OTTAWA – Ismaili Muslims' spiritual leader Aga Khan, the Founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) arrived in Vancouver this week as part of an 8-day visit to Canada on the occasion of his Golden Jubilee. The Aga Khan, who is in Canada as a guest of the Government, is commemorating his fifty years of leadership as Imam of the Ismaili Muslims.
The Aga Khan arrived in Ottawa on Tuesday and traveled to Toronto, where he met with Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario. He presided over the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between McMaster University and the Aga Khan University (AKU), which has campuses and programs in eight countries in South Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.
In Vancouver, the Aga Khan me with the Mayor of the City of Burnaby, Derek Corrigan, as well as The Honourable Gordon Campbell, Premier of British Columbia. The Aga Khan also met and addressed the gatherings of the Ismaili community in each of cities he visited.
He is scheduled to return to Ottawa for the official inauguration of the Delegation
of the Ismaili Imamat building on Sussex Drive, on December 6, 2008. The Delegation will
serve a representational role for the activities of the Imamat including the AKDN, and will
mark a new phase in the Imamat's partnership with Canada.
The Aga Khan Development Network has a long-standing relationship with Canada and
Canadians. Over the past 25 years, the AKDN, particularly through Aga Khan Foundation
Canada, has collaborated with a diverse set of institutions, including universities, government
departments, the private sector and civil society organizations, to bring the best of Canada's
human, intellectual and technical resources to bear on the challenges of the developing world.
The Aga Khan leads a community of 15 million Ismaili Muslims living in some 25 countries around the world and is a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family). As part of the commemoration of His Highness the Aga Khan's Golden Jubilee which began on 11th July 2007, he has been paying official visits to some 35 countries, using these occasions to recognize the friendship and longstanding support of leaders of state, government and other partners in the work of the Ismaili Imamat, and to set the direction for the future, including the launching and laying of foundations for major initiatives and programs.
Welcome to an honoured visitor
Spiritual leader works tirelessly for his sect and all peoples
Published: Monday, November 24, 2008
The Aga Khan's visit to Calgary today marks a significant event for the city's small but influential Ismaili community. For the first time in 16 years, they will have the chance to meet and worship with their spiritual leader.
The Aga Khan is visiting as part of a 16-month celebration in honour of his 50th anniversary as imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims.
He has much to celebrate, as this 71-year-old is no ordinary man. Not only does he advocate on behalf of this minority sect among the world's 15 million Shia Muslims, this charismatic leader stands as a living example of someone dedicated to working on behalf of all of humanity, regardless of race, religion or creed.
Imam Aga Khan is visiting on his Golden Jubilee.
Torsten Silz, Agence France-Presse, Getty Images
His tireless aid work includes establishing the Aga Khan Foundation, today the world's second largest philanthropic foundation in international development.
He also founded and heads the Aga Khan Development Network --the world's largest non-governmental development agency. It focuses on economic and educational development and has established more than 300
schools and advanced educational pro-grams for thousands of students in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Kenya, Uganda and other African nations. New schools are in progress or planned for Afghanistan, Syria and the Congo.
Of Canada's 75,000 Ismailis, some 10,000 live in Calgary. Today's event is expected to attract 15,000 people, as followers from across the Prairie provinces convene here for the chance to meet and pray with their spiritual leader.
The Aga Khan has always had special admiration for Canada. It is he who is deserving of praise. We welcome him to Calgary on his Golden Jubilee and congratulate his efforts to bring down barriers of religious, racial and ethnic divisions.
From Almoonir Dewji's blog. Visit the source to read congratulatory notes and welcome wishes from various inter-faith colleagues and individuals in Canada.
My Imam Is Coming To Town
After 16 years, I get to welcome my Imam to my hometown (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) again.
His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan is the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims and a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family) through his cousin and son-in-law, Ali, the first Imam, and his wife Fatima, the Prophet's daughter.
I look forward to his visit to Calgary to:
accept the grace and blessings of the presence of a member of the Prophet's family
express my personal gratitude to him for dedicating his life in improving the quality of life of my family, the Ismaili community and all humanity
listen to his guidance on how I can live a spritual-worldly balanced life and be a model Canadian and global citizen
It was heartening to receive many warm wishes from my interfaith colleagues when I shared with them the article in the Calgary Herald announcing his visit (see below).
A Christian colleague wrote:
"The visit of Aga Khan to Calgary is a reason for all folk of good will to celebrate! With all he stands for and works for his presence here cannot but highlight the positive for all of us and is, therefore, a blessing. I cannot imagine what a joy and blessing it must be for the Ismaili community."
Another Christian colleague wrote:
"I hope that today is a wonderful day for you and your community. May the experience be well and trully blessed that your time with your Imam be one of joy and spritual growth for all."
Yet, another Christian colleague wrote:
"This must be a momentous event for the local and Canadian Ismaili community. May it truly be a blessing to you. Since Christians in Canada, including those on our Dialogue panel, have a very limited knowledge of the Ismaili faith, of the role of the Aga Khan, and the Aga Khan Development Network, it might be helpful to draw their attention to a half hour interview that Peter Mansbridge had with the Aga Khan in February of 2007 on CBC. It can be viewed on :
Info on the Aga Khan Foundation Canada can be accessed at :
A Jewish colleague wrote:
"His presence brings honour to the entire city. We wish you a meaningful and successful event today and may you draw strength from the wisdom of your spiritual leader."
One of my Muslim colleague wrote:
"May God make his visit blessing for Ismaili Community as well for the City of Calgary"
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Muslim leader to visit Calgary
The Aga Khan, spiritual leader to the world's 15 million Ismaili Muslims, will pay a visit to Calgary this month.
The local stop on Nov. 24 -- the Aga Khan's first visit to Calgary in 16 years -- will be part of a weeklong tour of Canada, marking his 50th year at the head of the global Ismaili community.
Canada is the 14th country the Aga Khan will visit as part of the celebration, with other stops in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver.
"We've been anticipating the possibility that he might come to Calgary, but to have it confirmed now is very exciting," says Calgary Ismaili community member Sameera Sereda.
"There are a whole generation of young Ismailis who have never had the opportunity to see him."
Calgarian Mansoor Ladha had the chance to interview the Aga Khan as a young journalist working in Tanzania in 1970.
"We've been waiting for months and months for this announcement to come," Ladha said. "There will be Ismailis coming to Calgary from all across the Prairie provinces for this day."
Community member Almoonir Dewji said Calgary's Ismaili population has doubled to about 10,000 since the Aga Khan's last visit here.
"There's a tremendous feeling of grace and blessing that he's coming again," says Dewji.
"He is a great role model to me personally, because he embodies the teaching of the prophet in the current time."
Details of the Aga Khan's schedule while in Calgary are still being finalized, but a large communal gathering at Stampede Park is planned.
In addition to his spiritual leadership, the Aga Khan has gained widespread attention for his humanitarian and economic development work in a number of Third World nations. He has been a champion of Islamic art and architecture and of the restoration and preservation of ancient Muslim archeological sites.
The Aga Khan has developed close ties with Canadian leaders through the years, lauding our country as an example of religious pluralism in a world often torn along racial and spiritual lines.
Video of Mowlana Hazar Imam - Arrival at the Pan Pacific - November 24, 2008
As we in the Vancouver Jamat prepare for our precious deedar this afternoon, fresh from my video camera last night, please enjoy the video at the link below of Mowlana Hazar Imam arriving at the Pan Pacific hotel in downtown Vancouver.
Mawlana Hazar Imam in discussion with the Honourable Norman L Kwong, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, and his wife, Her Honour Mary Kwong. Photo: Gary Otte
In Calgary this morning, Mawlana Hazar Imam met with Linda Hughes, Chancellor of the University of Alberta, and Dr Carl Amrhein, the University’s Provost and Vice-President (Academic).
Later in the morning, Mawlana Hazar Imam called on the Honourable Norman L Kwong, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, and his wife, Her Honour Mary Kwong, at McDougall Centre.
Mawlana Hazar Imam then attended a reception and luncheon hosted by the Aga Khan University, where he addressed a group of Canadian businessmen who founded the Awali Project in partnership with the University’s Institute for Educational Development. Awali — which means beginning in Swahili — has brought together private Canadian citizens, the Canadian International Development Agency and the AKU to invest in the development of quality education in East Africa.
“Your Highness, you lead a wonderful people who make vitally important contributions to world peace based on the practice of understanding, pluralism and thoughtfulness,” remarked Jim Gray, an Awali founder, during the luncheon. “Our Awali Family is proud to be partners with Aga Khan University in East Africa.”
In the afternoon, Mawlana Hazar Imam granted a Golden Jubilee Darbar to thousands of murids who had gathered at the Calgary Roundup Centre. Following the Darbar Hazar Imam departed Calgary for Vancouver.
The Honourable Steven L Point, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, received Mawlana Hazar Imam as he arrived in Vancouver. Jamati leaders were also present to greet him. In a warm welcome ceremony, two children from the Jamat presented flowers to Hazar Imam before renditions of the the Nasheed al-Imamah and Canadian national anthem were performed.
Additional photos are available in the gallery. Also see the video of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s arrival in Ottawa. Further details on Mawlana Hazar Imam’s visit to Canada will continue to be posted at TheIsmaili.org.
Posted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 3:37 am Post subject: Toronto Darbar... a few questions
Ya Ali Madad,
Darbar Mubarak to all. I was blessed to attend the Toronto Darbar (Day 1) and I'm sure you have hear how beautiful it was!
I just had two quick questions,
Does anyone have any pictures of the celebration or the lit up CN Tower? My camera batteries ran out and I'd love to see pictures of the whole celebration.
So, If there is a place to post or view pictures please let me know.
Also, which Ayaat of the Quran was recited during the Darbar? I know it discussed the Convincing Truth of Imamat.
Ismaili Muslim leader says Canada's diversity is a model for the world
VANCOUVER, B.C. — The leader of the world's 15 million Ismaili Muslims says Canada's pluralism is a model to the world.
The Aga Khan thanked Canada for welcoming Ismailis, a moderate group within the Shia wing of Islam, who were forced to flee persecution and conflict in their own countries over the years.
"Canada has been the country which has been most generous, most thoughtful, most helpful in bringing people to Canada from these difficult backgrounds, offering them a new opportunity ... to live in a society which is pluralist, which is conscious of quality, which is conscious of human development and human values," he told a luncheon group Tuesday.
The Aga Khan, who assumed the title from his grandfather in 1957 at age 20, was in Vancouver on Tuesday to cap a four-city tour of Canada celebrating the 50th anniversary of his position as the community's 49th Imam.
He held a private meeting with B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell before the two went into a lunch with about 100 prominent guests.
Campbell praised the wealthy, Swiss-born religious leader's philanthropic work through his Aga Khan Development Network, which works in 29 countries, including Afghanistan.
"For decades now you have partnered with Canadians to build a new infrastructure of hope that's based on education and pluralism, on health, on creating for individuals the sense of themselves, the promise that they have and the possibility that exists in the world in which they live," Campbell said.
Canada's great strength is its diversity, said Campbell, a theme the Aga Khan built on in his brief address.
Canada not only sheltered Ismailis who escaped persecution in countries such as Uganda in the 1970s, he said, but allowed them to prosper so that some could return home, bringing Canadian values with them.
"You have given them the wherewithal to return to their countries in due course and bring back to Africa, bring back to Asia ... the pluralism, the values of Canada, the knowledge society that you have created here in Canada," the Aga Khan said.
He said he sometimes jokes that more and more Ismaili leaders around the world are Canadian.
"You don't have a colonialist history but you are colonializing the Aga Khan Development Network," he said.
One of the unique traits Canadian Ismailis bring back is an ability to promote knowledge needed to become globally competitive in a way that does not threaten traditional societies in many developing countries, he said.
"Knowledge in its purest form is often abrasive," the Aga Khan said. "When this knowledge comes into these societies it creates difficulties, creates reactions because the societies are not prepared for pure knowledge.
"What Canada has done is it has humanized that knowledge."
Canada, he said, continues to be a partner on common issues such as early-childhood development, how traditional societies can work in a modern environment and pluralist government based on merit, not manipulation.
The Aga Khan was scheduled later to preside over a service that's expected to draw upwards of 18,000 Ismailis to BC Place Stadium
B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell and the Aga Khan pose for a photograph in the offices of the Premier in Vancouver on Tuesday.
Campbell walks with the Aga Khan in Vancouver on Tuesday. The Aga Khan, the hereditary and spiritual leader of an estimated 15 million Nizari Ismaili Muslims around the world, is wrapping up a four-city tour of Canada to mark his 50th anniversary as Imam.
The Aga Khan speaks at a luncheon on Tuesday.
Ian Smith / Vancouver Sun
Steve Bosch / Vancouver Sun
Aga Khan inspires gathering at Vancouver's BC Place
Kelly Sinoski, Vancouver Sun
Published: Wednesday, November 26, 2008
VANCOUVER - She was only nine, but Almira Bardai remembers the day the Aga Khan came to dinner at her mother's family home. She didn't get to join the 200 or so guests, but she knew the importance of seeing the spiritual Ismaili Muslim leader.
Almira Bardal was nine when the Aga Khan visited her mother's family home for dinner.
Almira Bardal was nine when the Aga Khan visited her mother's family home for dinner.
Steve Bosch/Vancouver Sun
"It was really, really special," Bardai said Tuesday. "I was really young but you understood that you were there in the presence of the Aga Khan. It was pretty amazing."
On Tuesday afternoon, Bardai, now 31, joined tens of thousands of men in dark suits and women in colourful saris and cocktail dresses at BC Place to celebrate a visit by the Aga Khan.
Between 22,000 and 25,000 people came from around the world - including Afghanistan, London, Dubai and the U.S. - to hear the revered Ismaili Muslim leader's spiritual advice and prayers. A celebration including food and dancing followed in the evening.
BC Place was the last stop for the hereditary leader of the world's 15 million Shia Ismaili Muslims on his cross-Canada Golden Jubilee tour marking the 50th anniversary of his reign.
Bardai said the Aga Khan spoke of the economy, ethics, generosity in the community and giving back. "It was really moving; it was inspirational," she said. "It makes me feel lucky about living in Canada. We came here in times of turmoil so now it's our time to help others."
Farrah Jinha-Devji, spokeswoman for the event, said in an interview before the Aga Khan's address that the day was a "happy celebration for the community; to celebrate the work he's done over the past 50 years."
Shortly before the Aga Khan's arrival at BC Place at about 3 p.m., most people were already under the dome. A few men stood in a circle smoking outside, while latecomers rushed in so as not to miss the Aga Khan's entrance.
"It's a great feeling," said Salim Rahemtulla, who attended the event with his family. "He's our spiritual leader, he advises us in our day-to-day matters and gives us advice on whatever is going on in the world. It's important to hear what he has to say."
Shaheed Devji, 22, said the Aga Khan embodies the values of Islam - generosity, compassion and peace - and instils those values in the community.
He said he's "been blessed" by being able to see the Aga Khan a few times already.
"It's a really good life experience," Devji said. "Not every Ismaili Muslim gets the opportunity to see the Aga Khan.
"When you do get to be in his physical presence, it's something to jump on."
His friend Zam Karim, 22, of Vancouver, said the Aga Khan is so revered he has drawn people from war-torn countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan.
He said the Muslim leader has inspired him to volunteer and give back to the community he lives in as well as the community at large. "We've been blessed in Canada with the Aga Khan's relationship with our country," he said.
Munier Amlani, 33, of Vancouver, said he has also been inspired by the Aga Khan and his spiritual and philanthropic efforts as head of the world's largest non-governmental development agency. "For me, he is a role model in terms of what we do in the world," said Amlani. "He's inspiring in what he does in his life. He's outspoken in terms of how important it is to the community on how Muslims and the Western world co-exist."
Shahida Lofti, who came to Canada from Tanzania 35 years ago, said the Aga Khan is "more like a pope; a very practical human being and very different from the rest of the Muslims.
"He's the head of our community; he always preached that we instil in our children and in ourselves good habits," she said. "It makes me feel really good, fantastic ... I'm not very religious but I know if there's one thing I'm truly proud of is this community is one of the most generous I've known."
Rahim Valji, 28, who travelled from California to hear the Aga Khan, also lauded his leader's work. "The main thing for me is I see all the social programs he has going on around the world - it's more of how I feel the world should be."
Parin Somani and her family flew from London to see her 'spiritual and physical uplifter' during his two-day visit to B.C.
Photograph by : Arlen Redekop, The Province
Leader walking 'road of hope' saluted
Ismaili Imam inspires followers, political leaders with deeds
Ian Austin, The Province
Published: Wednesday, November 26, 2008
The Aga Khan's golden jubilee tour of B.C. made two stops yesterday -- one rubbing elbows with B.C. leaders, another mixing with his Ismaili supporters.
The spiritual leader got a red-carpet welcome yesterday at the Pan-Pacific Hotel, where he attended a luncheon and spoke to a who's who of B.C. newsmakers.
Premier Gordon Campbell, Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan and incoming mayor Gregor Robertson, Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts, Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu and environmentalist David Suzuki were among a high-powered crowd which heard the Aga Khan's words of wisdom.
The Aga Khan, who competed as a skier in the Winter Olympics almost 50 years ago, thanked Canadians for welcoming Ismailis from Africa, Asia and the Middle East who have found a new home in Canada.
"Canada is a partner of choice for us, has been, and will continue to be," the 71-year-old told the crowd. "This is the last leg of my visit to Canada, and I think you already know it's the best leg."
Campbell saluted the Aga Khan as a leader who is "not just talking about opportunities, but taking steps along the road of hope."
Just catching a glimpse of the Aga Khan outside the hotel was a religious experience for Parin Somani, who flew from London for the chance to hear her Imam.
"He's everything for us," said Somani. "He's my spiritual leader. He's our spiritual and physical uplifter."
The Aga Khan continued yesterday's visit at B.C. Place, where more than 25,000 Ismailis gathered for a private religious ceremony. He told the gathering of his regard for Canada as a country that has embraced the Ismaili community, and told of the need to help seniors and those who are less fortunate.
While his position as spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims is unquestioned, the Aga Khan is highly respected outside his religion for his philanthropic works.
As founder and head of the Aga Khan Development Network, he is responsible for nine agencies with an annual budget of $500 million working to improve living conditions in Asian, Africa and the Middle East. The agencies include the Aga Khan Foundation, Aga Khan Education Services, Aga Khan Health Services, Aga Khan Planning and Building Services and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.
Since its inception in 1991, the annual Ismaili Walk has raised $2.2 million locally for non-profit organizations.
Posted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 9:35 am Post subject: Vancouver Deedar
Vancouver Deedar was great. Imam was happy as always during the Golden Jubliee Darbar... He told the Jamat to smile as it is a gift of Allah... he shared few jokes with us on which Jamat was laughing crazy... you should have seen Imam's face when Jamat laughed... you will never see the smile anywhere else... he told jamat to come together.. help each other out.... don't be individualistic... he had plans for Jamat khana in places where there aren't any STILL!... He said if jamat spends wisely this recession wont bother my jamat... he clearly said that this is not the time of expansion .. (expansion in business i guess)... he said hopefully my jamat of Afghanistan will return back to their homes in peaceful afghanistan..( I guess we will see that moment shortly as I understood from his farman) .. he thanked Jamat for time and knowledge nazranas.... he again said for the elderly people in our jamat...told us to respect them.. and treat them in such a way that they have dignified life...he clearly said that all of us in same business or same field should come together as one...
Imam walked on every single carpet... even the one at the very corner where it was not expected Imam will walk .. Jamat was sitting on that corner carpet but Imam walked there also... people were in tears over there with his gesture... I dont think a single murid would say that he didn't watched the imam upclose though the hall was packed...
CANADIAN VOLUNTEERS WERE BRILLIANT!!! BRILLIANT!! BRILLIANT!!.. I feel so so welcomed... they were all all smiling... a lady took 30 mins to explain me direction with all patients... .. CANADIAN VOLUNTEERS WERE BRILLIANT!!! BRILLIANT!! BRILLIANT!!...I don't think they left any leaf unturned.. did everything possible for us... I love you guys for that!.. you guys did awesome job!...made deedar so wonderful...
The Golden Jubilee Darbars in Toronto were a showcase of the Toronto jamat’s hard work and dedication in the successful hosting of more than 75,000 Ismaili faithful. Momins came from all over the world – 36 different countries – to celebrate 50 years of the Imam’s devoted service to our community. The Imam expressed his sincere gratitude to the Canada jamat for the excellent quality of darbar facilities and service, especially given the fact that there was such short notice of his visit. The volunteers worked tirelessly to make sure that every minute detail of preparation – from facilities and transportation to food services, non-ismaili spouse services and security – was taken care of. Their service was tremendous and, as expected by Hazar Imam, always done with a smile on their faces.
Calgary deedar was amazing. Volunteers did an amazing job in a very short amount of time. Parts of the round up center, where the deedar was held were released early monday morning. In fact, parts of the stage where built during the intezar program. Stage was completed 1.5 to 2 hours before hazar imam arrived, and the stage looked wonderful. The whole round up center was tranformed, trully an amazing job.
Hazar imam arrived around 5 pm, and entered the deedar hall through a wonderfully built enterance, after walking around the runner and blessing the jamat hazar imam went to the stage.
-quran / ginan / qasida where then recited
-loyallty address by President Manji
Summary of firman (from what i remember on the top of my head, so please forgive me if i make a mistake)
- darbar is a day of happiness, and of course biryani
- HI talk about the golden jubilee goals
- wonderful job done by volunteers, aware that halls were released very
late, and very happy with the work done in the deedar hall
- economy: when the jamat goes into partnerships with each other, he jokenly said their first thought is how do i get out, to which the jamat laughed. HI imam then said laughingly that his jamat is very indivualistic.
-remeber the recession of the 80's. Do not aquire assets you dont need.
-special message to centeral asian jamat: to use their time in canada to learn english and educate themselves, so in the future if they want to go back to thier home countires they are better equiped.
- hazar imam then made the entire jamat laugh when he said that in a recent darbar he had to enter from the basement of the hall and on the wall in big black letters with one arrow, said "loading ramp" and said to himself "how boring life has become" where there was one arrow on the wall with the words loading ramp.
He said that when he was in harvard, not only would there be more arrows, but on the wall there would first a note from the universty inisting that you clean your dorm, then a note from your proffesor about your papper, and then some graffitii. jamat laughed and HI said he wont go into detail about what the grafitti said, jamat laughed some more. Finally he said that the students at AKU and Univeristy of Central Asia wont be able to this as we have used anti graffitti paint, to whcih the jamat laughed very hard.
Hazar Imam then finished by saying next time, don't make me go through the basement, as i will make fun of you if you do.
HI then walked through the entire hall, making sure that he went to each and every corner. Every murid was able to be upclose with the imam, as HI walked for a very long time.
Upon leaving the venue, hazar imam once again told the muhki about how amazed he was with the work of the volunteers.
<P>I am in Vancouver and I must say this was the best organized darbar/mulaqat;<BR>excellent venue; lots of washrooms that were kept continously clean; brand new carpet; excellent stage; very nice flower pots = flowers were red and green; very spacious; nice black cloth o­n the walls - you would not know this was a stadium; very large digital bright and clear screens; excellent live coverage of MHI's arrival; everybody was relaxed and friendly; excellent food; nicely packaged biryani available at various spots - what a big difference from self serving food-less wastage and not overeating; lots of bottled water provided; excellent coat check service; very speedy check in; taxis were available when leaving; helpful and polite volunteers; o­nly Allah is perfect and there is always room for suggestions - that's for another day; today we ce;ebrate!!<BR><BR></P>
As much a celebration of community as a community leader, Ismailis from far and wide took to the streets in the thousands Monday to welcome His Highness The Aga Khan to Vancouver on his Golden Jubilee visit to the city.
Thousands more – over 25,000 devotees – attended the Aga Khan’s historic Golden Jubilee Darbar, or spiritual gathering, at BC Place Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.
Vancouver was the final stop on the Aga Khan’s eight day, four-city Canadian tour, which began in Ottawa last Tuesday, with stops in Toronto and Calgary.
As spiritual leader to some 15 million Ismaili Muslims around the globe, the Aga Khan is renown for his philanthropic work as founder of the Aga Khan Development Network, the world’s largest developmental aid society.
His continuing message of tolerance, pluralism and civic responsibility in a world rife with racial and religious conflict, as well as increasing economic disparity, resonates with people from all backgrounds and walks of life.
But most particularly with Ismailis, who look to the Aga Khan for guidance and inspiration.
Braving the chill night air, young children, parents, groups of friends, couples, grandparents and newborns lined the Aga Khan’s motorcade route as he arrived in Vancouver.
Waving Canada and B.C. flags, as well as the Aga Khan’s personal green and red standard, the jubilant crowd began assembling just after 4 p.m., five hours before the Aga Khan stepped from his gleaming white car and onto the red carpet outside the Pan Pacific Hotel.
“What he stands for, all he does around the world, it’s inspiring,” said Burnaby’s Aaqil Kassamali, positioned across from the hotel with friend Almira Bardai.
“It’s such a moving and exciting experience,” said Bardai, of Vancouver. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see our spiritual leader and hear his guidance.”
With the Vancouver Police Band enlivening the crowd, devotees chanted celebratory slogans, waved and shouted in anticipation of the Aga Khan’s arrival.
The Pradhan family came all the way from Halifax, NS, to celebrate the Golden Jubilee event in Vancouver.
“We both saved our vacations for this date,” said Shehza Pradhan, as his four-year-old daughter Serena anxiously waved her Canada flag.
“It’s emotional, it’s spiritual,” said Hameeda Pradhan, describing the meaningfulness of catching even a quick glimpse of the Aga Khan.
“He brings inner happiness, he’s our guide,” added Shehza. “It’s a tradition that goes back more than 1400 years to the prophet Muhammad.”
While in Vancouver, the Aga Khan also attended a luncheon in his honour arranged by B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell at the Pan Pacific Hotel. Vancouver Mayor-Elect Gregor Robertson was in attendance, as was VPD Chief Jim Chu and a host of local dignitaries.
The Aga Khan also visited with Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, whose city hosts the magnificent Ismaili Jamatkhana, built in 1985 in honour of the Aga Khan’s Silver Jubilee.
Today, in this special keepsake section, we are sharing some images of the Aga Khan’s historic Golden Jubilee visit to Vancouver.
For more Golden Jubilee photographs, please visit us online at www.southasianpost.com
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Joined: 30 Oct 2004
Location: Burnaby, B.C. Canada
PostPosted: 26 Nov 2008 04:35 pm Post subject: Slide show of Canada vist
Premier Gordon Campbell hosts a luncheon with community, education and business leaders in honour of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Golden Jubilee visit to British Columbia. Photo: Gary Otte
This morning, Mawlana Hazar Imam met with the Mayor of Burnaby, His Worship Derek Corrigan at City Hall. During the meeting, Mayor Corrigan announced the gifting of a 15-acre piece of land to Mawlana Hazar Imam on the occasion of his Golden Jubilee.
The land, situated adjacent to the Burnaby Lake Regional Park, is a wildlife sanctuary that surrounds a body of water that was carved out by glaciers. It is one of Metro Vancouver’s premier sites for bird watching — an ideal locale for spotting great blue herons, bald eagles, belted kingfishers, ospreys and even rare species such as the green-backed heron.
Later, British Columbia Premier, the Honourable Gordon Campbell, hosted a luncheon in honour of Mawlana Hazar Imam. Guests included prominent members of Vancouver’s academic and corporate sectors, as well as community leaders. Among them were the mayors of Vancouver and other British Columbia municipalities, environmentalist David Suzuki, leaders of the Jamat and representatives of the Aga Khan Foundation.
In his welcome remarks, Premier Campbell reminded guests and the media that Mawlana Hazar Imam’s message of education, pluralism and tolerance is applicable not only to the Ismaili community, but also to Canadians and indeed to the entire world.
“Your message touches us all,” he told Hazar Imam, noting that the endeavour to build an “infrastructure of hope based on education, healthcare and pluralism” was an inspiration to everyone.
Mawlana Hazar Imam thanked Canada for its generosity and its helpfulness, while expressing admiration for the opportunity that Canadians enjoy of living in a society that is conscious of diversity and of human dignity. He also discussed the emergence of global knowledge societies, the challenge faced by developing countries in embracing new knowledge, and the important role that Canada plays in humanising knowledge so that society can advance according to “merit and not manipulation.”
In the afternoon, Mawlana Hazar Imam granted a Golden Jubilee Darbar to the local and international Jamat that had gathered at BC Place.
Later in the evening, Mawlana Hazar Imam was the guest of honour at a dinner reception hosted by the Ismaili Council for Canada and other Jamati institutions at The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. During the dinner, Hazar Imam and the guests were entertained by the National Ismaili Musical Ensemble and were treated to a short play titled Alim Wa'l Ghulam: The Master and His Disciple.
Jamati leaders then bid farewell to Mawlana Hazar Imam at Vancouver International Airport, as the first leg of this Golden Jubilee visit to Canada drew to a close. Hazar Imam is expected to return to Canada on 5 December to open the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in Ottawa.
Additional photos are available in the gallery. Also see the video of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s arrival in Ottawa. Further details on Mawlana Hazar Imam’s visit to Canada will continue to be posted at TheIsmaili.org.
Just home from the Darbar Venue after a wonderful experience!
Baapa came in just after 4 p.m. local time and, when all was said and done, He left the hall just before 5:30 p.m. having walked a full circuit of a very large venue.
His message, in short:
He started as always with His Blessings for all present, their families and
their jamats in other parts of the world. He also blessed the Ruhani
spiritual children of the Jamat.
He then continued with expressing admiration and amazement at what the volunteers had achieved in such a short time in preparing the venues, across Canada (the Canadian jamat had the shortest preperation time from all the Golden Jubilee darbars). In particular, He mentioned that, unlike the other Canadian venues, He could not joke about the drive into the Vancouver venue being quite strange because the Volunteers had made the entire approach for his motorcade so beautiful (at the other venues, he'd joked about how he had to come in past a "Loading Dock" and how some of his murids would think that Mowla was leaving "loaded"... but here, he could not tell at all). He expressed this appreciation for all His volunteers in Canada, many times.
The rest of His message, in short, and please forgive me if I miss
We are headed for difficult economic times, globally. Do not spend
unwisely. If you are going into a new venture at all, make sure it is one
which will be productive for you immediately. If you don't know this,
don't go into it. Now is not the time for gambling on unwise expansion.
He talked about forming associations / partnerships with those in
similar professions/businesses in order to reap economies of scale and
efficiencies. He noted, laughingly, that He knows that His spiritual
children are not good at forming such associations and partnerships; that
they are "Individualists"... but they should find a way to do this and to
draw up partnerships such that should they choose to leave the partnership, it does bring harm to the others. (a very gentle slam by our Baapa, I thought... and good for Him for pointing it out!)
He talked about smiling through the difficult times, and how He like to
see His murids happy; He made sure He had a smile on His face throughout the time He was with us. He said, "A smile is also a Blessing...", and that we should be thankful all the time. He blessed us with many more smiles in our lives.
Baapa talked about His three main concerns for His murids, which He
would like to focus on now:
1: That there are still many of His spiritual children who live in poverty
in many parts of the world, including the industrialized world. He wants
this to change and, towards the end of the year, He hopes to share more on this.
2: His second concern, He said, was actually the flip side of a Blessing...
with the longer life expectancies today, He is concerned that the Seniors
should be taken care of. He did not want them ending up alone until their
time comes to pass; they should feel wanted and surrounded with love as
3: Finally, that there are still spiritual children in parts of the world
who do not have Jamat Khannas; He wants to address this and He will look to His spiritual children elsewhere to demonstrate their generosity by donating their time and knowledge to help make this happen.
He addressed the jamat in Vancouver whose origins lie in Central Asia.
He told them that they should not allow their lives here to be a
continuation of the tragedies which led them here and to hold them back.
While in Canada, they should make sure they maximise their opportunity to gain knowledge so that, Inshallah, one day they can take that back to help develop the lands where they came from.
Baapa mentioned how he liked to joke with His murids and that He had
prepared a joke for us but He could not use it because of the fact that the
appoach for His motorcade was so beautiful. Instead, he went on to say
that the owner of the facility (BC Place is a covered dome stadium normally used as a venue for American Football games, but you would never have guessed that today!) might call on the volunteers to do the same for him in future... and, if he did, we should make sure we charge heavily!
It was beautiful... and the venue had been beautifully decorated... and the Volunteers looking after the Jamat were amazing! We cried and laughed with joy, and felt Him in our hearts and souls... there's no other way to describe it. He looked so happy, sounded so happy and tried so hard to make His point about the Jamat remembering to be happy through the hard times.
I'll stop here... and hope that the Baraakah of His Blessings will be felt
by you all too...
Rodney is a Goan gentleman married to an Ismaili young lady.
Rodney has written up an account of the meeting below:
It really was a series of events which lead me to the front of the line, and in a position to meet with Hazar Imam. The non-Ismailis were split between two rooms. Jen and myself were in one room, when I decided to get up to look for some food. Since our room had no more food, Jen and myself went into the second room and saw a long line of people. I thought this was for food, so Jen and I waited in line. I then asked a volunteer, what the line was for, and they said to go down stairs as we might be given a chance to see Hazar Imam. Jen did not have her security pass with her, so she said she was going to go back to other room to get it. So I waited on the side of the line for her, but a volunteer told me that I had to keep moving, so I left Jen and continued the path by myself. Once we got to our destination, I saw a red carpet rolled out a long with an entourage of cars which waited at the end of the red carpet. I quickly realized that this was going to be the path that Hazar Imam would travel. Unfortunately, the volunteers were directing this large group of 400 to 500 non-Ismailis, and I quickly found myself in the second row. At this point, I thought it would really mean a lot to Natasha if I could meet Hazar Imam in person, but my chances did not look good from the second row. Then suddenly a gap opened up in front of me, and I was able to take my place in the front row. Shortly after, I saw Hazar Imam make his way on to the red carpet. I saw Him then stop at random people along the front line to talk with them, but I could not hear what was being said. As He started to walk closer to me, I could definitely feel like I was in the presence of something 'bigger'. Then as Hazar Imam was almost in front of me, a non-Ismaili gentleman to the left of me asked for special blessings for a sick friend, and that is when Hazar Imam stopped right in front of me and said "Of course. Blessings for all of you. And if you need anything just ask Mohammed". Mohammed was another gentleman who was with Hazar Imam. Hazar Imam went on to say in a humourous tone "But in our community, there are a lot of Mohammeds". I then nervously said "It's an honour to meet you Your Highness". It was at that point that Hazar Imam put both His hands on my shoulders. At this time, no words were exchanged, and then He walked on. It was definitely a special moment.
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