Simerg is an independent platform that focuses on the dissemination of knowledge about the faith, culture and news pertaining to the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims led by their Hereditary Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, through literary readings as well as artistic and textual expressions. It also brings to its readers news, events and programs that are of interest to all readers, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Simerg supports 2 more independent initiatives, Barakah.com and Simergphotos.com
Mawlana Hazar Imam His Highness the Aga Khan’s vision, creativity and thought followed by action makes him a talisman for the Ismaili community and for millions around the entire world. For Simerg’s Malik Merchant, Mawlana Hazar Imam’s three projects in Toronto, among hundreds of others around the world that benefit humanity at large, attest to his brilliant leadership. Malik spent a few hours from dawn to dusk at the grounds of the Aga Khan Museum, the Aga Khan Park and the Ismaili Centre to bring you a collection of marvellous photos. View the complete collection by clicking SIMERGPHOTOS or the image below.
Date posted: January 19, 2021.
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. Also visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah, dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan, and Simergphotos.
The Aga Khan Museum is one of the few museums in Toronto that has been able to implement Covid-19 protocols and make the museum safe for its visitors. The visiting times were revised this past week, and it is now open from Thursdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.
In recent weeks, Simerg and its sister websites have produced a superb collection of photos of the Museum, the Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Park, which divides the two magnificent buildings. Readers have been uplifted to see the photos of the 3 magnificent projects, built by Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, under the full moon, crescent moon, as well as at the peak of the autumn foliage season.
On a fine day, there is no better place in the museum than to be sitting in its open air courtyard, while enjoying a delicious cup of latte.
October 23, 2020 was one such day. It actually felt like summer, with blue skies and very warm temperatures. The magnificent courtyard was a perfect place for my morning coffee as well as a late breakfast — an egg salad croissant, slightly grilled. I was thrilled to enter the courtyard, and noticed pumpkin decorations in one corner of the courtyard. Of course, pumpkins are to be seen everywhere at this time of the year. It is one of the most popular desserts served during Thanksgiving holidays in Canada (October 12, 2020) and the USA (November 26, 2020), and I wondered how the food was viewed in Islam. My little bit of research led me to numerous traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.S.) on the pumpkin, and I am delighted to post adaptations of some that I read.
“I saw the Prophet being served with soup and containing gourd (pumpkin or squash) and cured meat, and I saw him picking and eating the pieces of gourd.” — Bukhari Volume 7, Book 65, Number 348.
It is related that a sailor once invited Prophet Muhammad to eat some food that he had prepared. Anas bin Malik who accompanied the Prophet, noted that the Prophet was served barley bread and a soup with pumpkin in it. The Prophet keenly ate the pumpkin around the dish, and from that day Anas made it his favourite food. Traditions also note that whenever a a dish of bread, meat and broth was presented to the Prophet and it contained pumpkin, the Prophet would pick up the pumpkin because he really liked it, and made the heart strong. Other Muslim traditions note that the pumpkin increases brain function and brain strength.
Ibn Ridwan, in a medical treatise written during the Fatimid period, recommended the pumpkin as a diet for healthy living along with several other fruits and vegetables such as celery, carrots, lentils and cucumbers.
Interestingly, there is also a general consensus among scholars about the Arabic word yaqteen that is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an. They say that it refers to the pumpkin — a food that nourished and helped heal Prophet Yunus (A.S.), after he was cast into the wilderness while he was sick (see Qur’an, 37:144-146, at Corpus Quran English Translation).
The website healthline mentions that pumpkin is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and is incredibly healthy. Moreover its low calorie content makes it a weight-loss-friendly food. It goes on to add that “its nutrients and antioxidants may boost your immune system, protect your eyesight, lower your risk of certain cancers and promote heart and skin health.”
After about an hour at the museum’s courtyard, I could not return home without walking around the Aga Khan Park. As I looked up in the blue sky above the Ismaili Jamatkhana dome, I saw two birds beautifully gliding at the dome’s left. I was left wondering: Were they turkey vultures, eagles or hawks? Alas, I wasn’t carrying a powerful lens to get a better and sharper close-up.
Please click on photo for enlargement
Returning to the museum’s courtyard on Sunday October 25, offered a much different kind of experience, as the temperature had dropped from Friday’s 22°C to only 8°C. But the museum had that in mind too! Blue lounge blue chairs had been placed in the courtyard, with portable fireplaces where visitors mingled with their family members over light refreshments.
The overall experience at the three Aga Khan projects during recent weeks has been overwhelming.
As we all seek good health, I dedicate this post to the humble pumpkin which supports heart and eye health, and boosts immunity, among other benefits.
And, without the pumpkin’s presence in the museum’s courtyard, it may have never occurred to me to search out the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.S.) that have showed that he really liked the pumpkin. For 2020, Muslims around the world will celebrate his birth anniversary — the Milad un Nabi — between October 28-30. It is an appropriate time to learn more about his inspiring life and leadership as well as his faith in God whom he served as the last messenger for 23 long and devoted years, bringing to Muslims the blessing of the Holy Qur’an.
Date posted: October 24, 2020. Last updated: October 25, 2020 (new photo/information added)
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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The Aga Khan Museum has been hosting the annual fund raising LAPIS event for the past few years, with Prince Amyn Muhammad Aga Khan honouring the event by personally attending it. Now due to Covid-19, the signature event has been reinvented with a broadcast from the Aga Khan Museum that everyone is invited to register for free.
The program on Thursday September 24, 2020 will be live streamed at 8 PM ET, and include remarks from Prince Amyn, Chairman of the Aga Khan Museum Board, meaningful conversations with acclaimed international artists on art in a changing world and four breathtaking performances with diverse talent from around the world.
The Aga Khan Museum invites you to join with friends and family from around the world as together it shares a unique message of hope, resilience and light. Please click HERE TO REGISTER.
Aga Khan Museum and Ismaili Centre 6th Anniversary
To commemorate the openings of the Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Centre as well as the annual Lapis event, we are delighted to present this thoughtful poem by Farah Tejani of Vancouver.
Celebrating the Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Centre in Toronto
By FARAH TEJANI
Two complementary sister structures of architectural elegance and splendor Jut out and pierce the heart of Toronto’s sky. The Aga Khan Museum and The Ismaili Centre.
United are they for the beneficial purpose of extending a hand Of Everlasting Friendship, Between Muslims and Non-Muslims alike. Uniting the Muslim Ummah, The World Ummah, With Cultural and Religious Tolerance and Respect…
Dispelling all deplorable depictions of Islam in the Media, By propagating the Truth:
Peace, Love, Brotherhood, Compassion, Spirituality and Prayer.
Yes, we extend a hospitable, gracious, loving hand of friendship, Celebrating Cultural Diversity, Historical Traditions, Arts and Artifacts, Awe-inspiring Calligraphic Designs and Structures, Tours, Recitals, Exhibitions, Theatre, Films and Educational and Cultural Activities.
The Ismaili Centre has unique and grand tiled floors Laced with elaborate, poignant calligraphy, Upon entering the prayer hall We begin every act beseeching God to Bless and Accept All Our Endeavours.
The Prayer Hall’s distinctive And elegant Crystalline dome, Illuminates the night sky, Reflecting itself into the pond, While angels come together to lift and carry, Each and every Murid’s, Most Earnest and Heartfelt Prayer To the stars: Just Outside Allah’s Door.
Comprising one fifth of the world, We are Muslims… Yet there is little known of our faith and traditions. These two buildings will stand side by side like Doves of Peace, Aiming to bridge the gap and promote Compassion and Understanding, Welcome, one and all.
Housing Well-Preserved Priceless Works of Art: Objects and Artifacts, From the Aga Khan and his Family’s Personal Collection, The Aga Khan Museum’s Relics will tell of themselves, For countless years to come.
Tradition and Modernity, Come and join together to create these Majestic Timeless Landmarks, For people from all parts of the world to enjoy.
As His Highness the Aga Khan said at the Opening Ceremony: “We are, after all, a community that WELCOMES THE SMILE!” With His Grace, many outdated notions of what Islam is Will be Demystified, And the Exemplary Fundamental Truths Unveiled For all to see.
So again we say Welcome… We extend a hand of Loyal and Loving Friendship, With Peace, Brotherhood, Unity and Prayer at the Core of Our Existence. And from the Heart of each and every individual Ismaili, We welcome you to Our Wonderful Universal and Timeless Tradition. Come discover, share and learn.
Date posted: September 29, 2020.
We welcome feedback from our readers. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or click on Leave a comment . Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.
Farah graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia in May of 1997 and earned top Honors for her Thesis on Short Fiction. With the help of her agent Barbara Graham she then went on to publish a collection of short stories published by Trafford, called, “Make Your Own Chai, Mama’s Boy!” — ten short stories dealing with different dilemmas South Asians face. Farah also wrote and co-directed her stage play, “Safeway Samosas,” which won “The Best of Brave New Playwrights Award” in July 1995. Her short story , “Too Hot” won third place in the “Canada-Wide Best Short Fiction Award.” and was read at The Vancouver Writers Festival. Currently, Farah is working on Childrens’ stories and a collection of poetry called, “Elastic Embrace” to be published in 2021. Her most recent poetic pieces are Behold the Light of Ali and The Great Sacrifice.
Sit in the Aga Khan Museum’s courtyard, sip a latter, have a biscotti, visit Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan’s collection of Islamic ceramics in the Bellerive Room, listen to performance by Afraaz Mulji and then walk through the Aga Khan Park. Enjoy July 12 at the Aga Khan Museum. Register (preferable) your visit at RESERVE TICKET. NOTE: Entrance to the Museum during the first month of reopening is Free or Pay as You Wish. For story on performance on July 11, 2020, please click A beautiful rendition of Nashid al Imamah by Afraaz Mulji at Aga Khan Museum
The Aga Khan Museum in Toronto reopens to the public on Saturday, June 27, 2020. As a passionate supporter of the Museum, Simerg’s Malik Merchant decides to visit the grounds on the penultimate day of the reopening to take some pictures. Please click on image below or Aga Khan Museum Reopening Countdown Photos
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
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.
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
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.]
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
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)
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.
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.
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.