Aga Khan Museum, Ismaili Jamatkhana, spectacular spring beauty Simergphotos Malik Merchant

Photos: Spring Energy at Aga Khan Park, Ismaili Centre and Aga Khan Museum

Please click HERE or on image below for spectacular photos of the sky and the Aga Khan Park grounds as captured by Malik Merchant during his recent walk through his favourite space in Toronto

Aga Khan Park sunset sky Simerg Malik Merchant
All ablaze as the sinking sun lights up the horizon and the sky west of Aga Khan Park and Ismaili Centre. Click on image for more photos. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Camera: Olympus E-M10, 14-42mm.

Date posted: March 15, 2021.

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Simerg’s Special Series on Books by Ismaili Authors: “Little One, You Are The Universe” by Zeni Shariff of Toronto

by MALIK MERCHANT
Publisher/Editor SimergBarakah and Simergphotos

This is the 2nd in our bi-weekly series “Books by Ismaili Authors.” The series began with Justice Bertha Wilson Pushes the Boundaries of Humanity by Shamas Nanji of Edmonton, Canada. We ask each author to introduce their book(s) to our readers by answering a series of short questions. In this post, Zeni Shariff of Toronto, Canada, responds on her latest title “Little One, You Are The Universe.”

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Simerg: What is behind the naming of the title of the book? 

Zeni Shariff: The meaning behind the title Little One, You Are The Universe is that the Universe belongs to all living beings and it is incumbent upon all living beings to look after the Universe and one another.

Simerg: Why would you want me or my family members to read the book, and what will we all learn from it?

Zeni: I would like you or your family members to read the book for the following reasons:

(1) It will connect you with the child within you; and
(2) It will connect you with your parents and grandparents in a very personal way.

For those of who you who have not been to different continents, I believe you will understand, through the story of the elephants, what kinds of struggles living beings go through as they are relocated from one continent to the other, overcome struggles, adjust and live in new environments, and find joys in the small things of life.

Simerg: What inspired you to write the book?

Zeni: My grandchildren and the legacy I wish to live for them.

Article continues below

Front cover of Toronto Ismaili writer’s book “Little One, You Are the Universe;” published by Bublish, Inc., USA, 2020; 38 pp, available in hardcover, eBook and paperback.

Simerg: How can I purchase the book and what are its available formats?

Zeni: Little One, You are the Universe is available in three formats: eBook, paperback, and hardcover. Details of where and how to purchase including prices are at my updated webpage link https://little-one.ca.

You can also buy it through Amazon sites worldwide. In North America, Little One, You are the Universe is available on Amazon.ca (Canadian site) and Amazon.com (for U.S. and international purchases).

Simerg: How did you find a publisher for the book?

Zeni: I contacted several publishers and used the one that met my budget criteria. I went with Bublish, Inc.

Simerg: Did you hire an editor, an illustrator or did you do all the work by yourself?

Zeni: I requested our youngest son Naguib to edit my work. I did all the illustrations and writing.

“This book [Little One, You are the Universe] is a heartwarming and beautiful story kids are sure to love. It also teaches about history, geography, and the environment making it more than just a read aloud for kids — it’s a great book to grow with. The illustrations are fantastic and compliment the story perfectly.” — DD reviewer, from author’s website

Simerg: Which was your first book and how many have you written?

Zeni: My first book is a photographic book entitled Alter Your Heart beats in an Oasis, and it is about a visitor going into and around the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada. My second book is How Things Grow. It teaches young children how things grow and where the food we eat comes from. Its inspiration was tending to a garden that grew strawberries in Toronto. And Little One, You are the Universe is my third book and, as mentioned earlier, it is published by Bublish.

Simerg: How long did it take you to write Little One, You are the Universe — from start to finish and to begin marketing it?

Zeni: It took me approximately 9 years. The illustrations were painted by myself first, and then I wrote the book. Covid-19 was one of the incentives for having the book published.

Simerg: Tell us a little bit more about Little One, You are the Universe.

Zeni: While crossing the Yamuna River in their home of northern India, elephants Lotus and Adia are separated from each other and captured by humans. Lotus is sent to Tanzania in East Africa to work on the railways.  Adia is sent to the Ashantee Forest in West Africa to carry heavy loads for the miners.

The book is an invitation to you to join Lotus and Adia on their journeys.

Date posted: February 25, 2021.

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Zeni Shariff author of Little One You Are The Universe
Zeni Shariff

Zeni Shariff completed her education at the Aga Khan Girls Secondary School in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and later studied at Ryerson, in Toronto, Canada. She loves to read and share stories from the journeys of her late grandparents and parents from one continent to another. Their stories and experiences have taught Zeni to be kind and decent to everyone and to never give up hope.

We encourage Ismaili writers to introduce their books in a similar format as Zeni’s book described above (or see Nanji’s post). Please also see the series launch article and submit your answers to Malik at Simerg@aol.com. All submissions will be acknowledged. If a writer has published multiple books, each book will be highlighted in a separate article, and not combined with other books into one post. Please also include your brief profile, with a photo.

We welcome feedback from our readers. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or click Leave a comment. Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

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.

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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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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Dear David Price: We are all ROOTING for 9 Priceless Innings from you for the Toronto Blue Jays tonight

CRUCIAL GAME

By Malik Merchant

David Price on the mound for Toronto on August 8, 2015. Photo: Wikipedia.

David Price on the mound for Toronto on August 8, 2015. Photo: Wikipedia.

For Toronto Blue Jays, hope takes root at the pitcher’s mound with a must win situation in the penultimate game tonight, Friday, against the Kansas City Royals, who are 3-2 up in the Best of Seven American League Championship Series (ALCS).

David Price, who was acquired by the Jays on July 30, 2015, will  be on the mound for the game starting at 8:00 ET. He has contributed significantly to Toronto’s resurgence since his arrival, and for the team’s top standing in AL East. His superb performance throughout his career during the regular season with over 100 wins, has not translated well going into the post season in the playoffs.

Ask any baseball coach “Where Hope Takes Root,” and he will say on the pitcher’s mound. All the Jays’ fans wish David Price well in the game, and with his fine pitching complemented with some great defense and stellar hits from the Jays batters, we shall all celebrate one more time before tomorrow’s decider on who plays the New York Mets in the World Series. The Mets easily defeated Chicago 4-0 in the National League Championship Series.

Go Jays Go. And Price, for all your hard work over the years, you just might have a NO-HITTER when you and your fans want it most! However, a WIN is a WIN, and we are all rooting for you and the entire team as well as the coaching staff.

Simerg’s Iconic Moments in Bautista’s Home Run in the Deciding Game Between the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers

José Antonio Bautista’s home run which gave the Toronto Blue Jays a 3-run lead over the Texas Rangers in the 7th inning of the deciding game played at the Rogers Centre in Toronto on Wednesday, October 14, 2015, is worth relishing. Bautista’s swing of the bat that brought the 3 runs, his stare at the direction of the pitcher immediately after the ball had left his bat, and the tossing of his bat over his right shoulder are Simerg’s iconic moments of this incredibly exciting game. Please click on the following collage to see MLB’s video clip of this unbelievable inning. This makes baseball a truly thrilling and exciting game!

PLEASE CLICK IMAGE BELOW OR http://m.mlb.com/video/v523054683/textor-gm5-bautista-hammers-goahead-threerun-shot/?game_pk=446255

Iconic moments of the game. Jose Bautista's home run, his stare at the pitcher and the tossing of the bat. Please click on image to view a video clip at the website of MLB.com.

Iconic moments of the game. Jose Bautista’s swing of the bat that scored 3 runs, his stare at the pitcher and the tossing of the bat. Please click on image to view a video clip at the website of MLB.com.

The Jays will now meet the Kansas City Royals, who beat the Houston Astros, in a best-of-seven series beginning Friday, October 16th. Kansas City won the American League and therefore have the home advantage – the first 2 games in the series will be played in Kansas, then the 3rd and 4th games as well as the 5th game (if necessary) in Toronto. The series will move to Kansas for the 6th and 7th games, if necessary.

@Simergphotos: The Aga Khan Park and Its Inauguration – Exclusive Photos

Please click: The Beautiful Aga Khan Park with Exclusive Photos of the Inauguration Ceremony 

Please click for exclusive photos of the opening of the Aga Khan Park. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant.

Please click for exclusive photos of the opening of the Aga Khan Park. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant.

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

The Jamatkhana in Toronto — “A Seed of Faith Planted…” by Shariffa Keshavjee

The Jamatkhana Toronto

The “Muqarnas” is a finely crafted corbelled ceiling whose skylight provides a subtle transition from the outside to the serene Jamatkhana inside.

BY SHARIFFA KESHAVJEE

A thousand years and  more
A seed of faith planted
In Khadak in Mumbai
Transplanted to many soils
India, Pakistan, Afghanistan
Bagamoyo, Zanzibar, Mombasa
Now the park on Wynford Drive

The murid murshid seed
Planted and transplanted

Now sacred space of meeting
People, stories, histories
Identities, languages
Fused, bonded, shared
Nascent unity love and care
For the highest potential
Nurturing and flourishing

The murid murshid seed
Nurtured flourishes

When  open arms welcome
Pluralism of mind and heart
Where ideas take root
A Mission is in bloom
The intellect soars
The vision expands
In the park in Canada

The murid murshid  spark
A strong foundation

A screen made from ribbons of steel separates the anteroom from the prayer hall.  It repeats an 8 sided pattern exhibiting a geometric tool used by Muslim artists to create order and rhythm for contemplation.

When vision, mission, ideas
Empathetic understanding
In harmonious symphony rise
The universe conspires
The crucible swells
Then there is alchemy
In Toronto in the park

The murid murshid love
Consecrated to Thee

A park, ineffable light, a sacred space,
Where nature, man, knowledge
Come together in unison
Of mind, body and spirit
Of dialogue and collaboration
A mosaic of cultures, languages
Inspiring hope and harmony

The murid murshid bond
Reaches out to man and nature

Circle of infinity encompasses
A Jamatkhana for supplication
The jamat comes together
To submit in humility before the Divine
The hymnal voice rising into the dome
Reaching heavenward ascending
To arrive into the silence  of the heart

The murid murshid bond
Reverberating beyond time

Inside the Jamatkhana, the central skylight panel descends to a white translucent onyx block.

The sound of prayer ascends
Reaches a crescendo
From the dome to beyond
Through the crystal clear
To the Divine Light matrix
Into the heart of  Divinity
Enlightened luminescence

The bond of murid murshid
Sets free the heart of man

Those who come together in dialogue
Those who contemplate and reflect
Welcome to the open arms of wonder
Sacred space, the crucible
That transmutes base to pure
That nurtures and gives flight
To the wings of the souls

The soul of murid to murshid
Transcends human understanding

Had we but wings
We would fly in the sky
To search  for the light
Neither of North, South
East and West
To flutter and land
In the windowsill
Of the Divine Master

Where murid murshid
Blend and Unite

Date posted: Monday, September 22, 2014.

Copyright: Shariffa Keshavjee/Simerg. 2014.

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The images shown in the poem may be clicked for enlargement. Image captions are as follows:

Top image – The “Muqarnas” is a finely crafted corbelled ceiling whose skylight provides a subtle transition from the outside to the serene Jamatkhana inside. Photo: Copyright Gary Otte.
Centre image – A screen made from ribbons of steel separates the anteroom from the prayer hall.  It repeats an 8 sided pattern exhibiting a geometric tool used by Muslim artists to create order and rhythm for contemplation. Photo: Copyright Gary Otte
Bottom image – Inside the Jamatkhana, the central skylight panel descends to a white translucent onyx block. Photo: Copyright Shai Gil.

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About the writer: Shariffa Keshavjee is  a philanthropist and an entrepreneur with an objective to help women empower themselves. Raised in Kisumu, she considers herself a “pakaa” Kenyan. She is now based in the nation’s capital, Nairobi. Her other interest is in visual arts where she delights in painting on wood, silk  and porcelain using water colours, oils and acrylics. She also likes writing, especially for children, and bird watching.

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