Majestic Building in Kensington Radiates Peace and Humility
By Shellyza Moledina
As I walk out of the dimly lit and seemingly empty Jamatkhana, I look back at the beautiful tranquility that seems to have settled over the majestic prayer hall.
As I look further, I realize that I am not alone. I see a lone figure knelt in the middle of the Darkhana Jamatkhana space. His green volunteer tie is loosened, and his face shows the ultimate serenity and peace. I often see him volunteering at the Centre, and I realize that for him, and for many other Ismailis in the United Kingdom, Ismaili Centre is their home.
This Jamatkhana is home to people of all ages, while being the main stop over for Ismaili travelers from all parts of the world passing through London.
Naileen, a STEP teacher from Canada says “There is a powerful feeling I get when I approach the building; it radiates a duality of peace and humility, and yet majesty. The building is full of intricate details and more importantly, symbols – of Ismaili history, of our identity today, and of our relationship with the community.”
When Mawlana Hazar Imam attended the opening ceremony of the Centre in 1985, he stated that the Centre would be a “token of understanding between East and West.”
Twenty five years later, the Centre has hosted high-profile events in its social hall and beautiful charbagh garden. The Centre has extended invitations to dignitaries from the around the globe, including very recently, our own Mawlana Hazar Imam and Prince Charles.
At the visit, Mawlana Hazar Imam commented that the Centre “still felt new” and asked numerous questions about the wellbeing of the British Ismaili community. Meanwhile, Prince Charles asked several questions about the voluntary service and shared values within the British Ismaili community.
I interview various members of the Jamat in the social hall, all gradually making their way towards the exit. They all speak to me of the same words when I ask what the Centre means to them.
“Ismaili Centre is my home,” says Roshan with a wide proud smile. Roshan, an elderly lady in volunteer uniform, was present when the Ismaili Centre opened in 1985.
Another gentleman tells me stories of community growth, technological advances, and growing attention of dignitaries since 1985. And yet, he also tells me of the sense of security and belonging present in the Centre that has not even slightly diminished since then.
The feeling of being-at-home in such a high-profile Centre is not unusual. I interview a woman in her thirties who tells me of the nostalgia she feels for the Centre. “We were brought up here, it encompasses our childhood and defined how we are as adults today.”
Her mother, quietly listening, tells me “It is a second home, it speaks of peace and serenity, and it is everything to us.”
Rahima, a young student tells me that she comes to Ismaili Centre to escape the hustle and bustle of busy Central london.
“It always makes me smile to know that I am welcomed here. I have been coming here since I was born and hold many great memories here, my first ever Dua recital, Arts Day, my sisters wedding, meeting Hazar Imam… My life would be empty without this wonderful place. It is more than a place of worship. It is part of my life.”
Date article posted on Simerg: December 8, 2010
Last updated: September 22, 2011
Some of the photo captions have been compiled from The Buildings of England by Pevsner, Nikolaus, and Cherry, Bridget. London 3: North West. Ed. Pevsner, Nikolaus et al. London: Penguin Group. 1991. pp. 448-454, 465-466.
About the writer: Shellyza Moledina is a 23 year old training community pharmacist currently situated in London, United Kingdom.
As a past Aston University Model United Nations and Debating society president, talent show frequent, and regular writer at Simerg, Shellyza expresses moments that inspire her through lyrics, poetry, and essay passages.
Shellyza places great importance on developing knowledge and skills, in order to help and inspire others. Her favourite topics of writing include spirituality, innocence, determination, hope, and learning.
Some of her poetry is featured in the Modern Artistic Expressions category of this Web site. Please click Shellyza Moledina: Mawla’s Eyes and other poems.
She also has her own blog, http://shellyza.wordpress.com which features book reviews, links to her two cyber-hit songs “Mowla’s Eyes” and “The Jubilee song” as well as compilations of poetry and essay projects.
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