Simerg with the support of Ismaili artists from around the world is pleased to release the first official version of A Compendium of Ismaili Artists, following a preview version that was circulated about a month ago. The new publication profiles more than thirty Ismaili visual artists from around the world – professionals and non-professionals alike. The compendium will be updated on a monthly basis, and we invite unlisted artists to submit their profiles with an image from one of their art works to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please download or view the exciting new publication by clicking on A Compendium of Ismaili Artists or the following image:
The Jamatkhana Toronto
BY SHARIFFA KESHAVJEE
A thousand years and more
A seed of faith planted
In Khadak in Mumbai
Transplanted to many soils
India, Pakistan, Afghanistan
Bagamoyo, Zanzibar, Mombasa
Now the park on Wynford Drive
The murid murshid seed
Planted and transplanted
Now sacred space of meeting
People, stories, histories
Fused, bonded, shared
Nascent unity love and care
For the highest potential
Nurturing and flourishing
The murid murshid seed
When open arms welcome
Pluralism of mind and heart
Where ideas take root
A Mission is in bloom
The intellect soars
The vision expands
In the park in Canada
The murid murshid spark
A strong foundation
When vision, mission, ideas
In harmonious symphony rise
The universe conspires
The crucible swells
Then there is alchemy
In Toronto in the park
The murid murshid love
Consecrated to Thee
A park, ineffable light, a sacred space,
Where nature, man, knowledge
Come together in unison
Of mind, body and spirit
Of dialogue and collaboration
A mosaic of cultures, languages
Inspiring hope and harmony
The murid murshid bond
Reaches out to man and nature
Circle of infinity encompasses
A Jamatkhana for supplication
The jamat comes together
To submit in humility before the Divine
The hymnal voice rising into the dome
Reaching heavenward ascending
To arrive into the silence of the heart
The murid murshid bond
Reverberating beyond time
The sound of prayer ascends
Reaches a crescendo
From the dome to beyond
Through the crystal clear
To the Divine Light matrix
Into the heart of Divinity
The bond of murid murshid
Sets free the heart of man
Those who come together in dialogue
Those who contemplate and reflect
Welcome to the open arms of wonder
Sacred space, the crucible
That transmutes base to pure
That nurtures and gives flight
To the wings of the souls
The soul of murid to murshid
Transcends human understanding
Had we but wings
We would fly in the sky
To search for the light
Neither of North, South
East and West
To flutter and land
In the windowsill
Of the Divine Master
Where murid murshid
Blend and Unite
Date posted: Monday, September 22, 2014.
Copyright: Shariffa Keshavjee/Simerg. 2014.
The images shown in the poem may be clicked for enlargement. Image captions are as follows:
Top image - The “Muqarnas” is a finely crafted corbelled ceiling whose skylight provides a subtle transition from the outside to the serene Jamatkhana inside. Photo: Copyright Gary Otte.
Centre image - A screen made from ribbons of steel separates the anteroom from the prayer hall. It repeats an 8 sided pattern exhibiting a geometric tool used by Muslim artists to create order and rhythm for contemplation. Photo: Copyright Gary Otte
Bottom image - Inside the Jamatkhana, the central skylight panel descends to a white translucent onyx block. Photo: Copyright Shai Gil.
About the writer: Shariffa Keshavjee is a philanthropist and an entrepreneur with an objective to help women empower themselves. Raised in Kisumu, she considers herself a “pakaa” Kenyan. She is now based in the nation’s capital, Nairobi. Her other interest is in visual arts where she delights in painting on wood, silk and porcelain using water colours, oils and acrylics. She also likes writing, especially for children, and bird watching.
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Jamat and Volunteers Speak from the Heart on this Auspicious and Historical Day
BY MALIK MERCHANT
Editor, Simerg and Simergphotos
Happy Ismaili youth pictured at the Park at 10:30 pm after completing their volunteer duties at the Ismaili Centre on the opening day. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.
Happiness, happiness — it was all around me as I walked about with enthusiasm to capture the spirit of the jamat on the historic occasion of the opening of the new Ismaili Centre in Toronto. I heard mubarakis (congratulations) everywhere as joyous Ismailis greeted and hugged each other after hearing a Talika (a written communication) from their beloved 49th Imam, Mawlana Shah Karim al Hussaini Hazar Imam or His Highness the Aga Khan. The President of the Ismaili Council for Canada, Mr. Malik Talib, read the Talika, after which he conveyed the Canadian Jamat’s immense gratitude to the Imam for his benevolence, by gifting the Jamat with a marvellous new Ismaili Centre. The spirit of the occasion was overwhelming and I set out to capture happy moments and excitement with my camera. This, to me, would be inadequate. Photos alone could not do justice – I wanted to hear voices, words that would inspire me and readers of this website. I came across individuals during the course of 2 hours who enlightened me with their humility and wisdom as well as their dedication to the House of Imamat – whether they were volunteers or simply murids of the Imam. They spoke to me from the depths of their hearts. I hope this small post does a little bit of justice to the magnificent event that took place yesterday.
The Ismaili Centre glows and reflects in water on the night of the historic opening day for members of the Ismaili community. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
President Malik Talib and Vice President Moez Rajwani of Ismaili Council for Canada pictured in the Social Hall with a few of the many hundreds of volunteers who served at the Ismaili Centre in Toronto when it opened on Friday, September 19, 2014. The design in the background is based on an Ottoman textile. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
A team of Ismaili volunteers are seen pictured in the Social Hall of the new Ismaili Centre in Toronto which opened for the Ismaili community on Friday, September 19 , 2014. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright
VOICES FROM THE JAMAT AND THE VOLUNTEERS (I)
A senior citizen enjoys a glass of sherbet as he celebrates the opening of the Ismaili Centre in Toronto. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
Mr. Ameeraly Ratansy and his wife, Mrs. Shirin Ratansy, at the Ismaili Centre on the opening day, Friday, September 19, 2014. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
One of several meeting areas on the main floor of the Ismaili Centre in Toronto which opened to members of the Ismaili community on Friday, September 19, 2014. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
Visitors standing in front of a sculptural calligraphy by the German Muslim artist Karl Schlamminger; this calligraphic composition represents Allah, Muhammad and Ali. Schlamminger’s works are also to be found at the Ismaili Centres in London, England, and Lisbon, Portugal. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
VOICES FROM THE JAMAT AND THE VOLUNTEERS (II)
VOICES FROM THE JAMAT AND THE VOLUNTEERS (III)
The Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Board’s literature counter on the opening night of the Ismaili Centre. Tasbihs were among the most popular items. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
Visitors are seen receiving an explanation of calligraphies representing the names of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s), Hazrat Ali (a.s.), Hazrat Bibi Fatimah (a.s.), Hazrat Hassan (a.s.) and Imam Hussein (a.s.) located on the main floor of the new Ismaili Centre in Toronto. This calligraphy was designed by Minaz Nanji of Aiglemont. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
A view of the indoor parking garage of the new Ismaili Centre in Toronto. Hundreds of cars can be parked indoors. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
Entrance to the Ismaili Centre from the indoor parking garage. Facing the entrance is a fascinating work of Islamic calligraphy representing the opening of the Holy Qur’an, the Basmallah as seen in the next photo. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
The Basmallah is repeated four times in this iconic piece designed by German Muslim artist Karl Schlamminger. The calligraphy is the first piece that members will see as they enter the building from the indoor parking garage – see previous photo. Above and below are angled photos taken from either side. Photos: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
VOICES FROM THE JAMAT AND THE VOLUNTEERS (IV)
Visitors view two calligraphies on the lower level of the Ismaili Centre. They are by German Muslim artist Karl Schlamminger; they depict the Basmallah and the the Qur’anic phrase Nurun ala Nur (Light upon Light). Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
VOICES FROM THE JAMAT AND THE VOLUNTEERS (V)
Jamati members on the move as they try to see as much of the Ismaili Centre when its doors opened for the first time for members of the Ismaili community. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
Visitors take time to view one of the many wall exhibits displayed at the Ismaili Centre. This montage provides an overview of the construction phases of the Ismaili Centre. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
A unique blend of art work, calligraphy and photos are exhibited along the corridor spaces of the Ismaili Centre. A visitor walks by one such exhibit, giving the Centre the feel of a Gallery in certain areas. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
After spending several hours at the Ismaili Centre visitors rest their tired feet on the seating located in front of the reading lounge. Many had arrived as early as 5 pm to ensure that they had a place to sit inside the Jamatkhana. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
A view of the reading lounge. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
The Social Hall, where the official inauguration ceremony of the Ismaili Centre took place on Friday, September 12, 2014, in the presence of His Highness the Aga Khan and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, became the central meeting place for yesterday’s opening. Ismailis gathered here and were served sherbet (a sweetened milk drink reserved for happy occasions). Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
VOICES FROM THE JAMAT AND THE VOLUNTEERS (VI)
The sherbet stand at the Ismaili Centre’s Social Hall at its opening on Friday, September 19, 2014. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
Ismaili volunteers cheerfully raise their glasses to celebrate the Ismaili Centre’s first day for members of the Ismaili community. The volunteers bring smiles to countless members within their own community as well as to other communities through numerous outreach programs. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
VOICES FROM THE JAMAT AND THE VOLUNTEERS (VII)
VOICES FROM THE JAMAT AND THE VOLUNTEERS (VIII)
Taking comfort and rest: An elder from the jamat of Afghanistan, now settled in Canada. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
….With her family and friends. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
VOICES FROM THE JAMAT AND THE VOLUNTEERS (IX)
Approximately 10 pm. The crowds subside as the Centre prepares to close its doors after an extraordinary day in the life of the Canadian Ismaili community. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
One of the last vehicles to depart the Ismaili Centre following the historic day. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
Members of the jamat pose for a photo at the Park after the conclusion of the evening’s celebration at the Ismaili Centre. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
Alykhan (centre) is pictured in the Park with his dad and mum, Shafiq Dhanji and Rozina Dhanji, after the conclusion of the evening celebrations at the Ismaili Centre. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
LAST WORDS – FROM A VOLUNTEER (AND MAJOR) WHO HAS SERVED THE JAMAT FOR FIFTY YEARS
Date posted: Saturday, September 20, 2014.
Last updated: Sunday, September 21, 2014, 13:45 (incorrect photo caption, see below).
Copyright: Simerg. 2014.
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Correction: In an earlier version of this post, Shafiq Dhanji, his wife Rozina and their son Alykhan were captioned under a different photo. Their photo was missing altogether. Our apologies to them and other families for any confusion this may have caused.
Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre and their Park Perfect Breeding Ground for superb photo taking and winning great prizes including free membership
By Malik Merchant, Editor
Thursday, September 18, 2014, marked the public opening of the new Aga Khan Museum located on Wynford Drive in Toronto. Simerg marks the opening with a special photo contest in which a maximum of 25 prizes including youth and family memberships will to be given away to the top entries selected by a panel of three independent professional photographers, all from Ontario. The contest is open to all residents of Canada.
The Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Centre were officially on Friday, September 12, in the presence of His Highness the Aga Khan and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, members of the 49th Ismaili Imam’s family and invited guests.
A maximum of 10 annual memberships each for the YOUTH and OPEN categories for the top photos selected by a team of three professional photographers will be given to the winning entries. The submission deadline will be December 31, 2014. The winning photos will be announced on this website and simergphotos.com on or around in late January, 2015. In addition to the annual memberships, the judges will pick up 5 photos deserving merit awards. The merit winners will each receive a $50.00 gift voucher, entitling them to make purchases from the Aga Khan Museum Gift Shop.
There will be two categories. The Youth Category will be open to anyone 19 and under. A maximum of 10 annual youth memberships to the Museum will be given to the winning entries.
The Open Category is for those over the age of 19. It will be for all amateur photographers and photography enthusiasts who like to shoot photographs, either using a camera or their smart hand-held devices and phones! For this category, each photo has to be accompanied by a 75 to 100 word narrative to encapsulate the photographer’s experience of the Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre or their Park. Only spaces where photos are allowed to be taken will be accepted for the contest.
The opening few weeks of the museum will be the perfect breeding ground for passionate picture taking and writing a brief narrative, and if you are selected as a winner in the Open Category you will be one of 10 to receive an annual family membership.
Here are some ideas for taking and submitting photos: artistic and architecture beauty and grandeur of the projects, interior spaces including art work (where permitted) , landscape, nature (as in the park), as well as spontaneous moments involving people!
The prizes are as a result of gracious donations by numerous individuals and families in Canada and abroad. Simerg is deeply grateful to the sponsors of the prizes.
Each individual may submit up to 3 photos for consideration for the contest, all in high resolution. They should be mailed to email@example.com, and accompanied by the photographer’s full name and address as well as telephone number(s) where they may be contacted.
Every photograph received (maximum 3 per individual) will be published on a special gallery page on this website. The judges will select the winners from the photos published in the photo gallery. The judges decision will be final.
We are thrilled to host this contest and look forward to a fantastic response from the public.
Post updated: October 1, 2014.
BY MALIK MERCHANT
Members of the media gathered at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre where they were briefed about the sequence of events for the official opening of the Ismaili Centre and Aga Khan Museum. Numbering around 35, they were were shuttled in two buses to the Ismaili Centre across the street for the first opening ceremony. One bus carried press representatives carrying large specialized cameras and video equipment, while the second bus carried “reporters only” unrestricted of course from taking pictures with their hand held devices and cameras. Journalists from numerous newspapers, TV and Radio Stations, and Press Agencies from around the world were represented. Ismailimail and Simerg were also present. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.
A section of the gathering at the official opening of the Ismaili Centre. The social hall of the Centre was packed to capacity. Many members of the media had to take standing positions. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg
Journalists seen awaiting a photo opportunity with His Highness the Aga Khan and Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the upper terrace section of the Ismaili Centre. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
A spectacular view of the Aga Khan Museum from the Park that divides it from the Ismaili Centre. A band seen in the picture at the left played music as guests arrived. Photo: Malik Merchant
Guests invited for the opening of the Aga Khan Museum watch a live relay of His Highness the Aga Khan and the Prime Minister walk along the Park to the Museum building from the Ismaili Centre. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copytight.
Recitation and translation of verses from the Holy Qur’an during the official opening of the Aga Khan Museum held in the museum’s auditorium. Seated (l to r): Hon. Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages; Prime Minister Stephen Harper, His Highness the Aga Khan and Prince Amyn Mohamed Aga Khan. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and His Highness the Aga Khan unveil the plaque to officially open the Aga Khan Museum. The museum opens to the public on Thursday, September 18, 2014. Henry Kim, Director and CEO of the Museum, is seen at the podium. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
A volunteer assisting with parking at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre poses for a photo following the event. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
Thousands of Ismailis from Metro Toronto and surrounding cities gathered at the Direct Energy Centre to watch a live telecast of the official opening of the Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Museum. This was followed by prayers, food as well as entertainment that included Indian and Central Asian dancing. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright
Extended coverage of the opening ceremonies and speech excerpts to follow in the coming days.
Date posted: Saturday, September 13, 2014
Alternative post at http://www.simergphotos.com
EXCITEMENT IN THE AIR
by Navyn Naran
There is excitement, magic in the air.
the Imam has arrived,
the buildings are washed and rewashed with rain,
the winds have combed out snarls and veils
Gray, opaque clouds, as if cotton wool
had been soaked in water
and strewn over the ceiling here.
In the horizon, a peek of baby blue,
tinged with light cream;
the clouds moving elsewhere.
Leaves green, having just been cleansed
by buckets of water overnight,
freshly manicured, ready to welcome
Him to Wynford Drive.
It’s as of the whole area has
returned from a morning jaunt,
refreshed and nicely sore,
rejuvenated for this day!
This day, the 12th of September 2014,
Prince Amyn Mohamed Aga Khan’s Birthday
He was born within a year of the Imam,
adoring the brother he followed as a child.
Whatever Karim does, this ginger colored head
and Trustworthy, Loyal Heart, wanted to do
an adoring brother, he could only be
as Ali to Muhammad, attached:
The elders remember him; a playful, sweet child,
a flair, a flamboyance, detailed care.
As specialized cardiac cells continuously fire ,
beat by beat, and in rhythm,
Prince Amyn, a shadow-like of the Form,
as the gardener of the Master’s land
in His highest esteem.
No laurels; much humor and style.
and it is on this very day, a historic gift to the globe .
77 Wynford Drive on this 77th Birthday.
The Aga Khan Museum. The Ismaili Centre. The Park.
In the present, a present,
and presence of leaders, donors, volunteers
and a very Special Eye.
Who’d have thought it in Uganda in 1970?
Who’d have thought it in Canada in 2000?
this is not a facade to name or number,
it is to be understood.
For some perhaps piece by piece.
For others, a space for contemplation.
For opening the eyes.
I remember the barren, grey dirt being overturned,
the harsh, cold winters, icy,
when yellow hatted men worked tirelessly,
from below ground up.
Pieces of structure in an architect’s mind,
in the Architect’s Mind, comes alive.
Work. Many hours and stressors,
much negotiated and coordinated.
One would never know.
Simple lines, soft color and a
sense of cleanliness and peace.
Day or night. Lights enter and open,
leave everything behind.
Enter. Come. Ayez…
Come reflect, details of the shahnameh,
the kufic script in a Blue Qur’an,
the magic of art and calligraphy.
Rest a while, be seated. Read.
in the hush of the quiet,
only footsteps of men and women,
children and elders, absorbing.
Perhaps it is only history. Past.
If the skills and beauty compose a piece,
this civilisation is to be included,
to be modeled, continued.
It is a day of celebration. Come, Enter, Ayez…
Copyright: Navyn Naran/Simerg
“A FABULOUS, GLORIOUS GIFT BY HIS HIGHNESS”
By Malik Merchant
Alex Sarris, the facility operator at the site of the Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre and their Park was a few feet away from me. He was discussing with one of his colleagues a hitch that had occurred and which could possibly take a few hours to resolve. I was tantalized by the breathtaking Museum and the Centre that I had earlier walked through as a member of the media invited for the pre-opening review. The view of the two buildings on either side of the Park was stunning. The architectural contrast and splendour could only be truly appreciated when looking at them from the Park. The calm water of the pond in front of me soothed me. I listened to Alex as I took my final bites of a deliciously chunky roast beef sandwich that had been served to the media earlier at the museum as part of a light lunch. I had wrapped it and tucked it in my computer bag. I was hungry enough again after walking through the museum galleries and the Ismaili Centre! Food! Yes, the ultimate delight when deliciously served!
I thought about the challenges Alex and his team faced during the years they had worked at the site, under some harsh winter weather! How might have these workers coped, I wondered, like many hundreds and thousands of workers who work on outdoor construction projects. But here was a frustrating delay less than 48 hours before its opening by His Highness the Aga Khan. There was also so much work being done both outside and inside the buildings, I would have thought the opening day was still several weeks away. Alex soon left his colleague brimming with confidence and with a cheerful face. I called him aside, and asked him to describe what he saw around him and how he felt. He looked at the two buildings and the park and said, “Fabulous, glorious, a gift by His Highness the Aga Khan befitting a united society cooperating and working together to advance the ideals of pluralism.”
“And what about the final few hours to finish the job?” I asked him. He replied, “Two days of diligent working will bring the site up to the highest standards established by His Highness.” He had greeted me earlier with “Ya Ali Madad” and departed with “Mubaraki to all Ismailis and to all Canadians on this unique occasion.” In all these years, I have not learnt more than 2 or 3 French or Spanish words but I knew Alex had learnt quite a few new words from the on site ‘Ismaili dictionary’ when he had used, in reference to the hitch, the word “mushkil-asaan,” an Arabic phrase used in Ismaili prayers meaning resolution of difficulty. He was seeking a resolution to his immediate problem as well any other outstanding issues that they all faced collectively as a team.
I was grateful for his openness and humility, and was touched and inspired by his cheerful and positive outlook. I bid this wonderfully articulate person good bye, as he graciously permitted me to take his photo with my mobile!
Date posted: Friday, September 12, 2014.
The Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Museum will be officially opened later this week in the presence of His Highness the Aga Khan, the 49th Imam of the Ismaili Muslims. A series of poems celebrating the many aspects of the two majestic buildings as well as their Park, which is to be opened in 2015, will be published throughout the week. We begin with Navyn Naran’s contemplative piece, Morning at the New Park, Jamatkhana and Museum.
The Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Museum Opening Ceremonies Set for September 12, 2014
“The Jamati Institutions of Canada are delighted to confirm that the Opening Ceremonies of the Ismaili Centre Toronto and the Aga Khan Museum will take place in the presence of Mawlana Hazar Imam on Friday, September 12, 2014. It is anticipated that the Opening Ceremony for the Ismaili Centre will take place in the afternoon on September 12, followed immediately by an Opening Ceremony at the Aga Khan Museum. To mark this historic occasion, we invite Jamati members to view a live showing of the opening ceremony at the Ottawa Headquarters Jamatkhana and the Kingston Jamatkhana.” Courtesy: Al-Akhbar Newsletter, Special Ottawa Edition, Friday, September 5, 2014. [Note: Jamats around the country will gather at their respective jamatkhanas or specially hired halls to watch the opening ceremony - ed.]
As Canadians from all backgrounds, cultures and faiths await the official opening in Toronto of the Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Museum (the Park will open in 2015) conceived by His Highness the Aga Khan, the 49th Imam of the Ismaili Muslims and the direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s), Mohib Ebrahim of Vancouver presents an array of stunning breathtaking photographs that he took during a recent memorable visit to the first Ismaili Centre and Jamatkhana in North America built in Burnaby, British Columbia, in 1985. Please click Photo Essay: Stunning and Beautiful Day and Night Time Photography of North America’s First Ismaili Centre.
Simerg is delighted to introduce a preview edition of the long awaited arts compendium of Ismaili artists. The publication currently profiles 19 Ismaili visual artists from around the world, and more entries will be added as we hear from Ismaili artists – professionals and non-professionals alike. We ask that artists submit a brief profile and an image from one of their art pieces for inclusion in the next updated version of this unique “directory.” The updated version, which will be designated as the first official edition, will be published on October 1, 2014. To download or view the preview version of the compendium, please click on the image below.
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