Editor’s Note: Bashir Ladha was in Toronto at the beginning of October (2010) for a family wedding. On October 10, he visited Wynford Drive to see how the construction work of the Ismaili Centre, the Aga Khan Museum and the 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.”
Jim Bowie who lives across the street in a highrise building, has his own interesting story to share. Every day, as he steps out onto his balcony on the 16th floor, he takes a picture of the evolving project. In a note to Simerg, he wrote: “I live directly across the street from this site, and I noticed in March that it was going to be developed. So, I decided to try to take one picture every day. Although I am in residential real estate, photography is my hobby, and I thought that it would be interesting to capture the progress through pictures – one day at a time.”
This reading is unique: Two individuals, Bashir and Jim, affected or inspired by a single project in different ways – one decided to write a poem, while another pursues his hobby in photography to delight us with the changing daily landscape of what will become an iconic Canadian architectural marvel. The image below has an artist’s rendition of the completed project and, beneath it, a photograph of the site by Bowie captured on October 10, 2010 – the day Ladha visited the location. Jim’s photo in high resolution along with another one taken on November 2, 2010 are shown after the poem.
Wynford Drive, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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
Publication Date: November 4, 2010
* 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.
About the composer of the poem: Born in Tanzania in 1950, (Alwaez) Bashir Fazal Ladha proceeded to Pakistan for higher education in 1966 where he later completed a Masters degree in Psychology. After a two year spell with the Ismailia Association in Pakistan, he relocated to the UK to work for the Ismailia Association in London ( known since 1986 as the Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Board, or ITREB). When Mawlana Hazar Imam created the Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS) in London in 1977, Bashir supported stalwart scholar Jalal Badakhshani to establish the Institute’s library, a project that he regards as highly satisfying in his Jamati service career.
Ladha then joined the IIS’s first International Waezeen and Teachers Training Programme, where he graduated in 1983 with an Advance Certificate in Islamic Studies and Diploma in Curriculum Studies. The Silver Jubilee visit of Mawlana Hazar Imam to the UK was underway, and the Imam graciously granted certificates to the graduates. The ceremony was another milestone in the life of Alwaez Ladha.
Thereafter, Bashir rejoined the Ismailia Association in 1983, and has since been contributing towards the Religious Education of the Jamat in numerous capacities – as waezeen, lecturer, and as a curriculum developer. In the literary sector, he contributed numerous articles to Ismaili literary magazines around the world, including UK ITREB’s flagship magazine Ilm, for which he wrote extensively on Ismaili history.
His future aspirations are to write and publish works on Ismaili History and Ginanic Literature. Alwaez Ladha’s other interests include reading, watching documentaries and listening to World music – from Bob Marley’s reggae songs to Indian classical music.
One day at a time
Photos by Jim Bowie, Toronto
Jim has been taking photos of the construction site since March 2010. These photos were captured from his apartment across the street on October 10 – the day Bashir Ladha visited the site – and November 2, 2010. Please click images for vivid high resolution enlargements.
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