Ismaili Jamtkhana and Center Houston, Simerg

Reflections on the Design of the Ismaili Center Houston

By KARIM H. KARIM

The Ismaili Center Houston (ICH) promises to be an architecturally innovative building. It draws inspiration from several design traditions and will likely generate discussion and debate about present-day Muslim architecture. The confluence of Muslim and non-Muslim motifs in the Center very much reflects the centuries-long Ismaili openness to diverse cultures (e.g. see my article Ismailis: A Pluralist Search for Universal Truth). It is fascinating how the building’s architect, Farshid Moussavi, has intermingled features from the Zoroastrian Sassanid, Christian Byzantine, Muslim Isfahani and secular Western societies in a contemporary Ismaili American edifice.

However, some vital considerations seem to be missing from the building that aspires to stand as “a symbol of dialogue” in responding to its “geographies and contexts.”

  • An architectural conversation with the first peoples of Texas would have been far-sighted, especially at a time when indigeneity is of rising importance in North American contexts. For example, the challenge of dealing with Houston’s heat and humidity could have turned to the history of the local Akokisa people who built airy beehive-shaped structures to cope with the climate.

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The prominent "chorkhona" skylight in the Ismaili Centre Dushanbe. The chorkhana is the main defining symbol of the traditional structure of the Pamiri House
The prominent “chorkhona” skylight in the Ismaili Centre Dushanbe. The chorkhona is the defining symbol of the traditional structure of the Pamiri House, whose design principles reflect pre-Islamic philosophical symbols of the Central Asian region. Photo: Karim H. Karim.
  • A vital principle of architectural practice is attention to the cultural heritage of the proposed building’s daily users. The vast majority of Houston’s Jamat are families that have either arrived directly from India and Pakistan or from the South Asian Ismaili diaspora in Africa. But South Asian architecture appears to have been downplayed in ICH. On the other hand, conscious efforts were made to reflect Pamiri design in Dushanbe’s Ismaili Centre. The databases of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the Aga Khan Program in Architecture are rich with information about Muslim architecture in India and Pakistan. Given that the cupola is celebrated in ICH’s design, a nod to the innovative and distinctive chattri in the Indo-Muslim style of Gujarat would have been particularly apropos.
  • The American Ismaili Jamat’s dominantly South Asian provenance holds other potential that could have been explored through ICH’s architecture. Among the possible partners for dialogue in local and global contexts for Muslims in the USA are diverse Indian American associations. They have strong presence in the American political establishment and are also key players on the transnational scene, including the ties of some with India’s ruling Hindu nationalists. A truly path-breaking pluralist dialogue in the United States holds far-reaching potential for transforming the two diasporic communities’ engagement with each other and charting steps that address the concerns of India’s Muslims with integrity. The AKDN’s calibrated engagement with Afghanistan’s Taliban government is instructive in this regard. One can only imagine the profound diplomatic symbolism of an Islamic architectural pluralism that incorporates design from ancient Indian civilization, as ICH’s architect has creatively done with pre-Islamic Persepolis of her native Iran.

Date posted: November 26, 2021.

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Karim H. Karim
Karim H. Karim

About the author:  Karim H. Karim is Chancellor’s Professor and Director of Carleton University’s Centre for the Study of Islam where he held an International Ismaili Studies Conference. He previously served as Co-Director of the Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS) and Director of Carleton’s School of Journalism & Communication. Dr. Karim has held visiting scholarly appointments at Harvard University, Aga Khan University/Simon Fraser University, and the IIS. He has also been an advisor for the AKU and the Central Asian University and has served as a member of the AKDN’s Higher Education Forum. Professor Karim is an award-winning author, whose globally-cited writings include publications on culture, architectural design and pluralism as well as on Ismaili communitiesinstitutions, and leadership. He and his wife have established The Karim and Rosemin Karim Prize that recognizes research excellence in understudied areas of Ismaili Studies.

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Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. Please also visit Simerg’s sister websites  Barakah and Simergphotos.

Ismaili Center Houston Featured Image

Video, Report and Photos: A Preview of the 7th Ismaili Center in the World to Be Built in Houston

What made the project especially rewarding was the close alignment between the client and the architect’s aspirations. What made it very challenging was my knowledge of the high standards that His Highness has set for architecture for many many years — Architect Farshid Moussavi, text transcription from video shown below

Presentation by Farshid Moussavi on the Ismaili Centre Houston, November 15, 2021

Prepared and compiled by MALIK MERCHANT
(Publisher-Editor, SimergBarakah, and Simergphotos)

After many years of anticipation, designs of the forthcoming Ismaili Center in Houston were presented on Monday, November 15, 2021 by design architect Farshid Moussavi at a special event hosted in Houston, TX, and streamed live around the world on Ismaili TV.

The caption for the brief video shown above on Youtube notes that a full event video will be made available on Ismaili TV. We sincerely hope that the full video is also made available on the Ismaili’s Youtube video channel.

The following text is adapted from the press release issued by His Highness the Aga Khan Shia Imami Ismaili Council for the USA. (Read original press release HERE).

Ismaili Center to be Houston’s Newest Cultural Asset

Note: All images may be clicked on for enlargements

Ismaili Centre Houston Simerg
At left, aerial view of the empty site of the Ismaili Center Houston, and at right an aerial view of the Ismaili Center and its gardens as it will look when it is completed in three years time. The center’s site is in the heart of the City of Houston across from Buffalo Bayou Park to the left. IMAGE: IMARA HOUSTON INC. / IPL via The Ismaili.

The design for the Ismaili Center to be built in Houston’s Buffalo Bayou watershed was presented to the public on November 15, 2021 at a gathering of government and civic officials, community representatives and leaders from civil society organizations. Situated on Allen Parkway and Montrose Boulevard, the Ismaili Center is commissioned by Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims and founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).

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Ismaili Centres around the world Simerg
Top row (from left): Ismaili Centre London (Opened April 24, 1985), Ismaili Centre Vancouver (August 23, 1985), and Ismaili Centre Lisbon (July 11, 1998); Centre row: Ismaili Centre Dubai (March 26, 2008), Ismaili Centre Dushanbe (October 12, 2009), and Ismaili Centre Toronto (September 12, 2014); Bottom row: The 7th Ismaili Centre Houston (future date). Collage: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

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Dedicated to advancing pluralism, public understanding and civic outreach, the Center in Houston joins its counterparts established in London, (UK), Lisbon (Portugal), Dubai (UAE), Dushanbe (Tajikistan), Vancouver and Toronto (both in Canada). Each of these buildings — designed by architects of international standing and multi-cultural sensitivity — is reflective of their own geographies and contexts. As ambassadorial buildings around the world, they are symbolic of the Ismaili community’s presence, pluralistic outlook and ethos of volunteering. The Ismaili Center Houston, with its openness of both purpose and structure, will seek to express these values. Speaking in Sugar Land, Texas in 2002, Mawlana Hazar Imam observed that “since all that we see and do resonates on the faith, the aesthetics of the environments we build and the quality of the interactions that take place within them reverberate on our spiritual lives.”

The Ismaili Center Houston will be a venue for educational, cultural and social events, to encourage understanding and facilitate the sharing of perspectives across peoples of diverse backgrounds, faiths and traditions. It will aim to build bridges through intellectual exchange by hosting concerts, recitals, plays, performances, exhibitions, conferences, seminars, conversations, book launches and community gatherings. The building will also provide space for quiet contemplation and for prayer, as well as serve as the administrative headquarters of the Ismaili community in the USA.

In presenting the design, Iranian born Farshid Moussavi, an internationally acclaimed architect, who also designed the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland, observed: “What made this project especially rewarding was the close alignment between the aspirations of the client and architect. What made it especially challenging was my awareness of the rigorous standards that His Highness the Aga Khan has established for architecture! We have tried to work with Islamic design philosophy, and celebrate its singularity and unique qualities as well as the features it has in common with Western design, so that the building, both through its fabric and through the way it is used, would act as a symbol of dialogue.”

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Ismaili Jamtkhana and Center Houston, Simerg
The Ismaili Center Houston will serve as both a Jamatkhana for the Ismaili community to come together for prayers, spiritual search, and contemplation; as well as an ambassadorial cultural center. IMAGE: IMARA HOUSTON INC. / IPL via The Ismaili.

The building is designed with a compact footprint, leaving large portions of the site to be used as gardens. Given the frequently hot and humid climate of Houston and the prominence of the site in the city, it is designed with a tripartite form with each of its volumes hosting a soaring eivan (veranda) to enable social and cultural gatherings to occur outdoors throughout the year. The eivans are supported by forty-nine slender columns reminiscent of those used in Persepolis and seventeenth century palaces in Isfahan, Persia. In being open on all sides and visible from all approaches to the site, the eivans will make the Ismaili Center open and inviting in every direction. At night, they will transform it to a beacon of light along Montrose Boulevard and Allen Parkway.

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Ismaili Center Centre Houston Simerg
The forecourt garden with its reflecting pool at the entrance of the building creates a contemplative atmosphere. The new Center will feature beautiful spaces, intricate geometry, and highly crafted work. IMAGE: IMARA HOUSTON INC. / IPL via The Ismaili.

The Center’s design, contemporary in its expression, is reflective of a historically rooted, rich architectural heritage. It combines contemporary architectural technology — its light steel structure — with traditional Persian forms and ornament, including ceramic mosaics and screens drawn from Islamicate traditions around the world. Its design for sustainability includes assuring enhanced energy performance and longevity and durability of materials, by encasing exposed steel with concrete for a 100-year lifecycle, and using stone for the building’s exterior walls.

Conceived as a tapestry in stone, the exterior walls will transition from solid areas to porous screens that will provide shade and privacy, and from flat surfaces to deep alcoves to permit shady repose fronting the gardens. The building exterior will therefore be defined by simplicity of form, openness, and an abstract decorative character.

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Ismaili Center Houston
Central atrium and staircase at the Ismaili Center Houston. Each atrium is designed in such a way as to fill the heart of the building with natural light. IMAGE: IMARA HOUSTON INC. / IPL via The Ismaili.

The building interior will include three atriums that will act as common, non-exclusive flexible spaces between rooms dedicated to specific events. Each is located adjacent to an eivan to bring in natural light and views of the sky to the heart of the building. The central atrium’s stepped structure clad in ceramic screens, celebrates the heritage of the cupola dating back to 3000 BCE, dominant in both the architecture of the Sasanian period in Persia and the Christian buildings of the Byzantine empire. The west and east atriums will give access to a theater, a large hall and learning spaces.

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Ismaili Center Centre Houston Simerg Imara
From wherever one enters the site, visitors will be welcomed by garden spaces. The Center’s landscaped gardens will provide a sense of serenity and peace, offering a respite from its urban surroundings. IMAGE: IMARA HOUSTON INC. / IPL via The Ismaili.

The Center’s landscaped gardens will provide a sense of serenity and peace, offering a respite from its urban surroundings. The gardens will include tree canopies, fountains, shaded footpaths, flowerbeds, lawns and walkways. These will be spaces of solace, providing for the rejuvenation of the mind and the spirit.

In his remarks, Houston Mayor Turner reflected, “The Center will elevate, yet again, Houston on the world map as a global city where people of all backgrounds can come together. This notion of learning about and accepting differences amongst peoples and communities, what we call pluralism, is central to the Aga Khan’s vision for the survival of an increasingly interconnected world. The Ismaili Muslim community in Houston and the United States continues to actualize the values that these Centers aim to promote – friendship, service, and mutual understanding.”

Speaking at the ceremony, President Al-Karim Alidina of the Ismaili Council for the USA acknowledged the role of the various teams: “This project, would not be possible without the dedicated efforts of Farshid Moussavi Architecture, Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, AKT II – Structural Engineer and DLR Group the architect and engineers of record. We also look forward to working with the construction manager McCarthy Builders and the numerous local contractors who will build and craft this building over the next three years.”

The Ismaili Center Houston will offer a new dimension to the cultural life of the city and a place of gathering for the Ismaili community where visitors will be welcome.

Date posted: November 19, 2021.

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Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. Please also visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah and Simergphotos.

The Heavenly Ismaili Jamatkhana at Night; and Changing Face of Nature at Morningside and Aga Khan Parks

Hopefully, you did not miss photos of the rich autumn colours at Aga Khan Park, when autumn foliage peaked around November 5, 2021. If you missed the post, please click HERE.

Click on photo

About a week later, as trees started losing their leaves, Malik Merchant happened to be at the grounds of Aga Khan Park at night, and captured the beauty of the heavenly Ismaili Jamatkhana dome through lit-up trees, moments before the lights in the prayer hall went out. See the beautiful photos HERE.

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The face of nature changed once again, as more and more trees shed their leaves and lost much of the autumn foliage. For one last time Malik Merchant visited Morningside Park, and also made his customary pilgrimage to the Aga Khan Park. His story and spectacular photos are HERE.

Date posted: November 18, 2021.

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Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. Please also visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah and Simergphotos.

Simerg Presents “With Our Own Hands” – a Highly Acclaimed Book from the Pamirs of Afghanistan and Tajikistan

Those of us reading this book several thousand miles away from the Pamir Mountains cannot fail to be moved by the celebration of human diversity and dignity. I hope this book will act as a spur to other such works, and to the preservation and celebration of other such ancient cultures, wherever they are in the world HRH The Prince of Wales in Foreword to “With Our Own Hands”

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In size, rigor and thoughtfulness this book has become a touching piece of art — Geerdt Magiels, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

With Our Own Hands Food and Life in Pamir Mountains
Front cover of “WITH OUR OWN HANDS” by Frederik van Oudenhoven and Jamila Haider, 688 pp, illustrated with beautiful photos.

In the Ismaili faith, the relationship between us human beings and the places we inhabit is deeply interwoven. It is important for people who, like the Pamiris, live in places that are isolated, in which each small piece of land must be used in the best way possible. If God created us, it is believed, He also created the things around us that are necessary for us to have a healthy life excerpt from “With Our Own Hands”

Purchasing the Book: At the current time “With Our Own Hands – A Celebration of Food and Life in the Pamir Mountains of Afghanistan and Tajikistan” is available for sale only in Toronto. The price of the book is CDN $100.00 including home delivery or pickup from a convenient location in North York, close to the Aga Khan Museum on Wynford Drive. Our stock of this book is limited; as of November 14, 2021, only five copies are available, all brand-new in plastic-wrapped cover. Please write to Malik Merchant at simerg@aol.com or drop us a line in the feedback form below with your contact info if you are interested in acquiring this book (we won’t publish your feedback).

Worthy Addition: “With Our Own Hands” will be a worthy edition to your home library or serve as a great coffee table book by virtue of its visual quality, as well as its faithful and superb portrayal of the food, culture and traditions of the beautiful people of the Pamirs.

A 2-page spread from the 688 page book “WITH OUR OWN HANDS

Background: A book that began as a simple 30 page recipe book to fulfill a promise to a grandmother has grown to a magnificent volume of 688 pages telling the cultural and agricultural history of the Afghan and Tajik Pamirs, one of the world’s least known and most isolated civilizations. Through the lens of local recipes, essays and stories, and accompanied by the work of three award-winning photographs, “With Our Own Hands” describes Pamiri food and its origins, people’s daily lives, their struggle and celebrations. Simerg carried a special feature story on the making of the book as well as a review of the book by Shariffa Keshavjee shortly after she received the softcover edition of the volume from Simerg.

As I read and re-read the book, I feel that the earth itself compressed to make a safe haven for these very special people who truly live in harmony with mother earth. Similar to the way the animals live in the Ngorongoro Crater — Shariffa Keshavejee

A 2-page spread from the 688 page book “WITH OUR OWN HANDS

The authors ensured that each of the 1800 communities of the Pamirs received a copy of “With Our Own Hands.” In the featured photo shown at the top of this post, schoolgirls in the Bartang valley are standing with a copy of the book. The authors have noted that they were received time and time again with the warmest hospitality one could ever imagine when they travelled to remote communities with the book.

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ACCOLADES FOR “WITH OUR OWN HANDS”
(See Image of Back Cover, below)

“This…may be one of the most beautiful books I have ever read..!” — Frénk van der Linden.

People touch the book and stroke it, and it is as if there is no distance between them and the pages…it’s very touching to see – Facebook comment

Back cover of “WITH OUR OWN HANDS” by Frederik Van Oudenhoven and Jamila Haider, Hardback Edition, 688 pages, illustrated.

Purchasing the book: Limited copies are available for sale in Toronto, Canada. Please write to Malik Merchant at simerg@aol.com or drop us a line in the feedback form below with your contact info if you are interested in acquiring this book (we won’t publish your feedback). Price is CDN $100.00, including delivery in Toronto or if you prefer you may pick up the book from a convenient location near the Aga Khan Museum on Wynford Drive.

Date posted: November 13, 2021.
Last updated: November 14, 2021.

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Simerg welcomes your feedback. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or click Leave a comment.

If you are interested in acquiring “With Our Own Hands” please complete the same feedback form (we won’t publish your information) with your contact imformation.

Taliban Deputy Prime Minister -- Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan -- with Aga Khan Development Network representatives AKDN Simerg Malik Merchant

Afghanistan Update: Taliban and Aga Khan Development Network Discuss Future Development in Country

Compiled and prepared by MALIK MERCHANT
(Publisher-Editor, Simerg, Barakah, and Simergphotos)

Sputnik, a Moscow based news agency, reported on November 6, 2021, that The Taliban represented by the deputy prime minister, Abdul Salam Hanafi, met with Akbar Pesnani, the envoy of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) to Afghanistan, to discuss a comprehensive development strategy for the country. The Taliban government calls itself as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

The meeting was confirmed by the government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a tweet, which is as follows:

Article continues after tweet

Translation of Tweet: Maulvi Abdul Salam Hanafi, Deputy Minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, met with Ali Akbar Pasnani, Aga Khan’s Special Envoy to Afghanistan, and discussed the activities of the Aga Khan Development Network. To invest in parts……

(Photo Credit: Featured photo at top of post is from the Official Twitter Account of the Spokesman of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Zabihullah Mujahid)

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Hanafi said that the Taliban-led Afghan government was ready to assist AKDN in its mission in the country. ANI, South Asia’s leading multimedia news agency, further added to the Sputnik report by stating that the joint activities should focus on the development of the health care and education systems in Afghanistan. And, according to a report published in Pakistan’s SAMAA TV website, basing its sources on Afghanistan’s Pashto language website Nunn Takki Asia, the deputy prime minister urged AKDN to build a hospital in Afghanistan. Pesnani was assured that the Taliban would provide the necessary conditions and facilities for the Network’s activities.

Afghan media reported Pesnani as saying that that the AKDN’s aim was to build human capacity and focus on girls’ education, in response to which Hanafi said that education is essential for all and the ministries of education and higher education were working on a mechanism and creating conditions’ for girls education in the country.

According to Chitral News of November 7, Hanafi is said to have extended a formal invitation to His Highness the Aga Khan to visit the country. Simerg could not confirm the invitation through other independent sources.

Date posted: November 12, 2021.

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Simerg has created a special page on Afghanistan where you will find links to all our posts published on Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover. Please click AFGHANISTAN.

Dare to Dream

By FARAH TEJANI

Dare to dream and soar the skies,
Without ever questioning or wondering why;
Life is the canvas and you are the brush,
With so many hues, there is no need to rush.

Discover your gifts and leave no stone unturned,
It’s your time to claim all that you have yearned;
Travel the world, give birth to a precious child,
Dig deep into your soul and let your spirit run wild.

Photograph, sing, write, fly,
Sculpt, dig, explore on high;
Have lunch on the moon or have tea with the Queen
Don’t be left wondering wonder what you could have been.

This world is for living in and living in now,
Those who lose sight will always wonder “how.”
Time stops for no one, so play your best game,
With so many days, make no two the same.

And be prepared for those who will tell you you can’t,
For it is these same people you will truly enchant.
Many are jealous of the gifts we possess,
But it is WITHIN US ALL to find true success

So challenge yourself, there is no time to compete,
To compare yourself to others is quite simply effete.
You’re God’s gifted child, He has plans for you,
So dare to dream, it is time for your debut!

You are the butterfly asleep in the Cocoon,
You must wait for your time, lest it be too soon.
And when the time is right you will no doubt emerge,
With uniquely painted wings and upwards you will surge.

Date posted: November 8, 2021.

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Farah Tejani creative writer Vancouver
Farah Tejani

Farah Tejani is a creative writer based in Vancouver. She is currently working on Childrens’ stories and a collection of poetry called “Elastic Embrace.” She has been contributing poems and stories for Simerg and its sister website Barakah for the past year. We invite our readers to read some of Farah’s poems by clicking on The Fragrance of SpringElastic Embrace; and The Great Sacrifice. Children will particularly love her heart warming stories Mr. Sneaky Peeky and the Two Red-Tailed Monkeys and Elizabeth the Ladybug and the Lonely Rose.

Simerg welcomes your feedback. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or click Leave a comment . Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents  for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. Please also visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah and Simergphotos.

Autumn Photos: Blazing Red Maples at Aga Khan Park

Introduced by MALIK MERCHANT
(Publisher-Editor Barakah, Simergand Simergphotos)

What truly instilled in me a love for nature? I had taken it for granted in Africa! But on a New Moon Night (Chandraat or Chaand Raat; Bengali, Urdu etc.) in Salt Lake City, Utah, during the 3rd week of November 1979, I looked up at the sky with the Wasatch Mountain range around me. There I spotted the beautiful crescent on a clear evening!

Chandraat as Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III, 48th Hereditary Imam of Ismaili Muslims, said is a night that will generate immense happiness and peace. In anxious moments of arriving in a new city to work as a trainee computer programmer, the sighting of the New Moon is exactly what I needed. I have loved nature ever since that day.

Yesterday, November 5, in Canada and in many other parts of the world, Ismailis marked the Night of the New Moon with special prayers of Salwaat and the prayers of Bibi Fatimah — the beloved daughter of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.S.) and wife of the first Shia Imam Hazrat Ali (A.S.) from whom Ismaili Imams are directly descended. Thousands of Ismailis around the world attended their respective Jamatkhanas while many others prayed at home due to Covid-19 procedures in place. I spent hours during the day time taking photos — I was even more excited and energized, because of the significance of the day.

Please click HERE or on image below to view a small collection from hundreds of nature photographs I took, mostly with my Olympus OM-D EM10, between November 3 and 5, 2021 in Toronto’s forests and parks.

Blazing Aga Khan Park
Please click on image for story Blazing Aga Khan Park and photos from Parks and Forests in Toronto.

Date posted: November 6, 2021.

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Simergphotos Presents Nature Photos Inspired by the Writings of Aga Khan III

Malik Merchant recently set out to capture pertinent pictures that would be reflective of the writings of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III, on the glories of nature and the purpose of life. From the joys of watching beautiful moon and sun rises to the struggles that living things have to endure to sustain themselves as well as to multiply, Malik was lucky enough to experience moments he was seeking out for his new piece in Simergphotos.

A painting of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah by N.B. Dewji that appeared in a voluminous journal called Rahe Rast, published in 1948-49 under the supervision of Dar es Salaam’s iconic religious education teacher Karim Master. Please read Rahe Rast article.

The photo post has been prepared to mark the 144th birth anniversary of the longest reigning Imam in Ismaili history, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III. Born on November 2, 1877 in Karachi, he became the 48th Ismaili Imam in August 1885 at the age of 7. He passed away on July 11, 1957 after a reign of 71 years, the longest in Ismaili history, handing the Hereditary Imamat that originated with Hazrat Ali (a.s.), the first Shia Imam, to his grandson Mawlana Shah Karim al Hussaini, His Highness the Aga Khan IV. Prince Karim is now in his 65th year of Imamat. Please click SIMERPHOTOS or on any of the two images on this page for a beautiful collection of nature photos as well as quotes on nature and the realities of life by Aga Khan III.

Please click on image for NATURE PHOTOS reflecting the wisdom of Aga Khan III.

Date posted: November 1, 2021.

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His Highness the Aga Khan’s Portrait Renditions by Vancouver Ismaili Artist Azeez Khanbhai

Azeez Khanbhai’s first portrait rendering of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, was completed in 1959 and presented to the 49th Ismaili Imam in 1959 during his visit to Nairobi, Kenya. Mawlana Hazar Imam signed the painting, with his blessings. Khanbhai has continued his passion of painting Mawlana Hazar Imam’s portraits over the past 60 years, and Simerg’s sister website Barakah, which is dedicated to Mawlana Hazar Imam, members of his family and the Ismaili Imamat is pleased to present a selection of Khanbhai’s amazing works that also include portrait renditions of Princess Zahra, Prince Rahim and Prince Hussain. Please click HERE or on image below to view the Khanbhai collection in Barakah.

Aga Khan by Azeez Khanbhai
Please click on image for portraits of Mawlana Hazar Imam by Azeez Khanbhai

Date posted: October 30, 2021.

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Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents  for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. Please also visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah and Simergphotos.

Photos: Aga Khan Park’s New Visitor, a Beautiful Fox, Fall Colours and Superb Pictures from the Silk Roads

Malik Merchant spends a chilly morning at Aga Khan Park, sees brilliant autumn colours on maple trees and encounters a lovable fox. And walking through the park, he sees panels of brilliant photographs captured by Christopher Wilson-Steer during his 40,000 journey from Venice to Beijing. Click SIMERGPHOTOS or on image below to view photos and videos from an absorbing day at the Park and the Aga Khan Museum.

Autumn colours at Aga Khan Park. Click on image for story, photos and videos.
Fall colours, the Ismaili flag and a fox at Aga Khan Park.
Aga Khan Park’s new visitor, a beautiful fox, walks along a wall in front of the Ismaili Flag at Aga Khan Park. Please click on image for story, photos and videos.