Jamat and Volunteers Speak from the Heart on this Auspicious and Historical Day
BY MALIK MERCHANT
Editor, Simerg and Simergphotos
Happy Ismaili youth pictured at the Park at 10:30 pm after completing their volunteer duties at the Ismaili Centre on the opening day. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.
Happiness, happiness — it was all around me as I walked about with enthusiasm to capture the spirit of the jamat on the historic occasion of the opening of the new Ismaili Centre in Toronto. I heard mubarakis (congratulations) everywhere as joyous Ismailis greeted and hugged each other after hearing a Talika (a written communication) from their beloved 49th Imam, Mawlana Shah Karim al Hussaini Hazar Imam or His Highness the Aga Khan. The President of the Ismaili Council for Canada, Mr. Malik Talib, read the Talika, after which he conveyed the Canadian Jamat’s immense gratitude to the Imam for his benevolence, by gifting the Jamat with a marvellous new Ismaili Centre. The spirit of the occasion was overwhelming and I set out to capture happy moments and excitement with my camera. This, to me, would be inadequate. Photos alone could not do justice – I wanted to hear voices, words that would inspire me and readers of this website. I came across individuals during the course of 2 hours who enlightened me with their humility and wisdom as well as their dedication to the House of Imamat – whether they were volunteers or simply murids of the Imam. They spoke to me from the depths of their hearts. I hope this small post does a little bit of justice to the magnificent event that took place yesterday.
The Ismaili Centre glows and reflects in water on the night of the historic opening day for members of the Ismaili community. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
President Malik Talib and Vice President Moez Rajwani of Ismaili Council for Canada pictured in the Social Hall with a few of the many hundreds of volunteers who served at the Ismaili Centre in Toronto when it opened on Friday, September 19, 2014. The design in the background is based on an Ottoman textile. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
A team of Ismaili volunteers are seen pictured in the Social Hall of the new Ismaili Centre in Toronto which opened for the Ismaili community on Friday, September 19 , 2014. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright
VOICES FROM THE JAMAT AND THE VOLUNTEERS (I)
A senior citizen enjoys a glass of sherbet as he celebrates the opening of the Ismaili Centre in Toronto. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
Mr. Ameeraly Ratansy and his wife, Mrs. Shirin Ratansy, at the Ismaili Centre on the opening day, Friday, September 19, 2014. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
One of several meeting areas on the main floor of the Ismaili Centre in Toronto which opened to members of the Ismaili community on Friday, September 19, 2014. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
Visitors standing in front of a sculptural calligraphy by the German Muslim artist Karl Schlamminger; this calligraphic composition represents Allah, Muhammad and Ali. Schlamminger’s works are also to be found at the Ismaili Centres in London, England, and Lisbon, Portugal. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
VOICES FROM THE JAMAT AND THE VOLUNTEERS (II)
VOICES FROM THE JAMAT AND THE VOLUNTEERS (III)
The Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Board’s literature counter on the opening night of the Ismaili Centre. Tasbihs were among the most popular items. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
Visitors are seen receiving an explanation of calligraphies representing the names of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s), Hazrat Ali (a.s.), Hazrat Bibi Fatimah (a.s.), Hazrat Hassan (a.s.) and Imam Hussein (a.s.) located on the main floor of the new Ismaili Centre in Toronto. This calligraphy was designed by Minaz Nanji of Aiglemont. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
A view of the indoor parking garage of the new Ismaili Centre in Toronto. Hundreds of cars can be parked indoors. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
Entrance to the Ismaili Centre from the indoor parking garage. Facing the entrance is a fascinating work of Islamic calligraphy representing the opening of the Holy Qur’an, the Basmallah as seen in the next photo. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
The Basmallah is repeated four times in this iconic piece designed by German Muslim artist Karl Schlamminger. The calligraphy is the first piece that members will see as they enter the building from the indoor parking garage – see previous photo. Above and below are angled photos taken from either side. Photos: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
VOICES FROM THE JAMAT AND THE VOLUNTEERS (IV)
Visitors view two calligraphies on the lower level of the Ismaili Centre. They are by German Muslim artist Karl Schlamminger; they depict the Basmallah and the the Qur’anic phrase Nurun ala Nur (Light upon Light). Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
VOICES FROM THE JAMAT AND THE VOLUNTEERS (V)
Jamati members on the move as they try to see as much of the Ismaili Centre when its doors opened for the first time for members of the Ismaili community. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
Visitors take time to view one of the many wall exhibits displayed at the Ismaili Centre. This montage provides an overview of the construction phases of the Ismaili Centre. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
A unique blend of art work, calligraphy and photos are exhibited along the corridor spaces of the Ismaili Centre. A visitor walks by one such exhibit, giving the Centre the feel of a Gallery in certain areas. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
After spending several hours at the Ismaili Centre visitors rest their tired feet on the seating located in front of the reading lounge. Many had arrived as early as 5 pm to ensure that they had a place to sit inside the Jamatkhana. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
A view of the reading lounge. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
The Social Hall, where the official inauguration ceremony of the Ismaili Centre took place on Friday, September 12, 2014, in the presence of His Highness the Aga Khan and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, became the central meeting place for yesterday’s opening. Ismailis gathered here and were served sherbet (a sweetened milk drink reserved for happy occasions). Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
VOICES FROM THE JAMAT AND THE VOLUNTEERS (VI)
The sherbet stand at the Ismaili Centre’s Social Hall at its opening on Friday, September 19, 2014. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
Ismaili volunteers cheerfully raise their glasses to celebrate the Ismaili Centre’s first day for members of the Ismaili community. The volunteers bring smiles to countless members within their own community as well as to other communities through numerous outreach programs. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
VOICES FROM THE JAMAT AND THE VOLUNTEERS (VII)
VOICES FROM THE JAMAT AND THE VOLUNTEERS (VIII)
Taking comfort and rest: An elder from the jamat of Afghanistan, now settled in Canada. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
….With her family and friends. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
VOICES FROM THE JAMAT AND THE VOLUNTEERS (IX)
Approximately 10 pm. The crowds subside as the Centre prepares to close its doors after an extraordinary day in the life of the Canadian Ismaili community. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
One of the last vehicles to depart the Ismaili Centre following the historic day. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
Members of the jamat pose for a photo at the Park after the conclusion of the evening’s celebration at the Ismaili Centre. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
Alykhan (centre) is pictured in the Park with his dad and mum, Shafiq Dhanji and Rozina Dhanji, after the conclusion of the evening celebrations at the Ismaili Centre. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.
LAST WORDS – FROM A VOLUNTEER (AND MAJOR) WHO HAS SERVED THE JAMAT FOR FIFTY YEARS
Date posted: Saturday, September 20, 2014.
Last updated: Sunday, September 21, 2014, 13:45 (incorrect photo caption, see below).
Copyright: Simerg. 2014.
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Correction: In an earlier version of this post, Shafiq Dhanji, his wife Rozina and their son Alykhan were captioned under a different photo. Their photo was missing altogether. Our apologies to them and other families for any confusion this may have caused.
Gani Gani mumbaraki to the Globe Jamat and specially to the Canadian Jamat for Mawla giving us magnificent gift. What more you can ask for. Shukar. Thank you Malikbhai for sharing with us on the historical opening of the Ismaili Centre in Toronto. Let me also tell you how excited I was when finally the centre opened for the Jamat. Just to mention that I live in Scarborough, and lots of time I was specially going there when the construction was in progress and I loved taking so many photos at the construction site, and for me the special moment when I found myself sitting in the magnificent prayer hall, with the glass dome which I was seeing from outside and wondering how it will look from inside. Sitting inside the prayer hall is just like different feeling. I did get chance to do seva as volunteer and helped in preparation of sherbet. And also am fortunate that I am in the photo standing in between of President saheb and Vice-President saheb.
Ya Ali Madad to All Jamahat,
It was realy so nice to see this collection of photos and interviews and I thank Malik Merchant for his excellent and outstanding efforts. Mowla bless you and all Jamahat. Inshallah we shall come to visit the Ismaili Centre in Toronto, Canada, one day!
Congatulations. The photos are sharp and also videos are best in themselves. A souvenier for life time. Keep up with best wishes.
Malik Merchant…what a great job…You have done a brilliant job! We from remote can feel the presence at this historical but memorable event. May Mawlana Hazar Imam shower upon you lots of blessings and barakah for this great contribution.
Congratulations to Mr. Malik Merchant. Everything has been presented in such a way that I feel I am in Toronto.
Thanks for sharing a memorable day!
Ya Ali Madad friends and not forgetting Malik.
It’s really awesome. No words can describe this unique place. I and my family are really missing this historic place and are eagerly waiting for the memorable visit.
Malik, you have done a great job. May Mawla always give you these types of opportunities to serve the jamat. Ameen.
Ya Ali Madad!
Great job! You have provided wonderful pics and memories! Mowla bless you!
Mehtaab Dawood Tejani
Thank you for sharing the memories. Happiness rules. I wish I was there. But now I am. Bless. Nizar
The pictures are very well captured. Thank you for giving us a glimpse of the Ismaili Center. So informative and so inspiring.
Mubaraki to the world wide Jamat on this Historic Occasion! Thank you so much for the wonderful coverage Malik. The pictures and interviews are just great & priceless. Thank you Mawla for your wonderful gift. I am feeling so proud & blessed to be a Canadian Ismaili!
Lots of Mubaraki to all
Wonderful presentation . Malik you have won the hearts of all who visit the Centre and most of us who have been shown the beauty of the Centre through your post to bring the atmosphere at the opening of the Jamatkhana at the Centre. I feel proud to have been associated with you since your young days in London. Please extend my appreciation to your parents who truly deserve great honour to have you and Alnoor give so much of yourselves to the Jamat without any reservations.
Lakho Lakho Mubaraki and may Mawla bless you to continues your work for Him and Jamat.
Wow, how lucky can we get! We have been residing just adjacent to the Ismaili Centre and the Museum in Toronto, and have seen it being built. My husband and I used to go walking everyday to see the progress, and finally the jamatkhana opened last Friday, September 19th, 2014. Whenever I am in the Jamatkhana I do not feel like going home. It is so very beautiful and I have no words to describe; one has to see to understand! Thank you Mawla for giving us the biggest gift in life, and thank you Malik for all your coverage, which I really appreciate. One day we will Inshallah meet face to face.
Yes it was a historic day for Ismailis in Canada. What wonderful calligraphy in the Ismaili Centre. The volunteers did amazing work, keep it up.
Congratulations Malik. We in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, were lucky to see the official opening courtesy of our Ismaili Council and the local channel WINCABLE, which the Dar public also had the opportunity to watch. I would like to thank you for the subsequent coverage that you have provided of the opening of the Ismaili Centre to the Jamat. Thanks for the beautiful coverage. Bless you.
Fantastic coverage on this historic moment!!! When the Aga Khan Museum was being built, my young son Tahir wanted me to place rocks which he collected when he used to walk with my late dad. Tahir used to tell his cousin Alysha and his friends that part of his rock collection was placed where the Museum was being built. After watching the live coverage, it gave me a very peaceful experience to watch our Mawla full of joy. I commend the volunteers for their tremendous work. May Hazar Imam bless you all. I convey mubaraki to all Ismailis worldwide.
I saw and heard the interviews and of course the photo tour of the Ismaili Centre, which included an explanation of the calligraphy Nurun ala Nur which I particularly enjoyed. This was a very informative and educational post all round. A job well done, and mubaraki!!!
PS: I am sure you remember me from the documents on my father that I sent you for publication.
Lots of mubaraki to you for your informative and beautiful work which is not possible to describe in words. Keep it on. May Mawla bless you.
I say with my heart, you are doing an incredible service to the global Jamat. May Imam keep you and your family always in His Rehmat – Ameen. Bravo and Mubaraki to you for that, as well as “lakho” Mubaraki to you, your family and the jamat on this Historic occasion.
Excellent pictures and videos for the first day event. Thank you Simerg. It is worth subscribing to your site.
I have been following your postings with great interest. Wonderful. Keep up the excellent work.
A really Historic Day! And congrats Simerg for such a vast coverage and going through a cross section of people for maximum views and their feelings at heart. Mubarak to the entire Ismaili brethrens and sisters worldwide this glorious occasion.
Malik, it was a magnificent report on the first night of the new Jamatkhana with your interviewing a spectrum of Murids in a skilful way as you did. I heard your voice for the first time, once in Gujarati too, but did not see your face! A member appreciated the ‘seva’ you do as an excellent Editor of Simerg. You whet my appetite to soon book a flight to Canada after some 9 years, meet family, friends and more importantly visit this new Gift of Mowla in Toronto to us, his global Jamat of Ismailis. Thank you from my heart.
This post has been splendidly done and very nicely arranged. I have enjoyed watching most of the pictures and the videos and thank you for that. I do appreciate the calligraphy and hopefully will be able to get some further insights in due course. I hope you will provide an explanation. Once again congratulations for nice work.
Malik, thanks for sharing these magical moments, may you be blessed with this endeavour.
I wish I was there. Thank you for enabling us to reach out and partake through this wonderful access point, Simerg; to live in the spirit of the momentous “opening”, to live and embrace the exhilarating, uplifting moments in the lives of numerous volunteers, scholars, ardent murids. May Allah shine His glory and light on these magnificent ediifices for all time.
Happy to see this post about the historic opening of the Ismaili Centre in Toronto. Hopefully we will get one in Calgary too!
Deen Muhammad Shahed
Celebrated, and Vivacious, Pictures, and Great Expressions, of the people who were involved in organizing the Opening Day of the Ismaili Centre. Also the Seniors, and others, who came, from various parts, of the globe, to witness such an historic, landmark event, like the Ismaili Centre, speaks volumes, of the love and respect the Ismailis have not only for Hazar Imam, but also for the love of the Ismaili Centre which is “One in a Million”. This also shows the “close family bond” that exists, among the Ismailis Internationally, and Canadian Ismailis, that they look forward, to an historic event, like this to get together, and be, with the Canadian Jamat. My heartfelt, sincere, and warm, congratulations, to Malik Merchant, and his team for this post and to all the volunteers for making this landmark and Majestic event a success. May Hazar Imam’s showered, and choicest, blessings, be with everyone, who came for this historic event, Simerg for bringing this event to a worldwide audience. Warm Regards and JAZAK ALLAH KEHR.
Amyn Chatoor – Sri Lanka.
Oh, what beautiful photos and expressions by the people who spoke with Simerg. A marvellous religious and cultural space! With all the best.
Your first photo of the Center and the fountain mirrors the many facets of light, transparency, reflection. Photos showing the gathering of the President, elders, youth, all volunteers reflect a sense of belonging, outreach and gratitude. Can you show more of the calligraphy and patterns on your next presentation please?
Excellent coverage, specially comments from the core of the heart by volunteers, visitors and members of the jamat on this historic event and marvelous “Gift” to the world by Imam of the time. Congratulation to Malik Merchant for outstanding efforts.