I recently traveled to Portugal for holiday, but not just any holiday. This was a once in a lifetime celebration I was able to take part in as an Ismaili Muslim. I usually talk about spirituality, rather than religion itself, on my social media. And while celebrating being a Muslim is not the most trending topic these days, it is certainly a part of my life, my style, my vision, and therefore, worthwhile sharing. The celebration I attended was to honor sixtieth anniversary of the leadership of the Ismaili faith’s present living Imam, Mawlana Hazir Imam, also known as the Aga Khan, who is appointed through his hereditary lineage from the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w).
My week in Lisbon was marked by art and talent shows with Ismaili creators from all over the world, old friends and new, and participation in a spiritual visit and address from the Imam who was joined by the President of Portugal. This celebration not only marked the Imam’s vision and tireless work, which have steered the Ismaili community through 60 years of sweeping changes in the global landscape at a scale that is unprecedented in history against many social, political and economic challenges, but also marked the establishment of the seat of the Ismaili Imamat in Portugal, an act approved by Portugal’s Parliament and ratified by the President of the Portuguese Republic.
It was easy to feel joyous in Portugal and to dress accordingly so. Times of reflection and celebration were surrounded by gorgeous tiled buildings and doused in pastéis de nata and chamuças. Each day in the country brought me back closer to my roots, while positioning me ever more independent and adventurous to explore this country in all of its sensory notes and what it meant to be there as a Muslim. Now that I’ve shared with you a very important piece of my spiritual life, let me show you how I styled it in the moment.