“I heard about the inauguration [of the Ismaili Centre] last year but never had a chance to visit,” said Dr Jennylynd James, a Trinidadian food scientist and author who now lives in Toronto’s Bloor West neighbourhood. “This was an ideal opportunity to come.”
During the two-day event, volunteer tour guides led an estimated 10 500 visitors through the Ismaili Centre, explaining the architecture and describing the purpose of each space, while sharing information about the Shia Ismaili Muslim community in Canada and around the world. Many guests also visited the Aga Khan Museum next door and the Aga Khan Park, which connects the two buildings.
Dave Robertson, who lives near Yonge and Eglinton, drives by the Ismaili Centre often. He said he enjoyed learning about the building’s cultural and historical significance, as well as the spaces within it.
“[People] were very impressed after visiting the prayer hall,” said Yasmin Alarakhia, a project manager for the Ismaili Centre Doors Open programme. Covered by a crystalline frosted glass dome, the serene circular space is filled with natural light, and invites quiet contemplation.
Visitors were also intrigued by the floral plaster artwork in the atrium, hand carved by artisans from Tajikistan. They were interested in “each and every detail,” said Alarakhia, “especially the Islamic murals in the Centre.”
Guests had many questions about the history and traditions of the Ismaili community and about Mawlana Hazar Imam and the work of the Ismaili Imamat. During her tour of the Ismaili Centre, Dr James learnt “about the various Muslim groups,” she said, and the diversity of traditions within the Islamic ummah.
After his visit, Dave Robertson said he was looking forward to discovering more about the Ismaili community and the Muslim faith.
“I’ll be looking up more about the Ismaili community online,” he said with a smile.