The ummah as a just, inclusive, pluralistic community is rooted in the origins of Islam. Its profound sense of social responsibility, particularly towards the most marginalised members of society, is reflected in the Ismaili Muslims’ deeply-held tradition of voluntary service rendered through community organisations and through civil society institutions that benefit all.
One year after completing the 2013 FOCUS Challenge4Life, Faridoun Hemani recalls the adventure, the pain and the sense of accomplishment that he and 57 other participants shared during their Summit to Sea adventure.
As finishing touches are applied to the Ismaili Centre, Toronto, newly trained tour guides received their first walk-through of the facility. When the doors of the Centre finally open, the guides will help visitors to discover the building and provide a window on the Ismaili community, its values and aspirations.
Chicago, 30 August 2014 – Two days into the North American Ismaili Games, the biggest draw so far has been the dance competition. Word spread quickly following an incredible set of performances on day one, and a crowd of over 800 spectators showed up for Saturday’s shows.
London, 7 July 2014 – Over 5 000 parcels of food and provisions were packed at UK Jamatkhanas this Saturday to help some of the most vulnerable populations in London, Birmingham and Leicester. Local charities will distribute the packages under Share a Smile, an Ismaili community initiative to help those in need during the month of Ramadan.
While the annual Premier Cup cricket tournament brought Ontario Ismaili Muslims together in April, it was also part of a wider effort to build cricket pitches and support programming in Toronto neighbourhoods that are home to large South Asian immigrant communities.
In October 2013, over 341 000 individuals suddenly stopped what they were doing to Drop, Cover and Hold On! They were taking part in the AKDN ShakeOut – a drill that teaches people around the world how to protect themselves in the event of an earthquake.
More than one billion people around the world live with disabilities – approximately 15 per cent of humanity – but they are excluded from full participation in mainstream society by physical, social, economic and attitudinal barriers. Disability Days and other initiatives organised by the UK Jamat, show that these barriers can be overcome.
When a severe winter storm forced Ontario residents to cope for days in frigid temperatures without electrical power or heat, Ismaili institutions and volunteers quickly mobilised to support those who were most vulnerable. The Jamat’s strength, support and care for one another kept everyone safe; warmed by the knowledge that no one in the community is ever alone.
In July 2013, 64 students with roots in 13 countries gathered at the Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa to participate in Global Encounters, the first summer programme of its kind for Ismaili youth from around the world. Students engaged with pressing issues in global development, contended with real-world challenges, broadened their world views, built new friendships, and nurtured a sense of self-discovery.
The Great ShakeOut is an annual drill that teaches people around the world how to protect themselves in the event of an earthquake. The Aga Khan Development Network, which has been participating in the ShakeOut drill since 2011, drew more than 168 000 particpants last year, teaching them to DROP, COVER and HOLD ON when the earth begins to tremble.
Knowing how to correctly respond during an earthquake can save your life or prevent major injury:
1. DROP to the ground.
2. Take COVER under a table or something sturdy and move away from windows or other hazards.
3. HOLD ON until the shaking stops.
As rains pounded southern Alberta and water levels rose earlier this summer, states of emergency were declared in Calgary and other communities across the province. Ismaili institutions and volunteers quickly organised themselves to ensure the safety of the Jamat and to assist their fellow citizens in the wake of the disaster.
Young Ismailis from across Pakistan grappled with the challenge of re-imagining their country’s future last year at the National Youth Camp 2012 held in Karachi. Some 80 participants aged 18 – 22 engaged in dialogue about differences and commonality, reflected on how to make positive life choices, and learnt how they might transform their hopes for a better world into reality.
When heavy January rains caused massive flooding in south and central Mozambique, the Ismaili community and the institutions of the Ismaili Imamat quickly mobilized a response. A donation of food, medicine, tools, and supplies was assembled to help the Government of Mozambique support victims, volunteers and military forces who were providing assistance on the ground.
At the invitation of and in collaboration with India’s National Disaster Management Authority, four members of the FOCUS India Search and Rescue Team conducted a training seminar for police and fire officials, members of the army, railway, home guard, and other security and government agencies in Delhi. The training was part of a week-long emergency management exercise organised by the District Disaster Management Authority of Delhi.
Based in Auckland, New Zealand, Azim Mitha is a matchmaker of sorts: he matches offerings of time and knowledge made by volunteers with the opportunities and needs of Jamati and Imamat institutions. In doing so, he helps qualified and capable professionals in the Jamat to offer meaningful voluntary service in their own field, while strengthening institutional capacity.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Open House London took place on the weekend of 22 – 23 September. Buildings such as the Bank of England Museum, the Royal Courts of Justice, the BBC Television Centre, and the Ismaili Centre, London opened their doors, inviting Londoners to to view and celebrate the diverse architecture of their city.
Today’s opening of the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games marks an historic moment for the city and for modern sport gatherings. Approximately 680 members of the Ismaili community registered to help in the Olympic effort, and will take part as drummers, dancers, torch bearers and Olympic Ambassadors.
In their quest to broaden their relationships with religious communities, the prestigious Chautauqua Institution in New York state reached out to the Muslim community. With a mind to creating greater awareness about Islam and Muslim cultures, members of the Ismaili Muslim community responded, drawing in Muslim intellectuals to Chautauqua, who could share an understanding of Islam that is hard to find in mainstream media.