Sat. Nov 28th, 2020

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Aga Khan Open the Ismaili Centre Toronto and Aga Khan Museum 

His Highness the Aga Khan and Prime Minister Harper on the terrace of the Ismaili Centre with the new Aga Khan Museum in the background - AKDN Gary Otte

His Highness the Aga Khan and Prime Minister Harper on the terrace of the Ismaili Centre with the new Aga Khan Museum in the background - AKDN Gary Otte
His Highness the Aga Khan and Prime Minister Harper on the terrace of the Ismaili Centre with the new Aga Khan Museum in the background – AKDN Gary Otte

Toronto, September 16: The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, and His Highness the Aga Khan formally opened the Ismaili Centre Toronto and Aga Khan Museum.

These projects, which are initiatives of the Aga Khan, the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims and founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network, are intended to foster knowledge and understanding both within Muslim societies and between these societies and other cultures.

The Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, which is dedicated to presenting an overview of the artistic, intellectual and scientific contributions that Muslim civilisations have made to world heritage, will open its doors to the public on the 18th of September. - Photo: AKDN / Gary Otte
The Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, which is dedicated to presenting an overview of the artistic, intellectual and scientific contributions that Muslim civilisations have made to world heritage, will open its doors to the public on the 18th of September. – Photo: AKDN / Gary Otte

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Ismaili Centre, His Highness the Aga Khan saluted the many leaders, volunteers and staff who have made possible the completion of these new institutions, including the Prime Minister, and many members of government at the federal, provincial and municipal levels. These spaces “will be filled with sounds of enrichment, dialogue and warm human rapport, as Ismailis and non-Ismailis share their lives in a healthy gregarious spirit,” he remarked.

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p style=”text-align: justify;”>Prime Minister Harper commented that the site will be “a source of inspiration, spiritual renewal and cultural awareness,” not only for Torontonians, but for all visitors. The Prime Minister paid a special tribute to the Aga Khan’s vision of Islam, which “stresses its social traditions of peace, tolerance and pluralism.”
“The decision to establish this significant initiative in Canada reflects the deep and longstanding partnership between the Imamat and Canada,” said the Prime Minister.

Ablution basin: The multiple examples of sixteenth-century Chinese porcelain with Arabic inscriptions are testimony to the prominence at court of the Muslim community in China during that period, as well as the close and continuous contact between China and the Muslim world. This large dish was made in the porcelain kilns of the province of Jingdezhen in China for a Muslim patron, most probably a member of the close circle of Emperor Zhengde (reigned 1505–21) whose reign mark can be seen on the back of the dish. The word taharat (“purity”) is inscribed in Arabic in the central medallion of the dish, implying that it was meant for use in ablution, a basic requirement of Muslim prayer. The Chinese-style floral meander on the rim and its back frames several inscriptions that further evoke the concept of ritual purity and specifically mention ablution (al-wudu’). - Photo: AKDN
Ablution basin: The multiple examples of sixteenth-century Chinese porcelain with Arabic inscriptions are testimony to the prominence at court of the Muslim community in China during that period, as well as the close and continuous contact between China and the Muslim world. This large dish was made in the porcelain kilns of the province of Jingdezhen in China for a Muslim patron, most probably a member of the close circle of Emperor Zhengde (reigned 1505–21) whose reign mark can be seen on the back of the dish. The word taharat (“purity”) is inscribed in Arabic in the central medallion of the dish, implying that it was meant for use in ablution, a basic requirement of Muslim prayer. The Chinese-style floral meander on the rim and its back frames several inscriptions that further evoke the concept of ritual purity and specifically mention ablution (al-wudu’). – Photo: AKDN

Following the ceremony, Prime Minister Harper and His Highness the Aga Khan, as well as Prince Amyn Aga Khan, Vice-Chair of the Museum’s Board of Directors, and the Honourable Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, officiated over the opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Museum.

“I believe strongly that art and culture can have a profound impact in healing misunderstanding and in fostering trust even across great divides,” said Prince Amyn. “This is the extraordinary purpose, the special mandate, to which this Museum is dedicated. In its role to reveal and to stimulate dialogue between different cultures, the Aga Khan Museum will continue a long history of cultural sharing between Islam and the West.”

The Court of Keyomars : Described in the sixteenth century as a masterpiece and acknowledged to this day as one of the most important works of Iranian painting, The Court of Keyomars is from one of the greatest manuscripts of all time, the Shah-Nameh (Book of Kings), which was produced for the Safavid ruler of Iran, Shah Tahmasp I. The manuscript took twenty years or more to complete. Almost all the major Iranian artists from the first half of the sixteenth century were involved in this monumental project. Its 258 paintings are considered the zenith of the art of Iranian art. - Photo: AKDN
The Court of Keyomars : Described in the sixteenth century as a masterpiece and acknowledged to this day as one of the most important works of Iranian painting, The Court of Keyomars is from one of the greatest manuscripts of all time, the Shah-Nameh (Book of Kings), which was produced for the Safavid ruler of Iran, Shah Tahmasp I. The manuscript took twenty years or more to complete. Almost all the major Iranian artists from the first half of the sixteenth century were involved in this monumental project. Its 258 paintings are considered the zenith of the art of Iranian art. – Photo: AKDN

The Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Museum are situated within the 6.8-hectare landscaped park designed by Vladimir Djurovic of Lebanon. This beautiful new green space for the public, which will be known as the Aga Khan Park, is expected to open next year. Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki designed the Aga Khan Museum, while Indian architect Charles Correa designed the Ismaili Centre. The Canadian firm Moriyama & Teshima are the architects of record and are responsible for integrating all aspects of the project

The Aga Khan Museum is the first museum in North America dedicated to the arts of Muslim civilisations. Through its Permanent Collection, performing arts and educational programmes and roster of temporary exhibitions, it will welcome the full spectrum of public engagement and serve as a vibrant educational institution.

Qanun : The Museum’s Permanent Collection includes one of the oldest surviving copies of volume five of the Qanun [fi’l-tibb] (Canon [of Medicine]), which was compiled by the Iranian scholar Ibn Sina or Avicenna (died 1037). Ibn Sina wrote a five-volume encyclopedia that brought together medical knowledge from the Muslim, Greco-Roman, and Chinese worlds, including insights from Aristotle (died 322 BCE) and Galen (died circa 216 CE). Avicenna’s Qanun was translated into Latin in Toledo, Spain, in the thirteenth century. It then became the most influential medical encyclopedia in Europe, where it was taught in universities well into the eighteenth century. The Aga Khan Museum’s collection also contains volume four of this rare copy of the encyclopedia. - Photo: AKDN
Qanun : The Museum’s Permanent Collection includes one of the oldest surviving copies of volume five of the Qanun [fi’l-tibb] (Canon [of Medicine]), which was compiled by the Iranian scholar Ibn Sina or Avicenna (died 1037). Ibn Sina wrote a five-volume encyclopedia that brought together medical knowledge from the Muslim, Greco-Roman, and Chinese worlds, including insights from Aristotle (died 322 BCE) and Galen (died circa 216 CE). Avicenna’s Qanun was translated into Latin in Toledo, Spain, in the thirteenth century. It then became the most influential medical encyclopedia in Europe, where it was taught in universities well into the eighteenth century. The Aga Khan Museum’s collection also contains volume four of this rare copy of the encyclopedia. – Photo: AKDN
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