Inaugural Ceremony of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat – From Easy Nash

“It affirms our intent to share, within a western setting, the best of Islamic life and heritage. This new Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat, like the Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Museum to be built in Toronto, reflects our conviction that buildings can do more than simply house people and programmes. They can also reflect our deepest values, as great architecture captures esoteric thought in physical form.

When I invited Professor Maki, a master of form and light, to design this building, I made a suggestion to him – one that I hoped would help connect this place symbolically to the Faith of Islam. The suggestion I made focused on creating a certain mystique, centred around the beautiful mysteries of rock crystal.

Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, its achievements and humanitarian works.

2 thoughts

  1. The idea of seeing physical objects and events in nature as symbols of deeper truths has been a theme of my blog from the very beginning. I have written a number of posts on how the processes of photosynthesis and protein synthesis, for example, may be seen to reflect deeper and esoteric truths. Indeed, a good number of quotes and excerpts that make up my Blogpost Four Hundred talk specifically about how the material creation is part of the structure of truth, the ultimate nature of which it is the goal of religion to reach. I had also done some reading on rock crystals and their properties and how they may come to symbolise certain deeper truths. So when a chance to attend the inaugural of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat was offered to us, my wife and I acquiesed enthusiastically. Hazar Imam had already talked a bit before about how this physical object called a rock crystal interacts with other physical substances such as light to produce effects that could symbolise the objectives of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat. So when we went to the inaugural I deeply anticipated that there would be some new material in Hazar Imam’s speech on this topic of great personal interest to me. He did not disappoint. The words as he spoke them were music to my ears and I felt like he was speaking directly to me and placing this information directly onto my lap.

    Sitting underneath that rock crystal roof(rock crystal which Prime Minister Harper described as coming from the granitic Canadian Shield) and within the enclosure it provided I felt bathed in the light streaming through the crystal. It was not overly bright but just right in intensity. The crystal seemed to modulate the amount of light coming through towards us, reflecting, refracting, scattering and bouncing the excess light in other directions and also fracturing some of the white light into its component colours of the visible spectrum(red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet), something that Hazar Imam called the iridescent nature of rock crystal. Having a fairly good knowledge of the properties of light myself, its dual wave-like and particle-like nature, its wave-like ability to reflect, refract, split into its component colours and bend around corners, its particle-like ability to collide and scatter with other light particles of different sizes, speeds and frequencies, I felt cognitively enlivened to hear the metaphor take shape as it unfolded from Hazar Imam’s lips to my ears. As the deeper truths of what this physical substance called a rock crystal signifies began to dawn on me I had trouble holding back a tear or two as cognition turned into emotion. My wife gave me a gentle and reassuring pat on the back. Everyone should read and re-read Hazar Imam’s speech made at the inaugural of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat to see how his ideas on pluralism, strength in diversity, unity and the multiplicity of forms, transcendence and immanence, emanate symbolically from the interaction of one object in nature, a geometrically symmetrical rock crystal, with another object in nature, the scintillatingly radiant light of the sun. The Quranic verse recited at the inaugural gave us one hint of how the ayat(sign) in the scripture is matched by the ayat(sign) in the universe:

    The outer ring of the emblem above embodies a verse from the Holy
    Quran(Surah 4, Ayat 1) rendered in calligraphy in the Fatimid Kufic
    script and reads as follows:

    O mankind!
    Be careful of your duty to your Lord
    Who created you from a single soul
    and from it created its mate
    and from them twain hath spread abroad
    a multitude of men and women.


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