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A guide explains the exhibition to guests at the Enlightened Encounters outreach event held at Chicago Headquarters Jamatkhana in Glenview, IL.

Scheduled to open in Toronto in the summer of 2014, the Aga Khan Museum has embarked on a tour to introduce itself in major American centres. As the first museum in North America dedicated to the Islamic Arts, it is using the opportunity to demonstrate that despite being separated by centuries of history, ancient works and the knowledge they carry within them, remain relevant to us today.

Members of the first Aga Khan Award for Architecture steering committee deliberating in Boston, in 1979.

In 1970s, a group of intellectuals came together at Aiglemont, France, to bend their minds towards a pressing problem: how to arrest the decline of architectural traditions across the Muslim world and help these societies rediscover the confidence to shape their built environments in the image of their own values and identities? Journalist Ayesha Daya describes how the questions they raised, their deliberations and debates gave way to the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

The staggered block arrangement of the 66-storey Met Tower in Bangkok — shortlisted for the 2013 Award — provides plenty of light and cross-ventilation, so that  apartments require no air conditioning.

In the 36 years since the Aga Khan Award for Architecture was established, it has recognised a broad array of projects, from office towers to affordable housing developments; the restoration of heritage to radical innovations in the built environment. But what the winning projects have in common is that each is an example of how architecture can make society a better place to live, says journalist Ayesha Daya.

The Masjid Sultan in Singapore commemorates Ramadan annually with an informative and educational tour, and graciously hosts an iftaar dinner for all visitors.

This Ramadan, a group of young Ismailis in Singapore set out to learn more about their country’s Muslim heritage and diversity, while joining with other ummah youth to help families in need. Along the way, they visited the historic Masjid Sultan and took in the vibrant cultures of Geylang Serai Bazaar.

The group gathered in front of Wat Phrabuddhasrisongkhlanakarin, an ornate Buddhist shrine at the centre of Songkhla in southern Thailand.

Earlier this year, Ismaili youth from the Far East came together in Thailand to join in celebrating the country’s new year festival – well known for celebrants splashing water on one another! It proved to be a memorable way for the youth to connect while immersing themselves in a unique tradition of Thai culture, says participant Adeel Gilani.

During the annual flagship concert of the Ismaili Community Ensemble, Riaz Rhemtulla and Scheherazaad Cooper bring the shadow landers to life through Kathak and Odissi dance forms.

The lyrics, movement and music that reverberated throughout the auditorium of the Britten Theatre at The Royal College of Music, captured the imaginations of hundreds in the audience. In their annual flagship performance, the Ismaili Community Ensemble demonstrated that historical literature represents an important expression of thought, culture and civilisation.

Architectural photographs of the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre, Dhaka, which opened on 18 August 2012.

With more than six decades of history in Bangladesh, the Ismaili community sees the new Dhaka Jamatkhana as a symbol of renewed hope and confidence in the future of their country.

In a city of nearly 13 million people, the newly opened Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre provides the Dhaka Jamat with a welcome respite from the daily hustle and bustle of life, offering a quiet space for reflection and prayer. But it also testifies to the continued historical commitment of the Ismaili Imamat and the Jamat to the future of Bangladesh.

The hotel “Auberge du Jeu de Paume” was built by Mawlana Hazar Imam as part of a 20-year effort to revitalise the urban area surrounding the Domaine de Chantilly.

Chantilly, a historical 20 thousand-acre princely estate and a jewel of French culture, is undergoing a massive 20-year revitalisation effort led by Mawlana Hazar Imam. At the end of September, four new projects on the estate were inaugurated before a gathering of distinguished guests.

The Chateau of Chantilly.

Situated in the valley of Nonette some 40 kilometres north of Paris, the Domaine de Chantilly records a history that stretches back over six centuries. In 1884, it was bequeathed – complete with its unparalleled collection of art, manuscripts and furnishings – to the Institut de France by the duc d’Aumale, fifth son of King Louis-Philippe I of France.

Hussein Janmohamed (centre) in a pre-show huddle with members of the Canadian Ismaili Muslim Youth Choir at a performence in Edmonton.

Music has the power to transcend difference. Drawing upon heritage and tradition, it can inspire people to better appreciate and come to know one another. Speaking with Ambreen Delawalla and Sameera Gokal, Ismaili musicians shared stories from their own life journeys, and their encounters with faith and music.

Jan 2012: A view of the Ismaili Centre, Toronto, with concrete structures for the garden water features prominent in the foreground.

Over the past year, the construction of the Ismaili Centre, Toronto, the Aga Khan Museum and their Park on Wynford Drive has seen immense progress. Integral to their overall design, the Park will connect the Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Museum, offering a welcoming green space to visitors.

The rubab features prominently in the musical traditions of Central Asia, and is one of many instruments that contribute to the rich diversity of music in the Jamat and the ummah.

As it prepares for its January 2012 concert, the UK Ismaili Community Ensemble has found resonance with the values of the forthcoming London 2012 Olympic Games. The celebration of cultural diversity, finding ways to inspire and involve young people, and leaving a positive legacy in London through social cohesion and cultural participation are notions that are shared by the Ensemble and have influenced the music it has created.

Remix 2011 artists bring magic to a musical evening at the Ismaili Centre, Dubai.

Twelve inspiring and talented artists from across the Middle East and Central Asia performed a beautiful and thought-provoking concert at the Ismaili Centre, Dubai recently. It was an important occasion for both the Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Music Initiative, intent on bridging gulfs that have existed for the past hundred years.

The Ismaili Musical Ensemble performs a youth concert in the Social Hall of Houston Principal Jamat Khana and Center.

Ismaili Musical Ensembles in the USA and Canada provide creative platforms for dedicated Ismaili musicians to learn, practice and showcase their talents. But the musicians are required to demonstrate the quality of their abilities and commit to the ongoing development of their musical education.

Volunteers prepare to welcome the Jamat to the Ismaili Centre, Dushanbe to celebrate Eid ul-Fitr.

As Ismaili families in Dushanbe prepared to observe Eid ul-Fitr in the traditional manner, excitement brewed at the prospect of the Jamat coming together to celebrate the occasion at the new Ismaili Centre for the first time ever. The gathering proved a momentous and moving experience for all.

Titled “HERStory”, this photograph of a woman in Badakshan, Tajikistan by Zahid Wissanji won the grand prize in the photography competition leading up to the publication of “Ismailis, A Celebration of Diversity”.

The photography book Ismailis, A Celebration of Diversity portrays the rich plurality of the global Ismaili community and the sentiments expressed by talented photographers through their visually stirring images. It is the result of one photographer’s love of art and the community.

A view of the Tolerance sculptures along Allen Parkway at night time.

In February 2011, a group of seven 10-foot high installations called Tolerance was unveiled at Harmony Walk in Houston near the site of the planned Ismaili Center, Houston. The statues were created by Spanish artist, Jaume Plensa and funded by City of Houston together with Mawlana Hazar Imam and a few private donors.

Jaume Plensa at the Tolerance dedication ceremony held at Harmony Walk, with one of the sculptures visible in the background.

In February 2011, an installation of seven statues titled Tolerance was unveiled at Harmony Walk in Houston, near the site of the planned Ismaili Center, Houston. Sculptor Jaume Plensa describes his vision, inspiration and technique in creating this work of art.

Traditional dance performances were part of the Navroz festivities at the Ismaili Centre, Dushanbe.

Navroz was celebrated for the first time ever at the Ismaili Centre, Dushanbe in March 2011. The event, which was hosted by the Aga Khan Development Network, drew some 300 guests.