Aga Khan Park

Let Storms Beware

Karim H. Karim’s beautiful poem is followed by a brief note from the editor as well as some pictures that he set off to take at Toronto’s Aga Khan Park, shortly after he had been inspired by the poem.

 By KARIM H. KARIM

(Dedicated to all who are sad)

Sweetest are the songs
That we sing in sorrows;
Tears swell in our eyes
Even when joy overflows.

Naïve folk fear the thorns
Where flowers do flourish,
Fresh with hues of hope.

Dawn’s light is nearest
When sadness is darkest,
Sings the black night
In stars’ silent twinkle.

Embrace the aching pain,
Learn to laugh a little
And to comfort others.

Let storms beware
That we are lighting
The lamps of love.

Date posted: October 20, 2020.
Last updated: October 22, 2020.

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(Based on Shankardas Shailendra’s (1923-1966) “Hain Sabse Madhur Wo Geet,” which evokes Percy Shelley’s (1792-1822) line “Our sweetest songs are those that tell of the saddest thought.”)

Karim H. Karim Carleton University
Karim H. Karim

About the author: Karim H. Karim is the Director of the Carleton Centre for the Study of Islam and a Professor at Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communication.

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Editor’s note: I was truly feeling sad earlier today (October 20), thinking about my daughter and my mother whom I haven’t visited for several months due to Covid-19. I was lonely, and also worried about my health in these uncertain times! My friend Karim H. Karim who is nearly 450 kms from me must have sensed that. I was waiting for another article from him altogether, not a piece dedicated for those who are sad. In my reply to his humble submission, I told him I would review it in a few days time! However, I decided to read it straight away, and his piece truly cheered me up. And in that moment of becoming a lot less sad, I gained some energy and headed to my favourite place! Yes, the Aga Khan Park, with two incredible buildings, the Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Museum around it — gracious gifts from Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan.

Admittedly, I haven’t been to the Park for a number of weeks, passing by it only in my car. The photographs that I took during my visit to the Park, represent my joyous moments, that I owe to Karim’s beautiful rendition. As I walked to the park, I was reminded of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s quote where he says that if one has faith, one may be worried, one may at times feel sad but one will never be unhappy. How true! Enjoy the photos, which were inspired by the poem.

Note: The following photos — and more — can be viewed in larger format at Simerg’s special photo blog. Please click Bidding Farewell to Vibrant Autumn Colours at Aga Khan Park. If you haven’t visited the blog please click Simergphotos for an outstanding collection of photo essays!

The Flag of the Ismaili Imamat
The flag of the Ismaili Imamat by maple trees at the peak of autumn colours. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg.
A close up of autumn colours on a maple tree at the Aga Khan Park. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg.
Aga Khan Museum and Aga Khan Park
The Aga Khan Museum building as seen from the edge of the Aga Khan Park at the Wynford Drive bridge over the Don Valley Parkway. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg.
Big Heech Aga Khan Museum
The famous Big Heech sculpture by the north end of the Aga Khan Museum, with maple trees in the background exhibiting their fall colours. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg.
Aga Khan Park
A gorgeous view of the dome of the Ismaili Jamatkhana, with rich autumn colours at the Aga Khan Park adding to the beauty of entire area. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg.
Aga Khan Park Autumn Foliage Malik Merchant
Beautiful trees with rich autumn colours at the Aga Khan Park. To the left and not shown is the dome of the Ismaili Centre. See previous photo. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg
Ismaili Jamatkhana Dome and Aga Khan Park
A close up of the Ismaili Jamatkhana dome with a maple tree rich in autumn colours in the foreground. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg.
Evergreen Brick Works
A view of CN Tower from the Evergreen Brick Works located in the Don River Valley on 550 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, a 10 minute drive from the Aga Khan Park. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg.
Red maples Aga Khan Park
A beautiful view of red maple trees lined up at the edge of the Aga Khan Park along Wynford Drive, from the Aga Khan Museum (near end) to the Ismaili Centre. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg
Red Maples Aga Khan Park
Red maples reach the peak of their fall colours at the Aga Khan Park, with a view of the Ismaili Jamatkhana dome at left. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg.
Aga Khan Park, Flags of Canada and the Ismaili Imamat
From left to right, flags of the Ismaili Imamat, the City of Toronto, the Province of Ontario and Canada, with its famous Maple Leaf. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg.

Date posted: October 20, 2020.
Last updated: October 21, 2020 (new link).

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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.

“Largesse” of Mawlana Hazar Imam, and Photos of Fall Colours and Waxing Moon at 3 Unique Aga Khan Projects in Toronto

Watch a short 90 second interview in which a non-Ismaili speaks about Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, and then view a collection of superb photos of the waxing moon rising above the Ismaili Headquarters Jamatkhana as well as a display of autumn colours at Aga Khan Park…MORE AT SIMERGPHOTOS

Click on image for interview, story and more photos

Date posted: September 26, 2020.

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Aga Khan Museum

Wow! The Aga Khan Museum Reopens to the Public on Saturday, June 27, 2020

by MALIK MERCHANT

When I am in Toronto, I walk through the Aga Khan Park virtually every day. I take the east entrance, and first walk around to the Ismaili Centre, sit on a bench by tree number 49, and if it’s evening time I contemplate. Often, I read newspapers. The other day I read my month’s supply of the Toronto Star and the Sunday New York Times — 4 hours under glorious sunshine, but protected by the shade of trees.

Ismaili Centre Toronto Dome
Ismaili Centre, Jamatkhana dome. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg.

Then, as I cross a small pathway by the majestic dome of the Ismaili Jamatkhana, I see the Museum 200 metres away, where a lone guard stands by the main entrance. Is he bored? I wonder. Thousands have been, for many many weeks. The Museum’s on-line programming has kept us going. But we miss the inside — the actual exhibits, the shop, the samosas at the café, the Diwan restaurant, the courtyard with its many performances, the design, colours and architecture of the building, the Bellerive Room, and the tunnel entrance downstairs that we walk through when we are parked underground! Yes, we do miss so many things, inside and outside the museum building, beautifully thought out by His Highness the Aga Khan and his younger brother Prince Amyn. The children especially love water, and the 5 ponds are empty. The geese who used to fly into the ponds in glorious harmony at around 6:00 AM have to take their bathing somewhere else — it’s truly a joy to watch them bathing in an acrobatic manner! Absolutely magical! For the rest of us, who walk by the 5 ponds or sit on the benches, there is no running water to soothe our senses! But all this changes on Friday, June 26!

Aga Khan Museum and Aga Khan Park
Aga Khan Museum and Aga Khan Park. Photo: Aga Khan Museum.

Museum supporters have just received an email from the Aga Khan Museum’s Development Manager, Caroline Chan, inviting them to a special Friends and Patrons day on Friday, June 26, 2020, before it opens to the general public on Saturday June 27!

The supporters will be the first to see the Museum’s Sanctuary and Chrysalis exhibitions, which both explore the many dimensions of sanctuary, immigration, and migration. The guests have been invited to enjoy a complimentary beverage and cookies at the Courtyard Café and take in the summer blooms at the Aga Khan Park!

Aga Khan Museum, Sanctuary exhibition.
Sanctuary exhibition hall. Photo: Aga Khan Museum.

In line with provincial health directives, the visit will be a little different from what we have been accustomed to in the past. Special health and safety protocols have been put in place including a tool to conduct self-assessment for coronavirus, wearing of face masks, availability of hand sanitization stations and social distancing.

Carolin’es invitation ends with the slogan “Welcome back to where we all belong!”

In addition, the Aga Khan Museum’s CEO, Henry Kim, issued a statement on the reopening. Here are excerpts from his statement:

Dear friends, 

I would like to thank you for your patience and ongoing support during these challenging times. With restrictions on gatherings gradually easing, I am pleased to let you know that the Museum will reopen on June 27, 2020. As we rebuild our lives and livelihoods over the next few months, I do hope you can look to the Museum as a source of hope and inspiration. 

The safety of our visitors is our primary focus, and our intention is to make your return a safe and enjoyable experience. We have instituted a number of measures designed to protect you and our staff, so that during your visit, you can see beautiful art, be moved by learning, and enjoy live performances worry-free. 

As your hosts, we have a duty to ensure your health and safety — it is our highest priority……

The world has changed, and so have we. Reflecting what we have gone through together over the last few months, we have redrawn our programs for the remainder of the year and created Rebuild 2020, our commitment to reconnect and reinvigorate communities through the arts. Please do visit our website for more information on the many programs we have created to reignite your curiosity and spark your imagination. 

Whether you explore online or plan to visit in-person, you are welcome at the Aga Khan Museum. We cannot wait for your return.  

With gratitude, 

Henry S. Kim
Director and CEO, 
Aga Khan Museum 

Mr. Kim, I can assure you we have missed you more than you have missed us! It is us who can’t wait to get into the beautiful and inspiring space, which His Highness the Aga Khan created for millions to enjoy some 6 years ago!

Date posted: June 23, 2020.

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.

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We welcome feedback/letters from our readers. Please use the feedback box which appears below. If you don’t see the box please click Leave a comment . Your comment may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation. We are unable to acknowledge unpublished letters.

Malik Merchant Publisher Editor Simerg Barakah and Simergphotos

Malik Merchant is the founding publisher/ editor of Simerg (2009), Barakah (2017) and Simergphotos (2012). A former IT consultant, he now dedicates his time to small family projects and other passionate endeavours such as the publication of this website. He is the eldest son of the Late Alwaez Jehangir Merchant (1928-2018) and Alwaeza Maleksultan Merchant, who both served Ismaili Jamati institutions together for several decades in professional and honorary capacities. His daughter, Nurin Merchant, is a veterinarian based in Ottawa. Malik may be contacted at Simerg@aol.com.

Photos: Walking through the Aga Khan Park on a beautiful day of spring

PLEASE CLICK: Photos of Aga Khan Park, Ismaili Centre, Aga Khan Museum and Cherry Blossoms at Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

Aga Khan Park Photos at Simergphotos
Please click on image for more photos.

Date posted: May 8, 2020.

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Kaba textile fragment at Aga Khan Museum Toronto

Outstanding 100 year old Ka’ba textile on display at Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum until September 9, 2019

The following piece has been compiled and adapted from material supplied by the Aga Khan Museum; it incorporates notes by Dr. Ulrike al-Khamis, the Museum’s Director of Collections and Public Programs.

From Mecca to Toronto

Ka’ba in Mecca. Photo: Aga Khan Museum; Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum. Photo: Rian Dewji.

On display for the first time in Toronto is a 100-year-old silk fragment from a hizam — part of a ceremonial draping that covers the Ka’ba, Islam’s holiest site to which millions of Muslims made the annual pilgrimage on Friday August 9, 2019.

The Ka’ba is draped in a black ceremonial covering known as the kiswa, and around the upper part of the kiswa runs the hizam — an ornamented belt embroidered  in silver and silver-gilt thread with Qur’anic verses relating to the pilgrimage.

This hizam is one of the Aga Khan Museum’s most significant textiles and is on special display until September 9, 2019. Measuring eight metres long and nearly one metre tall, it once belonged to a kiswa that measured 47 meters and was made in Cairo around the early 20th century.

Aga Khan Museum Textile from the Kaba
This textile from the Ka’ba is on display at the Aga Khan Museum until September 9, 2019. Free viewing was available during celebrations marking the Hajj and Eid al-Adha from August 10-14. Photo: The Aga Khan Museum.

As one of the most prominent kiswa ornaments, the hizam traditionally runs the length of the Ka‘ba’s upper perimeter. The inscription here contains verses 27-29 from chapter 22 (Al-Hajj) of the Qur’an:

“And proclaim to mankind the hajj. They will come to you on foot and on every lean camel, they will come from every deep and distant mountain highway. That they may witness things that are of benefit to them, and mention the name of Allah on appointed days, over the beast of cattle that He has provided for them. Then eat thereof and feed therewith the poor who have a very hard time. Then let them complete their prescribed duties and perform their vows, and circumambulate the Ancient House.”

The roundels contain further Qur’anic references that mention ‘God the Eternal’ as well as the Prophet Muhammad.

The Ka‘ba receives a new drape every year during the pilgrimage season. After it ends, the kiswa is taken down, divided and either gifted to dignitaries or sold to raise money for charity.

Note: The museum is open everyday from 10 am to 6 pm (8 pm on Wednesdays). It is closed on Mondays, except holiday Mondays.

19th/20th Century Views of Ka’ba

A bird’s eye view of the Ka’ba as photographed in 1889. Note the hizam that runs around the upper part of the Ka’ba. Photo: US Library of Congress.
ca. 1910. A close-up photo of the Ka’ba with the hizam running around the upper part of the black cloth (the kiswa). Photo: US Library of Congress.

Date posted: August 7, 2019.
Last updated: August 15, 2019.

[Before leaving this page, please take a moment to visit Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to a vast and rich collection of articles and photographs published on this blog as well as its two sister blogs Barakah and Simergphotos.]

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SPECIAL EVENT JULY 20-21: Attend the Moon Landing Festival at the Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Park

Two magnificent buildings, the Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Centre, and their adjoining Aga Khan Park on Wynford Drive in Toronto are celebrating the 50th anniversary of man’s first landing on the moon with an extraordinary two-day festival on July 20-21, 2019 featuring live music, food fair, artisan market and family friendly activities. Here is a summary of what has been planned. 

Moon Landing Festival

Date: Saturday, July 20 (12-10pm) & Sunday, July 21 (12-6pm), RAIN OR SHINE, Price: FREE

Interactive Art

  • Sonic Orbiter by System Sounds: Make your own tunes by ‘playing’ the craters of the moon (Sat. 12–7:30 pm & Sun. 12–6 pm)
  • Moon Crater Sketching: (Sat. 2:30, 3:30, 4:30, & 5:30 pm)
  • Hoop Dancing Class: With Lisa Odjig (Sat. 3 pm)
  • Bollywood Dancing Class: with Sanskriti Arts – Garba (Sat. 7:30 pm)
  • Garba Dancing Class with Sanskriti Arts  (Sun. 4 pm)
  • Light Display: Lunar Landing Experience 

Sky Watching

  • ROM’s Travelling Planetarium: (Sat. 2, 3, 4, 5 pm & Sun. 12, 1, 2, 3, and 4 pm, cost: $5, at the Ismaili Centre, ages 5+)
  • Solar Viewing: With the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (Sat. 2–8 pm)
  • Planet and Star Viewing: With the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (Sat. 8–10 pm)

Live Music

  • Saturday, July 20 | 2–11pm: iskwē | Absolutely Free ft. Gurpreet Chana | Barnes/Woldemichael Ethiopian Jazz Quartet | Grace Scheele | DATU 
  • Sunday, July 21: | 2–6pm: Adria Kain | Amir Amiri, Amir Koushkani, Farzad AttarJaffari | Baobá

Talks and Film

  • PREMIERE VIDEO SCREENING – Juno-winning tenor Jeremy Dutcher’s debut music video, shot on location at the Museum for the rack, Mehcinut  (Sat. 4:30pm)
  • TALK: Giant Leaps: Music of the Moon with System Sounds (Sat. 1 pm)
  • KIDS’ TALK: How to Get to the Moon with Faizan the Rocket Scientist (Sat. 3:30 pm, ages 14 and under, at the Ismaili Centre)
  • TALK:  Back to the Moon with Faizan the Rocket Scientist (Sun. 3:30 pm, ages 16+, at the Ismaili Centre)
  • FILM:  For All Mankind  (Sat. 2 pm & Sun. 12 pm)

Inside the Aga Khan Museum

  • Architecture Tours
  • Gallery Tours
  • Exhibition: The Moon: A Voyage Through Time (Special price for July 20-21, $10.00) 

Shop

  • Food Vendors: (Sat. 12–10 pm & Sun. 12–6 pm)
  • Artisan Market: (Sat. 12 –6 pm & Sun. 12–6 pm)

Date posted: July 19, 2019.

More than 2,000 Fans Pack Aga Khan Park and See Toronto Raptors win 105-92 in Game 4 against Warriors

AGA KHAN PARK WAS NORTH YORK’S JURASSIC PARK ON JUNE 7, 2019!

It is estimated that around 2,400 Raptors fans gathered at the Aga Khan Park in Toronto to watch the 4th Game of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors. The live game was projected on the wall of the Aga Khan Museum on Friday, June 7, 2019. Raptors won 105-92 and can become the NBA Champions for the first time by winning the fifth game to be played on Monday June 10th at downtown Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena. The lighted domed building in the background is the magnificent Ismaili Centre on 49 Wynford Drive. Photograph via Farah Rajan.

By MALIK MERCHANT

The Aga Khan Park became the new Jurassic Park on Friday, June 7, 2019 for the 4th game of the NBA Finals between the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors. At the half-way stage, the two teams were almost on par and there was every possibility that the previous strong performances in the 3rd quarter by the Warriors would be repeated and overwhelm the Raptors. Instead, it was the Raptors who came out strong and dominated the quarter, leading them to win with a final score of 105-92, with the superb Kawhi Leonard contributing 36 points. The Raptors are now leading the best-of-seven 3-1, and can close the series on Monday June 10, 2019, at their home court, the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

Previous commitments took me to Ottawa and I watched the game with my daughter Nurin at a restaurant in Ottawa’s Byward Market Area, enjoying  macaroni & cheese, burger, salad & fries just before the game.

I was trying to find out what was going on at the Aga Khan Park, and I was excited to learn that the venue was jam-packed with hundreds of basketball enthusiasts. I learn that 2400 fans were at the game. The game was also shown at several Ismaili Jamatkhanas across the Greater Toronto Region, and also at the Ottawa Jamatkhana.

Aga Khan Museum Aga Khan Park Photo Collage of Raptors Game

Spectators watching Game 4 of the NBA Finals between Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors on the front wall of the Aga Khan Museum. More than 2000 excited fans crowded the area in front of the Museum and around the Aga Khan Park to watch the game. The Raptors won the game 105-92 and took a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. The series continues with game 5 on Monday June 10, 2019 at the Scotiabank Arena in downtown Toronto. Photos: Aga Khan Park/Aga Khan Museum.

Canada’s excitement of the Raptors being in the finals for the first time in their franchise history has reached monumental proportions and  mini outdoor “Jurassic Parks” have sprouted replicating the legendary park outside the Raptors Scotiabank Bank Arena.

One cannot imagine the kind of excitement that will be generated on Monday, June 10, 2019, should the Raptors wrap up the series and become the NBA Champions for the first time in their 24 year history. No NBA finals have ever been played North of the USA Border.

Date posted: June 9, 2019.
Last updated: June 10, 2019.

Aga Khan Park Invites Toronto Community for Live FREE Outdoor Screening of NBA Finals Game 4 on June 7; Raptors Lead Warriors 2-1

NORTH YORK’S JURASSIC PARK!

Simerg rendition of Aga Khan Museum Raptors Game

A NEW addition to the Raptors Legendary Jurassic Park! The Aga Khan Museum and the Aga Khan Park on 77 Wynford Drive in Toronto’s North York region, will be showing Game 4 of the NBA finals between the Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors on its front wall on Friday June 4th; tip off 9 P.M. Toronto time. Delicious snacks and refreshments will be available for purchase. Please arrive at the museum by 8:30 P.M. Photo: Aga Khan Museum.

By MALIK MERCHANT

The Toronto Raptors have taken a 2-1 lead in their NBA Finals against defending champions Golden State Warriors with a convincing 123-109 victory in Game 3 played on Wednesday, June 5, at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. Game 4 will also be played in Oakland, before the series returns to Toronto for Game 5 on Monday June 10.

Across Canada excitement of the Raptors being in the finals for the first time in their 24 year franchise history has reached monumental proportions and  mini outdoor “Jurassic Parks” have sprouted replicating the legendary park outside the Raptors Scotiabank Bank Arena.

A new one Jurassic Parrk will come alive on Friday, June 7, 2019 at the Aga Khan Museum and Aga Khan Park for Game 4. The beautiful Aga Khan Park on 77 Wynford Drive lies between the iconic Aga Khan Museum and the glass-domed Ismaili Centre. The two beautiful buildings attracted more than 8,000 visitors when they participated in Toronto’s recent Doors Open Event.

The game will be projected on the museum’s front wall. Judging from a light show that I attended in December 2018, there will be spectacular unobstructed views from the entire length of the wall as well as from spaces around the front and central ponds of the Aga Khan Park.

RaptorsScreening at Aga Khan Museum

Official announcement by Aga Khan Museum and Aga Khan Park about the screening of the NBA finals 4th game. Photo: Aga Khan Museum/Aga Khan Park.

The tip-off time for the 4th game is 9 PM (Toronto time), and the pre-game show is expected to commence at 8:30 PM. The Museum will be offering delicious snacks and refreshments for sale.

The natural surroundings of the museum and the gentle sounds of the running pond water at the Aga Khan Park offer a comforting and relaxing ambience. However, that spell of stillness will be broken as hundreds of passionate and excited fans converge into the grounds of the Aga Khan Park and throw their full-support behind Toronto Raptors, arguably Canada’s most successful sporting franchise in the past 24 years.

Date posted: June 5, 2019.
Last updated: June 6, 2019.

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  • The Aga Khan Park and Aga Khan Museum are  located on 77 Wynford Drive. It is a short 15 minute walk, from the Ontario Science Centre which is located on 770 Don Mills Road. The Museum offers underground and overground parking for a flat fee of $10.00.
  • For Google map directions to the Museum, please click: https://agakhanmuseum.org/visit/location-parking.html

Photos: Doors Open Attracts Thousands to Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum and Ismaili Centre

PLEASE CLICK: Aga Khan Museum and Ismaili Centre Draw Thousands during Doors Open Event Held in Toronto on May 25-26, 2019

Please click on photo for report and photos.

Date posted: May 27, 2019.

Photos and Video: The Aga Khan Museum Lights up its Facade with a Beautiful Show in the Dark

For 4 evenings, the Aga Khan Museum ran a repeating 15 minute video segment highlighting some of its programs and events on its main entrance wall. Approximately 4,000 people visited the museum during the light show held from December 27-30, 2018 between dusk and 9 PM…. MORE

Please click on image for video and photos

Date posted: January 1, 2019.
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