By Muslim and Nevin Harji
(Special to Simerg)
“The congregational space incorporated within the Ismaili Centre belongs to the historic category of jamatkhana, an institutional category that also serves a number of sister Sunni and Shia communities, in their respective contexts, in many parts of the world. Here, it will be space reserved for traditions and practices specific to the Shia Ismaili Tariqah of Islam.
“…the Ismaili Centre will be a symbol of the confluence between the spiritual and the secular in Islam. Like its functions, the Centre’s architecture will reflect our perception of daily life, whose rhythm weaves the body and the soul, man and nature into a seamless unity. Guided by the ethic of whatever we do, see and hear, and the quality of our social interactions, resonate on our faith and bear on our spiritual lives, the Centre will seek to create, Insh’allah, a sense of equilibrium, stability and tranquillity….” His Highness the Aga Khan, Foundation Ceremony, Ismaili Centre, Dubai, December 13, 2003.
Philip Jodidio: Recently you finished a new Ismaelite center in Dubai. It is the opposite of the skyscraper architecture that is currently popular there. Did you want to make a statement with it?
His Highness the Aga Khan: The building boom there has purely economic grounds and does not concern religious buildings. What I build should be oriented on human standards. The debate about the highest building in the world has to do with ambition, vanity, and pride, or whatever you want to call it. These motives play no role in our value system.
(Interview published in Philip Jodidio’s book Under the Eaves of Architecture. The Aga Khan: Builder and Patron.
Philip Jodidio: If you were to name a building that had influenced you the most, which would it be?
His Highness the Aga Khan: In response to the question about which buildings have impressed me, I would say the Ahmad-Ibn-Tulun Mosque in Cairo is one example. It is unbelievably plain, yet no building is more impressive.
* * *
The Satagur has arrived,
The sixty-eight shrines
at home’s threshold,
The Ganges and Jamna
are here full and flowing.
Now he who bathes is purified,
While the wicked
Will stay aloof from the Lord.
Diving in the congregation-pond
Pearls invaluable came in hand.
Guard, guard the jewels:
They’ll grow manifold in worth.
Learning the truth,
Keep it in the heart,
Telling no-one else.
(Translation of verse 1 of Pir Satgur Noor’s ginan, Satagura padhariya tame jagajo, from “A Scent of Sandalwood” by Dr. Aziz Esmail)
Date posted: Saturday, June 9, 2012.
About the writers: Nevin and Muslim Harji live happily in Montreal, where, over the last 35 years, they have raised two children and run a successful business. Upon retirement in 2004, Muslim and Nevin truly started to explore the world. All told, together and individually, they have visited more than 40 countries around the globe, experiencing the beauty of the Middle East, the exoticism of Asia and the wonders of South America. Kayaking the Magellan Straights, exploring Palmyra by camel, hiking up to Alamut Fort in Iran or travelling by overnight train in India, Nevin and Muslim have always favoured unique ways of experiencing the countries they visit and plan to continue fostering their love for travelling the world.
Other photo essays by Muslim and Nevin Harji on this website:
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