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  • Thousands visited the Ismaili Centre during Doors Open Toronto 2015. Amir Hemraj
    Thousands visited the Ismaili Centre during Doors Open Toronto 2015. Amir Hemraj
  • Ismaili Centre tour guides explained the art and architecture of the building. Ibrahim Meru
    Ismaili Centre tour guides explained the art and architecture of the building. Ibrahim Meru
  • Doors Open visitors gather under the skylight in the atrium lounge of the Ismaili Centre, Toronto. Amir Hemraj
    Doors Open visitors gather under the skylight in the atrium lounge of the Ismaili Centre, Toronto. Amir Hemraj
  • A visitor photographs one of the many examples of calligraphy that adorns the Ismaili Centre, Toronto. Amir Hemraj
    A visitor photographs one of the many examples of calligraphy that adorns the Ismaili Centre, Toronto. Amir Hemraj
  • Many Doors Open visitors took the opportunity to stroll through the gardens of the Aga Khan Park on the eve of its official inauguration. Ibrahim Meru
    Many Doors Open visitors took the opportunity to stroll through the gardens of the Aga Khan Park on the eve of its official inauguration. Ibrahim Meru
Ismaili Centre welcomes thousands during Toronto-wide open house
Gazalla Hirji
Amina Lalani
28 May 2015
  • Thousands of visitors streamed into the Ismaili Centre as part of Doors Open Toronto 2015. Held last weekend, the annual city-wide open house offered visitors free access to approximately 155 buildings of cultural, historical and social significance.

  • “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.