Celebrating 30 years of the inauguration of the Ismaili Centre, London

It is my conviction that the building of this Centre is symbolic of a growing understanding of Islam….This building and the prominence of the place it has been given indicate the seriousness and the respect the West is beginning, to accord Muslim civilisation, of which the Ismaili community, though relatively small, is fully representative. May this understanding, so important for the future of the world, progress and flourish.”
Mawlana Hazar Imam, September 6, 1979

London itself is enhanced by the construction of the new Centre, for which we are all most grateful to His Highness the Aga Khan. It is a splendid contribution to the architecture of London, fitting in easily with the other fine buildings of South Kensington,…”
The Right Honourable Margaret Thatcher, April 24, 1985

Opening of the Ismaili Centre London
Mawlana Hazar Imam addresses the audience at the Opening Ceremony of the Ismaili Centre, London, as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Ismaili Council President Anil Ishani look on. (Image: theIsmaili/Nick Hewer)

Ismaili Centre LondonThe Ismail Centre, London – the first such centre established in the Western world –  was opened on April 24, 1985 by then Prime Minster of UK, Margaret Thatcher, in the presence of Mawlana Hazar Imam, government leaders, diplomats, and leaders of the Ismaili community from around the world. The foundation of the Centre was laid in September 1979 and construction began in July 1980.

Situated in South Kensington on Cromwell Road opposite the Victoria and Albert Museum, the building was designed by Neville Conder of the Casson Conder Partnership, London; the traditional elements of Islamic decor in the interior were designed by Karl Schlamminger.

At the foundation ceremony held on September 6, 1979, Mawlana Hazar Imam expressed his vision of the function of the Centre:
“It is my conviction that the building of this Centre is symbolic of a growing understanding of Islam….This building and the prominence of the place it has been given indicate the seriousness and the respect the West is beginning, to accord Muslim civilisation, of which the Ismaili community, though relatively small, is fully representative. May this understanding, so important for the future of the world, progress and flourish.”

At the opening ceremony, Mawlana Hazar Imam said:
“It is a source of pleasure and pride to the Ismaili community that this Centre should be situated in the heart of London, and we now look forward to its becoming a valuable addition to this distinguished neighbourhood.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher remarked:
“London itself is enhanced by the construction of the new Centre, for which we are all most grateful to His Highness the Aga Khan. It is a splendid contribution to the architecture of London, fitting in easily with the other fine buildings of South Kensington, yet having its own distinctive character too. It is a monument to the determination of your community to play a full part in the life of our society, while at the same time retaining their own identity and independence.”

Mawlana Hazar Imam’s speech
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s speech

References:
TheIsmaili.org-The Ismaili Centres
The Ismaili Centre, London, Islamic Publications Ltd, London, 1985

Research by Nimira Dewji

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