a i l i community'. There i s no doubt that the b u i l d i n g forms part of the surrounding environment to the extent that i t i s not d i s t i n c t l y v i s i b l e to motorists d r i v i n g on Canada Way. However, the prayers and the r e l i g i o u s ceremonies which take place i n the Jama'"at Khana are excl u s i v e l y f or the I s m a i l i s . Likewise the leased locations which serve as Jama Khanas do not