Image: The Essential Ismaili (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

The Meaning and History Of “Khanavadan”

EDITORS’ NOTE: The word-cloud shows the 150 most frequently used words by Mawlana Hazar Imam in his farmans between 1957 and 1998. Topping the list were “jamat”, “spiritual children” and “khanavadan,” a testament that the jamat is always in his heart and thoughts.

The word khanava’dan is derived from the Persian, khana-a’badan, means “may the house be flourished.” As it is also said, a’badan shudan (to be inhabited), a’badan kardan (cultivate or build) or khanaysh abad (may this house be full and prosperous). The word a’badan is nearly synonymous with abad.

Earlier, the phrase khana-a’badan was used, then shortly khana-a’bad (may your house be prosperous) and now khanava’dan (may your household prosper). Imam Hasan Ali Shah arrived in India in 1842, and addressed the jamat in Persian language and blessed them with the term khono-obod (may your household prosper). Kamadia Nazar Ali Haji Kadvani translated the Imam’s farman in Kutchhi language. He rendered the term obod as va’dan, meaning increase or enhance. This rendering became so appropriate and common that the Mukhi and Kamadia began to utter khanava’dan to the jamat, and the Imam also blessed the jamat with the same coinage. It is made of the Persian word khana (household) and the kutchhi va’dan (enhance), which properly means may your household prosper.

It is said that the blessing of khana-a’badan was firstly coined in the period of Imam Abul Hasan Ali Shah (d. 1206/1792). Historically, there is no indication that it was ever used before the time of Imam Abul Hasan Ali Shah.

In Ismaili practice, the Imam holds sole power to say khanava’dan to his spiritual children. The Mukhi represents the Imam in the jamatkhana, therefore, he is vested authority to bless with khanava’dan or the Kamadia, including the Mukhi/Kamadia of different majalis.

About the author

Rai Mumtaz Ali Tajddin, of Pakistan, has authored an untold number of articles and 13 books, including the Encyclopedia of Ismailism, 101 Ismaili Heroes and Ismailis through History. Since 1970 he has been involved with the National Ismaili Tarqiah and Religious Education Board (ITREB) in Pakistan as an Honorary Missionary and lecturer to religious education classes on history, ginans and other topics.


Article: Mumtaz Ali Tajddin, Encyclopaedia of Ismailism, Karachi, 2006, p. 356 (With permission)

Image: The Essential Ismaili (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

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