The Esoteric Symbolism of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat

Read the updated article from the author: The Delegation Decoded: An Esoteric Exegesis of the Delegation of the Isma‘ili Imamat

The Esoteric Symbolism of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat

This weekend marked the official opening of the newly established Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat building in Ottawa. While many of us have heard about this project throughout the year, it is important for us to understand its inner symbolic significance.

One of the mediums by which the Imam communicates esoteric knowledge to both the Jamat and the world at large is Islamic architecture.  As Mawlana Hazar Imam remarked in his speech at the Inaugural Ceremony of the Delegation:

“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.”

– His Highness The Aga Khan IV,

(Address at the Inaugural Ceremony of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat, Ottawa, Canada, 06 December 2008)

The following article is a humble attempt to discuss some of the ‘esoteric thought’ behind the symbolism of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat and seeks to offers esoteric interpretations (tawil) which are rooted in Ismaili tradition, history and intellectual thought.

Click to download the article:

Khalil Andani is a doctoral (Ph.D) candidate specializing in Islamic intellectual history, theology, philosophy, and mysticism at Harvard University and holds a Master of Theological Studies degree (2014), specializing in Islamic philosophy and Ismaili thought, from Harvard University. He is also a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and completed Bachelor of Mathematics (BMath) and Master of Accounting degrees at the University of Waterloo (2008). Khalil’s publications include a book chapter on Nasir-i Khusraw’s philosophical thought in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Islamic Philosophy and articles in Sacred Web, and The Matheson Trust. Over the last few years, Khalil has been invited to deliver several guest lectures and conference presentations on various topics in Islamic philosophy, theology and mysticism at Harvard University (SCT 2013, HDS 2014), University of Toronto (Christology Symposium, NMCGSA 2013, NMCGSA 2014), University of Chicago (MEHAT 2013, MEHAT 2014), Carleton University, the American Academy of Religion (Midwest AAR 2014, NEMAAR 2014), and the Middle East Studies Association 2013. He can be contacted at

Author: ismailimail

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

11 thoughts

  1. Beautifully expressed and presented by Khalil the esoteric symbolism of the of the Ismaili Imamat, and the design of the Dome seems almost symbiotic with Christmas lights and Christmas, “The Apostle John writes in his First Letter: “God is light; in him there is no darkness” (I Jn 1: 5); and further on he adds: “God is love”. These two affirmations, taken together, help us to understand better: the light that shone forth at Christmas, which is manifested to the peoples today, is God’s love revealed in the Person of the Incarnate Word. Attracted by this light, the Magi arrived from the East,” from Revelation of Light and Love: Mystery of Epiphany.. only this Dec 13th, GJ the light shines ever so bright in the hearts of Ismailis and in Uttar Khand.


  2. The delegation of the ismaili imammat is really amazing! I really love the use of different shapes and patterns used throughout the building! Thank you very much for sharing!!


  3. Wonderful article. It has really helped me to have some understanding of the imam’s speech and of the esoteric meaning of this building. Well explained, it really helps students like me to understand the link of this building with Ismaili literature.


  4. thanks a lot ….how happy it makes me when I read our beloved Imam’s speeches ,and I am most happy when I know that beloved Imam is interested in the architecture and connect it with every thing in life and in our spiritual values,,,, it makes me so proud that I am studying architecture and eager to learn more ,and espicially from Hazer Imam


  5. Marvelous articled. Very beautiful woven in nice words. I was much impressed to read it. It is the first article which has really make understood the Concept of Imamat in an ordinary language. Congrats to Khalil. May Mowla bless him and his loved ones with Barkaat, long life with good health, more strength to serve Mowla & Jamat and above all strong on Siratal Mustaqeem.Ameen


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