Friday, 5 August 2016

Toronto tourist - Ismaili Centre

On the same property as the Aga Khan Museum is the Ismaili Centre. It serves as a place of prayer and community centre for the Ismaili Muslims in Toronto. Christine had tried to get me tickets online to tour the Centre but there were no more available for the day I was there.
From the museum, I walked past the reflecting pools and around the building, planted with lavender,
past a large patio with a view of the Toronto skyline and
around to the, shaded, front of the building.
I wandered into the lobby, where there was a tour registration desk, and asked if it would be possible to take a tour. Luckily one was just starting and there was room for me. The volunteer there said that they always try and make room for walk-ins.
The tour guide, also a volunteer from the community, provided some information about the faith, the Centre and its work and the building itself.
Spiritual script, in tile, in the entrance lobby by the underground parking.
View of the museum from the rooftop patio.
The building has rooms for children and youth programs, offices, event space and conference rooms as well as the prayer hall. It is flooded with natural light from skylights and windows. The overall feel is of light and space. Just as in the museum, much of the art is spiritual calligraphy.

Mohammad and his descendants written in precious stones.
There were 3 metal sculptures like this on a wall of Canadian maple panels.
Another wall of one of the lobbies had traditional, metal lights and
another inlaid, precious stone, medallion this time with the word for God surrounded by the 99 aspects of God,
set in intricately carved plaster.
Not all the artwork was religious, some  represented the community.
A rug on the wall of the council chamber.
A mosaic of tiles on a meeting room wall.
The highlight of the tour was the Prayer Hall but I couldn't take pictures. We removed our shoes and walked into this beautiful, huge, peaceful space. The carpet was soft and cushy, there were chairs  for those who couldn't sit on the floor. The walls were a repetitive stylized calligraphy of Gods name in wood paneling. But it was the beautiful "dome" of light diffusing glass that dominated the space. A  panel of clear glass from the peak to the wall pointed in the direction of Mecca. It was simple but spiritual.

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