Life – An Exalted Destiny – Aga Khan III

Life - An Exalted Destiny - Aga Khan III Life is a great and noble calling; not a mean and grovelling thing to be shuffled through as best as we can, but a lofty and exalted destiny.

Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Centre, Toronto Opening September 12, 2014

His highness Prince Karim Al Husseini Aga Khan IV set to inaugurate his new museum in Don Mills on Sept. 12

Mowlana Hazar Imam and Steven Harper to inaugurate Ismaili Centre and Museum on September 12, 2014


Aga Khan Museum set to open

City News Toronto: Videographer Audra Brown takes a tour of the Aga Khan Museum, a new building in Toronto celebrating Islamic art and culture.

His Highness the Aga Khan and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will preside over the opening of the Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Centre, Toronto on Friday, 12 September. The occasion will be marked by two separate ceremonies.
Full coverage will be provided on, including a live webcast of both opening ceremonies. The webcast is expected to start at 2:00 pm EDT (Toronto time).Watch the webcast live at

Aga Khan’s gift to Canada | The Art Newspaper

Aga Khan’s gift to CanadaRiches of Islamic art and science to be unveiled in Toronto’s new cultural complex

By Julia Halperin for the Art Newspaper

The first museum in North America devoted to Islamic arts and culture is due to open on 18 September in an unlikely place: the Don Mills suburb of Toronto, Canada. The Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslim community, philanthropist and chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network, is the founder of the C$300m ($275m) complex, which also includes a community centre and gardens covering 753,473 sq. ft.


His Highness the Aga Khan: Bringer of hope and fine architecture

His Highness the Aga Khan: Bringer of hope and fine architectureIn a rare interview, His Highness the Aga Khan describes his global approach to helping Islamic communities help themselves, while also restoring their past heritage

By Anna Somers Cocks for The Art Newspaper

This article was originally published in May 2005, The Art Newspaper, Issue 158.

Last month, a 30-hectare park in the centre of Cairo was inaugurated by the Aga Khan and Suzanne Mubarak, wife of the Egyptian president. It stands high over the city so on a clear day you can see the pyramids, and breezes ruffle its palm trees. You look down on the 12th-century city wall that runs for a kilometre and a half from Saladin’s great citadel. Crushed up against it is Darb Al-Ahmar, the oldest part of Cairo, a dense network of ramshackle streets that includes 50 monuments, from exquisitely detailed 14th-century mosques to the last of the whirling dervishes’ theatres in Egypt. The poorest of the poor live here; the houses—and most of the monuments—are so badly maintained that some of them are downright dangerous.


Humbled and Grateful: Ismailimail invited to momentous occasion

Ismailimail is humbled to have received an official invitation to attend the opening ceremonies of the new Ismaili Centre, Toronto, Aga Khan Museum and their Park.

We are grateful for this opportunity to share our experience with you and promise to provide in depth coverage, insightful stories and pictures through a unique lens.

Stay tuned for more updates throughout the week!

Ismaili Centre, Toronto - Photo Alim Maherali

From IsmailiGnosis

Esoteric Thought in Physical Form: The Aga Khan Campus in Toronto


“Great architecture, like great art, captures esoteric thought in physical form.” – Imam Shah Karīm al-Husayni Aga Khan IV

In May 2010, Imam Shah Karim al-Husayni Aga Khan IV, the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shī‘ī Ismaili Muslims and the direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad and Imam Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib, presided over the foundation ceremony for the Aga Khan Museum, Ismaili Centre and Jamatkhana, and Aga Khan Park being built in Toronto. The entire site – known as the Aga Khan Campus – is described by the Imam as follows:

“It now includes three elements: a new Ismaili Centre — the sixth such representational building in the world; a new Aga Khan Museum; and a beautiful, welcoming Park, which will link these two new buildings. Together, these three projects will symbolise the harmonious integration of the spiritual, the artistic and the natural worlds — in keeping with the holistic ideal which is an intimate part of Islamic tradition.”
– Imām Shāh Karīm al-Ḥusaynī Āgā Khān IV,

Foundation Stone Ceremony for the Aga Khan Museum, Ismaili Centre and Park, Toronto, May 28, 2010:
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In the vision of the Ismaili Imamat, the Aga Khan Campus of Toronto, like the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in Ottawa, is not merely a set of buildings. According to the Imam, the Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Park amount to nothing less than “esoteric thought in physical form”:

“Buildings can do more than simply house people and programmes. They can also reflect our deepest values; great architecture, like great art, captures esoteric thought in physical form. In Islamic thought, beauty and mystery are not separated from the intellect — in fact, the reverse is true. “
– Imam Shah Karim al-Husayni Aga Khan IV,

The words of the Ismā‘īlī Imams articulated before public audience are not devoid of esoteric meaning or ta’wīl – as stated by the Ismā‘īlī dā‘ī Sayyidnā Nāṣir-i Khusraw:

“The sayings of the Imams have ta’wīl (esoteric meaning), just as the Speech of God and [the sayings of His] Messenger have ta’wīl, because they are the witnesses of God over the people.”
– Sayyidnā Nāṣir-i Khusraw, (Knowledge and Liberation, tr. Hunzai, 113)

These architectural masterpieces commissioned by the Ismaili Imamat, such as the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat and the Aga Khan Campus, are actually texts (nass) by which the Ismaili Imam announces his spiritual authority (walayah), instruction (ta’līm) and esoteric exegesis (ta’wīl) to humankind through the symbolic language of architecture.  But the subtle meanings and esoteric mysteries embedded within the “built texts” of the Imam can only be envisioned through the eyes of Ismā‘īlī ta’wīl, or esoteric exegesis, in order for their spiritual meanings to be grasped by the onlookers.

The Ismaili Gnosis blog is proud to announce a four part series of articles, titledEsoteric Thought in Physical Form: The Aga Khan Campus in Toronto, that seeks to uncover and share some of the “esoteric thought” behind the Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Center and Jamatkhana, and the Aga Khan Park. The four parts are entitled as follows:

Mysteries of Light (nur): The Aga Khan Museum (part 1)

Prophetic Architectures: The Aga Khan Museum (part 2)

House of Light: The Toronto Ismaili Center and Jamatkhana (part 3)

Garden of Gnosis: The Aga Khan Park (part 4)

Part 1, The Mysteries of Light (nūr): The Aga Khan Museum, is shown below:


“The new Toronto Museum will take as its theme the concept of light — suffusing the building from a central courtyard, through patterned glass screens. From the outside, it will glow by day and by night, lit by the sun and the moon. This use of light speaks to us of the Divine Light of the Creator, reflected in the glow of individual human inspiration and vibrant, transparent community. As the poet Rumi has written: The light that lights the eye is also the light of the heart… but the light that lights the heart is the Light of God.
– Imām Shāh Karīm al-Ḥusaynī Āgā Khān IV,
(Foundation Stone Ceremony for the Aga Khan Museum, Ismaili Centre and Park, Toronto, May 28, 2010)

This article focuses on the theme of Light (nūr) by examining the Ismaili Imamat’s remarks, given in the letters and speeches of Imam Shah Karim al-Husayni, on how Light is the overarching theme of the Aga Khan Museum. We begin by quoting the letter of Imam Shah Karim al-Husayni sent to the architect Fumihiko Maki:

“For the Aga Khan Museum, I thought that ‘light’ might be a concept around which you could design an outstanding museum. The notion of light has transversed nearly all of human history, and has been an inspiration for numerous faiths, going as far back of course to the Zoroastrians and their reverence for the Sun, to the Sura in the Holy Qur’an titled al-Nur. Decades of Western history are referred to as the ‘enlightenment’ for good reason.”

“I hope that the building and the spaces around it will be seen as the celebration of Light, and the mysteries of Light, that nature and the human soul illustrate to us at every moment in our lives. I have explained at the beginning of this letter why I think Light would be an appropriate design direction for the new museum and this concept is of course particularly validated in Islamic texts and sciences: apart from the innumerable references in the Qur’an to Light in all its forms, in nature and in the human soul, the light of the skies, their sources and their meaning have for centuries been an area of intellectual inquiry and more specifically in the field of astronomy. Thus the architecture of the building would seek to express these multiple notions of Light, both natural and man-made, through the most purposeful selection of internal and external construction materials, facets of elevations playing with each other through the reflectivity of natural or electric light, and to create light gain or light retention from external natural sources or man-made internal and external sources… natural light emanating from God’s creation, (and) light… which emanates from human sources, in the form of art, culture and well-inspired human knowledge.”

– Imam Shāh Karīm al-Ḥusaynī Āgā Khān IV
Letter to Fumihiko Maki, January 3, 2006

More at  IsmailiGnosis – this is an excellent article!

Congratulations Everyone! Mubarak! Rejoice!

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Quran, 13:28

ألا بِذِكْرِ اللهِ تَطمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ

“Verily! In the remembrance of Allah do hearts find contentment.” - Quran, 13:28

Prophet Muhammad

Prophet Muhammad:

‘Ali is ‘as my own soul’ (ka-nafsi).

He said to ‘Ali, ‘You are from me and I am from you (anta minni wa ana minka).’

‘Truly, ‘Ali is from me and I am from him (inna ‘Ali minni wa ana minhu), and he is the wali (patron/spiritual master) of every believer after me.’

Hazrat Ali

12. When some blessings come to you, do not drive them away through thanklessness.

13. He who is deserted by friends and relatives will often find help and sympathy from strangers.

Imam Ali Sayings

Imam Jaffer Sadiq

لاَ يَكُونُ شَيْءٌ فِي اْلاَرْضِ وَلا فِي السَّمَاءِ إِلاَّ بِهذِهِ الْخِصَالِ السَّبْعِ: بِمَشيئَةٍ وَ إِرادَةٍ وَقَدَرٍ وَقَضَاءٍ وَ إِذْنٍ وَكِتابٍ وَأَجَلٍ. فَمَنْ زَعَمَ أَنَّهُ يَقْدِرُ عَلى نَقْضٍ وَاحِدَةٍ، فَقَدْ كَفَرَ.

“Nothing occurs in this earth and in the heaven except with the following seven stages: Will, intention, destiny, decree, permission, book and implementation. Then whoever thinks that he can reduce any of these stages, then indeed he has disbelieved.”

- Imam Jaffer Sadiq, Usul al Kafi, vol. 1, p. 149

Rumi on Ramadan

The month of fasting has come, the emperor’s banner has arrived; withhold your hand from food, the spirit’s table has arrived. The soul has escaped from separation and bound nature’s hands; the heart of error is defeated, the army of faith has arrived. Fasting is our sacrifice, it is the life of our soul; let us sacrifice all our body, since the soul has arrived as guest. Fortitude is as a sweet cloud, wisdom rains from it, because it was in such a month of fortitude that the Koran arrived. …Wash your hands and your mouth, neither eat nor speak; seek that speech and that morsel which has come to the silent ones.


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99 Beautiful Names

Asma-ul Husna


Aga Khan jokes

Aga Khan Speech Brown University May 1996:

"Looking around this colorful gathering, I recall helping in the choice of the Aga Khan University's regalia. Our research into Islamic traditions of academic dress revealed that an academic's rank determined the height of his hat. The higher the rank, the taller the hat. The senior most professors therefore appeared taller than their students even when sitting down. I have just learnt that my friend Neil Rudenstein, the President of Harvard has given instructions that all Harvard hats are to be heightened by at least a foot. This has caused havoc in the Ivy League which is now debating resolution MAHH96, standing for Maximum Allowable Hat Height. My academic standing and that of President Gregorian, should be evident from the hats that we are presently wearing!"

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