Video and transcript: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s remarks for Navroz at the Ismaili Centre in Toronto

“Often when I see members of the Ismaili community, they start by thanking me and thanking my father specifically, and I always have to turn it around and say no, no, no, thank you. Thank you for being the embodiment of the vision that my father and so many others had” — Prime Minister of Canada, March 21, 2018, Ismaili Centre.

(Video, followed by transcript)

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Transcript of remarks made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Ismaili Centre, Toronto on the occasion of Navroz, March 21, 2018

Thank you. Thank you my friends. Navroz Mubarak. Hello everyone, and thank you for that incredibly warm welcome. I want to begin by thanking Malik Talib, President of the Ismaili Council for Canada, for his invitation, for his kind words. I want to thank my colleagues Arif Virani, Alli Al Hasi, Yasmin Ratansi, who are here with me today, for all the incredible work they do in their communities and across the country.

And I want to thank all of you for being here today. This is always a wonderful moment for me to come to this beautiful centre to see friends, old and new, and to celebrate a community that, for me, represents some of the very best of Canada. The sense of connection, the sense of service, the deep values that fold into every action of this community is, I think, a testament to both the success of this country and those upon whom this success rests. Often when I see members of the Ismaili community, they start by, as Arif did, thanking me and thanking my father specifically, and I always have to turn it around and say no, no, no, thank you. Thank you for being the embodiment of the vision that my father and so many others had. Thank you for the incredible….

(Applause)

Thank you for showing not just Canadians, but the world, with and through your success and your devotion, both to your own identities but also to this shared identity we build as Canadians, what it is to be open and to prosper through being welcoming and engaging with the world and not closing oneself off. You are an extraordinary example of the very best of Canada, and every day I thank you for it.

(Applause)

And I think there is no better example of that than, as Malik pointed out, the over one million hours of community and volunteer service to mark Canada’s 150th anniversary that this community accomplished — it is an extraordinary achievement and a perfect example of the commitment that all you, but all of us should have every day to contributing to the community, to the country that surrounds us. It is a beautiful testament to the dedication to this country and to all its citizens.

It’s quite fitting we celebrate Navroz here, as the Ismaili community is known around the world for its commitment to pluralism. Tens of thousands of people see this symbol of diversity off the Don Valley Parkway every day. Navroz is a chance for all Canadians to honour the many communities that have observed this tradition for generations and the many contributions you have all made to Canada. This event is a testimony to the diversity that makes Canada stronger and Canadians better.

So thank you for gathering here today. I’ve been giving some thought to the idea of Navroz, which marks the start of the New Year and the beginning of spring. The idea of new beginnings is central to Navroz.

How can we create and take advantage of opportunities throughout the new year? How can we maintain hope? How can we remain optimistic in the face of adversity? How can we foster openness and understanding, not just today but every day? While there may be … more than one answer to these questions, they give us pause to reflect on the past year. And this reflection may allow us to move forward as we welcome a new year.

This led me to think back on a meeting I had just a few weeks ago with the Afghan Girls Robotics Team. By the time they arrived in Canada, these incredibly smart and driven young women had already been awarded the top prize at Robotics competitions around the world, gaining international recognition for their accomplishments in STEM. They spoke of their successes with pride and shared their plans for the future with optimism and hope. They spoke of their aspirations, not only for themselves, but also for their community, for Afghanistan, and for other women in their field.

(Applause, speech continues after photo)

Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau at the Ismaili Cetre

Prime Minister Trudeau at Navroz celebrations held on March 21, 2018 at the Toronto Ismaili Centre. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant.

I am sharing their stories with you today because the path to success was far from easy for these young women. But despite the obstacles, they have remained optimistic, strong and full of hope. Brilliant, kind and proud.

I mention that Afghan Girls Robotics Team because in a way they embody the spirit of Navroz. These twelve young women were beyond ready for the next chapter of their journey here in Canada and ever so eager for new beginnings. And as it so happens, we met on the last day of February, on the eve of this month of renewal. Now, I know we can’t all claim to be leaders in robotics, but do not let their extraordinary circumstances and abilities distract you from the more familiar elements of their story.

For generations, people have come to Canada to realize their dreams. Some faced impossible odds for a chance to build a better life for themselves, while others made considerable sacrifices to ensure the success of their children and grandchildren. As we mark Navroz today in the Ismaili Centre, I want to recognize that everyone in this room can relate to these stories.

Take the Ismaili community, for example, many of whom were welcomed in Canada in 1972, after being forcibly expelled from Uganda by Idi Amin. This is a community like so many others that overcame significant obstacles, and of course its members are leaders in every profession across the country today.

Indeed, the story of hope and hard work is one that Canadians from all backgrounds can relate to. One that lives on in our communities and hopefully transcends our borders.

While Navroz is a time of celebration and new beginnings, it also reminds us of our privilege during this time of change. As Canadians, we are fortunate to live in a country where our rights are enshrined in the Constitution, where our freedoms are entrenched in laws. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms ensures that all Canadians can speak their mind, practice their faith, and stand up for what they believe in. Because of the Charter, every Canadian is entitled to a new beginning.

I want to end by sharing with you the wise words of the Persian poet, Hafez, which I believe capture the spirit of this occasion.

“Spring and all its flowers now joyously break their vow of silence. It is time for celebration, not for lying low.”

Once again, thank you for having me here today to join in this celebration. To all those who have gathered around the Haft-Seen table this week and are gathering in Jamat Kalmas (ph?) this evening. I wish you all peace, health, happiness, and prosperity in the New Year.

Navroz Mubarak. May peace and blessings be upon you.

(Applause)

Credit for video and transcript: https://pm.gc.ca/eng/video/2018/03/23/prime-minister-trudeau-delivers-remarks-navroz-ismaili-centre-toronto.

Date posted: March 27, 201.

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Passings: Izzat Muneyb remembered through her poetic reflections on Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah and the London Ismaili Centre

Izzat Muneyb (d. May 20, 2017)

By Abdulmalik Merchant

(NOTE: You may submit a condolence by clicking the COMMENTS box shown above left, beside the title — thank you, ed.).

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Izzat Muneyb on May 20th, 2017 in London, England, at the age of 75. Izzat was buried at the Ismaili cemetery at Brookwood in Surrey immediately following a funeral ceremony held at the West London Jamatkhana on Saturday, May 27th at 10:45 a.m.

We convey our heartfelt condolences to Izzat’s surviving sisters Zarin and Gulzar and their families, as well as all who knew her in the U.K. and many other parts of the world. We pray for the eternal peace and rest of Izzat’s soul.

Izzat Muneyb was raised in Mombasa, Kenya, and then pursued her further studies in the UK where she obtained an Honours degree in English from Birmingham University, a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education from Kings College, London and a Masters in Curriculum Studies from London University, England. She had a varied career, working in the fields of education, health, commerce and public order. She served on various Ismaili community institutions, including the Shia Imami Ismaili Tariqah Board, Mombasa, His Highness the Aga Khan Provincial Tribunal and His Highness Aga Khan Education Board in Nairobi. As an Education Board member, she originated the concept of, and edited, the Commemorative Issue 1977-78, to celebrate sixty years of Ismaili education in Kenya. From 1983–1994, she worked at the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London as a Member of the Education Unit and contributed to the Ta’lim Curriculum which is used throughout the Ismaili world to impart religious education  Over the last few years, she focused on her own creative writing in London.

Izzat contributed numerous pieces for this website, and we are pleased to re-publish her thoughtful reflections on the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.), the Prophet’s mosque in Madinah and the first purpose built Ismaili Centre and Jamatkhana in the Western World that is located in London.

WE  WELCOME READERS’ TRIBUTES IN MEMORY OF IZZAT MUNEYB

We invite your tributes and messages of condolences in memory of Izzat Muneyb. You may do that by clicking on LEAVE A COMMENT (that is also shown at left of the title of this post, at top). Should you run into issues while submitting your comment, then please send it via email to simerg@aol.com, Subject: Izzat Muneyb.

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1. In Praise of Prophet Muhammad
(May Peace Be Upon Him)

BY IZZAT MUNEYB

Author’s note: This song introduces us to some of the titles by which Prophet Muhammad came to be known. They are: ‘Ahmad’, ‘Mustafa’, ‘Rahmatan li’l-‘aalameen and ‘King of law laak’. The words ‘law laak’ in Arabic mean, “Were it not for…” There is a Hadith of Prophet Muhammad, where Allah speaking to His prophet, says, “Were it not for you, I would not have created the universe – law laaka lamaa khalaqtu’l-aflaaka.” [1]

N.B: The lines marked * are sung twice.

Muhammad, Muhammad,
How shall we praise you, Muhammad?*

Shall we call you Ahmad?*
He who is praised in heaven
Shall be praised here on earth.

Muhammad, Muhammad,
How shall we praise you, Muhammad?*

Shall we call you Mustafa?*
The Chosen of God on earth,
You have brought us the Qur’an.

Muhammad, Muhammad,
How shall we praise you, Muhammad?*

Shall we call you Rahmatan li’l-‘aalameen?*
God sent you as a Mercy
To the whole of creation.

Muhammad, Muhammad,
How shall we praise you, Muhammad?*

Shall we call you the ‘King of law laak’?*
Even God says He created
The universe for you.

Muhammad, Muhammad,
How shall we praise you, Muhammad?*

© Copyright: Izzat Muneyb.

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Notes:

[1] Source: Sukheel Sharif, The Jawziyyah Institute, 2006

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2. Building the Prophet’s Mosque — Masjeedun Nabee — in Madinah

An Islamic miniature from Siyer-i Nebi (16th century, Turkey), depicting Bilal giving the call to prayer. Photo: Wikipedia.

BY IZZAT MUNEYB

Author’s Note: This ballad tells the story of how the first mosque in Islam, the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, Masjeedun-Nabee, was built and how the first Muslims were called to prayer, with Bilal, a black Muslim, reciting the first adhaan. [1] The Prophet (Peace be upon Him) let his she-camel, Qaswaa’, who was “under the command of God”, choose the site. This allowed him to not have to accept land from, and thus show partiality to, any of the influential clans in Madinah.

N.B: The first line of each verse is sung twice. The ballad should ideally be sung to the accompaniment of a guitar.

Qaswaa’ the camel has chosen the ground,
Dig here, O Muslims and level the ground.        Qaswaa’.…….1

Muhammad has said, “O, here will I stay,
Here build my mosque and here shall I die”.         ..…….………2

Cut down the trees and make the pillars,
Lay down the bricks and cement with mortar.      ……………….3

The Muhaajiroon [2] and the Ansaar [3]
Work with a will in the spirit of Islam.                   ……………….4

Aly then asks how to ‘complete’ the mosque,
“How shall we call the believers to prayer?”          ..…………….5

The Muslims think hard, “O shall we use bells [4]
If not a Jewish horn, then a trumpet perhaps.”     ………………6

Then, humble and meek, Abdallah did speak,
“I dreamt, Ya Rasool, a human voice, I pray.”       ..…………….7

Muhammad then said: “O my faithful Bilal,
It is you who must say the very first Adhaan.”      ..………….…8

And so did Bilal God’s praises sing
And his powerful voice in Madinah did ring.          ..……………9

Here endeth my tale of Masjeedun-Nabee,
It still stands today in Madinah city.                       …………….10

© Copyright: Izzat Muneyb
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[1] Adhaan is the Muslim call to prayer. Bilal climbed up a palm tree, to recite the first adhaan, because he wanted his voice to carry far and wide. Minarets appeared around eighty years after the Prophet’s death, to call the faithful to prayer.
[2] Muhaajiroon– The Emigrants, Muslims who made the hijrah or migrated from Makkah to Madinah, because of the persecution of the Makkan Quraysh. The Prophet finally made the hijrah during September 622 A.C., after all the Muslims, except Imam Ali, had left Makkah.
[3] Ansaar – The Helpers, Madinan Muslims, who helped the Makkan Muslims settle in Madinah.
[4] Ringing church bells is a Christian practice – the Muslim call to prayer had to be unique to Islam.

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3. At the Ismaili Centre

Ismaili centre bismillah Entrance

The Entrance Hall of the London Ismaili Centre.

BY IZZAT MUNEYB

As soon as I enter the Ismaili Centre,
What do I see in Arabic calligraphy?

Bismi’llaahir-Rahmaanir-Raheem
Is what I see. ”In the name of Allah
Most Kind, Most Merciful.”

In the name of Allah I begin all things,
In the name of Allah I conceive all thoughts;
In the name of Allah I complete all deeds.

As soon as I enter the Ismaili Centre,
What do I see in shining marble
And white plaster?

I see a star-shaped fountain, pouring out water.

The fountain is so clear,
And the water so pure…

We too must be pure in body and soul
And polish the mirror of our hearts!

Why is the fountain seven-sided?
What does it mean?

Seven is the number of perfection
And seven times seven gives us
Our forty-ninth Imam.

The guidance of the Imam of the time –
And his portrait in mosaic, crafted from lapis,
Glowing with gentle radiance reminds us –
Helps us to grow closer to Allah.

But, have you seen the grey interlace design
Around the fountain?

Yes, it is a flower of beauty.

Al-kathratu fi’l wahdati,
Wa’l wahdatu fi’l kathrati
Is what it means.

The One has originated
The multiplicity of creation;
Now, from that multiplicity we move
Towards the Unity of the One.

And as I climb the stairs of the Ismaili Centre,
What do I see hanging from the ceiling?

I see lamps luminous and gleaming,
Full of light and full of meaning.

By the light of the lamp
We read the Qur’an.
With the light of the Lamp
We begin to know.
The light of the Lamp
Leads us to the Light of God

As I climb to the next level,
What do I see?

I see a painting, vibrant,
Swirling in colour.

It tells of the Verse of Light,
The Aayat’un Noor,
It hints at the mystery of
Noorun ‘alaa Noor.

As I enter the prayer hall
What do I see on the qiblah wall
In dark columns tall?

Carved in wood and written in space,
The panels say, Allah, Muhammad and Ali,
Allah, Muhammad and Ali.

These Beautiful Names invite me
To take my place with the Jamat,
They become my rosary.

As I sit down, as I close my eyes,
What do I do? What do I say?

I remember Allah.
I say,“Ya Muhammad”, “Ya Ali”,
I say, Salawaatu’llaahi alayhumaa
Salawaatu’llaahi alayhumaa.

The Grace of God fills the hall,
The Light of God bathes us all.

Cleansed in thought and spirit,
I feel the presence of God
And am filled with His peace.

© Copyright: Izzat Muneyb.

Date posted: May 27, 2017.
Last updated: May 30, 2017 (formatting and new comments).

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Editorial Note: The poem was first published in July 1987 in Ilm, Volume 11, No. 2, p. 39-41. It was originally written for the younger members of the Jamat, to be recited either by an individual, or as a choric or part poem. Readers might find the movement of the poem interesting. As the individual climbs higher through the various levels of the London Ismaili Centre to the Jamatkhana hall, so also the poem marks an inner journey from a physical to a devotional and then to a spiritual plane of being.

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Your tribute to Izzat Muneyb

We invite your tributes and messages of condolences in memory of Izzat Muneyb whose funeral took place on Saturday, May 27, 2017 in London, England. Readers may do so by clicking on LEAVE A COMMENT. If you encounter problems in submitting your comment, then please send it to simerg@aol.com, Subject Izzat Muneyb.

Ottawa’s Iconic Magazine Stores, and Specialty Print Magazines, “Azure” and “Arts of Asia”, on the Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Centre in Toronto

LETTER FROM PUBLISHER

Simerg's Merchant

Simerg’s Merchant

By Abdulmalik Merchant

I have lived in Ottawa for almost thirty years, and as a lover of magazines and newspapers I have been a weekly visitor to two great and noteworthy magazine stores in the downtown area, “The Globe” in the Byward Market area and “Mags & Fags” on Elgin Street, as well as “Brittons” located in the dynamic and eclectic shopping district in the Glebe neighbourhood. Brittons  abruptly closed its doors earlier this year, with a notice posted on the door that stated, “Due to changing times our business is no longer economically viable.” Mathematically, these stores have been visited by me alone approximately 1300 times! I have seen Prime Ministers, Bank of Canada Governors, ambassadors, politicians of every party and famous writers at these stores. Also, I may add that the idea for Simerg’s highly acclaimed series I Wish I’d Been There was conceived from a special issue of American Heritage magazine that I had acquired at Mags & Fags during the 1980’s.

Mags & Fags on Elgin was my favourite all along, not because of (Cuban) cigars or anything like that, but for the sheer number of magazines and newspapers that it carried from around the world. During the 1980’s and early 1990’s the magazine store even kept provincial and regional newspapers from around Canada, various USA States, as well from Africa (Al-Ahram, Egypt), the Middle East (Kayhan, Iran) and South East Asia. Gradually, over the years with the advent of the internet, the demand for newspapers declined, as did their availability at Mags & Fags. However, it remained the preeminent magazine store in Ottawa.

Mags & Fags before the recent transformation. Now the magazine section is confined to the shelf area shown at left. Photo: Mags & Fags.

Mags & Fags before the recent transformation. Now the magazine section is confined to the shelf area shown at left. Photo: Mags & Fags.

The store has undergone a major transformation, and the entire magazine holding is now on one side of the wall, and not as dominant as it once was. Almost 80% of the shop is now dedicated to specialty cards and gift items. I lamented this change to one of the store managers on duty recently, who told me that sales of magazines and newspapers have declined substantially because of their on-line availability. The exceptions, though, are luxury and specialty magazines covering travel, fashion, history, as well as arts, culture and science. Some of these magazines are incredibly beautiful and bold and, because of demand, continue to generate adequate revenues, keeping the magazine section robust.

The Saturday Evening Post, one of my regular monthly investments for its great features as well as wonderful health gems.

The Saturday Evening Post, one of my regular monthly investments for its great features as well as wonderful health gems.

Among the specialty or luxury print magazines that I came across this weekend at Mags & Fags, is the current July-August issue of Hong Kong’s “Arts of Asia” which carries an elaborate piece on the Aga Khan Museum with a collection of fantastic photos from the museum’s Islamic Art collection (for on-line piece, please click on first image shown below, but note that the downloadable PDF file available via the second column of the “editorial” page is huge at 15MB).

Earlier, I had purchased the May 2015 issue of the Canadian “Azure” magazine dedicated to the City of Toronto, with a nice piece on the Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Centre (for on-line article, please click on second image below).

While I am happy to provide readers with links to the on-line articles, on a personal note I would say that the on-line versions do not do justice to their print counterparts which are alluring, and a joy to turn and read from page to page, and cover to cover. The magazines I have listed should be available at good magazine stores or newsagents in your area, and I might add that Chapters-Indigo has expanded its magazine section considerably in the last few years. The cover price of Arts of Asia is US$20.00 (selling in Ottawa for C$21.00), and Azure is under $10.00.

My weekly rendezvous with magazines and newspapers at Mags & Fags, the Globe and Chapters-Indigo will continue, and I hope to provide readers with information on outstanding print magazines that carry fine pieces on the Aga Khan Development Network and its agencies, as well as the Ismaili Imamat and the admirable Ismaili community, of which I am a proud member. To familiarize yourself with the Ismailis and His Highness the Aga Khan, please visit the websites http://www.theismaili.org, http://www.akdn.org and http://www.iis.ac.uk. An outstanding resource and referral blog for all things Ismaili is http://www.ismailimail.wordpress.com, a private initiative.

Please click on image to visit Arts of Asia. Then click on link

Please click on image to visit Arts of Asia website. Then click on link July-August 2015 article “THE AGA KHAN MUSEUM OPENS IN TORONTO” on second column of Editorial section to download complete PDF article (15mb).

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Please click on image for the Spectacular Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Centre

Please click on image for article “The Spectacular Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Centre.”

Date posted: August 8, 2015.
Last updated: August 9, 2015.

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We welcome your feedback. Please click on Leave a comment. For articles posted on this blog since its founding, please click on Table of Contents (2009–2015).

2015 Toronto Doors Open: Over 15,000 Visitors Explore Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Centre

BY ABDULMALIK MERCHANT

It is indeed a pleasure for Simerg to present a collection of photos with interviews that were done at the site of the Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Centre on the occasion of  Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open held during the weekend of May 23-24, 2015. These two new Islamic gems were added to this year’s Doors Open exploration roster of more than 155 architecturally and culturally rich buildings across Toronto.

May 24th 2015 - Toronto's 16th Annual Doors Open. TheIsmaili Centre. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Ismaili Centre. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015, Toronto's 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum.  Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Park with Museum in background. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Park with Museum in background. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 - Toronto's 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

May 24th 2015 - Toronto's 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum Bellerive Room (Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Collection). Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum Bellerive Room (Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Collection). Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

The two iconic buildings were added to the Toronto landscape when they were officially opened last September by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in the presence of the patron, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, the direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) and 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims. Prince Karim became the Imam of the Ismailis on July 11, 1957, when he was only 21. His Diamond Jubilee will be celebrated in 2017, the same year (and month) Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary.

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum, Diwan Restaurant. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum, Diwan Restaurant. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 - Toronto's 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum, gift shop. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum, gift shop. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum, gift shop. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum, gift shop. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 - Toronto's 16th Annual Doors Open. The Ismaili Centre, a briefing for visitors. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Ismaili Centre, a briefing for visitors. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

May 24th 2015 - Toronto's 16th Annual Doors Open. The Ismaili Centre. Visitors on the move to see other sections of the centre. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Ismaili Centre. Visitors on the move to see other sections of the centre. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

May 24th 2015 - Toronto's 16th Annual Doors Open. The Ismaili Centre. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Ismaili Centre. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum. Volunteer Mehdi Ansar. Photo: Malik Merchant /Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum. Volunteer Mehdi Ansar. Photo: Malik Merchant /Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Ismaili Centre. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Ismaili Centre. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. Visitors at the Aga Khan Park, outside the Aga Khan Museum. Background – the Ismaili Centre. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. Visitors tour the Aga Khan Park. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. Visitors tour the Aga Khan Park. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

May 24th 2015 – Toronto’s 16th Annual Doors Open. The Aga Khan Museum. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg. Copyright

It is estimated that more than 17,000 people visited the Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Centre during Doors Open. Visitors described their experience as rich, and complimented the hosts for their excellent organization and the explanations that were provided. Several Toronto residents said they would return to visit the museum’s collection of Islamic art in greater detail.

Date posted: Monday, May 25, 2015.
Last updated: Friday, May 29, 2015.

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The Aga Khan Park: Tranquil, Contemplative Space, and a Place to be Enjoyed by All to be Inaugurated on Monday, May 25, 2015

PHOTOS CAPTURE THE 5 YEAR EVOLUTION OF THE SITE

April 2010: Preparation

A photo from April 2010 of the site of the Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre and their Park as the trees were being removed to make room for the contruction.

A photo from April 2010 of the site of the Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre and their Park as the trees were being removed to make room for the construction. “No need to worry…the trees will be replaced,” wrote Jim Bowie for a photo essay for Simerg. Photo: Jim Bowie. Copyright.

It was officially announced in Jamatkhanas across Canada yesterday, May 17th, that the opening of the Aga Khan Park will, Inshallah, take place in the presence of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, on Monday May 25th, 2015. The announcement also noted that arrangements are underway to webcast the event live as well as telecast the opening ceremonies at Jamatkhanas across the country.

This follows the opening last September of two architectural gems, the Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Centre and Jamatkhana, which adjoin the Park.

September 2011: Construction

September 14, 2011. The return of the trees. Photo: Jim Bowie. Copyright.

September 14, 2011. The return of the trees, while the construction of the Aga Khan Museum (foreground) and the Ismaili Centre proceeds speedily Photo: Jim Bowie. Copyright.

The presence of Mawlana Hazar Imam once again in this country will be a source of immense grace and barakah, and the jamats across Canada truly offer their humble shukrana to their beloved Imam.

The Aga Khan Park is the newest addition to other civic green spaces established or restored by Mawlana Hazar Imam, such as the Al-Azhar Park in Cairo, Forodhani Park in Zanzibar, Khorog City Park, Babur’s Gardens in Kabul, and the parks currently under development in Burnaby and Edmonton.

September 2014: Ismaili Centre and Aga Khan Museum Opening

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, and Prime Minister Stephen Harpur at the opening ceremony of the Ismaili Centre on September 12, 2014. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, and Prime Minister Stephen Harpur at the opening ceremony of the Ismaili Centre on September 12, 2014. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

Mawlana Hazar Imam explains the significance of the garden in Islamic cultures and its establishment in Canada in the following remarks made at the Presentation of the Gold Medal by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada in Ottawa in November 2013:

“… our faith constantly reminds us to observe and be thankful for the beauty of the world and the universe around us, and our responsibility and obligation, as good stewards of God’s creation, to leave the world in a better condition than we found it. The garden is, in this context, a particularly important space in Islamic cultures… Bringing such beautiful spaces to Canada is one of our intended contributions to the Canadian landscape. An example is the new park in Toronto which will surround the Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Centre as well as new projects in Edmonton and Burnaby …”

The park’s architect, Vladimir Djurovic, describes its inspiring vision in the following manner in an interview in 2010:

“Our vision for the project is one that captures the essence of the Islamic garden and translates it into an expression that reflects its context and contemporary age. Embracing the five senses as the means to reach the soul, every space and garden are imbued with the delicate sensations that we seem to have lost in this fast-paced era.”

The Aga Khan Park is intended to be a space of tranquility and contemplation, and a place of beauty and reflection for the Jamat and the larger society. It is also designed to host educational programmes and outdoor gatherings, such as concerts and weddings. It will be an inviting space for diverse members of the larger community to meet, for families to gather and children to play.

It will be a place where people can take a walk, enjoy and immerse themselves in the beauty and majesty of Allah’s creation and perhaps also reflect upon the nature and significance of the two spectacular buildings that the park surrounds.

December 2014: Three Views of the Park

The  Aga Khan Park photographed in December 2014, with the Ismaili Centre in the background. Photo: Copyright. Rian Dewji, Toronto.

The Aga Khan Park photographed in December 2014, with the Ismaili Centre in the background. Photo: Rian Dewji, Toronto. Copyright.

The Aga Khan Park photographed in December 2014, with the  Aga Khan Museum in the background. Photo: Rian Dewji, Toronto. Copyright.

The Aga Khan Park photographed in December 2014, with the Aga Khan Museum in the background. Photo: Rian Dewji, Toronto. Copyright.

A panoramic view taken from the Aga Khan Museum, with the Ismaili Centre in the background. Photo: Rian Dewji, Toronto. Copyright.

A panoramic view taken from the Aga Khan Museum, with the Ismaili Centre in the background. Photo: Rian Dewji, Toronto. Copyright.

The Aga Khan Park is one of several significant Imamat institutions and projects established in Canada, including the Global Centre for Pluralism, the Ismaili Centres in Burnaby and Toronto, the Aga Khan Museum and the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat. Inshallah, through their respective functions and architectural idioms, these institutions will continue to express the aspirations, identity and values of our faith, such as respect for pluralism, the notion of a common humanity, search for knowledge and beauty, and balance between din (the sacred) and duniya (the material world).

In place of negative representations of our faith and the “clash of ignorance”, these “gifts” benevolently provided to us by Imam-e-Zaman will foster an increased and enlightened understanding of the faith of Islam, as well as stimulate dialogue and fraternity between different cultures and communities, which is so urgently needed today in a world filled with turmoil, intolerance and extremism.

Date posted: Tuesday, May 19, 2015.

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Photo Essay: The Ismaili Centre – “Peace Through Prayer” and “A Splendid Reality”

PLEASE CLICK: Photo Essay: The Ismaili Centre – “Peace Through Prayer” and “A Splendid Reality”

Ismaili CentrePlease click on image for photo essay. Image: Simerg

September 19, 2014: Historical Day for the Ismaili Imamat and the Worldwide Jamat – Photos and Videos of the Opening Day of the Ismaili Centre, Toronto, Canada

Jamat and Volunteers Speak from the Heart on this Auspicious and Historical Day

BY MALIK MERCHANT
Editor, Simerg and Simergphotos

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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.

Opening of the Ismaili Centre Sept 19 2014 158s

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.

Opening of the Ismaili Centre Sept 19 2014 136sPresident 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.

Opening of the Ismaili Centre Sept 19 2014 122sA 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)

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Opening of the Ismaili Centre Sept 19 2014 129sA senior citizen enjoys a glass of sherbet as he celebrates the opening of the Ismaili Centre in Toronto. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

Opening of the Ismaili Centre Sept 19 2014 054sMr. 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.

Opening of the Ismaili Centre Sept 19 2014 008sOne 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.

Opening of the Ismaili Centre Sept 19 2014 027sVisitors 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)

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Opening of the Ismaili Centre Sept 19 2014 087sThe 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.

Opening of the Ismaili Centre Sept 19 2014 089sVisitors 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.

Opening of the Ismaili Centre Sept 19 2014 148sA 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.

Opening of the Ismaili Centre Sept 19 2014 150sEntrance 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.

Opening of the Ismaili Centre Sept 19 2014 109sThe 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.

Opening of the Ismaili Centre Sept 19 2014 143s

VOICES FROM THE JAMAT AND THE VOLUNTEERS (IV)

Opening of the Ismaili Centre Sept 19 2014 107s

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)

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Opening of the Ismaili Centre Sept 19 2014 006sJamati 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.

Opening of the Ismaili Centre Sept 19 2014 102sVisitors 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.

Opening of the Ismaili Centre Sept 19 2014 104sA 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.

Opening of the Ismaili Centre Sept 19 2014 095sAfter 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.

Opening of the Ismaili Centre Sept 19 2014 103s

A view of the reading lounge. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

Opening of the Ismaili Centre Sept 19 2014 010s

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)

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Opening of the Ismaili Centre Sept 19 2014 118s

The sherbet stand at the Ismaili Centre’s Social Hall at its opening on Friday, September 19, 2014. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

Opening of the Ismaili Centre Sept 19 2014 124s 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)

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VOICES FROM THE JAMAT AND THE VOLUNTEERS (VIII)

Opening of the Ismaili Centre Sept 19 2014 079sTaking comfort and rest: An elder from the jamat of Afghanistan, now settled in Canada. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

Opening of the Ismaili Centre Sept 19 2014 075s….With her family and friends. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

VOICES FROM THE JAMAT AND THE VOLUNTEERS (IX)

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Opening of the Ismaili Centre Sept 19 2014 145s

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.

Opening of the Ismaili Centre Sept 19 2014 153ss

One of the last vehicles to depart the Ismaili Centre following the historic day. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

IMG_0066sMembers 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.

IMG_0059sAlykhan (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.

Simerg Photo Contest Commemorates Opening of Magnificent New Aga Khan Museum

Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre and their Park Perfect Breeding Ground for superb photo taking and winning great prizes including free membership

By Malik Merchant, Editor

Te Aga Khan Museum Catalogue and special children's books at the Museum gift shop..

The Aga Khan Museum catalogue and special children’s books at the museum gift shop. Photo: Shellina Karmali.

Thursday, September 18, 2014, marked the public opening of the new Aga Khan Museum located on Wynford Drive in Toronto. Simerg marks the opening with a special photo contest in which a maximum of 25 prizes including youth and family memberships will to be given away to the top entries selected by a panel of three independent professional photographers, all from Ontario. The contest is open to all residents of Canada.

His Highness the Aga Khan and Prime Minister Stephen Harpur at the opening ceremony of the Ismaili Centre on September 12, 2014. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

His Highness the Aga Khan and Prime Minister Stephen Harpur at the opening ceremony of the Ismaili Centre on September 12, 2014. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

The Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Centre were officially on Friday, September 12, in the presence of His Highness the Aga Khan and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, members of the 49th Ismaili Imam’s family and invited guests.

A maximum of 10 annual memberships each for the YOUTH and OPEN  categories for the top photos selected by a team of three professional photographers will be given to the winning entries. The submission deadline will be December 31, 2014. The winning photos will be announced on this website and simergphotos.com on or around in late January, 2015. In addition to the annual memberships, the judges will pick up  5 photos deserving merit awards. The merit winners will each receive a $50.00 gift voucher,  entitling  them to make purchases from the Aga Khan Museum Gift Shop.

A selection of items at the Aga Khan Museum Gift Shop.

A selection of items at the Aga Khan Museum Gift Shop. Photo: Shellina Karmali

There will be two categories. The Youth Category will be open to anyone 19 and under. A maximum of 10 annual youth memberships to the Museum will be given to the winning entries.

The Open Category is for those over the age of 19. It will be for all amateur photographers and photography enthusiasts who like to shoot photographs, either using a camera or their smart hand-held devices and phones! For this category, each photo has to be accompanied by a 75 to 100 word narrative to encapsulate the photographer’s experience of the Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre or their Park. Only spaces where photos are allowed to be taken will be accepted for the contest.

Men's ties at the Aga Khan Museum Gift Shop.

A selection of  ties at the Aga Khan Museum Gift Shop. Photo: Shellina Karmali

The opening few weeks of the museum will be the perfect breeding ground for passionate picture taking and writing a brief narrative, and if you are selected as a winner in the Open Category you will be one of 10 to receive an annual family membership.

Here are some ideas for taking and submitting photos: artistic and architecture beauty and grandeur of the projects, interior spaces including art work (where permitted) , landscape, nature (as in the park), as well as spontaneous moments involving people!

Jewellery at the Aga Khan Museum Gift Shop.

Jewellery at the Aga Khan Museum Gift Shop. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

The prizes are as a result of  gracious donations by numerous individuals and families in Canada and abroad. Simerg is deeply grateful to the sponsors of the prizes.

Each individual may submit up to 3 photos for consideration for the contest, all in high resolution. They should be mailed to simerg@aol.com, and accompanied by the photographer’s full name and address as well as telephone number(s) where they may be contacted.

Every photograph received (maximum 3 per individual) will be published on a special gallery page on this website. The judges will select the winners from the photos published in the photo gallery. The judges decision will be final.

Museum GiftshpWe are thrilled to host this contest and look forward to a fantastic response from the public.

Post updated: October 1, 2014.

The Official Opening of the Ismaili Centre and Aga Khan Museum, a Reporter’s Glimpse

BY MALIK MERCHANT
Editor, http://www.simerg.com
Media room

Members of the media gathered at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre where they were briefed about the sequence of events for the official opening of the Ismaili Centre and Aga Khan Museum. Numbering around 35, they were were shuttled in two buses to the Ismaili Centre across the street for the first opening ceremony. One bus carried press representatives carrying large specialized cameras and video equipment, while the second bus carried “reporters only” unrestricted of course from taking pictures with their hand held devices and cameras. Journalists from numerous newspapers, TV and Radio Stations, and Press Agencies from around the world were represented. Ismailimail and Simerg were also present. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

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A section of the gathering at the official opening of the Ismaili Centre. The social hall of the Centre was packed to capacity. Many members of the media had to take standing positions. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg

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Photo Op

Journalists seen awaiting a photo opportunity with His Highness the Aga Khan and Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the upper terrace section of the Ismaili Centre. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

Aga Khan and PM 2His Highness the Aga Khan and Prime Minister Stephen Harper pose for a picture at the exclusive photo session accorded to members of the media. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

Aga Khan Musuem

A spectacular view of the Aga Khan Museum from the Park that divides it from the Ismaili Centre. A band seen in the picture at the left played music as guests arrived. Photo: Malik Merchant

Auditorium audience await arrrivalGuests invited for the opening of the Aga Khan Museum watch a live relay of His Highness the Aga Khan and the Prime Minister walk along the Park to the Museum building from the Ismaili Centre. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copytight.

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Recitation and translation of verses from the Holy Qur’an during the official opening of the Aga Khan Museum held in the museum’s auditorium. Seated (l to r):  Hon. Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages; Prime Minister Stephen Harper, His Highness the Aga Khan and Prince Amyn Mohamed Aga Khan. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

Plaque Unveiling

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and His Highness the Aga Khan unveil the plaque to officially open the Aga Khan Museum. The museum opens to the public on Thursday, September 18, 2014. Henry Kim, Director and CEO of the Museum, is seen at the podium. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

Volunteer

A volunteer assisting with parking at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre poses for a photo following the event. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

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Thousands of Ismailis from Metro Toronto and surrounding cities gathered at the Direct Energy Centre to watch a live telecast of the official opening of the Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Museum. This was followed by prayers, food as well as entertainment that included Indian and Central Asian dancing. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright

Extended coverage of the opening ceremonies and speech excerpts to follow in the coming days.

Copyright: Simerg.

Date posted: Saturday, September 13, 2014

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Alternative post at http://www.simergphotos.com

A Gift….September 12, 2014

EXCITEMENT IN THE AIR

by Navyn Naran

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There is excitement, magic in the air.
the Imam has arrived,
the buildings are washed and rewashed with rain,
the winds have combed out snarls and veils
Gray, opaque clouds, as if cotton wool
had been soaked in water
and strewn over the ceiling here.
ahh, cloudbreak.

In the horizon, a peek of baby blue,
tinged with light cream;
the clouds moving elsewhere.
Leaves green, having just been cleansed
by buckets of water overnight,
freshly manicured, ready to welcome
Him to Wynford Drive.
It’s as of the whole area has
returned from a morning jaunt,
refreshed and nicely sore,
rejuvenated for this day!

Prince Karim (left) posing for a birthday photo with his uncle, Prince Sadruddin, and his younger brother Prince Amyn

Which Day?
This day, the 12th of September 2014,
Prince Amyn Mohamed Aga Khan’s Birthday
He was born within a year of the Imam,
adoring the brother he followed as a child.
Whatever Karim does, this ginger colored head
and Trustworthy, Loyal Heart, wanted to do
an adoring brother, he could only be
as Ali to Muhammad, attached:
The elders remember him; a playful, sweet child,
a flair, a flamboyance, detailed care.

As specialized cardiac cells continuously fire ,
beat by beat, and in rhythm,
Prince Amyn, a shadow-like of the Form,
as the gardener of the Master’s land
in His highest esteem.
No laurels; much humor and style.
and it is on this very day, a historic gift to the globe .
77 Wynford Drive on this 77th Birthday.

photo 2

The Aga Khan Museum. The Ismaili Centre. The Park.
In the present, a present,
and presence of leaders, donors, volunteers
and a very Special Eye.
Who’d have thought it in Uganda in 1970?
Who’d have thought it in Canada in 2000?
this is not a facade to name or number,
it is to be understood.
For some perhaps piece by piece.
For others, a space for contemplation.
For opening the eyes.

I remember the barren, grey dirt being overturned,
the harsh, cold winters, icy,
unthawing, unrelenting,
when yellow hatted men worked tirelessly,
from below ground up.
Pieces of structure in an architect’s mind,
in the Architect’s Mind, comes alive.
Work. Many hours and stressors,
much negotiated and coordinated.

Shah Nameh s

One would never know.
Simple lines, soft color and a
sense of cleanliness and peace.
Magnificent.
Day or night. Lights enter and open,
leave everything behind.
Enter. Come. Ayez…

Come reflect, details of the shahnameh,
the kufic script in a Blue Qur’an,
the magic of art and calligraphy.
Rest a while, be seated. Read.
in the hush of the quiet,
only footsteps of men and women,
children and elders, absorbing.
Perhaps it is only history. Past.
If the skills and beauty compose a piece,
this civilisation is to be included,
to be modeled, continued.
Pluralistic.

It is a day of celebration. Come, Enter, Ayez…

Copyright: Navyn Naran/Simerg

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“A FABULOUS, GLORIOUS GIFT BY HIS HIGHNESS”

By Malik Merchant
Editor, Simerg

Alex Sarris. Photo" Malik Merchant/Simerg.

Alex Sarris. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

Alex Sarris, the facility operator at the site of the Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre and their Park was a few feet away from me. He was discussing with one of his colleagues a hitch that had occurred and which could possibly take a few hours to resolve. I was tantalized by the breathtaking Museum and the Centre that I had earlier walked through as a member of the media invited for the pre-opening review. The view of the two buildings on either side of the Park was stunning. The architectural contrast and splendour could only  be truly appreciated when looking at them from the Park. The calm water of the pond in front of me soothed me. I listened to Alex as I took my final bites of a deliciously chunky roast beef sandwich that had been served to the media earlier at the museum as part of a light lunch. I had wrapped it and tucked it in my computer bag. I was hungry enough again after walking through the museum galleries and the Ismaili Centre! Food! Yes, the ultimate delight when deliciously served!

Part of main exhibition hall, Aga Khan Museum. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg

Part of main exhibition hall, Aga Khan Museum. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg

I thought about the challenges Alex and his team faced during the years they had worked  at the site, under some harsh winter weather! How might have these workers coped, I wondered, like many hundreds and thousands of workers who work on outdoor construction projects. But here was a frustrating delay less than 48  hours before its opening by His Highness the Aga Khan. There was also so much work being done both outside and inside the buildings, I would have thought the opening day was  still several weeks away. Alex soon left  his colleague brimming with confidence and with a cheerful face. I called him aside, and asked him to describe what he saw around him and how he felt. He looked at the two buildings and the park and said, “Fabulous, glorious, a gift by His Highness the Aga Khan befitting a united society cooperating and working together to advance the ideals of pluralism.”

The Park and the Ismaili Centre. Photo:  Malik Merchant/Simerg.

The Park and the Ismaili Centre. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

“And what about the final few hours to finish the job?” I asked him. He replied, “Two days of diligent working will bring the site up to the highest standards established by His Highness.”  He had greeted me earlier with “Ya Ali Madad” and departed with “Mubaraki to all Ismailis and to all Canadians on this unique occasion.” In all these years, I have not learnt more than 2 or 3 French or Spanish words but I knew Alex had learnt quite a few new words from the on site ‘Ismaili dictionary’ when he had used, in reference to the hitch, the word “mushkil-asaan,” an Arabic phrase used in Ismaili prayers meaning resolution of difficulty. He was seeking a resolution to his immediate problem as well any other outstanding issues that they all faced collectively as a team.

I was grateful for his openness and humility, and was touched and inspired by his cheerful and positive outlook. I bid this wonderfully articulate person good bye, as he graciously permitted me to take his photo with my mobile! 

Date posted: Friday, September 12, 2014.

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