[Feature] On 50 years of Ismaili Volunteer Corps Gulmit

Huzur Mukhi Muhammad Ghulam (right) getting a token of  appreciation for lifelong voluntary services

Photographs:  Asghar Khan

Volunteering for common causes has been an important feature of life for communities of the mountainous Gilgit – Baltistan region. For centuries the men and women have sacrificed their resources, time and thoughts for collective good, enabling the society to progress in economic and social domains.

The formation of Ismaili Volunteer Corps in Hunz, Gilgit and Ghizar , in my opinion, immortalized the institution of volunteerism by providing it the organizational structure hitherto unknown. One of the first such groups to be formed in Hunza Valley was the Ismaili Volunteer Corps, Gulmit.

The need for establishing the volunteer corps emerged in 1960 because His Highness the Aga Khan IV, Shah Karim Al – Hussaini, Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, was visiting the region. The volunteer corps were formed to coordinate and manage the preparations for the visit. It was a historic visit because never before had any Ismaili Imam visited the region.

The Ismailis of Hunza, Ghizar and Gilgit traditionally celebrate the first visit of their Imam to the region by holding festivals across the region from October 20 to October 26.

A recent ceremony held in this connection at Gulmit, the head quarter of Gojal Tehsil, was dedicated to the pioneers of Ismaili volunteer Corps. Speakers paid glowing tributes to the men and women who sacrificed physically and materially for common well being and established a strong social institution that has played an important in regional progress.

Many of the founding members are not alive today but their services were remembered with reverence and tokens of appreciation were awarded to their family members. Former office bearers of the Ismaili Volunteer Corps Gulmit were also presented with certificates as a token of appreciation.

For the Ismaili Muslims volunteerism is more than community participation and collective progress. It is an element of their faith.

Princess Zahra, daughter of His Highness the Aga Khan, in an address at the International Association for Volunteer Efforts (IAVE), 1998, explained volunteerism as means for actualization of the Islamic ethics of ” inclusiveness, of compassion, of sharing, of the respect for life, and of personal responsibility for sustaining a healthy physical, social and cultural environment.”

In her address Princess Zahra also counted “generosity of material resources, of time, of thought and knowledge” as fundamental aspects of the Islamic concept of volunteerism.

Princess Zahra had further said that appreciating and acknowledging volunteery services increases the level of efficiency and satisfaction obtained from work. “When volunteers are taken seriously,” said Princess Zahra, “the quality of their contribution and their own sense of satisfaction literally soar.”

In this scenario the appreciation ceremony provided an opportunity to the people to thank and praise the volunteers for a job well done and a life well spent.

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  1. Pamir Times has been doing a good effort in Presenting the beauty of our soft traditions and Values to the world through his blog.Those to whom token of appreciation have been awarded have a big contribution to our development and what we are today.we, the young bloods need to follow this great tradition and try to understand the concept of Volunteerism in its wider spectrum and its impact on society.


  2. Dear All,
    -The idea and the zeal are religiously bound in all existing religions of the WORLD and specially the ABRAHMIC Religions i.e. Judisum, Christianity and Islam. With in Islam in every sects there is concept of welfare and serving of the humanity and fellow being.
    I, do agree with the idea and thoughts the writter shared here I appreciate the award or life achievement award to MUKHI MUHAMMAD GHULAM. I know MUKHI SHAHEB since 1972 when we first time came for our 6th class in D.J. GULMIT SECONDARY SCHOOL. How caring MUKHI sb was I don;t have words to express my feelings. There were other personalities as well if I didn,t mentioned here would be unjustice on my part being a DJ STUDENT OF THIS GREAT VILLAGE AND VILLAGERS whom helped us in amking a better human being of this society. Mr. SAADUN SHAH, Mr. MULASING, The great teacher Mr. EBADAT SHAH, The great reformer and Pioneer of education Mr. Ghulam Uddin, Mr. SHAH GUL AZIZ, USTAD Mutaram BIE NAZAR, GREAT MUKHI BOONIE, MR. RUSTUM BAIG ON AND BEHALF OF ALL MY CLASS MATES FROM SUWUD KHUN TO SHUMSHAL, I PERSONALLY THANKS FOR THEIR HELP AND CARING. If any one left that, is my mistakes but inshallah one day we will recall all of them in our written history.
    –volenteerisum is not only in some villages of GB- It need a complete research and develop for the comming generation from individual contribution and joint achievement. My request from the YOUTH is to explore such personalities and develope a complete HISTORYplus DATA for the comming generation.
    Once again CONGRATS from the core of my heart to MUKHI SAAHEB AND ALL THE AKBREEN OF GOJAL AND GULMIT.
    Engr. Baig Ali


  4. one believes ,how beautifull this noble trend is,and has been kept alive for years.Reterated and ever loved by the Iman of the time,volunteerism is best service one can do in life.This ll never leave one undone in the world.
    Hatts off..nd Congratulations Volunteers for d noblest feat you v endeaverd.

  5. I am truly happy to know for this initiative. Rewarding individuals for exceptional community services is most needed to sustain volunteerism to evolve a civilized society.

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