The Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre and their Park: Why I Like This Photo

As work commenced on the large empty plot that had formerly housed the Bata Shoe Company, the trees that lined the perimeter of the site were carefully removed, and gave way to heavy construction equipment and trucks as well as hundreds of skilled professionals for the multi-year construction phase of new Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre and their Park. Cranes illuminated the night sky. From a highrise building across the Don Valley Parkway, and from the beginning of the project, resident Jim Bowie began taking pictures of the site every single day from his balcony. When we published his highly acclaimed photo essay, In the Making: The Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre and their Park, we  invited  our readers to select a photo they liked. Here are reposts of two winning entries, as Canada and the world await the opening of the magnificent Aga Khan Museum to the public on September 18, 2014.

The Symbolism of the Halo

By Dana Lopez

Click to enlarge

A halo from the construction site of the new Ismaili Jamatkhana and the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto. The long exposure created this halo from the lights on November 29, 2010. It is not an effect that Jim Bowie created, and he can't quite explain it. Photo: Jim Bowie, Toronto.

A halo from the construction site of the new Ismaili Jamatkhana and the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto. The long exposure created this halo from the lights on November 29, 2010. It is not an effect that Jim Bowie created, and he can’t quite explain it. Photo: Jim Bowie, Toronto.


I enjoyed viewing Jim Bowie’s photo because of its symbolism. Two features are notable in particular. First, the area ringed by the halo appears calm, whereas the area outside the halo pulsates with heavy traffic. I came away with the impression that the haloed area represents a beacon in a hectic world. Second, the three bright lights inside the halo look like newborn stars, perhaps even a new universe. Viewed through this prism, the photo is asking us to make enlightenment the focal point of our daily lives. This interpretation is consistent with the desired impact of the center: to give strength to those of the Ismaili faith while beckoning others to explore the rich contributions of Islamic culture.

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Camera in Balcony

Click to enlarge

Jim Bowie's camera aimed at the construction site of the Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre and their Park. Photo: Jim Bowie

Jim Bowie’s camera aimed at the construction site of the Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre and their Park. Photo: Jim Bowie

By Kathreen Anne Lelis

I like this photo because it depicts the rising beauty ought to be discovered and deserves a future glory. The building site is surrounded by streets and industrialized buildings to mark new development – the Aga Khan Museum, Ismaili Center and their Park built at the center to serve as EMBLEM of a country with unity amidst cultural diversity. The light from the site shows its glowing hope in building a strong foundation to create glory. The camera serves as the people’s excitement to capture the priceless beauty made for them. It is facing the horizon which means that people are ready to face the opportunities the buildings offer and travel from the past to discover the reason of their success towards the future.

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About the winners: At the time her winning entry was published, Dana Lopez was a law student studying to become a child advocate at the California Western School of Law. She was honored to participate in Simerg’s essay contest because she believes that replacing fear with hope for a brighter future is the best way to ensure a stable civil society. Kathreen Anne Lelis lives in Philippines where she studied at the San Pedro College of Davao City.

Why I am Excited About the Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre and their Park – Two Winning Essays

The opening of the Aga Khan Museum to the public on September 18, 2014  has just been announced. To mark this special announcement, we repost below two winning essays by Emmanuel Iduma of Nigeria and Zohra Nizamdin of the USA from Simerg’s essay competition on the subject “Why I am Excited About the Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre and their Park.” Simerg welcomes your thoughts on the subject. Are you and your family planning to be one of the first to enter through the museum doors when the museum opens? Are you making a special trip from outside Toronto to attend the public opening? And if you live close to the museum or live in Toronto how excited do you feel about the projects as you pass the site? Please submit your feedback by clicking on Leave a comment.

WHY I AM EXCITED ABOUT THE AGA KHAN MUSEUM, THE ISMAILI CENTRE AND THEIR PARK

BY EMMANUEL IDUMA

A photo from April 2010 of the site of the Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre and their Park as the trees were being removed to make room for the contruction. "No need to worry...the trees will be replaced," wrote Jim Bowie for a photo essay for Simerg. Photo: Jim Bowie. Copyright.

Early memories: A photo from April 2010 of the site of the Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre and their Park as the trees were being removed to make room for the construction. “No need to worry…the trees will be replaced,” wrote Jim Bowie for a photo essay for Simerg. Photo: Jim Bowie. Copyright.


Excitement is the wrong word to use in describing how I feel about these projects. I am seeking for the right word. Yet, there are two tasks before me – first, to argue briefly on what interests me about the projects; second, to make a case for why these projects must remain important in the global scheme of things.

I am interested in diversity, in a multi-cultural existence, in life as seen from the lens of globalization. I believe, also, that diversity is a necessary part of human life. What these projects represent is diversity, as perfect as that can be – a merging of cultures, a fusion of civilizations, and nothing less. Thus, understanding that these projects were instituted to, in The Aga Khan’s words, “express a profound commitment to inter-cultural engagement, and international cooperation” establishes my claim that in the first place there is something uniquely global about these projects that make them worth reckoning.

Yet, the first conception becomes incisive when I consider it in the light of the contribution the projects would make to Canada, and hopefully, to the world. Each of the projects deserves a concise elucidation.

First, the Aga Khan Museum calls attention to the human need to share and to sustain. These qualities are often lacking in human interaction at all levels. On the individual level, we can learn to allow others partake in our life. Interestingly, the kind of sharing evinced by the Museum does more than allowing individuals to partake; it calls for civilizations to share their blessings with others. In this regard, it appears to me that sharing connotes sustainability. There is worldwide clamour for sustainability, and the Museum will become a beacon of lengthening what is notable about the Ismaili Imamat institution.

And what about the Ismaili Centre? Is there something irresistible about the fact that the Centre would feature a deep religious conviction? In a world plagued by scepticism and God-hating, I find it nourishing that the Centre would be significant for the significant reason that it is “dedicated to spiritual reflection.” I am in doubt that such reflection is not a basic human need – and should be added to Maslow’s list.

Wonderfully, what ties these three projects together is the architectural grandeur each exudes. The Park, for instance, draws upon a rich Islamic architectural heritage. A well-known fact is that Islam has provided the world with lovable masterpieces. I make bold to say that the Park would be another. Taken altogether, it exhilarates me to imagine the site of the projects being designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Eliot believes that in-between dreams and reality lurks shadows. Yet, I find that these projects require us to keep dreaming, despite the fact that they are being realized, or the lurking shadows. And this is necessary because Canada and the rest of the world is in need of the spiritual, natural and artistic splendour the Projects offer.

Copyright: Simerg.com

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About the writer: Emmanuel Iduma holds a Bachelor’s degree in Law (LL.B) from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. At the time he wrote the essay, he was studying to be called to the Nigerian Bar in the Nigerian Law School, Enugu. His writing has been published online and in print, including in Saraba, which he co-publishes (www.sarabamag.com).

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WHY I AM EXCITED ABOUT THE AGA KHAN MUSEUM, THE ISMAILI CENTRE AND THEIR PARK

BY ZOHRA NIZAMDIN

A depiction of the  Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre and their Park..

A depiction of the Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre and their Park..


Just as the wings of a butterfly flap can have large effects on the other side of the world, I believe that the combination of Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre, and their Park will have a positive impact of epic proportions throughout dimensions of space and time. There are a plethora of reasons why I am ecstatic about this project but there are some that really speak to my soul. Some of these reasons include my involvement in making history, the cultivation of art in Islam and the expression of pluralism.

When I was a young girl, I would always wonder what it would be like to live in the times of Imam Muizz and the Fatimid period. It would be such a spectacle to see the first Fatimid gold coin, the birth of the first university, and the Ismaili contributions to culture and the advancement of sciences in areas such as chemistry and physics. Many of our Pirs and Dais played a major role in shaping the history of our rich culture which has been cultivated throughout time. Although it would have been astonishing to be alive in that era, it is just as awe-inspiring to be alive today. The Aga Khan legacy has paved the path for the betterment of society in the future. His Highness the Aga Khan has devoted his entire life to advance humanity so that the generations to come will have valuable assets to look after.

The contents of the museum will encompass contemporary Islamic art to the origin of our faith, 14oo years ago. Art is the representation of the philosophy of a certain population at given period in time. The Aga Khan Museum will display the rich culture and timeline of Islam through solidified philosophies in the form of various artifacts. Some of the art will be personally donated from His Highness the Aga Khan, which will add to the magnificence of the collection. Such assortment of beauty and culture will shed light on the humanities of Islam and display the peaceful and affluent history of Islam.

The main reason I am so excited about this amazing endeavor is because of its promotion of pluralism in the Western world in regards to Islam. The exhibit of various pieces from different backgrounds and ethnicities will serve to broaden the horizons of the Islamic perspective as well as other point of views. It is my deepest desire that this combination of Museum, Ismaili Center and Park functions to bring all of humanity together under a common purpose: to learn and appreciate Islam for what it is, a peaceful and unifying religion.

I am honored and delighted to see all of these wondrous ideals coming together to form the mosaic of peace and understanding. A center of worship, an art platform and a park of natural beauty to tie all the inner and outer spaces together into one location that can provide realization and deep, inner peace.

Copyright: Simerg.com

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About the writer: Zohra Nizamdin was born in Doha, Qatar, and studied at the Pak Shama School. After coming to the United States, she went to Brook Haven College where she received her Associate degree in Science and Arts. She is currently based in San Antonio, Texas.

Are you in Toronto? Do you plan to attend the museum’s opening day? What excites you about the museum’s opening? Please click Leave a comment. Your feedback may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation. We are unable to acknowledge unpublished letters.

Simerg’s Jamatkhana Series and the new Ismaili Centre in Toronto

As part of one of our previous annual anniversary series, we had asked our readers to tell us how a particular Jamatkahana has impacted their lives. Links to some of the reflections that we published are provided below. Ismailis and Toronto residents alike eagerly await and are excited about the opening of the new Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre in Toronto, along with the Aga Khan Museum and the Park, all located at one site. Thousands walk or drive by the magnificent buildings, and Simerg welcomes your thoughts and reflections on these projects which, Inshallah, will be opening soon. In this regard, readers will also wish to read Jim Bowie’s superb piece of the photos he had been taking of the construction site since its inception. Please click In the Making: The Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre and their Park. Alternatively, to download a PDF file (5mb) please click on the image below.

A MYSTICAL HALO (AND A GLITTERING STAR) AT THE SITE OF
THE NEW TORONTO ISMAILI CENTRE AND JAMATKHANA

Flashback - a  night scene at the Aga Khan Museum project site on November 29, 2010. Photo: Jim Bowie.

Flashback – a night scene at the Aga Khan Museum project site on November 29, 2010. Photo: Jim Bowie.

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 SIMERG’S JAMATKHANA SERIES

Learning and Sharing Knowledge About Ismaili Jamatkhanas Through Imamat Day Greeting Cards

Please click for post

Please click for post

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Dubai’s Jewel: The Ismaili Community’s Congregational Space

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Bagamoyo’s Historic Ismaili Jamatkhana Through Pictures, Poetry and Prose

Fond Memories of Salamieh, 51 Kensington Court, and Yakymour

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1953-1957: Ismailia Social and Residential Club and Jamatkhana
at 51 Kensington Court, London W8

Please click for article and photos

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At the Ismaili Centre

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"Happy Days in Hasanabad" by Dr. Aziz Kurwa. Simerg Special Series: Jamatkhana - A Place of Spiritual and Social Convergence.

Please click for article and photos

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Memories of Nairobi’s Majestic ‘Town Jamatkhana’,
formerly the ‘Darkhana’ of Kenya

Please click for article and photos.

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5 Palace Gate when it was a privilege to be in England

Please click on image for article.

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The Darkhana, Canada: A Building of Graceful Architecture and Spiritual Nobility

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 5 Palace Gate

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Remembering Kampala Jamatkhana: Special in so many ways

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A Jamatkhana in Tashkorgan, China

The Jamatkhana in Tashkorgan in Xinjiang Province, China. Please click for story and photographs.

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Serenity in Central London: The Ismaili Centre

The Prince of Wales is greeted by the Aga Khan during a visit to the Ismaili Centre to join a reception to help celebrate its 25th anniversary. Photo: Press Association, Nottingham, UK. Please click for article

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Date posted: Thursday, July 31, 2014.

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We welcome feedback/letters from our readers. Please click on Leave a comment.

Photographer, Sarfraz Sadaruddin, Releases Two Unique 1957 Portraits of His Highness the Aga Khan Under a Creative Commons License — A First!

 

Editor’s note: Among the photos we recently published of His Highness the Aga Khan’s visit to the Aga Khan Primary School, Nairobi (see link at bottom of this page), was a unique, previously unpublished portrait of the Aga Khan. We are pleased to inform readers that the photographer of that portrait, Sarfraz Sadaruddin of Vancouver, Canada, has approached us and generously provided us not only with permission to publish his photograph, but also a sister portrait taken at the same time (both of which are reproduced below). He has also provided special permission, under a Creative Commons License, for others to use these portraits, subject to the conditions and restrictions laid out below.

Ismaili readers of this website will be particularly happy to see these two unique portraits of their beloved 49th Imam as they prepare to celebrate Eid al-Fitr. Simerg takes this opportunity to offer congratulations to all Ismailis as well as the entire Muslim world on the most auspicious occasion of Eid al-Fitr marking the end of Ramadhan, and wishes everyone barakah (happiness) and success in all walks of life. We pray for peace and unity amongst Muslims everywhere to please Almighty God, and thus gain more from Allah’s continuous and endless wonderful blessings to mankind.

 THE PORTRAITS OF HIS HIGHNESS THE AGA KHAN BY SARFRAZ SADARUDDIN

1957-copyright-sarfraz-sadaruddin-mhi-looking-his-right-FINAL-CC

By Mohib Ebrahim

During His Highness the Aga Khan’s 1957 visit to East Africa — his first after becoming Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, the Aga Khan hosted a private function at his residence for many dignitaries — including the late Tom Mboya — and Ismaili community leaders. Sarfraz Sadaruddin, then 19, was one of the photographers covering the event and, never one to be shy, requested the Aga Khan if he could take some portraits of him. The Aga Khan graciously agreed, asking Sarfraz to proceed to the rear garden where he could take the pictures he needed while the Aga Khan was engaged with his guests there and this was when and where these two portraits were taken.

Sarfraz Sadaruddin during Expo 1986.

Sarfraz Sadaruddin during Expo 1986.

Sarfraz Sadaruddin, son of the late Rai A.M. Sadaruddin (see Voices: Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah, Aga Khan III – Eloquent Persian Quatrain by 48th Ismaili Imam Graces a 1923 Invitation For Talk About Imamat), was born in Nairobi, Kenya where he developed a passion for photography in his mid-teens and apprenticed with Kodak Limited for five years before moving to Hamburg, Germany, in 1960 where, on scholarship, he attended Agfa’s training college. Later, he moved to London to continue his photography studies at Ealing Technical College and then worked as a professional, freelance photographer, in the U.K. and continent, for newspapers, advertising firms and Royalty. In 1980, he moved to Vancouver, Canada, where he now resides and continues covering events.

1957-copyright-sarfraz-sadaruddin-mhi-looking-his-left-FINAL-CC

In Kenya, since the Aga Khan’s coronation in 1957 until he left in the 1960s, Sarfraz was a key, official photographer at the Aga Khan’s functions in Nairobi. He covered the 49th Ismaili Imam’s Nairobi Enthronement (Takhtnashini) Ceremony, the opening ceremony of the Platinum Jubilee Hospital, now the Aga Khan University Hospital, and the entire Kenya leg of the 1959 visit including opening ceremony of the Aga Khan High School. He was also invited to cover the Aga Khan’s visit to the Aga Khan Primary School and many other private events the Aga Khan attended or hosted.

In London, Sarfraz was invited to cover the Foundation Stone ceremony of the Ismaili Centre as well as the Aga Khan’s community visits and functions.

Sarfraz Sadaruddin taking pictures during His Highness the Aga Khan's Vancouver Silver Jubilee visit in 1983.

Sarfraz Sadaruddin taking pictures during His Highness the Aga Khan’s Vancouver Silver Jubilee visit in 1983.

In Vancouver, Sarfraz continued to cover the Ismaili Imam’s visits, including extensive coverage of the opening ceremony of the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby, which took place in the presence of then Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney, then British Columbia Premier, Bill Bennett, and His Highness the Aga Khan.

Also in Vancouver, outside of the community, Sarfraz was an official press photographer for many visits of Royalty as well as the World Expo, 1986. Key Expo events he covered include the opening by His Royal Highness Prince of Wales and the late Princess Diana and twenty “National Days.” He was complimented by the then Lieutenant Governor of BC, The Hon. Robert G. Rogers, for his outstanding work.

Simerg welcomes feedback on this post. Please click on Comment.

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LIMITED PERMISSION TO REUSE THE PORTRAITS 

In order that the Jamat may enjoy and use these two portraits, Sarfraz is releasing them under under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND) — the first time, to my knowledge, photographs of Mawlana Hazar Imam, have been so generously shared for the Jamat to enjoy without fear of copyright infringement. Please note the images are still copyright and not in the public domain, but the license does allow them to be re-used non-commercially, without modification and with credit as embedded in the images and set out as below, including the web-link:

His Highness the Aga Khan portrait, Kenya, 1957 by Sarfraz Sadaruddin, © 1957 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).

Sarfraz kindly requests that all those who have copied and republished his photograph from the original posting on Simerg and its sister photoblog Simergphotos, to please add the above credit and replace their images with the one published here.

Date posted: Saturday, July 26, 2014.

Copyright: Mohib Ebrahim. 2014.

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About the Author: Mohib Ebrahim is Sarfraz’s nephew, grandson of the late Rai A.M. Sadaruddin and founder of the NanoWisdoms Archive (http://www.nanowisdoms.org), a unique website dedicated solely to the Ismaili Imamat’s speeches, interviews and writings launched in 2011 upon receiving special permission from Aiglemont to publish the Aga Khan’s speeches. With over 500 readings and thousands of quotes it is the most comprehensive, public collection of Imamat knowledge available today.

Some of Mohib’s other articles on this website:

1. His Highness the Aga Khan and Canada: A Profound Affinity – But Why Canada?
2. Topan, Paroo and Visram – The Three Kings Without Crowns

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Link to photos taken at the Aga Khan Primary School:

My Late Mother, Jean Kirk, and Her Special Collection of Rare Photos of His Highness the Aga Khan’s Visits to the Aga Khan Primary School in Nairobi by Allison Wallace

Imamat Day Mubarak: The House of Imran and the Progeny of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s)

Chapter 3 Surat al ʿIm'ran - The Family of Imran - 33 and 34

~~~~~~~~~Art work Nurin Merchant, Credit: Infinity design povray.org

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“We search for a union with the family of the Chosen (Prophet Muhammad). We search for the truth of son after son. We are totally obedient to his offspring, one of the other. There is no other thing we can add to this but itself. We endeavour in our faith so that we do not turn out to be faithless.”
Ismaili poet NIZAR QUHISTANI

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Aga Khan III

Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III, is pictured above at his enthronement as 48th Imam of the Shia Ismaili Ismaili Muslims in Bombay at the age of seven. His reign lasted for 72 years. In his will, he proclaimed Prince Karim Aga Khan as the 49th Imam with the following words:

“Ever since the time of my first ancestor Ali, the first Imam, that is to say over a period of thirteen hundred years it has always been the tradition of our family that each Imam chooses his successor at his absolute and unfettered discretion from amongst any of his descendants whether they be sons or remoter male issue.

“In view of the fundamentally altered conditions in the world in very recent years due to the great changes which have taken place including the discoveries of atomic science I am convinced that it is in the best interests of the Shia Moslem Ismailian Community that I should be succeeded by a young man who has been brought up and developed during recent years and in the midst of the new age and who brings a new outlook on life to his office as Imam.

“I appoint my grandson Karim, the son of my son Aly Salomone Khan to succeed to the title of Aga Khan and to be the Imam and Pir of all my Shia Ismailian followers.”

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Aga Khan IV enthronement at Villa Barakat in Geneva

Through the special designation (or the Nass) of the late Imam, Shah Karim al-Hussaini became the 49th hereditary Imam of the Nizari Ismailis at the age of twenty.

Shortly after, the newly enthroned Imam met Ismaili leaders and representatives from around the world, and also made the following statement:

“My grandfather dedicated his life to the Imamat and Islam, both of which came first, and above all other considerations. While I was prepared that one day I might be designated the Aga Khan I did not expect it so soon. I follow a great man in a great responsibility and he could have given me no more appreciated honour than to bequeath me this spiritual leadership. My life, as his, will be dedicated to the service of my followers.”

Date posted: July 10, 2014, 23:26 EDT.

The Imamat: By His Highness the Aga Khan, the Ismaili Constitution, Azim Nanji and Abbas Hamdani

“…The Ismaili Imamat is a supra-national entity, representing the succession of Imams since the time of the Prophet…” -- His Highness the Aga Khan, February 2014

His Highness Aga Khan signing his book "Where Hope Takes Root" for the Premier of British Columbia during his 2008 visit to the province to celebrate his Golden Jubilee. Ismailis will be celebrating his 57th Imamat Day on July 11, 2014. Please click on image for Imamat article. Photo: With permission of The Vancouver Sun. Copyright.

His Highness Aga Khan signing his book “Where Hope Takes Root” for the Premier of British Columbia during his 2008 visit to the province to celebrate his Golden Jubilee. Ismailis will be celebrating his 57th Imamat Day on July 11, 2014. Please click on image for Imamat article. Photo: With permission of The Vancouver Sun. Copyright.

Please click: On the Imamat and Ismailis: By His Highness the Aga Khan, the Ismaili Constitution, Azim Nanji and Abbas Hamdani

His Highness the Aga Khan on Tunisia’s New Constitution + the Constitution’s Preamble

“In Tunisia…a new ‘consensus’ constitution with 94 per cent approval from the elected Constituent Assembly reaffirmed the Islamic identity of the Tunisian state, while also protecting the human rights of religious and ethnic minorities” — His Highness the Aga Khan, Ogden Lecture, Brown University, March 10, 2014

Please click: His Highness the Aga Khan on Tunisia’s New Constitution, with English Translation of the Constitution’s Preamble

Location of Tunisia in North Africa. Please click on map for remarks by His Highness the Aga Khan

Location of Tunisia in North Africa. Please click on map for remarks by His Highness the Aga Khan

Please click: His Highness the Aga Khan on Tunisia’s New Constitution, with English Translation of the Constitution’s Preamble

On Canada Day, Reflections of Canada Through Images and Quotes of His Highness the Aga Khan

OTTAWA’S EMERGING SKYLINE

Please click on images for enlargement

A scene of Ottawa's emerging skyline inscribed on a stone plaque as seen from Gatineau, Quebec, across the Ottawa River. The  inscription reads as follows: "Canada has grown and evolved and so have the country's institutions. In 1867, the new Parliament Buildings welcomed the country's first government. When Canada became independent from Britain in 1931, new federal institutions were built to support the country's "coming of age." In 1967, Canadians celebrated the country's centennial year and their shared English and French heritage. The government embraced this ideal, and in the 1970's extended the federal public service into Quebec - a first step toward the creation of a bilingual and culturally representative capital region." Buildings represented on the plaque (l to r) 1 - National Gallery of Canada; 2 - Embassy of the United States of America; 3 - Canad Revenue Agency; 4 - The Parliemanrt Buildings, 5- Confederation Building; 6 - Department of Justice; 7 - Supreme Court of Canada, and 8 - National Library and Archives Canada. Photo: Malik Merchant. Copyright. June 2014.

A scene of Ottawa’s emerging skyline inscribed on a stone plaque as seen from Gatineau, Quebec, across the Ottawa River, metres from the Canadian Museum of Civilization. The inscription reads as follows: “Canada has grown and evolved and so have the country’s institutions. In 1867, the new Parliament Buildings welcomed the country’s first government. When Canada became independent from Britain in 1931, new federal institutions were built to support the country’s “coming of age.” In 1967, Canadians celebrated the country’s centennial year and their shared English and French heritage. The government embraced this ideal, and in the 1970’s extended the federal public service into Quebec – a first step toward the creation of a bilingual and culturally representative capital region.” Buildings represented on the plaque (l to r) 1 – National Gallery of Canada; 2 – Embassy of the United States of America; 3 – Canada Revenue Agency; 4 – The Parliament Buildings, 5 – Confederation Building; 6 – Department of Justice; 7 – Supreme Court of Canada, and 8 – National Library and Archives Canada. Photo: Malik Merchant. Copyright. June 2014.

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His Highness the Aga Khan on Canada

His Highness the Aga Khan is applauded by the Prime Minister, Members of the House, as well as other distinguished visitors as he arrives  in the House of Commons on Thursday, February 27, 2014 to deliver a rare address - the first by a faith leader in 75 years. The Ottawa Citizen published a similar photo on its front page of Friday February 28, giving it the title "In Divine Company." Alongside the Ismaili Imam are his daughter Princess Zahra and the Prime Minister's wife, Laureen Harper. Others in the photo, in rows adjacent to Mrs. Harper (l to r) -- 1st row: The Aga Khan's younger brother, Prince Amyn Muhammad Aga Khan, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, The Right Honourable Beverly McLachlin, Former Governor General of Canada, The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, and renowned Canadian author, intellectual and philosopher,  John Ralston Saul; 2nd row (l to r). President Malik Talib of the Aga Khan Ismaili Councli for Canada, Prince Hussain Aga Khan, Princess Salwa Aga Khan and her husband Prince Rahim Aga Khan - with both the Princes in the photo being the Aga Khan's children. Photo credit: The Office of the Prime Minister of Canada.

His Highness the Aga Khan is applauded by the Prime Minister, Members of the House, as well as other distinguished visitors as he arrives in the House of Commons on Thursday, February 27, 2014 to deliver a rare address – the first by a faith leader in 75 years. The Ottawa Citizen published a similar photo on its front page of Friday February 28, giving it the title “In Divine Company.” Alongside the Ismaili Imam are his daughter Princess Zahra and the Prime Minister’s wife, Laureen Harper. Others in the photo, in rows adjacent to Mrs. Harper (l to r) — 1st row: The Aga Khan’s younger brother, Prince Amyn Muhammad Aga Khan, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, The Right Honourable Beverly McLachlin, Former Governor General of Canada, The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, and renowned Canadian author, intellectual and philosopher, John Ralston Saul; 2nd row (l to r). President Malik Talib of the Aga Khan Ismaili Council for Canada, Prince Hussain Aga Khan, Princess Salwa Aga Khan and her husband Prince Rahim Aga Khan – with both the Princes in the photo being the Aga Khan’s children. Photo credit: The Office of the Prime Minister of Canada.

A VISION FOR THE OTTAWA RIVERFRONT?…. ISMAILI COMMUNITY AND CANADA

“In just three years, Canada will mark its 150th anniversary, and the whole world will be ready to celebrate with you. Sharing Canada’s robust pluralistic history, is a core mission of our Global Centre, and 2017 will be a major opportunity for doing so, operating from its headquarters in the former War Museum on Sussex Drive. Perhaps 2017 and the celebrations can be a catalyst with our neighbours to improve the entire riverfront area around that building.

“Our partnership in Canada has been immensely strengthened, of course, by the presence for more than four decades of a significant Ismaili community. Like most historic global communities the Ismaili peoples have a variegated history, but surely our experience in Canada has been a particularly positive chapter.

“I happily recall the establishment of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat here in 2008 and the Prime Minister’s description that day of our collaborative efforts to make Canada “the headquarters of the global effort to foster peace, prosperity, and equality through  pluralism. [1]

Parliament Buildings from the spot where the top image was taken. Photo: Malik Merchant. Copyright.

Parliament Buildings from the spot where the top image was taken. Photo: Malik Merchant. Copyright.

A statue of French explorer Samuel de Champlain at Nepean Point in Ottawa. The explorer is  seen holding his famous astrolabe upsidedown. Nepean Point is a hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, overlooking the Ottawa River, Parliament, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, and other features of downtown Ottawa and Gatineau. It is located between the National Gallery of Canada and Alexandra Bridge. The sculpture was made by Hamilton MacCarthy in 1915. Photo: Malik Merchant, Copyright.

A statue of French explorer Samuel de Champlain at Nepean Point in Ottawa. The explorer is seen holding his famous astrolabe upsidedown. Nepean Point is a hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, overlooking the Ottawa River, Parliament, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, and other features of downtown Ottawa and Gatineau. It is located between the National Gallery of Canada and Alexandra Bridge. The sculpture was made by Hamilton MacCarthy in 1915. Photo: Malik Merchant, Copyright.

The rock crystal shaped dome of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat  shown just above the top deck of a boat on the Ottawa River, beneath Ottawa's Royal Alexandra Bridge. Photo: Malik Merchant. Copyright. June 2014.

The rock crystal shaped dome of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat shown just above the top deck of a boat on the Ottawa River, beneath Ottawa’s Royal Alexandra Bridge. Photo: Malik Merchant. Copyright. June 2014.

CANADA – A HAVEN OF PEACE

“Canada is an international power who takes her responsibilities seriously and whose policies have never in her history been tainted by the cruder forms of colonialism, racialism or isolationism. [2]

“Successful experience with democracy, civil society and pluralism are the national genius of Canada of which much of the developing world is in dire need. [3]

“Canada remains for the rest of the world an enviable haven. A haven of peace, and of immense natural beauty and wealth. The wealth I speak of, is not merely its natural resources but the peoples of Canada, steeped in your tradition of tolerance, generosity and compassion in alleviating human suffering and respect for diversity of thought and culture.” [4]

His Highness the Aga Khan and the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada, face eager cameras at the Canadian Parliament Building on Thursday, 27 February, 2014. An oil on canvas painting of The Right Honourable Sir John Alexander Macdonald, Prime Minister (1867-1873; 1878-1891) adorns a wall as part of the House of Commons Heritage Collection, while the Ismaili Imamat and Canadian Flags form a backdrop in this historical photo. Photo credit: The Office of the Prime Minister of Canada.

His Highness the Aga Khan and the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada, face eager cameras at the Canadian Parliament Building on Thursday, 27 February, 2014. An oil on canvas painting of The Right Honourable Sir John Alexander Macdonald, Prime Minister (1867-1873; 1878-1891) adorns a wall as part of the House of Commons Heritage Collection, while the Ismaili Imamat and Canadian Flags form a backdrop in this historical photo. Photo credit: The Office of the Prime Minister of Canada.

CANADA – MOST SUCCESSFUL PLURALIST SOCIETY ON EARTH

“Canada is a country that has invested in making this potential liability [of pluralism] become an asset, and I think that Canada has been perhaps too humble in its own appreciation of this global asset. It’s a global asset, and few countries, if any have been as successful as Canada has. [5]

The Old Canadian War Museum will become the future site of the Global Centre for Pluralism, once renovations  are completed inside the building. The Centre is governed by an international Board of Directors chaired by His Highness the Aga Khan. The Global Centre for Pluralism was inspired by the example of Canada’s inclusive approach to citizenship, and works to advance respect for diversity worldwide, believing that openness and understanding toward the cultures, social structures, values and faiths of other peoples are essential to the survival of an interdependent world.

The Old Canadian War Museum will become the future site of the Global Centre for Pluralism, once renovations are completed inside the building. The Centre is governed by an international Board of Directors chaired by His Highness the Aga Khan. The Global Centre for Pluralism was inspired by the example of Canada’s inclusive approach to citizenship, and works to advance respect for diversity worldwide, believing that openness and understanding toward the cultures, social structures, values and faiths of other peoples are essential to the survival of an interdependent world.

“Canada is today the most successful pluralist society on the face of our world. Without any doubt in my mind. You have created the perfect pluralist society where minorities, generally speaking, are welcome, they feel comfortable, they assimilate the Canadian psyche, they are allowed to move forward within civil society in an equitable manner, their children are educated. So Canada has succeeded in putting together a form of pluralist society which has been remarkably successful. I’m not the one who’s making a judgement.” [6]

Date posted: July 1, 2014.

_______________

[1] House of Commons, Thursday, February 27, 2014.
[2] Diplomatic Banquet (Toronto, Canada), 19 November 1978.
[3] The Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat Foundation Stone Ceremony (Ottawa, Canada), 6 June 2005.
[4] Diplomatic Corps Banquet (Toronto, Canada), 19 August 1992.
[5] CBC Interview, One-on-One with Peter Mansbridge (Ottawa, Canada), 28 October 2006. Click One on One: Peter Mansbridge Interview with His Highness the Aga Khan
[6] Globe and Mail Interview (3rd), John Stackhouse and Patrick Martin (Toronto, Canada), 30 January 2002

Please also click His Highness the Aga Khan and Canada: A Profound Affinity – But Why Canada?

A Collection of Inspiring Stories, Readings and Photo Essays of the Ismailis of Tajikistan

EVERY LINK ON THIS PAGE IS WORTH A CLICK

His Highness the Aga Khan's First Historic Visit to Badakhshan

His Highness the Aga Khan’s First Historic Visit to Badakhshan

“Shukr Mawlo, Shukr Mawlo” – When Hope is All You Have Left, a Story for Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Salgirah by Gulnor Saratbekova (Uruguay/Tajikistan)

Literary Reading: The Mystery of the Missing Mount Nasir Khushraw

Olivier Galibert: Ismaili Portraits from Tajikistan by Olivier Galibert (France)

Voices: A Western Correspondent’s Account of the Aga Khan’s Historic First Visit to His Followers in Gorno-Badakhshan

Photo  Gallery: Ismaili Portraits From Tajikistan (I) by A. M. Rajput, UK

Literary Reading: Shi’a Ismaili Tradition in Central Asia – Evolution, Continuities and Changes

“Ba Shokouh” – The Magnificent Ismaili Centre in Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Matthieu Paley: Journey to the Roof of the World (Portraits of Ismailis)

 

Openness to Diversity and Pluralism in Human Hearts and Minds Necessary for Humanity’s Progress and Social Convergence, Says His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam, at North-South Award Ceremony

The following are thematic excerpts from remarks made by His Highness the Aga Khan at the North-South Prize Ceremony, Senate Hall, Parliament, Lisbon, on June 12, 2014.

Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim

THE CEREMONY’S SIGNIFICANCE

 His Excellency Aníbal Cavaco Silva, the President of the Republic of Portugal presents His Highness the Aga Khan with the 2013 North-South Prize. - Photo: AKDN/ José Manuel Boavida Caria


His Excellency Aníbal Cavaco Silva, the President of the Republic of Portugal presents His Highness the Aga Khan with the 2013 North-South Prize. – Photo: AKDN/ José Manuel Boavida Caria

This award, first of all, has special significance because of who shares it – Madame Suzanne Jabbour. Her dedication to those who are tortured is an example that inspires us all. I know she will agree when I mention the list of those – from both South and North – who have received this award since 1995. It is a moving experience to have one’s work recognized alongside theirs.

…this prize has particular meaning because of those who organize it – the men and women of the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe, who contribute so much to advancing democratic citizenship in our world. The Aga Khan Development Network has been proud to join with the Centre in distinguished projects such as the annual Lisbon Forum held at the Ismaili Centre.

The significance of this award is also enhanced for me by the fact that it has been presented by the President of Portugal, in the presence of so many eminent leaders, and in this splendid Parliamentary setting.

THE IMAMAT, AKDN, PORTUGAL AND THE NORTH-SOUTH PRIZE

The Ismaili Imamat and the Aga Khan Development Network have had a long, close relationship with Portugal, built on shared values. Over many centuries, Portugal has welcomed and integrated people of diverse cultures. It was here on the Iberian Peninsula that Al-Andulus flourished for so long as a model of effective pluralism, a home for Christian and Jewish peoples that was also part of an Islamic empire….

The North-South prize affirms principles which have long been animated and sustained by the work of the Aga Khan Development Network. Our Network seeks in many ways to improve the quality of human life, in health, education, in cultural and economic development. But our core conviction is that human progress depends on human cooperation, even across difficult lines of division.

 A PLEA FOR RICHER DIALOGUE, DEEPER EDUCATION AND RECOGNITION OF THE BLESSINGS OF PLURALISM

His Highness the Aga Khan addresses the North-South Prize Ceremony in the Senate Hall of the Portuguese Parliament as His Excellency Aníbal Cavaco Silva, the President of the Republic of Portugal and President of the Assembly of the Republic, Maria Assunção Esteves look on. - Photo: AKDN/ José Manuel Boavida Caria

His Highness the Aga Khan addresses the North-South Prize Ceremony in the Senate Hall of the Portuguese Parliament as His Excellency Aníbal Cavaco Silva, the President of the Republic of Portugal and President of the Assembly of the Republic, Maria Assunção Esteves look on. – Photo: AKDN/ José Manuel Boavida Caria

As I observe the world, I am struck by the insufficiency of well-informed debate, of richer dialogue, of deeper education in our quest to avoid human conflict. That insufficiency often plagues relations between the North and the South– and increasingly between the North and the Islamic world. Some have called this a clash of civilizations—I think it is, essentially, a clash of ignorances. What it means, in any case, is that institutions such as the North-South Centre have never been more important.

A related problem is the failure of so many to recognize that pluralism is not only a growing fact of life but also a blessing for their communities—an opportunity to be welcomed rather than a threat to be feared.

Since ancient times, great cultures have thrived because of their openness to diversity, and not because of their exclusivity.

ANTONIO GUTERRES AT GLOBAL CENTRE FOR PLURALISM

It was to address this issue that the Government of Canada and I created a new Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa in 2006.

Recently the Global Centre held its Third Annual Pluralism Lecture….our guest lecturer was Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees since 2005….His recent Lecture described, eloquently, the unprecedented scale and severity of the world’s refugee crises. He addressed, passionately, the moral challenge this crisis presents, the tragic impulse of some to exploit it, and the critical importance of standing together on behalf of human tolerance. I commend his words to you; they resonate powerfully with the purposes of the North-South Centre.

We inhabit an overcrowded and interconnected planet and yet we share a common destiny. A weakness or pain in one corner can rapidly transmit itself across the globe. The pervasive rejection of pluralism in all its forms plays a significant role in breeding destructive conflicts.

An example is the current situation in the Middle-East, where conflict is having a profound destabilising impact — in the region but also well beyond — including here in Europe.

TRADITIONAL VALUES AND THE GIFT OF PLURALISM

Instability is infectious, but so is hope. And that it is why it is so important for us to carry the torch of hope as we seek to share the gift of pluralism.

Pluralistic values have been articulated since ancient times. Profound expressions about our common humanity are embedded in the world’s great religious traditions, including my own. But now it is for us to re-articulate those traditions. As we do so, our support for one another can be a source of renewed and growing strength.

WHAT CAN SAVE US?

It is ironic that a sense of intensified conflict comes at a time of unprecedented breakthroughs in communication technology. At the very time that we talk more and more about global convergence, we also seem to experience more and more social divergence. The lesson it seems to me is that technologies alone will not save us– the critical variable will always be and will always lie in the disposition of human hearts and minds.

I am grateful for the opportunity to share with all of you in this experience – and in the great purposes to which it calls us.

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For complete speech and photo gallery please visit the following websites:

http://www.akdn.org
http://www.theismaili.org

For links to numerous other pieces on the Award Ceremony please click on http://www.ismailimail.wordpress.com.

For a comprehensive coverage of the speeches of His Highness the Aga Khan, please click on http://www.nanowisdoms.org.