A Beautiful Fashion Accessory: The Lapel Pin Canadian Ismailis Received on the Occasion of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s 78th Birthday

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By Abdulmalik J. Merchant
Publisher-Editor, Simerg.com

I was among the thousands of Ismailis across Canada who received this tiny object of sublime grace and beauty on the occasion of the 78th Salgirah (birthday) of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, on December 13, 2014. The octagonal pin commemorates last September’s opening of the magnificent Toronto Ismaili Centre.

As a fashion accessory, the lapel pin has been growing in popularity in recent years, and is considered to be more memorable than many other accessories, as part of being “well-dressed!”

Lapel Pin Ismaili Centre Opening

The pin is octagonal, a pattern that has become very familiar in Islamic history since the 7th century. Within this octagonal structure are 3-sets of the eight-pointed star, which as a religious symbolism stretches in history to ancient civilizations. [1] The geometric octagonal design permeates numerous aspects of the new Toronto Ismaili Centre opened in 2014 as well as the first Ismaili Centre built in Burnaby, Canada, in 1985. Bruno Freschi, the architect of the Burnaby Ismaili Centre, said in an exclusive interview with Simerg:

‘GEOMETRY governs the entire site, the building. It is symbolized in the octagon, the mythical squaring of the circle. THE OCTAGON is Omni-directional. All axial relationships are equal providing an open and non-hierarchical circulation. The centre is everywhere, and everyone is in the centre.” [2]

Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre: Light, Shadow and Darkness as sunlight filters through the lantern like windows.The Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre, Burnaby. According to the architet, Bruno Freschi:

Ismaili Centre Tooronto Foyer

Top photo: Embossed octagonal patterns in the carpet of the  prayer hall of the Ismaili Centre and Jamatkhana located in Burnaby, Canada. Centre: The octagonal domes of the Burnaby Ismaili Centre. Bottom: The design of the exquisite lapel pin distributed to members of the Canadian Jamat on December 13, 2014, matches that of the floor in the foyer of  the Toronto Ismaili Centre, which has repeated octagonal geometric designs within which are 3 sets of the eight-pointed star. Photos: Gary Otte. 

The lapel pin will provide a great opportunity for members of the Jamat to stand out in public and achieve a look that is fresh and original. Wearing the pin will be an opportunity for Canadian Ismailis to make a historical statement in the context of the Jamatkhanas that have been built. It will draw the attention of others not familiar with the Ismaili Centres in Toronto and Burnaby to learn more about the buildings as well as the ethos of the Ismaili community and the Institution of Imamat by which Ismailis have been led since the demise of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.). On our part, an understanding of our faith and identity as Ismaili Muslims then becomes essential.

Ismaili Centre Lapel Pin

What may be regarded today as an object of fashion, might become one day an object of historic importance and lasting value like other objects, coins and memorabilia that have been produced during Ismaili history.

In the meantime, this graceful pin, whenever worn as part of your outfit will go to show how the addition of something so small can totally transform a look on someone or help to emphasize the image of our community and faith that we wish to portray. We can thus become role models and true ambassadors for the Jamat.

Enjoy the lapel pin!

Date posted: Monday, May 4, 2015.

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[1] For an interesting discussion about the significance of the 8-pointed star in Islamic architecture, please click on http://archnet.org/archive/message_107815.
[2] Please click Voices: Bruno Freschi, Architect of the Ismaili Centre in Burnaby, in Conversation with Simerg.

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