Photo Essay: Ismaili Muslims Open a Beautiful New Jamatkhana in Canada’s Capital

Publisher-Editor, and

Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth.
The parable of His Light is a niche wherein is a lamp —
the lamp is in a glass, the glass as it were a glittering star —
lit from a blessed olive tree,
neither eastern nor western,
whose oil almost lights up,
though fire should not touch it.
Light upon light.
Allah guides to His Light whomever He wishes.
Allah draws parables for mankind,
and Allah has knowledge of all things….The Holy Qur’an (24:35)

At precisely 7:05 pm on Friday, July 19, 2013, on the 10th day of Ramadhan, 1434 A.H., the opening of the new Ottawa Jamatkhana on 3225 Conroy Road got underway with the recitation of Ayat an-Nur from the Holy Qur’an (24:35). Hundreds of Ismailis from all over Ottawa and nearby cities as well as the National and local Ismaili institutional leadership participated in the historic opening ceremony with immense joy and happiness. The Jamat, following the religious ceremonies, gathered at the social hall for sherbet, cake and samosas. Celebrations continued on Saturday, July 20th, with a special religious geet mehfil after the evening prayers.


A view of the new Ottawa Jamatkhana located at Conroy Road which opened on Friday July 19, 2013. Photo: Malik Merchant

On Thursday evening, the day prior to the opening, many members of the Jamat turned up at the new Jamatkhana to join forces with the volunteers to assist with the clean-up of the gorgeous new building, designed by the well-known Ismaili architect, Farouk Noormohamed of Vancouver, whose previous major project in the Ismaili community was to design the magnificent high profile Ismaili Centre in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Farouk Noormohamed

 Farouk Noormohamed, architect of the 3225 Conroy Road Jamatkhana

Though not anywhere close to professionally taken photos, this piece is there to serve two purposes: A fond memory and reflection of the old Jamatkhana at 991 Carling Avenue, which was used by the Ismaili community for twenty-six years, and a tribute to a new building at 3225 Conroy Road which, as noted above, became operational as the new Jamatkhana for Ismailis on Friday, July 19, 2013. Above all, the intent is to keep readers world-wide informed and obtain a glimpse about an important event as soon as possible after it has taken place with a fairly decent, if not a perfect, presentation.



(Saturday, December 20, 1986 to Friday, July 19, 2013 – Twenty Six Years and Eight Months)


A photo of the 991 Carling Avenue Jamatkhana taken from across the road on Friday July 19th, 2013, its final day as the religious and cultural centre of the Ottawa’s Ismaili Muslim community. Photo: Malik Merchant.


Carling Opening Programme cover


Carling Opening Programme Leadership Message


Carling Opening Programme

The programme brochure of the opening of the Ottawa 991 Carling Avenue Jamatkhana in 1986. Photo: Abdulmalik Thawer Collection.


Carling Jamatkhana soon after 1986 Opening

The Ottawa 991 Carling Avenue Jamatkhana pictured shortly after it was acquired by the Ismaili Muslim community in 1986. The building was previously owned by the Ukrainian Community which then relocated to its own beautiful purpose-built church off Prince of Wales Drive. Photo: Abdulmalik Thawer Collection. 



The same inside side wall of the 991 Carling Avenue Jamatkhana (see previous photo), as it appeared on Friday July 19, 2013, the last day of its usage as an Ismaili Jamatkhana and cultural centre. Photo: Malik Merchant



The 991 Carling Avenue Jamatkhana and its front parking lot. Overflow parking, once the rear section was filled, moved to street parking and the Experimental Farm Parking lots, located close to where this photo was taken. Photo: Malik Merchant.


991Carling  Leadership and Volunteers

The Ottawa Ismaili Leadership with Ismaili volunteers shortly after the move to 991 Carling Avenue from Cody Street. Photo: Abdulmalik Thawer Collection.



The social hall of the 991 Carling Avenue Jamatkhana. Photo: Malik Merchant



The foyer of the 991 Carling Avenue Jamatkhana. The stairs led to the social hall. A portion of the literature counter is seen against the wall at the bottom of the stair case.  Photo: Malik Merchant.



The rear section of the 991 Carling Avenue Jamatkhana, with the parking lot. Photo: Malik Merchant


The old Ottawa Jamatkhana located at 991 Carling Avenue remained the cultural and religious centre of  the Ottawa Ismailis for almost 27 years, after the Jamat moved there from Cody Street on December 20, 1986. Since 1986, the Jamat has grown steadily from approximately 450 to the present population of  over 1200 (and still growing), which made it necessary to hold the Jamatkhana at external locations during peak attendance days such as the monthly Chandraat Mijalas (celebrating the beginning of the Muslim month) and on other festive religious occasions such as Idd, Navroz, Imamat Day, Lailatul Qadr and Salgirah. The new location has a much bigger prayer hall than the Carling Avenue location, and will also be able to accommodate many more worshippers, when necessary,  in the foyer outside the prayer hall.



(Became operational on Friday, July 19, 2013, 7:05 pm)

PRAYER HALL (upper floor)


The new Ottawa Jamatkhana’s prayer space. Photo: Malik Merchant.



A view of the new Ottawa Jamatkhana’s prayer hall. The chairs at the further corner are for the elders and infirm of the Jamat. Photo: Malik Merchant



Decorative panels adorn the rear walls and ceiling of the new Ottawa Jamatkhana prayer hall. Photo: Malik Merchant.



A view of the prayer hall. Photo: Malik Merchant



A close-up of the rear wall, at the entrance to the prayer hall. Photo: Malik Merchant.


FOYER (outside prayer hall)


The foyer space outside the prayer hall. At either sides of the foyer window overlooking Conroy Road are two decorative Ajrak pieces from Sindh, Pakistan. Ajraks are also commonly found in the Kutch region of India. The foyer area leads to institutional offices, a council chamber, several Baitul Ilm classrooms, a library as well as a literature counter and a baby room. Photo: Malik Merchant



In the foyer area, the council chamber (covered) at left and the literature counter at right. Hallways at both ends lead to a library, classrooms and institutional offices. Photo: Malik Merchant



Classroom hallway. Photo: Malik Merchant



A close-up of a Persian decorative rug in the classroom hallway. Photo: Malik Merchant.



An iconic decorative suzani piece from Tajikistan on the main stair landing. Photo: Malik Merchant



The library of the new Ismaili Jamatkhana is located on the same floor as the prayer hall. It is close to the literature counter. Photo: Malik Merchant.



One of the several Baitul-Ilm classes at the new Ismaili Jamatkhana. Desks and chairs are purpose-built to cater for different age groups. Each class has a window to keep the room bright. Photo: Malik Merchant.



A classroom for higher grade students. Photo: Malik Merchant


SOCIAL HALL (ground floor)


A view of the front entrance to the Jamatkhana building from the inside of the social hall on the ground floor. Adjacent to the social hall are coat and shoe racks, washrooms and a kitchen. An elevator facility is available to take members to the upstairs prayer hall and other facilities shown in previous photos. The entrance shown in this photo faces the 4-lane divided Conroy Road. Photo: Malik Merchant



Adjacent to the ground floor social hall is a room for non-Ismaili spouses. Photo: Malik Merchant


The larger parking area at the new Jamatkhana will  reduce or eliminate street parking which was an almost daily occurrence at the Carling location. Accessibility to the new Jamatkhana for people staying at either stretches of Ottawa, Orleans and Kanata, is more difficult than getting to 991 Carling Avenue, which was only a kilometre or two from the 417 Highway (Queensway) exits of Parkdale and Bronson.

However, Ottawa is a compact and small-sized city, and this should not inconvenience or add an excessive amount of travelling time to the Jamatkhana for even those travelling from the West and East Ends, Centre Town and a few South Side Communities. Many residing in the South End of the City, including in neighbourhoods such as South Keys, Greensboro, Hunt Club and Riverside South will find it extremely convenient to reach to the new location.


The rear of the new Jamatkhana as seen from the furthest corner of the large parking area. There is more parking at the front and either ends of the building, which also accommodates bicycles. Photo: Malik Merchant



The main front entrance and portal of the Jamatkhana. Photo: Malik Merchant



The front of the Jamatkhana, as seen from a forested end. At the right is a gas station, and the various side streets contain residential homes. Photo: Malik Merchant.




 A group of Ismailis preparing to leave 991 Carling Avenue on the morning of Friday July 19, 2013, shortly after they completed their prayers at the Jamatkhana for the last time. Photo: Malik Merchant.

A twenty-six year attachment to the old Jamatkhana came to an end with the completion of religious ceremonies on the evening of Thursday, July 18th and again on the following morning on Friday July 19th. Then several hours later the Jamat, with the Grace and Blessing of Mawlana Hazar Imam, began their religious and cultural rejuvenation in a much more splendid and esthetically pleasing environment.


Abdulmalik Thawer and his wife Farida pictured at the main stairwell of the new Jamatkhana that leads to the prayer hall upstairs. For them and all the members of the Ismaili Muslim community, Friday July 19th, would be a memorable and historic day with the opening of this new Jamatkhana at 3225 Conroy Road. Photo: Malik Merchant




The front and rear parking lots were filled to capacity well before the opening ceremonies commenced. Arrangements had been made at nearby properties for overflow parking from where Jamati members rode in shuttle buses to the new Jamatkhana. Photo: Malik Merchant



A view of the social hall where Jamati members gathered to socialize and have light refreshments once the evening prayers were completed. Photo: Malik Merchant.



Another scene of the social hall after the opening. Photo: Malik Merchant.



An Ismaili volunteer with a smile on her face as she prepares to fill a plate with cake and samosa (chutney in white bowls). An incredibly tasty sherbet had been prepared with all kinds of fruit. When complimented about the sherbet, the volunteer deferred the praise for someone else. Photo: Malik Merchant.



Striped Abdul Shivji  – volunteer’s tie and shirt (is from Kenya). Photo: Malik Merchant



Beautiful smiles , faces and dresses. Photo: Malik Merchant



Delighted hearts, happy faces. Photo: Malik Merchant



A view of the main entrance at night, following the opening ceremonies. Photo: Malik Merchant



Seeing the main entrance through a tree. Photo: Malik Merchant



Three absolutely lovely children outside the main entrance….Photo: Malik Merchant



…Joined by three more. A truly happy evening for everyone. Photo: Malik Merchant



With the ceremonies and celebrations almost over for the evening, frequent shuttle services were available to take Jamati members to the designated parking areas. Photo: Malik Merchant.




3225 (Conroy Road, Ottawa, Ontario, K1G 3N4). Photo: Malik Merchant

Date posted: Saturday, July 20, 2013.
Date updated: Sunday, August 18, 2013 (last photo, caption update with complete address).
Copyright:, 2013.


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