Simerg Photo Contest Commemorates Opening of Magnificent New Aga Khan Museum

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

Te Aga Khan Museum Catalogue and special children's books at the Museum gift shop..

The Aga Khan Museum catalogue and special children’s books at the museum gift shop. Photo: Shellina Karmali.

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.

His Highness the Aga Khan and Prime Minister Stephen Harpur at the opening ceremony of the Ismaili Centre on September 12, 2014. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

His Highness the Aga Khan and Prime Minister Stephen Harpur at the opening ceremony of the Ismaili Centre on September 12, 2014. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

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.

A selection of items at the Aga Khan Museum Gift Shop.

A selection of items at the Aga Khan Museum Gift Shop. Photo: Shellina Karmali

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.

Men's ties at the Aga Khan Museum Gift Shop.

A selection of  ties at the Aga Khan Museum Gift Shop. Photo: Shellina Karmali

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!

Jewellery at the Aga Khan Museum Gift Shop.

Jewellery at the Aga Khan Museum Gift Shop. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

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 simerg@aol.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.

Museum GiftshpWe are thrilled to host this contest and look forward to a fantastic response from the public.

Post updated: October 1, 2014.

The Official Opening of the Ismaili Centre and Aga Khan Museum, a Reporter’s Glimpse

BY MALIK MERCHANT
Editor, http://www.simerg.com
Media room

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.

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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

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Photo Op

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.

Aga Khan and PM 2His Highness the Aga Khan and Prime Minister Stephen Harper pose for a picture at the exclusive photo session accorded to members of the media. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

Aga Khan Musuem

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

Auditorium audience await arrrivalGuests 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.

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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.

Plaque Unveiling

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.

Volunteer

A volunteer assisting with parking at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre poses for a photo following the event. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

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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.

Copyright: Simerg.

Date posted: Saturday, September 13, 2014

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Alternative post at http://www.simergphotos.com

A Gift….September 12, 2014

EXCITEMENT IN THE AIR

by Navyn Naran

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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.
ahh, cloudbreak.

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!

Prince Karim (left) posing for a birthday photo with his uncle, Prince Sadruddin, and his younger brother Prince Amyn

Which 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.

photo 2

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,
unthawing, unrelenting,
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.

Shah Nameh s

One would never know.
Simple lines, soft color and a
sense of cleanliness and peace.
Magnificent.
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.
Pluralistic.

It is a day of celebration. Come, Enter, Ayez…

Copyright: Navyn Naran/Simerg

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“A FABULOUS, GLORIOUS GIFT BY HIS HIGHNESS”

By Malik Merchant
Editor, Simerg

Alex Sarris. Photo" Malik Merchant/Simerg.

Alex Sarris. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

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!

Part of main exhibition hall, Aga Khan Museum. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg

Part of main exhibition hall, Aga Khan Museum. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg

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.”

The Park and the Ismaili Centre. Photo:  Malik Merchant/Simerg.

The Park and the Ismaili Centre. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

“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.

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Morning at the Park, Jamatkhana and the Museum by Navyn Naran

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.

Astrolabe. Credit: Aga Khan Museum Collection

Astrolabe. Credit: Aga Khan Museum Collection

Photo Essay: Stunning New Day and Night Photographs of the First Ismaili Centre in North America by Mohib Ebrahim

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.

Burnaby Ismaili Centre, by Mohib Ebrahim, © 2014. Please click on image for photo essay.

Burnaby Ismaili Centre, by Mohib Ebrahim, © 2014. Please click on image for photo essay.

Compendium of Ismaili Artists from Around the World: A Simerg Initiative

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.

TO VIEW/DOWNLOAD PDF PLEASE CLICK ON IMAGE

Ismaili Artist Compendium Cover with Thumbnails

Simerg to Launch Photo Contest to Celebrate the Opening of the New Aga Khan Museum

An artistic rendering of the Ismaili Centre, the Aga Khan Museum and their Park. Photo: The Ismaili/Imara.

An artistic rendering of the Ismaili Centre, the Aga Khan Museum and their Park. Photo: The Ismaili/Imara.

Simerg is celebrating the public opening of the Aga Khan Museum on September 18, 2014, by launching a photography contest. A total of 25 photos, all related to the Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre and their Park taken from the time the grounds become open to the public through to September 25, 2014, will be selected by an independent panel of judges and posted on this website on or around 7th October, 2014. The prizes will consist of a total of 20 free annual youth and family memberships to the museum as well as 5 merit prizes from the museum’s shop.

There will be two categories. The Youth Category will be open to anyone 19 and under. A total of 10 annual youth memberships will be given to the winning entries and, in addition, the judges will select 5 merit entries who will be awarded with the Aga Khan Museum catalogue.

The Open Category is for anyone over the age of 19. It will be for all amateur photographers and photography enthusiasts as well as anyone who likes to shoot photographs, either using a camera or their smart hand-held devices and phones! For this category we will expect each photo to be accompanied with 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 days 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 (where permitted), landscape, nature (as in the park), as well as spontaneous moments involving people!

The prizes that are to be given are from gracious donations by numerous individuals and families in Ontario. Further details of the contest, including the names of judges, will be published in the coming fortnight. Start preparing for this contest as communities in Ontario and Canada as well as around the world eagerly anticipate the opening of three unique cultural initiatives undertaken by His Highness the Aga Khan!

“What is Faith?” by Pir Shihabu’d-Din Shah and “Love for the Imam” by Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq

1. FAITH

by Pir Shihabu’d-Din Shah

Faith (Iman) is like a tree, the roots of which go into the heart: its trunk is in reason, and its branches are in the instincts, while imagination is its new shoots and leaves – (senses of) the body. The foundation (asl) of faith is love for the Imam-e-Zaman (the Imam of the Time). And if this foundation, that is, this love, and the roots of faith are strong and in good condition, all other parts of the tree, such as its trunk, its branches and leaves, can be expected to continue to flourish even if they are (accidentally) damaged. If, on the contrary, the roots are not well grounded, or even rotten, the whole tree will soon dry, and then will become good for nothing except to be used as fuel.

Thus love for Mawlana Hazar Imam is everything, being the root of faith. If it is not strong, all the acts of outward piety (a’mal-i zahiri) which are like leaves of the tree, will fade. If you have thousands of leaves, fresh and of good colour, they will dry in a short time, and then a very small fire will be sufficient to burn them completely.

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2. LOVE FOR HAZAR IMAM

by Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq

It is related from Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) that a group of Shias visited him one day. One in the group addressed the Imam and spoke of a man who was with them.

O Son of the Messenger of God: this man has love for you.”

On hearing these words, the Imam looked at the person and said:

“The best kind of love is the love for the sake of God and His Messenger. There is no gain in any other kind of love.”

The Imam then continued.

“Once the ansars [helpers] came to Hazrat Muhammad Mustafa (s.a.s.) and said, ‘O Messenger of God! We were on the wrong path and Allah guided us through you. We were destitute and we prospered by your blessings. For this reason, you may ask of anything you desire from our belongings and we shall give it to you.’

“At this, the following verse was revealed by Allah, ‘Say (O Muhammad): No reward do I ask (for my favours) except your love for my kith and kin’.”

Moved to tears, Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq then raised his hands and exclaimed:

“Praise be to God, Who has exalted us above all.”

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“Faith” adapted from Risala dar haqiqat-i din by Pir Shihabu’d-Din Shah Al-Husayni, translated as True Meaning of Religion by Wladimir Ivanow.  Pir Shihabu’d-Din Shah was the eldest son of the  47th Ismaili Imam, Aga Ali Shah, also known as Aga Khan II. The Pir was only 33 when he died due to a chest related illness, a few months before the demise of his own father, Imam Aga Ali Shah. Mawlana Shah Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III, then only 8 years old, succeeded to the throne of Imamat as the 48th Imam.

“Love for Imam” excerpted from article by Jehangir Merchant and Alnoor Bhatia published in Ilm, Volume 5, Number 1 (July 1979). The article was based on the Gujarati edition of Qadi al-Numan’s work, Da’aim al-Islam.

A Tribute to Mawlana Hazar Imam for Creating “Centres” of Soul at Wynford Drive in Toronto

On October 10, 2010, Bashir Fazal Ladha of the United Kingdom, during his visit to Toronto, went to Wynford Drive to see how the construction work of the Ismaili Centre, the Aga Khan Museum and their Park was coming along. He writes: “It was a thrilling moment and I was full of excitement when I saw the progress, and in a moment of inspiration I composed a poem which I have decided to share with readers of Simerg.” The opening of the museum to the public on September 18, 2014 was announced recently and we take the privilege to repost this beautiful and inspiring poem for all our readers.

Writing the History of Tomorrow

Please click to enlarge

A photo of the site captured on October 10, 2010 by Jim Bowie - the day Bashir Ladha visited the area and was thus inspired to write the poem. Photo: Jim Bowie

A photo of the site captured on October 10, 2010 – the day Bashir Ladha visited the area and was thus inspired to write the poem. Photo: Jim Bowie. Copyright.

BY BASHIR LADHA

A look down deep in the bowls of the earth
“A foundation being laid, a foundation of a building?” I ask
Not only, it is a foundation of a history to unfold…..

I bow my head in submission to
The Lord of  Time and Age
Yes the Lord of Time and Age
For indeed you are beyond time and space

The planets rotate in their orbits
Glorifying your majestic presence
In those momentous moments,
time and history are created

Not the history as in past,
but the unfolding of tomorrow

Lord you create  a new history brick by brick
As the form takes place…
The Majesty of your
awe-inspiring Light is Manifested

Stage by stage, the inner world is recreated
The plaster of your mercy,
the warmth of your love

All adorn the formless and
the formed building you built

You call these “centres”
Indeed these are “centres” of soul
where your name is mentioned

The light shines forth from its windows
Inviting the convenienced  and the stray
Inviting both to a new history of tomorrow
and recreating the event of
alastu*
Inviting to the life of paradise

Museum where the past will be enlivened
Prayer hall where the soul will be enriched
Park where the future will be contemplated
All this, a gift to humanity

Then why, Ya Mawla why do I neglect
Why do I remain unheeded
remaining a slave to my ego?

Teach me O Lord to submit,
to worship as if I see you

And if I do not see you,
to know that you see all

Wynford Drive, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I walk with you to a future
A history of tomorrow
Blessed by the Lord of Time and Age

I walk in hope and faith
for a better world ahead
.

* The day of the Primordial Covenant or the Day of Alastu is when God addressed the people and said, “Am I not your Lord?”  (alastu bi Rabbikum). It was the day when hearts were given spiritual nourishment.

© Simerg.com

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About the writer: Bashir Ladha has served Ismaili Institutions for the past forty years as an Alwaez, teacher and writer. He has been with the Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Board for the United Kingdom since 1983.