REFLECTIVE POOLS IN THE GARDEN,
WELCOME TO THE PARK
The park has been busy with many preparations,
t’was a sunny bright day and the place was a-buzz,
No honey bees in sight, trees, crisp in their posture
Readying for the performance, the opening of the park.
Excitement and interest, can be seen and be heard
At the museum and center, delightful and clean
The beauty and grace and calculated thought
In art, materials sustainable, masterpieces sought.
Today clouds flirt in our skies, but hearts are filled,
the sun is watching, the ground freshly tilled.
Welcome my Mawla, welcome to your park!
Welcome, my Mawla
Welcome to this garden.
The outdoors “where God IS”,
as you, hidden in my heart.
The green is yet young,
as is my soul’s quiet space,
the roots stretching free,
a new baby unfurling in perfect place.
Water pools, invite clarity and clear thought,
peace, contemplation facing east, west, south and north,
in this space, feeling happy, your Love’s blessing, you are near,
there is pleasure, here is Grace,
we come to play, pray, see and hear.
in ice cold, and thunderstorm, we are healed in this space,
i come here seeking freshness, spaciousness from the “rat-race”,
i have danced, skipped and run across the green grass, and the paths,
we are awed at the care and beauty shared,
marble, light, skill and art.
a haven of peace, in the contours of this garden
now thawed in the sunlight, now moist earth, not hardened.
These young shrubs, balanced sensually
‘twixt museum and spiritual center,
like twine intermingling, as we exit and enter.
As the double-stranded DNA bonded by electronic attraction,
magnetic forces of creation spiral energies, radiant interaction
Welcome your Highness, Prince Amyn, Prince Hussain
Welcome to your park, again and again,
Your gait and your mission, your arms lifted as your greet
your smile brings barakah,
and our hearts feel complete.
What have you not given, not improved which lives?
all cultures, all peoples, one earth, many tribes
in such gardens we seek time, a place to unwind
a reflection, and rest enjoying the child in our mind.
As santoor plucks a melody, expressive, a lilt,
And rabab strums a movement, brown-orange bridging rifts,
An edge igniting spirit, mysteries of the mind
so the garden offers expansion and life of a necessary kind.
It is in this I the garden gives to life,
Welcome to your Park,
It is in this eye, the garden lifts my heart
Welcome to my Park
Every eye wishes to meet your eye.
Welcome to Our Park
Welcome your Highness, welcome to our hearts.
Date posted: May 25, 2015.
Copyright: Navyn Naran/Simerg. 2015.
About the writer: Dr. Navyn Naran was born in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, to Anaar and Badrudin Naran. After beginning her high school in the UK, her family immigrated to the USA where she has lived since. Dr. Naran went to medical school at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, MA. She currently works in the Paediatric field.
BY ABDULMALIK MERCHANT
It is indeed a pleasure for Simerg to present a collection of photos with interviews that were done at the site of the Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Centre on the occasion of Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open held during the weekend of May 23-24, 2015. These two new Islamic gems were added to this year’s Doors Open exploration roster of more than 155 architecturally and culturally rich buildings across Toronto.
The two iconic buildings were added to the Toronto landscape when they were officially opened last September by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in the presence of the patron, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, the direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) and 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims. Prince Karim became the Imam of the Ismailis on July 11, 1957, when he was only 21. His Diamond Jubilee will be celebrated in 2017, the same year (and month) Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary.
It is estimated that more than 17,000 people visited the Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Centre during Doors Open. Visitors described their experience as rich, and complimented the hosts for their excellent organization and the explanations that were provided. Several Toronto residents said they would return to visit the museum’s collection of Islamic art in greater detail.
Date posted: Monday, May 25, 2015.
Last updated: Friday, May 29, 2015.
PHOTOS CAPTURE THE 5 YEAR EVOLUTION OF THE SITE
April 2010: Preparation
It was officially announced in Jamatkhanas across Canada yesterday, May 17th, that the opening of the Aga Khan Park will, Inshallah, take place in the presence of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, on Monday May 25th, 2015. The announcement also noted that arrangements are underway to webcast the event live as well as telecast the opening ceremonies at Jamatkhanas across the country.
This follows the opening last September of two architectural gems, the Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Centre and Jamatkhana, which adjoin the Park.
September 2011: Construction
The presence of Mawlana Hazar Imam once again in this country will be a source of immense grace and barakah, and the jamats across Canada truly offer their humble shukrana to their beloved Imam.
The Aga Khan Park is the newest addition to other civic green spaces established or restored by Mawlana Hazar Imam, such as the Al-Azhar Park in Cairo, Forodhani Park in Zanzibar, Khorog City Park, Babur’s Gardens in Kabul, and the parks currently under development in Burnaby and Edmonton.
September 2014: Ismaili Centre and Aga Khan Museum Opening
Mawlana Hazar Imam explains the significance of the garden in Islamic cultures and its establishment in Canada in the following remarks made at the Presentation of the Gold Medal by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada in Ottawa in November 2013:
“… our faith constantly reminds us to observe and be thankful for the beauty of the world and the universe around us, and our responsibility and obligation, as good stewards of God’s creation, to leave the world in a better condition than we found it. The garden is, in this context, a particularly important space in Islamic cultures… Bringing such beautiful spaces to Canada is one of our intended contributions to the Canadian landscape. An example is the new park in Toronto which will surround the Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Centre as well as new projects in Edmonton and Burnaby …”
The park’s architect, Vladimir Djurovic, describes its inspiring vision in the following manner in an interview in 2010:
“Our vision for the project is one that captures the essence of the Islamic garden and translates it into an expression that reflects its context and contemporary age. Embracing the five senses as the means to reach the soul, every space and garden are imbued with the delicate sensations that we seem to have lost in this fast-paced era.”
The Aga Khan Park is intended to be a space of tranquility and contemplation, and a place of beauty and reflection for the Jamat and the larger society. It is also designed to host educational programmes and outdoor gatherings, such as concerts and weddings. It will be an inviting space for diverse members of the larger community to meet, for families to gather and children to play.
It will be a place where people can take a walk, enjoy and immerse themselves in the beauty and majesty of Allah’s creation and perhaps also reflect upon the nature and significance of the two spectacular buildings that the park surrounds.
December 2014: Three Views of the Park
The Aga Khan Park is one of several significant Imamat institutions and projects established in Canada, including the Global Centre for Pluralism, the Ismaili Centres in Burnaby and Toronto, the Aga Khan Museum and the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat. Inshallah, through their respective functions and architectural idioms, these institutions will continue to express the aspirations, identity and values of our faith, such as respect for pluralism, the notion of a common humanity, search for knowledge and beauty, and balance between din (the sacred) and duniya (the material world).
In place of negative representations of our faith and the “clash of ignorance”, these “gifts” benevolently provided to us by Imam-e-Zaman will foster an increased and enlightened understanding of the faith of Islam, as well as stimulate dialogue and fraternity between different cultures and communities, which is so urgently needed today in a world filled with turmoil, intolerance and extremism.
Date posted: Tuesday, May 19, 2015.
BY ABDULMALIK J. MERCHANT
“Development is ultimately about people, about enabling them to participate fully in the process and to make informed choices and decisions on their futures.” – His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam speaking in 2013, excerpt on a panel display at the exhibition.
Launched on April 27th, 2015, at the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat Building by the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, and Khalil Shariff, Chief Executive Officer of Aga Khan Foundation Canada, the collaborative exhibition of Global Development under the theme “Together” (French “Ensemble”) arrived at the city’s famed Le Breton neighbourhood, located by the new War Museum on Thursday, May 7, 2015 for a 7-day stop over.
I took an opportunity to visit the astonishing bus filled with educational and inspiring exhibits today (Sunday, May 10th), a much cooler day than the previous few days when the temperatures in the city had surged to 30 Celsius, not taking humidex into consideration. While thousands of local Ottawa residents and tourists were enjoying the marvellous and colourful annual tulip festival by Dow’s Lake, hundreds of parents with their children took to the Le Breton grounds to visit the Ottawa International Children’s Festival as well as take a tour of the exhibition in the “Together/Ensemble” bus, just metres away.
Stephanie, coordinating the media on behalf of the Aga Khan Foundation, was eager to participate in an interview with me, though she felt before the interview that she was a little bit nervous. “Simerg is the first media I am talking to,” she explained. But any apprehension that she felt quickly dissipated as she enthusiastically explained the exhibition with all her charm and grace. Please watch her excellent interview by clicking on the link below.
Date posted: Sunday, May 10, 2015.
We invite your feedback and comments. Please click Leave a comment.
Please also visit the Aga Khan Foundation Canada Website http://www.akfc.ca for more details and schedules about the Global Development Exhibition, which will be touring Canada in 2015/2016.
This piece has been simultaneously published under a different format at Simerg’s photoblog. Please click Photoessay and Interview: Aga Khan Foundation’s Unique Global Development Exhibition on 18 Wheels
By Abdulmalik J. Merchant
I was among the thousands of Ismailis across Canada who received this tiny object of sublime grace and beauty on the occasion of the 78th Salgirah (birthday) of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, on December 13, 2014. The octagonal pin commemorates last September’s opening of the magnificent Toronto Ismaili Centre.
As a fashion accessory, the lapel pin has been growing in popularity in recent years, and is considered to be more memorable than many other accessories, as part of being “well-dressed!”
The pin is octagonal, a pattern that has become very familiar in Islamic history since the 7th century. Within this octagonal structure are 3-sets of the eight-pointed star, which as a religious symbolism stretches in history to ancient civilizations.  The geometric octagonal design permeates numerous aspects of the new Toronto Ismaili Centre opened in 2014 as well as the first Ismaili Centre built in Burnaby, Canada, in 1985. Bruno Freschi, the architect of the Burnaby Ismaili Centre, said in an exclusive interview with Simerg:
‘GEOMETRY governs the entire site, the building. It is symbolized in the octagon, the mythical squaring of the circle. THE OCTAGON is Omni-directional. All axial relationships are equal providing an open and non-hierarchical circulation. The centre is everywhere, and everyone is in the centre.” 
Top photo: Embossed octagonal patterns in the carpet of the prayer hall of the Ismaili Centre and Jamatkhana located in Burnaby, Canada. Centre: The octagonal domes of the Burnaby Ismaili Centre. Bottom: The design of the exquisite lapel pin distributed to members of the Canadian Jamat on December 13, 2014, matches that of the floor in the foyer of the Toronto Ismaili Centre, which has repeated octagonal geometric designs within which are 3 sets of the eight-pointed star. Photos: Gary Otte.
The lapel pin will provide a great opportunity for members of the Jamat to stand out in public and achieve a look that is fresh and original. Wearing the pin will be an opportunity for Canadian Ismailis to make a historical statement in the context of the Jamatkhanas that have been built. It will draw the attention of others not familiar with the Ismaili Centres in Toronto and Burnaby to learn more about the buildings as well as the ethos of the Ismaili community and the Institution of Imamat by which Ismailis have been led since the demise of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.). On our part, an understanding of our faith and identity as Ismaili Muslims then becomes essential.
What may be regarded today as an object of fashion, might become one day an object of historic importance and lasting value like other objects, coins and memorabilia that have been produced during Ismaili history.
In the meantime, this graceful pin, whenever worn as part of your outfit will go to show how the addition of something so small can totally transform a look on someone or help to emphasize the image of our community and faith that we wish to portray. We can thus become role models and true ambassadors for the Jamat.
Enjoy the lapel pin!
Date posted: Monday, May 4, 2015.
 For an interesting discussion about the significance of the 8-pointed star in Islamic architecture, please click on http://archnet.org/archive/message_107815.
 Please click Voices: Bruno Freschi, Architect of the Ismaili Centre in Burnaby, in Conversation with Simerg.
We invite your feedback and comments. Please click Leave a comment.
We are the tree of Prophethood,
the place of descent
of Divine revelation,
the place of frequenting
of the angels,
and the mainsprings of knowledge.
Those who help us and love us
await (God’s) mercy…..Hazrat Ali
Introduction: The birthday anniversary of Hazrat Imam Ali (a.s.) is commemorated on the 13th Rajab (corresponding to May 2, in the year 2015). This festival is celebrated by the Shi’te communities and is observed as an occasion to reflect upon the life and teachings of their first Imam. According to the Shi’a doctrine and tradition, Hazrat Ali was the foundation (asas) of the institution of Imamah. His designation (nass) by the Prophet upon the Command of Allah (al-amr), to guide the believers after the termination of the institution of Nabuwah is central to the Shi’a theology. The Imam’s function is to continue the teaching (ta’lim) and interpretation (ta’wil) of Allah’s Final Message after the demise of the Prophet.
Today, the Shi’a Ismaili Muslims are led by His Highness the Aga Khan, who is the direct lineal descendant of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) through Hazrat Ali (a.s.) and Bibi Fatima (a.s.).
This post on Imam Ali will appeal to all readers, young and adults alike.
were I given all the seven heavens
with all they contain
in order that
I may disobey God
by depriving an ant
from the husk of a grain of barley,
I would not do it…..Hazrat Ali
THE PROPHET’S HOUSEHOLD
To them (the Household of the Prophet)
pertain the noblest of human virtues described in the Qur’an,
and they are the treasures of the Beneficent Allah.
When they speak, they speak the truth,
but when they keep quiet, no one can out strip them…..Hazrat Ali
ON BEING PATIENT
One who perseveres patiently
will not be without success,
even if it takes a long time – Hazrat Ali
One who is headstrong and opinionated perishes,
while one who seeks the advice of others
becomes a partner in their understanding — Hazrat Ali
Ethics in the Kalam-i Mawla of Hazrat Ali by Farouk M. Topan
A MESSAGE BY HIS HIGHNESS THE AGA KHAN
ON THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE AGA KHAN FOUNDATION
“This is a time of new freedoms, but it is also one in which new choices must be made wisely. In exercising freedom and making choices, our institutions must be guided, as they have been in the past, by the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace of Allah be upon him), and the tradition of our tariqah, which is the tradition of Hazrat Ali: A thinking Islam and a spiritual Islam – an Islam that teaches compassion, tolerance and the dignity of man – Allah’s noblest creation.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, May 14, 1992.
Blessed is one
who is humble regarding himself,
whose livelihood is good,
whose inner thoughts are virtuous,
whose character is good,
who spends the surplus from his wealth
and removes superfluity from his speech,
who keeps his evil away from people — Hazrat Ali
Date Posted: May 1, 2015.
Compiled by Simerg
Following last October’s happy announcement by Prince Rahim Aga Khan and Princess Salwa that that they were expecting their first child, a son named Prince Irfan, was born in Geneva, Switzerland on 11 April, 2015. The couple were married in September 2013 in the grounds of the Château de Bellerive, overlooking the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland.
An official announcement on the community’s website, http://www.theismaili.org, said that both Princess Salwa and Prince Irfan were in good health. Mawlana Hazar Imam’s special message to the global Jamat on this occasion expressed the great happiness of both his as well as the family of Princess Salwa. Jamats around the world received the news of Prince Irfan’s birth with immense joy and traditional celebrations.
The Meaning of Irfan
Irfan is an indirect Qur’anic name for boys. Irfan means “wisdom”, or more correctly, Wisdom with a capital W. It refers to all that is good and true of thoughts and deeds. It is derived from the Ain-R-F root (to know, to recognize), which is used in many places in the Holy Qu’ran,  as in the following verse:
Wa Jā’a ‘Ikhwatu Yūsufa Fadakhalū `Alayhi Fa`arafahum Wa Hum Lahu Munkirūna — Sura Yusuf, Chapter 12, Verse 58
And the brethren of Joseph came, and entered unto him, and he knew them, but they knew him not — Holy Qur’an, 12:15, translation by A.J. Arberry.
The Term Irfan in Islamic Mysticism
The term ‘irfan (gnosis), which literally meaning knowledge, is widely applied in Islamic mysticism. In the mystical context, like another term in the same family, mari’fa, which is also translated as gnosis, the knowledge is of certain kind which can be achieved neither through the senses nor experience, nor through reason nor narration, but rather is acquired by inner witnessings and interior unveilings.  It is that knowledge that unites man with God after penetrating and transforming him completely.
The famous prayer of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s) sums up the end toward which the gnostic strives with all his mind, soul and body:
“O God, deliver us from preoccupations with worldly vanities and show us the nature of things ‘as they really are’. Remove from our eyes the veil of ignorance, and show us things as they really are…Deliver us from ourselves, and accord us intimate knowledge of Thee.” 
We rejoice with our thousands of readers around the world on the wonderful news of the birth of Prince Irfan, and join with jamats around the world to congratulate Mawlana Hazar Imam, Prince Rahim, Princess Salwa and their families, with prayers for Prince Irfan’s long life and well being.
We also sincerely hope and pray that the birth of Prince Irfan may bring immense barakah and peace to jamats worldwide.
We encourage readers to express their wishes and thoughts on the birth of Prince Irfan by clicking on Leave a comment or scrolling down to the comments box below.
Date posted: Friday, April 17, 2015.
Last updated: Tuesday, April 21, 2015.
This compiled piece contains excerpts from the following sources:
Highly accomplished, Jamaican born Howard Shearer served as a member of McMaster University’s Board of Governors while heading Hitachi Canada Ltd. as its President and CEO. In an interview with the University’s McMaster Times for its 2008 Winter/Spring edition, Mr. Shearer talked about “Leading by a Moral Compass” that readers of this website will find interesting.
When asked, “What living person do you most admire?”, Howard Shearer replied:
“I have to say my mother. She dared us to imagine what is possible. That’s crucial. I absolutely admire the Aga Khan. He established a moral compass in terms of his teaching and his commitment to social responsibility – for contributing to society.”
As for his motto, Shearer explains, “Carpe diem. The opportunity to do something always exists today. I encourage people to make every effort to seize the opportunities that are in front of them and not to wait until tomorrow, because tomorrow will bring its own opportunities.”
To read Mr. Shearer’s inspiring interview, please click: Leading by a moral compass, and scroll to page 16.
Date posted: Monday, March 23, 2015.
….The guiding rope
That God has cast
We hold fast to it
The pendulum moves
We Appreciate…Read More
PLEASE CLICK: “We Appreciate” – Poem and Voices from the Aga Khan University East Africa Convocations: Graduates and Families Speak About Hopes and Express Gratitude to University’s Founder, His Highness the Aga Khan