Photos and Videos: Simerg Captures the Spirit of the Jamat on the Opening Day of the Ismaili Centre in 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: Simerg/Malik Merchant.

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 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.

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The Ismaili Centre glows and reflects in water on the night of the historic opening day for members of the Ismaili community. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant. 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 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 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.

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VOICES FROM THE JAMAT AND THE VOLUNTEERS (IV)

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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.

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

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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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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 their 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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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.

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

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Members from two families stand together to pose for a photo at the Park after the conclusion of the evening’s celebration at the Ismaili Centre. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg. Copyright.

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Alykhan (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, 13:55 (Incorrect photo caption, see note 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.